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Chase the Coyote and Rumble

Thank you all so much for your support on Monday’s post. It has not been fun being injured, but I have tried to make the most of it and have been working hard at perfecting my swim stroke!

I wanted to talk about last weekend for a second. It was the first race that I had been to since my injury that I wished I was racing, which showed me I was a bit psychologically burnt out. But as I drove up to Mono Cliffs for the Chase the Coyote race on Saturday, playing my music with the windows down and looking at the fall leaves, I WANTED TO RUN.

Thank fully, I had a group of trail runner friends on site to make sure I didn’t strap on a pair of the New Balance shoes they were testing on site and ruin everything. Instead, I cheered the other runners and took a look at some of the shallower trails.

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A bit about the race: Any male who can run the 14.4KM Challenge course in under 60 minutes and any female who can run the Challenge course in under 70 minutes will receive a commemorative “I beat the Coyote Challenge” award.
The challenge course is as hard and varied as the race director could make it and the 5.7 KM sprint course was an easier variation with stunning views.

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My take: I will be back and ready to challenge that Coyote. I had full intention of beating him this year, but it just gave me a chance to take a look at the course for next year. The atmosphere was fun: pizza, a ton of prizes and some of the most fun people on earth.
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It was my friend, Krysten’s first time at a trail race and she managed to snag a podium finish! You can check out her review here.
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It was an awesome race with a fabulous group of people. The trails were begging to be run (and that isn’t just through my “not currently running” goggles…it was confirmed by others who raced it). Everything was extremely well organized
Another portion of the race was spent near the Rumble booth.

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I have been in love with this product ever since I saw it on Season 8 of the Dragon’s Den. It is a super shake that is packed with protein, seeds, fruits and vegetables. I think perhaps the craziest part is that it still tastes like a milk shake. It comes in Vanilla Maple and Dutch Cocoa and it took me a while of test tasting to figure out that my favourite flavour was the Cocoa. It was that close.

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Because I am constantly on the go, this is absolutely perfect for me. I am currently drinking one right after my morning swim each day which helps kill my hunger. I don’t know about you, but swimming makes me much hungrier than any other form of cardio! Rumble contains 20 g of protein, 8 g of fibre, 400 mg of calcium (to keep stress fractures away in the future!) and 3 servings of vegetables. It is a total winner in my books, which is why I was excited to come aboard as their ambassador.

In other, other news, check out my recent post for Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Because we both turned a quarter century this year, I thought it was only right to share 25 reasons why you should run STWM.

What was the last race that you ran? Make me jealous and tell me all about it!

SHOP (6)

If we were having coffee: Laces and Lattes style

Ok. It’s time to interrupt regular posting to have a very frank chat. The blog feature of “if we were having coffee”? We are doing that right now. Except it would be a latte for me.

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I would enter photography contests, but I would feel bad about winning them all.

I have a confession. I am not running right now. At all. 

It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just that sometimes I don’t always execute training properly. Sometimes my training is a little bit more “do as I say and not as I do”. I try hard to do my research and give you the best advice I know of on the blog, but I will be the first to tell you that I don’t always listen to it myself.

I sometimes skip rest days because I am an extrovert and I want to be with friends, so if that means running extra miles on trails when I really should be resting, I probably will do it.

I sometimes pull the tissue paper out of shoes on race morning and lose a toenail as a result.

I’m not perfect. 

Three weeks ago, I was on my last mile repeat on the track and my coach came alongside me and asked how I was feeling.

AWESOME! – I said. “I feel fully recovered. In fact, I’ve never come back faster after a marathon! The only thing is, my shins still hurt.”

“Oh.” he said. “Up and down the shin or just in one place?”

“Oh, just in one place.” I said, confident that was a good thing.

“Stop right now.” he said and began to feel the bone. He began to apply pressure at different areas and I confidently announced it didn’t hurt at all until he landed on a pressure point and I let out a yelp.

“Go home. You are done running. I don’t want you running all week and I want you to book xrays.” he said.

I drove home feeling really numb. I booked the xrays. They were clear.

I booked a bone scan. It came back with this:

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Stress fractures in both tibias.

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is an overuse injury. It occurs when muscles become fatigued and are unable to absorb added shock. Eventually, the fatigued muscle transfers the overload of stress to the bone causing a crack in the bone. Untreated, it can lead to a complete break.

How did I get it?

I don’t know if you guys noticed, but I raced a LOT this year. There is nothing wrong with that, but I didn’t execute it correctly. I raced each one with my whole heart and combined with an aggressive marathon build, it was too much for my muscles to handle. I skipped a few key rest days. I was too focused on training that I forgot one of the most important components of training that I keep enunciating to you guys – REST.

Although it gleans me badass points that I most likely ran my marathon on fractured tibias (imagine how much better I will do when I am healthy?!), it also earns me stupid points.

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I also struggle with hyperthyroidism which means that my metabolism is overactive. It sounds amazing, but it really just means it is hard for me to hold on to all the nutrients I need, making me more susceptible to injury. (Again, this is a whole other post!)

What now?

I am taking this rest thing seriously.

I am taking regular spin classes with low resistance and working on my swimming and pool running. I am still training hard, but I am doing none weight bearing exercises to heal my bones.

I will be off for 6-12 weeks, which now is 3 – 9 weeks.

This will mean that I will not be able to participate in my fall races, including the Scotiabank marathon, but will return in time to race the Raid the Hammer in November. (More on that later). I will still be at all the races to cheer all of you on, I just will be holding a sign instead of running!

Why did you wait to tell us?

I wanted time to process it for myself and tell everyone who needed to be told first. This was kind of emotional for me, but to be honest, I needed the break. (No pun intended).

I also wanted to establish my treatment plan before announcing it because I find that there are many opinions on recovery out there and I wanted to make sure I had a good grasp on what I was doing. I went to my physiotherapist, my chiropractor, my coach, my doctor, my endocrinologist (for my hyperthyrodism), my naturopath and have booked an appointment with an osteopath. (It takes a whole village for this Type-A athlete…I TOLD you I was serious about getting better!)

I will be sharing my journey back to healthy running and am filing everything I have learned through this experience. 2015 has some hugely exciting race experiences on board and I am setting everything in place to train intelligently.

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Thanks guys. Coffee is finished and I would give you a big hug if you were here. 

Have you ever had a stress fracture? Tell me about it. 

Dealing with an injury right now? What are you doing for recovery?

 

SHOP (6)

Controlling Pre-Race Nerves

Heeeeey! It’s the weekend and I am so ready to get outside! We have been hit by a wave of lovely weather and the last thing I want to do is let it go to waste.

I wanted to talk about something that I know a lot of runners deal with before a race, especially a big race..nervousness.

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It is almost unavoidable as your body prepares itself for competition and your fight or flight mechanisms have kicked in. I used to deal with quite a bit of pre-race nervousness, but I thought I would share some of my top tips that will have you relaxed and chatting to the runner beside you at the start line.

1. Give yourself enough time. (But not too much time). Wake up early. Eat a good breakfast and arrive in plenty of time to get in a warm up and go through a normal, pre-race routine. The less rushed you feel, the more relaxed you will be.

2. Have an established routine, and follow it. Do you eat the same thing every race day? Go for your warm up at the same amount of time before each race? Good. Going through the motions makes it automatic, which allows you to get your nerves in check.

3. Process the race before you are there. Think about how you will feel at the start line. In the first half hour. As you approach the finish line. By practicing what you will experience in your head, you are much more likely to successfully execute it on race day.

4. Be positive. Don’t project a self fulfilling prophesy. The more negatively you think about the race, the more uncomfortable it will be.

5. Breathe. Take some time and take some deep breaths. The more oxygen you have, the more clearly and rationally you will think.

6. Don’t go to the start line until you have to. Standing in front of the start line creates unnecessary anxiety as you wait for the race to start. Find other things to occupy yourself with until the race begins.

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7. Listen to music. If you are not a fan of talking to people before a race, bring your iPod, find a quiet corner and think through your race.

8. Talk to people. I always find the best way to shake off race nerves is to strike up conversations with people, which helps me refocus my energy and not dwell on the race beginning.

9. Use the porta-potty. Ok. I know this one sounds ridiculous, but focusing on what you CAN control is a lot easier than being afraid of things outside of your control. I am a big fan of what I like to call the “safety pee”. Get in line and MAKE SURE. (Trust me on this one…)

10. Remember your training. I often think “you have done everything you could have done” or “be gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can.” Thinking positive thoughts and focusing on all your hard work that you have done to prepare yourself for this race will help you accept that you are ready to race!

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My friend Angela wrote a great post on pre-race nerves as well this year, check it out here. 

What do you do to calm pre-race nerves?

SHOP (6)

Sports Taping for Runners

It’s Wednesday which means that I just survived my first huge event at work. I had been informed by my boss that if I can survive this month, I can survive anything this job throws me, so I am relieved and quite frankly, ready to sleep for a week.

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My training took a back seat this week, but I am dealing with an injury (which I will discuss more on Monday) so if I was going to be derailed at any time in my training cycle, this was the best time!

Speaking of injury and the fact that I am focusing a bit on gear this week, I received a reader question that deserves it’s own post.

Do you use sports tape in your training? If so, how do you use it?

The answer? If I have tape on my body, it’s probably bad news bears. I avoid it like the plague until I am struggling with an injury and need a bit of reinforcement and suddenly, it’s my best friend. Since I have been rocking the tape recently, I figured there is no time like the present to talk about what it is and why I use it.

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Sports tape is applied along muscles, ligaments, and tendons (soft tissue) to provide a lightweight, external support that helps you remain active while recovering from injuries. I have used it in the past to support my IT band around my ankle as well as supporting my tendon while struggling with achilles tendonitis.

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How to use it? All of the sports tape that I have used in the past have been pre-cut. I make sure my skin is clean and dry and  take a strip and rub it vigorously to heat up the bonding agents to make it stick on my skin as long as possible.

I rip the back of the tape in the middle and stretch it over the injured portion of my (often) leg, but make sure I ease up on the tension towards the ends of the tape.
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I then cut a strip in half (making sure to round the corners to make it stick longer) and follow the same protocol that I did with the longer strip.

Here are a couple of the ways to apply it to assist in some of the more common running injuries:

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Shin Splints

Shin Splints

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See more instructions for other injuries here.

I use Strength Tape which retails for about $19.95 in most sports stores. It is a bit different than other sports tapes on the market because it has a component called IonTech which is infused with seven specific minerals that emit ions. 

On another note, let’s talk on something other than injuries for a moment. I am doing the Chase the Coyote race this weekend and would love to have you join me. You can register here, but check out my course preview first.

Do you use sports tape?

SHOP (3)

Marathon Gear

Hey loves! How was your weekend? I spent most of it working – it has been the most intense workweek of my career so far and I loved the challenge, but my training took a backseat. I am also dealing with an injury right now, so it was wise to rest and focus on my responsibilities and recharge for future races!

I went to the trail championships for 5 Peaks and had a blast. It is strange how trail runners start feeling like a family after a while. It has been a golden season and I cannot wait for 2015! A huge shout out to Erin for being an incredible race director!

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This week, I thought I would touch a little bit on gear and what I use to get ready for my big races.

First things first. The shoes.

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I recently spoke at a run clinic and I was overheard the owner of the run store explaining to a customer that if you are going to cheap out on any product, cheap out on clothing and if you are going to splurge on anything, spend on your feet. She couldn’t have been more correct. Your feet take a pounding and it is important to make sure that you are using a shoe that fits your shoe, no matter what your preference is.

I like to train for long distances in a light, supportive shoe and do my track workouts and races in a lighter, less structured shoe built for speed. Right now, I am loving the GOrun Ultra for long distances because of the cushioned sole which allows for easy runs to feel easy and long runs to feel less painful. You can check out a past review of the shoe here. 

I have been trying the GOmeb Speed2 and I am especially excited to race the Boston marathon in them, because Meb…

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I will be posting a full review later, but they fit the criteria for a speedy shoe that is able to hold up over long distances.

The hydration

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For super long runs, I use my Ultimate Direction hydration pack and I mix nuun tabs in with my water. I use it for long treks on the trail and for long runs 25 KM and over. I have never ran in anything that is better suited for a female runner – I give huge kudos to the female athlete test team on this one. It carries 2 L of water and you never even notice that it is on your back.

Body Glide:

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This one is a bit of a must. When I am doing super rainy, or super sweaty long runs, things can go downhill quickly. Never underestimate the power of a small irritation to make a big impact on your race performance. I swipe this on anywhere that can be prone to chafing and head out on a comfortable run!

Compression Socks:

I love my CEP Compression socks and I am slowly building up a drawerful to match every running outfit I own. I have heard arguments on both side of the fence in terms of compression gear, but I am a big fan of it and I feel as if it has been super helpful in my recovery.

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What is some marathon gear that you cannot live without?

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Triathlon Tips from Scott

I have had some heavy course loads in the past in university and even worked some 60 hr weeks at past jobs, but nothing has ever compared to the week I am going through. It is a huge week for work and I am devoting every spare ounce of energy and focus to that.

Because I am hitting the ground running with some big projects, I thought I would turn the floor over to someone else today. I was chatting on Monday about cross training and some of my favourite swim and bike workouts. I thought I would expound on that a little and talk about triathlons, KONA and training.

Scott Dickie is a local triathlete who recently qualified for KONA and has been hugely inspiring in his training and racing. I asked him a few questions about his training leading up to his qualifying race and some of the things he is most looking forward to heading into KONA.

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1. First things first..what got you into triathlons?

To be honest it was watching the coverage of the Ironman World Championships in Kona on NBC.  I used to play professional hockey and when I stopped playing I continued to eat the same as when I played and became unhappy with my conditioning and myself. So I started running and got a road bike.  Then after watching Kona I started swimming and was really enjoying the new athletic challenge, plus I was getting back into shape. So that Spring I signed up for my first triathlon in Woodstock.  After that race I was hooked because of the diversity of the 3 sports and the challenge.  I am one of those “all in” kind of people so I started doing research and looking for coaches to help me reach my full potential.  So to answer what got me into triathlon, watching Kona, the desire to get back into shape, and enjoying the challenge and pursuit of getting better.

2. How was your recent race, Mont Tremblant, different from others that you have done?

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This race was different in many ways.  The first was the way I trained for the race.  I also executed this race differently.  This was the third full Ironman I have done and in the 2 previous races I made small mistakes which led to difficulties on the run.

In my first Ironman I definitely pushed the bike too hard and my run paid for it.  In the second one I made some nutritional mistakes which made the last half of the marathon a struggle.

This year, I had a plan to swim by feel, stick to my watts (I use a Power2Max power meter), and running by feel I also carried my nutrition in my hands not my jersey pockets as last year I dropped stuff and by the time I realized it was too late. So this year I stuck to and executed the plan perfectly In the swim I got into my groove and swam at the effort I knew I could and when I got out it felt as if I hadn`t even swam. On the bike I hit my power numbers perfectly, followed my nutrition plan, and again when I got off the bike it was as if I hadn’t biked 180km.  Once out on the run having my nutrition in my hand definitely paid off and although I run with a GPS watch, I stuck to running by feel.  This also worked because my last 10km were my fastest splits of the marathon.  At the end I knew I left it all out there and had the best race I could have had on that day.

Finally the last piece was my head space.  I had a ton of confidence going into this race because I knew I had hit all my training metrics, my taper was perfect, and I had no internal pressure.  Rather than saying I must qualify for Kona, I just focused on racing my race plan, enjoying it, and if those 2 things happened I would probably qualify. But if not, I was okay with it.  In the end everything worked out!

3. Give a brief summary of your training leading into the race.

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My training was much different this year.  In the past I had used some coaches and a combination of myself and their training plans, I believe led to injuries and not hitting all my workouts. This year, I did a lot of reading on the polarized training approach, basically when its hard its hard and when it isn’t, it`s easy (real easy). I also broke it down to 20% being at a high intensity and 80% being easy.  It did take some adjustment because easy meant checking my ego at the door.  For example I`d be out for an easy run (5:30-6:00 min kms) or bike and if someone would run or ride by me, I had to just let it go. In the past that was hard for me, but in reality I had a goal in mind and that specific workout at the specific pace was part of that goal.

Training this way was great because I was fresh for every workout I did and looking back there wasn`t a single workout I wish I would have done harder or that I missed or had to do easier.  Using the polarized approach also let me add volume without the wear and tear. I was swimming 5 times a week with an average of 24000m, cycling 400km, and running 100 plus km.
Another big change was giving myself a proper warm-upIn swimming warm-up was 900-1000m, cycling was almost 50 minutes, and running was 20 minutes. Obviously with time constraints that can be hard for some people but I think an inadequate warm-up can lead to injuries.
I also added what I called pre hab, which was to avoid having to do re hab.  I would do pilates focusing on my core and glutes.  I also avoided wearing compression gear.  Don`t get me wrong, I love all my CEP compression gear and I believe that it works.  But I have read some studies that said for our best recovery and benefit, let the body naturally build back stronger.  The idea being if I run for an hour and then wear my compression socks to recover, its kind of like I only ran for 40 minutes instead.  So why not just run 40 minutes…It was only in the last 2 weeks (I did a 3 week taper) that I would wear my compression socks because by then the work had been done and now it was a matter of making sure everything was good to go.

In the end I firmly believe that taking the polarized approach, giving myself a proper warm-up, and doing my pre had let me be injury free, hit all my targets, and most importantly get to the start line healthy and full of confidence.

4. Number one tip you have for new triathletes?

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My number one tip is don`t neglect the swim.  I think that’s the one sport that everyone has the most anxiety about.  Work with a swim coach or even better, join a masters group so you have that social piece as well. Swimming can be very boring so at least adding that social piece makes things easier.  Also practice open water swimming so you know how the wetsuit feels on, you get used not seeing what`s under you, and you can practice sighting.

5. What is the main thing you are looking forward to in KONA?

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In Kona I am really just looking forward to the experience.  It`s my first time there so to soak in the triathlon history, be around some of the best iron distance athletes in the world, and of course take in the scenery.  I feel recovered and my training has been great leading up to Kona but realistically I have no idea how my body will react doing a second Ironman 8 weeks after Tremblant. So in the end, I want to enjoy the moments for what they are, a great experience that not everyone gets to do.

I have no doubt Scott is going to absolutely rock KONA! If you are interested in following Scott’s journey to KONA, head on over to his website and give him some support!

Triathlon questions for Scott? Leave them in the comments!

SHOP (6)

Variety in Running Training

It is one of those weeks where you are hanging on by the skin of your teeth. It is the biggest week of the fall at work and I am not sleeping much, so if this is typo-ridden, you know why.

I am on a cross training theme this week and I thought that today I would focus on different types of running and why I vary the surfaces, distance and elevation that I train on. Unlike most runners, I began my race career by running on the trails so that is where I find I have the highest comfort level. I slowly progressed to road races and finally started training on the track as well. I find that every type of running has it’s place in a well balanced runner.

Track: Nothing did more for my foot turnover, top end speed and abs then speed work on the track. I was nervous at first, but as I watched my numbers get faster and faster, I fell in love with 400 m, 800 m and 1 KM distances for training. Now, I crave the deep burn that comes from giving a sprint all you have and the amazing feeling of crushing a workout with my team. I can mimic the last portion of a race to make sure I always end strong.

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Road: The majority of runner’s training is done on road and I love the slow, easy rhythm that you can fall into on the road. I have a love for the long distance run and I live in the country, so I put on my headphones, turn on a good podcast and head out for a couple hours of blissing out. Not only that, but the volume that I build will be helpful in building an aerobic base for running.

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Trail: My heart. This type of running always makes me excited, because I can embrace my inner explorer and mountain goat and attack the hills and jump over rocks and streams. I love practicing my down hill speed and working on technical portions to build strength and endurance.

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Speaking of trail, my very favourite trail series is coming to an end this weekend.  5 Peaks Hardwood Hills is the grande finale of the season and I can’t help but feel a little sad. It’s been a wonderful season and I am sad to see it end. The course is on a mountain bike trail and is not bad for beginners – hilly, but not overly technical. It falls about in the middle in terms of difficulty.

Doing some hill climbs to prep for next weekend!

They have a ton of giveaways (essentially everything they didn’t give away the prior races) and lots of opportunity to podium! If you are wanting to sign up, there are still slots and you can use JESSICA as a discount code for $5 off.

Road, track or trail?

SHOP (3)

Cross Training During a Marathon Build

Well, that was an awesome weekend.

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Genuine Health party

Harvest Half Marathon

Harvest Half Marathon

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Blogger meet up with Angela, Christina and Danielle. Love these girls.

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I was going to forego applying to Boston this year due to it being bad timing with work and it not fitting well with my overall strategy with racing next year, but I was coerced by some friends in Boston and I am increasingly delighted that I was. 2015 is shaping up to be a super fun race year and there is lots of travelling involved which is perhaps the most fun of all.

At the blogger meet up with Angela, Christina and Danielle, we were scheming for SeaWheeze 2015. Although I am not racing (I do Transrockies 120 miler the week before in Colorado), I am hoping to make the trip to Vancouver to cheer on racing friends and explore the city.

Speaking of running, it’s time to to dig back into my marathon special and chat a little bit about my plans for Scotiabank Marathon which is a mere 33 days away! This week, I wanted to chat a little bit about cross training which I have done a lot of since my last marathon in August. To prevent burn out, especially with two marathon builds, I have been doing a number of different things to stay strong and keep training fresh.

Pool Running. 

I borrowed a pool running belt from a friend and although it is a far cry from running, it has been incredible cross training.

In pool running, the most important part of your workout is maintaining proper form with a straight back and a cadence as close to 180 as possible. Pump your arms the same way as well, maintaining about a 90 degree angle at your elbow. The stride will be different, more up and down like a cyclist rather than fully extended which could injure your hamstring.

One of my favourite one hour workouts is:

  • 15 minutes easy pool running.
  • Pyramid workout: 1’, 2’, 3’, 4’, 5’, 4’ 3’, 2’, 1’ at hard effort except the 5’ session which is at tempo effort. (Each interval has 1’ of active recovery.)
  • 12’ easy warm-down.

Cycling

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As always, this is a killer cross trainer for runners. Like pool running, it is zero impact and you can do similar workouts on the bike as you can do on the track. You also can sub it in for long runs, or in my case this summer, add it to your long runs before you begin to add extra training for the legs without pushing your milage to unsafe limits.

One of my favourite cycling workouts right now is:

  • 15 minutes of easy cycling
  • 3 minutes at hard effort with a one minute break.
  • Repeat six – ten times.
  • 12 minute easy cool down.

Elliptical

 I work out at Goodlife Fitness which has four different versions of the elliptical, so depending on my workout, I change the machine I use. Lately, my favourite one hour workout has been:

  • Warm up for 15 minutes
  • Hard as possible for 2 x 4 minutes, 2 x 3 minutes, 2 x 2 minutes, 3 x 1 minutes
  • Cool down.

How do you cross training during training?