Adjusting our sails

Hi Everyone!


Hope you’re all having happy and healthy holidays. I know this year they’ve been filled with a fair bit of anxiety and plan changes for most, but man – are we ever working and strengthening those resiliency muscles!


I’m currently surrounded by and hanging out with windsurfers. A different species from runners to be sure. In order to become a good windsurfer, you have to be fairly driven and hard-working as there is a significant learning curve – especially at the beginning. But the interesting thing about windsurfers is that while they are driven and focused, they also have to be incredibly flexible and open-minded. When your entire sport relies on wind and waves, you have to have the right attitude or you’ll go crazy. There is just so much you can’t control. You have to be optimistic, and ready to go when it’s good, but accept the waiting period when it’s not. You also have to be ready to make changes when the weather changes. You may have rigged up a certain sized sail and headed out, only to find the wind has changed. You then have to come in, de-rig, and rig up a new sail to fit the new conditions. That’s just what you accept as part of the sport – you adapt and change according to the conditions. And when the conditions are good, you delight in it, and don’t take any of it for granted. Because you know it will change again.


I think there’s a lot we runners can take from this attitude and approach to life. We are used to being able to control so many variables. We plan out and strive to hit specific mileage and pace targets weeks and months in advance, without holding a space for the things we can’t control. We are not used to adjusting our sails or waiting with patient optimism and excitement for a new window of opportunity to open up. We stress when things go off plan and have a hard time waking up and saying “I will approach my day based on what the day and conditions have given me”. Instead, we try to force our plan into the day, even if it really doesn’t fit.


Fair: planning and training for running and endurance events is quite different than action sports. But as we make goals and plans for the new year, maybe we can borrow some of the mindset and attitudes from other athletes that might serve us better – especially in times of unpredictability. I’m going to try to be better at adjusting my sails based on conditions, delighting in the good days, and patiently waiting out the bad ones.


Workout for this week:


For this week I know many are still away and on different schedules, so let’s do a fartlek workout which you can do when, where and with whom suits you:


10-15 min easy jog warm-up, 4 sets of 3-2-1 min Hard with 1 min easy, 3 min easy b/w sets, 10 min easy jog c-dn


Have a great one and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Looking forward to seeing y’all in 2022 





Control what you can

Hi Everyone!


Well, what can I say. This is supposed to be a rejoicing and celebrating time, but for many of us right now it is mixed with a large dose of anxiety, disappointment and maybe even illness. That’s not to say it’s all bad – we will still do what we can to celebrate with our loved ones and get outside for runs and play and read good books and eat good food and drink good drinks.


This makes me think of the anxiety many athletes feel before big competitions. Sports psychologists and coaches have to remind us that we should only spend energy on things we can control. And even that – within reason. Here’s what we can control: showing up to workouts, working on our positive mindset throughout workouts, our nutrition, our sleep (to an extent), how we will conduct ourselves within the race. Here is what we can’t control: the weather on the day of our competition, who else will show up, what our competitors will do, whether we get sick or injured over the course of training. We are told to be as prepared as we can with what we can control, and take a deep breath, and not worry about the uncontrollables. As long as we are confident with what we’ve done then we will do our best and accept the outcome. And again – this is all within reason. Most athletes will probably reflect that there was a tiny bit more they could have done, but at a certain point that becomes obsessive, and you just have to be ok with what you’ve done as your best effort. Not to mention, doing “more” could start to bring diminishing returns.


I feel like a similar mindset might help us right now. Yes, there are many things we can control. Get on top of those things. We can get vaccinated, get boosted, wear masks, follow public health guidelines, work on our compassionate mindset … But at a certain point we have to say “I’m doing all I can do within reason” and then be ok with that. We shouldn’t expend energy on things we can’t control: what other people are doing, what mutations the virus will take next, what restrictions we’ll be facing next. At some point we just have to say, I’ve done the best I can and I will deal with whatever comes my way. Locking yourself in a cave with no social contact or activities for an unforeseeable future is likely not going to benefit your overall health and well-being – that’s the obsessive mindset leading to diminishing returns. So do what you can and then be ready to deal with whatever comes your way.  And while we’re at it, let’s all throw in a good dose of compassion and grace for ourselves and our neighbours. We could all use more of that.



Workout for this week is hills!

With a twist. For these ones, here’s the drill (and only if the footing is ok – I’m not sure what it’s like in TO right now):

Run down fast, up easy.

The key here is to run down with a strong stride and mid-to-forefoot strike (vs. sitting back on your heels). This does two things: 1 – reinforces a long stride length with power (not over-striding, but covering more ground with each stride) and 2 – really works those eccentric contractions for strength. Coming down with more force will be harder on your muscles. Expect to feel a little sore the next day, but this is good training for those of you getting ready for hilly races!

Same number as usual – don’t raise the volume – this is a new strength stimulus!


Pottery or hill in the Beach. I leave it to you guys to coordinate.


Enjoy! I’ll do my own version here.








Restorative training

Hi All!


Wow, December can feel hectic, can’t it? For most people December is a good time to exercise restoratively. What does this mean? As with most things in life – it’s different for everyone!


That’s one of the things I love about coaching and advising people – there is no one prescription of “take this and call me in January”. We have to understand ourselves before we jump into what someone has told us we need.


I’m sure we’ve all heard the well-meaning advice from non-running friends who say “just take a break when you’re super busy – relax!” Ha. Ha. Ha. When has not running ever made any of us feel more relaxed? But what I’m learning is that different types of stimuli are more restorative to certain people and others for others. For example, I know there are many in this group who love nothing more than a good long swim to unwind. I would like to do these, but they take all my mental and physical energy and they are certainly not relaxing. For myself, any long run up to 90 minutes can feel restorative. I have a low sensitivity to this stimulus and so I can do it and feel mentally and physically recharged. I like short sprints and strength, but I have a high sensitivity to those stimuli – I can feel sore for days and I can’t do too much of it before I’m fried. For others it’s the opposite – the gym might be where they recharge and the long runs can feel draining. I know some people who find that yoga puts them into a rage! I find that hilarious. But then – why do it? Because other people tell you it’s good for you? You know when it’s not.


There is no good or bad in this. You can get to the same results through different means. I was listening to a podcast talking about exactly this – they had three 800m runners running the exact same times by the end of the season. But the athletes couldn’t train together other than the warm-up because their sensitivities and responses to different training stimuli differed so much. One thrived on long aerobic runs whereas that tired out and broke down another. One thrived on really short, fast efforts, which would injure one of the others. And one was a hybrid of the two. And their final results were the same to the second.


All this to say, be honest with what feels good for you and try to figure that out this month. Don’t do what you’ve read another athlete does. Don’t do things that feel hard but “should” feel easy. Figure out what is restorative to you. And do as much of that as you want.  


Onto tomorrow’s workout! This will be the last one I’m in town for (negative COVID tests willing) – I’ll send along workouts for the rest of the month as we go though.

Lakeshore and Leslie – 6:00 for warm-ups, 6:15 GO TIME:


  1. 1 mile tempo (to get your body warmed up), 2 mins, 2 sets of 4 x 400 w 1, 2 mins bw sets. Option to finish w 1 mile at mara or ATB pace.
  2. If new or just getting into workouts, do 800m to start vs 1 mile (turn at the 400 marker) and leave out the final mile.


See y’all in the am!






Hi Everyone!


First up, congrats to Andrew Higgs who pulled together a 6-week training plan and ran a 3:06 marathon at CIM – just off his PB! (not that I recommend this as a training strategy for most – lol) 


Next, just a reminder- ‘tis the season for layers and lights. In my opinion, more of both is better these days. Just keep putting them on and getting out there!


As many of you know, I am now doing personalized coaching for runners and I’m very excited about this. I was thinking about what excites me the most, and then I heard a term which captures it: Freudenfreude.


Many of us are familiar with the German term Schadenfreude – the malicious delight in the misfortune of others. We’ve probably all experienced this feeling at some point – it is part of the spectrum of human emotions afterall. But it’s not a sentiment that makes us feel particularly good about ourselves.


Apparently there is an opposite emotion to this: the feeling of genuinely rejoicing in the success of others. This is Freudenfreude. Buddhists have a term for it too: Mudita – the delight in other’s good fortune.


This feeling makes us feel good. We get to bask in the sunshine of others. More happiness for others means more for us as well.


This is the feeling I get when I coach. It is also I think the feeling that many of you get from being part of a community. It is added sunshine for all of us.


I’m not saying that if I don’t know someone I don’t want them to succeed, but there is sometimes just curiosity and detached indifference. If someone I don’t know runs a PB, sure, I’m happy for them, but I don’t feel inner joy. I love watching the race results of elite athletes because I’m a fan of the sport, but for most of them I find the results more entertainment than emotional investment.


But I want the Freudenfreude. In fact, I already have it for all of you! And I know that we all have it for each other too. When we invest in each other’s success, emotionally, physically and intellectually, this is what we get. We get to share the sunshine. And I know I don’t need to tell y’all it feels so good. 


Onto tomorrow’s workout (6:00 for drills, 6:15 start – Lakeshore and Leslie):


  1. 2 x 1200, 2 x 800, 2 x 600, 2 x 400 – 90 sec bw sets, 2:30 bw reps (feel free to jog to keep warm). 1200’s tempo, then up to you if you want to inch it down a bit. I might just stay there with pace. Keepin it a bit more mellow for now as we adapt to the colder temps.
  2. If you’re newer to workouts or want a little less, start with the 800’s. so 2 x 800, 2 x 600, 2 x 400. Add a few strides at the end as well. That is enough.


That’s all – see you in the am!