Saturday, April 22, 2017

How to Train for and Run a Marathon: A Non-Exhaustive Shortlist

In training:
  1. Stick to the training schedule.
  2. Run at times of day similar to the scheduled race time to get used to what might happen on race day e.g. waking up early enough, eating breakfast, prepping gear, getting dressed, stretching and warming up, etc.
  3. Run in all kinds of weather - because you never know what you're gonna get on race day.
    I was here... and here, and here...
  4. Run on the same surface as the race to condition your body for similar impact e.g. concrete or trails versus treadmills.
  5. Pay attention to your diet (nutrition is important).
  6. Stay hydrated.
  7. Get enough sleep.
  8. Find someone who knows more than you about running and ask them lots of questions about everything you don't know - but know that not everything works the same or as well for everyone. 
  9. Find a good registered massage therapist and visit him/her as often as you can.
  10. Find a good physiotherapist and consult him/her as needed.
  11. Give yourself lots of encouragement every day.
  12. Surround yourself with people who support your goals. 
  13. Ignore the "Negative Nancies" and "Downer Dougs".
  14. Don't be a douchebag runner to other runners. This includes not being a "Negative Nancy" or "Downer Doug."
Specifically for race day:
  1. Get enough sleep leading up to the race (tip: even a good night's sleep two nights before versus the night before the race can be enough - just try and stay well rested as race day approaches).
  2. Don't try or do anything new e.g. with clothing (potential chafing), gear (unexpected issues with weight, function), breakfast, gels or other nutrition (avoiding digestive issues), etc.
  3. Get to the start line with time to spare.
  4. Enjoy the race! You've earned it.
Journal entry 

Today's run: 23 km and technically, the last LSD in the training schedule. Yay for tapering! Weather: overcast and partly sunny this morning, which is why I deliberately went out early (note: it's raining now but at least I'm watching the bad weather from my couch instead of being in it). Feeling: glad to have missed the rain! And looking forward to the rest of the weekend.

...and also here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Fun Run

Happy Friday, friends! 

For once, we experienced bonafide, grade A sunshine in Vancouver today. Yippee! Unfortunately, it's back to rain tomorrow. Sad face! 

Wowza, if I do say so myself. Look at this daaaayy!
Knowing this, I went out for a random little run this afternoon - in shorts! - to soak up some vitamin D. I also decided to skip the regular routes and run just for fun. The result: a view I don't normally see from on foot, which always helps to keep the running fresh. After nearly four months of running largely the same routes from week to week, anything new and interesting at this stage is a welcome change.

Journal entry 
Today's run: 7 km. Weather: sunny. Beautiful. Glorious. Feeling: pretty darn good. Glad for the change of scenery. 

Good luck to everyone taking part in races this weekend, including the Vancouver Sun Run and London Marathon. Have fun out there!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Running Round-up: Happy Belated Easter Edition

Spring has sprung.
Now... will it stay??
This past weekend was spent by many enjoying Easter egg hunts and eating chocolate. Me? I got plenty of sleep and waited for the best day forecast in the long weekend to run 32 km - the last big long run in the training schedule before the mileage tapers off. 

Fundraising update: less than $500 to go!
My campaign has levelled off at $3,001, just about $500 shy of my fundraising target of $3,500. This means, if only 34 more people gave $15 each, or 20 people gave $25 each or 10 people gave $50 each (I mean, you get the idea, right?)... I'd make my goal! 

If you haven't yet donated, now is the time! Please visit my Team Diabetes fundraising page and give what you can. If you've already donated, muchas gracias, amigos. You're the best.

Huh. Who knew?
From The Runner's Book of Daily Inspiration, by Kevin Nelson (which I've mentioned on this blog before):
Your body is responding to what you're doing... you see it every time you run. The course seems shorter somehow... your running is smoother and easier. You want to run longer because you're more able to handle it.
After 16+ weeks of training, the above totally happened this weekend. And - honestly? It came as a really welcome surprise, as I was coming off extremely uncomfortable and personally disappointing long runs in the past few weeks. Sure, I'm still out there for four and half hours but where I used to bonk at 17 km, I feel like I'm just getting started. 23 and 26 km long runs on the schedule? No longer a terrifying prospect. I guess it's true what the trainers say: to get better at running, run more (within reason, of course). 

We like to leave lots of "chocolate eggs" for our
humans lying around everywhere.
Bunny trainers
Another Easter has come and gone and, as I'm lucky enough to live with two buns of my own year-round, I don't really feel the urge to gush over rabbits too much during this time of year. That said, here's a pic of them... you know, just in case you didn't get your fill of cuteness this holiday weekend. 'Til next time, friends.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Running with Lady Cramps: A Special Kind of Hell

Preamble: I've hesitated to post anything too female-specific on this site, but seeing as more than half the population is made up of women, and all women have similar issues on this front - and betting that the majority of my readers are female - here we are.

Dudes: this post may be TMI (too much information) for you, depending on your comfort level with lady-specific issues. Proceed with caution. 

Menstrual cramps = the worst. Am I right, girls?

I've always thought it grossly unfair that women should have to endure such discomfort month after month: cramps, headaches, mood swings, nausea, bloating. Need I say more? (Stupid men.)

© Getty Images
In actuality, the menstrual cycle causes variations in hormonal levels throughout the month, with high levels of estrogen pumping through our systems right before ovulation but dropping really low during premenstruation - causing all sorts of great symptoms like many of the ones aforementioned, as well as sluggishness and fatigue. However, once menstruation starts up again, estrogen levels go back on the rise, resulting in energy going up as well (Kowalchik, 1999). 

About running while on a period... as running author Claire Kowalchik puts it, "Even if I'm feeling like I really don't want to run--the running seems effortless once I get going. In fact, I ran my fastest and easiest marathon on the first day of my period one year" (Kowalchik, 1999, p.140). 

At the risk of even more TMI, I've got my period right now. In the past, I've suffered debilitating cramps and menstrual headaches which would put me out for days, if not longer. So, this morning, and in the interest of deciding whether or not to give today's long run a try, I pulled Kowalchik's book off the shelf, flipped through her chapter on "Special Concerns as a Woman: Menstruation" and (re-)read her quote above. Buoyed by her experience, I decided to head out there... and also because I knew the alternative would be sitting on the couch, wondering if I should've at least given it a try. 

Long story short: SO UNCOMFORTABLE.

I deliberately chose a route that would keep me close to where I could bail and call a cab if things got really bad. While escape-by-cabbie did not end up happening, I came so close to doing so on multiple occasions. 

The first 40 minutes or so I thought - initially - were the worst. The menstrual cramping was bad, and so I just focused on breathing and throwing my feet out in front of me, one step at a time. Eventually, the cramps subsided... but then they came back... and then they subsided... and then came back. 

There seemed to be no pattern to it; they just came and went, seemingly as they pleased. And each time they came back, things got a little worse because I was getting longer into the run and more tired as the morning went on. 

At some point I realized there was nothing more important than focusing on running through the pain of my menstrual cramps. Pace, heart rate, gait... basically, all the things one should be concerned about while running... none of these things mattered more than just getting through this current cramp.

And then - it started to rain. And I cried. I couldn't help it. I was tired, uncomfortable and barely keeping my shit together as it was. So when the rain started, it kinda broke me a little.

But then I got over it - and lucky too as, soon after, I bumped into a friend who was also out for her run. Last thing I'd want while out running is to see someone I know, while bawling my eyes out. That's not good for anyone. 

Fortunately, after my mini-breakdown and bumping into my friend, I was about 6 km from home and towards the end of my run - just a bridge and a very familiar route left. 

But then, with about 3 km to go, the oddest thing happened. 

I realized I was going to be short on my run - by about 1/2 a km - and instead of living with it, I decided to stay out a little longer to make the distance for today. 

Fortitude. Who knew? It shocked the hell out of me to discover I had some left. 

Post-run was all about the protein and painkillers. And now - I sit, eat and will generally do nothing the rest of the day after publishing this blog post. I believe I've earned it.

Any of you ladies ever run while on your period? What was your experience? Hope it was better than mine. 

Journal entry for today
Today's run: 26 km. The schedule actually called for 29 km, but I decided to compromise given Aunt Flo was in town. My typical 29 km route would have taken me out to places where I couldn't call a cab if things went bad, so I opted for my 26 km route instead so I could have the option to abort if need be. Weather: the forecast called for partly sunny and no showers. Guess they got that one wrong. Feeling: glad to have done my run and finished so well, but I'll probably never run while on my period ever again. Strangely enough, even with all the menstrual cramps and negotiating with myself on whether to stay out there, I still felt better about this run than last week's 23 km run... the bad mood of which, I realize now, may have been due to depleted estrogen stores in addition to the massive hangover. Live and learn.

Kowalchik, C. (1999). The Complete Book of Running for Women.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Running Round-up: The Countdown Is On! Edition

Okay, friends. Here we are: T minus one month to number five-marathon day! Like, holy shit.

My week
I'm gonna level with you. It has not been a great week for running. 

After my encouraging 32 km run two weekends ago, I think I may have jinxed myself. Writing about how I was feeling all "confident" and wishing I could just "run this marathon tomorrow" and get it over with... man, was I ever asking for it. 

After a bit of socializing with friends... and scotch... and lots of it... last Friday night, I stupidly put myself out of commission for the weekend. So when I went to do my 23 km long run on Monday after work I told myself, "It's fine. Take your time." And I did. But the run was still shit. 

I was sooooo mad at myself! After cutting my long run short (only by a little; I ended up running 22.75 km - so close), I got home, grunted something to my husband and immediately retreated to a cold bath - y'know, for the legs - but mostly so I could be totally alone to stew in my own fury... and even though I was literally soaking in cold water, it did very little to stem the white hot rage I was feeling towards myself and my bad choices.

Truth. By: @kyle_j_kranz (via Twitter).
All I could think was: I'd been working so hard these past three-plus months and here I was, putting my training schedule and performance at risk... for a house party?? Fuck that. Somewhere around the 20 km mark my irritability peaked and, in that cold bath, I resolved right then and there to have a dry month, right up to the marathon. No more bad decisions. No more being so stupid. Not with elusive number five on the line.

But because I was so angry, that frustration with myself hung on like the smell of garlic right through the rest of the week and permeated every workout I did: a short 3 km treadmill run on Wednesday, and a resistance training day yesterday. All rage, all the time. So... not great. Only now is the exasperation I've felt all week finally starting to abate. 

Boo on you, Mother Nature
Indoor running due to inclement weather?
Thumbs down. And ugly face.
To top off a crap week, Mother Nature continues to be a downer on the west coast. After a spot of sunshine on Sunday/Monday, it's been nothing but rain and wind - and therefore complete misery. My current running attire is okay for rain, but I've been seriously considering buying all the rain gear, if for nothing else but to encourage the rain to just stop it already

On a high note: fundraising update
I didn't mean for this blog post to be all whiny and complainy, so sorry about all that. 

On a positive note, I've been lucky enough to have a few more very generous people throw their money at my campaign in the last few weeks, so I am now up to $2,701 of my $3,500 fundraising goal, which is extremely good news. Woohoo! And thank you so much, again, to all my donors!

Soooo close! Help a girl hit a fundraising goal??

This means I only have $799 (or as a salesperson would probably put it, "Less than $800") to go in my fundraising efforts and geez... wouldn't it be great if I actually hit that $3,500 target? Especially after getting so close?? 

If you haven't yet donated but would still like to, please do so here (at It would mean the world to me - and would be a really great motivational boost after the week I've had beating myself up. 

Until next time
Have a great weekend, friends. Hopefully more cheerful updates to follow, especially with only four weeks to go until the marathon... gasp!

Even this beautiful reprieve from all the wet didn't help me much last week.
Reminder to self: make good choices.