Thursday, May 26, 2011


Thank Goodness It's Thursday;-) Thursday afternoon means that all of my "workouts" are done for the week. My intervals, tempo and strength/core workouts are but a memory and I can now sit back and reflect on the past week and look forward to my long run on the weekend. This Sunday I will be joining Tammie and many of her other clients for a  fun 15km run on a part of the Cataraqui trail that I have never run on before so I am very excited about that.

I am very grateful that I am heading into the weekend content with all of my workouts. I was able to control the tempo this week and got it done steady and strong unlike last weeks fiasco which had me heading into the weekend dissatisfied and anxious. Luckily it did not reflect on my long run which was one of my best runs ever and reminded me why I savour the little extra time I take each week to run a little longer and a little slower taking time to enjoy the little moments on my little trail. The littlest things really do make the biggest difference.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Which one do you think I ATE?

Which one do you think I ate????
That is my daughter's hand. She went for the soft warm gooey straight from the oven chocolate chip cookies.
She did manage to fit in a few carrot and celery sticks also.
I just started reading Matt Fitzgerald's book "Racing Weight, Quick Start Guide". To date I have calculated my lean and fat body weight(110 and 31 lbs.), my sleeping, training and daily calories burned(458, 742, 1055) and finally my daily calorie requirements of 2255/day. This is very close to the number of calories I discovered I eat in a normal day without thinking about it. It was nice to have my guesstimate validated and with such complicated math to boot. I was validated again as I read Matt's recommendation of 50-60% carbs, and 20-30% fat and protein also, all of which is very close to my current diet. I also liked how he only encourages weight loss in a way that compliments ones training and performance and does not encourage a calorie deprived diet during a heavy training phase. Rather then suggest cutting calories during such a phase he instead encourages substituting high quality foods including whole grains, high quality protein, fruits and veggies for low quality ones such as chocolate chip cookies! BTW I went with the veggies! Yeah for me!!

Really what it comes down to is if eating a chocolate chip cookie is worth keeping those extra pounds that are keeping me from reaching my ideal racing weight. After putting in so much hard work training day in and day out I would be sabotaging myself if I was not seriously pursuing a goal to drop those unnecessary pounds. After a few more calculations I discovered that at 22% fat I need to lose 3.5 lbs.(137.5 lbs) to reach 20% fat and 8.5 lbs.(132.5 lbs.) to reach 17% fat. I think my ideal racing weight lies somewhere in between as I was 136 lbs.(5 lbs. lighter) or 19% fat when I set my 5km PR last year. Matt also makes the point that we cannot truly know what our optimum racing weight is until we race at that weight and until then it is all a guesstimate. To put this all into perspective the average woman elite athlete of my age  is between 13 and 20% body fat so it makes sense that my ideal lies somewhere within that range and probably(hopefully) on the high end of it ;- ) At 13% body fat I would weigh 126 lbs., at 20% 137.5 lbs. so I have a good 11.5 lbs. to play with.

Rather then give you the complicated mathematical equations(although I know some of you like them) Matt had me do I have found this website with some good calculators that gave me pretty much the same numbers I calculated myself.

Well it's 15 days until the Beat Beethoven 8km and 35 days to my goal 5km race Emilie's Run. I have no idea if substituting good food for bad will bring any weight loss my way in that time and it really is not a concern. I know that my training will probably shed a  few pounds alone and I can't be concerned about what I cannot control. I will do all I can do without sacrificing energy to power my workouts which is the most important goal I can have between now and June 25th.

I am currently healthy and back to training hard. Monday I had 7x 2 min. repeats @ 5km race pace with 1 min. recovery's to build strength. I also persevered through a hard strength workout on Tuesday adding in a few of the plyometric exercises I was forced to take out due to my sore hip a few weeks ago. Yesterday I ran in the hottest, muggiest day to date and I did not fair well in those conditions. It didn't help matters that I headed out too fast downhill to begin the hilly tempo workout. Half way into it I felt like my head was going to explode. My face has not been that red in a long time and I actually stopped mid workout. I can honestly say that in my 3 years of training that I have never stopped a workout early for anything other then real pain due to injury. So stopping was a bit of a shock and a blow to my ego and sense of pride. As I gasped for air I thought I could try it again tomorrow but knew that would throw off my entire weeks schedule and perhaps even next week so I decided to start up again. Of course me being me I tried to makeup the time I had lost and bonked again big time. What I should have done was given myself a good minute recovery then started back slowly. The funny thing is that I did complete the loop of the tempo course faster then I have ever before as I ran it in a series of fasts and slows and stops and collapses and not a nice steady tempo pace. I was then suppose to extend the route by another 5min at a slightly faster pace. I knew I could not do that but some part of me wanted to try and I actually made it an entire 83m at that faster pace until I had to stop again. I now realize that not only was my body fried but my brain was also and although I did manage to finish the workout I am not sure what benefit will come of it. It was certainly not the tempo effort I was going for however coach assured me that my erratic behavior must be of some benefit although he was unable to quantify what that may be and that it was at the very least a learning experience. What I did learn from it was that on the first few hot muggy days of the year I need to ease into my workouts and back off the pace a bit the way I might if running into the wind or uphill. I am also looking forward to redeeming myself on my next workout so if anything it was certainly a good motivator for me. C'est la vie!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Limestone 5km 2011 and the Taper Mind Effect

It was a beautiful still day in Kingston Ontario for The Limestone Racing Weekend. Hundreds of people lined up for the 5km and Half Marathon at 9:30 am on the warm spring day. I went out slow with the 1:40 rabbit for the Half then picked it up to finish my first km in 4:35. Heading into my second km I had lots of energy and picked it up a bit as I passed under the RMC arch way. I know it is only a 5km race but for some reason after finishing the 2nd km with a 4:30 split I began to have trouble staying focused. I think it was due to not having run more then a 15 minute tempo in what had seemed like an eternity and in dealing with some injuries my training of late had become much like an extended taper. Coach had reminded me before the race that tempos do not determine fitness however I think it was more my mental fitness that was lacking in this race then my physical fitness. My legs had no problem churning away at that pace and it was my head that seemed to keep wandering and becoming doubtful of my ability to maintain the effort. I think I get this same sort of effect after a normal taper also so I am going to call this the "Taper Mind Effect"(until I think of something better).

My mind really prefers to be constantly reminded of what I am planning to do with my body and if it has time to forget then it starts to get nervous and doubtful of my ability to accomplish the task. I get this all the time with my strength workouts also. As soon as my trainer decides to switch my workouts and focus on different muscles I suddenly get very anxious to the point of coming very close to having an anxiety attack. This response then lessens each time I perform the routine and after a few times I am usually OK. But give me a weeks break from the workout and I am back to being doubtful and anxoius again. What I need is a way to taper my body but at the same time stimulate and engage my brain to remind it of my ability to perform the task. I was thinking that next time I have an injury or am tapering that I could sit and visualize my race or workout in real time, thinking and feeling and trying to live the entire process of the race or workout from the beginning to the end. In one sense I have already done this when I was aqua running. I was going through the motions of a workout but not actually running. OK that is a bit of a stretch since aqua running has a physical aspect to it however I often felt that the act of aqua running was a clever ploy of my coach to keep my mind active while injured. In aqua running there is zero impact on your body, very minimal reisistance from the water and you can not get your heartrate up no matter how you try. It always struck me as much more of a mental exercise then a physical one as I wrote in a past blog entry. When I finally did recover from my runners knee injury after aqua running for a few months I was able to pick up where I had left off rather quickly and I had a very easy transition back to running. I can't help but think alot of that was due to my mind going through the process of the workouts.

I am really not sure how my race report came to this but to summerize I do think that just because a taper is good for our bodies  and makes us stronger that for some of us the same taper is not as good for our minds and makes them weaker. Coming up with a way to counteract the "Taper Mind Affect" could be very helpful to me and perhaps yourself and I would like to hear your personal opinions and if you have felt the same effect from a taper.

OK now back to the race. After fighting to stay focused after 2km a girl began to come up on my shoulder at 2.5km. It felt as though she was running stronger them myself and was ready to pass me when I decided to try to hold her off and I picked it up a bit and and passed a few others as well. I was coming to the "Magic 3km mark" and there was a small hill to go up and I kept the same effort running up it as on the flats so everyone I had passed previous now surged passed me racing up the hill. I kept my cool and stuck with the plan to run up over the top steady and overtook every single one of them again and never heard from any of them for the rest of the race. I was heading home with 2 more km to run and looking at my watch I knew I was not on pace for a fast race. With my mind still doubting my ability to keep up the pace I had to overcome the negative thoughts as I pushed over the bridge to the final 1km stretch. I could see the finish line and was able to pick up the pace to finish strong feeling completely spent both mentally and physically.

It had been a real mental struggle and I was very happy to have held it together with such a steady race with the last 2kms run at 4:30 and 4:28. Mr Garmin says I ran an extra 50 m and my final time 22:48 which was good enough for 1st in my Age.
Below is a video of the awards, race and start strangely in that order; ) The  kid in the purple top is just so cute. He was so tired and his dad was so proud.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Top 10 Things Not To Do In or At a Hometown Race!

Start of the Limestone 5km/Half Marathon 2011
Is there such a thing as racing/race day etiquette? I am not talking about racing in the Olympics here but a local hometown race where most of us are racing for fun, training or personal bests and not Overall medals. Here are a few observations from my race on Sunday that may or may not make the "Top 10 Things Not to do In or At a Hometown Race" list.

Observation #1-Don't line up near the front of a race with your 10 lady friends wearing matching tops with huge letters saying, "Walking Club" on the back.

Observation #2- Don't talk to someone as you pass them and say, "Good job" or "Keep it up". I think this shows disrespect. You might as well be saying, "I have so much energy that I can race and cheer you on at the same time and BTW it really looks like you need some cheering on and so sorry but I can't hang around with someone as slow as you so enjoy looking at my rear end for the next little while".

Observation #3- Don't get "Picked Off" by someone who is not faster then you. Generally when someone passes you in the middle of the race they are trying to "pick you off". This means that they are speeding up just enough to pass you and may never get much further ahead then their initial gain. So if someone tries to pass you then do your best to hold them off  and wait them out. Most people will let such a person pass assuming they are stronger when in fact they are not. This will keep you running faster and if they keep trying to pass then you could have a good little race on your hands.

Observation #4- Don't pace off someone the entire race then sneak up from behind and pass them at the tape. First off if you've been hanging back just enough then they don't know you are there and won't have time to respond. If you had any guts then you would run shoulder to shoulder with them sooner in the race or take the lead yourself to demonstrate your true superior skills. When you pass them at the tape you aren't doing yourself any favour either as you would run faster racing them then merely passing them at the end.

Observation #5- Don't check out someones time after the race then throw it in their face. Let them tell you their time if they want to share it with you. You don't know how they feel about it so leave it to them to discuss it with you or not.

Observation #6- Don't stare at the Elite runners who will be huddled in a pack of their own kind after the race. Staring at them will not make you any faster. Although checking out their shoes and gear is acceptable if you keep it quick and to the point.

Observation #7- Don't get flustered and babble on incoherently if an Elite runner talks to you especially if they are only asking when the awards ceremony starts.

Observation #8- Don't look too eager to get your Age Group Medal. If the Overall winner isn't that hyped then you shouldn't be either.

Observation #9- Don't be too cool to pick up your Age Group Medal. If you could care less about the medal you just beat someone else out of then why did you go in the race to begin with?

Observation #10- Don't tell other people how superior your choice of footwear(or lack of it) is to theirs.