Sunday, August 30, 2009


The pain in my heels is not going away.

I've done lots of reading on the handy interwebs and I think the problem has to do with my calves (no, not cows!). My calves and achilles tendons have always been my weak point—no pun intended—so any strain on them means that other problems will likely follow. Anytime I go for a sports massage, the RMT tells me that I have tight calves. I stretch them as much as I can, but nothing really seems to help to prevent the build-up of tension.

I've scheduled a massage for Monday and reduced my mileage from 19K this week to 11K. I'm stretching my calves and heels at least three times a day, icing it as often as I can and taking anti-inflammatories. I am going to head out shortly to pick up a massage stick to help as well.

Hopefully this one week of setbacks will help to prevent a long-term injury

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Heading off injuries at the pass

Playing ultimate on Saturday, a 3K on Sunday and another 3K on Monday was a bad idea. Oh and flip-flops on top of that. Whoops.

I probably would've been okay with one of those runs, but both runs combined with the added stress of flip-flops yesterday put my heels over the edge. My achilles tendons are not happy with me right now. The left one is especially angry.

I'm wearing really awesome running shoes and my flip-flops and flats have been banished to the back of the closet. I've started the gamut of achilles tendon, calf and plantar fasciitis stretches three times a day. And my ice pack is getting a good work out.

Thankfully the pain is not as bad as the first time I had achilles tendonitis back in 2007. My legs were so cramped that I could hardly walk without wincing in pain.

Here's to hoping that it all works and I have speedy recovery.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August Running Goal

My exercise goal for August is to run three times a week. So far, so good! I ran on Sunday to make up my third run of the week - it was just a short 3K to get the cobwebs out after my Ultimate playoffs on Saturday.

I've been following a Nike+ Intermediate 5K program in an effort to achieve a time goal at my next race. I had to alter it quite a bit to fit my schedule and to dial back the intensity, too. For the first few weeks I had Ultimate on Tuesdays, so I reduced the mileage increases to compensate for the Ultimate games. Now that Ultimate's over, the mileage starts to increase. Last week was 12K, this week is 15K, then 19K next week, holding at 19K the week after, then a cutback week to 11K. The program initially featured some drastic mileage increases, no cutback weeks after weeks of increases, as well as hills and speedwork. All of this was a little too intense for me, given my mileage base and my running experience.

My achilles is a little sore, so I'm being very diligent about warm-ups, cool-downs, stretching and icing. Other than that, I'm experiencing no problems. I'm looking forward to my rest day today!

I just hope that the transition back to regular running, the mileage base and the bit of speedwork in the plan will all translate into a sub-30:00 5K time at my goal race in September. I finished in 30:08 (chiptime) at a 5K in June, though my iPod showed 30:01 because there was no chip timing mat at the start line.

Oh and I got my running skirt from - including a free gift of a tote back, technical tank in pink to match the black and pink skirt, a headband and a chapstick! Kudos to Cindy and Christy at What an awesome bonus gift!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sugoi, how I love thee

I did some major damage to my credit card yesterday on the Sugoi site. I was accepted as a Sugoi Brand Champion early in 2009 - I get discounts on Sugoi gear, wear it to races and promote the product wherever I can. I love their colours and designs, though the sizing is a little on the small size, so ordering can be a bit humbling at times.

In anticipation of the winter running season, I ordered a couple long-sleeve shirts, one with a full-zip, as I only have 2 that are heavy enough to wear the through the winter, and I only have one light one that's suitable for Fall running after mid-October. These should be great for layering through the Fall as the weather gets progressively colder.

I'd also been coveting their k-Scope tank in Citrine (an awesome yellow pattern). A pair of arm warmers also jumped into my shopping cart, so that I can get more wear out of my short-sleeve shirts. And a pair of running tights, as I got tired of washing my running tights two or three times a week... oh dear, it all adds up quick.

And I'm done buying running gear for the next year. I think my Visa's being revoked. Keep your fingers crossed that it all fits!

Monday, August 17, 2009

New running skirt!

I took advantage of's anniversary sale last week. I ordered myself a new skirt in black and hot pink. I bought one of their skirts at the Race Weekend in May and I'm absolutely in love with it. It's comfortable, fits wonderfully, has huge pockets and it's made in Canada!

I can't wait for the skirt to arrive so I can wear it out on a run. There's a lot of controversy over running skirts... some women think they're too girly, while others refuse to wear them. I was skeptical of them at first. That is until I went running in one. I got some strange looks, but they are so comfortable! No chafing. No having to fish it out of your nether regions. No riding up.

Now I hate running in shorts or capris... that is unless it's the dead of winter. If I could run in a running skirt in February, I totally would!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

When to throw in the towel

I had originally scheduled my 6K run for Wednesday night. After running 3K on Monday and a rousing game of Ultimate on Tuesday (complete with wind sprints to the endzone), my legs felt like Jell-O on Wednesday. I recognized that maybe my 6K run wasn't such a good idea. Even 3K sounded daunting. So I put the run off until today.

Honestly, I can't say that the extra 12 hours of rest really helped. My legs still felt like lead 2K into the run. I wanted to throw in the towel right then and there. But no, I kept going. I figured that I'd dragged my behind out of bed an hour earlier for this God-forsaken exercise, so I was going to finish it! I ended up having to walk twice and I also had to watch my breathing because of a sidestitch that started at 3K. My legs felt dead at the end of the run and they are already sore.

I wondered... when is it okay to throw in the towel? Not every run is a golden run where everything lines up perfectly. And running when the alarm bells of nagging injuries, tiredness or sickness are ringing is always a bad idea. When should I leave my pride on the trail and abandon a run for a better day?

I thought that completing the run was the best idea for today's case. After all, I was running and out-and-back (run a distance out, run the same distance back) and it was at the 2K mark once I'd thought about quitting my run. This meant that I was going to have to run a total of 4K no matter what. And, an additional 2K really isn't that much more in grand scheme of things.

Then there were the other factors, such as the fact that I was out at 7 a.m. when I didn't need to be. I didn't know when I'd manage to fit in the extra KMs into my schedule. It's too hot right now to run during the day or before 7 p.m. And, I wasn't really hurting—my legs were just plain tired.

Was I right to keep going? Or was I pushing it too hard? I guess I'll find out tomorrow when I realize how sore I am.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Inspiration can go both ways

Last night I ran despite the crazy heat and humidity we're experiencing in Ottawa. I did my scheduled 3K.

As I ran, I noticed a lot of little girls out with their parents. Two tandem bicycles passed me on the path, with a little girl of maybe 5 or 6 riding on the back part of the bike. Each girl looked back at me with a very peculiar look on their face.
Then on the way home I saw a little girl walking with her Dad, again staring at me. Then I saw another little girl with her Dad as I did my cooldown, and I heard her Dad say, "Yes, that lady is going jogging." I wanted to correct him and say that I don't jog, I RUN!

The interest of these little girls in my running was strangely inspirational. Like it was almost strange for them to see a woman out alone exercising. Maybe it was the running skirt? Now everytime I'm out on a run I'm going to think about the looks the girls gave me and that hopefully I inspired them to start running someday, too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

How much should I push it?

Someone asked this question yesterday on the Runner's World messageboards. Running can feel so good, so easy, and so effortless. Which eventually begs the question: how much should I push it? It's so easy to overdo running, and sadly, the effects of overdoing it never really show right away.

I really identified with this newbie's post. I'd been there, and I think it's safe to say that most experienced runners have been there, too. As a beginner, everything's so easy in your early days as a runner: the goals are achieved almost effortlessly, the kilometres build up quickly and your performance improves by leaps and bounds. When you're in the middle of a runner's high, it's easy to convince yourself that the extra 2 or 3K won't hurt, or that the race pace you just ran on your 5K training run wasn't a bad thing.

I am victim of pushing it too hard. The week before my first 10K in May, I was nervous and antsy for my race. I felt good, my legs were rested and I was ready to go. I'd had my gait analyzed, tried on almost a dozen different shoes, had a new race-day outfit ready to try. I thought to myself: 'I'm a runner! I can handle it!'. So I went out for a run on a Sunday morning, on a new route, did some sprints... I felt so good. The skies were blue, there was a nice breeze, and the road wasn't crowded at all. Then, later in the evening, we went out for dinner. I could barely move my knee. It hurt to walk, but it wasn't unbearable. After the 10K the following Saturday, I couldn't walk and I couldn't bend my knee. I'd pushed it to hard, too soon, on a cambered road.

Things didn't get much better after that. I tried a few slow, easy recovery runs. My knee tingled before the 5K mark. I couldn't believe it. Just a few weeks ago I was running 12 or 13K. I tried sports massage - didn't help. I spent much of June and July resting my left knee, popping ibuprofen and icing it. I played ultimate and ran occasionally, but I was always fearful of how my knee felt after the fact.

Only now— 2 months and under 20K later— do I feel well enough to undertake another training plan. I was ran over 80K in March alone. Now I have to start over. I'm not starting the Couch to 5K program again, but I've been very careful in designing my training plan for the next 12 weeks.

Someone in the thread on the Runner's World forum offered the following mantra: "My next workout is more important than today's workout." Every training program is based on this fundamental belief. Slowly and steady wins the race. Bit by bit, month by month, year by year you develop as a runner. Injuries and overtraining stand in the way of the slow, upward progress of a runner.

I know I want to be able to run my next workout, and every work out after that. I am going to have to keep repeating it during every warm-up, so I don't fall into the trap of pushing it too hard, too soon.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to make running a habit

According to John Bingham's Running for Mortals, it takes an average of 21 days for an activity to become a habit. Not 21 days of doing an activity, but actually performing the activity on a regular basis over roughly a 3-week period. If you interrupt that cycle, then it's back to the beginning again.

I believe this is why training plans are so important. I have a hard time just lacing up the running shoes and heading out on runs on a haphazard schedule. It's easier for me to commit to a 10 or 12-week plan with pre-set mileage. I'm less likely to drop or postpone runs if I have a calendar telling me when and how long I have to run. It's predictable. It makes fitting runs into my busy schedule much easier, as well.

On that note, I've committed to running three times a week for the month of August. As I mentioned the other day, I've selected a 5K training schedule from Nike+. I modified it slightly to meet my needs, as there was a bit too much of a mileage jump in the first few weeks. It's nice feature of the Nike+ website because you can tailor it to meet your own individual needs, plus you can see your progress in the program on the site.

On deck: a 6K run tonight.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Race Report: National Captial 5K

I raced the National Capital 5K on Saturday, which was part of Somersault's annual run series. There were a number of different events on Saturday including a 10K and Olympic-distance duathlons and triathlons.

The course was a hilly out-and-back on a bike path that follows the Rideau River near Hog's Back Falls. Saturday morning was sunny, foggy and humid. At race time it was 20C with 83% humidity. The weather in Ottawa's been horrible over the last month and most athletes (including me!) haven't had the opportunity to really train in hot or humid weather.

The grassy parts of the course at the start and finish were sopping wet, thanks to all the rain we've had. Course marshals warned us ahead of time to watch our footing so we wouldn't end up getting covered in mud. I started off a little fast, but the run out was mostly downhill. It was quite pretty: we ran through a forest next to the river and you could hear the gushing water over the sounds of the runners. The course wasn't overly wide, so we ended up running almost single file and it was really hard to pass other runners in certain spots.

I did end up walking at the 2.5km mark to take some water and then again at another point for my puffer, thanks to the humidity. The uphills on the way back were quite challenging, but I enjoyed it as there aren't many hills for me to train on near me. As I approached the finish line, I had to make a couple flying leaps over muddy water on an uphill to avoid getting soaked!

I had enough left in the tank to overtake the person ahead of me (you can see her behind me in the photo), to finish in 31:23. It wasn't as slow as my first 5K, but definitely not a personal best. But, I wasn't running this race as a personal best. I ran it for fun, for some experience with hills and to find my motivation to run again. So far it seems to be working!

My next 5K is on Sept. 20th at the Canadian Army Run where I'm going to try to break my personal best in the 5K of 30:08. I've set an August exercise goal of running three times a week, excluding ultimate frisbee games. I've also committed to a 5K training program for intermediates on I think all this should be enough to get me back into the running groove.