Without My Ducklings

Running so fast I blurredIt has been quite a while since I have had to train on my own. Actually, I can literally pinpoint the day – the day I joined Team in Training.

Sure, I would head out for the odd run alone but I could always count on having at least two training sessions per week (”quality” and “long slow”) with my peeps (is that still a word?). Since I started the Runner Makeover I have been aspiring to speeds that I would dare not inflict on my unsuspecting team of trainees. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving everything about this makeover but it is a little lonely without my little running ducklings (a name my 2009 Vancouver team got as they followed me, single file, through the rain to the race expo).

I still meet up with my team on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings (when the weather permits, this has been a long and harsh Edmonton winter) but that only accounts for 10-15kms of my weekly 70-80km, of which most are done between 5:45am – 8:00am. I blame the ridiculous time of day on my work week. I work full-time as a web developer, teach Design Studies at MacEwan University, coach for Team and Training, get my own training done… and try to have a life. Ha!

I’m not complaining, I enjoy a busy day but it does lead to lonely runs, at early hours, without my running ducklings.

You want me to run how fast? ok!

Me and my new adizeroboston shoes.♪ Baby it’s cold out there but it’s nice and warm on the track ♫

Ok, so that’s not a song… but it was indeed a lot warmer at the track this morning than it was outside. -46°C with the windchill when I got up at 5:15 to head to the Kinsmen Sport Center here in Edmonton. “Gross” is all I have to say about that.

Anyway, armed with my new Adidas shoes, shorts, socks, shirt and miCoach gear I hit the track this morning for a steady 12km run at 5:00/km. A few weeks ago I would have been intimidated by that type of workout (see Chrystal’s Fear and (or maybe of) Running post) but lately, this has been the norm. Heck, last week Coach Tania had me log 78kms. Yeah, I am pretty chuffed! Prior to this makeover, I severely impressed myself with a 50km week!

Lately my favourite day of the week has become Thursday – that’s the day I do the fun stuff. Last week it was “3 x 3000m @ 4:30/km with a 600m rest”. This week I get to do “5 x 2000m at 4:20/km with a 500m rest”. I have always been a believer in speed training but never to this extent. Pray for me! :) I will let you know how it goes.

Running through the pow-pow

A Rather Snowy RunThe streets of Edmonton are much more suited to downhill skiing than running today, there’s about 5cm of fresh powder covering every trail, sidewalk and path but I just got home from my Long Slow Distance run as prescribed by our awesome Make-Over Coach Tania Jones. 22km in all (well ok, 21.46 according to the lovely voice in the Adidas miCoach) through the wind, snow and cold. Luckily 7.25km of it was spent leading my Team in Training group on their 3rd “Group Training Session” – these kinds of runs are always more pleasant in a group.

A few weeks ago I was laying in bed, checking my email on my phone wishing someone would bring me a coffee when I saw I had an email from Tania Jones. The name rang a loud bell but I wasn’t sure why. A quick Google search later and I was out of bed, giggling like a schoolboy, getting my wits together before I replied.

I had a vague memory of submitting a paragraph to something about a marathon make-over but had figured it was long over and gone so hadn’t thought of it in a while. Plus I never win anything… ever.

When I got off the phone with Tania, being the social media internet nerd I am, I immediately jumped on FaceBook and Twitter to spread my exciting news. That was quickly reeled in. I wasn’t to talk about the contest until the February issue of iRun was published. It was an excruciating time. Not as excruciating as the workouts I was soon to embark on… but I will save that for another post.

For now, I just want to thank iRun for this amazing opportunity, Adidas for all the wicked gear (it fits perfectly and makes me look FAST), and most of all Tania for all her guidance and encouragement. It’s only been a few weeks but I can literally measure the progress I have made.

I can’t wait for the weeks to come.

Can Caffeine Help You Work Out?

Here’s some pretty cool and interesting information about caffeine and exercise from the Get Fit Guy:

Do you ever wonder whether that morning cup of coffee before you head to the gym might be doing more than just giving your brain a wake-up call? In other words, could caffeine actually help you work out? The answer is yes. Here are 3 quick and dirty tips for getting the most out of every drip:

  1. Try capsules: Caffeine consumption can help you go up to 10 times longer during endurance exercise like swimming, running or cycling, although it doesn’t have any effect on maximum muscular force. But the best benefits don’t come from a cup of coffee. Instead, most subjects in studies that showed this big benefit were consuming pure caffeine capsules, which could be risky (see note at end of newsletter).
  2. Exercise on an empty stomach: Caffeine may also help to increase fat burning, and for this reason, it is a popular ingredient among fat burning supplements. But if you can’t afford weight loss pills, you can get good benefit out of simply consuming a cup of coffee and exercising on an empty stomach.
  3. Get the right amount: Last, caffeine can reduce your “rating of perceived exertion”, meaning that with caffeine in your system, you can exercise harder, but not feel as much discomfort. To get the effects of caffeine, you should typically consume 2-5mg per kg of body weight 30-60 minutes prior to exercise (1 pound is 2.2 kilograms).

Awesome! Just the rational I needed to justify one more cappuccino in my day!

A New Half Marathon PB

Photo of Brock at the start line of the race

Despite the icy, slushy, snowy and uneven Edmonton terrain, I managed to PB this morning! I posted the nerdy data/details at the Garmin Connect website – http://connect.garmin.com/activity/68153804

1:40:50 was my official time this morning at the Edmonton Hypothermic Half Marathon (sleepy-head edition). It was 2 degrees Celsius above zero so not an entirely accurate name for the race (this year) but still, racing outdoors in February in Edmonton is always a crap-shoot.

My previous Half Marathon PB was 1:54:05. I got that at the BMO Vancouver Marathon in 2009. I have done a couple Halfs since then but none very seriously. I have always considered the Full Marathon to be my race but after today I am having second thoughts. The Half Marathon is just so… civilized. I am still able to walk, talk and be productive even after PBing. That is not something I can usually say after a Full.

According to the stat sheet that was hanging near the finish line, I placed 7th overall and 3rd in my category. I will wait to see the results when they are posted online to make sure that is accurate but I have no reason to doubt that it is.

I am a proud runner… now I will wait to hear what my coach has to say about it! Come on Tania, check your email!

I have a logo!

Skywalker Fitness crest by Raoul Mendoza

My good buddy and gifted designer, Raoul Mendoza of http://www.dirtylab.com, just sent me the final versions of my logo and crest!

They look awesome! I mean check it out! Can’t you just imagine that on a cycling jersey or technical shirt? It would look freakin’ GREAT. I can’t wait to have an excuse to make some. Let me know if you would be interested in having one and I will start looking into prices.

I am so excited. It’s like xmas for design-nerds.

Tania Jones!

Yesterday I had the awesome pleasure of not only finding out that I have been shortlisted for the iRun Makeover Content but I got two emails and spoke on the phone with THE Tania Jones (I felt a little like an excited school boy).

We mostly chatted about the contest and how I might fit in if I was to be chosen as a finalist (which I really REALLY hope I do) but she also offered me some great training advice.

I think I am falling into the trap of the over achiever, over enthusiastic, over training marathon runner – I have hopes, dreams, goals and plans that don’t actually support each other… which is fine if “just participating” is your goal but… mine is not. I really have my sights set on qualifying for the Boston Marathon and that means I have to train smart and focused. Coach Jane had spoken to me about this in the past and it made sense then… but for some reason, since that conversation with Jane, I let that idea slide. Hearing it again from Tania made me realize that I was once again falling into that trap.

So this morning, I am off to get to work on some focused speed training and then this afternoon I am going to look at my plans for the season and see how I can streamline it. Woo!

See, even coaches need coaching.

Finally, good weather!

Spring 2011 Team in Training Edmonton team

Hurray! The snow has subsided and the temperature has warmed enough that we could go for a run outdoors today!

It was glorious. I had nearly forgotten how much shorter 16km feels when you have people to chat with and scenery to look at. I really do recommend that if you are currently a treadmill junky, get out and run in the fresh air. Preferably with some like-minded individuals. It really turns those LSD runs from something you have to do into something you really want to do!

Seriously. You don’t know what you are missing!

Beet Juice? Really?

A friend of mine (thanks Dr. Sexton) sent me an article from the Globe and Mail that has some awesome info in it.

Most of it is not news to anyone who keeps up to date on the latest findings (dynamic stretching diminishes strength and endurance, marathons show short term damage to the heart muscle) but some one it is very interesting. In particular the part that says “nitrates in beet juice are responsible for its endurance-boosting effect”. Apparently “in 2009, researchers at the University of Exeter announced that drinking beet juice for a few days allowed subjects to run about 15 per cent longer in treadmill tests.” Crazy! I know I will be buying some beet juice next time I’m at the grocery store!

The plan for Tue, Jan 4th, 2011

Ah… *sigh* I actually got 8 hours sleep last night – awesome! Just finished a big bowl of Heritage Flakes (with some added dry rolled oats) topped with a banana and almond milk. Now I am off to the gym to get an hour of resistance training (weight lifting, pulling, swinging) in.

The weather is supposed to be gorgeous this afternoon so I am reversing my workout and doing a cardio session second in the day (studies have show that you burn more calories if you do cardio before weights). Around 1:00pm, after a good post weights snack and a small high protein lunch, I will head out for a 5km Fartlek session.

Can’t wait… why wait!? Here I go!