I am not sure if it’s the photos from my adventures, the grin I normally have from ear to ear when coming back from the trails or the involvement that Randi and my sister Lou had at the Squamish 50. Whatever it was, I am happy to say that Randi and my sister Lou are now joining me on the trails and it is awesome.
I am not knocking road running as most of my years leading up to my move to Canada were road miles, the odd fell running whilst living in Scotland, some track and field. I think for a while it was a means to end; I liked competing and you had to log the miles, so I guess I was logging miles out of necessity to hang out with friends and to race.
Trail running I feel is so different. I admit I log miles to train for races but the miles I log are fun as I find new trails; I slip or fall; I get covered in mud, snow, smelly creek water; I meet new trail buddies; I feel closer to nature; I get to mountain peaks. It just really feels like a different world to road running. I still road run to get some training runs in, but really my heart belongs to the trails.
So with all of the above being said, how amazing would it be that your significant other would embrace the trails, and even though Randi has been fighting CFS for 4 years, she is pushing herself beyond her limits to hit the trails with me and do her first race next April. This fills me with pride as to what she is accomplishing and makes me so happy that I can include her in my passion.
So on top of Randi joining me on the trail, my sister Lou has decided to enter a race next year and has been hitting the trails too. I will admit that me and my sister are like chalk and cheese, which is fine as everyone should be happy to be who they are and do what they want to do. So I was surprised following Squamish that my sister suggested she would race the 23km race at Squamish in 2017. I have to be honest and thought this was quite brave as it’s a hard 23km as your first 23km and she may not follow through.
I was then surprised when Lou wanted me to go trail shoe shopping with her. She started asking my advice and after one trail run, I have now lost count on how many she has done. Possibly up to double figures now. I was quite happy when I managed to do a trail run recently with both Lou and Randi, being able to share my passion and both them beginning to share the same passion.
I cannot wait to share more trail fun with Randi and Lou as we round out 2016 and head into 2017.
You know how some things just really seem like a great idea at the time; well my 100 miler in March was a great idea at the time. But the thing is you need to be smart and work out the planning and logistics of it all and to be honest, I got carried away in the moment and thought solely of the race and not how I would get my training to peak for that time.
To be honest I should have realized that having a big year of running, racing and adventures may call for some sort of break, but I just jumped right into training for my 100 miler. The thing is life gets in the way and rest and recovery are also are part of training. So I jumped in with both feet, and first issue to hit was moving to our new home and my training hit the skids for a couple of weeks. Me being me, I tried to jump right back in even though the move and stress involved had worn me down. I plowed on, got sick and of course tried to train through the sickness and eventually ended up with a chest infection and was forced to rest.
As if the move coupled with the illness had not knocked my training sideways, when several weeks of snow and ice hit the coast sure did. The weather impacted my running and so distance wasn’t being racked, so I tried to do some double ups and the change of camber due to snow and ice and increase in distance meant taking a week off for some shin issues.
I was hoping to be doing some 50-60 mile weeks with only a couple of months till my first 100 miler, but it seems various things have hit my training and it’s unlikely I will attain this sort of mileage. I’m not one to give up and I have committed to my 100 miler and I will go ahead with it even if I’m undertrained rather than over trained and injured.
I'd imagine I am not the only person who is overly critical of myself and full of self doubt. My running buddies seem to think, I have a good running base and I should not worry. But who knows; doubt creeps in with such a big goal as my first 100 miler.
I have done some research and there are people that have done 100 milers on marathon training mileage numbers that is 25-30 miles a week. I think if I can at least get back up to some 50 mile weeks and build on my strength training and on my mental preparation then all is not lost.
I think for sure in 2018 I will plan some short spring races to start my training and winter 2017 I will just keep up my base fitness and just have fun and not worry about what mileage I put in. After all I run because I enjoy it and I do not need the pressure that this has a hold on me right now.
So 2018 will be all about summer and fall races, unless something makes me change my mind lol.
Some people think it’s just the case of going out and run but the human body is like a car and needs to be maintained and serviced; otherwise you will get injured.
Now it’s easy for me to say this now, but to be honest with the recent move I have slacked on this aspect of training and you guessed it. It has come back to bite me on the ass. I am currently taking a few days to a week off of running due to injury.
So one of the tools that a lot of runners use is a foam roller and it seems like a simple piece of equipment, but it manages to work through the tightness and knots in your legs. This is a key piece of equipment, because you will get knots and tightness as in affect of every time you take a step, you’re loading your whole body weight onto your feet and legs; plus extra pressure from the speed or terrain you’re running on.
A foam roller is pretty simple to use and basically works with your own body weight to move through the tightness and knots. There are various shapes and sizes, and you should pick one or two that work for you as everyone is different.
Another tool that I use is a golf ball and this can be used on your foot to massage and break up scar tissue and knots under the foot. Some people use tennis balls as well, but I find golf balls are quite hard and work the foot harder. They are inexpensive and I can fit one in my work drawer, so I can work on my feet, when I have the odd spare few minutes at work. Similar to the golf ball, I also have a spiky massage ball which is again hard construction but because of the spikes gets deeper into the muscles, tendons etc to release tension and pressure etc.
I also have a wooden massage tool which does look like a medieval torture device but is great for digging right into my legs and releasing tightness and knots. I won’t lie it does hurt sometimes but it loosens me up ready for the next run.
Also following my runs I like to do post run stretching. Years ago I would do pre run stretching but recent studies suggest pre run stretching can actually lead to injury. There are people for and against and well I’d rather not risk it and I tend to find the first 1 kilometer or so is my warm up and so don’t need that pre run stretch.
I had started yoga earlier in the year as this is great for strength and stretching for runners, but then life got in the way and it ended up on the back burner. Following my current injury, I am phasing it back in again. If you do a quick google you will find plenty of instructions, pictures etc for yoga poses for runners that really do help.
The other good thing about yoga is, it is not as hard on the body as running, but it’s a great work out, and I find it really dials you into a more chilled out and relaxed state during the workout and for a little while afterwards.
In respect to strengthening I try to use my own bodyweight as you can do the exercises at home saving money on gym fees, and I feel it’s just as good a workout as using weights. So the routine I normally follow is lunges, single leg lunges, squats, one legged squats, plank, one armed plank, press ups and sit ups. I plan to add some resistance work similar to TRX and hopefully in the future get a large tire for dragging on short runs and also for flipping to increase strength.
Some people get put off that working on strength will turn them into some pumped up bodybuilder and don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with being a body builder. However you can increase strength and muscle strength to help with running without getting a lot bigger. People used to just considered running by itself but with the growing popularity of ultra-racing and trail racing, it’s key to have good overall strength and not just good running legs.
Another way to strengthen your body is to cross train, so adding swimming or cycling or both to your routine can help to maintain aerobic performance but without the hard impact of adding extra running miles to your weekly routine. I am hoping at some stage to get a turbo trainer, so that I can ride my bike indoors through the winter and reap some cross training benefits. My swimming is not the best and I have yet to check out the local pool, but hope to get there sooner rather than later.
Life is short and there will be things you do not manage to do in your life! Your health can change overnight, so I feel you have to aim to do epic things and epic may not be the same for you as it is for me.
I have a long week with work and with my commute, it sometimes leaves me tired. I could just sit back and watch tv or something relaxing at the weekend. I might however then miss out on opportunities and this brings me to last Sunday, when I did a rike (run/hike) up Mount Elphinstone. It may not be everyone’s idea of fun but for 4 hours, I was in the sun and snow having fun and at the summit I felt like I was at the top of the world.
I have that memory now and if I don’t go up Elphinstone again until the spring or summer, it’s okay as I have experienced it in the winter in all its winter wonderland beauty. I’m not saying people should be running/hiking up mountains because it’s not everyone’s idea of fun, but you should follow your dreams and do what would be epic for you such as take a cruise, travel to a far off country, skydive etc.
In this day and age where we have a massive amount of stuff and material things in our lives, I feel it’s good to remind ourselves that memories last a lifetime and are priceless. Also when you get out there and do epic things you meet other people doing similar things, so you broaden your social circle and a host of other benefits.
So when winter makes you think twice about staying on the couch, just consider if you could be doing something epic, awesome, amazing or darn right cool.
In fact whether its winter, fall, spring or summer take the opportunity to pursue amazing things that you can treasure the memories from for years to come. Do your first 5k, run your first ultra, cycle route 66, get to the top of the empire state building and so on.
Some people have a bucket list when they are nearing the end of life, but why wait to do these things. Why not have an epic list and do epic stuff on a regualr basis. Get out of your comfort zone and embrace life when you have the chance to, as we never know how long we will be on this planet.
Please do me a favour and do at least one epic thing in 2017. Leave me a comment what you choose and bring it to life in 2017. I know you wont regret it.
This past year I've done some pretty epic things like a rike along the Howe Sound crest trail, gone up numerous mountains, competed in ultra races and so in 2017, I intend to do even more.
I have decided to really up my race calendar for 2017 and after having done a 50k and 50 mile race in 2016, I kind of feel now that what may seem impossible is not necessarily impossible. I just need to put in the training and need to get my head in the right place as with longer distances, it’s your mental state as well as the state of your body that dictates if you will succeed or not.
So my motto for 2017 is going to be as per the blog title “Go Big or Go Home. I wont of course risk my health or safety to reach my goals but nor will I take the easy route, if it’s just temporary aches or I’m feeling a bit meh, because that happens in longer events and you just need to be able to push on through.
For 2017 I am going to try and fit in some more cross training so that will mean more rides logged on my bike. Hopefully more cross training should help build strength and prevent injury. I did start adding yoga to my training but that fell off a little during the recent months with work, commute and moving etc, so I need to add that back in and try to stick to it.
A few people I know use tires as part of their strength training and also to replicate the strength it takes to go uphill, so I am looking to get a tire and add that to my routine. Now with a longer commute due to us moving to the Coast, I am going to have to be adaptive to try and fit my training into my schedule. So I will look to add some runs and rides to the ferry and back; maybe some running on the deck when spring/summer is back as running on the top deck right now might be a bit challenging with lack of light, high winds some days and all the rain we get in fall and winter in the PNW.I may look to add some runs on my lunch break and maybe if I need something from the grocery store I might ride there to add some training in where I can.
I may add some smaller races in during next year, but for now my goal races are Lake Martin 100 miler, Diez Vista 100k and Squamish 50/50.
To help me get through to 2017 I have help in the form of being sponsored by Spidertech Tape, a Canadian based Kinseo Tape company; Hill Sound equipment, a Canadian based crampon and Gaiter Company. Also InReach Canada has helped me out by providing me with a discount of my monthly plan.
If you have time please check out Spidertech tape, Hillsound equipment and InReach. It means a lot to me to be supported by these great companies and when you buy a roll of tape from Spidertech or let your friends know about Hillsound or Inreach it would help these great companies and help me too.
This is straying a little from the original thoughts, I had for this blog post but I had to put it out there. I was on Facebook today and another member of a running group I am in, gave me an opinion on something but dismissed himself by saying, he was not at the same level as other members of the group. I said you’re a runner! it doesn’t matter if your front of the pack, middle of the pack or dead last! You’re a runner and we are all part of the same running family, so never dismiss yourself and like me aim high for 2017! Do your first 5k, do your first 10k and if running’s not your thing find something you love and embrace it and never be put off.
Go outside and just enjoy life, because you never know what could happen tomorrow or the day after or the week after and so on. Embrace life ☺