You Are Awesome

In running without my watch, I have lost all the standard ways I have of measuring success. On a long run, for instance, am I sticking strictly to the 10 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking, or did I sneak in an extra walking break? Are my splits even? Did I run exactly 16k or was it 15.9k? Did I blast out at the beginning only to crawl towards the end? Without my watch, I don’t know. And sometimes, that is a good thing.

I know I’m not alone here. We all strive for the cleanest run possible. For the perfect run.

All of these measurements, while they can help us to improve when used properly, frequently cloud the bigger successes. This is something I have realized running without all my tech, because I simply can’t measure as I normally do. I’m left to only decide “Did I do it?”

It is so easy for us as runners to finish up a run, and then immediately pick holes in it. I hear this all the time at running groups. Invariably, the leader says “Great run everyone, good job!” and the runners promptly begin to grumble: “yah, but I didn’t hit that hill as fast as I can” or “It was okay, but my splits weren’t even”. All of this is said out of wanting to push ourselves to be better. To be clear: that is fine. What isn’t fine is forgetting that

You are awesome.

What runners do all the time is totally remarkable. That applies if you run 3k or 30k on a regular day. Either way, you are choosing to challenge yourself. You are choosing to be physically active. You are choosing your health. And you are doing so in a world of temptations. You could watch tv instead, after all.

Now, I think that constantly pushing ourselves is a good thing. I just don’t want us to forget, as a community, that this sport of ours really is awesome.

Now go for a run. Happy Running!

 

Advertisements

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.

 

 

Route Change Up

Run

As you may know from reading my posts, I’m currently running and writing in Dublin, Ireland. This means I’ve had a BIG route change up, and am happily exploring new running routes and trails.

However, when I’m home I frequently find myself running the same routes, just out of habit. I know that this route, for instance, is a great 5k loop without many stoplights, or this one is a fantastic 20k long run that flows through many different interesting neighbourhoods.

When I first started running, I used it as a way to explore my city and truly see the world around me. I still do that, but occasionally I fall in to lulls where I use the same route, day in and day out. I’m here to encourage you not to do that.

Changing up your route has several benefits, the biggest of which is avoiding running boredom. Constantly seeing new sites and navigating new terrain keeps you aware and bright, both of which are good for your psyche and your run time. On a slightly darker note, the Toronto City Police also recommend running different routes, so potential predators will not be able to track you easily. It’s a sad thing that I have to mention this, but changing your running route can increase your overall safety. Of course, when selecting a new route, make sure you are not running down dark alleys at 2am next to minimum security prisons, etc, etc, etc.

If you have a system like Nike+, Garmin or any other GPS watch, its easy to head out the door without a plan. If you don’t, take 10 minutes before your run and map out a new route on Google Maps. If you’re stumped on where to go, contact your local Running Room. They have routes of different lengths and technical skills mapped out, all of which leave from their stores of course. And while you’re at it, maybe head out with one of their free Run Clubs!

Alright, enough planning. Go Run. Go Far. Go Enjoy. And Happy Running!

(Photo Credit: R A Pyke)

Rainy Runs, Or, How To Be An Unstoppable Badass

Rain run

You can find a thousand reasons to not go outside for your run. The most common one I hear is “It’s raining”.

Now, I try as hard as I can to make this a judgement free zone. Do what you want, how you want to. But if truth be told, if you do not go for your run because it is raining, well then, I am judging you.

I do not care how sweet of a person you are, you are not made of sugar, and you will do just fine.

Plus – and this is really where it gets good – you will feel 50% more badass running any given route in the rain. Guaranteed.

It doesn’t matter how short, how flat, or how easy that route is. You automatically level up to 50% more badass-ery when running in the rain. It’s fantastic.

AND you get to be the crazy person running in the rain. The next day when you go into work, and everyone says they spent the evening inside, staring drearily out their windows, you can proudly announce “I went for a run.” They will all gape at you, but that is okay, because you got your run in.

Now, go for that run in the rain, you unstoppable badass.

And Happy Running!

 (Photo Credit: Antony_mayfield)

The 10% Rule

10-10-10

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)

I Songza While I Run

Skullcandy Headphones

Among my running friends, the music we listen to, the playlists we create and the effort we put into finding that perfect mix is a subject of constant discussion.

Which is why, lately, I’ve been leaving it up to fate. Well, sort of. It would more accurate to say I’ve been leaving it up to the folks at Songza, and their delightfully surprising playlists.

If you’re not acquainted with Songza, it’s a website and app that provides streaming playlists for whatever mood you are in (from Energetic to Nocturnal) or activity you are doing (Girls Night Out? Lying Low on a Sunday Afternoon? Hanging out in the Man Cave?), as well as per the more traditional decades and genres. The possibilities are endless. And because Songza actually pays their staff to compile playlists, you end up with a good product.

And because Songza is an app, I can listen via my smartphone where I also track my run (with Nike+). Personally, the less stuff I can have strapped to my body when I head out the door, the better.

I tend to find a playlist I like and stick with it for a bit. Here are my favourite playlists for running, courtesy of Songza. Take a listen!

  1. Pick Up Your Feet
  2. Pop Kiss-Offs
  3. Beer in Your Water Bottle: Alt Rock Workout
  4. Guitars & PBRs
  5. Sunshine Indie Pop Workout
  6. Marathon Workout
  7. Massive Pop Hits: The Remixes

(Photo Credit: Brett Levin)

 

Why Weight Loss Doesn’t Matter

I tried, and failed, to start running consistently many times before it finally stuck. When I did eventually get into a pattern of running, I refused to call myself a runner for a very long time, thinking that using the label would cause me to rest on my laurels, and I would stop.

Every time in the past that I would fail to continue running it was because I was doing it for the wrong reason: someone else thought I should or I was trying to lose weight. I want to talk about the latter one today.

It turns out you really can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. And because I never lost weight – or I should say, as much weight as I thought I should – I would give up running after a few weeks of effort. I wouldn’t doubt that running could eventually lead to weight loss, when coupled with the right diet, I just figured that was way too much energy to expend in the name of a bikini body. Plus, I really really liked eating (still do!). I mean, this is basically my life:

Kat’s motto

So the running would stop, and I’d be back to square one. (Sidenote: this is why my favourite mantra is If you are tired of starting over, stop giving up)

So here is my beef: running should not ever be intrinsically tied to weight loss, and so much of the running industry does this. It is wrong.

I want to be clear in this. If you want to run as part of a safe and healthy weight lost plan, that is fantastic. Seriously, good for you. But too much of the industry and the messaging around it equates “Run to lose weight” as “Why you should run”.

This is dangerous; it forgets and sidelines the main reason you should  be running: because you like it. If this is the only reason you have, it is enough.

Constant reinforcement on magazine covers and email blasts telling would-be runners “Run Yourself Slim” or “Run Into Your Bikini Body This Summer!” only serves to perpetuate the mentality that if you are not losing weight, you are doing it wrong. And when runners who are not losing weight (through a variety of completely unrelated means) read these headlines, it creates a defeatist attitude. It’s what made me stop running so many times.

So this is my wish: to see the running industry talk more about running for the sheer joy of it and talk less about weight loss. Perhaps in doing so, more people would remain engaged in the sport longer and ultimately, become healthier. Whose with me?