5 Rules for Hot Weather Running

As the summer marches forward, we are all dealing with some hot weather running. Well – most of you are. I’m in Ireland which doesn’t seem to go above 20 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, here are some basic rules on hot weather running:

  1. Hydrate yourself 2 hours before you go out. Whenever possible, have a few glasses of water before you head out, to ensure you are sufficiently hydrated to begin.
  2. Consider a hat. Not a regular baseball cap (that will trap heat next to your skull) but a running cap made out of wicking material. The sweat will wick away from you head, and the brim will give your eyes a break.
  3. Bring water. This may seem overly obvious, but it is that important. Once the mercury rises, you can no longer get away with not bringing water with you, no matter how short the run. This is doubly important for runs longer than 1 hour. In those cases, bring an extra bottle or two, or you can….
  4. Plan hydration stops on your route. Before you head out, figure out if there are functioning public water fountains that you can fill up at. Pro tip: Starbucks (at least in Toronto, Canada) are perfectly happy to fill up your water bottle with no fuss. I do that all the time.
  5. Have a proper cool down. This means two things. First, if your body temperature is up, hop into a cool shower or grab a couple of ice cubes for your face. Bringing your temperature down successfully is important when you are done your run. Second, the need to effectively hydrate doesn’t end when your run does. If you don’t continue to hydrate with water or gatorade following your run, you will likely get headaches from the dehydration. Keep it up with a glass of water an hour for a few hours after you are done.

What are your tricks for surviving your hot weather runs? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Running!


Running Into The Unknown

Having arrived into Dublin a few days ago now, I think I’m mostly over the jet-lag. Last night’s run was fantastic, so I really slept like a baby.

While I’m here I’m running tech-less. It’s just me and my water bottle when I set out. I don’t have access to my beloved Nike+ and I can’t seem to find my Garmin charger. Once I lost those two, I felt like I should just ditch the iPod as well, out of solidarity.

So it’s back to the old tech version of planning out a route beforehand and then running out the door. This becomes doubly difficult in a city I’m unfamiliar with, with road names I can’t pronounce, and whose streets never go straight in any direction.

That said, running without tech and along completely unknown routes is exhilarating. It forces increased alertness and pushes curiosity. I think both are great things.

That said, it can lead to some interesting problems. Last night, being somewhat jet lagged and completely exhausted, a plotted out what I thought was a very easy 4k route. Just a quick jaunt to wake up my legs, my heart and my mind. The first 1k was pleasant, following the River Liffey, passing the Guinness Brewery.

Then the route curved off into the city, and, apparently up. And up. And up.

About 2k of a gentle but persistent slope upwards. The kind that leaves a dull ache in your calves. This is apparently a popular running route, as I found several significantly more capable runners than me blasting up the hill.

And thus, my short quick run was turned into a hill workout. Such is the joys of running new routes, in a new city.

I can’t wait to head out again tonight.



Happy Canada Day


All the way from Dublin, Ireland, I’m wishing my home and native land a


If you are one of my readers from outside the Great White North, today is the anniversary of our country becoming, well, a country. And we celebrate it with inordinate amounts of red and white cake, strawberries and, of course,  fireworks.

In 2001 we went a trip on Canada..Spirit Island..

If you don’t know anything about Canada (or just know our frequent use of the word “eh”, maple syrup and our affinity for toques), then let me tell you this: Canada is a beautiful and diverse country, both in its people and its countryside. I am blessed to call it home. Visit the country if you get a chance. And if you are Canadian, may I suggest traveling from coast to coast to coast? Get to know this wonderful land of ours. Maybe even pick up a few races in each city you see?

So Happy Canada Day and happy running!

(Photo Credit: Palindrome6996 and Truus)

The 10% Rule


Today is a easy steady run for me. It will be short, and as per my training schedule, is meant to add some miles to my legs. The problem is, I’m really hankering for a nice long run. A good 2 hours where I can go get lost, explore some new territory and really push my endurance. Where afterwards I can be so dead tired that there is nothing I can do but be happy and bask in the sweaty afterglow of a good run. I don’t get to do that until Sunday, which is when it is scheduled on my plan. I mean, I could head out for a 20k session tonight but that would be actually not help me to reach my long term goals.

…which brings me to the 10% rule.

The rule states that you should not increase  your mileage week over week by more than 10%. Going over this rule increases your risk of injuries from over-training. Especially when you first start, this is very difficult, but a stress injury can sideline you for days, weeks or months depending. Over-training injuries include stress fractures, iliotibial band syndrome (IBTS), shinsplints, plantar fasciitis, and the common runner’s knee.

Despite this knowledge, if you are really needing an extra couple of sweat sessions, try some cross-training that uses a completely different muscle group. Pilates and yoga are favoured by a lot of runners because they increases core strength and provides a deep stretch. Just makes sure whatever you do, you really are letting your primary running muscles rest.

Happy Running!

P.S The weekend is almost here!

(Photo Credit: Woodleywonderworks)

Why Your Slowest Mile is Always the Same

Myrtle Cook of Canada (left) winning a preliminary heat in the women's 100 metres race at the VIIIth Summer Olympic Games / Myrtle Cook (à gauche), du Canada, remportant une éliminatoire pour l'épreuve du 100 mètres femmes, aux VIIIe Jeux Olympiques d'été

Yesterday I wrote, rather facetiously, that the second to last mile/km usually feels like the the longest of them all. It turns out that isn’t just something we all feel is true; it is true.

Israel Halperin at Memorial University in Newfoundland conducted a study which asked volunteers to exert the maximum amount of effort possible contracting their arms. Sometimes, they were told to do this for a predetermined number of reps, and other times they were not told how many they would be doing until the last rep. In each and every case, the effort would decrease with each rep until the last one. The last rep would either equate in effort to the first, or exceed it.

So what does this mean for us, as runners? It means that our bodies are programmed to reserve energy for a final effort, even when we are told to exert “all-out” effort prior to that. In other words, our brains are hard-wired to perform that last mile or km faster and with our reserve energy, even if we don’t plan on keeping reserve energy. We just can’t help it.

The take away is if you are trying to run even splits – each km or mile at the same pace through out – focus your mental game on maintaining your pace in the last few kms or miles of your run.

(Photo Credit: BiblioArchives)

This Is How We Weekend

Goooodddddd morning folks!

Morning skies (II)

Time to get up, wipe the sleep from your eyes and hit the pavement or trail.

The me of just one year ago would think this is crazy, so if you’re there I definitely get it. I mean, why leave your bed? It’s so comfy! And warm! But say with me on this one. If you get your butt out of bed nice and early in the morning, have a good steady run and are back before most people are stirring from bed, you will feel fantastic. You will feel awake, ready to tackle your Saturday and at the very least, like you did one worthwhile thing today.

If that’s not a good enough reason for you, I’m going to let you know that the world really is beautiful at that time of the morning. Before your city, neighborhood or street comes alive, the air is crisp and all yours. So go enjoy it.

Happy Running!



The Silence of Running

Sometimes, I can be a little crabby, Especially before coffee in the morning, but frequently afterwards too. What can I say? Patience is just not my virtue. Know your strengths and all that.

This crabbiness has not gone unnoticed by my wonderful and considerably more patient co-workers. So much so that I once came back to my desk to find a sticker that said, and I am paraphrasing here, “Cheer up Grumpy. You are awesome and have great shoes.” Awwww. Did I mention I have some pretty cool cubicle-mates?

Now, you are presumably here to read something about running, so I promise this does tie in. When I am at my grumpiest – when things aren’t going right at work, or the TTC (our beloved and run down transit system in Toronto) shuts down AGAIN or one of the million other little things – I make myself go for a run. Why?

Because there are very few things a good run can’t solve.

When I’m running, everything goes silent for awhile. It’s my purest form of living in the moment. I don’t usually consciously think about my problems while I run – in fact, I rarely do – but nevertheless, by the time I’m done if they are not solved, I’m at least much more capable of fixing them. Running is like pressing re-start on your brain’s ability to process things.

I’m not the only one that things so. You can find other significantly more experienced runners and scholarly writers making the same claims here, here and here. And here.

So, seriously, happy running!