Monday, August 26, 2013

A New Kind of Training Run: a joyful one

My Joyful Training Run

I have a goal this coming marathon and it may shock you but it's not a time goal.  My goal is to cross the finish line with a huge smile on my face and if there are tears they will be tears of happiness and pride.  My first Marathon almost a year and half ago was exactly that.  Almost every race (2 marathons, 3 half marathons) after that have ended in disappointment.  Even in May when I achieved a personal best on the half marathon.  I had become to hard on myself was setting goals that if I didn't achieve I felt defeated.

I"ve had a change of heart.  You see the thing is I have been gifted a second chance in life.  Running and fitness and have gifted me a healthy strong body and mind.  I can do things that I could only dream off 3-4 years ago.  Like run a marathon or jump on the euro bungee with the kids.  My mindset has shifted this summer to enjoying this life with my family and friends and LIVING a healthy and happy life.  Perfect diet, a number on the scale, or even a time on my garmin don't carry the same importance they once did.

So this weekend when we headed off to Sandbanks with friends for our last summer hurrah, I had serious misgivings about doing my scheduled 29km training run Sunday am.  The thought of spending 3 hours out running, plus the usual hour or more of recovery after made me pause.  I didn't want to miss out.  I wanted to be at the beach with them playing in the waves, and laying in the sand talking to my friend.  I wanted to drink wine by the campfire Sat night and let go and relax.  Not be sipping water to prepare for a run.  I didn't want to get up early to get out early for that crazy run, when I could be snuggled up to my curly kid in my sleeping bag.  I know my husband didn't want me waking up the whole tent to get up early to run either lol.

I've been training for a race for what seems like forever, I choose to do that and for the most part I love having goal.  But this weekend I made the decision on Saturday after wrestling inside a little that I would just enjoy the weekend, the beauty of Sandbanks and my family and friends.  On Sunday I woke up when I was ready after a good snuggle, and got dressed in my running gear.  I was still running but not because I had too, because I wanted too.  I wanted to run by the water and enjoy the chance to run in such beautiful surroundings.  I had no set route, I had no planned distance (other then knowing that I wanted to be back to play with the family in a decent amount of time).  I had my new Camelpak on to try out, and literally felt free.  I didn't have to worry about water, or time or distance.

I set out and felt great, which is really funny given I enjoyed many a glass of wine the night before.  I think I must have been really happy and I was sucking back freely on my water hose rehydrating.  I had this amazing moment on the run, where I was close to hitting the 5 mile mark. In my mind I said get to that turn around and then you will know you did a SOLID 10 MILES.  The old me that is number focused started to focus on that.  But there was a crest of a hill up ahead and I knew there was something awesome on the other side.  So I kept going, not knowing where it would take me.  I was rewarded on the other side with the view in the pic up above.  The beautiful sun shining on the lake and the sound of the waves.  I didn't turn around to do a set out and back...I just followed the water and I enjoyed every step.

Happy Happy Girl 
I ended up running 15km that morning because I chose too and with a huge smile on my face a gift to myself.   When I returned to the campsite I was rewarded with a coffee and baileys!  I felt a tad guilty for not following my training plan.  But then I spent the morning on of these:

and I spent the day playing on the beach with these kids:

We had the biggest water fight in the waves that day, made amazing memories and tracked half the beach home with us.  No regrets whatsoever.  Next weekend 32km will be mine and I have a feeling they will be easier to run now that I have recharged my spirt.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Investing some time into my own care

I have a big race coming up, the Scotiabank Waterfront Toronto Marathon, in October and my goal is to run it injury free and smiling when I cross the finish line.  Last year I ran it injured and it hurt, it is not an experience I want to repeat.  I've learned a lot since last year, a lot about listening to my body, dialling back when I need to and in general finding a better balance in my training and in life.

Last week when my knee started to hurt, I didn't panic and I didn't push.  I dialled back and modified my workouts.  I stretched more and I got a message from my friend Tara, an RMT at exactly the right time.

You see I make time to move and sweat, it's at the top of my priority list (right next to taking care of the kids lol).  I'm admittedly selfish with my workout time, it keeps me sane and helps me be a better mother, wife, friend etc.  But when it comes to making time for things like massage therapy, physio, chiro, heck even a simple hair cut I admit they are at the bottom of my list.  Our weekday evenings are already filled with a give and take of activities (kids stuff, husband's cross fit, my run clinic etc) it is hard to find time to fit anything extra in.  I tend to make time for therapy, a priority when I'm in pain and panicking.  Case in point when I called my usual clinic from the treadmill on a tuesday morning in panic when my knee wasn't cooperating.  I knew my last minute call was a long shot and I was right, there was no room.  That's when a well timed, message from my friend Tara asking what was going on with my knee came in.

Truthfully, I had always been slightly embarrassed to see someone I know personally, I know me shy? Hard to imagine but yes true.  Imagine my comfort when she asked me to come dressed in a workout bra and shorts.  I knew right then that I was in store for a different sort of experience.

I met with Tara, at Apollo Physical Therapy Centres West, on Queensview Dr.  Our first appointment was so very different from anything I've experienced before.  Tara is trained in Myofascial Release, and more specifically the John F. Barnes approach.  The best way to describe my experience is that it was a lot like a Yin Yoga class.  She worked on an area 'lightly', for 3-5 minutes, moving slowly allowing my own body to release.  At times the sensations would become much more intense, much like when holding pigeon pose for 5 min.  There was even that familiar slight panic, then I would tell myself to breath and let go and I could feel the release happening.  I say worked 'lightly' because she was never 'working' an area with force, hence I left feeling good.  I didn't leave feeling sore (not that I am complaining I've very much enjoyed that type of massage too.)  I really enjoyed the slow ebb and flow feeling to the treatment.  I felt as though Tara was responding to my own bodies cues, at one point I felt the need to have my foot flexed while being worked on, and she went with it and incorporated it into what she was doing.  It felt fantastic!  All though I went in with the 'symptom' of a sore knee she spent time looking at my whole body and finding the cause of it.  Hence the work on my hips, which I never would have guessed as being a weakness, as they don't hurt when running.  Funny enough that night I had aching hips, but I smiled and popped an advil knowing that change was happening.  I went for a run that next morning, HILLS of all things and I felt fluid and strong!   I kept telling my poor workout partner over and over how good I felt!  I wanted to cry, I may not have panicked when my knee started hurting the week before, but that feeling of fear was lurking beneath the surface.

I had a great first experience and this is where I would normally carry on, and wait again till I was in pain before going in for another treatment.  But not this time.  I'm finally getting how so much more then just my 'running and strength training' will contribute to my goals.  I don't just mean my goal of running another Marathon, but my goal of running till I have a long white ponytail.  Last year when I hurt myself and couldn't bend my knee for a whole weekend I got a taste of that fear that I could indeed hurt myself enough that I don't run again.  I am a runner at heart, and I need to make sure I keep on running.  So I am making the time, and making this a priority.  I will cut back on Starbucks if I have too to pay for it, or at least downsize to a Tall.  I had my second appointment today and get this I took both the kids with me.  Tara made room for the kid's and their huge bag of art supplies and snacks.  They covered her treatment room floor in paper, and crayons and drew fashion designs.  When they had to pee, someone helped them find the bathroom.  This is HUGE!  All though, taking my kids with me is far from ideal, it is the reality of a stay at home mom in the summer.  We made it work and I am so appreciative of that.

Today's experience was different then Monday's, which I think again goes to show how it follows your own body and it's needs.  I didn't have any of the intense sensations today and generally felt very relaxed, I even got a little teary eyed while chatting.  Funny how my emotions came to surface today, while relaxing and letting go.  I'm sitting on the couch now, writing this feeling surprisingly warm and relaxed.  Almost as though I just enjoyed a glass of my favourite Red. I have track practice tonight and am looking forward to seeing how I feel.

I"m going back for two more treatment's next week.  When leaving today, Tara mentioned that she would spend some time on my upper body that it seemed 'angry'.  Well she's right, my right shoulder tends to be a general mess, but I ignore it thinking that my LEGS are the important real estate.  But now I'm realizing how my whole body effects me, and that it is all prime real estate.  Literally, things that I would never have thought would effect the way I carry my body now, are at play.  Imagine my surprise when Tara asked if I had ever had a miscarriage?  Which I have and an etopic pregnancy, both of which effect the myofascia in my body and ultimately how I carry myself.

I wanted to share this experience with you because it has been very different for me.  I'm also enjoying how well it matches my desire to find balance of late.  Balance with food, with my body image, with my training, with my home life.  If you have any questions you can visit Tara's Facebook Page here and ask away.  I highly recommend liking her page and checking out her postings.

Thank-you for asking what was going on with my knee, and for putting up with two crazy kids messing up your office today Tara.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Power to the Pouch!

I was out shopping yesterday and spied a really cute red dress for $14! I tried it on really quick while heading out to gymnastics.  I left my yoga pants on when I tried it on, there was lots of room so I figured the dress fit.  Not a smart idea, those yoga pants were holding something in.  When I got home and went to try it on, I almost cried when I saw how the silky material clung to my hanging 'pouch'.

I've gained a little bit of weight since Christmas, having relaxed and found a healthy balance that is working for me.  But that little bit of weight has gone to my pouch.  It's even 'yuckier' because I have lost a lot of weight and I have a lot of loose skin.  So now it like a bag that I've added some groceires too, and it hangs heavy :(  Not sexy I tell you.  Last night I had a moment of panic, a moment where I thought it's time to "get serious," "to cut back," to do something DRASTIC!  Then I took a few deep breaths and thought FARK IT!  I'm happy.  I'm happier then I have been in a long time.  I'm not thinking about food all day and counting it and measuring it.  I feel free.

So today I was on a mission, to find me some SMOOTHER, SUCKER UPPER UNDERS!  The kids and I spent a sweaty and admittedly hilarious 20 min in the change room at the Bay with a mountain of flesh coloured contraptions.  They thought it was hilarious watching me wriggle and squirm into these things.  Don't get me started on explaining the whole PEE HOLE thing to them.  I am surprised by how comfy many of the garments were, and I found a reasonable priced slip that goes just under my bra line.
It really is amazing what a difference it made.
You can see my lovely pouch hanging like a Hobo bag in the left picture, only it isn't Coach.  I ended up adding a belt to give the dress some shape.  Laura would be proud of that :) 

So there you have it, my drastic measure was a pair of underwear.  Now my pouch and I need to rest up for tonight's killer track workout!

Monday, August 5, 2013

STWM Marathon Training: a different plan

Wearing last year's STWM shirt to inspire me to keep on trucking during an uninspired workout last week  

Warning boring post talking about training plans to follow...likely only interesting if your a running geek :)  

I'm 5 weeks into training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and I'm feeling very hopeful that this Marathon will be a good one (provided I stay off the injured list).  I started week one, on the Run Less Run Farther (FIRST) plan that I used for the Ottawa Race Weekend Half.  I loved the FIRST plan for the half, it was intense and hard and helped me PR with a 1:50:36 but the idea of FIVE, (F-I-V-E) 32km training runs for a full marathon had me scared!  I had only ever run 3 for my first Marathon, a year and half ago and that just about did my body in (also my best time at 4:17).  I then ran two more Marathon's close together and not knowing how to train or recover in between invented my own plan.  I ran ZERO 32km training runs for Toronto last year, as I was hurt and I ran one on my birthday training for Disney.  Looking back I see that I was not prepared for Disney and that is likely why I limped the last 7 miles in pain (hey but I still finished under 5hrs at 4:48, proud of that).

I've learned a lot (I think) about what I need to do this time around.  Number one being focusing on staying injury free with resting, foam rolling, stretching, and paying attention to my body.  But I'm also training differently, much differently.  I signed up for the K2J Fitness Marathon Clinic and along with the weekly track practice (or as I like to call it barf get together) I got a training plan.  This plan is very different for me.  For starters it has 4 runs a week.  I've always trained with 3 runs a week, maybe a 4th for fun or social.  The plan also has HILLS, TRACK, a MODERATE run (which varies from 6-16km my lord that's long!) and the LSD.  The good news is the plan has only THREE 32km runs in it. Thank-you :)  The 'other' news is it has me running more weekly and with more intensity then I ever have.

Hills:  The FIRST plan does not have hill work in it.  I like hills and actually missed them training for the May Half.  Before the FIRST plan I had actually done a hill and a speed workout most weeks. However, my idea of hills back then was setting the dreadmill to the hill interval program and running 1 min hill intervals for 6-8km at a level 6-7.  Now I am aiming at 400-600m at 7-10% incline x6-8.  This takes me much longer then 1 min!

Track Work:  The track workouts in the K2J clinic are harder for me then the FIRST program.  3x 1600 meters for example in the FIRST program vs. 4x1600m and 4x800m in the K2J clinic.  Prior to both of these programs my idea of speed work was on the treadmill running 1-4 min speed intervals.

Moderate Run:  the K2J plan has a '4th' run in it called a moderate run. It varies from 6-16km in length.  The 16km being the same week as a 32km run!  I remember when 16km was my long run not my moderate one.  This run is actually the one that is giving me the most grief.  It's hard fitting it in, as I don't like running back to back.  I'm having issues with foot pain and tend to need that day off running/impact to rest my foot.  Doing a 'longer' moderate run after a hard track workout (where my feet ache from the pounding) is challenging.  I've started using ice baths after my runs on my feet and that is helping immensely.  I also had an appointment at Solefit last week and am trying out a new support that will hopefully help.  I like that the coaches have said that this is the least important run, and that if I need to drop one, one week this would be it.  I also find their 'idea' of the moderate run interesting.  If I understand correctly you run what 'feels like a moderate run on that day'.  To me it's an organic type of run, maybe its faster, maybe its slower because of a killer track workout.  But you run a 'moderate' run on that day.  I kind of sort of love this idea.  For me it means forget the Garmin and pace and just run what feels like a moderate run for your body.

What's for lunch? Feet soup of course!  My Ice pot :) 

LSD:  LSD (long slow distance) this always has me giggling.  LSD the runner's drug of choice, to be enjoyed every weekend (sorry couldn't help it).  I like that the SLOW part of the LSD is emphasized here.  That the idea is to put TIME on the road where your body is under stress.  Again, if I understand correctly my 32km run should take as long as the Marathon will on race day.  I like this much better then the FIRST training which in my mind always had me pushing pace on my long runs.  Yes it was slower then race pace but still pushing.

Cross Training:   The FIRST plan was very specific about cross training, you did 2 sessions a week with intensity (biking, rowing or swimming) and it recommended strength training as well.  I tended to do one bike session and two really good strength sessions that involved the TRX, Heavy Weights, and HIIT.  Right now I have really eased back on my cross training.  I'm doing 2-3 shorter TRX strength sessions of moderate intensity.  I'm not touching heavy weights.  I'm trying to get a bike ride in each week.  Truthfully, I have found myself tired on my non running days.  I'm trying to figure out a balance and trusting that shifting to a more run heavy program will pay off.

Doing more of this in my cross training now, lots of stretching especially focusing on my IT bands and hips. 

So all that being said last week was EPIC for me,  I ran the most I ever have in a week!  I ran 61km last week. This week I am due to run even more if I make it.  Last week was a tough week.  The hills were tough, the track workout left me ill that night (will never eat dinner before track again), and the moderate 15km the morning after on a trail were hard.  I spent my rest day at La Ronde on my feet all day.  By the end of the day Saturday my feet and hips hurt and I went to bed late.  Sunday when my LSD came up, I did not expect much.  But to my surprise I had a great run.  The kind of LSD that reminds you why you love running so much.  I ran what felt good for my body that day.  I likely ran too fast, if the goal is to spend time on the road, but I felt so good and so fluid I just wanted to run what felt natural that day.  I did 29km in 2:50, at an average pace of 9:24 min/mile (about 5:55min/km).  I was even able to bend over and untie my own shoes after (trust me this is huge!)  I even had enough energy left over to go spend an hour doing SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding) that night.  Last night when I went to bed, I was in awe of running that far, it's been awhile since I've run that kind of distance.  I had forgotten why it's so addictive, you feel really accomplished after.  I admit my knees and ankles are tender today, so I am resting and stretching.

I"m excited to see what happens in October.  My goal is to train to the best of my ability, to simply do my best.  To listen to my body's needs.  This will shock you but I don't have an official time goal.  I am tired of crossing the finish line in tears.  I want to cross with a huge smile of accomplishment on my face.  I am trying to let go of the pressure I put on myself.  I was begenning to feel like I was suffocating from it.  I want to celebrate my body and mind's ability to do this.  I trust that the work that I am putting into this will pay off.  I am also praying for strong knees, flexible IT bands, and happy feet.