the date is set: Sunday, May 15, 2011

race: Toronto Goodlife Fitness Half-Marathon

goal: 1 hour, 58 minutes

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Where are you, Spring?

As February comes to a close, in all honesty, I’m feeling nervous about my commitment to run this marathon. If there is one positive spin to this fact, it’s that the main reason for this uncertainty is blamed on a consistently negative thermometer.
Last week, I broke free from the confinement of the gym when Niagara experienced a temporary flash of spring.  The soaring temperatures helped to lift my motivation, as I couldn’t wait to get away from the humdrum of the treadmill.
Similar to the first run of a training program, the first outdoor run of the year is equally as exhilarating and energizing.  Unfortunately, my first outdoor run of the year did not fall into this category. It wasn’t due to a terrible illness this time, but rather my silly decision-making.
As a runner of almost five years, I try to always abide by the golden rule: prior to your run, be aware of what you eat and the time you eat it at.
Here comes the silly decision-making:
As we all know, a sudden burst of sunshine and warmth makes us want to go out, visit with friends, and enjoy! Naturally, dinner and drinks with a couple of girlfriends seemed like the perfect option. Before I knew it, I had devoured a delicious Gnocchi dish accompanied by two glasses of Riesling.  After dinner, feeling fabulous, I figured that feeling would transfer to my run planned for later that evening.
My hopes were dashed about five minutes into the run when I was already struggling with an uncomfortable full feeling and the occasional side pain. Needless to say, my pace was sedated and slow. Again, not the burst of speed that I figured the adrenaline from the first outdoor run would give me. I managed a measly 5km.
Within 24 hours, the thermometer plummeted again. Disappointed by my poor planning, I forced myself to get outside and try again – this time, on a light stomach with only Greek yogurt and nuts.
The result? Although not nearly as balmy out, (even mittens and hat were needed) an 8km run felt great and re-charged my energy for spring training. According to Running Magazine, trainers recommend that 60% of training is completed outdoors to prepare for the real deal.
Basically, I need to step it up!
 ….Let’s all cross our fingers for mild temperatures in the very near future.

            Happy Running

Monday, February 14, 2011

In the spirit of LOVE...

Today is Valentine’s Day. The day of all things romantic, pink and lovely. In the spirit of this holiday, I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s blog to why running is loved by millions. A little research was needed to back up my initial ideas. Here’s what my findings consisted of:

Quite simply, running makes me happy. After I run, I feel good. My mind is clear. If I’ve been grappling with a problem, suddenly, I’m overwhelmed with the answer to solve it. Even after a long run, I have more energy and feel overall, accomplished. This state of clarity brings contentment and ultimately, happiness. I definitely am a firm believer in the “runner’s high” myth.
New York Times: "Yes, Running Can Make You High"

So, my question was this: Is the “runner’s high” an actual myth? Or, is it biologically proven that running makes you happy? I’m sure you’ve all wondered the same thing…

Well, you’re in luck, because I have discovered the answer. Actually, the New York Times discovered the answer back in March, 2008 when they published the article “Yes, Running Can Make You High.”

The article explains that years of theories suggested chemicals, called endorphins, were released while running or enduring other forms of intense exercise. Years ago, it was difficult for theorists to prove the endorphin-hypothesis. Now, neuroscience has proven that a) Running does in fact release endorphins in the brain, and b) those endorphins do produce a change in mood.  Interestingly enough, Dr. Boecker claims that endorphins produced by running attach themselves to the areas of the brain associated with love and euphoria, causing the feelings of happiness. 

The intensity of the run correlates to the amount of endorphins produced, and therefore, the overall feeling of euphoria that the runner experiences. The study also demonstrated a relationship between runners and increased pain tolerance, due to their rate of endorphins produced.

So, there it is: the “runner’s high” isn’t a myth after all. 

Happy Valentine’s & Happy Running! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

If you can’t breathe, you can’t run…

For a girl who lives by her day planner, the actual planning of a training schedule is one of the most exciting elements of the training itself. I ambitiously planned out my runs for the next few months with the help of online resources and my Mother, who happens to be a certified trainer. Daily goals were jotted down, colour-coded of course, and needless to say, I was excited to begin training on Monday, January 31, 2011.

The problem? My body was NOT ready to begin training on Monday. Not in the least. After a week of battling a persistent and annoying winter cold, the only sound coming out of my mouth was repulsive coughing, not the breathing of healthy lungs necessary for running.

Ignoring the cough, I headed for the gym to begin my training with a 5km first run. After only twenty minutes, I paused the tread and caused a slight scene with a coughing attack right there on the machine. 

Let me tell you, gym-goers do NOT tolerate sickness at the gym. Looks of disgust, and looks screaming “Go home! Stop spreading your germs!” were shot at me from all angles. Admittedly, I am normally one of those people shooting the looks and thinking to myself, “you better not get me sick!” And yet, I had crossed over and became “one of them” out of fear from being behind on my training schedule from Day 1.

Discouraged. I was completely discouraged. The first run is supposed to be the easiest! The shortest! The flattest! The initial run is supposed to ignite the spark and create a buzz around your training program. The first run is certainly NOT supposed to leave you feeling like your chest may cave in at the next coughing spell.

Driving straight to Shoppers, I stalked up on more cold medicine, Halls, Vitamin C (and, okay, a little Valentine’s Day chocolate treat to cheer me up!) determined to beat the awful thing, and convinced that the 8km I had scheduled for the next day was totally possible.

Thankfully, as the week went on, the cough dwindled and my energy levels returned to normal. My original running schedule for this week was slightly altered. But, I still managed to complete five successful building runs based on time, just not the distance I was aiming for. And even more importantly, the feelings of discouragement have left....and anticipation for Week #2 has began!

Happy Running!