SHOP (14)

Change

Ok. It was Monday yesterday. I blinked and now it is Friday. Crazy how travelling for work will do that! It’s not all bad, I was able to take some time and catch up on the brilliant Runners World rebrand.

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So, I wanted to talk a little bit about change. There are some super exciting changes happening with Laces and Lattes, including a rebrand which should go live by next Monday morning, so if you notice a little bit of strange activity this weekend, please bear with me. Hopefully when the dust settles, there will be a shiny new blog, some new sponsor logos and a newsletter that I will be adding. Don’t worry, I will do a bit of a run through when it all is live, but for now – you are a rockstar for reading.

I wanted to do a profile on one of my new sponsors, because to be honest, it feels more like a family than a company.

Janji had reached out to me this summer to see if I wanted to try out a shirt. I like shirts, so I said yes. 

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From there, I read more about the company. How they were started by two runner friends who are my age and just focused on changing the world, one piece of beautiful clothing at a time.

Basically, Dave and Mike were at the 2010 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships on the hottest day of the year.

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Because of the particularly hot day, they were not able to complete the competition without the help of the cold water along the way. On the bus ride home, they got talking about how runners understand the importance of water perhaps more than anyone because one misstep in hydration can change a race. The concept of Janji was born – runners supporting clean water initiatives around the world.

This isn’t a charity run where the philanthropy stops after the race – this is an ongoing commitment to raising awareness and helping to change the global water crisis in a meaningful way through every day training, not just race events.

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Dave and Mike run the company with the same heart that they have for the lives they support through their products. I had a 30 minute phone chat with Dave and I knew this was a company that I didn’t just want to be a part of, it was already part of who I was. Run for another is their philosophy and it truly is my goal to use my running for good, otherwise, it is just running. I believe in living with intention and purpose and Janji is one of those companies that allows you to do so.

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Not just that, but their stuff is off the chain. Each collection is tailored after the colours and specific designs of the countries they support. Each price tag shares the how many years of drinking water you are giving to someone who needs it.

I have come aboard as a member of Janji Corps and it shocked me how quickly these people began to feel like best friends. One conference call and we were chatting everything from race schedules to global water supply. I am headed down to Boston in the spring to race and meet some of these incredible people. In April, you can find me on the course in my Janji singlet, running for another.

In the mean time, I am slowly returning from my fractures and this week I started running for the first time in over a month. After a fall of feeling a bit like I was going back wards, it is exciting to see movement in the right direction!

What does running mean to you?

SHOP (13)

What You Should be Eating: Pumpkin Seeds

I have said this before, but I truly believe that eating is linked to how you feel and how you perform. Although food is not the be all and end all, I normally start my treatment of most things with food.

Have a cold setting in? I reach for the garlic before I reach for cold medicine.

Have a headache? I drink a tall glass of water before popping an ibuprofen.

So when I had a stress fracture, I had no idea what I could do to change my diet to heal a bone faster, but I was going to try. I emailed my naturopath and explained the situation and asked her to send through a few tweaks to help expedite the bone healing process.

Her answer was simple. Add more fat. She has been working with me on this for a long time, and I have slowly made improvement like cooking with coconut oil and having avocado every day on my salad, but this month, she started stressing pumpkin seeds.

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I am not much of a pumpkin fan. Pumpkin spice lattes are not my style and if you bake a loaf of pumpkin bread, it will never disappear in my presence. But pumpkin seeds? It’s like heathy, fatty crack for me. I am not a fan of the home made ones, although I am sure those are best for you.

Here is why pumpkin seeds pack a sports nutrition punch: 

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Fat - loaded with healthy fat, it helps to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis. Fats are involved in calcium metabolism and the vitamins K2 and D are both fat-soluble nutrients that collaborate in building bone. Many factors influence bone health, but providing the building blocks for bone with adequate “good” fats and the ideal omega-3 and -6 ratio can only help.

Anti-inflammatory - Injury often results in extra inflammation. Pumpkin seed oil has anti-inflammatory elements that keeps swelling down and speeds up healing.

Magnesium – One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium which helps with heart health, stress management, proper bone formation and gut health.

Zinc - Loaded with zinc, pumpkin seeds provide immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health and insulin regulation.

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Sleep - Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” The more you sleep, the faster you heal. It sounds like a win/win to me.

Right now, I am enjoying pumpkin seeds either on a snack on their own or sprinkling on a salad.

The salad I am currently loving is nothing fancy, but I feel like a million bucks after eating it every day.

Spinach, Avocado and Pumpkin Seed Salad

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1.5 cups Spinach

1/2 avocado

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup of chickpeas

Dressing made with Olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette and pepper

Mix it all together and enjoy your feast of healthy fats.

What new food have you added to your diet recently that has left you feeling pretty good about yourself? 

 

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Mexico and STWM: On Balance

Well, this was certainly a different marathon.

For starters, I hopped off a plane and headed to straight to Toronto to get my cheer on for the thousands of people who ran the SWTM yesterday, meaning I left all this behind:

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Angela and I headed down the night before and stayed with a friend. Early this morning, we headed down town to meet up with these two crazies.

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We had a blast screaming ourselves hoarse for the runners. It is truly incredible what a cheer squad can do to running moral. It has been good for me to be on the sidelines cheering, rather than racing because you can appreciate the race in an entirely new way.

It was an incredible race this year and I was so excited to see some incredible PR’s from my friends.

Before diving back into the regular grind, I thought I would quickly mention my trip to Mexico! What I did, what I ate and most importantly, what I learned!

We stayed at a Club Intrawest resort in Zihautanejo, Mexico and it was stunning. An open concept, ocean view suite with a hammock. Who really needs anything more?

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I went with my family for a long over due vacation to spend some time together catching up and enjoying the sun.

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Since I have been dealing with stress fractures, I decided to take it easy in terms of working out and I did some hiking, exploring, ocean water swims and tried my hand at surfing. Other than that, it was a restful, relaxing week in terms of working out.

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I even caught my very first fish EVER. We went deep sea fishing in the Atlantic.

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In terms of food, Mexican cuisine is my all time favourite. I ate more guacamole in the past week than I think I have in my combined life experience leading up to the trip and I am totally ok with that.

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One my my highlights of the trip revolves around food. We ran into a local chef who invited us to his restaurant for dinner. Not only were we the only ones there, but he whipped up a gourmet Mexican dinner with ingredients he fetched from the market that morning right in front of us. Literally, one of the most exquisite food experiences I have ever had.

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I had SO much fresh seafood, including one of the fish I caught myself.

Perhaps, most importantly, I spent some time refocusing. A day and a half into my stay, I had just finished a massage on the beach and spent the afternoon reading on a chair by the water and I began feeling weak and a little out of it. I thought it was strange, but headed for dinner. In the end, I left dinner early and spent the next three days violently ill. When I finally resurfaced and established that I was not suffering from a foreign disease and it wasn’t food poisoning, I realized it was perhaps a wake up sign that as soon as my body switches from operating a million miles on hour on coffee, stress and adrenaline, it just CANNOT deal. Which is why I have set out a number of stress relieving practices for myself, including this blog.

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I love posting for you guys, I really do. I would do this even if you weren’t reading it. But when my computer charger cord died when I was on my last day of vacation and I wasn’t able to produce last Friday’s post, I didn’t freak out. I didn’t even write an extra one. I am embracing the idea that although I want to do everything I do well, I cannot do EVERYTHING. I love being a high energy person, but I need to focus on being balanced, not just always high performing. So I am putting it out there now – I am focusing on stressing less and allowing more time in my week for rest, down time and relaxation and I am asking you to hold me to it!

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So, I guess you could say that Mexico was a raging success and one heckuva vacation.

What is one thing you need to add into your week to make your life more balanced?

SHOP (12)

Athletes and Hyperthyroidism

Ok, this is a post I have been meaning to write for a long time. And since I am currently on vacation, I have all the time in the world to hammer it out. (I wrote these words before I was struck down with a nasty flu, but more on that later…)

I had mentioned in a prior post that I am an endurance athlete with hyperthyroidism and I have received a number of emails from you sharing that you have thyroid issues of some sort. It is one area for endurance athletes that is not widely researched and doesn’t have much background on. Any medical professional that I throw out the words “endurance athlete” and “Graves disease” to looks at me and says “Ohhhh, that’s tricky…”

You best believe it.

So backing up a bit. What exactly is hyperthyroidism? In a nutshell: Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism significantly, causing sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating, and nervousness or irritability.

Reread those symptoms and then think marathons. It just doesn’t stack up.

How long havScreen Shot 2014-10-14 at 11.14.18 PMe I had it? Well, in high school, I was a small mite of a thing, and during my final year of high school, I was dealing incorrectly with my youngest sister’s eating disorder and some big life changes so I started being controlling about food and exercise. It wasn’t until I went to the doctors and they saw I had lost 30 pounds in a month that they realized it was something actually medically wrong with me.

This photo was taken in 2007 right before I was diagnosed with what is called Graves Disease, which is a form of hyperthyroidism that is most common in young women.

So… lucky me.

Managing it has not been an easy task and there have been times when my training has been affected. I was given medication to treat the symptoms which include severe weight loss, enlarged thyroid, over heating, lack of sleep, hand tremors and more. I have needed to take blood tests every 3 months and report back to my endocrinologist to see how my levels are doing because the medication they put me on is not overly safe for long periods of time.

But the alternative is something called radio active iodine treatment or surgery to completely remove your thyroid. And there is NONE of that happening on my watch!

So what have I done to treat it? One of the most notable things I did was see a naturopath. I don’t believe every ailment can be healed with food, but it is always where I start. She put me on a few all natural supplements and upped my intake of iodine found naturally in seaweed. HELLLO seaweed salad!

 

I am pleased to report that I visited my endocrinologist for the first time in a long time and she informed me that my levels are perfect and I have reached a second remission. (I had another in university). There is a huge chance that it may never come back. This means no medication, but regular blood work.

What does this mean for my running?

Because I am predisposed to hyperthyroidism, my metabolism will always run high and which ends up giving me a ridiculous amount of energy to do things, but it also means I burn through my nutrients much faster than others. I operate on adrenaline much more that I should, which explains why the moment I try to relax on vacation, I come down with the flu. It also explains why I am predisposed to injuries like stress fractures because I need to have more everything than most athletes to keep my nutrition levels normal.

I often need to eat more than my peers in a race. Heck, it means I eat more than my peers in general. (I was once on a date with a guy who was in the gain stage of his body building and he was humiliated that I out ate him. I was humiliated that I out ate him without noticing.)

anigif_enhanced-buzz-16326-1368214681-9I need to supplement to make sure my vitamins are in check. It means my heart rate will always be higher than my athletic peers. It means I need to constantly acknowledge that I am not invincible. 

I guess what I am trying to say is that we all have our thing that is stopping us from being a perfect athlete. The year I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, I was told I couldn’t run a marathon because of the extra strain on my body, so I ran an ultramarathon instead. Limitations are a part of being human, but running has helped me to be too busy doing the things they told me I couldn’t do to mind. (I feel like this needs a disclaimer… There are some instances where you SHOULD NOT run when a medical professional tells you not to. This just wasn’t one of them. And, as always, I am not a doctor, this is just my personal experience with Graves Disease).

What is your “achilles heel” in running?

SHOP (11)

Final Week Before the Marathon

It’s my last marathon feature before Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon and I hope you all are deep in taper crazies.

I wanted to speak a little to the last week before the marathon. I did a feature on the final week in August, but I wanted to explore a little bit of the psychological side and a few things I learned from the last round.

  • One thing that you must must must keep in mind is that your work is done. Any running you do this week is to sharpen your legs for the race, but the training is over. I ran maybe three times total the final week before my marathon, with one sharpening run where I did a 2 KM tempo at marathon pace.
  • The day before, do as little as possible. As in, don’t even stand for too long. I personally spent the day in bed, watching movies and eating pancakes.
  • Carb load begins long before the night before. I have even heard it suggested that the bulk of the carb loading should be complete by 1 PM the day before the marathon and the night before, it is best to eat a normal sized dinner and get a good sleep.
  • I said it before, but it bears repeating - spend the time that you would spend training, in bed sleeping this week.
  • Spend some time thinking about what you are about to do, how much it will hurt and how much time you have put into preparing for it. I actually even picked a song the week before and would play it through, visualizing my marathon at my most difficult moments and imagining how I would react. This was the song I chose:

I truly do think it worked as my marathon went as smoothly as it could have. I was relaxed, happy and positive even when I was really hurting. Knowing I did all I could to prep myself nutritionally, physically and psychologically was a huge help to feeling confident on race day.

  • If you feel like you are eating too much, resting too much and sleeping too much the week before, you are probably doing it right. It is fine to get to the starting line well rested, a couple pounds heavier than you train at and alert. The extra weight is telling of well fuelled muscles that are holding water and glycogen – basically, it means they are ready to take you the distance!

Wishing everyone who is tapering a fantastic final week before the big race. For my Canadian friends, have a wonderful time celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving today.

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Taken from my Instagram. 

I have arrived safely in Mexico and am spending my days in the sun, playing in the waves, doing some intense open water swims in the ocean and eating ALL the Mexican food as it is my top favourite cuisine of life.

And doing a whole lot of this:

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What is your favourite way to relax during a taper?

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Mexico-Bound

Hey there, friends!

In my pre-vacation rush, I didn’t have much time to make a robust post for you today. I will be back with a regular post on Monday morning but today, I travelling to Mexico for some much needed R&R. I have packed my pool belt and am looking forward to doing some pool running in the ocean. :)

I am returning for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and I cannot wait to cheer on all the runners on the course!

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If you could head on a vacation anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

SHOP (9)

It’s Not Just You

“Nothing that just happened here has surprised me.”

I looked up blinking at my friend from the floor. I had asked if they wanted a drink and opened the fridge to have the first glass container come crashing out of the door and shattering across the kitchen floor.

Earlier that day, the tomato sauce from my vegetarian lasagna poured out into my purse, ruining my belongings.

Even earlier in the day, after a nice sweat session on the bike, I showered and went to get dressed for the office, wearing a white top and realized I forgot my bra at home and needed to rock my black Nike sports bra under a white shirt all day because I sure wasn’t going the alternative route!

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Here’s the thing. I didn’t over react to any of it. Because right now I am in a stage where everything is just ok. I have spoken to a few other athlete friends and they all share the same sentiment – being in existence right now is hard. I have heard suggestions such as adrenal fatigue or over training, but truthfully, I think it is just a nasty case of the fall blues.

What do I mean? It has been a great summer! We have had a host of amazing races and sunshine and vacations and summer nights on the patio. Suddenly, and without proper warning, our summer has given way to a chilly fall where we are needing to bundle up and mentally prep for the winter that is headed our way.

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The days shorten which means less natural light and we are naturally outside less during prime sunshine hours. This means less vitamin D and more melatonin. That’s right, less light causes increased melatonin, which is a hormone excreted by the brain which regulates sleep.  No wonder we are having a hard go at things!

Here is what to do in order to beat through that feeling of being “just ok”.

1. Talk about it with a friend. The best thing I did was share it with a friend. The crazy thing is that I found almost every one I spoke to was feeling the same way, which is one of the main reasons I decided to write this post, because chances are, you are feeling it too.

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2. Listen to your body. If your body is not feeling an extra workout, don’t push it. Transition times are hard and you want a successful and healthy winter. Keep your workouts regular, but if you need to take an off day and relax, don’t feel guilty about doing so.

3. Get Outside. Go for runs, walks and hikes to make sure you are breathing deeply and soaking up natural light if you can.

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4. Know it will get better. We are endurance athletes. Pushing through “suck” is what we do. Know that it is just a season and you will adapt soon. But if you truly feel as if there is an underlying problem, make an appointment with your doctor. Depression is NOT just a “stage” and it is important to take it seriously.

5. Take some Vitamin D. Make sure you are armed with all you need in order to stay healthy and happy. I like to up my Vitamin D, magnesium and B vitamins when the cold weather hits in order to stay balanced.

How about you? How do you beat the fall blues?

SHOP (8)

How to Taper (And Not Lose Your Mind)

You guys are getting ANSTY! :)

I had a great chat with some of you this week on twitter and the topic was on tapering. Obviously, I am your spokesperson for resting now that I am off running for a while and I have been doing a LOT of chatting of what to do with yourself when you are not running and how to manage all the extra pent up energy that you have been accustomed to throwing into running this summer.

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I was chatting about the frustration I feel about being sidelined with a fellow athlete recently and she said something that resonated with me and I know you well enough, it probably will with you too:

When people first start running, the hardest part is training. You are grateful for the rest. As you develop and grow as an athlete and are type A as so many of us are, the rest becomes the most painful part of training because you don’t think you are DOING anything to further your sport.

I think that is the number one way that we need to change our views on rest. Resting is training. It is just as vital as those mile repeats on track day and when you are training, the higher the intensity and milage, the more vital it becomes.

Trust your training: You have spent months preparing for the upcoming races and now it is time to TRUST your training. You have put in the time so resting your muscles will only sharpen your potential on race day. If you have put in the work, you have nothing to worry about, but trying to make gains in the last three weeks will only harm you on race day. Your work is done.

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Make your taper gradual: I follow a formula that was made popular by Pete Pfizinger which suggests that at 3 weeks out, you run 80% of your normal marathon training, at two weeks, you run 60% and the final week, you are only running 1/3 of your regular volume including the marathon. 

I thought I would leave you with some of my fool proof tricks and tips for dealing with the “taper crazies” as I affectionally call them.

1. Focus your mental energy on consistent pacing. When you are running, chances are, you feel fresher than you have for months. Don’t be lulled into a false security and pick up the running pace – focus on regular and consistent splits.

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2. Spend time with family and friends. Chances are, those closest to you have made some big sacrifices to support you in your training journey. Take this extra time to spend time with them and thank them for being there. It also helps take your mind off pre-race nerves.

3. Ditch the scale. It is normal to be concerned about gaining weight before your marathon but I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s ok to be a up a couple pounds on race morning, especially if you have carb loaded properly. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and check your nerves at the door.

What are your tips for staying sane while tapering?