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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Herein Lies the Key to Success as a Runner

So you're probably wondering what the magic secret all the world's best runners keep close to their heart. And rightly so. It's this one secret that has enabled them to be the best they can be. Through ups and downs in their training and racing, this secret is the foundation of any successful runner and can also be seen in nearly all successful educators, business people, CEOs and entrepreneurs.

Is the waiting killing you yet? Do you really want to know how you can be the best runner you can be?

Luckily you too can become the best runner you can be simply by following the following mantra:

In order to be successful, one must never stop doing what was originally done in order to become successful.

I know it may sound a little strange, but it is really that simple.  Before I explain it in more details, let's look at a hypothetical case in which a middle distance runner, Alice, aims to beat her personal bests in her final year of high school track & field.

Alice is the team's #1 1500m runner and last year competed at her Regional Championship. She had a break out year, coming within one position of qualifying for the Provincial Championship.  She finished the season determined to see herself qualify for Provincials next year, in her final year of High School competition. So she sets her sights on next year and decides it's high time she incorporates core strengthening into her preparations. So over the fall and winter months she builds up a strong running base all the while adding in core exercises after each run and workout. 

Spring/Summer arrive and she's ready to start competing, so she decides she's done building her core strength and focuses solely on her running. She puts in the hard work and instantly notices she's stronger and fitter than ever. As the weekly track workouts come and go she's noticing that strength she had is being fine tuned and adjusted for speed. She's loving every minute she gets to spend on the track and she thinks to herself that this will surely be HER year.

At the first local track meet she smashes her personal best over 1500m and sets a new High School record. Her hard work over the fall and winter is clearly paying off and she is on cloud nine. Her season continues to progress well until one day, after 3 consecutive weeks of hard workouts and high volume, she begins to quite literally fall apart at the seams.

Her stride near the end of her races is getting ragged and clunky. She's noticing aches and pains in her IT Band as well as her calves. She continues to race and train hard thinking she just needs to amp things up in order to strengthen herself.

She was wrong. As it turns out, when she stopped doing her core work and continued to run intensity and volume all at once, she started to break down mechanically. It's now 1 week to the Provincial Championships, for which she finally qualified for, but she's sidelined with IT Band Friction Syndrome. Even just a few steps is too painful to bear.

In this VERY hypothetical situation you'll notice that Alice was doing everything right as she prepared for her final track season. But then, as she began to see success she decided that the work she had put in until then had done it's job and she had 'ascended' to the next level.  She quickly forgot what she had been doing. The very things she had done to be successful, she cast aside.

And I see this happen far too often in my life. How many times have I made to-do lists in order to divide and conquer a project, succeed and then completely forget to do the same when I move onto my next project. It's like for some reason I believe that by doing the to-do list I've taught myself what has to happen for me to finish a project, and I feel I am now better than simply making to-do lists. That's not the case folks.

If it worked once, it will likely keep working for you.  I approach everything I repeat with this attitude until I'm proven wrong someway or another, and then it's back to the drawing board.

As you progress as a runner, do not forget the building blocks that were so instrumental in helping you improve, succeed and win your races.  Picture your building blocks as the foundation upon which your success rests. If you neglect the foundation, everything else atop it will eventually crumble. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow...but at some point it will.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Running Log 2011: Week #16

And now, week 16.  Gah, before we know it we'll have gone through 20 weeks of the year. This week was literally, all over the place. I did one workout, a final sharpening workout of 800m repeats prior to my big goal race on Friday.  Our Sunday workout was canceled, but I didn't find out till I had been at the track waiting for 15 minutes.

I took quite a few days off running this week, my shins were getting very very sensitive, and a wise man once said, Take it Eas. So I did. I ran 44km and biked 60km. My shins are feeling a thousand times better now, but needless to say, my butt hurts. I hate the first few rides of the season, I need to just get them behind me.

Though the training was a little sporadic this week it came at a great time. It  left me feeling fresh and ready to rock for the Downtown 5km on Good Friday and I absolutely killed it. Read all about it in my race recap.

This week has me amping the volume back up to 90km, and I'm moving with a bit of caution. I did an easy 11km run yesterday and my shins were ever so slightly sore afterwards. I will likely drop the mileage to about 70-80 this week with a day or two of cross training. I want to put these sore shins behind me already.

Running Log 2011: Week #15

Whoa, somehow I completely missed my recap of week #15, so here it is. Better late than never, right?

 I took one day off (babying my sore shins) and had an absolutely amazing track workout (400m repeats). The workouts felt great, I felt strong and fast, but my shins weren't holding up as well.  A total of 82km this week, a tad higher than what I had been told to do, but I have a habit of extending my warmup and cooldown.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Video Recap of the 2011 McFarlan Rowlands Downtown 5km

Jeremy Walsh of Jeremy Walsh's Running fame was kind enough to capture our LRDC athletes at the recent Downtown 5km road race.  Here's his lovely compilation which features me at the half way mark and kicking for the finish.  I have never seen myself run on video before, this is a treat for me!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dylan Wykes Runs 13:43 over 5000m at 2011 Oregon Relays!

I just got wind of Dylan Wykes' latest PB setting race that took place last night at the Oregon Relays in Eugene, Oregon.  Dylan ran extremely intelligently, tucked into mid pack for most of the race, coming home in 2nd. The field was stacked with Japanese talent and Dylan left the track with a new 5000m personal best of 13:43!

Here's video of the entire race courtesty of

2011 McFarlan Rowlands Downtown 5km Picture Gallery

Melanie was at the race yesterday and was kind enough to handle the camera in the near freezing conditions. She snapped some amazing pictures, so today I present to you a gallery of those pictures! To view the entire set, there are 56 images, check out the full gallery here.

Race Recap: 2011 Macfarlan Rowlands Downtown 5km

In this final chapter of three (Chapter 1: Race Preview, Chapter 2: Race Gear) I'll chronicle what went down at the 2011 Macfarlan Rowlands Downtown 5km.  If you came here simply looking for the results, head over to Full results can be found here:

If you'd like to know how my race went, and perhaps see some gnarly action shots of myself (and the rest of the LRDC crew, keep on reading!)

It all started yesterday with an easy 6km shake out run through the wooded trails along the Thames River. My legs felt fresh, rested and full of life. My shins however, have been feeling better, and worse. I wasn't able to get up on my toes very easily, but I was still able to throw in 4 strides near the end of my run to make sure my legs would still turn over. And they did. I got home and pampered my shins: Icing, massaging (incl. cross-fiber massage), stretching and heating.

Race morning arrived and for once I felt like I had nailed the fueling issues that had plagued me at the Really Chilly Road Race back in February. I decided to have a late supper last night and a light breakfast this morning in hopes of um, flushing my system before I left for the race. Turns out it worked perfectly and I set out with one of the best cheerleaders I've ever had, Melanie! I can't forget Wes either, his valiant attempt to make it out to the race is certainly worth mentioning, but yet again, work manages to get in the way of life.  I'm very thankful that you made it to the park this morning, it means the world to me.

I met up with my team after picking up my racing kit and chip. Everyone either seemed half asleep or ready to rock. I was ready to rock. We set out on our warm up, did our dynamic drills, some strides and before we knew it we were toeing the line with 90 seconds till the gun horn went off.

And the race was off, and as is typical of local road races, some buffoons decided to take it out as fast as they could. Case in point, the image above.

Mister 599 (Yatin Mohla) ended up finishing 556th (out of 589) yet he decided to usurp the lead from the gun. Well played Mr Mohta, at least you got your 3 seconds of fame on my blog.

I was somewhere near the front of the pack at this point, but I was mostly concerned with just staying clear of the slow people that somehow made it out in front of me in the first few meters. I decided to tuck in, nice and cozy, on the outside of the turn. This actually ended up working out rather well, I was able to position myself well and move up quickly out of the turn.

The first km felt fast but very relaxed and controlled. Bronwen decided to pay me a little visit and pass me at this point, but that's to be expected as she was on route to a new 'official' personal best. I worked alongside my good training partners Scott and Dylan from about 200 metres out and we came through 1km in 3:29. This was a relief as I was instructed earlier in the week that the first km typically manages to be very fast. I was bang on my pace and was feeling great.

The second kilometer was a blur, and rightly so, I clocked 3:17 for that one. It was slightly uphill and against a decent headwind to boot....I'm not quite sure how I managed to kill it so well, but it happened. We came around and finished the first loop and I hit the 3km mark at 10:19 (a 3:23 km) and realized that I was gaining on Leslie and that up ahead was Lanni Marchant, about 30 metres ahead of Leslie.  I decided I'd catch Leslie and try to pull her along so we could catch Lanni.  I managed to catch Leslie but somehow couldn't stop. Leslie came with me for a bit, but I simply had too much in me so I kept soldiering on. I vowed to snipe Lanni if I got within range...for Leslie.

The 4th kilometer involved me passing another person, or two, and essentially willing myself to run faster and faster out of sheer fear.I was afraid someone I had passed would in turn pass me, and I did not want that to happen. Not a single person had passed me throughout the entire race, and I was determined to keep it that way.  My 4th km was run in 3:26 and as I turned north onto Clarence, the finish line was in sight, about 800-900 metres away. Twas indeed a painful sight, but I decided it was not time to sit so I continued to eat away at Lanni's lead on me.

Sprinting for the finish

I caught her with about 300 metres to go, clocks my last km in 3:17 (again!) and my last 100 metres in just under 15 seconds. I finished strong, pushing like a controlled madman all the way to the end. I felt like dying once I finished, but my lungs quickly recovered. It always amazes me how quickly lungs can recover after a hard race.

So I crossed the finish line in 17:10, completely obliterating my B goal of 17:30 and even killing my A goal of 17:20!

I was 16th overall (I wanted to be top 20), 3rd in my Age-Group (I wanted to be top 3) and was not bested by a woman today (though the ladies in the field today simply had an off day, they are more than capable of outdoing me). There wasn't a single goal of mine that I didn't reach, it was truly an amazing day where everything I've worked hard for and planned for fell into place.  I even won some swanky Saucony gear!

So what happens next? Well, for one, I'm going to continue to baby my shins. They are already feeling immensely better than they did a week ago, but they are still not at 100%. My next race is my return to the track in which I'll be racing in a 1500m in town (I think it's at TD Waterhouse)

If you'd like to check out my race in details, here are the Garmin stats:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Racing Outfit: Running Gear for Runners

Excuse me for a bit as I reach for my more feminine side.

Are you on the hunt for the latest, greatest, lightest and fastest running gear for your upcoming race? Well, here's a short list of the items I'll be using at my next road race!

The big race is tomorrow. My legs are ready to rock. My shins are feeling better than they have in weeks and mentally I feel focused on reaching my A Goal. If I really have to, I'll settle for my B Goal, but no less!

So now it's time for the fun, fluffy stuff that comes along with racing. Being someone who takes great pride in his body (the microchip), I also take pride in what I put in and on my body. And so I present to you the outfit I've selected for the Downtown 5km (race preview here) race tomorrow morning.

My Shoe Pick:

Saucony Fastwitch 4

These puppies are nearly featherlight and since using them last fall, I've loved every step I've taken in them. I use them for track workouts as well, but they certainly do shine on the road when weight is a concern.

The new model, the Fastwitch 5, is sexier and from what I can tell, the same. 

My Sock Pick:

CEP Compression Sport Sock

I've raved about these socks for months now and I've yet to actually run a race with them on, so tomorrow will be an interesting day for sure.

They've yet to cause me to blister (on the track, road or trails) and are so lightweight you forget they are there most of the time. If you'd like to hear what I had to say when I first reviewed the socks, stop by my review page:

First Impressions: CEP Compression Sport Socks


I used to have the Nike+ system but I decided to cast that aside and jump onto the Garmin bandwagon. I'll be racing tomorrow with a Garmin Forerunner 410. It has crazy features, like the ability to set up virtual competitors so I know if I'm on pace or falling off, but I think I'll refrain from using that.

I'll be sure to include it's pretty graphs in my race report this weekend, so you can all ogle the mountains of data it captures.


I'm tired of how cold it's been lately and have decided to break out the super high cut, super short racing shorts I picked up last week.  These super sexy New Balance shorts will certainly show enough white pasty leg to blind all my competitors. This is part of my race plan.

Foes, beware of the glare.

Race Preview: 2011 McFarlan Rowlands Downtown 5K

Wow, it's finally almost here. My first goal race of the year, the Downtown 5km (in support of the London Abused Women's Centre).

Last fall I blew the doors off my 5km road race goal (obliterating a sub 20:00 goal with an 18:02) and since then I've been training diligently, recovering and getting stronger with each passing week.

There have been some minor setbacks, but I've been able to consistently put in the hard work.  Money in the bank people, money in the bank.

Well, it's time to do my first withdrawal.

My confidence needs a great effort this Friday, especially after the GI issues I suffered at my last road race, the Really Chilly 10km Road Race (race recap can be found here).

Steve the coach asked each of us to come up with two goals. Setting two goals allows us some breathing room if after 2-3km we feel like we're not going to be in it for our best effort we can simply hold on for dear life and still hit our B goal.  The question becomes, what are my B and A goals for the race?

So last fall was my triumphant return to the road and frankly, the sheer leaps in improvement I made likely won't be seen again.  Kind of sad to think of, but the thing is, the better you get the harder it is to continue to shave minutes off your personal bests on the road.  My all time best effort on the road came before Y2K when I clocked a 16:48ish on what I felt was a slightly short 5km road course. I think that was the last road race I won actually.

So with that in mind, I'd obviously love to set an all time PB tomorrow, but I feel like that is slightly unrealistic of me. Keep in mind this road race is a fast and flat 2 loop course, and frankly, there are no actual hills.  This should certainly help keep my overall time down.

B Goal
So, my B goal is to clock a sub 17:40. I know my most recent PB is a hair over 18 flat, and logically, I should shoot for a sub 18:00 effort, but I feel that I am much stronger than I was last fall, and unlike the Springbank course which is slightly rolling throughout (though I do enjoy the first downhill km), the downtown course is completely flat.

Goal Time: Sub 17:40 (3:32/km)

A Goal
My A goal is a little more lofty, but still reasonable. I wish I could say I'm going to run a lifetime PB, but I'm not even going to go there. For my A Goal, I'm aiming for a sub 17:20 effort. On paper it sounds feasible, but when I think of the kind of pain that separates my B goal from my A goal, I'm a little intimidated.

Goal Time: Sub 17:20(3:28/km)

In the end, I know I am capable of going 17:30 for 5km, and I can't recall ever running a completely flat course in the past, so who knows, I may dip under 17:20 or the cold, rain and wind might push me into the 17:40 territory. I don't care.  In the end I know I'm capable of something under 17:40 and possibly as fast as 17:20. Now, if I tip over 17:40 I'll have some questions to answer, but I won't worry about that until I have to.

Hopefully some of our road running superstars step up and deliver some amazing performances, London Runner and Runner's Choice have put up a $150 purse to any club athlete who breaks the club senior records at the race!

Wish me luck tomorrow, and hopefully, just hopefully, Spring will arrive just in time for the gun to sound.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Give Up

That's it. I'm giving up. I've been waiting and waiting for weeks now. I didn't ask for much, I'm still not asking for much. But for crying out loud, when will spring arrive?

London got 130cm of snow on December 2nd of 2010 and we got snow again on Sunday April 17th! That's nearly 5 months of snow. It's taking all the restraint in my body not to start swearing, but I figured I'd keep this PG.

Last night I spent nearly an hour awake, lying in bed trying to sleep but the gale strength winds, pounding rain and ricocheting hail made it rather challenging.  Yup, it hailed on April 19th.

I give up. Spring is never coming.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Song of the Moment: BT Ft Rob Dickinson - Always

Well, it took nearly a year for me to post a trance song on this blog, I had tried to hold off for so long but there's been a slew of new tracks that I simply can't have enough of. This latest effort from BT (Brian Transeau) is a testament to his skill...the man is unbeatable when it comes to trance productions that go beyond the single layer drivel that is modern trance/techno.

A little background on me and music. I've been a dance music lover since I can remember. Early 90s and C+C Music Factory ushered in the music for me, but it wasn't till my first year at UWO that I discovered trance proper. Even then I didn't realize what I had stumbled upon, and it was in 2004 that I attended my first rave and miraculously spent 12 hours dancing in amazement at everything that surrounded me. Believe me or not, I was 100% sober. We arrived in MTL at 11:30PM and missed the ability to buy alcohol, the bar didn't serve alcohol either and when we asked the bouncers if they knew somewhere we could get some alcohol, they responded with 'no, but we can get you anything else you want. wink.' Sigh....

Anyways, I then went on to run an online radio station that boasted over 200 monthly radio shows and 60 000 monthly listeners. That turned into a dance related website, and eventually trimmed down to simply be a music review site used extensively by the dance music industry. It had connections to over 100 worldwide record labels, including some of the world's biggest and best.

Somewhere in all of that I started DJing as well, mostly for myself, but I did do the club circuit for a few years.

Now I simply listen to music all day while I program, and in the car. I'm not plugged into the music scene anymore and gone are the days in which I could name a track within seconds of hearing it.

I hope this didn't bore you too much, but I guess it's about time I come to terms with the fact I love trance music and it will find it's way to this blog.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The 2011 Boston Marathon & an accidental Elite

"I had a good string of training that allowed me to get in good shape," he said. "That's what made the difference last year. I got a higher mileage week (before the marathon) than I did last year. I got up to 211 miles in a week."

So today marks the running of the 2011 Boston Marathon and I've been reading up on the race history (who could forget the 1982 Duel in the Sun between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley? video below) and this year's edition which happens to include an 'accidental' elite runner.

So, I was reading an article that popped up in my Google Reader this morning. The article talks about a Scott Rowe, a marathoner who's run the Boston Marathon a few times in the past. When he tried to register for the race this year, he discovered it had already filled up but somehow managed to get an elite field entry into the race.

His marathon times aren't horrible, but I'm not sure they can be considered elite. With a PB of 2:24, he now finds himself toeing the line with the world's who can cover the distance 20 minutes faster than he can.

The quote above is from the news article that discusses his 2011 Boston Marathon and in it he claims to have peaked, I'm guessing at most once, at 211 miles of running in one week. 211 miles! That's a ridiculous amount of mileage killage for someone to run in one week. 340km in 7 days is no easy feat...just shy of 50km per day.  I'm not quite sure how many elite marathoners run anywhere near that kind of volume, but I doubt there are many.

Though I'm sure he's run lots during his prep for the Boston Marathon, 211 miles seems rather high and lofty. If you're a marathoner and took the time to read this, is there any chance you could let me know what your highest week has been?  Do men pad their weekly kill counts like they do their penis size? Does 211 miles really mean 150 miles...the same as 8 inches is really only 5?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Running Log 2011: Week #14

Well, after today's weather I'm so f&*$ing glad the week is over and done with. We had a total shit ass weekend which included this today:

That's right. April 17th 2011 and I got to run in 50km/h winds and snow. When will this end?  The good news is that the coming week is a low week killage-wise for me as I gear up for my first goal race of the year, the McFarlan-Rowlands Downtown 5km.It's a fast, 2 loop 5km course and it's my first time running it. I've got some lofty goals for it, but I'll cover those in a post this week.

Something decent, like a Quesadilla

or better yet, a black and tan!
The words resonate like none other. "Something decent, like a Quesadilla". To most people, you and I, it's illogical...but not to my coach.  That's right. When Leslie asked him what he wanted for supper at Molly Bloom's he responded with these 5 beautiful words.

Leslie and I were stunned, who seriously thinks Quesadillas are a decent option at most restaurants, let alone an Irish Pub?  I guess if your idea of a decent meal is oodles of cheese, some mysterious ground meat and onions, and two tortilla shells to keep it all together, than have at 'er.  I don't mean to bash Quesadillas, its just that most establishments' versions are so blend and filled with tasteless cheese that I would never consider a Quesadilla a 'safe-bet' at a restaurant. continue on, I did have something rather decent on Saturday. It wasn't edible, but if I could have eaten it, I would have. And it would have tasted amazing. I imagine it would fall somewhere between a smore and chocolate covered, double smoked bacon.

I went to bed on Friday night dreading what Saturday was to bring. I had been out till midnight, had a few beers and the forecast for the next day was 50km/hr winds with up to 25mm of rain in the morning. It did not bode well for our track practice at STA. But it turns out that hard work does taste awesome...and on some days it competes with chocolate covered bacon.

The workout consisted of 10-12 400m repeats at 3000m race pace (with 60second 200m jog between reps), and 4x150m at 800m race pace. The wind made the back straight painful to endure, but the homestretch was a welcomed change as the wind was at our back.  I cranked out 11 reps, felt amazingly strong and realized that track workouts are now feeling like they belong in my weekly training. This is still only my 3rd track session of the season, but already I'm feeling faster, stronger and above all, more confident in my running abilities than I have in a long, long time.

I averaged 79-80 seconds per 400m repeat, and managed to work alongside Leslie Sexton for the last half of the workout.  It felt great to work with such a talented runner, even if she was working at her 5000m pace. ;)

So in the end, I had a rather decent Saturday. I wouldn't consider it 'Quesadilla decent', but decent nonetheless.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Runners, Yeah, We're Different

I was reading threads on and in the thread titled 'You Know You're A Runner If....' and someone linked to a page that has a series of advertisements that ran in 2000 for Adidas. If you are a runner, you'll relate to many of these...

I do this all the time:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How tight should CEP compression socks be?

I received this question by way of yesterday and thought I should address it. So...

"How tight should CEP compression socks be?"

The answer is pretty simple: Very, very tight.

That's the short and easy answer, but if you're wondering if the hard earned cash you spent on these amazing socks will go to waste, you'll want to make sure before your order is shipped (we aren't all able to try them in store) that you've selected the right size.

There are 3 different sizes of compression socks from CEP, sizes III, IV, and V.  Getting the right size is as easy as simply measuring the widest point of your calf.  When I had my socks sized, the sales rep I dealt with also had me measure my ankle size, but I don't see that as a requirement on the CEP Website.

When you get your CEP socks and decide to put them on, be ready for a bit of a shock. They are ridiculously hard to put on at first, and this is exactly what you want.  I posted a link to a video some time ago showing you how to put your CEP Compression socks on, but I'll actually show the video here for everyone to enjoy. This is how I put mine on and I can do it all rather quickly now.

Now that you've got your socks on, you simply want to make sure your feet don't go numb (and if you measured your calf properly, you won't). As you wear them it should feel like you've got a great big hand wrapped around your calf, helping you recover, heal and reduce swelling and tissue damage.

To purchase these socks, please use the links below and help support this site:

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