love treadmillOn Thursday, I ran 18K on a treadmill. The treadmill was in a windowless, unfinished basement in my in-laws cottage with nothing much to look at besides shelves of old VHS tapes and canned goods. And you know what? I actually kind of enjoyed it!

This is not the first time I’ve run a long distance on a treadmill. In 2013, leading up to my first full marathon, I ran 32K on my parent’s treadmill. My plans of a long outdoor run were destroyed by a torrential rain storm so I was forced indoors. The same thing happened this week. Rain totally spoiled the nice long run we had planned in cottage country as part of our half marathon training.

So basically I have decided that I am a crazy person. How could I possibly enjoy this? My run took 1 hour, 48 minutes and 18 seconds. I wasn’t bored and the time seemed to fly by. In fact, even when the power went out due to lightening and I ground to a furious halt, I was unphased. Just turned the music back on, restarted my fan and the treadmill and picked up where I left off.

There’s a certain amount of comfort about doing a long run at home. If anything goes awry, you can just stop, go get a drink and call it day. You don’t have to wear a fuel-belt and there’s no concerns about running out of water. And, if you need anything, you just holler to whoever is around to get it for you. Need a towel to wipe the sweat from your brow? No problem. Someone nearby can probably help.

Also, my pace remained totally consistent throughout and different family members came to talk to me here and there which was nice. I also got to listen to a CD for the first time in years through the sweet sounds of the cottage boombox. When was the last time you even used the word boombox? What’s more, I listened to a compilation of 70s hits. Talk about a #ThrowbackThursday.

I’m sure I’m not convincing anyone that this is a good idea, but as a fun novelty every once and a while, it’s really not that bad. If running on a treadmill still makes you cringe, here’s a cool article via Runner’s World with some unique suggestions on how to make it a bit more bearable. Also, check out these three treadmill workouts that don’t suck (that much).

What is your longest treadmill run?

Swap the TV for a boombox and the boy for me and this was pretty much my experience on Thursday. Just to paint the picture for you.

Swap the TV for a boombox and the boy for me and this was pretty much my experience on Thursday. Just to paint the picture for you.

Yurbuds Armband

The offending armband. Be thankful you can’t smell it.

I have a Yurbuds armband that I use for my iPhone while I run. It’s great. Light weight. Comfortable. Doesn’t chafe. I can see the screen clearly through the plastic cover and I can operate the phone without taking it out of the case. It’s also semi-water resistant. All-in-all, a solid purchase. We’ve been through a lot together – dozens of training runs. Multiple 10Ks and half marathons. We have a lot of history, me and that armband.

Because it is so awesome, I use it multiple times a week. Lately, every time I put it on, I notice that it absolutely stinks. Not surprising considersing there is months (er… maybe years?) of accumulated sweat in it. So every time I finish a run, I throw it in the wash. I must wash this thing before my next run, I say to myself. However, my next run comes along, and naturally, I haven’t done laundry yet, so I fish the thing out of the laundry hamper and use it again. Repeat cycle.

Anyone else have this issue? Am I just disgusting?

web_size_211Anyone who says running is boring needs to get on board with one of the many themed races happening around the world. Mud, colour, music, costumes. Whatever you’re into, there’s a race for you. In fact, some reports say that there’s been a 40-fold growth in non-traditional events since 2009. Fun, themed races can also be a great way to inspire a new runner to take up the sport more seriously.

The Pure Protein Night Race is one of these races. Happening in September in Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver, the Night Race is a 5 or 10K run or walk through the city’s parks that starts after-dark. Any runner would usually tell you to stay away from a dark city park for your evening runs, but not when there’s 2,500 runners, all with headlamps, glow sticks and brightly coloured clothing lighting up the night!

The Night Race website describes the conditions as perfect for a “party run” vs. a personal best, so the race is really more about having fun than competition.  Every runner gets an Energizer LED headlamp and tech tee, and headlamps must be worn during the race. If your wardrobe is lacking glow-in-the-dark attire, Brooks will hook you up with some glow-in-the-dark paint in the Glow Zone before the race kicks off. After the race, there’s an after party complete with DJs, a light show and dance party.

The Pure Protein Night Race also supports the Starlight Children’s Foundation and at each race there will be a child ambassador sharing their story. Starlight Children’s Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps seriously ill children with hospital in-and-out programs.

Sadly, I can’t attend this year’s race, but it sounds like such an awesome event that I am giving one reader the opportunity to win two free race entries AND a Pure Protein gift pack consisting of a Running Room massage ball, protein bars and a Starlight Children’s Foundation buff. What’s a buff you say? Basically the best, most versatile piece of gear you’ll ever add to your running wardrobe. This tube of fabric can be used for everything from a headband to a balaclava. I took one with me on my recent Kilimanjaro trip and basically never took it off.

HOW TO ENTER

Just leave me a comment on this blog post about why you’d like to participate in the Pure Protein Night Race this year. That’s it! I’ll pick a winner at random and email you details on how to redeem your prize. You pick the location and distance when you register. Possible dates and locations are as follows:

  • Toronto (September 5, 2015) – 7:40pm, Sunnybrook Park
  • Montreal (September 11, 2015) – 8:30pm, Old Port of Montreal
  • Edmonton (September 19, 2015) – 8:05pm, Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park
  • Vancouver (September 25, 2015) – 7:10 pm, Stanley Park

Contest closes August 28! Good luck! 

night race 2

Spotify RunningSo this is pretty awesome. Spotify recently launched Spotify Running, a series of playlists that automatically detect your pace and picks music to match your tempo! Cool, right? After their recent announcement of their partnership with Nike+, my favourite running app, I was excited to try it out! My two favourite apps! Together at last!

And, I have to say, Spotify’s playlists did not disappoint. When you open the app, you have the option to select one of 6 different themes with super intriguing names like Burn, Epic and The Chase. I picked the first one called Beats, described as “massive running beats by Tiesto.”

As soon as you click play, the app tells you to start running so it can detect your pace. My pace was quickly detected at 175 steps/minute and some motivating beats immediately started.

With no lyrics and a seamless transition from one track to the next, the music was the perfect combo of motivating but not distracting. Spotify says the goal of the feature is to sustain the “runner’s high” and help runners keep their motivation through their entire workout.

While I had a great experience with the app, my husband was a little less impressed. He tried the playlist called The Chase. At first, he was amused that the music was, quite literally, chase music. Like the type of music you would hear in a movie during a high speed car chase on a highway. But he said it was just one continuous song that sounded the same and after a while, he got bored of it.

Anyway, it’s worth a try for sure and the technology behind it is super cool. I love the music and running combos and the fact that Spotify is reinventing itself specifically for runners. Teaming up with Nike+ is also a cool move.  Music has always been a big part of running for me so I’m happy to see they’ve officially tied the knot.

Have you tried any of the running playlists yet? What about the Nike+ integration?

Bitch hill

via Buzzfeed

Despite the fact that I’ve long since abandoned the official training plan leading up my September half marathon, I did feel the need to incorporate some hill training into my training. Every single training plan recommends it, sometimes on a weekly basis. They can’t all be wrong. So I figured I should get out there and run some hills once and while. Tonight was night #1. We found a 400 metre hill about 1K away from our flat and decided we would do 5 repeats. Easy peasy.

It’s still hard. 5+ years of regular running and those damn hills are still hard. They just never seem to get easier with time. But alas, I know they’re good for me, and a necessary evil. I can’t train on long runs alone.

This article from Runner’s World claims that you can see significant fitness benefits with just six weeks of hill training. Running uphill forces your muscles to contract more powerfully because you’re working against gravity to move up the hill. The result? More power. And we all know more power leads to longer, faster running strides! Yay! In addition to being a fantastic fitness booster, this article, and many others claim that running hills can even be fun! You can learn to love them – everything from a gentle slope to a mountain. Uphill or down. I beg to differ. The only fun part was when we got back to our flat and ate dinner. For now, I’ll begrudgingly continue hill training as part of the plan leading up to the half marathon. After that, I’m sticking to flat terrain.

 

half marathon

I think I’m going to start telling people I’m running a 23 yard race.

A few weeks ago, I had a grandiose plan for my next half marathon. I decided I would train for it properly. Yes, I was going to really commit. I was going to download a training plan, and I was going to do all the runs exactly as prescribed. And, I was going to get a PB in my upcoming race on September 6.

So far, I have failed miserably at this goal. I tried to find a reasonable 8 week training plan online and was disappointed that even plans for beginners basically have you running 4 times a week and cross training every other day. That kind of commitment is daunting and unreasonable (in my opinion). And most plans are 12 weeks or more. I don’t have that kind of time.

I finally found a plan that looked semi-realistic and instead of following it, I just did my own miscellaneous runs and exercise that comprised of random 3.5K runs to work and back, spinning, some weights and even though the plan called for a 10K run this past weekend, I decided to run 12K. I basically didn’t follow one single workout of the first week of the plan.

I don’t like being held to the rigid schedule of the training plan. I completely recognize that following it likely would result in a PB in my upcoming race, but I actually don’t care that much. Sticking that training plan to the fridge made it feel like a to-do list. It suddenly became this overwhelming, sigh-inducing chore. Where’s the fun in that?!

I have decided that following a specific plan is overrated. Sure, it may have been created by a professional, but it takes the fun out of training! Training plans are great for guidance and helpful for new runners or runners with specific goals. But when you’ve run many races, and you’re running for fun, you know what to do. I say stick with what works for you.

I’ll work out and cross train throughout the week, and I’ll continually increase my distance week over week getting up to 18-20K the week before the race. I have done this several times before, and it works perfectly fine.

If I want to blow off a workout to enjoy a glass of wine after work, I am going to do it. I’ll make it up some other time. Life is a lot more fun this way.

Do you follow a training plan? What works for you?

This little beauty can hold two pairs of shoes, all my makeup and a change of clothes. Impressive, right?

This little beauty can hold two pairs of shoes, all my makeup and a change of clothes. Impressive, right?

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about run-commuting. At the time, I lived in Toronto, about 6.5K away from my office. Running was by far the best option compared to driving or public transit, and frankly, the most reliable! Add the benefit of exercise, no environmental footprint and no cost, and you have a winning combination to beat the morning rush hour.

Inspired by last week’s Tube Strike here in London, I decided I would try running to my office. Would running to work prove to be the fastest option, even on another continent?

Yup. The answer is a resounding and definitive yes.  I can’t drive here because we no longer have a car, but compared to the tube or bus, which takes about 35 minutes, running was only 20 minutes door-to-door. A mere 3.5K! Because it was so fun and efficient, I decided to not only run to work, but home from work as well.

Reflecting on my blog post from 2013, I realized that I still had yet to buy a proper running backpack. The one I used in 2013 broke and the one I used last week was entirely inappropriate. In fairness, it is a yoga bag, so I’m not sure what I was thinking, but the general glee I felt from the speedy run to work was enough to spur me into action and I ordered a new running backpack on Amazon.

After rigorous research and consultation with a colleague and fellow runner, I landed on the Deuter Speed Lite 15 Backpack in Midnight Ocean. This light little bag is totally deceiving. Despite looking very compact, it can hold a lot of gear. It’s has both a chest and waist strap that keeps it from bouncing around while running and because of how snugly it fit against my back, my pace literally increased by 30 seconds/kilometre compared to the other bag!

I’m totally hooked on the run-commute. A quick Google search tells me I’m not alone. In fact, there’s an annual Run to Work Day each year (I missed it!) and a ton of articles on how to prepare and make it work for you.

Do you run to work? Any pro-tips for making it easy? What backpack do you use?