Hills, I love to hate them – Thank goodness for coaches!

8503c2e33b94a0c20cb09c257b2689d5I achieved two major goals for myself this week. I ran my first 10km distance – training not a race – and demolished some hills my second time out. I feel pretty good! Well…my legs hate me but I am use to them thinking I am mean. Secretly, they love it.

In 2011 I began training for my first half marathon. I walked it, I trained to walk it and it was the hardest thing I had ever done physically. Part of it was my extreme weight and low fitness levels and part of it was the lack of support. People constantly kept telling me I had no idea what I signed up for. That was true, but neither did they. They had never participated in a half marathon either.

My plan was simple, join the Running Room‘s Learn to Walk a Half Marathon class, do what I was told to do and then cross the finish line! YAY ME!

It wasn’t that easy.

The first class we were to walk 4km. I remember thinking, I find this hard. How am I ever going walk 21.1 km? I finished the 4km in just over an hour.

A few weeks went by and we were scheduled to walk hills, it started with 3 x 400m. Ya right – no freaking way could I do that. So I didn’t. What I considered a hill back then, I consider a bump now. A hill to me is serious business and there is an actual elevation change. I trained for my first half marathon and never climbed a hill. Which is fine, kind of, because the Edmonton Canadian Derby Half Marathon course is FLAT – prairie flat. No hills, so why did I need to do them?

I will tell you why I SHOULD have done them, recovery.

Training on hills and doing Fartleks makes you faster, stronger but more importantly, it shows your body that you can do more than it thinks it can.

I had no business walking a half marathon in 2011. I was not fit enough – yet I did…barely. My goal then was to cross the finish line.

This year in 2013 I have two half marathons scheduled. I am running the Canadian Derby half and I am heading to Florida for the WDW Marathon weekend. This time I have a different goal. I am aiming for a finish time and I am determine to have a better recovery time. Meaning – I don’t want to feel like death after the half. I know I will be tired and sore, but my fitness level needs to be raised from the last time I did this so I feel better. My plan is working. After I ran 10k on Sunday, I felt fabulous. The first time I walked a 10k I needed a nap. Not this time. I kept active and did stuff for the rest of the day. I didn’t feel tired, in fact I felt the opposite, I felt ENERGIZED.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not dissing walking. The reason I want to run is because walking takes a REALLY LONG TIME! Walkers go the same distance but tend not to be as fast – although they are still faster than me running but that is another story. So when a half-marathon walker finishes in 3:30 and runner can do it in 2:30… or something like that. My point being, walkers are as fit as runners. They just use different muscles.

Part of my strategy to recover quicker and get faster is

  1. Hill Repeats
  2. Fartleks
  3. Nutrition before, during and after the run
  4. Core strengthening – I have a six pack under here somewhere! I swear I do!
  5. Building up the hamstring and glutes for more power

Wednesdays are Hill Repeats! My first session didn’t go so great. I was to do 3x400m. Well, Edmonton has two types of hills steep get your heart rate going NOW type hills and laugh hysterically and question the incline type of bump. Most southside runners favour Emily Murphy Hill. Not the one out of the parking lot but the one that leads to the U of A. It’s officially called Emily Murphy Park Road. It is PACKED on Wednesdays. Why? Well, most people follow John Stanton‘s training methods because he is from here, he is a famous learn to run guy in Canada and well, people are sheep. We like being told what to do  and when. Training is no different. I don’t like to think about what I need to do, I just want to look on my calendar and know what’s next. Stanton has Wednesdays as Hill or Fartlek days. So everyone goes to Murphy Hill. The Running Room club goes at 6 on Wednesdays, so I go earlier because my schedule is flexible.

My first session had me excited and raring to go, so I ran up the hill – made it halfway, felt like my heart might explode so I walked the rest of the way, and ran back down. I ran up again, this time didn’t make it half way and walked the rest. I did that one more time and felt like a failure, defeated and slug like.

This week, I reached out for advice. I belong to the WDW Radio Running Team. We fundraise for Make A Wish, but more importantly we are a very supportive team. I have yet to run with them, yet I feel like a team member. They are truly terrific! There are a couple of coaches on that team Brian writes this blog and Joe writes this blog. I asked them each the same question :

Question: when running hills and you can’t make it all the way up, is it better to walk the rest of the way or turn around and start again? I’m running on an fairly steep incline for about 600 meters.

I got two different answers addressing different aspects of running. I love those guys! Brian suggested I slow my pace because walking uses different muscles than running. He added a ton more information, but it pertains to me and my fitness level. Joe gave me tips for mental toughness. This guy is the most focused guy on the planet when it comes to goals. He suggested I pick a target and don’t stop until I get there. That worked best for me. Often I could run past that target. I used a combination of both coaching methods and did 6x100m. It was all I could do without my heart exploding. I am a mom, so it’s important I don’t die until my kids move out. Listening to my body is important but it is also important to push it beyond what it thinks it is capable of. I did that yesterday. I kicked it! I did better that I thought I could and finished on a high note. That was the other bit of advice Joe gave me. He said:

Your muscles remember the last they do. So you want to finish a workout by hitting a target that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment, not a defeat.

Actually, it has to do with brain memory and habits – you can read more about that kind of stuff in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg or some Dr. Bruce Perry research. At any rate, Joe’s suggestion resonated with me and by slowing my pace as Brian suggested, I finished on a high.

I know I need work to reach my hill targets, but practice makes perfect. Difficult doesn’t make me quit, it makes me work harder. I will get there and you will be able to hear me yell and scream with excitement when I do because celebrating is now part of my success ritual. Fist pumps for everyone! Woohoo!

The rest of this week’s training requires an easy 6k today (that makes me laugh, remember when I was afraid of the 5k?), 10km on Saturday and I am volunteering for the Police Half Marathon on Sunday. I am a road marshal over at McKinnon Ravine and 142 street so if you run by say HEY! I think it is important to give back to the running community. I appreciate them and volunteering shows it.

Here is a great video on the benefits of hills. Take a look, this Doctor guy is great! and as always, Happy Running!

Hills Get Stronger!

 

Thank you John Stanton @runningroom

My last post was an open letter to John Stanton of the Running Room. Here in Canada, he has changed the face of running and made it something for everyone to do, no matter your size or athletic ability. His story is an amazing inspirational one and I encourage you to look into it. Keep in mind, he is the head of a giant corporation that has stores located across the country. The Running Room is THE source in Canada for running and races. Want to run the New York Marathon? They have a class for that and can hook you up with an entry. Want to learn to run 3km? They have a class for that. Want to find a shoe that works for you? They have an expert for that and their expert will spend all the time you need to find the shoe that works for you. It took me 7 pairs and 25 laps around the store to figure out my Adidas were right for me.

I just had an issue with their clothing sizes and told him so.

He contacted me today and told me he wishes for me to talk to and meet with his Senior Apparel Buyer for the Running Room Canada Inc.

How amazing is that? He is willing to talk to the one customer who would like to see change. His Senior Apparel Buyer then contacted me want to set up a date to meet at any store, or just talk.

Never did I think this would happen.

Thanks John Stanton, I am more impressed with you than ever now.

An Open Letter to John Stanton and the Running Room @runningroom

 

Dear John Stanton,

I know your inspirational story and follow your training programs. I walked a half marathon because of you and I thank you.

But I have a bone to pick with you and your purchaser for the Running Room stores across Canada.

We all know your story about you running when it was dark so people couldn’t see you due to your size. You started running because you were an extended size. Guess what? So am I. In fact there are a TON of us extended size people who run or are learning to run because we no longer wish to be on the extended size of the clothing chart. But guess what? Your store does not  carry extended size apparel. While that is not entirely true, your online shop shows you sell XL but are out of stock. However, if I wish to purchase S or XS I am IN! You have plenty of those sizes! Here’s the thing, most women are a size 12 of larger. I know you have all those runners at your store who have the classic runners physique. I also will have one of those, but not this winter. This winter I need to sport an extended size. While I am 3 sizes smaller then last year, I am still not one of those gazelles. I do not wish them ill will, I know your gazelles work and run hard to look like that. Well, Mr. Stanton, I have worked and run hard to look like this too. All I want is to be able to go to the Running Room, and buy tech wear that respects my body shape.

Please don’t tell me that there isn’t a market for it otherwise NorthFace and Columbia would not be making jackets that would fit me. I have yet to find a store that can help me. I want to be fit and you and other fitness merchants make it hard for me. I live in Edmonton. It is starting to get cold when I run. I do not have the luxury of running during the day. My options are morning or evening in the dark. Dark in Edmonton typically means cool or the very least, COLD.

Columbia also makes tech shirts that are extended sizes. The problem is, I can’t try them on. I live in the Capital City of Alberta. The streets are paved with gold, yet I have to shop online for tech wear. Seriously? The luxury of trying on clothing is lost for me. While you assume most runners are created equal, I can assure you this is not the case. Remember back to before you started the Running Room. Why can you not offer extended sizes for runners like me? I am a woman, therefore I am curvy, so those unisex jobs you sell do not fit the upper body very well.

Is it too much to ask that ONE of your stores offer extended sizes? Come on, one per city is all I am asking, please. I understand how inventory works. I guarantee you it will pay off in the long run. Bloggers like me will spread the word. Besides, I have lots of women friends who are looking for running apparel that fits them. I cheered on the marathoners at this years Canadian Derby Marathon and guess what? There were quite a few extended runners, shocking! We run in daylight for people to see. We are working hard to be the same on the outside as we feel on the inside. Support us by offering clothing that fits, and you will have the most loyal shoppers out there.

Please help us to keep running all winter long.