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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

91 Year Old Canadian Track Star

I stumbled upon an amazing story on the BBC news site today about Olga Kotenko. Olga is 91 years old and started her track career when she was 77 years old. 77 YEARS OLD!

She's the only woman to compete in the 90yr+ age group in the long jump, and I'm amazed to think someone above the age of 70 is still competing at track and field, and long jumping nonetheless! Her favorite event? The Hammer Throw. The frikkin hammer this woman bionic? Amazing, simply amazing...she is an inspiration to me, if I can continue competing in my latter years I'll be a happy man.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cute Video: Under 6yr olds race 200m at Stanford Invite

I found this on, and it was originally tweeted by Steve Magness. Watch it for just how cute the kids are, but above all, get ready for a nail biter! There was more build up in this race than in most NCAA level races!

10 Things You Didn't Know About Me

snake eyes - 2010

Inspired from Dathan Ritzenheim's recent blog post, I present to you 10 Things You Didn't Know About Me.
  1. My left foot is both wider and longer than my right foot.  My left leg is longer than my right 2 centimetres (3/4").  These imbalances never seemed to be much of an issue to me until I started logging steady miles week after week, and now it seems to be a large part of what goes wrong with my lower limbs.
  2. I was born in Germany and have lived in three different provinces within Canada. Nova Scotia, Quebec and now, Ontario.  It seems I've been making my way west over the years, but I don't see myself going much further west than Southwestern Ontario. I could however get used to the idea of going further south. Death to snowy winters, except on Christmas Eve/Day.
  3. I was once a bedroom and club DJ. Yup, that's right. I fell in love with techno music some 10 years ago after accidentally stumbling upon a 60 minute long song titled 'Paul Oakenfold - World Tour - Shanghai'. Since then I've had the of playing at far too many house parties for friends and found myself playing at clubs in London and Toronto.  I put that behind me when I simply couldn't balance sleeping with the late nights and binge drinking.
  4. I'm a photography nut. I'm still learning tons (it's the kind of craft that takes a lifetime to hone) and I find myself doing part time work as a commercial photographer.  If you're interested in seeing some of my work, head on over to my website: Andre LeFort - Photography
  5. My running idols while I was growing up were Kevin Sullivan, Hicham El Gerrouj and Haile Gebrselassie. Kevin because I grew up watching him excel at the 1500m for Canada at just about every international event. Hicham because he was THE man back in the 90s and Haile for his ever permanent smile and inspiring outlook on running.  I still look to these guys for inspiration from time to time, thankfully youtube is littered of videos showcasing their triumphs and failures.
  6. I watch very little television. On average, maybe 40 minutes a week, and I typically spend a little more time over the winter months watching movies except that this past winter season I just couldn't sit myself down on the couch.  I pretty much hate television and feel that there are a million and one other things one can do to occupy themselves with.
  7. I'm 'married', but not 'married'. My wife and I committed ourselves to one another in the summer of 2009 in front of 60 friends and family in London.  We wrote our own vows (about 10 minutes of talking each), hosted a commitment ceremony and did not have an officiant present as we don't feel the need for legal documents to bind us till death do us part.  So my 'wife' isn't your typical 'wife' (in more ways than one), and I love her for that! The idea of a 'commitment ceremony' was her idea too, how awesome is she?
  8. I own a large Big Green Egg grill and smoker. When we visited my sister and her husband a few years back we were treated to the most amazing food (ribs, jalapeno poppers, tenderloin) from their friends' egg ( Hi Bekke & Scott!) and we instantly fell in love.  We had planned to buy one, but couldn't do it until we bought our house, which we did last summer! And now we're the proud owners of a Big Green Egg, complete with hand built table (Thanks boys for helping!). Pulled porked slowly smoked for 20 hours, smoked ribs and jalapenos have NEVER tasted so GOOD!
  9. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. It may not sound too surprising to you, especially if you haven't ever had one yourself, but keep this in mind: By the end of high school, 43.6 percentof all kids have tried smoking. Yup, 1 in 2 kids. Odds are stacked against kids nowadays...
  10. I consider myself a fat large runner. Yup. A fat large runner. Pretty twisted view isn't it?  I'm not fat, but when I see guys weighing 30 to 40 pounds less than me I can't help but feel some level of envy towards them. Then again, I do love my body, I just wish I could look the same as I do but weigh 30 pounds less so I could reap the performance rewards, but still look drop dead gorgeous. wink

Monday, March 28, 2011

Want to improve your running? Run Smart, Run Lots!

Ever wondered how people can seemingly run circles around you? Ever wondered how you go from a 20 minute 5km runner to a sub 18 minute 5km runner? Well my friends, the answer is pretty simple: Run Smart, Run Lots.

keep chasing
It's kind of tough for me to simplify it that much, but if we concern ourselves with all the finer details, we won't get much accomplished so today I'd like to focus on running smart and running lots.

Running Smart comes first, and is the cornerstone of my running health and foundation. Sadly, I didn't learn this until very recently and I wish I had learned it ages ago.  Ah well, it's never too late to learn!

So, running smart involves a few key components.
  1. Building a solid base before incorporating intensity into your workout. When I refer to intensity I mean workouts that include 'hard' efforts, typically short fast paced intervals with very little rest.  
  2. When you're ready, add one type of new workout to your weekly routine so as to not sideline yourself for days while you limp around like a broken semblance of a functioning human being. Work hard during your workouts, you deserve it. If you're going to commit the time, commit yourself mentally and push the envelope.
  3. Warm up and cool down properly. I've noticed lately that I need a solid 25 to 35 minute w/u or c/d effort to get everything flushed out. It's amazing how much better you feel the day after a hard effort if you put in the time to warm up and cool down properly.
  4. When you've incorporated your specific weekly workouts (tempo, track and long run) all your other kills (miles for you Americans) should be done at an easy pace. This is when your legs recover and adapt to running while tired.  If you manage to run easy on your non-workout days you'll find yourself better able to respond to speed when you need key workouts.
The Running Lots bit will come naturally if you follow my simple running smart tips above. Remember to

Warm up, keep things honest, cool down, run easy on 'off days' and enjoy your Sunday long run.  That is the key to a successful training program, be it for your next 5km, 10km or half marathon race!

Running Log 2011: Week #12

Wow, what a week. This is my heaviest week of volume EVER as I toppled the scales at 91km!

When I started running seriously again last July I was eking out 25-30km weeks and never thought I'd see the day when I would be able to crank out 80+ weeks consistently while remaining injury free.  It's been a great season of base work and this week sees me add one more workout per week, and hitting the outdoor track on Saturday. Frankly, I'm a little scared.

I haven't done track work in over 10 years and the jump in intensity will truly test how sound my core strength is. The tight turns, the fast foot turnover rate and the redlining of my aerobic abilities will certainly place me under entirely new stress.

I welcome the challenge with open arms, but I do so with trepidation. It's time to make sure I don't get injured, I do not want to be sidelined!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's the little things that matter...

The little things...

  • Like running an easy 20km run without having to stop to use a washroom
  • Like smiling and waving at other runners as you cross paths
  • Like wearing shorts for the first time since last fall
  • Like the massive suppers you reward yourself with after long runs
 And that brings me to the following picture:

Steak, Potato, Kale and Mushroom Sherry Cream Sauce
Yup, that was our supper after our long run today. I ran an easy 18km and Melanie cranked out a solid 12km!  A gorgeous day and a gorgeous way to cap it all off.  Here's my run details in case you're interested.

Race Recap: Springbank Time Trial

Yesterday saw some of the London Runner Distance Club partake in a time trial at Springbank Park. I awoke to a weather report of -16C and blazing sun, wishing I could simply lay in the sun by the window all day instead of asking my legs and lungs to rise to the occasion.  I arrived at Springbank Park for 10am and I was surprised at just how warm it actually was. That sun made it feel more like -5C and there was little to no wind. How pleasant!

We ran through our warmup, 20 minutes easy and tacked on a 5 minute pickup at about 4:15/km. My legs responded well to the pick up, but I wasn't sure how much faster I could handle. The month of March has been my heaviest month of killage to date, and though I've had some great workouts, I just didn't feel race sharp. After some dynamic warm up drills we laid down a few strides and coach Steve laid out the loop for us.

A few minutes later and we were off.  I had never actually run this loop at the park yet, having missed the last time trial in January due to injury.  The loop kicks off with a massive hill climb, a steep descent, a mostly flat section and caps off with a 1.2km steady climb towards the start/finish of the loop.  This was not an easy circuit as it is constantly rolling and the first hill we climb is enough to mentally drain you for the remainder of the loop.  Have a look at the elevation chart below...

My km laps were not the more consistent, but my first km was only 2 seconds faster than my overall pace. Overall, I think I did a great job of pacing myself and it sure helped to have Nathan by my side to make sure I kept it honest throughout.

When all was said and done I crossed the finish line in 16:45 (an average pace of 3:37/km) and I felt a burning in my lungs that I have not felt in some time. I pretty much collapsed on the road, thankfully no cars came by.  This effort translates to an 18 minute 5km on this course, and if It were more of a flat course I'd expect I could shave 20 seconds off.  We'll see how that goes in a few weeks when I tackle the Downtown 5k in London on April 22nd!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

First Impressions: New Balance 940

Well, I've now added a new pair of shoes to my shoe rotation (I now have 3 pairs to choose from) and I thought I'd give you my first impressions after having them around for a few weeks.

I currently own last year's model, the 850s, and I must say that although I thoroughly loved last year's version, and they have provided me with 600km of pain free running, this year's iteration is heads above.

I started running in this shoe because my forefoot is wider than normal, but not wide enough to warrant a wide shoe. This shoe has a slightly wider toe box than most other shoes, so it was just the fit for me.  However, I felt that the shoe, wasn't very snug or form fitting....and they've fixed that in this year's version, the 940.

The tops of the shoes are very lightweight and provide just enough stability without being too constricting. I'm looking forward to using these in late May, I wonder how the heat will affect my feet and if these shoes will respond appropriately.

I have noticed one thing that is less than desirable. On the upper, directly above the big toe is a piece of stiff material that is causing my toes some pain. After long runs and heavy weeks of running the top of my nail feels slightly bruised.  This is pronounced on my left foot, the very foot that is wider and longer than my right foot. My shoes are still fitted properly, but a word of caution as you break these in.

Overall, I'm quite satisfied with the shoe. It fits much better than the 850 from last year and the upper is breathable yet still supportive.  I would definitely recommend this shoe.

If you'd like to support this site, consider buying buy the shoes....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Version 3 of My Early Morning Core Circuit

Never one to leave good enough alone (version 1, version 2), I've re-vamped my early morning core workout to include more lateral stabilizing exercises as I felt I was neglecting those areas. Everything else has stayed the same, I've simply added some more exercises, making this truly into a 30-40 minute core workout that I perform three times a week at the crack of dawn.

  • 3 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 (40 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
  • 2 x (15 static lunges, alternate forward leg) nearly all leg muscles, emphasis on adductors, quads, hamstrings 
  • 2 x (45 second planks for: chest up, chest down, left arm down, right arm down) abs, obliques, adductors, hamstrings
  •  3 x (15 bridges with exercise ball. Place ball at shoulder blades/neck, feet close together, with butt hanging down tighten abs and glutes to propel your torso upwards so that you are forming a flat bridge) abs, glutes
  • 3 x (15 declined situps, with 4lb medicine ball on chest) 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 (20 pushups, push up bars) chest/biceps/triceps activated

My Reflections on Winter Running...

Did you hibernate this season?
Well, today marks the end of the winter season and the start of a wonderfully fresh spring season.  I can't recall the last time I was this excited to see spring come around (last year we loved winter as we went x-c skiing every weekend for 9 weeks straight!), but gosh darn am I ever happy to see it finally here. It felt like it would never come.

Or so I thought....we received about 4 inches of snow overnight and are slated to receive another 4 to 6 inches by midnight tonight.

Winter kicked off 3 weeks early with the biggest storm I have ever lived through (I've died in a few bigger storms though...) and it's been snowing ever since.  I despise London winters, the constant fluctuations in temperature and precipitation is enough to turn even the most chipper person into a zombie for weeks on end.

So, what did I love/learn/hate/discover in my first ever winter base training season? Tons, and tons, and tons more.  The past 3 months have been a wonderful learning experience for me, but it wasn't without it's ups and downs.

Running comfortably in the winter IS EXPENSIVE!!!

I have never done an actual base season of running through the winter months, so I had to stock up on clothing that would at least wrap me up warmly so that the thought of a run in -20C would not instantly transform me into an emotional wreck.

So I spent hundreds of dollars purchasing tights, base layers (Merino wool FTW!), mitts, socks, shoes, etc.  I bought all my items at Runner's Choice in London, a store I would love to see my readers support as well. Their commitment to the running scene in London is second to none!

Snow & Ice can wreak havoc on your body

If this is your first winter of running, be aware that you're likely to feel discomfort/pain in parts of your legs you never knew existed.  For me it was mostly contained to my hip flexors/adductors and my toes. You'll find that your biomechanics are forced to shift slightly as you tread ice, soft snow and uneven surfaces.

As you ease into winter running, ease into your harder workouts.  Don't be afraid to scale back slightly to give your body time to adjust before you do damage.

Running in a fresh snowfall is almost zen-like

I've always loved running through trails in the fall, and although it still ranks #1 for me, I've discovered a new appreciation for running in freshly fallen snow.  Cars are silenced, and in many cases, nearly non-existent. Your foot steps are muted, instantly making you think you're running so smoothly that you barely touch the ground.

Try it out if you wake up one morning and there's a few fresh inches of snow on the ground. The state of mind you reach will amaze you.

Motivation is Key

Finding and keeping your motivation high in the winter months is literally the hardest part of running in the winter. There are a few things you can do to make sure you aren't just relying on your 'get-up and go' attitude:
  • Run with others
  • Keep a training log
  • Tell others of your accomplishments (and maybe, your goals, more on this topic later...)
  • Treat yourself to something fun after your hard weeks of training
  • Keep it fun and interesting (new workouts, new scenery, etc...)
Focus on staying injury free

The only thing worse than not running in the winter months is not being able to run in the Spring/Summer because you worked too hard, were a little too careless/ambitious and injured yourself.  So be wise, be cool...stay injury free. If you'd like to know how I stay injury free while increasing my mileage, read all about it here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pop Culture Meets Running: Hey There Delilah!

My Monday morning ritual consists of many things, one of which is scouring the forums for new and interesting forum topics. I stumbled upon a thread titled 'who are some of the hottest professional american distance runners? male/female' and I just had to click and see what people were saying. Call me shallow if you'd like. :P

Within the topic I found a new name I had never heard of, Delilah DiCrescenzo, a professional distance runner (Puma) that competes in the 3000m steeplechase.  She's definitely fit and good looking, so I won't disagree with the person who suggested her, but what I found on her page was something too interesting to pass up.

Many summers ago I discovered, as did the rest of the population, a lovely song by the Plain White T's titled Hey There Delilah aired on the radio and I fell in love. I immediately bought downloaded their album and was glad I didn't spend a dime on it. What drivel it was, rather surprising since Hey There Delilah was so much fun to listen to.

Well, it turns out Delilah DiCrescenzo is THE Delilah they sing about.  From Wikipedia:
She is the subject of the Plain White T's song "Hey There Delilah".[6] She had met Plain White T's singer Tom Higgenson through a mutual friend, but the two had never been romantically involved. She eventually agreed to go on a date with Higgenson to the Grammy Awards, where the song was up for an award.[7] An interview on the Today Show clarifies that she has a boyfriend and, with his blessing, went to the Grammys as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
So there you have it...once again, pop culture meets running culture. This time, in the strangest of ways.

Running Log 2011: Week #11

Week in, week out...just the ebb and flow of a runner's life. This week saw me maintain nearly the same volume as last week (shy by 8km) but my intensity went through the roof! On Tuesday I did an epic 40min Lactate Threshold run which I ran at 3:56/km pace (just shy of the same pace I ran at my last 10km road race) and it was the first time I'd ever taken on the high end, senior level load at one of our practices.  That workout left me so stiff the following 3 days that I wasn't able to run any faster than 5:20/km pace on my recovery runs and I was forced to stretch, heat, roll my hamstrings and calves for hours.

I can now say I've recovered and am ready for another fun week of running, capped off with a time trial this weekend.  Hopefully I can get my stomach to cooperate this time and I can get a proper gauge on my fitness.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tight Calves While Running: What Can I Do?

Jay Cutler Calves
Gah! Figures, as soon as I up my mileage and sort out my adductor issue I'm stuck now with a super tight right calf. This isn't an entirely new pain, and frankly, it just feels like things are really tight, I wouldn't say it's compartment syndrome or 'calf heart attack', but then again, I just don't know much about my calves. Everyday I run I learn something new, and this week it's all about my calves.

So the question remains, what can I do about my tight calves? In short, I don't really know.  I've been stretching lots, massaging with The Stick and a Foam Roller, getting massages and just trying to get it to calm down. I think I need to look further up my leg and assess how tight my hamstrings and gluteus muscles are, I think they are causing the pain in my gastrocnemius, so hopefully I can stretch things out after work and I can get some easy killage in tonight. Especially since its currently mostly sunny and +11C!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why do Some Canadian Runners log their Runs in Miles?

This is something I'm noticing more and more lately, and not just online, but with my own running friends: Why do so many Canadians choose to tally up their weekly running totals in miles instead of kilometers?

I just don't get it. Ever since the day I started running I've always logged my runs in kilometers, and frankly, it's confusing to even think about using miles. Everything that surrounds us is in kilometers in Canada. Why would I log my running in miles if no other aspect of my life is in that same unit?

I've got a few theories myself as to why runners choose one route over the other, but I thought it would be more fun if I asked around and I managed to get a few responses from other well versed runners, most of which with blogs of their own!

Steve Weiler (Blog: Having Fun, Running Fast)

I find it rather amusing watching a video of an american race, say 5,000m or 10,000m, in which they don't mention the 1,000m or 2,000m splits, but for some reason they mention the 1,600m split and then refer to it as the mile split. It's like a forced indulgence to continue using this antiquated unit of measurement while training for metric distances.

I track in Killage, though I just mark 'k'.

Killage eh? I like the sound of that and I bet more people would convert to the metric measure if this fad caught on.

Leslie Sexton (Blog: Overtrained And Under-Tapered)

I guess I log in miles because there is something I like about it and it is a bit more familiar to me. When I started logging my training, I was in my first year of university. My coach had us enter our runs on an online log, which was an American site. We could enter our runs in kilometers, but it converted everything into miles for our weekly totals. Over four years I got used to using miles and thinking in miles in terms of distance and pacing. All of my teammates used it too.

Miles have simply become intuitive for me. Yes, kilometers probably make way more sense as a measurement system. But I personally like the simplicity of a ten miler rather than a sixteen (point zero nine) km, or a hundred mile week as opposed to a hundred and sixty-one kilometer week.

Brandon Laan (Blog:

A tad of it has to do with running in the U.S. for the past 4 years but most of it stems from my obsessive compulsive nature. I love change in my life, but with regards to running, I like to keep it simple and relatively static. 
I also like to think I am somewhat old-school in my approach. I am a tech free, barefoot (flats), barebones kinda runner. 
The idea of running upwards of 42K (32 in the morning, 10 in the evening) on a Sunday just sounds awful. HOWEVER, I love running 20 in the morning and 6 at night. LOL. The idiosyncrasies do not make a ton of sense but it's what gets me out the door. 

So there you have it, straight from the mouths of some of London's finest long distance athletes/coaches.  Overall, it seems to be a habit that has formed over time, with no real drive to do one or the other.  Old habits die hard and Leslie and Brandon speak to that quite well. We are after all a product of our environment and experiences...

Brandon also touches on an interesting point. He mentions he has spent years running in the US and that has shaped his willingness to adopt the imperial system when logging his miles, and I think that rings true for many of us up North as we often find ourselves sucked into the American running culture more than we might in Canada. I know personally that the American running scene is much more interesting to watch and follow, this must certainly play a role.

In the end, I think it's just so darn easy to say mileage where as you simply can't say kilometerage. However, I like Steve's approach in calling it killage, it rolls off the tongue just as easily as mileage and sounds deadly to boot!

Pete Magill & Grace Padilla Talk Hill Workouts

Pete Magill, a 49 year old competitive runner who this past weekend recorded a 14:46 5000m on the track, and Grace Padilla present 5 different types of hill workouts and the reasons/benefits for each. I have to say I knew very little about the underlying physics/science of hill workouts, but thanks to this 10 minute video, I now know a little more.  Have fun watching!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Running Log 2011: Week #10

Yet another 7 days have passed since my last weekly recap and this week, much like last week, was a breakthrough week for me. I managed to knock off 70km last week (my first time this year) and this week saw me return to running after straining my adductor after the Really Chilly Road Race.

Well, this week I had two solid workouts (check the log above for the workout details) and I logged 85km in the process. I have not logged this kind of mileage since 2001, and I have to say it has me surprised. This is the kind of mileage that injured me at UWO, but here I am, running well and fast. I have to keep my head about and make sure I don't succumb to some injury. Lord knows I'm prone.

That's about all I have to report this week. Lots of miles run, and many more to come. I'm hoping to knock another 75km this week and then taper slightly for our time trial on the 26th of this month.

How to Cure Runner's Knee

I went through a bout of running last summer/fall that had me limiting my miles as I began my return to the trial of miles. I had slowly started to feel a general pain in my left knee, and it had mystified me as I couldn't locate the area of pain, it was a pain that seemed to radiate from everywhere and nowhere at once.

If this is the type of pain you're experiencing with your knees, and you're a healthy runner with no other knee injuries in the past, you may simply have a case of Runner's Knee, otherwise known as Patello-Femoral-Syndrome. PFS for short.

I spent hours in physio to figure out what the problem was, and since then I've been able to further my understanding of what can cause Runner's Knee. Today I'd like to share what I spent time analyzing, fixing and strengthening as I fought, and won, my battle with Runner's Knee.

Get New Shoes

This was the #1 culprit for me. Have you been running in worn out shoes? If you've logged upwards of 600kms you should look into getting a second pair to put into rotation. Twice now I've been plagued with early PFS pain and swapped out my shoes only to find my pain completely disappear. It could really be that easy for you too, if you don't mind paying for shoes.

Stay Away from Hills

I've found that down hill running causes me the most pain, so I do what anyone would do: stay away from down hills. Up hill running seems to be fine, so go ahead, run up hill...hopefully you don't need to come back down the same hill you just ran up.

Strengthen Weak Muscles

PFS is usually tied to weak muscles, and their overused counterparts. In my case my IT Band was tugging at my knee cap, and that was caused by the fact my IT Band was overused thanks to my overly weak gluteus muscles (medius, minimus and maximus). I wasn't able to figure this out without the help of a physiotherapist, and I recommend you do the same. There are plenty of core exercises you can start doing today if you can't afford a physiotherapist, I recommend my core routine as it's kept me very healthy and strong for months.


If you've got pain, don't run through it.  I found that my pain usually came about after the first half of my run, as my legs and core started to get tired.  I learned that it was better for me to run two shorter runs instead of one longer run, and if your schedule can fit it, I would recommend you do the same as you keep the pain in check. Also, don't be afraid to take rest days.  Harder said than done for some, not for others.


Along with the 'Rest' advice, ice is your best friend. Curb the inflammation as soon as you get home, slap an ice pack on your knees while you stretch out your calves and hammies.

Tape your Knee

I found instant pain relief when I had my knee taped by a physiotherapist. I eventually learned how to do it myself and as I was working away at the root cause of my pain, a tight IT Band and a weak ass, I found that taping was very effective.

Find a Physiotherapist

Find an expert to help you. I may have first hand running and injury experience, but physiotherapists are the experts. If you're in the London and area, I recommend Kate Reid at CBI Health. She's a well decorated runner herself, and she has the clinical experience you'll need.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tick-Tock: Live Like A Clock

silly Cogsworth
I certainly can't take credit forcoining the term 'Live Like A Clock', that's Bruce Denton's brainchild in 'Again to Carthage'.  'Again to Carthage' is John L. Parker JR's sequel to his immensely popular 'Once a Runner' novel that was originally written sometime in the 80s, but caught fire a few years ago within the running community. If you consider yourself a runner, you must absolutely read these books.

I began reading 'Again to Carthage' this morning, and after reading this gem in the second chapter I just had to stop and reflect upon it. When I finished University in 2006 I found I was having a very hard time adjusting to the realities of life. As a student, it's a pretty comfortable 'job', and when I was thrown into the perils of the workforce, I quickly realized it wasn't going to be easy anymore.

The toughest thing I experienced was coming to grips with routine. As a student, you didn't have to plan too far ahead and could decide what you wanted to do today as you woke up (within reason of course). But in the REAL world, you had better get your shit together or you'd be left in the dust.

So I developed a routine. It felt horribly foreign and wrong to me, but I knew I had to conquer the beast. When I learned to accept the fact that part of growing up involves developing a routine, be it daily/weekly/monthly, I suddenly became more effective, more engaged and I was knocking off goals like no other.

All this applies to running as well.I don't recommend setting holy guidelines and forcing yourself to follow them like a nut, but I recommend setting small routines that can eventually allow you to find comfort in the common routine you've built up. Things like breakfast, pre-race warm-up/psych-up, core strengthening, etc.

If you allow yourself to make these routine, you'll find pleasure in them and they'll eventually become second nature to do.  There is immense power in routine, allowing you to focus more time and energy on the unexpected things that come up. And we all know they do!

Help support this site and get yourself some fine reading material buy purchasing the books below!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Motivate Yourself to Run Faster, Farther and Smarter!

Motivation....what a loaded word. Expectations have been conquered or broken at our feet....all courtesy of this loaded word.  Motivation.

For me, motivation involves a few different facets, and it's this model for motivation that I've shaped over the years and I feel works best for me, and I think would work best for most people as well. This model is still in its infancy as its the first time I've ever written it down. What motivates me?

  1. The impression others have of me: What do others think of me?
  2. The challenge presented to me: How will I succeed?
  3. The benefit: What can I or those I care about gain from this?
  4. The risk: Is the benefit worth the risk?
It's taken me years to iron out this list of categories as they pertain to my motivation, and although I've found this process painstakingly hard I think it's this type of thinking that can help keep me aligned to my goals...and you to yours! If you can dial in what motivates you, you'll be shedding weight off your waist, time off your personal bests and running longer and smarter than ever before!

The impression others have of me: What do others think of me?

I spent quite a few years after University searching for my identity. I didn't want to associate with anything 'common', 'mainstream' or 'standard'. I loved my unique-ness, and I fought hard against the pressures of everyday, common life.  It took me years to realize this was not how I needed to live my life and only recently did I discover that I had so little motivation at the time because I had systematically shut out most of what I used to motivate me in the past.  This was not working and I had to change...

I had begun believing that in order to motivate, succeed and sustain I simply had to look within me to find my values and beliefs in order to help guide me along the way. The flaw with this logic is that one cannot form their own system of beliefs without a feedback loop that reaches into your surroundings. The things, places, and people you love, or hate, are needed in order to build a healthy system of beliefs and values. To shut these things, experiences, people and emotions out of our lives can only lead to one thing: the slow and painful death of our persona.

The challenge presented to me: How will I succeed?

I love a challenge. I love being told I can't do something. I love surprising people. This is the most important part of my motivation.  The thought of people being wow'ed when they hear I've run 1000 miles last month (oh, how I dream) or that I've broken the world record in the 10,000m also motivate me.

This declaration might seem shallow and perhaps to some, pathetic. That's what I thought at first, but gosh darn it, if it motivates me I'm going to harness it and use it.

Above all, the thrill of overcoming adversity, be it physical, mental or emotional, trumps just about everything. Planning, implementing and testing it all makes for fun times, especially when you link yourself up with a team of like minded people.

The benefit: What can I or those I care about gain from this? 

We all need reasons to do things. We rest when we're sick so we'll come back strong.  We sleep, or drink coffee, when we're tired. We work to get paid. We volunteer to help others.

We do these things because someone benefits in some way.  The same rings true for long distance runners like yourself and I. I run for my health, for my sanity, to prove to my inner voices that I can accomplish the impossible, to drink and eat merrily without regret (except for that one night), to benefit the many charities I support by competing, and the list goes on my friends.

Find some way of rewarding yourself or people you care about. It will provide you with the 'get-up-and-go' you'll need the after a night of drinking, volunteering or restless sleep.  You'll also find that the smallest rewards can be the most satisfying, something as simple as a piece of dark chocolate post-run. Yum!

The risk: Is the benefit worth the risk?

This is when you combine the CHALLENGE you face with the BENEFIT you can gain from accomplishing it and try and understand if the risk is worth it all. You can't possibly expect me to tell you how to do this, the only way to learn is to go ahead and take risks.  You'll eventually develop a system/process that is tailored to how you handle risk and how much risk you can tolerate.  But don't forget, in every benefit lies a risk, in every risk lies a benefit. 

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    How To Stay Injury Free While Increasing Mileage

    Wow, that's a bit of a loaded title isn't it.  This topic is like the holy grail of running, and dare I say, I finally have a recipe that works. For me at least. But I figure it must be able to help you too. Right? Right!

    A healthy competitor is a winning competitor

    Some background first

    my monthly mileage chart
    I came back into competitive running last August and since then I've managed to slowly fall back into that discomforting groove that so many of us call tempo runs, hill repeats and long steady runs. Slowly my body adapted to the new schedule, the new pains, the new highs and lows of it all.  It wasn't before long though that my astronomical jumps in monthly mileage started to take its toll on my body.  Compound that with the fact that I had been sitting at my office desk for nearly 7 years prior to jumping back into running, and injuries were bound to happen.  And happen they did. Here's a quick list of injuries I've had to deal with in the last year:
    • Sprained Ankles
    • Runner's Knee
    • ITBS
    • Adductor Strain
    And each and every time I was able to come out of the injury stronger and ready to conquer my next block of training.  That's always the scary bit with injuries. We never know how long we'll be out of our regular training and how we'll bounce back.  Well, it turns out I can help you get rid of most of the doubt with a bit of advice I've learned through the miles and miles of running.

    Strengthen Your Core

    This was at the root of, literally, every one of the injuries I've sustained in the last year.  As mileage volume increases or mileage intensity increases, or even worse, both increase, you'll start to notice certain muscle groups hurt more than others. Certain joints hurt more than others. Pay attention to these 'growing' pains, they are telling you a story that will surely unravel soon enough. If you can listen to your body, you'll notice that it's time to strengthen core muscle groups, groups that are often used to stabilize your body. If you're not injured and smart, you'll start a core routine now. Otherwise, it's still never too took countless injuries for me before I learned.

    Are you looking for some exercises to help strengthen your core? Follow my routine 3 times a week and you'll reap the benefits in no time!


    Do you have a coach? Do you have running buddies? Do you have a physio/massage/chiro therapist?

    Then TALK to them. Don't hide behind a wall, tell them where you hurt, how training is going, etc. They can offer insight you will never discover on your own. Otherwise it will be you against science and mother nature, allies/enemies that you simply can't beat alone.

    It wasn't till I connected my experiences to a physio therapist and a massage therapist that I truly started to find the benefit in using them.  Are you looking for running specific therapists in London (Ontario)?

    Get in touch with Dave Cousins at Priority Massage & Health (Wortley Village) for your massage needs. Tell him Andre LeFort sent you, he'll treat you well.

    Get in touch with Kate Reid at CBI Health (East End) for your Physiotherapy needs. Tell her Andre LeFort sent you, she'll treat you well.

    Use The Right Tools

    I'm not a gimmicky kind of guy, and I try and stay as simple as possible in my health, but sometimes there are tools you find that make taking care of yourself enjoyable and rewarding.I've got a few, and I think if you suffer from pain like I do while training, you'll want to give these a good long look:
    • Acuball Mini (which I discuss here and here): Fix your posture and massage your feet!
    • The Stick (which I discuss here): Massage your sore leg muscles until they sing!
    • Compression Socks (which I discuss here): Take care of your calves, they deserve it!

    Be Cool

    if only we were as cool and lucky as this horse on clouds
    Since I live in Canada and it's still well below freezing, this comes naturally. Wink. In all seriousness, this last bit of advice is rather 'soft' but can be the difference between taking 5 days off, or recovering from a serious injury for 4 weeks. Be cool about your goals, be cool about your injuries...and above all, just be cool.  Take things one step at a time and try and look at the big picture instead of trying to hit weekly/daily goals.

    And that my friends, is how I manage to stay relatively injury free. I say relatively because we all suffer from something at one point or another...the difference between an injured runner and a healthy runner is in how well we listen to our bodies, peers, coaches and therapists.  If you can slow yourself down for a minute or two, get yourself in check, remember the big picture and forget about how 'competitor X,Y or Z isn't injured' you'll be just fine. Just fine...

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Painful Memories: Really Chilly Road Race 2011

    Well, I ran a 10km road race almost two weeks ago and I mentioned in my race report that my stomach was a mess the entire time as I tried desperately to not void it's contents as I ran....for 10km.  Well, I discovered that was on site to snap some pictures of the runners and I was captured in one of the shots.

    image courtesy of on facebook

    Look at the pain on my face. My eyes are closed, my face is tense and apparently my singlet is long enough to be a mini skirt. Lovely.

    Running Log 2011: Week #9

    Week #9. WOW, just WOW.

    I can't believe we're already done week 9 of the year, and today kicks off the 10th.  I can't help but think of what I've accomplished in 'life' so far this year, and I think I'm pretty satisfied. Running is going well, our finances are going well, our big trip to Italy is nearly fully planned and I cannot wait for spring to arrive so I can cast this nasty snow behind me till next December.

    As for the last week of running, it was a 'win some, lose some' kind of week. I kicked off the week with a tempo effort on Tuesday that destroyed my already tender adductor (at the time I thought it was my hip flexor) and so I returned to physio one week early to have the pain assessed.

    Since then I've been told I can't run any intense mileage for the time being, and that I can continue to run easy.  I've been wanting to creak over 70km/week for some time and I thought this may be my chance to work on my volume without having to worry about intensity...while keeping this pain in check.

    Well, I came close, and I'm fully satisfied with the mileage this week. I don't want to do anymore damage to my adductor than I already have, so I was cautious (especially after my Tuesday workout) and my legs are feeling much better already.

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    First Impressions: CEP Compression Sport Socks

    Many, many months ago I blogged about whether or not I should plunge into the world of compression socks. At the time I was simply exploring the possibilities and it turns out Jamie at MediUSA heard my cries of help and sent me a pair of CEP Compression Sport Socks to try out.  Well, those socks arrived yesterday and now I'm ready to provide you with my first impressions of the socks.

    Aren't these pure sexy?

    I've been pounding out the miles steadily since the new year and my past three weeks have been over 60km/week, definitely my most consistently high mileage weeks since last October.

    Needless to say, the longer runs, raised intensity and cold weather have been slowly turning my calves into useless well chiseled blocks of yes, but functionally useless.

    I'd heard of the benefits reaped by compression sport socks and was curious to see how I could benefit from them, and so my very informal tests began...

    Let me Set the Mood...

    I ran a hard fartlek effort on Saturday (20km), rested on Sunday and Monday, did a tempo effort on Tuesday (18km) and had a 13km recovery run last night that felt like I was carrying lead inserts in my shoes.  By the end of the easy recovery my calves were on fire and I simply couldn't wait to put the socks on.  Anything that can apparently help me heal without any active interaction is right up my alley! I've logged over 140km in the past 2 weeks, let's see if there is any truth to the claims touted by these wonder socks!

    My First Impressions

    So, what are my first impressions of these magical socks?  Here they are:
    • These socks are damn sexy and feel great once pulled up over your calves....once you managed to pull them over.
    • These socks have tons of compression throughout the length of the sock, you will want to perfect your sock skills to make sure you can pull these over your heel and ankle. It took me a few tries and this video to get it right.
    • They feel great on my legs. The socks are made of very soft but strong material and I've had these on for nearly 24 hours...sagging, itching and pain free.  These socks are well made, and made to stay on your calves without you even realizing.  Impressive!
    • These aren't cheap sadly, and that is literally the only first impression left upon me that leaves a slightly sour taste in my mouth.  
    So, the big question on your mind must be, how sexy are your legs in those socks Andre? Well, I'm glad you asked as I have just the picture for you.

    me thinks it's time for a tan. :(

    Are These Socks Some Kind of Magic?

    In a nutshell, YES.
    In a bigger nutshell, HECK YES.

    I mean, seriously guys and gals, these are definitely affecting my calves in a positive way.  After my easy 13km run last night I tossed them on and slept with them. I have been wearing them all day at work and my calves feel lighter to lift, almost as though there are hands beneath my feet helping to lift my legs up.

    Can I explain this? Nope. It isn't like my legs are more supple or the muscles more 'loose', but it feels like I've sped up the recovery process in which toxins/lactate/whatever-else-nastiness within my muscles is being processed at a faster rate.  This is not common for me, especially since my calves were at their worst yet last night.  The compression must be helping to flush the nastiness in my muscles.

    Q&A With Andre

    In this Q&A I try to anticipate your questions and ask them to myself...hopefully I'm capable of answering them!

    Should these replace stretching (dynamic or static, you choose), massage and therapy?
    Never.  I view these are a supplement to my regimen of stretching, massaging and therapy. These help flush out toxins and nastiness, but they won't wrap hands around your calves and massage them all day. Does anyone know how I can score that though?

    Should these be used to help recover after hard workouts?
    Yes, this is when they shine most. I've also heard great things about wearing these while travelling...

    Are they so tight that they restrict?
    My pair certainly isn't, just make sure you measure your ankle and widest point in your calf so that you buy the right size for your legs.  Unless you go into a physical store, it is your responsibility to do so.

    Where can I buy them in Canada?
    If you'd like to buy CEP Compression Socks in Canada, buying them online is your best bet. I'll do my best to post a few sources in the coming days, and I'll even throw in a 15% off coupon for you!

    Disclaimer: This pair of amazing CEP Sport Socks was sent to me for free from mediUSA.  However, I wouldn't be writing a glowing review for the product if I didn't feel it deserved it.  I've already purchased a second pair that is being shipped to me, and I can guarantee this won't be my last.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    The Year Marches On!

    Last month I recapped my January of running, and though it was a 'decent' month of running, I was still far from my mileage goal for early 2011. For February, my coach and I decided we should re-evaluate my goals and set a goal of logging 60km/week for the month of February.  I'm proud to say that I nailed the goal, logging 245 km in 4 weeks and my legs feel good.

    I hadn't realized prior to updating my Monthly Mileage graph that this past month was my second highest mileage month I had done in the last year.  The beauty of this past month is that it didn't feel all too hard, especially when I compare it back to Sept/Oct of last year during which I was getting beat down week after week. I did however suffer from pink eye for a week

    I also kicked off the year with a 10km Road Race that didn't go in my favor whatsoever (damn you stomach bug!), but it was still a fun and solid early year effort.  And so March began yesterday and I cranked out a fun tempo effort as I try to shake the last of this pesky bug.  I'm hoping to nail down at least 1, hopefully 2, weeks of 70km / come in at 270km for the month. Wish me luck!
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