My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Half-Marathon training – Week 4

Wow, week 4 is done already.  Time is just cruising by.  A friend posted on his Facebook wall the other day that he wanted it to be October already.  I thought to myself “No way! I still have too much training to do!” 

This was another hot and humid week.  I don’t mind the heat so much, but the humid is a killer! So hard to run when it so humid.  I keep an eye on the weather as much as I can. If it’s going to be humid, I try to run as early in the day as I can. That’s not always easy.  And it’s going to be stormy, I will sometimes switch my days around.

MONDAY – Sunday had been stormy, so I switched days which meant I had to run today. It was humid which always made it a little harder.  But I managed to get in a 6.67k run, followed by a 1.43k walk.  Not too bad for a Monday LOL.

TUESDAY – another hot and humid day, but still managed 5.56k.  Normally I do my strength training on Tuesdays, but the run really wiped me out, so I pushed it to Wednesday.

WEDNESDAY – Cross-training day. I decided to try the rower today. I’d used one before but hadn’t in a long time.  I forgot how much of a workout it really is!  I did 2500m in 15 minutes, and was sweating buckets! I then moved to the AMT and did another 15 minutes.  And again, a heck of a workout!  Then I moved into strength training.  This week I did walking lunges (forward and backwards), squats, calf raises, push-ups, shoulder press, hammer curls, bicep curls, and lateral raises.  And to top it off, I did an easy 3k walk.

THURSDAY – I woke up a bit sore from Wednesday’s workout, but still did 5.41k.

FRIDAY – thank goodness for rest days! Wow, did I ever need it.  I was still sore from Wednesday.  I think there is a good reason strength training and cross training are on different days. 

SATURDAY – I almost always do my long run on Saturdays. And from now on, each week they will get a little bit longer.  It was going to be humid again and they were also calling for rain, so I got up extra early.  It wasn’t easy, but I was able to do 6.86k.  After having coffee at my favourite coffee shop and hanging out a bit, I also walked another 1.5k.

SUNDAY – big surprise, another hot and humid day.  Gotta love summer, right? Another day to get up extra early to go running.  Sunday’s are generally for shorter runs since long runs are on Saturdays.  I did 5.28k, and despite the humidity, it was a pretty good run. I was a sticky sweaty mess when I got home LOL.

I told a friend early in the week that the “easy” part of the training plan are over.  The first few weeks was mostly shorter runs, although I pushed the distance on almost all of them.  From now until the last week of the plan, no run is shorter than 5k; most will be 6.5k; and Saturday long runs will keep getting longer.  It’s the long runs that I’m most concerned with.  I’m relatively confident up to 10k, beyond that is way out of my comfort zone.  I will need to start mapping out routes to run for longer distances.

This week I also tried out some new gel flavours — Maple Bacon and Chocolate Outrage.  Both tasted good.  I would definitely try both again.  I also tried chews for the first time.  I bought strawberry flavour.  They were pretty good.  I want to try them a few more times to get a better idea on how well they work for me.

I was thinking this week that I really need to start looking into options of how to carry my fuel.  I’m thinking I’d like to try a vest of some sort, something with a few pockets.  Maybe one of those with a hydration pack as well. There are a few different brands of them out there.  It’s something I will need to go to the store to try on though. Hopefully I will get a chance to do that soon.

My training plan called for 19.75k, and I logged 35.71.  I had an extra day of running this week, which accounted for 8.1k of that.

That’s about it for this week.

On to Week 5 …

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Presqu’ile Fun Run recap (2015)

Saturday, I did my fourth race of the year. A race held in Presqu’ie Provincial Park, which is not far from where I live.  It was put on by the Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse Preservation Society, and this was the first year for the race.  I’m always looking for new races to do, and I love it when I can find a new local race.

I’m used to doing races on Sundays, so it was a little weird racing on Saturday.  They had different events all weekend long throughout the park.

Earlier in the week, the weather channel has been calling for possible rain.  Not too thrilled with running in the rain, but as it got closer to race day, the weather changed. It rained Friday night, but had cleared up by Saturday morning.  The problem with that is the humidity that usually results.  It didn’t seem too bad when we left for the race, but I knew it could be a problem the hotter it got.

We had a small issue getting into the park, but thankfully we had gotten the with lots of time before the race started.  I wasn’t pre-registered for the race, so I wanted to make sure I got three early enough to get that done and have time to chill a bit before the race started.  I don’t know if it was because this was the first year of the race, but they seemed a bit disorganized when it came to registering and letting the racers know the route.  Hopefully next year they will have it worked out better.

The race had 2 options – 7k run or 5k walk.  I opted for the 5k even though I was going to run.  For the 7k, the runners looped around the lower part of the park; the 5k followed the 7k most of the way, but then cut through one of the camping areas so about a km was trail instead of road.  In the end, there was less than 2 dozen people running or walking.  

By the time the race started, it had gotten a little more humid.  I wasn’t thrilled about that.  But we were near the water and that helped a bit.  The runners started first, followed by the walkers about a minute behind them.  As I started going, I realized the course was not as flat as I thought it was going to be.  I don’t get to that park often, so I had forgotten what the road was like.  The whole thing was basically a series of small rolling hills with very small stretches of flatness. 

I had the walkers ahead of me in sight for much of the race.  I lost sight of the last one before the turn into the trail area.  As with just about every race I’ve done, there was an ambulance on hand in case of emergency.  As I was the last one on the course, they drove by me 3 times to make sure I was okay.  They even asked if I needed water or anything.  I had Gatorade with me, so I was okay.  

They said they marked the place where you turn into the trail with chalk arrows. I kept looking for them, afraid I had missed them.  It seemed to take forever for me to get to that point.  Finally I saw the place and made the turn.  It felt like I was almost immediately swarmed with bugs! I had sprayed bug spray on before the start of the race, but clearly not enough.  I felt like I was being eaten alive.  The trail was full of rocks and tree roots.  I had to carefully watch where I was going so I wouldn’t fall.  My running shoes are not trail shoes, so my feet were not happy.  I tried to go as fast as I could but it was difficult.  I kept second guessing my decision to do the 5 instead of the 7k.  At least with the 7k I would have stayed on roads.  For a while I didn’t think I’d ever get off the trail.  It seemed never ending.  And the bugs just kept coming at me.  I guess they liked the taste of sunscreen, bug spray, and sweat! 

Finally, I saw the road again and made the final turn towards the finish line.  Not long after I got back on the road, the ambulance drove by me fir the third time to check on me.  I was a bit annoyed at that point, but I think it was mainly because of the bugs.  A couple of bicyclists rode near me as I ran, and we chatted a bit.  That was kind of nice actually.  I had been by myself almost the whole race.

Finally I spotted the finish line.  Everyone else had already finished, but a couple of people stayed to cheer as I finished.  According to my Nike running app, it was actually 5.5k, but I finished in pretty good time.  I grabbed a couple of granola bars and some gels they had been offering to everyone.  I was tired and a bit sore, and it felt like I was covered in bug bites, but I was happy to have done it.  

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Half-Marathon training – Week 3 

So another week is done. Time seems to be going by pretty fast!

This week was an interesting one because it was hotter and more humid than it had been.  Oh, the joys of training in the summer. 

Anyway, here’s the lowdown on what happened this week:

Monday – Rest day. I just chilled out most of the day. After two early morning runs, I felt like I needed and deserved a total rest day.

Tuesday – Another hot and humid day, but I managed 5.11km.  Normally I would push a little farther, but it’s hard to do that when it’s so humid out.  I also did 45 minutes of strength training and stretching.  It felt good.

Wednesday – For cross-training this week, I chose the recumbent bike and did a good 60 minute workout.  It had been awhile since I’d been on a bike and my legs were a little jello-like when I got done.  I also did a nice 3km walk since it wasn’t too humid for a change.

Thursday – Yet another hot and humid day. Part of me really wanted to stay in bed, but I made myself get up and go running.  Not gonna lie, it was tough. It was a short run day, but I pushed myself and did 6.25km.

Friday – Rest day again. Thankfully. Between the recumbent bike on Wednesday and the tough run on Thursday, I needed a rest.

Saturday – I had another local fun run to do. It was rather humid, but I got it done. They said it was 5km, but my Nike running app said it was 5.5km. 

Sunday – My plan had me running today, but the weather was not good.  Extremely hot and humid and a risk of thunderstorms much of the day. Even if I had gotten up at 5am to run, it would still have been very humid. I decided to switch today with tomorrow. I can run when it’s a little humid, but when the humidity makes it feel likes it is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, probably a good idea to hold off. Tomorrow’s weather looks better and not as humid.

My training plan called for 16.5km this week, and I managed 19.86km even without running today. Pretty good, I think.

I had a chance to stop at a running store this week.  It’s been awhile since I’d been to one.  I wish there was one closer to me.  Anyway, I picked up a few new gel flavours to try and some chews as well.  I’m looking forward to trying them out.

I got a few new strength training moves and stretches from the books I checked out of the library last week.  I’ll be returning those this week and maybe getting a few more.  I got a foam roller at Christmas, but I haven’t used it much.  I really want to learn more on how to use it properly, and actually use it! A lot of runners I talk to on Twitter use them and love them.  Maybe I’ll find some books at the library on how to use a foam roller.

Well I think that’s about it for this week.  Kind of uneventful really, but still a pretty good week.

On to Week 4! 

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The ups and downs of training alone 

Since I started this new training plan, I’ve been thinking a lot about working out alone vs working out with a partner.  There are good and bad points to both.  I’m sure anyone you ask will give you different reasons for one over the other.

When I first started working out, I was always by myself.  Which, at the time, I think was good because I was just starting out and didn’t really know what I was doing and there wasn’t a lot I could do. I was shy, unsure of myself. 

When I joined my first gym, I was leery about working out around others, afraid of being judged and/or laughed at. The more I did it, though, the easier it got.  Not that I was working out with anyone, just working out around others.  My self-confidence was building.

I was really nervous when I first asked Tyler to take me on as a client.  But the more we worked out together, the easier it got.  I really enjoyed working with someone else, even if most of the time he was just showing me what to do and then watching me do it.  It was nice just having someone there.

Eventually, I got really comfortable around others in the gym, and even began working out with them when I wasn’t with Tyler.  It was nice having someone spot me or check my form to make sure I was doing it right.  I liked having someone to talk to, joke with, and learn from.

Then Tyler moved on, and the regulars at the gym did as well, so I was left to my own devices again.  So I know what it’s like to be with and without someone to train with.

In my opinion, these are some of the ups and downs of training alone …

The downs: 

1) Being alone.  Sometimes we all just need someone to be there.  Sometimes I just want some company, someone to talk to.  

2) Easy to skip a workout. Without someone expecting you to be there, it’s easy to say “just this once” when skipping a session.  And sometimes that can lead to skipping more than once.

3) No one to spot me or check my form. When working out alone, it’s sometimes hard to know if your form is correct. And if you need help with a heavier weight, there is no one there to help.

The ups: 

1) Not needing to rely on anyone.  Everyone gets busy from time to time, but if you’re working out alone, you don’t have to worry about that.

2) You can set your own schedule. You don’t have to work around anyone else’s schedule. You can workout when and where you want, and for how long.

3) You can do whatever workout you want. Self explanatory really.

There are times that I absolutely prefer to be alone when I’m working out.  It gives me time to think, to process.  I often work on blog posts in my head when I’m running.  I think about upcoming events.  Or I think about something new I want to try, whether it be a new activity or a new recipe.  I don’t have to worry about how fast or slow I’m going.  For the most part, I don’t have to worry about time.

But there are other times that I would really love to have someone else there.  Someone to cheer me on.  Someone to help me push a little harder.  Someone who is counting on me being there at a specific day and time.  Someone who I can bounce ideas off of or share concerns with.  Someone who can help make sure I’m doing things right, and maybe offer ways I can do them better.  Someone who is willing to share their ideas, experiences, concerns with me.  Someone who will listen.

I’ve chatted with numerous people on this subject.  Some are adamant that they only train alone; others will only workout with someone else; while others are somewhere in the middle.  Everyone has their own reasons for their answers.  Everyone’s workout style is different.

Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle.  I can see the benefits of both.  I’ve personally experienced the benefits of both.  And I’ve also experienced the downside of both.  

For quite a while now, the majority of my training has been alone.  While I feel like my running has progressed pretty good in that time, I feel like my strength training has suffered.  Maybe “suffered” isn’t quite the right word, but I’m not sure what word would be better.  I made great strides in that area when I had a coach or a partner.  I don’t feel like I’ve done as well alone.  I’ve received a lot of encouragement and advice from various people, but it’s not really the same as having someone there.  Given the choice, on many occasions, I would definitely prefer to have someone to workout with.

And there are days when I’d love someone to run with, especially as I push myself to run longer distances.  I’m both excited and scared about doing my first half marathon.  Excited because it’s a new challenge, something I never thought I’d ever be able to do.  But scared/worried that I won’t be able to do it.  I worry sometimes that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this challenge.  Sometimes I think having someone run with me once in a while will help push me, especially on long runs. And I know I can use help with my strength training. I want to be as prepared as possible for race day because I know how big of a challenge it is.  In the end, no matter what, with or without a training partner, I will cross that finish line.

What about you? Do you prefer to workout alone or do you want/need someone else there? Why? 

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Half-Marathon training – Week 2 

So Week 2 is done.

I have to admit, it’s kind of nice following a plan. And I’m glad I picked the one I did.  I really like that I can move things around if necessary.

This plan gives me 2 rest days a week.  I can either completely rest, or use them for active recovery.  Some days my body really wants/needs to rest; others, I just feel like I need to do something, even though it’s not a run day.  After speaking with several runners, I realize most runners are the same.

So Monday I took as a complete rest day.  I think I needed it.

Tuesday called for a 5k run and 30 minutes of strength training.  I ended up doing 5.5k plus the strength training.

Wednesday was cross training day.  I chose the elliptical, and did a really good 60 min workout on it, including several spurts of backwards pedaling for 30 seconds at a time.  Wow, was that hard! I had serious jello legs when I was done.

Thursday called for a short run.  I only needed 3.25k, but pushed myself a little bit and did 4.34k and another 1.51k of walking.

Friday was rest day again, but chose active recovery and went for an easy 3k walk.

The humidity has been high lately, so Saturday I got up extra early to get my run in before it got too hot/humid.  I ended up with 6.11k.  Not as much as I had been doing on Saturdays, but it was still good.

I got up extra early on Sunday as well.  It was supposed to be a short run day, but I ended up with 6k.

The week called for 16.5k, and I finished the week with 26.46k.

When I went out walking on Friday, I went to the library and checked out some books on cross-training and yoga. I want to add more moves to the ones I already have.

Quite often when I’m out running, some stranger will offer words of encouragement.  I really like that.  And it really helps when I’m struggling a bit.

I’m still experimenting with fueling options when running.  The energy bites I made last week were really good.  I made them again this week, just varying the recipe slightly.  I will continue to experiment with them.  I haven’t had a chance to get to the running store yet to get more gels and chews to try.  Hopefully soon.

I realized that my shoes will need to be replaced soon.  Thankfully I have another pair waiting in the wings.  The problem is I’m not sure when to replace them.  I don’t want to replace them too early and then need to replace them again just before race day.  I’m going to try to eek out a couple more weeks in the pair I’m running in now.  We shall see how it goes.

All in all another good training week.

I’m looking forward to pushing myself more in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned. 

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Half-Marathon training – Week 1

So I’ve completed Week 1 of my training plan.  I’ve never followed a plan like this before, so I wasn’t sure how it would go.  To be honest, I was nervous.  But I’m pretty pleased with how it went.

One thing I have to adjust to is the weeks of the plan start on Monday instead of Sunday. Hopefully it won’t take too long to get used to that.

According to the plan, Monday is a rest day.  But I didn’t want to rest on the first day, so I decided to trade Monday and Tuesday and went for a shortish run.  I ended up running a bit longer than the plan called for.

I did a stretch and core workout on Tuesday.

Wednesday was supposed to be cross training, but as it was Canada Day, I had a race.  So I changed Wednesday and Thursday this week.  The race went really well.  It was the best race and run I’d had in quite a while.  And it was a slightly longer run than the plan prescribed.

Thursday was cross training, which normally would be on Wednesdays.  

Friday was rest day.  I wanted to go for a run, but I resisted the temptation.

Saturday I did my longest run of the week, and again, I went farther than the plan said to.

Sunday was supposed to be a short run, but again, I pushed it a little farther.  It was humid so I didn’t go too far.  I should have gone out earlier than I did.  Lesson learned. 

The plan called for 14.75km, and I ended up doing 23.39km.

I’m still working on proper hydration and fueling during a run.  I did try one new power gel that I didn’t like.  It was tangerine flavoured, or at least was supposed to be.  It tasted too artificial and sugary to me.  I’m looking forward to trying more options.  I made some new energy bites that I’m quite happy with.  I made them with natural peanut butter, honey, oats, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, chopped nuts, and dried fruits. They were tasty and easily portable.  I will be trying slight variations in the recipe in the coming weeks.

All in all, it was a good first week.

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Canada Day 5k recap (2015)

Yesterday, I ran in my local Canada Day 5k race. I did this race for the first time last year and I really liked it, so I decided to do it again.  

A few things I like about this race are: 

1) it’s a route I’m familiar with.  It takes place at a park not too far from my house.

2) it’s cheap. Entry fee is $10 on race day.

3) because it’s a local race, I know several people who run in it.

Last year for the race, it was hot and humid.  I ended up walking more of the course than I would have liked.  And I came close to throwing up in the last kilometre of the race.  I didn’t want a repeat of that.

I’d been watching the weather rather closely.  We were expecting cooler temps, which was great.  But there was also a possibility of rain/thunderstorms, which was not great.  The forecast changed a few times in the week before the race.  I was still going to run, but I really didn’t want to run in the rain.  The night before, the forecast said there was still a possibility, but it was low.  I kept my fingers crossed for no rain.

I was particularly excited for this race because I had just started my training plan for my half marathon.  I had been running quite a bit lately and was feeling pretty good.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling excited.  I showered, dressed, and had breakfast and coffee.  I made sure I had everything I needed for the race.  I did some light stretching to warm up my muscles.  Normally, I get pretty nervous before a race, but I didn’t really this time.  I was feeling good.

My husband dropped me off at the park and I got myself registered.  I often wait until race day to register for local races.  It’s usually not a problem since they are just small races.  It was cool and overcast.  It was also a bit windy since we were down by the water.  I chatted with volunteers and other runners who showed up early.  The park around us was preparing for Canada Day celebrations, so there was a lot of hustle and bustle going on.  Other runners began to trickle in, and I was hoping I’d see several I knew.  I saw Ulana, Stephanie, and Marie.  And then Meggan and Karen.  Karen didn’t think she was going to make it, but I was glad she did.  She said she was going to be slow, she just wasn’t feeling very fast.  Karen’s nickname is “Legs”, I don’t think she knows what slow is LOL.  More runners showed up. It looked like it was going to be a good race.  I saw several more I know by sight, but not by name. 

Finally it was time to line up.  Because I’m slow, I try to position myself near or at the back so I don’t get in the way of the faster runners.  Somehow this time, I ended up near the middle.  Not quite sure how, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.  I moved to the side so that it would be easier for others to get around me.  The race director gives a few last minute instructions and then we were off!

As I rounded the first corner, I could feel tightness in my calves, particularly the right one.  I guess I didn’t warm them up enough.  But I don’t let it stop me, I just pushed through it.  The majority of the crowd was far ahead of me, but I could still see most of them.  And there were a few that weren’t too far ahead.  I said hi to the volunteers that were directing the runners in the right direction and just kept moving.  The tightness in my calves was still there, but I was doing my best to ignore it.  I was hoping to not take walking breaks, if possible.

The course is fairly flat, with only a few small hills.  But it winds around the park so it has lots of twists and turns.  It makes for a nice run actually.  I saw a few birds and squirrels, as I usually do when running in that area.  Other people were walking and running in the park, so I said hi to them as they passed me going in the opposite direction.  

The park is divided by a road, so part of the route is on that road.  As I was rounded one corner, a shuttle bus was coming around the corner going the opposite way, so I had to pause for about 15-20 seconds to let it pass me.  Not a big deal.  As the bus went by, my friend Karen spotted me.  She had long finished the race and came to pace me the rest of the way.  She walked as I ran and we chatted.  It’s always nice to have company while running.  She did really well, breaking her own record by almost a minute.  I knew she would do well.  She always does.  

We had to go through a small area of the parking lot.  It had rained the day before, so there were mud puddles.  I did my best to avoid them without slowing down too much.  As I was the last runner, one of the volunteers on a bike followed me the rest of the race, eventually being joined by another.

There is one area where we go down a side path, turn around, and head back to the main path.  As I was heading down the path, a few runners were heading back to the main part.  We gave each other cheers as we passed.  Last year when I went down to path, I saw a turtle.  I didn’t see one this year.  After turning around, Karen and I headed back to the main path. But I quickly stopped and told Karen to stop.  Up ahead of us, in the middle of the path, was a snake!!  He had not been there previously!  I HATE snakes!  I don’t even go into the reptile area at the zoo! Thankfully, he moved quickly off the path and we continued.  As we rounded another corner, we saw Meggan walking to her car.  She said she was going to grab her phone and would join us in a minute.  She eventually caught up with us and walked as I continued to run towards the finish.  So I had Karen on one side and Meggan on the other pacing me to the finish.  And two volunteers on bikes following us.  It was pretty cool. 

As I neared the finish, I could see lots of people standing around.  When they saw me, they all started cheering.  I turned to Meggan and said, “that never gets old.”

I crossed the finish line with everyone cheering and shouting words of encouragement and congratulations.  That truly is one of my favourite parts about racing.

And with the exception of pausing for the bus and the snake, I ran the whole race.  I felt really good.  It was the best run AND best race I’d had recently.  I was so proud of myself!

According to my Nike running app, the race was 5.23k and I finished in 1:02:46. I’m more than happy with that!

What a great way to start out the day, a new month, and my training plan!!

And the rain held off until Karen and I were walking to her car.

How did you celebrate Canada Day? 

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