2015: A Year in Review

2015 was a great year for me. I landed my dream job, got to meet the most inspiring people, ran my fastest mile, 8K and half marathon to date and I did it smiling the entire way.

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In March, I started working at High Road where I do what I love. I wrote a post about it on the High Road blog here.  In 2015, I pushed myself in my career, outside of my comfort zone and in my running. I promised myself it would be the year of my PR’s and it was. I ran the Harry Rosen 8K in 40:37 and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon in 1:52:34 and my fastest mile in 6:43. I became both physically and mentally stronger in 2015.

In April, I ran one of my most emotional races yet. I got a new PR and placed 11th in my age category at the Harry Rosen 8K. I dedicated this race to my friend Fields who unfortunately passed away in October 2014. I could hear his mantras in my head during the race. “Keep going! You’re almost there! Stay strong!” I haven’t PR’d this race in 4 years and it felt so good to kill the hill with my friend on my mind.

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In June, I met Sarah Reinertsen – hands down, one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. I was lucky enough to sit down and have brunch with Sarah and learn about how she made sports history in one of the toughest endurance events in the world — the Hawaii Ironman. Sarah is the first woman to finish an Ironman on a prosthetic leg. A year later, she raced around the world on “The Amazing Race,” the Emmy-award-winning CBS reality TV series. She is incredible, motivating and I feel so lucky to have spent time getting to know her.

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In October, I ran my strongest race to date. 1:52:34 is my new half marathon PR and I did it at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I have never felt like I was seriously crushing 13.1 miles before. I placed 217 out of 1,208 in my age category and 2,663 out of 10,121 overall. This little 4’9″ runner killed it.

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In November, I ran The Holly Jolly Fun Run and actually ran for fun. For the first time ever, I ran a race without my Garmin or any other tracking device (except of course the chipped bib). It was so much fun to throw on a costume and run the Santa Clause parade route right before the parade kicked off.

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In December, I rested, recovered and enjoyed family and friends. As important as it is to workout, it’s just as important to recharge for the upcoming training year. It’s what I like to call my bulking season and it’s filled with candy, treats, drinks and friends.

September Miles and October Goals

It’s the first day of October and it feels like it. It’s feeling cold and I’m ready to break out my fall clothing. 

September running felt strong and I ran a total of 41.1 miles. I think my motto of run less, run faster works for me. In September, I listened to my body. I missed a long run because I knew I was run down and I had to stop a run 1/3 of the way in because I knew my body was drained. Last night, I skipped my run for 10 hours of sleep because I’m sick. The old me would have pushed through and made sure I ran my hardest and completed these runs. My new way of thinking told me, if I give it everything I’ve got, my body probably won’t heal the way I want it to and for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront (half) Marathon in 18 days. Training smarter. I woke up feeling so much better. Still sick but not as bad as I was. I also drank a lot of DavidsTea Organic Cold 911. Fuelling my body in the right way to get it where I want it to be. 

  
I’ve been hitting my target paces throughout September. Running hard and the hardest part- taking my easy runs really easy. I’m happy to say my easiest run was an average of 10:13/mile. I have my new running friend to thank for that. Running with new friends and helping them throughout a run is not only what my training needs but it’s rewarding to help others reach their potential. My new running buddy finished her first 5K and I was so proud to give her a high five at the end of the run. 

September has been a month of noticing what my body needs and how I can build it to be my strongest on race day. October is going to be where I put myself to the test. In 8 days, I taper. For my half, I’m giving myself the 10 day taper, which gives me one last long run to keep my confidence up for race day. I’m excited about it. I’m feeling strong and ready. My main goal for October: run my strongest race yet. 

Run Less, Run Faster

Run less, run faster. Those words have been what I have been going by lately in my training. Injuries happen and they usually do when you are overtraining. Overtraining happens when you do too many hard runs, strength workouts and you leave little time for your body to rest in between. The other factor is life stress. You could be running yourself down outside of training and when you get to your run, you are too exhausted to even complete your run. Last week, that was my life. 

  
I’ve been extremely cautious during my training journey to not overtrain but at the same time, not undertrain. I work long days, have a long(ish) commute to work and I try to fit in seeing all of my friends and family on my spare time. Oh right, and half marathon training. 

I headed out for my long run of 11 miles last week and stopped at 2 miles to walk. I realised, I was burnt out. I was too exhausted to go on. I started moving at a slow pace and still just couldn’t do it. I ended that run at 3.70 miles. I felt defeated. It’s not in me to quit but I wasn’t quitting. – I was training smart and listening to my body. There is a huge difference. When you push yourself too hard, you risk injury, sickness and can set your training back a lot farther than one run. And, sit was 3.7 more miles than I did before I left. Sometimes you need to scale back. 

Scaling back. I started scaling back my runs per week. I run 3 times a week. A long run, a hard run and an easy run. Easy runs is where I have been known to struggle with. I love to push myself past my limits but I know that even the elites run a casual slow run. My favourite way to do this is by running with my friends who are new to running. The great thing about it is that, I have so much energy during these runs and can talk my running partner through the run. I keep the motivation up by making the time pass by and I get that easy pace in which is necessary for recovery, technique and it’s fun to help someone learn to love running. My long runs have also taken a huge benefit to running less and I run my long runs faster. They feel easy  easier. 

A few years ago, I thought running everyday, clocking a lot of hours and running around the same pace during every run was important. It’s not for me. Every body is different and requires a different training regime. I’ve learned that my muscles need more time to recover. I also need to eat every 2 hours throughout my day to keep myself fuelled. 

Run less, run faster. It works for me. It doesn’t make me less of a runner for not clocking a million miles a week. I will take my quality runs over the quantity runs and maybe one day I will be able to run a marathon a day for an entire year. 

Speed Run vs Long Run

I’ve always been the runner who goes for distance. Short, fast runs were never my thing. Atleast, I thought they weren’t. I like to find my happy pace and just plug along but I also love to challenge myself. This could be why I am lover of the long run. 13.1 miles is my favourite. Give me a half marathon and I feel challenged, tired and happy at the end. Unless, we are talking about my first half marathon. Then, you would find me wanting to cry under a tree in Mexico after midnight.

Live and learn.

nike+ run clubI started challenging myself and going out for speed. I would do this on my own but it wasn’t until I started running with other people that I was truly pushing myself to get faster and faster. When I was running solo, a 9 minute mile was my goal. Now, I’m running an average of 7:40-8 minute miles consecutively. I’m picking up speed and starting to really love short, fast runs. For the first time ever, I ran a one mile for time. My shortest distance yet. It was a personal best (also my first, so of course it would be). My high expectation goal was to finish in 7 minutes. This seemed out of reach but I like to dream big. The first two laps felt good. I was really keeping up my pace and the third lap- I just wanted it to end. The fourth lap, I knew I was almost there but it felt so hard to dig deep and go faster. With a quarter of the lap left, I managed to pick up speed and gasp for air after crossing the finish line. After guzzling water and catching my breath, I checked my time. 6:43. One mile in 6:43! I was in shock. The fastest I have ever ran a mile. The difference with this one mile? I didn’t check my Garmin once.

Sometimes I feel that if I didn’t check my Garmin all the time during runs, I would run faster. It’s important to disconnect. Like yesterday’s thought on finding balance. There needs to be a balance of running for time and running for fun. I think I’ve found my happy running balance and it exists with short speedy runs and long runs combined.

Happy running!