Prepping Continues – Grand to Grand Ultra

Gathering Up The Gear

Things are moving very fast suddenly with only 38 days to go before the start of the Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G)! I am flying out early so really I have less than a month to finish getting everything organized.

I have been slowly gathering the mandatory items required by for G2G. Testing out all my gear last weekend in the Bad Beaver Ultra (BBU) had me reconsidering some things.

Things that are working for me:
  • My shirt:  I’ve settled on the Lululemon Swift Tech Shirt. It is moisture wicking, light weight and antimicrobial.
  • My back pack: I had to try out a few to find the right fit for me but finally settled with the Osprey Rev 24. I’ll admit I’m concerned about getting everything into my pack but my coach will have the final say of removing things 🙂
  • Eyewear: I was concerned about this as I have had some eye issues over the past few years when wearing contacts for more than a few hours. I now only wear them to run BUT given we will be running multiple days for hours upon hours this could be an issue. I tested out daily contacts for BBU and had them in for 12+ hours every day and I forgot I was wearing them! No infections so fingers (and toes) crossed 🙂 I will be using my favorite Sundog Sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses are also an option but I’m running out of time (and money)!
  • Shoes: Inov-8 Race Ultra 270 is my shoe. It’s the one my coach recommended to me when I first started trail running. If it isn’t broke why fix it!
  • Sleeping Bag: Check (light weight and very compact)
  • Whistle: Check
  • Lightweight Down Jacket: Check
  • Headlamp: Check (need two with spare batteries)
  • Red Flashing Light: Check (worn at night)
  • Meals: breakfast and dinner is worked out, most snacks but working on in race fuel.
  • Medical Clearance Certificate: My doctor doesn’t get it but has cleared me 🙂
What I am now tweaking,  re-evaluating or still need to do:
  • Sleeping Pad: As the G2G is a self-supported race, I will be carrying everything including my sleeping bag and sleeping mat. I had planned on using the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Mattress but there are some people that have experienced their mats being punctured on the dessert floor. So the other option is carrying the Solite Sleeping Pad, which is extremely light but bulky and would need to be attached to the outside of my pack.
  • GPS Watch: My faithful (but old) Garmin has served me well but is not as reliable to charge lately. It has a max. of 12-13hrs. battery life. I’ve been looking at a new watch as I will need one in the future but adding this expense before my trip doesn’t seem like a true necessity. During my BBU experience I chatted with an experienced runner who only uses a watch to track time on his stage races. This seems like a more practical option, as I do need to know how long I am out and keep cut-off times on my radar. I have an old Timex Ironman Watch that might do the trick. However, still considering the Suunto Ambit 3 Sport Watch.
  • Fuelling/Hydration: This has not been a big issue for me but after my experience in the BBU, with the duration of being out and the heat, I realize I have missed the mark here. After speaking with my coach, we have a plan in place and will test it out this coming weekend at the i2P Run.
  • Shorts: I have been training with the same shorts since Spring and have loved them, however, with the duration of the time out for BBU and the extreme humidity I was chaffing by day 2. I ended up wearing my sleeping capris on day 3 to avoid being uncomfortable.  That sent me on a search for shorts that would be a bit longer to avoid chaffing. Although the temperature will be hot in the Grand Canyon it will be a very dry heat. I do not know if I’ll have an issue of chafing but I do not want to be dealing with it if I can avoid it by adding 1.5 cm to my shorts. I ended up finding a pair from Under Amour and gave them a test run this week. The big test will be at the i2P run coming up this weekend.
  • Patches: I need to have my Canadian Flag and i2P patches put on my pack and my shirts. It is mandatory to have your countries flag on the left sleeve of your shirt(s). The i2P patch is because I’m a very proud supporter and I’ve been working hard to raise $5,000 for the youth ambassadors heading off to Death Valley in September (they will be running during the time I am running, kind of cool as they will be in my heart)! You can still help me by donating here.
  • Gaiters: I have two options here and I am still torn as to what to do 🙂 This will be my priority after this weekends run. It is a matter of deciding and then fitting the shoes accordingly.
  • Compass: need to purchase and get some basic training!
  • Signal Mirror: min. 6cm diameter still need to purchase
  • Knife: min. 5cm blade – need to purchase
  • Emergency Blanket/Space Blanket: min. requirement 1.4mx2.2m (turns out mine is 1.3mx2.1m *sigh*)
  • Blister Kit: almost complete
  • Precscriptions: I have the prescriptions (required to deal with nausea/diarrhea and pain) but still need to get them filled.
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photo from Nia’s facebook 🙂

I have to say this has been an incredible journey since January of this year. I have felt from the beginning that this journey was meant to be and I still feel very strongly about that.  I had the honour of meeting and running with 3 of the i2P Ambassadors that I am fundraising for.

Although the money raised will go directly to support i2P,  when someone gives it’s a special message to me that says, “Leanne, I believe in you and am so proud of you”. I’ve taken it to heart and am so thankful!

Next up the i2P 100K! The focus is the 50km night run to get some training in for running through the night but if I can make the cut-off times and feel like I can do it, I will continue and run the 50km day run.

If you have tips or suggestions to help me finish my check list I’d love your input!

Chasing Dreams…..

May Madness

The month of May brought about some crazy weather, crazy training runs and crazy emotions! I am continuing to learn more about who I am during these training runs. Each one bringing more awareness of what I am truly capable of.

The beginning of May brought unusual temperatures here in Ottawa. One weekend training in long pants, t-shirt and sleeves the next shorts and a tank top! Certainly keeping things interesting.

I was finally able to pick up my new back pack and test it out. It is the Osprey Rev 24. So far it is working perfectly, my only concern is that it will not be big enough. It’s hard to imagine carrying EVERYTHING you will need for 7 days on your back! The other options I’ve been testing out are 25L (seems larger somehow) and 34L (love this one as the top rolls down and can be adjusted nicely). However the other two packs do not fit quite as snug as the new Osprey Rev 24 (24L) and fit is so very important.

So now that I’m testing the pack out on my weekend runs, I am needing to find the perfect top. I have always ran in tank tops in the summer, however for Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G) I will need to be running in a t-shirt as it is mandatory to wear your country’s flag on the left sleeve. I’ve picked up two to test out over some long runs. One is from Lululemon and one is from MEC. So far both seem to be doing a good job. It’s important that they are fitted and do not bunch up.

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the bear that was likely 10ft. away from the trail I was on, I took this as he wandered off

I’ve been doing back to back long runs on Friday and Saturday. For Victoria long weekend I added a third long run, making it three in a row. Each run ranged from 2.5hrs. – 4hrs and was 22-27.5kms depending on the duration I was out and how many hills were included 🙂

I’ve had 11lbs on my back for most of the training runs. For the triple in a row I had 14lbs (including water). I’ve also been going out on new trails where navigating is part of the training, this can slow me down a tad! Running in to my first bear on the trail was also a unique experience.

part of the ski hill I had to run up

part of the ski hill I had to run up

Mentally, it was also a tough month, I began to feel discouraged about my fundraising results. I’m doing okay, but with a minimum requirement goal of $5,000 US and with the exchange rate, it’s not where I would like to be.

Discouragement had begun to settle in and I found myself having to encourage myself to not take things personally. I realize that there are many very worthy causes that are very important to people. People just cannot give to everything! However, knowing that your friends and family believe in you and support you can go a long way. The support I have received has come from some surprising places, and I am very thankful <3

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Back to running 🙂 I have never been a fast runner, and I knew going into training for this event I would likely be in the back third of the participants for G2G.  My coach insisted that I participate in the Bad Beaver Ultra to help give me experience in a stage race, but also to build my confidence for G2G. I’m now realizing that I am very inexperienced with trail running (although I love it!) and I will likely come in LAST at this event. That is humbling….

Wasn’t that why I chose G2G though? To take on something that is beyond my comfort zone, that stretches me completely beyond what I would ever think I could do. I’m not a seasoned trail runner, I’ve never ran a stage race, I’m taking on a huge event to demonstrate that with a plan, hard work and an attitude to not give up, you can accomplish your goals.  As individuals we need to look past what we think we are capable of and begin to allow ourselves to dream BIG for our lives. Make a plan, commit to the process and work hard to achieve whatever goals YOU have!

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I have resolved to not give up, even if it means I may come in last. To continue to work hard and to do whatever I can to make this goal a reality.

What about you? Do you have a goal that you want to accomplish? Are there steps that you can take to begin to work towards that goal?

 

Fall Into Fitness Exchange

Fall into FitGear Exchange-3I was recently invited to participate in a fall fitness exchange with Canadians.   As a Canadian Sweat Pink Ambassador I thought this was a great way to connect with other Canadian Bloggers. Also, I love the idea of connecting with new people and if they love running/fitness as well, bonus!  Besides, who doesn’t like giving and receiving gifts. 😉

A fellow Sweat Pink Sister from Ottawa, Brittany, came up with the exchange idea. Brittany and I recently met as we were making plans to launch an Ontario Sweat Pink Chapter.    You can follow Brittany over at My Momma Journey.

There were some general rules to the exchange.  Share a favourite fitness dvd or book that you love (even if it is gently used), favourite recipe or two, a motivational note and an item of our choice.

Our names were exchanged and we were paired up with our exchange buddies.  I ended up getting Rebecca, who crazy enough also lives in my neighbourhood, like what are the chances of that!!  I was able to do up a gift bag and drop it off at her door!!  What’s also cool, is Rebecca and I are both Team Awesome Members for the Ottawa Race Weekend 2016! If you would like to see what I sent her, check out her blog:  Running.Food.Baby 

My other exchange buddy, who had my name,  lives in Calgary.  Tina and I first met online through Bondiband, as we are both Ambassadors! She connected with me, asked some questions and came up with some pretty meaningful gifts.

Now before I unveil them, I’d like to share a few things.  First, I love hearts, always have.   After being diagnosed with a heart condition that seemed inevitable that one day I would require surgery, I was determined to not let a diagnosis define me.  Nor did I want to go on long-term medication if I could avoid it.  I was not being stupid, nor do I recommend for you to ignore your doctors advice, however, my doctor and I came up with a plan.  I continue to show improvements (which is a small miracle in itself) therefore I remain off medication.

The symbol of the heart is one of hope, strength and of course love.
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I got this tattoo as a symbol of the intense love I have for my family. My husband and I (the larger hearts) are intertwined, the three smaller hearts represent my three children and the small pink heart inside my heart is in memory of my mom.  The heart also represents the hope and strength I have to live and be healthy.

Now for the butterfly.  A few years ago there was a series of events that took place that in of themselves, each one would have been heartbreaking, combine them over a fairly short period and it was almost too much for me to work through.  During this time the butterfly became a symbol of hope.  As I was working through life, the idea that “sometimes the struggle is part of the plan” came to me.  Like the caterpillar there is a time in the cocoon (we won’t go into the gruesome details), and in the perfect moment the butterfly emerges.  A complete transformation has taken place.  It’s like pain with a purpose or a struggle with a plan.  There was a purpose for the caterpillar to enter the cocoon.  Just like I believed there was or could be a greater purpose for what I was going through (as well as my whole family).

So yes, another tattoo 😉 PicMonkey Collage

Of course I did not share this with my buddy, I mean gosh we just met. 🙂  I did however share things like favourite colour, number, workouts and that I do like the butterfly symbol.

Here is what she put together for me:

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Amazing gloves, cute bird paperclips, really cool race bib clips (wore them for my marathon last weekend – amazing!!), a bondiband headband (hearts and butterflies), a buff (more hearts) and a beautiful card…oh and inside the card was this (a magnet – now on my fridge)FullSizeRender (2)

The past two years or so this has been a thought of mine, and yes, I’ve said it out loud.  Live Out Loud!  Be, Do and Say who you are.  Live authentically with intention.  Be free to be who you were created to be, unapologetically.

It was a true blessing to open this gift with all the reminders of what is important to me and also to continue to “live out loud” proudly!

Thank you so much Tina!

Have you ever participated in an exchange similar to this?

Check out the others who participated in this exchange.


What Every Eye and Heart Wants

My absolute two favourite running accessories

Living in Ottawa, Canada means that I am blessed with four seasons.  My favourite season, for many reasons, is fall.  Running year round means having a collection of gear, accessories, seasonal clothing and a multitude of tried and true tips/tricks that I’ve learned over the years.

I love the running community!  It is a place where everyone runs for different reasons, has their own motivation and goals.  Some are just starting out, others have been running their whole lives.  It is a community where we share experiences, knowledge and simply the joy or love for running.  I know a number of recreational runners. However, most of the runners I hang out with have a schedule, are training towards a specific goal/race and have acquired a lot of stuff! Let’s face it, there is a ton of amazing running gadgets, gear, equipment, clothing, etc. that just makes running better!

Sunglasses

I run outside all year round, this means I’m exposed to all kinds of weather conditions.  I have a hard time finding sunglasses that fit properly (What can I say, I have unique facial features 😉 ).  I came across Sundog Eyewear Sunglasses at a race expo and immediately fell in love with the fit.  I found them late fall and wore them throughout the winter!

helps keep wind and snow out of my eyes (vented so they do not fog up)

helps keep wind and snow out of my eyes (vented so they do not fog up)

My past sunglasses have fogged up during some cold winter conditions, but the Sundog sunglasses were vented just right and did not fog up.

I purchased two more pair at the next expo and haven’t worn a different brand since.  I now have several pairs, in a variety of styles and colours.  Every pair is awesome and allows me to match with headbands, etc. when I feel like it. (seriously I’m not usually a girly girl or do I care to be all matchy matchy but with running if I can, why not)!

IMG_5445 IMG_5411 IMG_5380 IMG_5643There are a host of other reasons to love Sundog Sunglasses.  Sundog is committed to offering outstanding value, impeccable styling, dependability and superior protection from the elements.  I have found all of these things to be 100% true!

They are passionate about style but driven to provide their customers with the very best in eye protection and focus on being a leader when it comes to technology.  I’ll leave the details of their technology to them by encouraging you to read about the technology behind their lenses.

I will say that there is an obvious difference in their lenses.  I often forget I’m even wearing sunglasses.  They simply provide more visual clarity than anything I have ever worn before.

IMG_0918I recently decided to try their more casual line of sunglasses.  I love the look of the aviator sunglasses but could never find a pair to fit properly.  They are always too big for my face, either overpowering my face or fitting too loose to fit securely.  I now have 3 pairs of aviator style sunglasses from Sundog and all three pair fit beautifully and I feel good wearing them.

So whether I’m running, driving, walking the dogs or simply out enjoying the sunshine, I can be found sporting a pair of Sundog Sunglasses.

Heart Rate Monitor

Something perhaps unknown about me, is I have a weird obsession with numbers.  Even during mundane tasks I catch myself counting.  So it’s no surprise to me that I also like numbers when it comes to running.  I like to track my kilometres throughout the year/month/week.  I appreciate knowing what my current pace is and my average pace after a long run.   I use the Runkeeper app to track my distance during a run and to keep a record of my overall km’s.  I also use my Garmin to monitor my pace during my runs.  Most recently I’ve been keeping a record of my heart rate during my training runs.  I love learning more about myself and how I can improve.  My latest “gadget/accessory” is the Mio Strapless Heart Rate Monitor.  I never ran with a heart rate monitor, as the few times I attempted to, I had to use one with a strap and I would chafe.  After discovering the Mio Heartrate Monitor I am now consistently using it to monitor my training zones and to get more out of my training.  I was able to pair the Mio heart rate monitor with Runkeeper so now my heart rate details are also being logged.  The monitor has the ability to monitor my heart rate, track calories burned, track distance, speed and pace.  It can also be linked to a variety of apps (using bluetooth 4.0 transmission), it can be used as a watch or as a timer. Also, it has a battery life of 20hrs.   Speaking of holding a charge, how easy is this to charge the monitor?!

USB plugs easily into your computer (or anywhere reallY)

USB plugs easily into your computer (or anywhere reallY)

Mio Heart Rate Monitors also play well with others!  Here is a list of apps that are compatible: Apps

However,  it isn’t necessary as there is a Mio Go App that you can pair with your wristband to track your heart rate, pace and distance, including a map and other cool features.   I’m still in transition from using some old favourites and discovering all the cool features of this new amazing equipment.  Find out how you can train smarter with a Mio Heart Rate Monitor: Why is Heart Rate Training Important? 

I have a small wrist and was not sure how the band was going to fit. Turns out you wear it a little higher on the forearm.  It is very comfortable and I forget I’m wearing it.  The face of the band is large enough to see a variety of the features available.  The Mio Go App will allow you to explore even more features.  There are simply way too many things about this heart rate monitor that I love to get into but seriously, go check out their website and have a look around.

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Worth mentioning is the blue, green and red light that is easily visible while I’m running.  It tells me when I’m running below (blue), within (green) and above (red) my target heart rate zones.  This helps me to adjust my run accordingly just with a glance down at my wrist.miogreen

I absolutely love the possibilities of this heart rate monitor to enhance all my training needs!  I was so impressed with this product that I reached out to the company and became an ambassador!  You can order a heart rate monitor of your choice here: Mio Global.  (see below on how you can save 25%)

I truly love both of these products and believe in them so much that I asked for a special discount for my readers to try for themselves.  Message me if you’d like to get the discounts.

Full Disclosure: After purchasing 3 pairs of Sundog sunglasses I was provided with a few pairs to do a review on.  In addition I was provided with the heart rate monitor to do an honest review and have since become an ambassador.

 

 

 

 

Flipping Forward in Training

Training week in review

March 2 – March 8

Monday – OFF
Tuesday – was feeling very tired and stiff, had a busy day and finally decided to take an extra rest day…felt like I needed it.
Wednesday – 8K, added in 4 hill repeats but kept it at an easy pace.  Felt very good.  TRX Basic
Thursday – 7.5K treadmill
Friday – 30min. CORE workout
Saturday – 24K LSD, great run.  Felt great the whole way.  Ran in a different neighbourhood, and it was great to switch up the route.
Sunday – 15K LSD, feeling good, but tired.

Hello springtime!  What a beautiful welcome to some nicer weather.  Having survived winter running I cannot believe how amazing it feels to be out running with some sun shining.  The only thing I had to worry about this week while running was avoiding puddles!

As my long runs are getting longer I’m having to be a little more creative in carrying fuel, water and anything else extra I might want to have on hand.flipbelt4

I happened to come across the Flipbelt online and they graciously offered me one for an honest review.  I’ve been using it now for over a month and it’s amazing.

flipbelt7Mostly I’ve enjoyed the convenience of having my phone accessible.  February was an extremely cold month.  I use my phone with a running app and for music and there are days that the phone will actually shut off because of the extreme cold.

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Having the ability to just pop it into the Flipbelt was easy and allowed me to access it if I wanted to get a quick photo while out or pause my running app.  Wearing the belt around my waist and under layers kept my phone from freezing.

The Flipbelt can be worn down on your hips or around your waist.  I haven’t had any issues of the belt bouncing or moving around.  I’ve been wearing it around my waist under my jacket.  I plan to try it on my hips now that I can run without the extra layers.  With my long runs getting longer I will now be running with my hydration pack and this belt is a perfect add on to carry the extra things I need.

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I love how the belt is so easy to slip on.  It has slits in the front and the back of the belt that allows you to slip in your phone, gels, fuel or basically anything you need to carry with you on your runs.   There is even a clip that secures your key.  You can either wear the Flipbelt with the slits showing for really easy access OR you can flip it to add extra security to ensure nothing slips out.  Although so far there has been no risk of losing anything.flipbelt9 flipbelt10

The Flipbelt comes in so many fun colour choices.  I chose black for my first one as it will go with everything 🙂  However, I do want to order another one and will definitely go for a fun colour.

Depending on how long you are running, the belt does absorb the sweat and therefore does need to be washed.  For me this is not an issue as I am washing a ton of running gear every week and it dries very quickly (hang dry).

flipbelt11If you are looking for a great running belt to help carry the extra things we often need on a run, I can honestly say this is a great belt that is sure to not disappoint.

Do you have a favourite running gear that you would recommend?

 

 

Snow Way!

My training week in review:

Monday – Stretch/Extended Foam Rolling
Tuesday – 6K (roads were not great)
Wednesday – 10.25K (good run)
Thursday – 6.4K treadmill (note to self always run before ART session)  also added TRX Training
Friday –  OFF
Saturday – 1hr. 10min. (snowshoe run/walk, beautiful day)
Sunday – 13K (-26ºC – cold but the sun was out)

Introducing snowshoe running into my training

I participated in a winter running clinic last winter and was given the opportunity to try snowshoe running.  I was blown away at the cardio workout it gave me.  I was very much a beginner and honestly was not able to run much without being completed winded.   The majority of the people at the clinic had Dion Snowshoes.  Some people had recently “upgraded” their snowshoes and brought their older ones for people to use.  I have no clue the brand that I was using but they were not Dion ones for sure.

The instructor personally used the Dion brand and highly recommended them for their size and durability.  She said once you owned them you would not want to go back to anything else.  I walked away enjoying the experience, but feeling like my cardio was really bad.

My running coach suggested that I consider including snowshoe running in my training program this winter.  He also highly recommended that I purchase Dion ones.  I started to compare prices and do online reviews and realized that I shouldn’t take a chance on something else. I decided to just invest in Dion snowshoes knowing that they come so highly recommended by people that I respect.

So I received my snowshoes for Christmas.
My first impression when the box came in was,  “How is it even possible that the snowshoes are in that box”, then “Do I have to put them all together?”.

IMG_4811BUT, once I opened the box, I was very surprised to see that in fact the snowshoes are that small!  Now, it’s important to note that these are not for hiking, but instead for running and racing (although hiking ones are available).

The cool thing about Dion snowshoes is that they have options.  There are three types of snowshoes, three cleats you can choose from, and two different types of bindings.  So you can create the perfect snowshoe for the conditions that you require them for.

I went for the 121’s (racing/running); the standard cleat and the quick fit bindings.

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The only thing I needed to do when I opened the box was change my binding straps as they came with the large already in place.  The bindings come in a pack from xs – large sizing so you can adjust the binding to fit you perfectly and not have extra straps in your way while running, this is brilliant!

Okay, so here’s where the fun started.  Usually we have way more snow by now in Ottawa, so my first time out didn’t happen until this weekend.  The weather was perfect at -1ºC and sun shining.IMG_5050

My girlfriend ordered a pair at the same time I did as we wanted to get out together for snowshoe running.  We strapped on the snowshoes fairly easily and I expected we would both be winded quickly (from my first experience mentioned above).  We figured we’d run 1min. and walk 1min.  I was surprised at how good it felt.  They are so light weight (2lb.4oz. for the pair).  It was quite easy to run in them.  Although I felt like we could have ran more, my girlfriend was coming off an injury so we took it easy and just had fun.

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I am so thankful that I trusted my gut and listened to the advice of my coach and ordered the Dion snowshoes.  They are better then I could have imagined and I’m only beginning my journey with incorporating them into my training.  I didn’t think I’d actually do snowshoe racing but now I really can’t think of any reason why I wouldn’t!  It was a blast and a great workout with very little impact, as your running on snow with a wider base than just a shoe.

If you are considering snowshoes, then I recommend these completely.  I ordered mine from Spafford Health and Adventure and had emailed Derek (the owner) back and forth prior to my purchase.  He is a Canadian distributor for Dion Snowshoes.  He’s very knowledgeable of the sport, very helpful and was quick to respond to my questions.

Big thumbs up!

Have you ever tried snowshoe running?

 

 

Sweaty Bands for Winter? You bet!

My Training Week In Review:

Monday – Stretch/Extended Foam Rolling
Tuesday – 6.85Km  speed work (treadmill – crazy cold again, and I have the option)
Wednesday – 10K run
Thursday – sick 🙁
Friday –  still sick
Saturday – tough call but opted out of run as I was still sick
Sunday – 12.25km outside in slushy conditions but great temperatures

photo 2As a member of Team Awesome I was thrilled when Bondiband agreed to sponsor our team and provide each member with a team hat.  I was introduced to Bondiband products last spring and quickly became a fan.  I love the way the headbands stay put for my workouts, including many km’s of running.  They have so many fun sayings to choose from and an awesome array of colour choices.  You can even create custom orders with your own design or fun saying.

 

I’ve had PiYo headbands created and they turned out fabulous!  PiYoBandIf you want to order in bulk, the company has special bulk pricing so you can order with friends or use for fundraising.  I’ve also done this when fundraising for The Children’s Aid Foundation, my charity of choice for many of my races coming up in 2015.

Check out their website and see the many great products they have available.

armbandI decided to check out their armbands this fall.   There are a few things that I particularly loved about the armband.  I love that it can be thrown on my bare arm or over long sleeves.  I appreciate the fact that it can be tossed in with my laundry and dries quickly.  They come in a ton of great fun prints and colours.  I personally like the fit snug as it can get weighed down and it’ll stay put while running.  It fits any size phone and can be used to hold keys, money, lip balm, etc. fuel for long runs and the list goes on.  It can be used all year long.   Summer it’s great as it’s moisture wicking, can easily be cleaned and helps store extra running items required during your run.   It is also great in the colder months as you can wear it over your long sleeve or under your jacket to protect your music/ear phones etc.  I also have a quick video review.

I  currently have two armbands but because of the awesome colours I’ll be ordering a few more just for fun ones.  Because they are moisture wicking they do need to be washed more frequently in the summer so a few extra wouldn’t hurt if you feel you’d use it on most of your runs 🙂  BUT could easily be hand washed and ready to go for your next run if you only wanted one. (but why, they’re practical and cute 🙂 )

Do you have a favourite running accessory?  Would love to hear about it.

 

 

Recovery/Flexibility Tools For Training

My Week In Review:

Monday – Yoga/Stretch
Tuesday –  Over/Under Tempo 6K Run.  Road conditions were awful with tons of ice but I managed to get it done.
Wednesday – 10K easy run
Thursday – temperature was a “feels like” -35ºC so I chose the treadmill, did speed intervals and played with the incline, felt good.
FridayPiYo (Strength and Flexibility Training at home)
Saturday – 1hr. run was scheduled BUT I did not get it in.  I was on my feet working the Health Expo most of Friday and then 14hrs. on Saturday.  I was just too exhausted.  My quads were done from the unbelievable amount of stairs that I repeatedly went up and down!
Sunday – 1hr. 10min. snowy run.  Footing was challenging at times but I enjoyed the run.

November and most of December was spent trying to figure out why I had this lingering pain in my foot.  I’ve been taking it easy and getting treated and I’m almost pain-free now.  Turns out I experienced a small tear of my peroneus longus tendon at some point leading up to or during my marathon in October.   Thankfully, I am on the mend and January is all about building my base again.  I’ll be adding to my Sunday long run and mixing up some strength training but the bulk of my weeks will look pretty much the same.

Monday and Fridays are my days off from running.  Monday will be for active recovery only and Fridays I’ll play around with some at home DVDs that will focus mostly on flexibility and mobility moves.  I might even get out on the canal for some skating.

Favourite Tools

Here are some of my favourite tools that I’m trying to use consistently.

Thermaband

Thera-Band Foot Roller

TheraBand Foot Roller is great for rolling the underside of my foot. It can help with plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and tired feet.  It helps to stretch the plantar fascia and it will help with flexibility.  The massage just feels good.  It’s also great because it can be frozen and then used to help reduce inflammation.

Foam Rolling

Foam Roller

Foam Roller is a must for anyone who is running consistently.  It will help with flexibility and recovery.  Runners World has a great article on it here: Foam Rolling Tips

The Stick

The Stick

The Stick is a great tool to help self-massage enabling you to break down knots or trigger points in your muscles.  It can help relieve pain, increase your range of motion, help with flexibility and speed up your recovery time.

Lacrosse Ball

Lacrosse Ball

This little lacrosse ball was recommended to me by my massage guy who is truly brilliant when it comes to helping athletes get back in the game.  This gets in areas that are hard to get at, like your groin or rotator cuff.  It helps get in deeper than a regular foam roller.  I’ve heard that massage therapy balls are a better choice but this works for me.

Yoga Mat

Yoga Mat

A Yoga Mat is also essential as you should be doing Yoga a minimum of once a week.  I am trying to do a little more than that but Monday is a must for Yoga.  It helps after the Sunday long runs for me and helps set me up for the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday runs.  I have a few favourite home DVDs that I choose from that help give me some variety but also I can work it into my schedule better than trying to get out to a class.

I will break up when I use these tools throughout the day or evening.  I’ll do more on a Monday and Friday as I’m not running.  I keep the lacrosse ball in my family room and will randomly pull it out and spend a few minutes hitting some sore spots.  The Stick is a great tool to ask a family member to get at your hamstrings or calves and it helps to not tire them out easily.  My kids actually take pleasure in causing me pain. 😉 So this is not a difficult task for them.

There are numerous foam roller options to choose from, so do some research. I would, however, recommend that you invest some money in a good one as the cheaper ones will not last very long and this should be a long-term investment into your running.

What kind of tools am I missing out on?  Do you have a must have favourite that you are using? I’d love to hear about your suggestions.

Acknowledging the Wins!

Do you set goals?  Are you always looking ahead at what is coming up or do you take time to reflect on where you have come from?

How often do we take the time to just enjoy the moment or take in the day of a particular event or race.

I always have another goal or race coming up.  It’s how I get up the next day and keep going.  There is not a finish in sight for me but just moments and events to check off one at a time.

Having hired a running coach I am no longer “in control” of my running schedule and have submitted myself entirely to his plans and schedule for me.  Part of my fall race plans included the Army Run.  My coach suggested I run it hard.  Now this can be up for debate with people as I’m training for a fall marathon (just 4 weeks away from the Army Half).  Some choose to run it as such, a training run, slow and steady and others will race it.  The difference when it falls into your training and is not your goal race is that you do not taper for it, you just run it.  Tapering allows your body to recover before the race, and of course you’d take time to recover after as well.  Army Run

After being told to race it, I had a time goal in mind.  To beat last years time.  I was short 18 sec. to accomplishing this and a tad disappointed when I realized how close I came.  When sending in my weekly report to my coach, I reflected on my week in review.  I quickly remembered that it was only 4 short months ago that I was removing a cast that I had on for 3 months!  I had come back from a serious stress fracture (including a secondary minor one).  I built my running back up quickly and most importantly I remained injury free!

So in fact, my race really was a victory for me.  I had been training differently, focusing on building strength and using different muscles for only 3 short weeks. I went into the race after a hard training week, including a long run the day before, and I experienced some special challenges the morning of the race, and yet I still came in ONLY 18sec. short of my time last year.

My disappointment very quickly turned around and I was proud of how I ran.  Proud that I have worked hard at correcting my running technique to run more efficiently and injury free and the Army run wasn’t my goal race. 🙂

Next up is my second marathon in Toronto.  I hope to beat last year’s time, but again I have to celebrate the fact that after an injury I am going to be back running a full marathon and therefore need to be proud of that accomplishment regardless of my time.  Getting a “personal best” is the bonus I hope to experience, however the real win has been the journey of getting to the race.  The countless hours and kilometres that I’ve invested to achieve this goal.

ArmyRun DoneI’ve had an exceptional training season, new friends, new connections, being part of special groups including the opportunity to be a Digital Champion for my goal marathon and being given the incredible opportunity to test out new running gear and become an ambassador for some of the gear I’ve tested out and loved.

So my question to you:  Have you taken a moment to celebrate where you are today?  The personal development or steps that you’ve taken to achieve a goal you have.  Again, it doesn’t have to be running related.  Are you still moving in the direction of the goals you’ve set for yourself?  Are you better today than you were say, even one month ago?  Remember why you are doing what you are doing and celebrate what you have already accomplished.

Keep going. 🙂

The Running Continues With Some Help

Adapting to change was evident in this past weeks training.  Although I felt good with my cardio my legs were tired.  It was all I could do to complete an “easy” 5K on Wednesday!  My mind kept trying to convince my legs to go faster, my legs were just not capable, but I pushed and got it done in probably the worst 5K time ever.

It’s funny when you switch up what you’re doing how quickly your body reacts to the change.  I combined two training runs into one on Friday which started off slow but ended up feeling fantastic and strong.  By Sundays run I felt like I was back, feeling strong and marathon ready!  Sunday was a 29K run and I was back running with my running group for a change, it was awesome!  Weather was a cool 3 degrees and didn’t rise much more than 9 I think.  This is my kind of weather!

I have been using Pro Compression Socks for my recovery after my long runs and love how amazing they feel!  purplecompressionOn Friday (15K) I decided to try them running for the first time and could not believe how much support I felt with them.  I believe that is why my run started off with tired legs but within the first 4K or so I literally had a bounce to my step, I felt strong and could have easily ran further.

Recovery after long run

Recovery after long run

My routine after a long run is to put compression socks on for recovery immediately after my shower, as it helps with muscle soreness and blood flow (circulation).

The pro compression socks are so light weight and comfortable I will now be using them for most of my runs for additional support and to help circulation during my long runs.  They have the added bonus of keeping me warmer as we move into fall training.  Not to mention they have the most amazing fun colours to choose from.

So here are the reasons I think you should try them:

  • PRO Compression helps increase blood flow which relieves discomfort and assists in recovery.
  • Super comfortable to be worn during and/or after your runs.  Try them and see for yourself just how comfortable they are!
  • FUN cool colours to choose from.
  • Variety of styles to choose from (my favourite is the marathon sock).
  • Special discount code to get 40% off – Use CODE BLG14 at checkout Pro Compression Website

Would you like a chance to win a pair of Pro Compression Socks?

Simply share with me what you do to stay active and your name will be entered to win.  You can comment below, facebook me or send me a tweet 🙂 (deadline is Sunday, Sept. 21st)

You  might also want to sign up for the Sock Of The Month Email List for special deals and new product announcements (scroll to bottom of homepage).

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed.

I now realize that I want a few more pairs, as colour choices are just too fun not to have a few, plus I can’t keep up with the wash. 😉

Don’t forget to message me and get your name in for the draw!  Good Luck!