Sunday, January 31, 2016

#OperationTop5 Week 4: Not as Planned

A training cycle wouldn't be a training cycle if you didn't have at least one week where things didn't go as planned.  This was that week for me.  It started off really well and then just went to hell in a hand basket.  But that's life, right?  Not everything goes to plan and sometimes you just have to wing it.  Or do what you can.  I still had some pretty good workouts so I'm happy about that.   I also had my biggest month EVER in the pool.  This month I racked up 36,850m of swimming in 13 swims.  That's 36.8km in the water.   C-R-A-Z-Y.

This was supposed to be a recovery week and I took that to heart.  I had a few crappy nights of sleep (hello hormones!) plus one late night and that's when things started to go downhill.  Tuesday night I hardly slept, Wednesday night I was out late and once again, I hardly slept.   That's usually a sign that Aunt Flo is on her way.  Thursday I was zonked.  I was tired and incredibly sore from the crazy Electric Yoga class I had taken the night before at the Smart Girl's Sweat Sweatworking Event.  That class reinforced my complete lack of co-ordination, ha ha.  But it was still kinda fun.  Anyway, I was so tired and I felt so crappy that I left work early on Thursday, went home, ran a hot bath and almost fell asleep in the tub.  I was supposed to do a 75 minute bike ride but I had zero desire to get on my bike.  I got out of the tub, had a nap on the couch, then had some soup for dinner, watched a bit of TV with G and was in bed asleep by 9:00 pm.  I finally had a good night sleep and felt human when I got up on Friday morning.

Friday night we hit up 850 Degrees, our favourite pizza place and then went by our friends place for a  drink to celebrate his new job.  It was 11 pm by the time I went to bed.  I actually set my alarm for 7 am because I figured if I didn't I'd sleep in late and then have to rush around to meet my trainer for 9 am.  The rest of the weekend was packed with training, working on my athlete's training plans, meal prep and some well deserved relaxation.

Once again, I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap.  It's a chance to share your week whether it be in workouts or in life.

This is how week 4 of my Operation Top 5 Training went...

Monday:  4.23km run.  3x4 minutes with NO PAIN!  Wahoo!

Tuesday:  OFF

Wednesday:  a.m:  2800m swim.  It was quiet at work so I got in a 5.58km run (4x4 minutes!) mid
afternoon.  p.m. 45 minute Electric Yoga class

Thursday:  45 minutes of strength work.  W.I.P.E.D out.

Friday:  2200m swim

Saturday: 60 minutes of strength work, 2 hours on the bike then a 6.39km run (5x4 minutes)

Made with Super Photo! 
Sunday:  6.9km run up to the pool (6x4 minutes, pain free!) 3250m swim.

Total time:  9h 53 minutes

I was pretty wiped out by the time I got home from the pool.  Not to mention HUNGRY.  Holy smokes.  I'm still trying to get used to fuelling for this increase in training volume.  I've caught myself feeling hungrier sooner so I think I need to increase my protein intake a bit as well as the actual amount of food I'm eating.  It's a fine balance, that's for sure.  I'm patiently waiting for the weight I've put on over the last couple of months to go away.  It has yet to happen.  Oh the joys of getting older.  Boo.

Tomorrow my run plan takes me to 1x 9 minutes of running!  Folks, I'm ALMOST DONE.  I'm starting my last week of this plan.  It will probably take me a week and a half to get through it since I've decreased my runs from 5 a week to 4 a week due to the increase in time for the intervals.  Things are going really well.  I'm staying on top of my niggles - all this glute work I'm doing has definitely made them tighter so I went to see Peter, my chiro on Friday to get some ART work done.  My plan is to see him once a month for a tune up.  I usually only get a massage once a month but I figured the way things are going, I should probably do ART as well.  So that's the plan.

How was your week?  Do you go for regular massage or ART?  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

O is for....

A lot of good things:


And this weeks Wednesday Word:  Optimism,  which is something I've been feeling a lot of lately and it's a really nice change of pace.  I try to keep things upbeat here but my knee issues REALLY started to wear on me last year.  I remember sitting in the living room bawling my eyes out to G because I was so worried about losing my identity as a runner if I couldn't run anymore.  I didn't get into that too much here but I really bothered me.  Running has been such a huge part of my life for so long and a large part of my social circle are runners so I couldn't imagine NOT being able to do it.  I had been in pain for a while and I honestly felt like I would never get better and that I would have to make a choice between running and leading a pain free existence.  Those were dark days.  Running helps keep me sane and happy.  To not have that in my life would probably make things very difficult for myself and for those around me.

Once I started seeing Lauren, I left that first appointment with a series of exercises and a clear game plan.  That first run I went on wasn't amazing but it wasn't horrible either.  But each subsequent run I went on, things got better and better.  I still had some pain here and there but it was improving with every step.  Then one day it happened.  I ran without pain.  None.  My knees didn't hurt at all.  Not even after my run.  That's when the optimism really started to take hold.  Things were starting to come together.

I'm continuing to ride this wonderful wave of optimism.  Even when I have "off" days I remind myself that I am so much better than I was.  The road to recovery is never a straight line and I've learned to remain optimistic, even when I have a couple of bad days.

Thanks to Deb at Deb Runs for the Wednesday Word Link up!

How do you remain optimistic?

Deb Runs

Sunday, January 24, 2016

#OperationTop5 Week 3: Almost Up and Running

I can't believe that we are almost at the end of January.  Holy moly.  So far, things have been moving along nicely both with my training and at work.  January can sometimes be totally nuts but this month has been a little quiet.  I've had a good balance of busy and quiet which suits me just fine.  This past week I had two photographers shooting so that kept me busy for a couple of days.  I had two stupid early mornings but sometimes that's a necessity when you're not sure what your day is going to be like.  This weekend was gloriously lazy when you took the workouts out of the equation, ha ha.  I had a nap on the couch on Saturday afternoon and a lovely hot epsom salt bath on Saturday night.  Both necessities for good recovery in my books.  Today we went for brunch with a friend of ours who was in town from Vancouver.  It was nice to hang out and catch up.  Because we were meeting for brunch after our Sunday swim, that meant I had to get my short little rehab run out of the way early.  This made it worth it.

Speaking of my rehab, I should be finished my little rehab plan by the second week of February!  WOOHOO!  If I am pain free, then I should be able to start building up my mileage.  This morning's run was completely pain free.  I think the work with my trainer and all my physio work is starting to pay off.  I don't think I've ever done this much glute work in my life.  I'm going to have buns of steel baby, BUNS. OF.  STEEL!

I spent the rest of Sunday working on training plans and doing a bit of meal prep.  I'm trying to make one or two staples every weekend that I can wrap and freeze.  I'm finding that burgers and burritos are my go to for that.  They don't take too long to make and they're easy to reheat.   I've been focusing a bit more on plant based foods for lunch so my burgers and burritos usually involve beans, sweet potatoes or quinoa.  Pinterest has been a life saver in terms of finding interesting and tasty recipes!

Once again I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap.

Week Three of Operation Top 5 is in the books and it was a good one!  This is how it went dooowwnnnn......

Monday:  5.34km run

Tuesday:  OFF

Wednesday:  5.73km run at stupid o'clock, followed by a 2750m swim.  Not the best idea but if I didn't run before swimming, I wouldn't have run as I was at work late.

Thursday:  75 minute trainer ride in a.m. + 60 minutes of strength work + 6.61 km run in p.m.

Friday:  2800m swim in a.m + 7.45km run in pm.  Under a beautiful full moon no less.

Saturday:  60 minute strength session with my trainer, followed by 2 hours in the Pain Cave on my bike.
No boogers, ha ha!
Sunday:  3.37km run (up to 4 minutes of running - wahoo!) 2700m swim (RECOVERY WEEK IN THE POOL!!  Can you tell I'm excited?!??!) + 30 minutes of upper body and core in the afternoon.

Total time:  11h 43 minutes.   The whole strength work first then bike second really killed me.  But my trainer said it's better for me to do it that way so I'm actually building strength and not having to compromise on the weight I'm lifting because I'm tired.  So that's what I did.  I certainly felt it on the bike as the workout went on.  I had a fair bit of zone 4 work towards the end of my ride that just about killed me.  This week looks to be a little bit easier but we'll see, ha ha.

How was your weekend?  Did you get snowed in?  We haven't had much in the way of snow but it's been chilly, which is fine by me, I just want the snow to stay away.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The First DNS of 2016

I really hope it's the ONLY DNS of 2016 as well!

I was supposed to run the Robbie Burns 8km this weekend but after speaking with Lauren on Tuesday, that has been taken off the table.  Am I disappointed?  Not really.  If I wasn't rehabbing an injury then I would have used this as test of my current run fitness.  But, I haven't covered more than 6.6km in my last 5 weeks of rehab.  Could I run it?  Of course but I'm sure it would be ugly.  Would it be smart?  Heck no.  Lauren said that the stress it could potentially put on my body isn't worth it right now.  And I agree.  So I will keep plugging away at my plan and my rehab exercises.   Last night I ran 7x3 minutes so things are moving along. 

In terms of progressing my rehab, I have now been tasked with practicing jumping off a step and landing softly and not letting my knees collapse when I land.  Not letting my knees collapse is difficult but not as difficult as landing softly.  I'm not very big but when I walk I sound like I'm 6ft, 200lbs.  Some people would say I walk with "purpose".  G says I don't walk as much as stomp (not having much carpet in the house really emphasizes this, haha).  I don't think I've ever been terribly light on my feet so I'm not surprised that my knees have suffered.  I'm really enjoying this challenge because it really forces me to be aware of my feet as well as how the rest of my body moves.  It also gets me off my butt at work.  If it's not busy,  I'll go into the garage, get an apple box, take my shoes off and practice my landings.  My co-workers expect this sort of crazy stuff from me so no one is surprised, ha ha. 

In case you're wondering what an apple box you go.  We use them in the studio to prop things up. 

I've got a fairly quiet weekend on tap.  Of course there is the usual long ride & Masters swim and I'll be meeting with my trainer again.  This time I'll see him BEFORE my two hour ride.  Last week I ran, rode and THEN went to see him.  I was exhausted half way through my workout with him which is kind of a waste.  So he recommended that I see him first thing on Saturday and then do my ride.  So that's the plan.  We'll see how my legs like it, ha ha.  I'm hoping the ride helps alleviate some of the post workout soreness. 

It feels really nice to be back into a workout groove.  And I like seeing the green workout box in Training Peaks (that means my workout was completed, haha).  I'm a very goal oriented person so I look at each of those green boxes as a building block or stepping stone to my goal.  Speaking of goals, I LOVE the new feature on Strava that allows you to set weekly and yearly goals.  They've FINALLY added swimming in as a weekly / yearly thing you can set goals in.  I went out on a limb and set distance goals for each discipline for the year.  I will probably re-evaluate them mid season depending on how things go.  Right now these are my goals for the year:

Swim:  300,000 m.  Right now I'm 6,000m ahead of target but I know come the summer time my swim time will drop because we lose our Sunday Masters swim.  We usually try to make that up with an open water swim on Saturdays but I never swim that far in open water.  Maybe that will change this year.  Masters Canada has a Million Meter challenge and right now I'm at 953,000m so I've got less than 50,000m left before I get my Million Meter pin and swim cap.  With the amount of time I've been spending in the pool, I should have that by March!  Woohoo! 

Bike6500km.  Last year I rode 4700km so this is a big jump.  I figured we're going to a training camp for a week so we'll get a lot of riding in then and I know G and I will do some longer distance late season rides.  Plus, I'm sure Paolina will pile on the miles once I start riding outside.  Right now I'm 120km behind target but I'm not too concerned about that just yet.

Run:  1250m.  Last year I logged just under 1000km (980 to be exact) which is the lowest mileage I've logged in a very long time.  Now that my running is on the up and up, I think that this is doable.  I'm currently right on target and I haven't even been cleared to start building my mileage yet! 

So, those are the mileage plans for 2016.  We'll see how all that actually pans out at the end of the year.  

Do you set mileage goals for the year?  What have you got planned for the weekend? 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

#OperationTop5 Week 2: Laying the Foundation

What a monster of a weekend.  My body is sore.  Actually more specifically my glutes and hamstrings are sore.  My new trainer is really working my legs and glutes.  I met with him yesterday and we did a few new exercises.  I really felt it when I got up this morning and had to do a kick set in the pool.  Ouch.  But I know in a few weeks time things won't hurt so much and I will be that much stronger.

I had a pretty darn good week of training.  I felt a little fatigued on Thursday but that changed as the day went on and by the time I got home from my CPR course, I felt good.  My swim dedication has continued which is great and I'm now up to 3 minutes of running!  Woohooo!  My knees feel the bigger days for sure but for the most part they're pretty good.  I used to have pain in my right knee when I was swimming but I don't have it at all any more which is great.  My left knee gets a bit sore when I run but I think it may have something to do with my Morton's neuroma on that foot.  I'm going to experiment with some inserts and see what works.  

I haven't been great about meal planning, especially for dinner but surprisingly we only ate out once and that was our Friday night treat night at Woody's.   I'm trying to keep things as simple as possible with dinners.  I've been better with my lunches.  The last couple of weekends I've prepped several things and put them in the freezer so I've got a few different items to choose from.  I've been leaning towards more plant based foods as of late, mainly for lunches.  I find that my energy level stays relatively consistent throughout the day when I eat a plant based lunch.  I'm also trying to cut back on my sugar consumption.  I used to have 2 sugars in my morning Americano now I have one.   If I want something sweet in the afternoon, I have a couple of dates.  That seems to satisfy my sweet tooth.   Just like training your body, you can also train your tastebuds.  We just don't always like to do that, ha ha.  I don't eat a lot of sugar but I could definitely be a bit better.

Anyway, I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and Mississippi Piddlin for their Weekly Wrap up.  It's a chance for everyone to share their triumphs and trials in training.  This is how my week rolled out:

Monday:  5.53km run
Tuesday:  OFF
Wednesday:  3050m swim + 5.75km run in the snow.

Thursday:  60 minute strength session followed by a 6.35km run in the a.m.  75 minute ride in the p.m.  That was killer.  As evidenced by my pain face.  I have mad selfie skills, ha.

Friday:  2250m swim

Saturday:  3.84k run, followed by a 2 hour Computrainer ride (I watched Ex Machina), followed by 60 minutes of lower body strength work with my trainer.  I was EXHAUSTED after this.

Sunday:  3000m swim + 4.46km run + 30 minutes of upper body & core work

Total time:  11h 49 minutes.   That is the most volume I've had in over 3 months.   I swam 8300m, ran just under 26km and rode 94.5km this week.  For someone who isn't really running the way I normally would I'm pretty pleased with the fact that I've actually covered 26km this week!  I'm almost done week 5 of my 8 week program.  3 more weeks and then *hopefully*  I'm able to start building up my run mileage. Fingers crossed!

How was your week of training?  Do you plan your meals or do you wing it?  Link up with HoHoRuns and Mississippi Piddlin to share your adventures!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Keeping the Good Times Rolling....

Happy Friday people!

This week has just flown by!  I think I've re-discovered my workout mojo because I actually look forward to every single workout, regardless of what my coach has on tap.  Normally this time of year I dread the swim because I hate going out in the cold to get into cold water.  I'm not sure what's come over me, but right now nothing is phasing me.  I'm getting up, earlier than normal,  so I can do my phsyio & mobility work, and then getting my butt into the water and cranking out 2500-3000m swims during the WEEK.  That never happens.  I don't normally see a 3,000m + swim unless it's a Sunday.  But these past two weeks, I've had a midweek 3000m swim!  It must be my new training schedule.  Normally I'd take Fridays as my day off but my new schedule has an easy recovery day on Mondays, followed by a full day off on Tuesdays.  So by Wednesday I'm feeling pretty good.  This seems to be working for me so far.  Thursdays are my biggest day with a strength session, a run and a bike.  Right now Paolina only has me on the bike 2x a week.  One midweek ride that's usually 75 minutes and then a 2 hour ride on Saturdays.  Since my running is being dictated by Lauren, Paolina has let me schedule that whenever I can.  The goal is for me to run 5x a week.  So far I've been able to do that.  I'm 2/3 of the way through the program Lauren has got me on and I feel great, although the snow has been making things tough.  Yesterday was particularly difficult.  But, I actually look forward to getting out and running now because I'm not feeling any pain! This is a nice change of pace for me so I'd like to keep that ball rolling!

So remember on Monday when I mentioned I had a bit of news to share?  Well, if you follow me on Instagram you will have seen this already.  But if you don't, here you go!
 If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm going to be racing for Team Zoot Canada this year and this is the women's team uniform.  I'm SO excited to represent this brand.  I've been wearing Zoot for almost as long as I've been doing triathlon.  They make the BEST tri shorts hands down.  I got a sneak peek at some of the new line as well and suffice to say, I'm going to have to start clearing out space because I wanted one of pretty much everything!   The collection goes live on February 1st and that can't come soon enough! 

I've got another follow up appointment with Lauren on Tuesday next week so we'll see if I get given any more exercises.  I'm doing everything pretty much pain free with the exception of single leg squats on my right leg.  I have to be very aware of the position of my pelvis and hips because if I lean forward too much, I can't squat without pain in my knee.  It's like something is rubbing on the tendon and it hurts for a bit until I squat past it then it's fine.  If I'm in the right position, I don't feel it at all.  So there's definitely something happening in my right knee, I'm just not sure what it is.  It could be some kind of calcification - who knows.  But, it doesn't hurt when I run or walk or any other time for that matter so as far as I'm concerned, it's all good!

I'm looking forward to another fun weekend of training and socializing.  I've got a two hour ride and a session with my trainer on Saturday and then a swim and a run on Sunday.   Saturday night we're having friends over for dinner.  It's been a while since we've had friends over so I'm really looking forward to that!

Tell me what's on tap for your weekend? 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What I've Tried: Shockwave Therapy (or ESWT)

I came about this treatment modality completely by accident.  I was complaining about my knees to my chiropractor and he was surprised that with everything I had been doing to fix the issue, that I was still having pain.  He suggested we try shock wave therapy.  It's usually a last resort because it's fairly expensive (most places charge $170 or so a treatment!) however Pivot had discounted their service at the beginning of 2015 and never changed it so I thought why not, what have I got to lose?

What exactly *is* shockwave therapy?  The medical term is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (thus ESWT) extracoporeal meaning that it's performed on the outside of the body.  From what I understand, there four different types and it depends on the machine being used.

1)  Electrohydraulic shockwave (such as the HMT OssaTron machine)
2)  Electromagnetic shockwave (such as the Sonocur and Dornier Epos machine)
3) Radial pressure wave (such as the Dolorclast system and Storz)
4) Piezoelectric shockwave (from the Piezonson by Wolf)

Electrohydraulic, electromagnetic and piezoelectric are all true forms of shockwave.  Each one of these technologies produces a pulse that breaks the speed of sound, thus creating a shockwave.  Radial pressure waves do not break the speed of sound.  They travel at a much slower rate so this actually considered pressure wave therapy NOT shockwave. 

What does shockwave therapy do?

According to Wikipedia:  "Shockwaves stimulate angiogenesis (new blood vessels) and neurogenesis (new nerve cells).   The exact physiological mechanisms at this stage are poorly understood, but it appears that the cells undergo microtrauma which promotes the inflammatory and catabolic processes that are associated with removing damaged matrix constituents and stimulates wound healing healing mechanisms."  

In layman's terms, shockwave therapy stimulates healing in areas that are usually slow to heal, like tendons.  In addition to stimulating the healing process, shockwave also seems to have an affect on the nerves, assisting in diminishing pain. 

Shockwave diminishes pain in two ways:

1) "Through hyperstimulation anesthesia, where the nerves sending signals of pain to the brain are stimulated so much that their activity diminishes, thereby decreasing or elimination pain.  This effect is sometimes short lived."*

2) "It is also believed to diminish pain over longer periods of time through the stimulation of the "gate control" mechanism where the nerves can be stimulated to "close the gate" to pain impulses sent to the brain.  It is thought of as activating a "re-set" button that recalibrates pain perception"*

*info taken from

This was the reason Peter suggested it to me.   I needed a reset as I think I had become so sensitized to feeling pain in my knees.  We needed to find the "off" switch. 

The therapy I had done was actually radial pressure wave therapy as evidenced by the machine that was used (this took some digging on good old google!).  The practitioner applies a wand to the affected area and that is what emits the pressure wave. 

What does it feel like?

I think that depends on who is administering the treatment.  I had two people treat me at Pivot.  Peter and Yuri.  Peter takes a more aggressive approach with me, which I appreciate as it usually gets results.  Yuri had a bit of a softer touch.  Either way it hurt.  The best way to describe it would be a like sonic jackhammer beating on your tendons.  Depending on the setting of the machine it can be mildly uncomfortable to fairly painful.  I was never sore afterwards, there was just a dull achy feeling.  I was told not to ice or take anti inflammatories as that would adversely affect the shockwave work.

Does it Work?

I had the recommended 4 treatments and I'm completely pain free now,  so I'd say that it does.  Especially since I've been dealing with this for the last 2 years.  It took away all the sensitivity I was feeling around the outside of my knees and now that I'm working on proper movement patterns I think I've rounded the bend.  I know of other people that have used it successfully to treat plantar fasciitis.  However there are many conflicting studies out as well.  So, like most things I guess it depends on the individual.

I'm so glad Peter suggested it as I think that was the off switch that I so desperately needed.  It helped me move into my next phase of healing which is the work I'm doing with Lauren.   Things are definitely moving in the right direction now and I couldn't be happier!

Who else has had success with shockwave therapy?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Operation Top 5 Week One: Getting Back To Business

This past week was a good week.  I met with Lauren again, she's given me some new exercises to do, my running is moving along nicely and I put some solid time in on the bike and in the pool.  I also hired a personal trainer for the first time in my life and I met with him on Sunday.   Yup, I'm not messing around this year.  I mean business.  I am so excited by all the potential this year.  It's been a while since I've been this excited.  It feels really nice.

It was kind of nice to get back to work, which essentially means that I have some routine / structure back in my life.  YAY!   I had Monday off, so it was only a four day work week for me which was awesome.  I took advantage of that day off and went over to Xtreme Couture, which is a gym very close to my house, and took a tour and then joined.  It's exactly the kind of place I like.  It's essentially an MMA gym that offers some classes + has a serious weight section.  It will be MUCH better for me than Planet Fitness.  Wednesday night I went into the gym and had my "weight in" and measurements.  As I suspected, I'm carrying a few extra lbs and I've gotten quite soft through my hips and thighs.  But that's ok.  I know that will change, especially now that I'm working with a personal trainer.

This weekend wasn't too action packed which was perfect.  I got a run in after work on Friday,  Saturday morning I had a solid bike workout and then went to WattsUp for their open house.   It was nice to see some familiar faces.   My afternoon was relatively quiet.  I did my physio exercises, worked on my athlete's training plans and did a bit of meal prep.  Sunday was way busier.  I had a swim and a run, a meeting with my friend Jenn for something REALLY exciting that I will share soon.  Then it was off to see my trainer Chris who took me through my paces.   After that I did a bit more meal prep, along with dinner and then had a hot epsom salts bath.

All in all it was a good weekend.

This is how my first week of Operation Top 5 rolled out:

Monday:  3km run - graduated to 2 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking!  It was *just* 20 minutes but I didn't care.

Tuesday:  OFF

Wednesday:  awesome 3000m swim in a.m.  3.3km run in pm

Thursday:  3.7km run in a.m.  It was a beautiful morning.  1h 5 min ride with cadence work in p.m.

Perfect way to start my day!
Friday:  2450m swim, 4.5km run in p.m.

Saturday:  1h 50 minute trainer ride with cadence work then 2x15 minutes in the high end of zone 3. Holy smokes was I ever SOAKED by the time I got off the bike.   You know it's hard when your Garmin tells you it's going to take 44 hours to recover, ha ha.

Sunday:  3350m swim + 5.2km run + 1 hour of strength work.  So much glute work my butt is killing me.   BUT, that's exactly what I need, ha ha.

Total time:  9h 20 minutes.  I managed 20km of running this week and 8800m of swimming!  I had two swims this week that were 3km or over.  It's been a while since I've logged that much mileage in the water.   I have to say, I'm actually really enjoying it.  New year, new attitude, ha ha.

Have you ever worked with a personal trainer?  How was your weekend?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Trust the Process: What I'm Working On

I will be the first to admit that I suck at being patient.  I want things to happen and I want them to happen now.  That's my inner 5 year old talking.  That being said, I'm not afraid of hard work and I understand what it takes to achieve a goal.  I actually enjoy that process.  Rehabbing a chronic injury  however, is not enjoyable work.  It blows.

BUT.  There is a game plan and it seems to be working.  After Scotia I told myself I'd take the time off running, which I did.  Almost 3 weeks in fact.  And when I went back to it,  I ran at a comfortable, easy pace and not for very long.  My longest run before this last break was 8.5km.   In those 3 weeks off, I started to address certain things that I felt were contributing to my knee issues. I also enlisted the help of an amazing physiotherapist and friend of mine, Lauren Dyck

1.  Foot mobility.  I've been wearing orthotics for almost as long as I've been running, which is a really long time.  I think my feet have become stupid.  They don't know how to work properly any more.  I proved this point when I took my orthotics out for a very short run / walk and had one of the best runs I've had in AGES.  I've also noticed that sometimes I curl my toes when I'm running and I'm not really sure why I do that.  I've switched to the Altra Torins and the room in the toe box has made a huge difference to my feet and what they're doing.  Taking my orthotics out of them was like finding the missing piece of the puzzle.  I now feel the ground when I run and I feel much more stable  and confident when I'm running.

The mobility in my left foot, especially my big toe joint is somewhat limited so I've been working on making my toes more flexible and functional.  I've been using Joy-a-toes which are nothing short of amazing.  I've also started doing toe yoga (I kid you not) and working on strengthening my feet by grabbing a towel with my toes and pulling it towards me.  I don't do that as often as I should.  But at least I'm doing it which is something.  My physio exercises also have me working on strengthening my arch.   Lauren has also recommended running barefoot on the treadmill for 1-2 minutes a couple of times a week.  So you know I'll be THAT person at the gym, ha ha.

2.  Ankle Mobility.  Stiff and inflexible ankles will definitely manifest further up your kinetic chain, usually in your knees.  I had ankle mobility and achilles issues 3 years ago, which I worked on fixing and then never bothered to keep up.  I've been asked multiple times if I've sprained my right ankle.  I don't think that I have but I did play soccer for 4 years fairly competitively and I know I've rolled it more than once.  My right ankle is the problem one and all the pain I'm feeling is in my right knee.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Lauren has me doing calf raises and this wonderful little gem to increase my range of motion - except I'm kneeling when I'm doing it. 

3) Core & Glutes:  I'm keeping up my core and glute work as well.  Glute bridges are part of my regular routine as are side planks and cable push outs.  I am heading back to the gym to start lifting heavy again to get some strength back in these legs of mine.

The big thing is getting my VMO to kick in.  It seems to have gotten a bit lazy over the years.  I'm doing band work which is been fantastic for not only my VMO but my gluteus medius as well.  Which is exactly the muscle that you want to be strong when you're a runner!

So, am I running?  Kind of.  Lauren has me on a run walk program.  When I started I was running for one minute and walking for one minute.  I built up to 15 reps of that.  Now, I've graduated to 2 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking.   Today I did that 5 times.  It felt amazing.  The knee pain I was experiencing is gone.  I'm not completely pain free however.  There are some different niggles that have arisen, probably because I've taken my orthotics out of the equation.  It seems to sort itself out once I get moving.  I'm hoping it's just my body getting used to using different muscles.

This is the best I've felt in regards to my running in over a year.  I feel like I'm really on the right track.   Lauren knows her stuff.  Speaking of which, I'm putting a little plug out there for her because I think she's awesome.  She's leading a clinic called the Resilient Runner at Synergy Sports Medicine on Sunday February 7th.  It's a 3 hours and it will cover the basic mechanics of running and how to choose the proper shoe for you.  The clinic will cover:
  • Basic mechanics of running and how to choose the "right style" and shoe for you
  • Common injuries of the hip, knee and foot, and more importantly how to prevent them
  • Simple exercises to improve muscle imbalances associated with running
It's only $45 and you can sign up here - if you want to learn how to stay injury free, this is definitely a good place to start!

I'm feeling much more hopeful than I have been in ages.  I finally feel like I'm heading in the right direction.  I'm trusting the process and learning to be patient because I know it will pay off in the long run.   2016 is going to be a good year.   I can feel it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Pur Energy Wellness Lofts & Best Fuel Contest

Back in lateNovember of last year, I had the opportunity to meet with Lisa Manzo, the owner of Pur Energy Wellness Lofts.  She invited me to come by the studio and take a tour.  Lisa is a Certified Fitness Instructor, Certified Personal Trainer, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist as well as an author.  Oh and did I mention that she's a new mom?  Yup.  Pretty darn impressive.

When I pulled up to the building, I was impressed.  It is a stylish building in a non descript industrial neighbourhood so it definitely stands out, but not outrageously so.  It looks just like a loft building.   Inside, it looks like a spa.  Lots of beautiful light.  There is a small bowl of home made energy bars in the reception area (I had one they're delicious) as well as a small retail area featuring items from local artisans.  I got a jar of pear jam that is simply amazing.  There will be a juice bar as well in the coming months.

When I looked at the class schedule and the services offered, one thing was immediately apparent - this was not your ordinary fitness studio.   In terms of classes they offer everything from TRX to Barre, to Piloxing (pilates & boxing in class format) to Guided Meditation & Restorative Yoga.  Not things that you'd find your average fitness facility.  The services offered also set this place apart from other fitness facilities.  They offer private yoga instruction, massage and body work, acupuncture as well as energy healing and life and spiritual coaching.  Lisa summed it up perfectly:  It's all about energy in and energy out.  The energy out classes like TRX and Pur Bosu work your body and the energy in classes help you clear your mind and rejuvenate.  I have made a pact with myself this year to take the time before I go to bed every night to try to clear my mind of the clutter of the day.  I am finding more and more that this is a necessity.

Lisa and I chatted about the studio and what drove her to open the space.  Being a lifetime athlete (a long time runner), she was always a very grounded person living well in her physical body.  A series of life events took her down a different path, away from running, where she had the opportunity, with the help of several mentors, to learn to become more present in the moment, understand her body and it's connection to the mind and soul.  She realized that this is something that is missing from most fitness facilities.  Training the body and the mind is not usually done within the same space, with the exception of yoga studios but not everyone wants to do just yoga.

Lisa's goal was to redefine the training environment to provide energizing services that inspire and motivate, while also centering, balancing and grounding the individual.  At PurEnergy, the aim is to inspire individuals to live a healthy lifestyle, by understanding the importance of a healthy mind, body and spirit connection.  The focus is on the whole you and not just one aspect of health.   Physical fitness, whole foods & nutrition are just as important as spiritual guidance and meditation in terms of healing your body.

I found Lisa's idea of Energy out classes and Energy In classes to be quite interesting.  The way she puts it, if you are on the go all the time and exerting energy all day at work (energy out) in order to balance the mind, body and soul, you need to bring the energy back in, thus the energy in classes.  She also went on to speak about different types of personalities and the type of exercise that would best suit them.  For example, if you are more of a Type A personality (Yang) then you need more Yin type exercises and vice versa.  Not all exercise or types of exercise work for everyone.  Just like a nutrition plan should very unique, so should a workout plan and that is determined by the individuals lifestyle, personality, needs etc.

With PurEnergy, Lisa's goal is to introduce and provide you with a variety of holistic treatments and an out-of-the-box approach to wellness.  They want to be your unique one-stop-shop for improving your health and wellbeing.  At PurEnergy it's not just a workout, it's a lifestyle.  Lisa believes in training like there is no finish line.  A novel idea for someone like myself, who trains specifically for finish lines, ha ha.  But I totally get it.  

This is what PurEnergy is all about:

P rofessional services
U ndivided and personal attention 
R eassurance of your personal journey 
E nergy (pure and high!!) 
N utritional teachings that will lead you to a loving relationship with food
E xpertise provided in every area of wellness and lead by experienced practitioners 
R eawakening your life's desires and passions 
G uaranteed fun 
Y es! - you will NOT want to leave!

I took a PurBosu class there and got my butt kicked.  It was awesome.  I'll be heading back to do a TRX class and I'm thinking about trying a guided meditation class.  Meditation is something I want to start incorporating into my life so I think that this would be a good start for me.  

Lisa is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with a keen interest in helping athletes and has graciously offered up a free nutritional consultation (a $110 value) that can be done via Skype.  How cool is that?? The contest is open to residents of Canada and the U.S.  How to participate:  We want to see how you fuel your workouts!  

1) Post a picture of your favourite food that fuels your workouts on Instagram.  Use the hashtags #bestfuelfood and #studiopurenergy and tag PurEnergy Studio in your picture.

2) Follow PurEnergy on Instagram

3) Follow PurEnergy on Twitter

4)  Share contest with your followers!

That's it!  

Contest runs until midnight on Tuesday January 12th.  The winner will be announced on PurEnergy's instagram on Wednesday January 13th.  
If you're looking for meal inspiration, then you should check out Lisa's instagram feed as well.

Have you ever had a nutritional consultation?  How do you fuel your workouts?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Here We Go: 2016 Goals + Weekly Wrap Up

Four days in to 2016 and I'm LOVING this year so far.   I was going to wait to publish this post but things have been moving along so smoothly I decided to hell with it, let's put this out on the interwebs now.  I hope I don't jinx myself!!

Normally I have a few goals every year.  I think the reason I classified last year as "meh" is because I wasn't really excited about any of my goals.  I put them out there because I felt like I needed something to shoot for, something to keep me accountable.  I didn't feel really challenged or genuinely excited by last year's goals.   They were enough to keep me motivated but they didn't fire me up enough to get me really focused and excited.  I felt like I went through the motions of training last year.  With the exception of my rides with Morning Glory of course.   This year things will be different.  This year, I'm going all in.

For once I don't have several goals.  I have one:  Crack the top 5 in my AG at the 70.3 distance at Mont Tremblant.  I was 10th at Luxembourg 70.3 with a 5:09 in a super strong European field.  Last year I landed in 11th at Eagleman 70.3 with a 5:26.   Obviously a lot of this depends on my competition so I have to be ready to crank out at least a sub 5:15 70.3, based on last year's results.

I knew that this was not going to be an easy task and that I'd have to bring my A++ game in all 3 disciplines, but especially the bike given the hills on the Tremblant course.  So I've joined forces with superstar triathlete and road cyclist, Paolina Allan and she will be putting me through my paces this

Suffice to say I'm SUPER EXCITED.

Which brings me to my last week of workouts.  I slacked off a fair bit over the last couple of weeks, especially with my swimming and strength work.  I got back into the pool yesterday and will be getting back into my swim routine this week.   Good thing because my bathing suit was starting to get  a bit too snug!

Monday:  60 minute ride, 5km run

Tuesday:  20 minutes of physio work & core

Wednesday: 5.1km run, 55 minute ride

Thursday:  5.47km run

Friday:  5.8km run

Saturday:  75 minute ride including a 5 minute + a 20 minute TT to determine my FTP.  Holy smokes was that ever hard.  My FTP has gone down a little bit from where it was in April of 2014.  I was at 216, now I'm at 209.  I'm a-ok with that as I know that's going to change pretty quickly.

Sunday:  3300m swim + 6.2km run

Total time:  7h 59 minutes.  Not bad for a "slacker" week.  I am chomping at the bit to get back into a routine.  The holidays were not kind to my waistline.  But that's ok, I expect that over the Christmas holidays.  Now it's time to get back to business with my workouts and my food.

Speaking of food / nutrition, keep your eyes peeled on Instagram for an exciting contest I'll be running tomorrow!

How were your holidays?  Did you go out for New Year's or stay in?  We went out for dinner and then came home at watched Jessica Jones, then tuned in to Dick Clark's NYE Celebration, watched the ball drop and then went to bed.  It was a much quieter evening than previous years and I was a-ok with that.  

What are your 2016 goals?