Today I’d like to share the inspiring story of one of my clients, Ximena, who I’ve been providing online coaching services to since January of this year. She’s gone from nights at home on the couch seven days a week to strength training, yoga and running most days of the week, plus preparing healthy meals for her and her family. And this past weekend, she ran her first ever race – the Terry Fox 5 km in Vancouver. Her enthusiasm, determination and positive attitude is so inspiring, so I asked her to share her story on my blog. Here’s Ximena’s story, in her own words:
Ximena at the Terry Fox 5K run in Vancouver this past weekend
I’m a 36-year-old mother of two girls. In late 2014, I was introduced to a wonderful lady who shared with me that she used to be as “big” as me (not in those exact words, but close) and that she had slowly started running to the point where she now runs marathons. I thought to myself, “If she can do it, maybe I can, too!” Looking at her current Barbie-doll waist was for sure a motivator. I had reached a stage in my life where I was thinking to myself, “Why bother trying to lose weight and get fit? Once your figure is gone it’s impossible to get it back…” Well, I can tell you now that is NOT TRUE!
This wonderful lady introduced me to Bri and the unbelievable journey began early this year. Slow and easy (but not painlessly… 10 squats can really burn if you are in the shape I was in). The initial goal was never to run a race, but rather to enjoy being off of the coach and as healthy as possible (the weight loss was just the icing on the cake!).
I started by walking for 20 minutes three times a week, and doing yoga and strength training at home two to three times a week. A funny thing happens when you start strength training: with each passing week you notice that your body feels better and stronger, you start to notice and feel muscles that weren’t “there” before, and people start complimenting you on how good you look. (more…)
Okay, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Despite the typical burning quads, achy knees, extreme fatigue, unquenchable thirst and mild headache I usually experience during trail races, I had a really great race on Saturday at the Finlayson Arm 25K (actually 28K) trail race.
The thing I love about trail races as opposed to any road race is that you get to make friends out on the trail. You’re going slow enough and you’re out there for long enough that you can actually chat with other runners for a few hours, which makes the time go by quicker and makes the race far more enjoyable. That, and I find trail runners are far more friendly in general on the course than road runners are. Even the lead racer who passed me somewhere around the 13 km point said “great job” as he flew by. And words of encouragement were exchanged by every single runner after that.
Since Debbie and I ran the course two weeks ago, I generally knew what to expect. I’ve run these routes and hiked Mt. Finlayson many times, so I was well prepared to tackle the elevation challenges on the course. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be after Holmes Peak to Jocelyn Hill, but it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. (more…)
Today I’ve got a great guest post for you from my running buddy and owner of Penny Lane Photography (who took my awesome headshot, by the way) Debbie Preston about what it’s like to be behind to camera on race day, capturing our moments of pain and pride as we run to the finish line (for free cookies).
I can remember my first race like it was yesterday; the Times Colonist 10km race in Victoria on April 29, 2012. So not quite yesterday, but it was a memorable one. I had just started running seven months prior because I was determined to be a fit person and fit people ran, therefore I was determined to be a runner. I had a few friends who were these fit runner types who talked me into racing the TC 10km with promises of free chocolate milk and runners highs (they had me at the chocolate milk). These kind, runner friends of mine held my hand (not literally) as I tackled my first few 10km training runs around Elk and Beaver Lake. A month or so later I was as ready as I was going to be for race day, the starting gun sounded and I enjoyed every second of it (although I vowed to never run another 10km again… but that’s another story for another time). After crossing that first finish line I knew it wasn’t going to be my last race, and sure enough over the next 12 months I ran in about 10 different races and had worked my way up to a full marathon by May 2013. I had done it; I was a runner. (more…)
Even though I haven’t run more than 23 km on the trails in over a month (or anything more than a 10 km road run a few times a week, for that matter), Debbie and I decided to tackle part of the Finlayson Arm 25K race course (which is actually 28 km… why not just call it the Finlayson Arm 28K???) this Sunday just so we knew what to expect for the race coming up in two weeks. Even though we got some awesome written directions from race director Myke LaBelle, we still managed to get lost at least 10 times, including for about 10 minutes at the start trying to figure out if we were supposed to cross a river (if we had stopped to read Myke’s directions that said to cross east to west we could have saved ourselves running the route with soggy socks and shoes yesterday — turns out you just follow along one side of the river under the first tunnel, not cross to the other side… whoops). (more…)
In three weeks I’ll be running 28 km of rock and root-covered trails with 4,000 feet of vertical for the Finlayson Arm 50. But I’ve barely been out of the trails lately, let alone done much running. My last long trail run was about a month ago when I did 23 km. Then I took a week of vacation. Then got sick. Then helped Matt move. I did manage to go for a 2.5 hour hike this Sunday… but now I’m sick again. Ugh.
This weekend will be our longest run, where we’re actually going to run the entire race course. I’m going to do it, but it’s not going to be pretty. Although this race was just supposed to be something fun for me to do with my running buddies and to keep me moving and motivated during the summer, I’m looking forward to changing up my fitness routine for fall to something more manageable. Especially considering both my personal training business and freelance writing have picked up considerably these last few weeks, which is awesome, but makes hitting the trails for 3+ hours on the weekend a bit tricky. (more…)
You’ve just run your last long run in your marathon training plan for that fall goal race, and feel relieved that the hardest part of training is over. No more packing around multiple water bottles or gels during your long runs; no more spending an entire weekend morning pounding the pavement. You’ve put in the hard work. Now it’s time to ease up and get ready for race day.
But just how much resting up should you do?
Should you still do speedwork?
How long should your weekend runs be now?
Should you still strength train?
What do you eat?
How you taper depends a bit on how you train, but generally you want to cut your training volume by 20 to 30 per cent each week from your highest volume week. So, for example, if four weeks out you ran a total of 55 kilometres (two 7.5 km runs, one 4 km run, and one 36 km run), three weeks out you could run a total of 39 kilometres (two 7.5 km runs at marathon pace with 4-7 minutes of repetitions in each, one 4 km run, and one 20 km run); two weeks out you could run a total of 28 kilometres (two 7.5 km runs at marathon pace and one 13 km run); and the week before the race you could do two easy 5 km runs and one easy 3 km run with a few pick-ups near the end to get the legs moving.
Aside from cutting your mileage accordingly, here are a few other things you should consider to properly taper for a marathon in three weeks: (more…)
Monday – 35-40 minute upper and lower body strength circuit
Tuesday – 30 minutes of HIIT or an easy 45-minute run
Wednesday – 35-40 minute upper and lower body strength circuit
Thursday – Easy 45-minute run
Friday – 35-40 minute upper and lower body strength circuit
Saturday – 1 hour hike, 30 minutes of yoga or a rest day
Sunday – Easy 45-minute run or a rest day
Although my fitness-related goal for this year is to work on yoga inversions, I love having an event or something to train for as it gives me something tangible to work towards. Plus, I love participating in races – the nervous excitement, the runner camaraderie, the race shirt and medal, a sense of accomplishment… who doesn’t love the race-day experience?
Happy National Running Day! Although I won’t be logging any miles today because Wednesdays are my resistance training days, I thought I’d put together a sample Boston Qualifier training plan in honour of the day! You can use the base of this plan (the Monday to Friday workouts) for 15 weeks to build up strength, speed and stamina leading up to the two to three weeks before race day. It’s very similar to the one I used to achieve my BQ this year, so I know it can work 😉
This past weekend I went to Seattle for my friend Katie’s stagette (or bachelorette party, as you call them is the U.S.), and despite a late night the day before, my friend Debbie and I got up early to hit the streets for a morning run. We decided to do some hill repeats up and down a few blocks near the water (if you’ve ever been to Seattle you know the San Fransisco-like hills I’m talking about) and get ourselves orientated to the area in which we were going to be spending the next two days.
Despite the obvious reasons for going for a run while on vacation (burning calories, staying fit, sticking to routine, etc.), here are a few other reasons we discovered:
You can see as much of a new city as you can while on foot. You can cover a lot more ground when running than walking.
You can do a recon mission to check out areas you plan to visit later. Knowing where the pub was that we planned to visit later was helpful, especially when trying to find it after several beers at the baseball game.
You can discover cool places to shop and eat. Though we never made it back to Biscuit Bitch, we’ll definitely stop there next time.
You might discover some incredible views. You’re usually rewarded with a gorgeous view at the top of a set of stairs.
You can justify having one more drink or that amazing-looking dessert later because you ran in the morning and pre-burned some calories.
Before I became a certified strength and conditioning specialist, I thought I had pretty decent form when lifting weights and doing core exercises at the gym. I’d been studying the instructions in fitness magazines and following along carefully to workout DVDs for almost nine years, all the while thinking I was working the muscle groups I was trying to target.
When I was studying for my CSCS exam, I got schooled by another trainer at a private gym where I was volunteering and job shadowing last summer. Turns out I have a wicked anterior pelvic tilt (meaning my hips tilt forward, like I’m trying to sit all the time), which made me botch up most of my core and hip exercises and was probably the reason to blame for my tight calves. (more…)