A totally green treadmill. No electricity. All human power.

A totally green treadmill. No electricity. All human power.

At my gym, like most gyms, there’s lots of treadmills and elliptical machines. I like the familiar treadmill. I know how it works, there’s always one available and my workout is predictable and consistent. However, alongside these familiar looking machines, there are a variety of unique options, many of which I have never tried. The Woodway Curve Treadmill was one such machine, so I decided to give it a try.

These treadmills are entirely human-powered. No motor. And as the name would suggest, they are slightly curved. Mainly I just see people running at top speed on them so I was a bit intimidated. I just assumed it was some sort of sprinting machine. But after careful observation, I realized you can actually run at different (ie: slower) speeds, and on top of that, the Curve treadmill claims you can burn up to 30% more calories than a regular treadmill. Intrigued, I decided to give it a shot.

First I noticed that it was really hard not to sprint, so I can see why most people are going at an insane pace on these things. However, once you find the centre of the curve, it’s a lot easier to run at a mid-range pace. I did find it hard to stay consistent though.

I also noticed it was a lot harder than a regular treadmill. After 2.5K, I was beat. Determined, I committed to staying on it for 5K, just to get a good feel for it. I watched incredulously as the calorie counter increased at a rapid rate. At the end of a very challenging 5K, the Curve claimed I had burned a whopping 700 calories. I question the accuracy of this, but I did certainly feel as if I burned more than my usual 300 on an average 5K.

Just for comparison, I then decided to go back to my old friend, the motorized treadmill, and see how it felt. I immediately noticed how much easier it was. My usual pace felt far too slow and I felt like I was on an incredible downhill. I had to raise the elevation so that I felt like I was on level ground and I easily ran at top speed for more than 2K.

The Curve treadmill clearly has some advantages over a regular treadmill. It’s totally green, using no electricity whatsoever. It also makes interval training a little easier, since you control your speed. There’s no buttons to reach for while running and you can reach max pace in just a few strides.

The Curve website boasts a “one-of-a-kind training experience” and it definitely delivered. I don’t think that I could go all Curve, all the time, but it was a nice change and a surprising challenge to my old faithful treadmill.

Have you ever tried a Curve treadmill?

Sorry, it's no longer available... but there's always Christmas 2016!

Sorry, it’s no longer available… but there’s always Christmas 2016!

Every year, a blog post I wrote in 2012 starts popping up in my top posts feed. This post focuses on the quintessential Christmas themed running shirt and it’s amazing. The bad news is that it is no longer available. As a result, I thought I would write an updated post, directing your attention to a great website, selling unique, exclusive, badass running gear that is sure to please the discerning runner on your Christmas list this year.

InkNBurn, the Costa Mesa-based company and creator of the holiday tech shirt I fell in love with in 2012 actually releases a new holiday collection every year. BUT you have to be fast, because these exclusive designs sell-out quickly and once they’re gone, they’re gone. To get in on the action, you have to subscribe to their newsletter and pre-order the design. There may be some available on their site after production, and through their partner stores, but the preorder is the best way to get in on the action.

If you miss out on the holiday tech shirt action, there’s still plenty of awesome gear to choose from. InkNBurn is a small company and they make limited edition designs. They start with white fabric, create their own art and apply it by hand to each panel before sewing. That’s why their designs sell out quickly – they’re special! And they aren’t just beautiful. Their gear is tested by ultra-runners for extreme comfort over any distance. I wore the InkNBurn sleeves for my first marathon and one of their tanks for my recent Richmond Park half marathon. Not only do I get tons of complements on them, they are perfect for long runs – no chafing, quick drying, total comfort. They also wash amazingly well and stay vibrant for years.

So, dear readers, if you’re looking for a special, unique Christmas gift for the runner in your life, stop by InkNBurn’s site. Following them on Twitter and Facebook isn’t a bad idea either. Happy shopping!

Don't mind that it says 4.79km. I assure you, it was 5K. Oh, and did I mention it was pouring rain?

Don’t mind that it says 4.79km. I assure you, it was 5K. Oh, and did I mention it was pouring rain?

I’m on a roll. For three weeks in a row, I’ve clocked a new 5K PB at the local Park Run. We have done the same run every week for 4 weeks and every time, I’m markedly faster than last time. This past week, I finished in 25:49, FIRST in my age group! FIRST! I actually didn’t think this was an achievable objective until I was in the 60+ category. But I beat all women age 30-34! I squealed with conceited glee when the results came in on Saturday morning and immediately dashed off to the computer to determine just exactly how many people I beat. Turns out it was only 8, but still. My pride remains.

Basically, in the course of 2 months, I’ve gone from a 5K PB of 27:30 to 25:49!

So what’s the secret? New diet? New shoes? New workouts. Nope, nope, nope. I am just trying.

I guess I have never really actually worked on getting faster. I just always assumed I was an average/slow runner and focused on distance vs. speed. But turns out the simple act of trying makes all the difference! This is actually borderline infuriating. What the hell have I been missing all these years? Could a 1:45 half marathon have actually been within my reach? Could I have shaved 15 minutes off my marathon time? Have I just been holding myself back? My whole perception on this speed thing has changed. Maybe I really am a much faster runner!

Some other interesting things. Running faster has some pretty awesome benefits like:

  • You work your abdominal muscles harder which means a flatter stomach without crunches. Yay!
  • You burn more calories
  • Your form is improved (not always, but sometimes running faster improves your posture and footstrike)
  • You improve race times in other distances!
  • You’re done your run way faster
  • You look like way more of a badass

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list of benefits, and i’m clearly not an expert on the benefits fast running, but basically everything points to the fact that I have been missing out all these years.

I thought a sub 25 time was an impossibility, but I’m a little more convinced I could actually do this. Onward and upward… er downward I guess!

Nike+ thinks this Park Run isn't quite 5K, but close enough. Not a bad time for a course that is more than 50% uphil!

Nike+ thinks this Park Run isn’t quite 5K, but close enough. Not a bad time for a course that is more than 50% uphil!

Here’s your ethical running dilemma for the day: If you run a race and get a personal best, but the time isn’t officially recorded, does it still count?

I’m going to go with yes.

This past weekend, we attended our 4th Park Run. We were really starting to feel like regulars until we made a rookie mistake. Halfway there, we realized we both forgot our barcodes. This printed barcode is what gets you your official time! Without it, you can still run, but your time is not recorded.

We didn’t have time to go back, and since we were already dressed and ready to run, we joined anyway. I timed my own race with my Nike+ app and if my button pushing was accurate, I beat last weeks’ time by 4 seconds, finishing the challenging 5K route in 26:23!

I felt good on Saturday morning. Usually this route starts to feel very challenging midway through and the last laps around the park are grueling. But I felt calm and steady the whole way and actually had enough energy to increase my pace up the last hill, passing several people as I ran through the finishing chute.

Running this same route week after week is a really interesting test to see if we’re getting faster and stronger. We plan to continue for the next several weeks. My ultimate goal is 25 minutes. Let’s hope I don’t forget my barcode when achieve that PB.

A perfect backdrop for a new 5K PB!

A perfect backdrop for a new 5K PB!

What do you do when you have 5 miscellaneous updates, none of which worthy of their own post? You make a list. The internet loves lists, right?

Here’s 5 running and fitness related updates, brought to you by the word, “new.”

  1. I didn’t get into the London Marathon. I’m sure you guessed this by now because if I had, there would have been a massive all caps post illustrating my happiness. Instead, I was not notified by post as promised and spent a full week trying to get through to their information centre to check the status of my registration. Result: not successful. Boo. So, we have now started looking for a NEW marathon to run. We discussed the Paris Marathon and just as I was getting comfortable with the idea of it, it sold out. Ack! We’ve now turned our sights on the Rome Marathon… but I feel sick at the thought of committing to the training. More to come on this topic…
  2. I broke in my NEW shoes last week! They are glorious. In case you missed it, I got some really awesome custom Nikes for my birthday. Check them out.
  3. I got a NEW 5K PB on Saturday! We joined the weekly Park Run at Highbury Fields for our third time and I beat my previous record by 10 seconds for a new 5K PB of 26:27. It’s a tough course, more than half of which is uphill so I was pretty pleased with my time. We’ll be back again next week!
  4. On Sunday, we tried a NEW class at our gym called GridActive. This 30 minute class was intense! You work your way through 12 different exercises for about 45 seconds each and repeat the process twice. Some of the exercises were things like monkey bars, kettlebell squats, treadmill sprints, shoulder presses and flipping a tire over and over. It went by quickly, was a great challenge and I am really sore today! I love classes like this. They are so effective and they totally push you outside your comfort zone. Definitely worth a try.
  5. We’re trying something NEW to help us get up in the morning. With shorter days and a serious lack of natural sunlight in the morning, it is becoming increasingly more challenging to get up at 6 am to make it out for a run. After some research on ways to get up in darkness and feel rested, we decided to purchase the Phillips Wake-Up light. This light simulates a natural sunrise and supposedly helps wake you up more naturally so you feel well rested and alert, even at 6 am. If nothing else, it has to be less jarring then my current iPhone alarm. Review to come!

That’s all my NEWS for now. Wishing you a happy, healthy week.

via poundstomiles.com

via poundstomiles.com

I recently created my race history, documenting all the races I have run since my first half marathon in 2011. I realized this year is the first year since I started running that I will not be running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. That was my first half and a staple on my race calendar every year for the last four years.

I became very aware of this fact when an old friend sent me a message to ask for tips in advance of this year’s race – happening this Sunday – which will be his first half marathon. While I’m certainly not an expert, I have close to 30 races under my belt, so I would like to think I know a thing or two about race day planning and execution. I quickly wrote back with some top tips and he responded that I should turn it into a blog post. An easy one to write AND great for SEO. Double win.

‘Tis the season for races, so far be it for me to hoard these tips to myself. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Lay out your clothes and shoes the night before. Prep everything so you don’t have to think in the morning. You can even pin your bib to your shirt the night before to save precious minutes in the morning.
  • It’s cold in the morning in October so plan your clothes accordingly. Consider wearing an old sweatshirt you can throw away once the race starts, or try the old garbage bag trick. Lots of people wear a garbage bag as a way to stay warm while waiting in the corral and then rip it off once they get going. You don’t need to throw away a shirt AND you get to feel like Superman. #win
  • Charge your phone, iPod, GPS watch or any other electronic device you run with the night before. Nothing sucks more than arriving at the start line with dead batteries.
  • Anyone who has Googled “race day tips” will likely find this one but it’s worth repeating: NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY. I mean it. Nothing. Wear old shoes, old clothes, eat the same thing you always eat. Race day is not the time to experiment.
  • Arrive early but not as early as they say. It’s chaos before a race so get there with enough time to check your bag, pee and warmup and nothing more. For me, this is about 30-40 minutes. If you can avoid bag check, do it. It’s a big time saver before and after.
  • This is a personal preference but I would say that you don’t need to run with a fuel belt or handheld water bottle even if you trained with one. Usually, there are enough water stops along the course, that you won’t need your own. It’s just dead weight holding you up. That said, I did run with a fuel belt in the full marathon, but I would say half or less, it is not necessary.
  • Smile and hold your arms up high when crossing the finish line even if you’re tired. Make your finish line photo epic. It’s the only one worth buying.
  • Contrary to popular belief, I think one drink with dinner the night before is fine. Obviously don’t overdo it but a glass of wine or a beer isn’t going to impact your performance.
  • For dinner the night before, don’t try anything new. Get some carbs and protein. I like whole wheat pasta with a chicken breast. Nomnom.
  • Pace yourself in the first 2K. It’s easy to go out too fast, especially if it’s your first race. The adrenaline of race day will make you want to sprint. Hold back in those first 2K especially, and throughout the first half of the race. If you feel good, you can pick up the pace in the second half.
  • Most people are right handed and therefore, go for water stations on the right-hand side of the road. Veer to the left and get your water near the end of the station to avoid the masses.
  • Drinking while on the move can be tough if you haven’t done it before. You end up with Gatorade on your face and in your eyes and it’s sticky and it burns. When you grab a paper cup, crease it into a V shape and drink. It helps get the liquid in your mouth instead of on your face.

Good luck Shank, and to everyone else running STWM this year. I’ll be thinking of you!


A birthday gift. For me AND my blog.

A birthday gift. For me AND my blog.

My husband is the absolute best. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t make these sorts of loving declarations online. I’m a big believer that if you feel great love for someone, tell them. Not the internet. However, he has outdone himself with my birthday gift this year and it is relevant to this blog so therefore, I am going to permit myself to use this platform to share my gratitude and brag a bit.

Back in June, I was following the launch of the new Nike Photosynthesis Pack with anticipation. I immediately fell in love with the floral design and I knew instantly that I wanted these shoes added to my collection. Upon launch day, I was crushed to find out that the shoes were only available in the US. After a desperate plea with Nike’s online support, it appeared there were few options for getting these shoes in the UK – short of actually going to the US to buy them.

A few weeks ago, my blog celebrated its third birthday. Shortly after that, I also celebrated a birthday. In response, I got a super appropriate gift: a custom-made pair of Nike shoes featuring the floral pattern I love and… wait for it… they are Thoughts & Pavement branded! Using NikeID, my husband picked every aspect of the shoes including pattern, style, swoosh colour, heel underlay, flywire, laces and the letters that form the personal ID on the tongue-top of the shoes. A 6-character limit per shoe made this a unique challenge but he added THGHTS on one and PAVMNT on the other. A very unique customisation.

Overall, he nailed it. These shoes are almost too pretty to wear. Best. Gift. Ever.

I’m done gloating now. Happy birthday to me and my blog.