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Monday, February 28, 2011

Running Log 2011 Week #8

Ahhh! Week 8 is done and gone and as of tomorrow we're falling head first into March.  That means Spring is just around the corner and I can slowly start to shed layers of clothing. This week was an interesting week that started off on a high, but finished with a low.

The high of the week? My amazing Tuesday evening workout.  It was a progression workout from easy to steady to tempo to hard effort.  I finished off the workout with a killer final 5 minutes and felt nearly invincible. It was the first time in months that I had been able to get my legs to turn over so easily and it felt as though I could have unleashed them even more. I was optimistic for the coming weekend's race.

And then the race happened, say hello to my week's low point. I had nearly uncontrollable stomach cramps and the urge to find a restroom throughout the entire 10km I raced. I woke up this morning feeling a little under the weather so I think what I felt yesterday was the start of the flu bug.  Great, just great. I'm curious to see where this goes, and I will remind my body that I refuse to take days off of running. So it best heal itself while I sleep at night.  If I have to sleep 12 hours a night, I will do it.

So I ran 61.5km this week in 4 days. I think it's high time I toss in a 5th day of 6-10 km to start getting myself over 70km/week.  I was hoping this would be my week to attempt that, seeing as how I am not sore at all from the race yesterday, but this flu like bug has me slightly worried.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Race Recap: 2011 Really Chilly Road Race 10km

February is coming to a close today and what better way to seal it up than with my first road race of the year. The Really Chilly Road Race is an annual event in London that dates back many years, but recently changed hands last year to be picked up by the Runner's Choice London Honda Series.

My week leading up to the race was nothing out of the ordinary. I logged a solid workout on Tuesday, feeling, for the first time in months, like I had legs that could move quickly. I had a stellar workout that was punctuated with a rather serious ankle sprain that took 2-3 days to heal well.  I took a few days rest before the 10km and had slept well the nights leading up the race.

Everything throughout the week pointed to me putting in a solid effort come this morning, and when I woke up I felt fresh and rested. I had a simple breakfast, had a slightly unsettled stomach but cast that aside as pre-race jitters. Little did I know if would come back to foil my plans mid race.

The weather this morning was near perfect for late February, -4C with a light dusting of snow that fell over night...though there was a fine misty snow falling. Just enough to make running in glasses a royal pain in the ass, I just didn't realize this till my warmup prior to the race.

Props to Mr. Song for snapping this picture of me at the start!

We got to the Western Fair in plenty of time, but I miscalculated how long I should warmup for and got the start line only 2 minutes prior to the gun going off.  I didn't think much of it, and waited patiently for the horn to sound. WEEEHHHHHHHHHHH! And we were off.

The first few kilometers included me getting settled into the pace I wanted to run, and a pesky out and back 500m jaunt that I cursed.  Thankfully, that was out of the way early and we wouldn't have to do it again. The first 2km felt fine. My legs were moving easily and my breathing was very relaxed.  I came through 2km at about 7:22, but the third km was far from stellar as I came through in just a hair under 11:20.  It was at this point that I started to realize something wasn't right and I began to fight off the urge to find the nearest restroom for the unrest that was brewing within me.

The 4th and 5th kilometers were more of the same painful cramping and I came through at 5km in 19:02. Definitely not what I had expected, but seeing that gave me hope that I could hold on bravely for a sub 38:00 effort. Maybe, just maybe.  Well, as I hit 6km it quickly became clear that if I didn't find a restroom ASAP I would be running in extremely filthy pants. 7km came by at 27 flat and I slowed to a shuffle as I wondered if I could keep running in this kind of abdominal pain.

Somehow, I shuffled through the 7th and 8th kms and found some semblance of my legs into the 9th km. I managed to muster up all the energy I hadn't yet spent due to my stomach cramps and closed off the final kilometer in style.

I crossed the finish line in 38:38, a whole 38 seconds slower than what I had considered as my 'good' effort time. I instantly felt down about the whole ordeal after the race, and though the race didn't go to plan I should still look at it for positives.  After all, it was my season opener and my irritated stomach certainly played a part in my focus and speed, but I still clocked my fastest 10km time on the roads since my return to the sport.  Today's race has validated all the miles I've run over the winter (my first winter base phase of training EVER) and to see a solid result like this, over a distance I loathe and so early in the season, gives me hope for things to come. I'm pretty sure that from now on, if there is a 5km option to a race, I'm opting for it. Screw these painful 10km road races, at least when they are XC races the scenery is enjoyable.

Wow, that's a pretty smile you've got sweetie!

On another note, my wife Melanie raced her first 10km race today in preparation for her half marathon she has scheduled in early May. She had a goal of coming under 70minutes and she nailed it, coming in at 68:46. I don't think I've ever seen her so happy and it made me proud. She's worked so hard since last November and she deserves every ounce of pride she's earned.

Well, I'll be back in the saddle tomorrow, my legs are no more sore than they typically are after a hard Saturday workout.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to Overcome Adversity: My Triumphant Return To Running

This past weekend I had the pleasure of addressing some of my teammates (London Runner Distance Club) at the Morrissey House for our Monthly team lunch.  Brent Smith and I, yes THE Brent Smith, had the opportunity to discuss 'Overcoming Adversity' as distance athletes.

If you're interested in reading what I spoke of, be sure to follow the link below. I've included my entire talk which includes a bit of my background, when I 'fell off the horse' and I cover some key points to make sure you are prepared for adversity when it rears it's ugly head.  I wasn't prepared, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aaron Hendrikx Obliterates LRDC Junior 3000m Record!

This is the second London Runner Distance Club record to fall this year (read my highlight of the first), at this rate Steve will have to revise the record books once a month!  This past Friday at the Hal Brown Last Chance Meet held at the University of Toronto, LRDC entered a select few athletes to compete in the 1500m and 3000m races.

Aaron's 3000m race seemed almost effortless as he slowly ate away at a 50m+ lead that Kyle O'Neill had built up in the first 2km.  The last km was less than spectacular for Kyle and Aaron sensed he could use Kyle to help him make up the ground, and make up ground he did!

With just one lap to Aaron had nearly caught up to Kyle and within the last 200m took a commanding lead to win the race in a blistering 8:30.52. And indoors to boot!

Congratulations Aaron, you beat your previous best by nearly 9 seconds and you have us all excited to see what you lay down on the track this summer. I had a great workout on Saturday, and there is no doubt in my mind that watching your performance helped ignite a fire within me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Acuball Mini & Your Posture

I purchased an Acuball Mini last summer when I started to feel some discomfort in my heel. I still don't know what the issue was, but I know it was one of two things: Early signs of Plantar Fasciitis or Soft Tissue Damage.

Though I don't know what the issue was, I do know that the Acuball Mini allowed me to provide myself with therapy as I sat at my desk at work. It allowed me to continue training at 60km+ per week and race twice a month.  I love this darn thing!

Since then, I routinely use it a few times a week to massage my feet, but when I'm not rolling out my soles I've got the ball wedged between my back and my desk chair to help with my posture. But you may be wondering why pay such attention to your posture?  Here are a few reasons:

  1. Optimal organ and muscle function for maximum energy, endurance, and vigor.
  2. Optimal biomechanics for the best possible muscle performance.
  3. Greater concentration and mental ability (as a result of this reduced pain and fatigue).
  4. Fewer upper and lower back problems.
  5. A flatter and stronger stomach--in fact, without proper posture you can never achieve the flattest stomach and smallest waist possible.
  6. A more respect-producing, confident, competent, vigorous, youthful appearance.
 And I've found that I am less fatigued at the end of the day, that my neck and shoulders aren't as tight and I can concentrate more clearly if I engage in proper posture while working away at my computer desk. If you spend countless hours at a desk and suffer from stressed neck and shoulder muscles, I recommend the Acuball Mini for your posture. You'll be amazed how nearly all forms of pain can be sourced back to bad why not forgo the costly physio you'll need in the future and purchase a $20 massage ball instead?

Watch the following video below if you'd like to learn even more about the Acuball Mini!

To PURCHASE an Acuball Mini, CLICK HERE!

Running Log 2011: Week #7

Week #7 already, wow! Only 45 more weeks to the year.  We're still deep in a winter freeze in London, although last week saw us lose most of our snow and hit +10C on Thu/Fri...before plummeting back to -10C the next day.

The miles went by very smoothly this week and the lack of snow in the latter half made the effort easier on my hip flexors and IT band. However, I'm starting to feel some pain in my feet and it has me slightly worried.  I'm getting some nagging pain in my big toe on my right foot and the outside of my left foot feels tender and almost as though it is bruised.  I'll be seeing my Physio tomorrow (Kate Reid @ CBI Health - THE BEST PHYSIO!) and hopefully we can see what is going on.

Otherwise, it was a pretty solid week of running. The 62km I ran didn't drain me very much at all and I had lots left in the tank on Sunday, even after a solid 6x1km effort on Saturday. This week will be another week of 60km, maybe a tad less as I taper off slightly for my first race effort of the year at the Really Chilly Road Race this Sunday February 27th. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Reminisce, You Read

It all went down over 10 years ago in Sudbury. I had my last individual track race of my high school career, and oddly enough, it is still the last individual race I have run on an outdoor track. ( That should all change this summer, mwahahahaha ) I followed up this race with a 400m relay in which I ran with a yellow rain jacket and if I recall properly, ran it backwards to boot.  Oh, what a rebel I was. Actually, I'm surprised they didn't disqualify us.

Anyways...the race in question was my final 1500m race of my high school career. I don't recall much of the race but it was and still is my proudest moment on the track. I managed to set a personal best of 4:06.8 in the process and did it from the front, and unchallenged for the entire race.

 From then on I had the chance of improving on my 13th place finish at OFSAA from the previous year, but I decided not to attend OFSAA because I was far too selfless to stand up for myself and told my then girlfriend that I'd skip out and attend our Prom Night instead. I had always wanted to break 4:00 for the 1500m distance and I can't help but think that I would have been able to do it at OFSAA.  There aren't many things I regret, but missing out on OFSAA 2001 tops my list. 

I guess I will never find out...except now I am positioning myself so that I can at least try again. And try I will!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Saucony unveils the Fastwitch 5: ME WANT!!!

 Well, Saucony has announced the new model of their flagship racing flat, the Fastwitch. I personally own the Fastwitch 4 and love them quite dearly.  I've only run a few races in them but they fit my feet just about as well as a generically made shoe can fit.

This new model comes in two colors, both of which I dislike compared to my awesome yellow pair. The only reason I want these darn shoes are the two messages embedded into the shoes' soles:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Running Log 2011: Week #6

Well, another 60km week is in the books and I must say it felt pretty good overall. The -20C weather was a royal pain, but my 19km fartlek this weekend was run in what I would consider balmy weather, it must have been about -3C with a massive sun to boot! This week will be mostly the same, maybe I'll creep up to 65km.

Two weeks from now I'll be racing the Really Chilly Road Race in London and I'll be attempting my first 10km road race of 2011.  It should be a fun affair.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Bizarre Things Happen In This Sport All The Time..."

Chris McDougall is the American best selling author of 'Born to Run', a book published in 2009 that tracks down members of the reclusive Tarahumara Indian tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons. After being repeatedly injured as a runner himself, McDougall marvels at the tribe's ability to run ultra distances (over 100 miles) at incredible speeds, without getting the routine injuries of most American runners.

This latest TEDtalk discusses the bizarre things that happen in the sport of running and Chris connects the dots, providing us with a reason why these bizarre things are more connected than we ever thought.  Enjoy the video!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Running Log 2011: Week #5

Well, week #5 is in the books and what a week it has been. I had 2 physio sessions (which included my first acupuncture session), 5 runs and 1 day of cross country skiing.  My legs are coming back around after a bad week last week and I'm still improving in many areas.  Most notably was my epic tempo effort on Tuesday and my solid 15km progression run on Saturday.  I logged a total of 73km on my feet this week, the most I've done all year and the most I've done since late October 2010. This coming week should be a fun week, I'll have to get as many solid workouts in before the weekend as we're spending the weekend in Toronto with friends.

Snow Running Mistakes I've Made...

I love being able to pass on things I've learned, and this blog is a testament to the tons of shit I've learned. Sadly, these things are learned as I make mistakes....luckily I'm bright enough to learn from them.

This weekend's lesson involves running technique while logging miles in a snowy, wintry climate. This is my first real winter running season, and I've been forced to learn lots as I wade through drifts of snow, slide across patches of ice and attempt to avoid being struck by stray snowballs.

Lesson #1: Get a pair of running tights

If you can get over the embarrassment you might feel from wearing tights it will be the best running related decision you will have ever made. I can't believe how amazing tights feel. They keep you warm in all conditions and make your legs look damn fine to boot.  Get a black pair with reflective stripes, good luck not rubbing your legs. 

Lesson #2: Invest in good mittens

Gloves suck. Mittens rule. 

Lesson #3: Pay special attention to your gait, and any changes the snow may have had on it.

I'm a slightly heavier runner than most and when doing tempo work I found myself trying to be as light as possible as I trudged through soft packed snow. This is all well so long as I don't recruit single muscles to do the job, and it turns out I was. I was relying too heavily on my hamstrings to lift my feet off the ground and that caused excessive tightness that resulted in IT Band related pain.

Also pay attention to any external foot rotation and try and adjust for it. You want your feet to be pointing as straight as possible, otherwise you'll be exerting forces on your IT Band that could result in an injury.

Lesson #4: Run with the wind

Winter is a very windy season and nothing sucks more than running into a headwind. Try and fit your route so that you are as shielded as possible and have the wind at your back.

Lesson #5: Find a running partner

As the nights get darker sooner you'll want a little extra assurance that you'll actually get out the door after work instead of sitting in front of the fireplace. A running buddy is great for this as it makes the two of your accountable.

Lesson #6: Protect your face

Get a balaclava to shield your face. All fine running brands make excellent models that can shield your ears, nose, cheeks and chin.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Version 2 of My Early Morning Core Circuit

Well, it's never a good thing to let things settle too much and since I've been visiting physio twice a week, I've learned more and more about my body's strengths and weaknesses.  I've learned that my Gluteus Medius is no longer a culprit in my weak ass, and I've learned my vastis medialis (one of the 4 muscles that compose the quadricep) is very likely weak as well. With these changes in mind, I've revamped my early morning core circuit to be more balanced towards some of the weaknesses I've discovered.  Here is my new circuit that I feel is much more balanced and provides an even better full core workout:
  • 2 x (15 squats, targeting vastis medialis. Stand feet apart about 8-10", clench pillow or ball between knees. Squeeze while squatting.) vastis medialis activated
  • 2 x (20 single leg hikes. Laying on stomach, prop hips up with foam roller, bring foot close to butt, raise foot to the sky while concentrating on activating the gluteus maximus) gluteus maximus activated
  • 2 x (40 single leg lifts. Place back against wall, bend lower leg at 90 degrees and place foot firmly against wall. Point toes of top leg towards ceiling and raise leg along the wall.) gluteus medius activated
  • 3 x (15 declined situps) upper/mid abs activated
  • 3 x (15 inclined leg raises) lower abs activated
  • 3 x (15 straight leg deadlifts, 40lb barbell) lower back activated
  • 3 x (15 pushups, push up bars) chest/biceps/triceps activated

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happiness is filling out Questionnaires!

That's right can't truly be happy until you've filled out tons and tons of questionnaires. What better way to quantify your matchmaking capabilities, your 'real age' or why you'll die at the age of 67?

Enter a questionnaire that is meant to test your happiness.  I borrowed this questionnaire from Natalie at Keeping Natalie Honest. I filled it out quickly, it took less than 5 minutes and it proved to be completely useless for me.  I guess it cemented the fact I'm happy with my life, well, happy enough at least.

I scored 4.7 out of 6....what will you score?  Take the questionnaire by clicking the read more link below.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sara Hall Speaks on 'Taking On Your First 5km'

In the spirit of some of the topics I've written on here recently about running 5km/10km races, I present to you a video featuring the very talented Sara Hall. Enjoy!

How to Engage Your Core While Running through Visualization

In my comment on the post below I discuss 'engaging' your core while you run. I'm sorry for not going into more depth, but I'll take this time here to try and tackle that. This is for you Nat, and anyone else interested in reducing wear and tear on their knees and feet.


This is an exercise that requires active participation from you mentally and will take time to ingrain, but don't worry, it will eventually become second nature.

So you've been strengthening your core and its helping you stay injury free. However, to make the most out of your new found strength, you need to engage your core while running.

The easiest way to do this is through visualization. While running you want an upright posture that comes from your hips all the way through to the top of your head. You don't want to 'stretch' through the top of your head, you just want to feel tall. You should lean forward ever so slightly and tuck your hips beneath your lower back. This may sound hard to do, and it is, I didn't find it easy to do until I started doing yoga.

Contract your abs and lower back slightly and notice what happens to your legs. This is where visualization comes into play. You want to try and keep your torso above your legs beneath so that they have less weight to carry as they pound the pavement.

Visualize your body floating above your legs and your legs are left to simply spin beneath your hips, kind of like those of a cartoon character (view above).  This is not what it will look like, but in order to engage your core and minimize the wear on your legs, visualizing it will help immensely. By engaging (actively contracting) your abs and back you can improve your running efficiency, reduce the likelihood of injury and in turn, be the best runner you can be!

Looking for a core workout to start strengthening yourself? Check out the one I currently do: My New Early Morning Core Workout

1 For 12: Good bye January, Hello February!

Well, the first month of training is officially behind me and I now move into February. January felt like a rather long month, and the lack of sun in London certainly didn't help there.

200km run, 14 hours spent running, 15000 calories burned!

I battled through pain this month and I've begun seeing a physiotherapist and massage therapist regularly.  My feet have recovered from the damage I sustained in December from the new pair of shoes I bought. The only nagging pain I have left is my tricky IT Band and I'm trying as hard as I  can to keep that under control. I'm doing a solid 30 minute core workout 3 times a week now.

I didn't run a single race this month and I've done as many workouts with my team as I could (1/week currently). The miles are starting to build and I am getting awfully tired of the poor footing on sidewalks in London.  Springbank park is a blessing in the winter...why does it have to be 20minutes away by car? :(

My mileage graph above shows a steady increase since my heaviest month last October and if everything goes to plan in February I'll top 240-260 km in 4 weeks.  It all depends on my IT it better behave!

Looking forward, I have a 10km Road Race planned at the very end of the month. It's in London and all proceeds go towards supporting the London And Area Running Association, a not-for-profit organization in London. It should be fun to see what kind of time I can drop in -20C weather on snowy roads with very little speed work under my belt. To make the day even more fun, it's Melanie's very first 10km road race and she's excited to get one under her belt as she tunes up for her Half Marathon in May!
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