Happy FRIDAY!

Happy Friday fellow Runners!

Stopped for a rest East of 3 valleys Gap Transcanada Highway

It’s Friday; wonderful, beautiful Friday. Rest day for me, so I’ll be doing, well, not a whole lot of anything. Reading, specifically my newest acquisition, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes, and heading up north. If you’re not from Toronto, “up north” is the standard term for going anywhere but the big city for the weekend (seeing as anywhere due south of Toronto technically takes you across Lake Ontario into the States). In my case, I’ll be going to Wasaga Beach for some quality family time.

While I’m there, I’m planning on getting in some good trail runs in the Provincial parks. Trail running is its own kind of beast, and not one that I get to tackle often living in the concrete jungle. Trail running forces us to break our stride and pacing, and therefore typically expends more energy. Trail runners tend to be stronger runners overall, as they are more agile and have stronger cores. That said, my times tend to go up (ahem, way up if I’m being honest) when I run trails.

Pictures will follow. How are you spending your Friday run? I want to hear from you in the comments.

Happy Running!

(Photo Credit: Thank You For Visiting)

7 Things to Know About Run Clubs

Having you been thinking about picking up running as a hobby recently? Thought to yourself “I can do that!” as you watch a brightly coloured, tightly clad Running Room member fly by? Or are you simply tired for the elliptical machine?  Or maybe you’re looking to start exercising and need some extra motivation.

Either way, I want to congratulate you. You are awesome. Honestly! Deciding to do this makes you already amazing. And really, there is no right or wrong way to go about this, as long as it is healthy and avoids injury. That said, one of the most common ways people (myself included!) get into running is through a Run Club.

Here is what you need to know about run clubs in general.

  1. They are everywhere. Many fitness apparel stores have them, such as Nike, Lululemon, Lole, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and, of course, the Running Room. In addition, many communities have their own run clubs, not affiliated with any particular store or brand. You can find a list of some here, but a simple Google will do the trick too.
  2. They are free. Usually. Almost all run clubs are free (clinics are not, see #7 below), meaning they are a great way to motivate yourself while not spending any cash.
  3. The people are awesome. Think about it this way: this is a group of people who all voluntarily got up on a Sunday morning, left their warm beds, families and mugs of coffee behind to come stand in a huddle with you and then trot off down the road for a pre-determined length of time. The only people who would do that are people who also actively enjoy the camaraderie of running. You can have some of the best conversations on the road or trail with these people.
  4. What happens on the run, stays on the run. As with anything, there are good days and bad days. If you are having a bad day and things go down on the run this unspoken rule applies. Basically, this is a judgement free zone. We all have days where we breakdown or hit a wall, and no one – I repeat no one – will understand better than your fellow run club members.
  5. You will learn a ton. On any given day there will be first timers and veterans present, but make no mistake, there is something to be learned from every person there. Veterans can motivate you push past your perceived limits and newbies can be your partner-in-crime as you pound out the kms. Take the time to pick the minds of the veterans. If you haven’t already noticed, runners love to talk about running. You won’t be bothering anyone there!
  6. You will be motivated. I feel I should give a word of caution here. Run clubs can be so effective that you will find yourself signing up for and completing goals you never thought attainable. That’s the magic of running with a wide variety of abilities and doing it regularly. So if you start out saying to yourself “I am only doing this to run 5k. That’s it! Nothing more,” like I did, then be prepared to be proven wrong. But hey, enjoy your marathon! It will happen.
  7. You can join a clinic. Clinics, typically offered by the Running Room and their peers, are paid-for sessions that have a strong teaching component in addition to the run club. Clinics vary by the provider but are usually structured with a goal race in mind and offer the participants a professional training schedule to follow. The group is usually lead by a trainer that leads lessons before runs and is available via email for Q&A. I highly recommend these if you are serious about a specific race and want to train for it properly.

Have a favourite run club that deserves to be shared? Something I missed that everyone needs to know about run clubs? Leave it in the comments! And 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!

 

Time for Your Tempo Run!

You made it to the end of Tuesday! High fives all around!

It’s time to head out the door and go kill your run. If, like me, you sort-of follow a standard Running Room schedule, then you may very well be running a tempo run today. Have no idea what I’m talking about? Click here and visit my post on running terms.

Here’s some motivation to get you through:

July 11, 2013 at 10:15AM

Happy Running!

 

(Photo Credit: Arya Ziai)

Why Run?

Dusk Run . . .

Why go for a run? Why start with a sport that inherently involves sweating it out, usually in front of complete strangers, while you huff and puff down the side walk? It hurts, it’s too hot out, it’s too cold out, it’s late, it’s too early, I don’t really need to go….I’ve been there. I’ve had all the excuses. I still let them get the best of me on occasion, meaning this post is just as much for you as it is for me.

So here it is. This is why you should go for a run.

It’s awesome.

….you were expecting something more? Some sort of sage wisdom? Perhaps an introspective on how we, as a species, were built for chasing down our prey on the savanna and now you are honouring that tradition? Sorry to disappoint.

Seriously though – Running. Is. Awesome.

Think about it this way: when was the last time you regretted heading out for a run? Personally, I can honestly say I’ve never regretted it. Maybe I didn’t have the best run, maybe I just couldn’t seem to find my stride, maybe I had a bird attack my head (true story, but one for another post), but despite that I’ve never come back from a run feeling worse than when I started out.

For that reason alone – get going. Step out the door, and it will all fall into place after that.

If you’re finding it hard despite this, may I offer a lesson from John Stanton, the founder of the Running Room? I read somewhere** John says that when he is having a very hard time lacing up and getting out there, he tells himself he only has to do it for 10 minutes. If after 10 minutes he doesn’t like it, he can return home. He claims that by the time 10 minutes is up, he usually doesn’t mind sticking it out. If it works for him – the man who was overweight and smoked 2 packs a day before running himself into the head of a running empire – then maybe it can work for us mere mortals.

Finally, if none of that is working and you need something else, I’ll give you my fail safe mantra. This one gets me out the door no matter what:

I’ve you are tired of starting over, stop giving up.

Happy Running!

 

(Photo Credit: David Robert Bliwas)

 

**If you know where, leave a message in the comments so I can supply the link for those who want it!

Spring Fling: An Inaugural Race Review

On June 15th, Father’s Day, myself and roughly 100 other strangers gathered in Toronto’s Willow Creek park to sweat it out for either 5 or 10k. To be clear, I was running the 5k version (this is part of a wider running strategy for the rest of 2014 and some of 2015). I understand that this was the inaugural year for the Excel Running Series, and therefore first ever Spring Fling.

In my totally uneducated and inexperienced opinion, it was a good race. Not a great one, but definitely a fair effort for the first go around. I can’t really speak for the 10k experience, but the 5k was an out and back race with one water stop at the 3k mark. It wasn’t a large race and that showed. Having recently competed in the Goodlife Half Marathon, I missed the cheering sections and the music on the course. But none of that can be expected for a race this size. The running community for the Eglinton east area of Toronto seemed to be out in force, with much back-slapping all around. I was there on my own, so I had plenty of time to spy and eavesdrop on the more talented runners. There were a few entertaining “Back in my day!” conversations I got to overhear from some veteran runners (Pisssst! Did you know that us “young bucks” simply “don’t have the moxie”? I can’t make this stuff up folks).

The course was well marked and chip timed, the two most important pieces of a race in my opinion. For those who drive, there was plenty of parking. Of course, I don’t have car to drive so my bottom was stuck on the TTC nightline bus at 6am that morning.

 

My only major compliant was that the race was not a closed course, meaning that cyclists and pedestrians were free to wander across your path. I didn’t experience any trouble with this, but I wasn’t exactly leading the pack if you know what I mean. As the race grows – and I have no doubt that it will – I expect this issue will take care of itself.

Overall, I would run this course again, and maybe next time take a shot at the 10k. You know, to see if I have the moxie.