Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Old Habits, New Habits

Happy last day of November! 

I'm paying attention to the base building advice I shared with you earlier so have been trying to switch up my schedule by running one speed workout each week. 

A personal note on speed workouts: not my favourite. 

That said, fartleks - or, speed play - can be relatively fun, if you make it. For example, I've been running 30 second intervals i.e. 30 seconds at a relatively faster pace, followed by 30 seconds of walking/jogging to recover, rinse and repeat. And while doing so, I've been taking the time to notice the views around me (Vancouver is a beautiful place to run), tell myself some jokes and occasionally try and run faster than I did the previous kilometre.

I dunno. Does that sound like fun? I suppose fun is what you make it.

On my route today: Charleson Park. Pic cred: surYnorte

An old habit I noticed on today's run: breathing in for three steps and out for two, especially when the pace is faster or when running uphill. I've been running for so many years, I'm not even sure where I picked up this tip. Probably one of the books I've read that's sitting on my shelf at home.

A new habit I'm trying to form: bringing my gear to the office so I can run right at the end of the day when it's still light out. Darn you, winter! Why's it gotta be so dark by 4:30 in the afternoon? 

Today's run: 4 km fartlek. Weather: a light wind but dry (thankful for that, given it was raining buckets this morning). Feeling: okay. The run started out a little meh, but got better the longer I was out there. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Running Round-Up: All About That Base (Building) Edition

My small but loyal following from 2012-2014 will likely remember I'd had my heart set on running number five in Vancouver, and I am happy to confirm that this is still the case. I've set my sights on the BMO Vancouver Marathon which happens on May 7, 2017. That means, building up base mileage needs to start... now!

Base Building
Base training or building means "starting from a lower base of infrequent mileage and progressing to more frequent runs including two to three shorter runs and one long run per week" (see: A Runner's Guide to Base Building). Base building can be tough, especially if you're new to running or starting from inactivity. Your level of activity should always be tailored to match your current fitness level. Seems pretty intuitive, right? But this can be really tough, especially if you're raring to go. Don't try to do too much all at once.  

There are great resources out there on base training, including the one mentioned above. If you're looking for additional advice from the experts, give these articles a try:

Build Your Best Training Base
The Basics Of Base Training For Runners 
5 Ways to Build Your Running Base 

The Regulars
While out there today, I recognized two things:
  1. Groups of runners: UGH. I've never been a fan. I refer specifically to those people who run in packs on Sundays and always take up the entire path or sidewalk. Very rarely do they move to make room for others and, inevitably, when passing they'll be talking about some shit like split times or nutrition. I get it, but it's just... so... stereotypical.  
  2. On the other hand, I crossed paths with another runner whom I recognized from my "old days" of running. I don't actually know her, but we'd pass each other on the same route every weekend. It made me smile to see a familiar face and realize that she's probably been a road warrior this whole time.
Today's run: 8 km. Weather: cool but dry. Feeling: pretty psyched, actually. A little worried about my ankle (which I rolled a teensy bit last week), but not overly. I also feel like this has all happened before, strangely. Guess it's just a little running déjà vu!

 Enjoy the rest of your day, friends. And - here's a little Meaghan
Trainor to end your weekend. She's all about that bass, too. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Five or Bust

My dad died earlier this year.

He had never taken good care of himself and struggled with type 2 diabetes for years.

Diabetes experts have made clear what a person should do to mitigate the risk of diabetes: smoking cessation, living an active lifestyle, eating healthy foods. Sadly, my dad’s decades-long smoking habit was far too entrenched, his love of fried foods far too established. As he got older and mobility became an issue, his ability to remain physically active became more and more difficult. Towards the end, diabetic neuropathy and other complications arising from diabetes painfully accelerated the decline in his quality of life.

As he got more and more sick, I started to feel so angry about the way he lived his life. Why couldn’t he take better care of himself? Why wouldn’t he change his ways? And while this anger felt justified for months – and even now, occasionally, despite the fact he’s gone – a grief counsellor told me this:

Each of us has the right to live the life he or she wants, no matter what risks that creates, no matter what others want that person to do. Everyone’s choices are theirs alone to make. And whatever you or I or anyone else wants or thinks that person should be doing is purely selfish – selfish, not because we care, but because those choices aren’t ours to make.

Talk about an eye-opener.

But… that’s love, isn’t it? Being able to accept someone’s failings or imperfections no matter what, even though we might not agree with their actions or if we think they’re making poor choices.

My dad may not have been a pillar of health, but there’s no question he lived his life the way he wanted. Yes, he smoked, he drank, he wasn’t terribly active later in life. But he raised a family, he had friends. I’d like to think he loved and had fun and enjoyed his time while he was here. In fact, I have to believe that because otherwise, what’s the point of it all?

So. About this blog.

When I started Five by 35, I’d already run one marathon and had decided to run four more – a total of five marathons before I turned 35 years old. There were ups and downs: a fastest ever half marathon during training, heartbreaking injury, a noteworthy and unexpected comeback. But by the time I had four marathons under my belt, everything changed. Grad school and a shift in my career goals took focus away from my running and, with that, my desire to finish a fifth. And in June 2014, from an airport in Paris, after two and a half years of being on the blog, I decided to hang up my shoes and call it quits.

I never considered this a defeat or failure – merely, a shift in my priorities and desire to do other things for a while. As I said (wrote) at the time, “I wanted to believe that I still had it in me to do number five. But if I'm being honest with myself, I just don't wanna…running will always be a part of me but, for now, marathon running is no longer in the cards.”

At the time, I truly believed that I no longer wanted to run marathons. That was it. All she wrote. But surprisingly, over time, that desire resurfaced – very small, at first, until recently.

I ran my first marathon in 2009 with Team Diabetes in support of the Canadian Diabetes Association. I had fundraised because I wanted to show my support for loved ones living with diabetes – my dad included. The thought of joining the team again entered my consciousness a few weeks back and would not leave. “Why not?” I thought. And then, “It could be a tribute for my dad.” So it seems only fitting that I put my shoes back on.

I will be registering with Team Diabetes and have fundraising information for you all shortly. To repurpose a line used by The Trews: “I only ask money of friends and total strangers.” But it’s all for a good cause, so I think that’s okay.

35 may have come and gone, but I can still run and so I’m gonna. Five or bust. For you, Dad. And me.


Correction by author: a day after posting this I realized that I had, in fact, run two marathons before starting Five by 35 – not one marathon, as originally noted. My bad. I blame my poor memory... and not combing the archives more thoroughly before writing this post.