Winter Running

15 01 2012


        Winter Running   What I like about Winter Running is that if you continue through the fall and into the winter with a running schedule outside….you gradually get acclimatized to the on coming winter temperatures and you end up not minding the cold. In theory this works well…………My running has been sporadic throughout the fall, and into the first part of the winter I ran in Southern China, Florida, and Hawaii, as well as a tonne of Tred-mills at various hotels around the globe.  This didn’t exactly toughen me up for winter running.   This week I anxiously watched the weather network and finally decided no matter what the conditions id get out for a decent long run this Sunday.   Yesterday my buddy Patrick and I went to the Running Free store……we go a few times a year but this is our annual BIG trip where I buy enough goods to get me through the winter and spend enough money that I have to run just out of guilt!  Lol   I bought a couple new trail shoes, Solomon X Lab and Montrail, Masochists as well as a pair of Sauconys (as the past 12 pair) Street shoes.   I also bought a new pair of Snow shoes designed for running.   That should get the old cardio in top form.   I bought a pair of compression Capri style shorts, some newFox Riverwool socks and a bunch of Under Armour ts and shorts   One thing about winter running.   If you are properly dressed its fun…if you aren’t it isn’t! I dress in layers.   Of course with my obsessive nature I have records going back a few years of what I wear at what temperature so I know what I need.   Today I was thrilled to pull on those new Wool socks, although a bit apprehensive as ive been wearing one type of sock for many years………..they were great.  My feet stayed nice and warm and not a blister in sight even with wearing a brand new pair of shoes for 20 km!   I dress in layers, with a Under armour t , then a Solomon long sleeve shirt, a vest, a neck warmer, a light wind jacket, the new Capri compression shorts, and long Solomon winter pants……………..A toque and warm glove/mitts   Warm water in my bottles which started to freeze at the 15 km mark and Stinger Honey waffles in my belt   For some reason my calves and shins felt tight from the get go……I was uncomfortable with the run for 1.5 km and then told myself that im out for 20 no matter how long it takes so settle in and enjoy it……and that I did.   My shin nagged but I took in the crisp scenery, the powerful river, the busy squirrels and in no time I was at the turn around…briefly considering to continue on but wisely telling myself that I have plenty of upcoming long runs and stick with the schedule.         The run back was considerably faster, and when I got into the building I was breathing hard with a 160 HR.   A bit of stretching and core and onto the old stationary bike….I really hate that machine………a few eights and into the pool.  Ive started to really enjoy swimming as I improve each month……..a 1 km swim in 20 minutes and I was DONE for the day.   Mistakes.        Didn’t eat the appropriate meal last night.  I had a lot of fatty stuff like cheese etc.  A lot of protein and not enough carbs.   This morning I skipped breakfast.   That’s the last time I ll cheat on nutrition this year.  It affects performance too much.   Also up too late (it’s relative!  Lol….midnight)   I feel ive officially started to train for Sulphur 50 Mile now.  Its exactly 19 weeks away.  I ll ramp up mileage heavily over the next 9 weeks until I hit that magical 100 miles a week!  Then some recovery weeks and the slow decent towards less miles, more hills, more speed.    Last Sunday was the first day that Joe and the Burlington Runners do theSulphurloop 21km as a training run.  The first Sunday of each month.  I will be at as many as I can.  A great bunch of guys and specific race training.  Not to mention beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife!  

 More on the snow shoe training soon!!!!


8 days out………… run or not to run..that is the question

19 05 2011

Pictured here is one of  Canadas many orchids….the lady slipper.   So amazing to see these and the beautiful Trilliums in the forest these days.     

People say what do you think of when running…………..well when i m running on the roads, i think of work and how hard the pavement is, and about my pace………………….when i run on the trails i think about how freaking beautiful nature is……………..and i look for animals and birds and flowers like these.            

So this has been a difficult week.   Shortly after posting my schedule for the week i decided not to follow it.  I have been injured for 4 weeks with a tendon problem.  The tendon connects your shin muscle to the big toe and helps to elevate your foot.  Kind of important in running.   It started as a simple lace burn and because of buying and wearing improper shoes for 200 km or so, the problem got aggrevated and has persisted.

For 14 days i have been very sick with a sinus infection and a lung infection boardering on pneumonia.   I took anti-biotics for 10 days now.  finished yesterday.  they didnt work so well as i didnt rest but instead ran a couple hundred KM and worked like a demented dog!

This week i realized that whatever training i have done will have to do and i had to work on my mental focus if i was to have a chance on this 100 mile run.  In order to feel better mentally i need to recover from my sickness and heal my foot.

So today will be the 4th day of no running.  Tomorrow i will go to the gym and work Core and stretch.  saturday a slow hike/run at the race site in Sulphur.  Hopefully i can lineup on May 28th injury free and healthy.

Its quite difficult to go from running 20-30 hours a week to nothing!  Im missing all those good endorphines from the running and struggle with anxiety of whether i have trained enough!?  Whats enough??   Soon find out!

Taking care of the feet

14 03 2011

The more i get into this Ultra running the more i need to learn and understand in order to do better.  The more i run the more amazed i am at what the GREAT Ultra runners can achieve.  Granted most of them dont also have demanding jobs which require 60 plus hour work weeks ( but some do). 

Last year i only concentrated on Mileage in volume……i also started to understand Nutrition better.   This year i focused on Specific training runs, Heart Rate, and stride…… i can see i must also focus on recovery.  The better/faster i recover the better prepared i am to go out and train hard the next day.

Last year at Canadian Death race , Jack Cook introduced me to compression socks.   Although i dont like to run in them i wear them directly following a hard run and they aid in recovery in a big way.  Especially for me who is prone to calf and shin issues.

This weekend i did back to back long runs on Saturday and Sunday ending up with a strong 75 km in 24 hours.  My Calves were fairly un-happy about this.   I had alot of high anti oxident drinks to help take care of the “hornets nest” of free radicals i had let lose in my body, a tonne of Omega 3 fish oil to combat inflamation,  followed by a hot epsom salt bath and then compression socks and 9 hours sleep.

Today my calves feel great.  Im off to an hour deep tissue massage and then hopefully by tomorrow im ready to start the process again

Yesterday i wore my funny Injinji Glove socks….at first they felt funny keeping my toes seperate, but then they felt very natural and i dont have any blisters at all.  Excellant!!  I was also wearing compression leg sleeves…not the whole sock but just from ankle to knee.  This takes a tremendous amount of strain off the calves and shins. I wear these on ong runs and Hill training!

I was so suprised yesterday when talking to some seasoned runners, who didnt know what to do to combat shin splints and who were also openly talking about taking pain killers on thier long run!!!!!  I thought by now all the runners understand just how dangerous it is to take pain killers while running!  Its an invitation for injury.  If you dont destroy your kidneys you will most likely get hurt.  Pain is the message our body gives us to tell us something isnt right.  we shouldnt ignore or mask it we need to embrace it as a friend who is helping us out.   If you dont want pain then dont run 30 plus km!!!  Go for a walk!

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No Regrets

1 02 2011

As I constantly bring up, you are never disappointed when you go and train but for certain you will be if you skip a session.

Today my sister had already run, been to the gym and emailed me by the time i was stumbling toward the coffee machine for the first double espresso of the two i was planning on.

It was cold and grey outside.  Maybe minus 14 but with windchill at least minus 25C!    I don’t know why but today that was like minus 1,000,000……………… i thought id delay for the day to warm up.  I did some work until 1030 and saw the temperature had rocketed up to a balmy minus 9 with the windchill only minus 16C………..ahhhhhh that’s better


I just didn’t have the cahonas for it today…….there was a light skim of snow on the icy ground ( my excuse and im sticking to it) and i thought perhaps it’s not the best day for outside hill repeats…………………….i wasnt skipping a workout completely and don’t get me wrong i was looking forward to a punishing workout as i am off tomorrow ( off means 4-5 hours paper work)

I decided to go to the gym and see what i could accomplish.

So here’s what happened.

8 km bike ride to warmup at a moderate pace……………………..then Tredmill for the Vertical challenge of a 5 minute warmup at a moderate pace and then raise the incline to a maximum 15% and see how far I can get in 15 minutes with run jog hike crawl………….today i set a new PR with 1.22 miles.  Average Heart Rate of 162…….peaking here and there at 175…………………….scared the nice  lady who was half heartedly peddling the bike like she was crocheting a place mat………………

Ok that was hardcore but not enough to replace 11 hill repeats.  what to do.   I set the treadmill on Xtreme hill intervals ( never even knew it had this as im always on manual) and took off on a 35 minute run which was crazy hard and only managed to maintain a 6:30 per km pace……………average HR was 152.    After that i realized although it was a decent hill workout my mileage would be a bit low in the ol logbook!  Cant have that………..back on the treadmill on a flat elevation and hammered out a 6.1 km in 30 minutes……………….ahh that’s better.

30 minutes of core and shoulders and into the pool where i swam a 1.1 km as fast as possible ( thats not too fast for me by the way………………….poor lady was now trying to relax in the hot tub after her strenuous 7 minute bike workout…………….she left after a bit, as i think the splashing and flailing and panting was freaking her out.   It seemed like the water level in the pool dropped when i finished…hmmmmmm…………..hottub to my self……..

Great  workout.  I’m spent. 

 It’s funny how i can visualize various things for motivation at various times. 

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Pushing past the pain

22 01 2011



Break on through to the other side…………………..The Psychological game of Running

I have often heard, and scoffed at, that ultra running is 20% physical and 80% mental.   Although I still don’t agree with this in its entirety, after my Hill Repeats training run on wed evening in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, I can see there is a lot of validity to this statement.  Watching the elite Ultra Trail Runners like Jurek, Tony Krupicka, Zahab, Ulrich, Ferg, Diane van Duren and the list goes on, you can understand there is a lot more going on then just fast strong legs pumping efficiently.  They look like they are “in the zone”.  A peaceful trance like state where the pain can’t get its full grip.

Well I finally experienced a bit of this.  I mean I have had some good hard races where I had a taste of this, but on wed I had the whole deal.  Closest I have had prior to this was when I was looking for a sub 320 marathon in Philadelphia ( ended up bonking at 36 km and finished with a 3:28) but I was hurting from 28 km and just ignored the discomfort.

So back to Wed…………..

First of all the Hill is a monster ( in Eastern Canadian standards!!!) of 680 meters climb at a grade of 12-15  percent. 

As I did my warm up I was already cheating mentally by saying.  “This hill is much bigger then old mill so I don’t need to do all 10” etc.  At any rate after 2 repeats  I was already struggling.   I had worked two back to back 15 hour days in the kitchen.  My legs were tight and tired!

At the top of number 4 I actually threw up from the exertion. My HR was up to 174 at the top of 3 and 4.

At number 5 a young runner ( 22-25 years old in cotton track pants and a hoodie with no water bottles) passed me mid way up the climb……I held on to him as he past and at the top when he was ahead of me he stopped and doubled over to hug his knees!  I turned and ran back down for another…………

At 6 I was definitely done mentally but all the sudden I was thinking of all those elite runners and how they manage after they have nothing left but pain…and thought to myself that ” I’m not actually in any danger of injury, it’s just really tough”. 

Somehow I was able to tell my brain to “shut up”.   I started to think about how strong my legs are now, and how I used to struggle to run one of these without walking, and that the more I struggle now the less I have to on the Death Race!

 I actually increased my pace and focused on my breathing so I was able to actually reduce my HR to 168.  I don’t remember the last 4 hills but I ran them easily without walk breaks and finished for a total of 17 .2 km for 10 hills. 3300 feet of elevation change ( marquis du Sade is 2000 feet). It took 100 minutes or an average pace of 5:48/km !!   Exceptional run!

My pre run meal was a baked sweet potato with a pinch of sea salt and a drizzle of organic honey!  mmmmmmm.  

It was one of the best runs of my life and I discovered the mental possibility to push way past the “pain” and the sub conscious trying to stop me.

So now I have had a glimpse of how to push past the dis-comfort.  I mean I have had small tastes of this before but this was a completely new level.

I finished the last km run from the hill to my brother’s house at 4:45/km.  I felt amazing.  I just sat down on my brothers steps when I arrived…..i was happily tired and contemplative.  I realized afterwards I sat there for 30 minutes!  Haha…I was day dreaming.

This was like that hole in one golf shot that brings you back thinking you are a good golfer or that there is a possibility you might be!

Looking forward to testing this “new” method on my next run

Snow running

15 01 2011

Lots of these beautiful bright Cardinal’s along the path today!    Even a dark black mink on the ice taking a look for a fish under the ice.  

Path…..well thats a bit of an exageration…..maybe a dog path….a rabbit trail…..windblown powder 8 cm deep over the previously rutted and frozen 20 cm of snow made for an interesting run!  Run is also an over statement…perhaps agressive jog and hike!

What a great training day.   When i first started running again a few years back, i was always hoping for the perfect conditions.   My training with my sister Ava in Halifax was always an adventure.  winds so strong on the bridge you felt like you weren’t moving, asphalt so hot on the Bedford loop that the pavement shimmer.  Then for a while i was always hoping for  the flattest course, the smoothest surface, no wind, no rain, not too hot, not too cold………………………its the complete opposite now.  Day like today are so much more valuable for training.  When you aren’t fast you need to be strong and consistent. Running in the snow like today on a slippery under-surface,   dressed heavy and wearing Yak Trax, it was easy to keep an elevated Heart Rate even while moving at a fairly slow pace.  Sometimes the pace slowed to a brisk hike, but the point of a day like today is the strengthening of all the small connective muscles around the ankle, and calf.  You get so much benefit from the uneven surface as it constantly changes the angle of the foot, stretching and contracting the muscles.  This is the perfect type of training for running a technical Trail run.

I can’t take the repetitive pounding of training on asphalt. This is why i started trail running in the first place.  Well that and the fact that it’s so completely peaceful and spiritual.  Something so good for the mind to be out there in the fresh air and see the animals and just run the powdered single track.

1200 calories on the run. So i loaded up on oatmeal with raisins and honey 1 hour before the run.  I know a lot of runners who like oatmeal but because it takes 15 minutes to cook they buy the instant.  Instant oatmeal is decent but not nearly as beneficial as a fuel source as the complex carbohydrate of dry unprocessed  oatmeal.   So if you want to eat the real stuff but don’t have time in the morning do this shortcut.  

 Mix together 1/3 cup of oatmeal and 1/3 cup of milk or water, pinch sea  salt, pinch cinnamon, squeeze of honey and a scattering of raisins or dried apricots,.  Put this in the fridge the night before.  Put a pot on the stove with 1/3 cup of water in it.  When you stumble out in the morning turn on the pot of water and when it boils ( in 1 minute) stir in the soaked oatmeal until it returns to a boil ( 3 minutes) and now you have Instant oatmeal but of a much higher quality.    I love eating this for any run over 1.5 hours and especially when its cold out.


14 01 2011

Our mind is out to get us!  

 I love to run and to train, but there is a small part of my brain that tries’s to dissuade sometimes before and during a really hard workout! 

All kinds of little excuses and reasons why not to begin or sometimes continue seemingly pop into my brain as if those thought bubbles from cartoons!  After years of dealing with these I can overcome them 99.99999% of the time, but sometimes they can be so persuasive!

My friend says, “I have never been upset with myself for training, but I always am if I skip it”   he says a lot of cool things anyway like “nothing tastes as good as fit feels” Anyway he’s a whole other story with years and years of dedicated training and at 50 looks 35 with a body that most 35 year olds couldn’t dream of having!

Back to dealing with our subconscious!

I love hill training.  I am sure non runners say “what in the hell is wrong with the guy outside who is running up and down that big hill repeatedly!”  Lol……I don’t know why I love it but man its satisfying to push past the discomfort and get up that hill!  BUT, the days I have hill training I find myself postponing and dilly dallying around before going.  I guess it’s because I know its going to hurt!  My mind is trying its best from preventing me to go.  Little thoughts drift through in nano seconds which I counter and eliminate but they still try. 

 Like these…………..

“Its cold outside and you haven’t been feeling well.”

“Didn’t your friend Michael warn you about the dangers of hill running for knee injuries?”

“You had a knee issue last time right after hill training”

“There’s plenty of time for hill training in the spring”

 “You have a lot of work today and hills will leave you drained!”

These little thoughts are fairly easy to eliminate.  So then im dressed and out the door.  Warm-up isn’t going well and maybe the brain says….

”today’s not such a good day, so maybe just a light jog and hills another day”

The first hill and the lungs explode out of the chest!

“Remember in Michael’s book he suggests walking up hills and running down”

“Maybe 10 repeats is too many, perhaps 5 today, plus this hill is pretty steep so maybe it counts for more”

Then at hill number 7 with lungs screaming and legs quivering!……………

”10 hills, hmmmmm on the route home I have to go up another huge hill does that mean I do 9 here plus the one on the way home”

These thoughts are always easily suppressed by me but I have a lot of experience to draw on.  It made me think of those people starting out and how difficult it is to beat these thoughts back.

I have many motivational tools to deal with these but mostly I just have a lot of gratitude.  I am so grateful to be active compared to the once self-destructive life I led.  Grateful to have legs and am able to run.

When I get thoughts like these I do the opposite.  Last week when I thought about stopping one hill early I ran an extra hill to spite the sub conscious!  When I feel like slowing down and walking I run faster for 1 km so im grateful to run back at the original pace etc.

But the most important tool I have to deal with this is the ability to concentrate on only the immediate task.   I don’t need to think about 10 hills……I only need to think about the current hill and getting to the top of it.  Like in the rest of life, if we study the entirety of any task it can be too great.  Too overwhelming.  Break it up into parts.

Get dressed and get outside.  Make a deal with yourself to run 10 minutes and if you still don’t feel up for it you can go back home………….this is great because once you are dressed and out its doubtful you will turn back at 10 minutes  and if you do you got in 20 minutes of exercise!

Run one hill and once you get to the top, turn around and jog back down slowly…chances are you will feel great on the way down and turn around for another!

Most of all remind yourself that you are taking care of your self.  Giving yourself a treat….you aren’t punishing yourself.  This isn’t a task!  It’s a pleasure.

Organize your clothes the night before and make a schedule.  Then get at it!

Afterwards try and remember the sense of accomplishment it gives you.

Ok now I have to go Bike 20 km, run 15 minutes at 15% incline on treadmill, hit core for 30 minutes and then swim for 1 km!    Only little voice I hear today is Hoo rah!  Let’s go!

 A little hill running video from Cabos….man that was soooo nice!

Seeing as i seem to have lost the ability to imbed the link you need to copy and paste this url into the google task bar……sorry!   Also its not a serious video, just a fun run in the hills of mexico