April 20, 2021 – Gift Economy

“We have created a grotesque economy that grinds what is beautiful and unique into money, a currency that enables us to purchase things we don’t really need while destroying what we do.” – Charles Eisenstein



Hi All!


I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking recently about the “gift economy.” Especially now, with new lockdown measures in place, it’s more important than ever to recognize the gifts we have and to embrace the feeling of community which comes from taking part in a gift economy. The gift economy is a concept which is shared eloquently by Robin Wall-Kimmerer (author of Braiding Sweetgrass). It is a system which many indigenous cultures have thrived on and some still do, to ensure strong community relationships. It is one of sharing all of what you have with your neighbour instead of hoarding and compiling ‘wealth’ or goods or knowledge. This sits in contrast to the type of economy we’re familiar with: the capital market economy which is built on the concept of scarcity, a never ending hunger for accumulation, and encourages individual success over that of the community.


Understanding the gift economy can become a way of seeing and living in the world. Wall-Kimmerer is a botanist, and sees gifts in nature all the time – fresh berries on a tree, a bird’s song in the morning which lifts your spirits, a tree’s canopy that brings shade on a hot day. These are not services which you can pay for – nor are they to be pilfered or hoarded. They are gifts of the earth. And when we recognize them as gifts, we respond with gratitude and reciprocity. We start acting in ways that honour and cherish where they came from and this encourages protection and regeneration.


I’m not naïve – I realize our society is too large and disconnected to function solely with a gift economy. However, Wall-Kimmerer notes that gift economies can function successfully in smaller communities along-side market economies. And that is the space where I see our Lower East Siders running crew.


This group of people are among the most generous people I know. And I also know that every time I am able to offer any piece of advice or support that will help someone, I benefit in many ways because I’m part of the whole. Maybe I’ve touched the artist who will make beautiful art for others to enjoy, or maybe the doctor who will pass it along in her care for someone else, or the volunteer who will make my community run more smoothly through their efforts. I understand that there is no truly selfless giving because we are all connected.


Gratitude and reciprocity are the currency of a gift economy, and they have the remarkable property of multiplying with every exchange, their energy concentrating as they pass from hand to hand, a truly renewable resource.


To name the world as gift is to feel one’s membership in the web of reciprocity. It makes you happy—and it makes you accountable. Conceiving of something as a gift changes your relationship to it in a profound way…” – Robin Wall-Kimmerer


This crew does not exist as a service to get you to run fast. It might work well that way for many of us, but it only works because of the presence of all of the givers around us who hold it together. I love running with others and sharing that, and I know people in this group do too. We have created a real economy – I don’t feel I have to specifically reach out to everyone all the time – I know that when one of us is injured or down there are at least five sets of arms reaching out to help them up. What differentiates us from many other running clubs is that we are not consumers of a service – we are participants in a community.


So I just want to take this moment to say thank-you to all of you for your gifts – of your friendship, of sharing your cheers and energy with others when they run, of listening to/reading my thoughts, of reflecting whatever you gain from this back out into the community. And if you do feel like you’ve benefitted in any way from anything that the Lower East Siders have brought you, I only ask that you reciprocate it back to someone else in any way that is meaningful to you.



Oh, I also wanted to give a big shout out to Karen who ran a stealthy and solid ATB 30K this weekend in the midst of an absolutely crazy time at work! Way to go Karen! And her partner in crime Adam who snuck in a sub-19 min 5K PB last weekend (18:53!!) and then paced Karen this weekend! I guess if the only person you can run with is doing 30K, you do 30K! lol. Way to go team.



Onto workouts for this week:


  1. Ladder: 1600 (@HM – 1:45 rec), 1200 (@slightly faster – 1:30 rec), 1000 (@10K – 1:30 rec), 800 (@5K – 1:30 rec), 600 (@5K – 1:30 rec), 400 (@3K – 1:30 rec), 2 x 200 (@1500 w 45 rec)


  1. If doing this as fartlek: (6-5-4-3-2-1-30 sec-30 sec) Hard w Easy jogging as rest above
  2. People coming back from ATB just start at 4 mins and work down IF you’re feeling like working out again (not if you just did it this weekend)
  3. Tempo: Let’s give you a cut-down also – 10 mins, 8 mins, 6 mins, 4 mins – all w 2 min rec


That’s all! I think many of us are getting vaccinated this week (yay!) If there is one other person you feel comfortable running with, I’m not looking. I suggest the timed version vs path for stealth reasons.


Stay safe and see you soooooon!!!!








April 14, 2021 – Focus on the good moments

Hey Everyone!


Huge congrats to everyone who ran Around The Bay virtual 30K this weekend! (Shauna, Stephanie, Samantha, Laura, Amy, Zoe). What an inspiring show of positivity and “the show must go on” attitudes! I know many of us trained with you through the winter, and were very inspired by your races – just a reminder that even when you think you’re doing something just for yourself, it can have a large ripple effect to others.


Onto my thoughts this week! What I’ve been thinking about is noticing and paying attention to the moments that are fine. Or even good.


There are so many parallels in this pandemic with running a marathon, so I’ll start there. First up, in a marathon, the closer you get to the finish line, the harder it gets. There is no sense of relief with 10K to go. And please for the love of god, if you’re ever cheering for anyone running a marathon, never ever say “You’re almost there!” unless they are steps and I mean steps away from the finish line. And I think that’s where we find ourselves in this pandemic. We’ve put in the work and the time which have led us to this place pretty exhausted. And although yes, we have less actual time to go, it is all relative. It is so much harder now as we get closer to where we want to be. That is precisely because of all the work we’ve already done. Starting fresh, we could do this last bit no problem. But we’re not fresh. And everyone knows the marathon STARTS at 30K.


Most people also know that good marathoners work on their mental game as much as their physical game. One thing they really practice and get good at is staying in the moment.


Don’t think about how hard it is now, and how far you have to go, and that there’s no way you can maintain this pace given how this feels. That is the kiss of death in the last third of any race. Instead, seasoned racers who can push themselves to the limit think “right now, this is ok. Right now, I can put one more foot in front of the other”. They know their brains are bad at projecting and can get overwhelmed, but that a series of manageable present moments add up. They often don’t think beyond the next kilometer, or sometimes even the next footstep.


So don’t think:  “these days are so hard, I’ll never make it two or more months”. Just remind yourself that right now, you are ok. I was walking during sunset with a friend the other evening, and I said “this is all very hard. But this right now is really nice.” We smiled and enjoyed the moment. It’s up to you to notice those fine or good moments. Even during a time of difficulty they will appear, so it’s up to you to pay attention and savour them. That’s where you’ll find your mental strength to go on.


On to workouts for this week!


ATB racers – I hope you’re taking a good chunk of time off. No running for up to a week and then nothing structured for at least another. Then let your body and motivation guide you.


Everyone else:


  1. 5-7 x 1K w 1:45 rec. Start at HM pace and if feeling good can work down to 10K pace.
  2. If doing fartlek: 5-7 x 4 min Hard, 1:45 Easy
  3. If your legs are bored or tired or needing something different, do a drills and strides “workout”. 2-3K w-up, 20 mins of drills, 4-5 strides, 2K c-dn
  4. Tempo: try this – a few of us did it the other weekend and it was different and fun – 2/3 of your regular qty of hills followed by 2/3 your regular tempo. So something like 3-4 hills followed by 15-20 mins of tempo. The tempo is actually a relief after the hills!


Have fun everyone!





April 6, 2021 – The confidence to do less

Hi Everyone!


Hope you all had an amazing and chocolatey weekend.


What I’ve been thinking about this week is confidence. But not confidence as it applies to “going out and getting it”, but confidence as it applies to being able to step back and slow down. And yes, that does take confidence – in yourself and your ability to be able to pick back up when you’re stronger and ready.


When this pandemic hit us all over a year ago, I was included among those who felt vulnerable and insecure. How would I keep going without all of my usual supports and structures and tethering events, people and places? Well, I could just put the pedal down and make sure I didn’t stop. Because who knows what would happen if I stopped?


Many of us apply the same strategy to other areas of life. Just don’t stop moving. Be busy. Keep getting stuff done.


I came across a quote a while ago: “Being busy isn’t the same thing as adding value.”


When we are feeling insecure and lacking in confidence, we can easily mistake the two things.


In running, there are times where you have to trust yourself and have the confidence to take a break. Whether that’s a day or two off a week or a week or two off every now and then, is up to you and your needs. But you have to KNOW it won’t make you slower or lazy or less of an athlete. In fact it’s the opposite. Running more doesn’t always add more value. The most confident and secure runners know this and live by it. The most successful runners are not the ones who do the most and the hardest workouts. And let me tell you – it takes a huge amount of confidence to watch someone else do more than you and yet stick to your plan. But I have seen it play out in race results time and again: very often what looks like less can actually give you better results.


Similarly, it takes confidence to slow down in life and take time for yourself without always having to “be busy”. We all know “busy people” who can’t sit down. They don’t exactly imbue a sense of confidence. They are being driven by perceived judgement – of themselves and others. Yes, there is always something to be done – just like you can always run more miles. But maybe pausing and thinking about what real value you are adding can help you more. Very often we are “adding value” without producing anything tangible. That takes confidence to see and be content with.


I think at this point in the pandemic, we should all stop clinging frantically to movement and forward motion and task completion, and remind ourselves that we’ll be ok – even better – if we embrace a pause. Take a week or two off running. Be the person who has time and presence to be available for others. Spend an hour or two on a contemplative walk. And don’t consider these things “cheating” or extravagances. Consider them investments in yourself and those around you. We won’t fall into a pit of inertia. We won’t stop and never start again. Try to find the confidence to pause, take a break, and come back recharged and stronger with the mental, physical and emotional energy that add real value where you want it.


Onto workouts for this week!


  1. Hills if you haven’t done them in a while. I snuck in a few on the weekend and my butt is now reminding me that it had been a while. Just steady up and down and add some shorter power hills at the end if you have time!
  2. If you did do hills on the weekend, let’s do a Lakeshore wrkt: 1 mile (2 mins), 4 x 800 w 1:30, (2 mins) 1 mile – miles at HM pace, 800’s at 10K. Let’s keep this one restrained pace-wise
  3. If doing tempo style: 7 min, (2 min easy), 4 x 3:30 on, 1:30 off), (2 min easy), 7 min
  4. If doing ATB this weekend! Taper workout: 2 x 800 @ race pace w 1:30 rest, 4 x 200 w full recovery – just relaxed and fast


Enjoy and see you on the roads!





March 30, 2021 – Listening

Hi Everyone!


First up, huge congrats to more Achilles runners! Gillian Irving ran her first EVER 5K and beat her 25 minute goal time with a 24:52! Also Jon Feasby crushed his predicted time and ran 19:45!!! Sub-20 club. (he was already a member but from a *short time ago 😉 ) We still have a few to come in, so keep the results coming in to me as you do it!


I’ve had to give myself some reminders this past week, so I thought I’d remind some of you as well (although many of you are probably like, d-uh Seanna – that’s so obvious!)


The reminder is to listen. Deeply. To the outside world and to ourselves.


When I started running in the ‘90’s there were no GPS watches, and you could run with a Sony Walkman, but it was pretty clunky and heavy and only played one tape, so I never tried it. Running connected me with my place and with myself.


I’ve noticed recently that as much as I “don’t care” what my watch says, I know it’s there, and it influences me. There is emotion tied to how I “should” feel at a certain pace – even when it’s not a run without any other goal than to just run. So I’ve started running with just my old digital Timex again, and I’m loving it. I can listen and respond to how my body is feeling without any external judgement or influence. I know about how far I cover in 30 or 60 minutes. If I misjudge my distance slightly, it won’t be by any significant measure that will affect me. I am feeling much more free and in touch with myself and I’m loving it.


The second behaviour I’ve fallen into – more recently over COVID – has been listening to something while I’m running. Maybe I’ve needed the distraction from myself, or maybe I’ve been craving information and a feeling of interaction with others. Either way, it’s become more often than not a habit when I step out the door. I will tell you though: in my 30+ years of running and not listening to anything for almost all of it, I have never once in my life had the feeling of boredom. Not once. And I’ve trained for multiple marathons solo. I feel that by not listening to anything, you become better friends with yourself. Give yourself this one activity to be with just you. You can plug in while doing a billion other things. But there is something about running and actually hearing your own footfalls, your breathing, the birds, the bugs, the wind, the rain, dogs barking, the cars, peoples’ conversation as you pass, that connects you physically to your place here. Don’t tune it all out – take it all in – you are part of it. And your brain loves it. Physical movement and free flowing thoughts and ideas go hand in hand. But not if you’re clogging up your brain with other people’s thoughts and ideas – as good as they might be!


So that’s what I’m doing and I invite anyone who isn’t doing it to join me. Run without listening to gadgets and electronics and data that someone else has decided you might need. You’ll become way more sensitive to hearing things like your own internal cues, you might start to notice which birds live along which routes you run, and I do believe you’ll become a better companion to yourself.


Ok, onto workouts for this week! 2 options depending on whether you’re training for a Half and above, or 5K/10K’s:


  1. Half’s, 30K’s and Marathoners: 8-12 x 600 w 1:30 rest. This looks like a lot, and it is. The key here will be finding a rhythm and not straining. Start at half marathon pace and see if you can work down to 10K pace. Please only do 12 if you’re feeling good and are in a building phase. ATB peeps, you’re coming down now, so keep to the lower end.


  1. As fartlek! 8-12 x 2:30 Hard, 1:30 easy


  1. If aiming for more of the 5K/10K realm: 2 x 800 w 1:30, 3 min, 2 x (4 x 400) w 45 sec jog (or 100m jog), 3 min b/w sets


  1. Tempo option: 12 min, 6 min, 6 min all w 3 min jog


That is all – enjoy and see you on the roads!