Thursday, May 28, 2015

No more timer



When I started running with my first learn to run program 3 years ago, I was introduced to the walk/run interval method. In running circles, it’s often referred to as the Jeff Galloway method. There are many reasons to use it, including conservation of resources, quicker recovery and improving overall time. For me, it was a great way to start; I couldn’t run more than a minute at a time in the beginning anyway, so it allowed me to build up a base.

I stuck with the walk/run method throughout the next 2 years, never going past 9 minutes of running before taking my one minute walk break. I found an app that I could set and it would beep a horn when it was time to run and a group of people would sigh when it was time to walk (and they even cheered for me at the very end of the run!)

When I started back to running this year, I went back to what I knew, dialing my running time back to 4 minute intervals, knowing that I had lost a lot of my endurance over the months of inactivity. I found that I was a slave to the timer, regardless of what my body was saying. I was hesitant to set the intervals past 4 minutes, because in my head I didn’t think I could do it. 4 minutes seemed hard, so how could I ever do 5 minutes?

This year’s learn to run program took a very different approach. We weren’t doing group runs or using an interval method. Instead we did drills, learned to listen to our body and understand how individual muscles worked and affected our running. Last week our trainer was unable to make the session, so a small group of us did a 5k run around the neighbourhood. There was some discussion of doing a set walk/run method, but ultimately we decided to simply listen to our bodies – run till we needed to walk, walk till we recovered and then run again. What I found was that I was running a lot longer than 4 minutes. At one point I made it well past the 12 minute mark before I needed to walk, and even then, my walking break wasn’t a full minute long.

That was when I realized that I had become too dependent on the timer and that I needed to make a change.

Last night I headed out for an easy 4.5 k run. I set a timer on my watch so that I could see my overall time, but I didn’t turn on the interval timer. I cranked the tunes and headed out, with the plan to run as much as I could. During the 40 minutes that I ran, I only walked twice – 30 seconds at the 15 minute mark and another 30 seconds at the 30 minute mark. In hindsight, I probably could have easily skipped those 2 walking breaks; they both coincided with finishing a full lap around the park where I was running. I let my head take over and talked myself into needing or deserving a break when I passed the starting point. I bet if I had been doing a straight line course that I would not have walked at all.

Surprisingly my overall pace was exactly the same for this route as when I did it last week with 4 and 1 intervals. The big difference was how I felt. I felt great! I wasn’t as tired or out of breath as I had been last week. My legs also felt better after the run. And just knowing that I could do it, really elevated my mood and how I felt about myself overall.

Going forward I’m going to run without an interval timer. I will listen to my body, knowing that I can push myself farther and harder than I thought I could. And maybe as my overall fitness level improves, so will my pace. But even if it doesn’t, I’m still happy with my running overall.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Now I've done it


After sitting with my mouse over the submit button for a very long time, I finally clicked it.  I am official registered for my first half marathon.  Not only did I register for the half marathon, I signed up for their Tartan-Twosome.  Friday night we run a 5k at sunset and then Saturday morning we run the half at sunrise. 

Now I need to train.  While September seems far away, it's not really.

  • 115 days
  • 16.5 weeks
  • 3.5 months


My goal was to run a half this year, the year I turn 45, and boy-howdy, I'm gonna do it!





Thursday, May 14, 2015

10 Things I've Learned

Here are 10 things that I've already learned in just 3 weeks of our Learn to Run program with trainer Rakel Gylfadottir.


  1. Knowing that the ankle bone is connected to the knee bone, and the knee bone is connected to the hip bone is not the same as knowing how they work together when you are running.
  2. Don’t use energy putting your foot down. Gravity will do that for you.
  3. Running takes a lot of energy so don’t waste it on clenching your hands or tensing your shoulders.
  4. Running is not a beauty contest, accept that you will not look your best.
  5. Stretching is important to prevent injuries.
  6. Breath through your mouth to ensure you get enough oxygen.
  7. Running with “high hips” really does help.
  8. I can push myself a lot farther and harder than I thought.
  9. If you want to run faster you have to practice running faster.
  10. I really do enjoy running, especially when I finish for the day!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

NS Lung Run

This is my second year running the Nova Scotia 5k Lung Run.  Held down by the waterfront, it's a nice flat course.  One of my favorite things is having a racing bib with my name on it  All the volunteers and spectators cheer you by name as you pass them.  There is nothing more inspiring then hearing "You've got this Andy" or "You can do it Andy" when you feel like you really can't.


This is my first chip-timed race of the year.  It certainly wasn't my fastest race ever, but I came in with a decent time for me, considering I've really only been running again for a few weeks.

This race had a theme of Superheroes.  There were a lot Batman's, Superman's and plenty of Wonder Woman's.  My costume was unique though.  I went as "Super Mama"!



$5.00 for a cheap t-shirt and a few markers and I was all set.  I got a lot of high-fives and call outs as I ran the course.  I've never considered dressing up in a costume for a race before (there is no way I will ever wear a tutu) but this seemed like a fun idea, and I'm glad I did.

We had beautiful weather, finally!  This was a great race to start the year off with.  I can't wait for the next one.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Accepting Body Image

I love to take photographs. Family, pets, random things on random walks. What that means though is that I am very seldom in the picture. Sure, once or twice a year at a special event we’ll get someone to take a family shot with me in it, but there are very few candid moments of my life captured on film.

Last week was our first Learn To Run session. Since I’m in charge of social media for this year’s Ocean breeze race, I asked one of participants who had a phone with her to take a few pictures that I could possibly use in our Twitter feed or Facebook page to help promote the event. She was happy to oblige and sent me 2 pictures that I could use. One showed the group standing and listening to the instructor and the other is more of an action shot of folks running during one of the exercises.


Both were great shots and really captured what I wanted to show online in hopes of getting more people to sign up. The only problem is that I am in the very forefront of one of the pictures. And MAN! I do not like the way I look. I understand that spandex running clothes are only flattering on about 5%* of the general population. But I am so far from that 5% in this picture that I was mortified and my instant reaction was that I was not using that picture, no way, no how!


That picture stuck with me all day. I know that I am overweight and out of shape; that is one of the reasons that I am running. But what does it say about me if I’m so willing to just toss that picture aside? I’m not ashamed of who I am. I’m obviously okay with people in real life seeing me like that, since I went to the session in the first place and plan on going back. I guess there is just something in seeing myself, full body, in all my lumpy glory that makes it all the more real. This is how people looking at me must see me.

I’m NOT going to throw away the picture. I’m going to use it here and in the social media feeds. Maybe it will inspire someone else who feels that they can’t join because they too are not part of the 5%. And one day I will look back at this picture with pride and joy on how far I have come.

*Not an actual statistic from any recognizable source, just a random guess.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Learn to Run (again)

3rd time is a charm, right? Once again I have signed up for the learn to run program being offered through Liam's school in advance of their Ocean Breeze Trail Run.

I first signed up for this program in 2013 and that began my running journey. I went from huffing and puffing my way through 1 minute of running to being able to finish my first 5k 10 weeks later.

Last year I signed up again, with the intention of running my first 10k at the end (and I did!).

This year? I've signed up because I need the motivation. Knowing that I've paid money to run in my own neighbourhood when I could just do it for free, will hopefully help me get my butt out the door, at least once a week. Knowing that people are also expecting me to show up at a certain time adds to the motivation.

We start tomorrow night and have 8 weeks that lead up to the Ocean Breeze. This year the group is being run by a parent from the school who has experience working at private sports clinics as well as with elderly people in home care. Throughout most of her working career though, she has served as a coach for middle and long-distance runners of various levels, from beginners to elite runners heading for the Olympics. She also has several years of experiencing coaching kids in track and field. I’m feeling a wee bit intimidated!

I've managed to get out a few times for some short runs in the past couple of weeks. It is glorious to be able to run outside again! I even ran in a short sleeve t-shirt one night. Of course we are now entering the rainy season, but that’s okay. As long as it’s not ice, I don’t care. I have my first timed 5k race in 2 weeks, so this is the perfect time to get some official training under my belt.

Have you ever joined a Learn To run program, or do you simply train on your own?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Together We Race

Hot Damn, I feel great!


I ran my first race of the year today.  A virtual 5k in my own 'hood.  I really didn't think I was going to be able to, in fact, I wasn't sure I was going to get out the door.

Of course, I underestimate the power of Hilary - she made sure I got out the door!

It's been 5 weeks since I last ran. and about as long since I've been to TKD.  I was feeling so out of shape, that I didn't believe I could walk the route I had plotted out, let alone run it.

But I did run it!


And with a perfectly acceptable time too!

The sidewalks are finally clear - though as you can see, there is still snow everywhere! Today was a beautiful warm sunny day of 9°C.  Like most runners this time of year, I wasn't sure what to wear.  I was freezing in the house before I left, but I know that I run hot.  I opted for a short sleeve cotton t-shirt with a long sleeve technical running shirt on top.  My worst clothing choice was wearing my winter sock - my feet where so very hot!  I had the long sleeve shirt off by the end of the run and would have been quite happy to roll in the snow, but there were too many people around.

I am sore, and I'm sure I will feel worse tomorrow, but I feel great for getting back out there!