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.


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?


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.


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?


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.

Genuine Health party

Genuine Health party

Harvest Half Marathon

Harvest Half Marathon


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


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.



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.


 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?




SHOP (3)

What I’m Loving More Than the Cold

Greetings from the corner of the world that thinks it’s winter.

Almost overnight, I have gone from wearing tank tops to shivering in a coat. I have moved my training indoors due to thunderstorms this week and I am itching to get back outside! Instead of dwelling on the summer that was too short, I am trying to focus on better things.


5 Peaks Grand Finale Race: In one week, we are wrapping up the season, celebrating the trail community and enjoying nutella on bagels in the woods for the last time until next spring. It is held at Hardwood Hills and I would love to have you join us!

If you are new to the trail running scene, this is the perfect tester course and the perfect group of people to welcome you to the scene. Did I mention we have nutella? J If you are interested in coming, you can sign up here. And if you want to save some money, enter JESSICA for a discount!

These socks:

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 11.47.17 PMI have been in hard core recovery mode since the marathon and I am loving compression socks from SLS3. I have been testing them out for the season and I have had some memorable races in them.

Why I love them? For starters, the height. They can be pulled up over your knees which is great support for runners who have chronic knee injuries like myself. They also have butterflies and I don’t know about you, but any piece of running clothing that allows for a bit of style is a winner in my book.

I have the Butterfly Compression sock in Hibiscus and White. These are great socks and I used them heavily for my marathon recovery as they boost blood flow by over 33%.

Genuine Health Protein bars:


It is the busiest month of work for me which means my mealtimes and training have taken a hit. I am leaning heavily on these guys and I have one almost every day right now. My favourite is vanilla and it keeps me full for hours, which is a challenge with me.

New Balance Backpack:

photo (1)

I need to carry a brief case around for most of the day so it is fun to shed a decade (or two) and rock a back pack to practice or to events. This little guy is brand new and goes with me everywhere right now.

What are you loving more than the cold right now?

SHOP (3)

Vanilla CocoBerry Smoothie

It is starting to feel like fall out there! I keep finding bits of coloured leaves in my shoes and the air has a bit of a bite. That has not been stopping me from getting in some quality swim sessions or spending time outside. I am probably the only female on earth that doesn’t like pumpkin spice lattes, so I need to enjoy fall in other ways!

I am just a bit exhausted today. Yesterday was a whirlwind of work meetings and I caught a Blue Jays game in the evening with a friend, but that translated into a late bed time. Combine that with teaching an early morning spin class and I am just a little exhausted.

I made my morning smoothie with a bit of an extra zip with some B vitamins and caffeine!

Speaking of smoothies…I had mentioned on Wednesday’s post that I am taking part of a smoothie challenge for September, but I wanted to talk more about that and share my recipe to the challenge.


What it’s all about
tuja’s Green Smoothie challenge is designed to add a big dose of healthy to your daily routine. You decide where it fit and each smoothie will feature something GREEN. Why green? (Read about that here.)
Each smoothie is personally taste-tested by members of the tuja team. (Trust me…mine would never have been published without their expertise…)
When: September 1st to 30th, 2014 (It’s fine to join the challenge late!)
Where: The comfort of your kitchen
Why: Because you deserve it! (And you could win some fabulous prizes)
How much: FREE

My mornings are beyond hectic as I often try and squeeze in a run before my work start time of 8 am every morning. Considering I normally leave myself about 20 minutes total to get ready from start to finish, I need something that I can consume quickly. Enter the smoothie. I have my blender on standby and all my regular ingredients within reach.
My normal smoothie is actually quite uncreative but it tastes amazing to me, so I stick with it.

The ingredients?
One banana
½ cup of frozen berries
1 scoop of Genuine Health protein powder
1 scoop of Genuine Health greens powder
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of coconut milk

If I am feeling super adventurous or it is a high milage week, I will throw in a TBSP of coconut oil for some healthy fats.

Recently though, I was asked by Genuine Health and Tuja Wellness to create a recipe for their one month challenge and even though I am not a gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, I had a lot of fun creating and consuming the recipe.


1 cup spinach
1 cup coconut milk (or half coconut milk half filtered water)
1 cup frozen berries
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp hemp seeds (and/or protein powder)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 bananaAdd all ingredients and blend until smooth. If your smoothie is too thick – add a li’l more filtered water.

What is your go-to smoothie recipe?

SHOP (3)

Marathon Training Schedule

Happy Monday, friends!

I had an amazing weekend at the 5 Peaks race and spending some time catching up in Niagara with some of my best friends.

Monday means it’s time for another marathon special! September will be a touch and go month for me training wise as it happens to correspond with my busiest month at work. Considering part of my marathon training was, well, running a marathon, I am not too concern. I am trying to take proper rest and recovery, eating well and focusing on quality workouts over quantity.

I wanted to talk about my regular training week and what that looks like. Whether I am training for a marathon or not, my workouts remain fairly consistent, I just up the mileage a bit for longer races.

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 4.35.16 PM

I try to have an average weekly mileage of at least 70 KM (42 miles) a week and 10 – 12 hours of cardio so I supplement with cross training. This is my base. I will ramp it up for races and slash it during injury and rest periods.

So what does an average week look like?

8-12 KM (5 – 7 miles) – Trail intervals and strength training (during a marathon training cycle, I switch from weights to plyometrics such as jump squats and mountain climbers)

5-12 KM (3-7 miles) easy trail run.

50 KM (30 miles) cycling (one session in the morning indoors, one in the evening outdoors) 8-12 KM (5-7 miles) track interval session.


5-12 (3-7 miles) KM easy road run


Race or 20-32 (12 – 20 miles) KM long run with tempo portions


5-15 KM (3 – 9 miles) easy run

I have worked with a coach to find a plan that works for me and I work on periodization and tapering for a safe build for races. I know that there are as many different ways to train as there are people out there, but having a training schedule for you that becomes almost automatic is key to ensuring you have a solid base and all the preparation that you need to race!

What do you incorporate into your marathon training?


Caffeine and Runners

It’s been one of those ‘blink and you’ve missed it’ weeks. It may be because I have been busily tackling my list of goals for September already, including getting in my first squash session of the year as well as going to my first Muay Thai lesson ever!

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 6.33.53 PM

It is a busy week that is shaping up to be an even busier weekend with plans of going to the ElectroDash and 5 Peaks Kortright Centre races as well as headed to Niagara with some of my best friends from university. A nice balance for the weekend, but a few projects will have to take a back seat.

I had talked a little bit over the marathon on how I played around with caffeine usage and I received a number of questions on that. Basically, the week before the marathon, I cut all caffeine out. Now, please keep in mind that up until this point, I was a 2-3 x a day coffee consumer. Literally addicted and I made no apologies (it’s even in my blog name, after all). On race morning, I added it back in by taking a lemon lime Nuun Energy tab which is my favourite pre-race drink with B vitamins and caffeine.

You will find caffeine in quite a few sports nutrition products and there is a good reason for it!

Mental Alertness and Improved State of Mind

Just as your morning cup of coffee helps you get mentally ready to face the day, research shows that caffeine boosts your mental alertness, improves your mood, and boosts your desire to run hard.

Even better, for longer events, such as the marathon and half marathon, caffeine reduces a runner’s perception of effort.Even better? Caffeine increases the concentration of endorphins in the brain, the same hormones that produce a runner’s high.

Photo on 2011-05-03 at 09.19 #2

Increases sprint speed and power

Caffeine enhances reaction time and improves neuromuscular coordination (how fast your brain can send a signal to your muscles to contract and relax). This is great for any distance of running as improved neuromuscular coordination allows your leg muscles to fire faster and more forcefully, which means you can run faster with less effort.

Fat Utilization

Although it isn’t fully clear how caffeine increases fat utilization, most researchers agree that caffeine increases the number of fatty acids in the blood stream, which increases the speed at which your body can covert fat to usable energy, which conserves glycogen. This is amazing for long distance runners!


Since the marathon, I have continued to consume caffeine, but much more cautiously than before. I will go without it some days and try to use it around heavy workouts. I have found it to be an incredible boost to put in that extra bit of work on the track or on a long run.

Tastes amazing, smells like home and makes me run faster? Sign me up!

Speaking of signing up, Olympian Adam Goucher (Kara Goucher’s husband) has started a virtual race series called Run the Edge Virtual Race series.

goucher_adamq1_world07Each month, they sign up with a charity and this month, they are supporting service dogs. Basically, you go to this link, sign up and do a virtual race with the opportunity to win prizes while supporting a charity. I am all about using my running to do good, so sign up and join me on September 27 as I race for Medical Service Dogs. 

Are you a caffeine addict? How do you take your coffee?


Minimal gear and trail runners – inspiring or reckless?


That is how I feel about the fact that fall is coming. Where did summer go? If I had my way, I would be roasting marshmallows, running on beaches and wearing sundresses all year round.

Thankfully, fall is a beautiful race season and I am looking forward to tackling some great races this month:
5 Peaks Kortright Centre 14 KM – the last race to collect points for the finale
Harvest Half – a brand new RunWaterloo race to raise money for Kenyan Kids
5 Peaks Hardwood Hills – the GRANDE FINALE!
Chase the Coyote – Only 5 other females have managed to do the course in the allotted time slot and I am gunning to make it 6 this year.
(Email me for a discount code for Kortright and Hardwood Hills; I’d love to race with you!)

5Peaks - RattleSnake

Speaking of trails, it has been a while since I have done a Trail Runner Symposium and this one is extremely timely.

This month’s question?

Trail runners attempting technical mountaineering routes with minimal gear—inspiring or reckless?

I may be the wrong person to ask, considering I grew up launching myself off of 40 foot rock faces into water below and spent my spring break scrambling up steep limestone buttes in North Dakota and only afterwards considered the consequences.

I am a thrill seeker and an adrenaline junkie. I also am not afraid of pain if it is tied to a controllable thing like an endurance event or trek.
Now that we have prefaced this point of view may be slightly insane and/or biased, let’s start in.

I was a part of a group who was setting out to run the Grand Canyon this fall. I had met my team mates, boughten some gear and for a whole host of hard decisions, needed to back out of the trek. One of the main ones being that the Scotiabank marathon would have been a week after. There is no taper in running 56 miles of up. I would have been among the ones who attempted a ridiculous feat with minimal gear.

In winter, I don’t wear enough layers. In summer, I don’t carry enough water. I am not in any way saying that these are things that you should emulate, but if I have learned one thing, it is that technical endurance sports with minimal gear comes down to a personality thing. I can hear a story of a person who attempts a long stretch with very little gear, nutrition or support and agree that it is madness and probably reckless. But you better believe that I will turn around and do the exact same thing, despite understanding it is not the brightest idea.

100milesof wild

Looping back to my Grand Canyon trek, there is more than just a onetime missed opportunity. There has been a fluster in the news lately about the Canyon requiring permits of hikers and runners due to a host of things, one being rescue. It will become much harder for endurance athletes to try and set the RimtoRimtoRim record and days of lean, minimal runners passing through the canyon easily may be gone.

I think there is something very beautiful and inspiring about running with little. It feels good and it feels free. It also feels stupid if you are caught out longer than you realize or miscalculate the lay of the land. I was scaling buttes and racing through badlands on one of my treks, but what I didn’t tell you was that I started going a little nuts from dehydration towards the end of the day and was violently ill that evening. There is sometimes a cost for minimal gear and it is only inspiring as long as no one is harmed and unfortunately, there is no promise of that.


Switching gears – something I forgot to mention in my monthly goals is a smoothie challenge I am trying for September. Every morning for breakfast, I am trying out a new smoothie and I will be featuring some of my absolute favourites over the next number of weeks on Wednesdays.


Feel free to join me in the challenge and sign up for a September of smoothies!

What are your thoughts on technical terrain and limited gear? Inspiring or reckless?