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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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How to Make a Training Plan (And Stick With It)

Welcome to Monday!
It was a weekend jam packed with running for me. I did the Creemore Vertical Challenge 25KM on Saturday morning (recap will be on the blog on Friday). It was a fantastic course and although it was a training run for me, I was excited to finish first female.

Sunday, I spent the morning checking out the 5 Peaks Rattle Snake course with the race director and ambassadors and finished off the day by hosting a trail run in Waterloo with the Toronto Run Club Night Terrors. I love meeting other runners all throughout Canada and I have some exciting runs planned for the summer.

Doing some hill climbs to prep for next weekend!

Doing some hill climbs to prep for next weekend!

Group shot with some of my favourite trail running friends.

Group shot with some of my favourite trail running friends.


Night Terrors at the Hydrocut. Finishing off the weekend of trail running!

Night Terrors at the Hydrocut. Finishing off the weekend of trail running!

(As an aside, if you are thinking of running Rattle Snake next weekend, send me a message at and I will hook you up with a discount code. )

Last week, I completed the finishing touches on my seven week training plan for my upcoming Endurrun marathon which will also serve as a launching point into my Scotiabank marathon in October. I’m not going to lie, it was a blast, but a wee bit hectic.

I used my MovesCount profile to create the plan and was able to track my weekly running milage as well as all my cross training. It is helpful because it gives me my average cardio for the week and I was shooting for between 10 – 12 hours and it landed me at 11.5! I have been meaning to do a post on how I track my training and I thought that this would be the perfect time, especially as I know many of you are thinking of upcoming A races this fall.

1. Determine the weeks leading up to the race – I knew that I had seven weeks to get into marathon race shape. Considering I am building from half marathon race shape, it really isn’t a proper training cycle length to build and taper, but I worked out some creative solutions in my cardio to add fatigue without the wear and tear.

2. If you are new to creating training plans, talk to an expert – For me, that was my coach. I sat down with him and brought my past mileage and weekly workout habits and we discussed the best ways to proceed. I would have made some silly training decisions without his advice.


3. Know it won’t be perfect – As I mentioned, I am not building in an ideal time frame, but it has allowed me to be creative. What do you do when you have a 30 KM run on tap for the same weekend you are doing an 8 hr adventure race? How do you add appropriate levels of fatigue without adding too much milage? (I am cycling an hour before my long runs).

4. Make it as easy as possible – I created the plan in Moves Count and added it to Garmin. This has uploaded my training into both my Suunto and Garmin watches so it can tell me what I am doing on any given day. It is also a great way to monitor milage.

5. Track your progress – I also hand write each workout into my beloved Moleskin planner which tracks everything for me from my appointments, workouts to my budget. If I lost it, I would be aimlessly wandering. An important thing I do with my handwritten workouts is to colour code them in the following way:

Green – I felt AMAZING
Orange – The workout was a bit underwhelming. I didn’t feel 100%
Red – It was full of pain and suck.

Zoomphoto Inc Event Photography

If I start dipping into the orange, I monitor my training and potentially adjust my milage or intensity or just take a plain old rest day to make sure I am not over training.
6. Don’t be ruled by your plan – As I mentioned, if I am feeling burnt out, tired or not into my workouts, I will take a rest day, no matter what it says on my training schedule. Also, sometimes life happens and your mother wants to take you for dinner or a long distance friend is in town. People always trump races for me so just remember that this is FUN and the track is always there tomorrow.

If you are interested in tracking my training, I am on Strava and Moves Count.
I will also be sharing pictures and updates on my Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

What do you use to track your training?

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Fit Snap and the Canyon

A big hello from Arizona!

I have been here for the week and have been enjoying every second of soaking up the sun and having a few adventures. I have been doing a lot of hiking while I am here because I am still doing athletic therapy for my achilles injury, so I am taking it easy.

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Today, I just returned from the Grand Canyon, where my father and I completed a trek into Phantom Ranch and back out again.


I will be doing a more in-depth recap on Monday, but for now, I wanted to share this wicked app that I found that helps you log your memorable workout photos and information and allows you to share them on social media. Because we all share our workouts on Facebook, anyways, am I right?


Have no fear, you will no longer waste a single workout with FitSnap.

I truly don’t use many fitness apps on my iPhone but this is basically a workout log for busy, vain or lazy people. If you are any of these, you should download it immediately!

In all seriousness, it is a great way to inspire, share and connect with other athletes and also track your activities, pace and distance in one spot.

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I was impressed at how user friendly it was, especially for unsavvy humans such as myself, but it was extremely intuitive and reminded me of a sporty instagram!

The filters have fun names like Sporty, Running, Yoga and more and the workout information in easy to enter. Check it out and send me the link to your workouts and I will share them in an upcoming post!

Get yer Fit Snap on!

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See you back on Monday for a Canyon Trek recap! Have a wonderful weekend!

What is your favourite phone app?
What are your plans for the weekend? 


The massage therapist who didn’t give a massage

One thing I am finding out about myself as I grow into my adult life is that I don’t trust my decisions enough.

I am still learning everything there is to know about me as an adult. I knew me pretty well as a teenager, but there is nothing like belly flopping into the real world to realize that you have some reconfiguring to do.

So as I continually reconfigure, I am learning to trust my gut on certain things. I generally am right and one of the beautiful things about being an early 20’s human being is that people generally expect you to be a bull in a the china shop of life and seem to give you a “get out of jail free” pass. The only question becomes where that invisible line is that demands that pass stop, but I do not want to over think it; it would be another post anyways.

All this to say, I trusted my gut today and it was awesome.

kbell-setI booked a massage for a great deal online and didn’t read it carefully and promptly forgot. I received a reminder email about my purchase and quickly booked as it expired next week.

In between shifts at work today, I drove 30 minutes only to arrive at an industrial area with no massage area in site. I called the company and was told that I was right by the location.

I located the place and walked in with the full intention of walking out hating everything except how yummy my IT bands felt after being stripped of tension and whatever else jams up my legs and causes me pain in racing season.

It even continued when I opened the door and saw a beautiful women in a Crossfitesque gym.
“How …trendy.” I thought.

It all changed when she started going over my training, my past injuries, and my racing season. She moved at my pace of appointment style: break neck speed. She knows all my past coaches and physiotherapists and she wasted no time in getting me on the table and began explaining all my injuries and stress points.

“I am a sports therapist first and a massage therapist second.” she said.

She took me on the floor and analyzed my gait, my squats and my running strides.

She then did one of the most surprising things of my massage appointment: she didn’t give me a massage. She gave me fascial stretch therapy.

What is Fascial Stretch Therapy? (source)

FST is a form of assisted stretching during which one person takes another through various stretch positions. But FST has some unique characteristics that distinguish it from other types of assisted stretching.

It is guided by ten principles:

1. Synchronize your breathing with your movement.
2. Tune your nervous system to current conditions.
3. Follow a logical anatomical order.
4. Make gains in your range of motion without pain.
5. Stretch the fascia not just the muscle.
6. Use multiple planes of movement.
7. Target the entire joint.
8. Use traction for maximal lengthening.
9. Facilitate body reflexes for optimal results.
10. Adjust your stretching to your present goals.
FST uses traction and a multi-planar stretching technique to increase a joint’s full range of motion and works in a deep to superficial muscles direction. Typical stretching does not follow this approach.

It is also very participant oriented. The participant needs to contract and relax a muscle as the therapist moves it through stretch positions. This uses the participant’s nervous to help improve the muscle response by manipulating the muscle stretch reflex.

FST follows a logical anatomical progression to work through the entire chain of muscles.

It looked something like this:

One important thing is that you must be comfortable with getting up close and personal with this type of treatment. The therapist uses their body weight to guide you through the stretches.

It was AWESOME. I immediately felt mobility return to some of my joints. My problem areas are my ankles (particularly my left side), my right IT band and my left shoulder.

The cutest thing in the world is that her and her husband own the company and they work together to get clients healthy together. They had a professional Ironman competitor who had completely mangled biomechanics and they had him riding with ease within three sessions.

I have begun a program to help prep me for my race season. Which is fabulous considering she told me that no one should be as tight as I am in off season and if I didn’t have muscle, I would be falling apart.


But I am going to be continuing with the fascial stretch therapy, having a true stride analysis done (they will be videoing me after 15 minutes of running and after 100 minutes of running and using that to correct my stride.) I am also working with the trainer to help condition me so I have corrected the things that are problem spots in my biomechanics.

You may be asking why? And that is an EXCELLENT question. I am NOT a professional athlete under any circumstances. I am at best a front of the middle pack runner. But the fact is, I want to be an (almost not mediocre) runner for the rest of my life. Which means I need to put in some of the preventative time now.

Also. My livelihood depends on me being able to move well and without injury or pain.

You may be asking who and where? I have some athlete readers and if you are local, check out KMTS Athletic. In particular, Karla McConnell.

All that to say. I have signed up for Tough Mudder in May.

Beyond excited.

And if you follow me on Instagram, you saw I started my long weekend with a wee bit of Hip Hop Pop Cardio at work.

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It was a sight to behold because not only am I a white girl, but I also am 100% Mennonite.


How did you kick start your Easter weekend?


chasing the footprints of those better than me.

Happy Monday, one and all! I hope your weekend was as relaxing as mine. I spent as much time as possible outside, soaking up that amazing sun!

On Friday, I hinted that I went shopping for a something that I had been waiting for over a year for.


phoneWhich means I am now on instagram! It is a whole, new world of filters, friends and selfies. I kid. Self portraits are one of my least favourite things in the world. So on the off chance that I need to perform them, I will try to do them as creatively as possible.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

The very first picture I put up on Instagram was this lovely piece:

Screen shot 2013-03-10 at 11.42.11 PMNow. I promise that I will be more creative in the future than putting my mud caked, sweaty runners online for the entire world to see, but I truly felt as if it were myself or the shoe. So really, you all won. And I was so excited about the fact that I went on a long run on the most beautiful day in 2013.

I thought I would take this opportunity to use this seamless leeway to tell you another running story. A good one that is at the foundation of why I run. It is wrapped up in a single person who is fuelled by foreign beers and anger.

My father has a long time employee, we will call him George, that keeps to himself except to utter a few sarcastic tones and is generally not thrilled with people as a rule. However, if you want him to talk, ask him about running.

George has a way of deflating your best stories with a single word. I remember in high school when I was winning cross country races, I would go to him and tell him I ran 5 KM in less than 19 minutes. Without missing a beat, he would throw back at me: Run an ultra-marathon and let me know if you are good then.

And so I did. 

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t just as easy as just strapping on shoes and running. You had to join a club first. George invited me out to a trail running group that met every Tuesday night and introduced me to his friends, and then told me to run with another group.


So I did. I found the most advanced group, who were winning ultra marathons around the region and I kept up, even if it meant returning to my car with blood and mud on my legs and either the taste of blood or vomit in my throat. (I am such a lady).

And I kept running until I fell in love with it.

George still talks to me when he sees me. Rushing over quickly to tell me about the latest race and checking in to make sure I am still running. He is over 60 and runs at least an ultra marathon a month in racing season. Beyond his crusty exterior, I found he has become fond of me, and what’s more – proud. He has invited me to his house to celebrate race victory parties, to train with him before a long race and has even let me sub in for him on a 30 km race for free.

Despite trying other sports, in a very strange and inexplicable way, running is like coming home every spring. Long winter months of fitness instruction and the odd foray into the icy weather to gingerly scamper over snow banks make me forget the pure joy of just running hard and fast until your breathing syncs with your foot  falls and your brain becomes quiet and it is just you and the road and maybe some birds for miles and miles and miles.

Sometimes I break my quiet runs to chase those who are better than me, to remind myself how far I have to go. But no matter how far he finishes behind me, I always can count on George to tell me that I would have been that much better if I would have ran straighter, had newer running shoes, or had been on the trails one more day a week.

And I love it. Because it was his dissatisfaction with my 5 KM that made me think I could do 50 KM. And why I am in the midst of planning to make it 50 miles. Sometimes overt pride from people suggests that your accomplishment is the best you can do, and I love that there is someone who always will have something I could have done better.

No matter how old I am or whether George is always in my life, I will always have his crusty voice telling me what I am doing wrong and how I could be doing it better which keeps me running. Running after perfection. Running after the finish line. And mostly, running for the sheer beauty of running.

Who inspires you in the things you are passionate about?