My Running Essentials

There are a few key things that I want to tell you about that help motivate me to run.

First, I was always running with my clunky iPhone 6. I ordered an armband from Amazon for about $15 and never looked back.

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Uh-oh. Downside of armband- chafing. Oh, and my newly strong running legs also love this chafing prevention, bodyglide (~$15):

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The reason I run with my iPhone is this fantastic (free) app by Nike, which logs my distance and coaches my running:

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But before I go out on a run, I use an SPF moisturizer. I particularly love this one from Aveda, which is expensive (~$40) but worth every penny:

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And I always wear my cheap running socks that I buy in bulk at Costco (~$15 for 6 pair), but that do a pretty darn good job through my training runs:

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One thing every runner knows is that a good pair of kicks is key. I have orthotics, which I would recommend to anyone who can get them covered through insurance. However, the first step I took in becoming a runner was a trip to Running Room for good sneaks.

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And last but not least, my running (and hangover) cure, Nuun ($6-$12 at Sportchek):

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What products motivate you to pound the pavement?

The epitome of the love/hate relationship: Running


Remember my previous post, Signing up for Runs… Well, I finally completed the Scotiabank Toronto Half Marathon that I signed up for in May or June.

It has been a battle and that battle has been between two extremes: loving and hating running…. let me tell you about the loves and hates and we’ll see where we end up.

First, I have posterior tibial tendonitis, and that sh*t is PAINFUL. Well, I have two types of tendonitis, but it’s enough of an effort to remember that first one so I don’t remember the second. Between hundreds of dollars in physio, foam rolling like crazy and orthotics, I’ve devoted a lot of time and energy to making the pain of it bearable, and to be able to run past the pain.

Hate=1, Love=0

Running is cheap! Besides signing up for runs (if that’s what you’re into) and the actual equipment (proper shoes and gear), you can’t really find a cheaper sport. Running is a great way to test yourself without having to invest as much money as other sports require.

Hate=1, Love=1

Running is the most boring. I know a lot of people will disagree, and there are certainly points about running that are interesting… like watching the seasons change, having weird thoughts when you’re on a long run, scoping out and seeing new areas in your community…. But to be alone with your thoughts and the same running playlist you’ve had for months… I mean, it’s boring as hell a lot of the time.

Hate=2, Love=1

Two words: RECOVERY MEALS.

Two more words: CHOCOLATE MILK.

Hate=2, Love=2

Running is the ultimate test. It is so hard on your body. I feel like garbage the day after a long run. My legs somehow feel simultaneously like jello and stiff poles. Recovery is rough.

Hate=3, Love=2

I just checked my time. Holy smokes– I placed in the last 1000 half marathon runners of tens of thousands. That’s horrendous because I don’t have any excuses- I’m actually that slow. I run like a minion mixed with a turtle running through peanut butter. I’m just a slow runner and that’s a reality I’ve had to face through my training.

Hate=4, Love=2

And yet, I can’t put a value on the pride I feel. My favourite questions people asked me after the race were “how did it feel?” “did you finish?” and “when are you going to run your next race?” My least favourite question has been “what was your time?” I feel so much pride in having finished the race! Though I sheepishly tell people “2 hours, 35 minutes,” I then remind myself that means that running is a longer effort for me than for others. And yet I do it because of the strength of my will, and having a concrete representation of that in my finisher’s medal is completely invaluable.

Hate=4, Love= a BAJILLION.

You can have ten thousands reasons to hate something, and sometimes you just need one to love it anyway.

Your’s, in health.

I am a Wellington Warrior!

A few weekends ago, I had the privilege of running in the Wellington Warrior Challenge. It was an expensive race to be in- about $80 for a 5K run. Part of the appeal of the race is that it was going to be at a winery just on the outskirts of Guelph. The primary appeal was the cause- raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society is something that I try to do as often as possible. What I like about donating to the Canadian Cancer Society is the focus on local initiatives for people with cancer and survivors. I also like the notion of donating for general cancers, rather than for one specific type.

The Wellington Warrior Challenge was SO much fun. We got to the winery in good time for our race start, and everything was extremely well organized. We even noticed a “Free Beer” station beforehand. The only problem- it was FREEZING out!! Instead of hitting up the free beer, we bought some hot wine (all for charity, of course) before the race started.

The race was a 5 K, and there were 23 obstacles!!! Some of the obstacles were “easy,” like climbing over tube ladders. Others were more difficult- scaling a wall with minimal ledges, climbing over boards, and flipping tires. There was one that was absolutely impossible for me: wooden plank monkey bars. If you’ve ever tried monkey bars as an adult, you’ll recognize that they are a lot harder than when you are an adult. Add in the fact that each bar wasn’t on hinges and wouldn’t swing to the next made it too difficult for me.

I’ve never had so much fun at a race. I also don’t think I’ve ever been so cold. My “team” of 3 agreed that our favourite obstacle was one in which we had to work together. My lack of upper body strength made it impossible for me to climb over a wall that didn’t have a place for my feet to help me up. Instead, my teammates had me stand on their shoulders to give me the leverage I needed to hoist myself from one side of the wall to the next. There were four of these walls, so my teammates were exhausted and yet laughing the whole time.

When we finished, we definitely took advantage of the free beer!!

I’d definitely recommend an obstacle course, and to try and find one that is for a cause that you value. Fun runs are the best, and I’ve done a colour run, a zoo race, 2 Santa Claus suit races, and I intend to run the Pancake Mile in March. I recommend these runs for a number of reasons, including that people of all ages and abilities participate, and because they are a good reminder of how much fun you can have when you are healthy. I hope to see you at the next fun run!

Your’s, in health.

Trying the Trends: Spin, Overnight Oats and Pedometers

Back again! And today I thought I would give some reviews on some health and fitness trends. I always like to try trends for myself and would encourage you to do the same. I might not be vegan, for instance, but I might try for a few days. I’m a fan of trying everything once when it comes to health and fitness trends- with the exception of those silly waist trainers I see on the Kardashians.

    Spin

What it is: Around 60-minute classes offered at gyms in a room full of bikes; popularized for me by Kimmy Schmidt’s Soulcycle fiasco 🙂
What I did: All-terrain offered through Goodlife
The verdict: 5 stars ***** AMAZING! I can see how this is super addictive. My one word to the wise– whatever bits you have below the waist will hurt immensely after your first try. My resident spin expert says “don’t let this deter you. You’ll build up tolerance in no time!”

    Overnight Oats

What it is: Oats put in a jar/tupperware with a bunch of other ingredients to sit in your fridge for you to eat the next morning
What I did: Ground chia, 1% milk, large-flake oats, banana and peanut butter (a recipe recommended by a friend, although she used almond milk)
The verdict: 4 stars **** It took me two days to get into this, but I can actually feel myself craving it in the morning. It’s easy to make a few days in advance. My favourite thing about it was eating it before a morning run this week. I couldn’t believe how good I felt after compared to other breakfasts I eat before I run.

    Pedometer

What it is: “Smart” pedometers (e.g., a Fitbit) measure different aspects of your lifestyle, such as sleep, steps and heart rate.
What I did: I’ve had my Garmin Vivosmart since January 2015.
The verdict: 3 stars *** I love my pedometer and wear it almost all the time. I have heard from friends with Fitbit that the Garmin is much more accurate in terms of a step count, and I believe it to be true (it doesn’t pick up any arm movement as a “step”). What I don’t like: how it looks, how slow the Garmin syncing process is (compared to the Fitbit, specifically), and the heart rate monitor that came with it. I would recommend this particular pedometer, but definitely not the sold-separately heart rate monitor. It’s a great pedometer if you like to be connected to your text messages AND I love that I can tap it twice to see the time.

I’ll continue trying trends and offering my reviews- and I hope you’ll try health and fitness trends to, while being critical about what actually feels good and suits your lifestyle!

 

 

Signing up for Runs

Have you ever signed up for a run? Like getting tattoos or wine tours, signing up for runs is ADDICTIVE! Once you start with a 5 K, it’s impossible not to have the itch to sign up for more.

A lot of people ask why I pay for torture of a run- having to train, show up on race day and run in sometimes horrible conditions, and then have to recover for a week after. I mean, in what other situations do we pay to run a huge distance, sweating, crying, and shaking?

Here is why I sign up for runs: to have something to strive for.

I remember meeting a man at a race expo not too long ago. He explained that he does ultras, marathons, and triathlons regularly. Our motivations to engage in such craziness were similar. We both admitted that if we didn’t have a race day planned in the future, we’d have a lot more trouble getting out the door a few times a week for a jog. However, he also said that he signs up for races because he looks at his same-aged friends and sees them getting older in the worst ways. They are sore, stiff and bitter and he doesn’t want to suffer the same fate.

I told him that it’s strange, because running leaves me sore, stiff and bitter. He laughed and suggested that at least we know what it’s like, so when the inevitable aging part comes and we will be unable to accomplish the feats of our youth, at least we’ll know how to accept the soreness, the stiffness and the bitterness with grace.

I’ve now incorporated that motivation into my runs. I want to age gracefully and know that I did everything I physically could while I was capable of it.

Why are you signing up for a run?

There’s No Me In “Team”

At the age of 26, I am joining my first team. I have never played a team sport.

I routinely placed last in my primary school’s track and field day. In every event. I was picked close to last in gym class, spared last place only because I was friends with the sporty bunch. I have never really had the experience of being on a team at all, save for academic teams. That’s right- academic teams.

So when my partner asked if I would join a soccer baseball team made up of our colleagues and friends, I was understandably reluctant.

I emailed the captain, explaining that this could be my first team. I told her that I would join under two conditions:

1. That the entire team would support me if (read: when) I failed miserably, given that this was my first time on a team, and

2. That we would go for beers or ice cream or some sort of treat as a group, because this has always been the only appeal of team sports to me.

The captain happily agreed to my conditions, and we’ll be playing our first game soon.

I am disproportionately anxious of this situation, given that most 5-year-olds join teams as though it’s nothing. I have to remind myself that it is okay to be afraid, and that joining this team wouldn’t be brave if I wasn’t slightly (read: excessively) anxious.

I’ll keep you updated. Actually, if you hear nothing from me about this kickball experience, you can assume that it was freaking awful, and that the only part I enjoyed was the ice cream and beer. But that will be alright, too.