Monday, March 28, 2011

The Soundtrack to My Sunday Run

So my last post prompted a couple of people to ask about my running playlist. I only run with music on my Sunday long run as the 2 other days I run with a group. I have an older ipod shuffle, the one that clips onto something. Very handy from a runners standpoint. I'm amazed that something that small can hold so many songs. I have about 9 days worth of music in my itunes library and that's not even half of my CD collection at home. I love music. I always have. Thus my choice of running tunes is somewhat diverse. There are bands that I LOVE and my playlist is heavily peppered with those as you will note. This is what moves me these days:

Shuffle Playlist

1. Good Morning-The Beatles
2. Revolution- The Beatles
3. Tom Sawyer-Rush
4. Spirit of Radio-Rush
5. Freewill-Rush
6. New World Man-Rush
7. YYZ-Rush
8. The Big Money-Rush
9. Roll the Bones-Rush
10. Crossroads –Rush
11. Ying & Yang & The Flowerpot Man-Love & Rockets
12. Hard Road-Sam Roberts
13. Brother Down-Sam Roberts
14. Higher Learning-Sam Roberts
15. Dead End-Sam Roberts
16. Don’t Walk Away Eileen-Sam Roberts
17. Rarified – Sam Roberts
18. Taxman – The Beatles
19. Within You& Without You/ Tomorrow Never Knows-The Beatles
20. Two Hearts Beat as One – U2
21. The Larger Bowl – Rush
22. The Main Monkey Business– Rush
23. The Bottom Line- Big Audio Dynamite
24. Opem Up Baby – Big Sugar
25. Beautiful Day- U2
26. I Feel Fine – The Beatles
27. Day Tripper – The Beatles
28. Paperback Writer – The Beatles
29. Hello Goodbye – The Beatles
30. Get Back – The Beatles
31. The Entire Vapour trails album – Rush (13 songs)
32. I’m a Loser – The Beatles
33. She’s a Woman – The Beatles
34. Late Night Radio – David Gray
35. Babylon 2 – David Gray
36. Come on Home – Franz Ferdinand
37. Go! - Tones on Tail
38. Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen
39. Rosalita – Bruce Springsteen
40. The Rising – Bruce Springsteen
41. Lonesome Day-Bruce Springsteen
42. Radio Nowhere – Bruce Springsteen
43. Ruby – The Kaiser Chiefs
44. Livin’ in the Future – Bruce Springsteen
45. Part of Me – Chris Cornell
46. Enemy – Chris Cornell
47. Time – Chris Cornell
48. You Wreck Me – Tom Petty
49. No You Girls – Franz Ferdinand
50. Ulysses – Franz Ferdinand
51. Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
52. Lucid Dreams – Franz Ferdinand
53. Can’t Stop Feeling – Franz Ferdinand
54. Bite Hard – Franz Ferdinand
55. The Resistance – Sam Roberts
56. Bridge To Nowhere – Sam Roberts
57. Do you Want to – Franz Ferdinand
58. Full Moon – The Black Ghosts
59. Where the Rose Is Sown – Big Country
60. Ramalama (Bang Bang) – Roisin Murphy
61. When the World Is Running Down – The Police
62. Driven To Tears – The Police
63. One World (not Three) – The Police
64. If it Happens Again – UB40
65. What You Meant – Franz Ferdinand
66. Felipe Blanco – Sierra Maestra
67. Tenderness – General Public
68. Two Swords – The English Beat
69. Join in the Chant – Nitzer Ebb
70. White Riot – The Clash
71. The Beat(en) Generation – The The
72. Scatterlings of Africa – Johnny Clegg & Juluka
73. In God’s Country – U2
74. No Speak No Slave – The Black Crowes
75. Black Moon Creeping – The Black Crowes
76. Help I’m Alive – Metric
77. Gimme Sympathy – Metric
78. The Saints Are Coming – U2 & Green Day
79. All Out to Get You – The English Beat
80. Jackpot – The English Beat
81. Over & Over – The English Beat
82. Mr. Roboto – Styx
83. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
84. Heaven (Must Be There) Eurogliders
85. Radio Free Europe – R.E.M
86. Spanish Bombs – The Clash
87. Generals & Majors – XTC
88. Caravan – Rush
89. Hey Soul Sister – Train
90. Native Love – Divine
91. Stadium Love – Metric
92. Satellite Mind – Metric
93. At or With Me – Jack Johnson
94. Juniors Farm – Wings
95. Silly Love Songs – Wings
96. Got My Mojo Workin’ – Junior Wells
97. Strength – The Alarm
98. 1901 – Phoenix
99. Lisztomania – Phoenix
100. White Knuckle Ride – Jamiroquai
101. Dog Days are Over – Florence and the Machine
102. Nobody Told Me – John Lennon
103. Two Hearts – Chris Isaak
104. I’m Not Sleepy – Chris Isaak
105. Walk Slow – Chris Isaak
106. Wonderlust King – Gogol Bordello
107. Heavyweight Champion of the World – Reverend and the Makers
108. Start Wearing Purple – Gogol Bordello
109. Henrietta – The Fratellis
110. Outsiders – Franz Ferdinand

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Power of Music

I always run with music. There was a time when I didn't and honestly I don't know how I managed to run for 3 hours without my little soundtrack. There is something about hearing your favourite tunes that can lift you out of a funk or help you push through the last few km's of a tough run.

I decided it was time to change up some of the music on my shuffle. I was heading out for an hour and a half long run so some new tunes would be nice. I was feeling fine when I went out the door but when I started running, I felt a little "rusty". I figured that would work itself out the further along I got into my run. It didn't. It was also really windy. I hate the wind. I was already struggling and the wind just made it that much harder. I plodded along. I had no spring in my step. 45 minutes later, it was time for me to turn around. I thought I had been running into the wind on the way out but, noooooo, it was square in my face when I turned around. This made me cranky. I don't like being cranky when I'm running. I tried not to pay attention to the wind and just focus on my stride and form. That kept me distracted for a while. About half an hour from home, just as I'm entering the bike path, one of my newly added songs comes on: Wonderlust King by Gogol Bordello. I immediately started to smile. And skip. And sing. Thank God no one was around. I put that song on repeat 3 times in a row. I felt energized. The spring in my step was back. So much so that I decided to add some intervals to the end of my run. 3 x2:00 minutes all out with 1:00 minute rest. It felt so good to go fast. I even managed to hit 3:52 km's. That's some serious spring in my step.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Runs Well With Others.

Last night I FINALLY made it out to run with a local run group, the West Toronto Pacers. I had run with them a few times in October and November and then disappeared inside once the snow came. I know some of the members from the tri scene and my swim club. Everyone in the group is really nice. And they are all pretty fast. The workouts are as tough as you want them to be. Tuesday nights are tempo nights and Thursday nights are anything from intervals, to mile repeats to hill work. I know that if I did these workouts on my own, there is a good chance I wouldn't push myself as hard as I do when I'm running with a group. Last night I ran with one of the more senior members and he commented to me after that he hasn't run that fast in a long time. I shadowed him for a good 2-3 km of our almost 7km run. That pushed him to work harder. In turn, I worked hard to not let him get too far ahead of me. A win-win situation if you ask me.

Thursday night is supposed to be mile repeats but it might end up being an interval session since many of the members are doing Around The Bay. Whatever it is, count me in as I'm finding that I run better with others.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sweating out the Kinks

As a triathlete I am used to tight muscles. I am diligent about stretching and massage but sometimes that doesn't seem to be enough. I have chronically tight hip flexors and a shoulder that develops knots simply by being immersed in chlorinated water.

Enter Hot Yoga.

I was a little intimidated to try it. Mainly because I didn't want to look like an idiot. Shallow, I know. I was also a little worried about the heat. Normally I don't do well in the heat. I usually get light headed and a little dizzy. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. The heat is a moist heat and seems to get right into your body. I thought I was in good shape but I remember being sore after my first hot yoga class. And I sweat like I had never sweat before. Not a stinky, hard run kind of sweat but a cleansing kind of sweat. I walked out of that first class feeling cleansed, relaxed and incredibly limber. I was hooked. I tried to go at least once a week. After several weeks of regular practice I started to notice things happening with my running. Things like less tightness in my hip flexors, the loosening of what I thought was chronic shoulder tightness. My running speed also started to improve. Probably because my hip flexors were no longer that tight. Imagine that.

I also noticed that it really helped me to mentally turn off. It's hard to think about your day when you're holding one leg in the air and trying to balance on the other in a room that is heated to a balmy 100 degrees. Yoga practice requires (for me at least) extreme concentration. Every week I would try to stretch a little farther, concentrate a bit harder. Every week I would leave that class feeling lighter. The harder I worked, the lighter I felt.

Unfortunately when things got really busy, going to yoga was one of the things that fell by the way side. All of my old issues gradually started to materialize again. After the ridiculous amount of physio that I went through last year while training for my marathon, I decided that there were 2 things that I was going to work on over the off season and throughout my next racing season. #1 was strength (which I have been incredibly diligent about) and #2 was flexibility. I've been good about stretching and foam rolling but again, I need that extra bit of help. So back to yoga I went. The familiarity of the postures was comforting. The heat of the room, welcoming. It was just like seeing that friend whom you haven't seen in years but every time you see each other you can pick up where you left off. And you never realize how much you miss them, until you see them again.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Little R&R Does the Body Good!

Ok I'll admit it, I'm a workout-a-holic. I find it hard to dial it down and rest after a big event. I've gotten better at it in the last few years but mentally, it's still a bit of a struggle for me. In the back of my mind, I'm always afraid of "losing fitness" which is absolutely ridiculous.

I took this entire week off running after the race and opted to just do my usual swim and weight workouts. By Saturday I was totally itching to get out. It was a relatively nice day so I headed out to do a short "easy" run. I was pleasantly surprised to see my pace had improved a lot! My run felt effortless, especially for the pace I was running. Granted I didn't have my foot pod on (no battery) so I guessed at my distance. I might have been off by 100-150m but even then my average pace would have been about 5:10-5:12/kms. SWEEEEET! I was so happy. I haven't run that fast with that little effort in a VERY long time.

Just goes to show that a little rest and relaxation DOES to the body good!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Random Thoughts on Running

People ask why I run. I say, "If you have to ask, you will never understand". It is something only those select few know. Those who put themselves through pain, but know, deep down, how good it really feels.
~Erin Leonard

I have been asked why I run so many times that I've lost count. There are so many reasons why I lace up my shoes and head out the door - the above quote touching on one of them.

I've put myself through some really tough times and I've had to dig REALLY deep to meet my running goals but the satisfaction that I've gotten BECAUSE of that is immeasurable. No one can take that away from me.

Running is my "ME" time. My time to think or, if I feel like it, to tune out my thoughts. My time to enjoy my surroundings, to take in a beautiful sunrise by the lake or watch the birds or people with their dogs / children. All of these things do not go unnoticed by this runner. They make me appreciate the fact that I am able to get out and move.

A run is like therapy for me. The rhythm of my breath can melt away any source of stress in my life. Things always seem more positive after I've gone for a run. The world is a better place and things that started out as obstacles are now just little bumps in the road.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

All Aboard The Half Marathon Hat Trick Train - Stop #1-The Chilly Half Marathon

I had no idea what to expect for this race. I had a goal in mind, something I thought I'd be capable of given the little training I've done (sub 1:50). I ran 3 days a week, one long run, usually over distance with race pace segments, and two shorter runs on the treadmill during the week. Usually interval training and nothing more than 8km - 9km. I focused on weight training, usually 2-3 times a week and usually right before a hard run. I think that helped immensely. My legs actually felt pretty good until about 17km then they started to tire out, which is impressive for me. Normally they'd be tired at about 10km.

My goal was to pace myself well and make sure I focused on nutrition and hydration. It rained yesterday and then the temperature dropped and it snowed. Thus the conditions were less than ideal. I'm kind of glad because it forced me to go out easy. I took it fairly easy for the first 2km and as the crowd started to thin out, I started to push the pace a bit. I had gotten a stitch around 3km and it came and went for the entire race. Footing was also pretty crappy for the first half of the race. To top it off my foot pod decided that it wasn't going to work so I was essentially running blind in terms of pacing. I had a pace band for a 1:49:00 half so I was using that and checking my pace at each km marker. I was pleased to see that I was hitting my pace at each km. At some point during the race, I think it was around 7km, I started to pick up the pace a bit. I managed to gain a minute and change by the time I hit the 12km mark. I couldn't believe it. Every km, I checked my watch. I was like a metronome. Always a minute and 3 seconds faster than I needed to be. I made sure I had some gel every 15 minutes and I made sure I drank both water and e-load. I was definitely working but I didn't feel like I was killing myself. I started to hurt around the 17km mark. I still had one half of a gel left and I thought I'd save it till I hit 19km so it would give me a boost for the last 2km. By 18km my stitch had returned full force and was causing me a lot of discomfort. I tried breathing through it but to no avail. The only thing I could do was just keep running and hope that it went away. At 19km I took the last of my gel. I wasn't sure if I would have much left in the tank but I really wanted to push it through the last km. Once I hit 20km, I started to pick up the pace again, despite the fact that my legs were screaming at me. I knew that once I hit the little downhill, I wasn't too far off from the finish line. I could see the crowds getting bigger and I could hear people yelling. As I started to make the turn onto the street where the finishing chute was I heard Gary yell my name. I smiled and waved. The finish line is at the top of a small incline and I busted a gut pushing it all the way. I was NOT going to let ANYONE pass me. I caught a woman about 100m from the line and I didn't let up until I crossed the line. Final time 1:47:49. Am I happy? HELL YEAH. With some better training and some hard work, I think 1:40 is definitely within my reach.

Next Stop: The Toronto Women's Half on May 29th. Bring it on.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Forty Schmorty - I still feel 20!

I really do. Not that I really remember what 20 feels like but I imagine it was probably much like this. At least that's what I like to think anyway.

I had a wonderful day yesterday. Work was not too stressful, and I slacked on my relatively healthy way of eating and was actually ok with it. I usually feel a little guilty if I don't eat well like I'm denying my body proper fuel. Which is kinda silly, really. A little indulgence once and a while is an ok thing. Not overdoing it is key.

Nutrition is one thing that I've been really focused on the last few months. I put on a few extra lbs last year (about 8 which for me is a lot) and I had a hell of a time getting rid of them. I discovered a program called Precision Nutrition which I have been following since October. My eating patterns have changed as well as what I eat and when I eat it. My body has changed dramatically, especially in the last 2 months. I feel stronger and I'm definitely leaner than I've ever been. The big question is, how will that translate to my racing. I guess I'll find out on Sunday.

Speaking of which, I'm having my usual pre-race freak out. Did I do enough mileage, will I meet my goal (sub 1:50) blah blah blah. Geez. Someone sent me a link to an article in Joel Friel's blog about Ironman Race Prep which I think is applicable across the board when it comes to racing.

"One week before a challenging A-priority race such as an Ironman Triathlon I ask the athlete to prepare a written plan. This is based on what we have learned in training and should include such things as goals, keys to success, race-day nutrition, pacing in each sport, key thoughts before and during the race, and anything else the athlete believes is important."

Taking this approach and breaking the race out into thirds, my day would look something like this:

Goal: Sub 1:50

Keys for Success:

1) Hydration & Nutrition. Make sure I drink & take gels every 15 minutes. Drink & eat earlier than I think I need to!

2) Do NOT go out too hard. Ease into my pace. Ideally I run 5:15's for the first 3 km and then pick it up to 5:00/min km's. This is going to be tough for me, I always start too hard.


1) Get a good night's sleep on Friday night.

2) Carbs on Friday, a lighter dinner on Saturday. Low fiber on Saturday as well.

3) Pack up everything I need the day before. Double check everything before I go to bed. Make sure I include a change of clothes for post race.

Race Morning:

1) Get to the start line early

2) Make sure I warm up.


4) Think positive. The body follows the mind!