This is what it feels like!

Hi All!


First up I want to congratulate everyone on their resiliency and positive attitudes in training (or accepting not training) through what has been a pretty challenging week and winter with the snow, cold and lack of gyms or indoor tracks. Don’t forget that if you’re training for a marathon, one of the most important things to practice is patience! So we’re all working that muscle.


I think in my last email I mentioned I’d come back to Keira D’Amatto and her recent American Record in the marathon. So here I am again. I’m probably not done yet either. But what I’ve been thinking about this time is about a post which one of her pacers – Calum Neff – posted. He said that for most of the race, he could tell that Keira was not “flowing” and did not feel good. The pace was strained and uncomfortable. He looked at the clock at 20 miles and they were just barely hanging onto their mark and it wasn’t easy. Then he said something to Keira – “THIS is what it feels like to run an American record!” Like, d-uh. But so good! Of course! Of course it isn’t going to feel easy! But just that reminder that it’s ok for hard things to feel hard. Don’t panic. Don’t fight it. Don’t tell yourself the feeling shouldn’t be there or is signaling something is wrong. This is just what it feels like!


Sometimes running paces and times seem to come with an easier effort than others. I don’t always trust my memory in telling me how easy I recall something to have been though. When I end up with a good result, I always remember it as having been easier. I know that’s my storytelling brain though and probably wasn’t the case in the moment. So then when I’m back in the moment I could easily think “it shouldn’t feel this hard”. But it should. This is what it feels like. It’s what it feels like to get back into shape. It’s what it feels like to train through a Canadian winter for a spring marathon. It’s what it feels like to run your 5th or 6th repeat at a pace you’re not sure your legs can hold onto. It’s what it feels like to extend your long runs beyond what you’re used to. It’s what it feels like to run on dead legs after a bike workout. It’s what it feels like 5 minutes into a tempo pace when you’re sure you can’t hold it but have 5 minutes to go. You’re not weak or doing it wrong – it’s SUPPOSED to feel like that! The best you can do is not attach the feeling to anything else – just accept it and keep going. And as Neff said, the real feeling you’re chasing comes at the end. And that will feel soooo good.


Onto tomorrow’s Workout!


Guys, it’s supposed to be -20C with a windchill of -29C at 6 am. All feelings aside, I think this is just not safe or very effective for a good interval workout. The footing isn’t great as of this am, running hard in that cold is very tough on your body, hitting paces is near impossible, and risk of injury goes way up. So I will give you options:


  1. If you have a treadmill or are currently somewhere warm with solid footing, here is the workout: 1600 (1:45 rest) 1200 (1:45 rest) 800 (1:30 rest) 600 (1:15 rest) 400 (1:00 rest) 2 x 200 (45 sec rest)

Start at 10K pace and get a bit faster with each one as you go.

  1. Or do similar fartlek style by effort: 6-5-4-3-2-1-1 min Hard, 1:45-1 min easy
  2. Do a workout on the bike trainer (actually I just read a really interesting study showing that high intensity bike workouts boosted Vo2max levels in runners which translated to faster running times with no additional running training) – Do the same efforts as above, but if you have the time, repeat 2 x (sorry – your body can just handle more intensity on the bike, so go for it!) – 3 min easy pedalling bw sets
  3. If you want to show up at 6:15 at Leslie and Lakeshore for a social, I will plan to be there. Wearing LOTS of clothes! Then I will do option 3 later in the day.
  4. Strength train. ALWAYS helps. (msg me if you need ideas)


That is all – have a great one – stay safe, stay upright and stay warm!





It’s only fun if it’s fun

Hi Everyone!


Hope you’re all getting out to play in the snow dump we got yesterday. I know that for many a huge weather event like this can cause serious disruptions, struggle and hardship. That’s not to be dismissed or taken lightly. But for many of us (especially if you’re in the under-20 crowd), it seems to have unlocked a sense of fun. I know many of us got outside yesterday and today whether on toboggans, snowshoes, skis, or even in running shoes, and the attitude I sensed was one of adventure and fun.


As many of you fans of running probably know, the American marathon record of 16 years was just broken this past weekend in Houston by Keira D’Amato in a time of 2hrs and 19 minutes. You might be saying, “Who??” D’Amato is a 37-year old mother of two and realtor. More about her story in a later newsletter, but what has struck me the most about her is her sense of “fun” in her running. From an article on her prior to her record: “D’Amato recalls two “fun-memorable” workouts that she did prior to her 5000-meter time trial. (She says “fun” a lot in conversation.)” The “fun” workout was 41 x 200 which she did to play a joke on her coach.


When reading about D’Amato I also think of Molly Seidel. Seidel was another runner who seemingly came out of “nowhere” to finish third in the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics. Seidel also exudes a sense of “fun” when she runs. She likes running with amateurs more than pros because they remind her that running part of her life – not her whole life. She had so much fun before the Olympic marathon, just enjoying herself and the moment, that the British team afterwards told her they were wondering whether she’d even finish the race because she was having too much fun in the hotel. Seidel also recently set the FKT (fastest known time) for a 10K dressed in a turkey suit (34:33 if you were wondering).


There are many athletes and people at the top of their game who I admire, but these ladies have something special. They know how to get the most out of themselves by being true to themselves and keeping it fun. I know we all know how to have fun – I’ve seen it in all of you! The trick is trying to keep that attitude going. I’m not saying absolutely every run has to be a barrel of laughs, but it is definitely possible to have fun doing hard things. It’s up to all of us to figure out how to tap into that mindset and make adjustments so that our training resembles our own sense of fun. As my friend recently reminded me, her coach used to tell her “It’s only fun if it’s fun”. Sounds simple, but say it to yourself a few times. It’s actually pretty meaningful.


Ok, onto tomorrow’s FUN workout!

(it’s actually pretty standard. You have to bring the fun 😉 )


  1. 4-8 x 800 w 1:30 rest

That is all. I’ve given a range based on where you are in your training. The key here is to keep them all a similar pace. Let’s not worry too much about pace because although the path is cleared, I’m not sure how salted vs slippery it will be. Basically this is a benchmark workout which we will revisit later on, so it’s ok if it’s not your absolute best ever – in fact better if it’s not. This is the start from which you will get faster.


I will be there at 6:05 for drills, 6:15 GO time.


Hope to see ya there!







Charging Forward

Hi Everyone!


Hope you’re all figuring out your layering and bundling for running this winter. I’ve made a few misjudgements this past week, but I think I’m getting the hang of it again.


You know what else I’ve been feeling these past two weeks – besides cold? All of your positive energy and excitement towards running. And it’s really rubbing off on me! We’re entering our second winter of COVID restrictions and looking at our third spring of race uncertainties and potential cancellations. And do you know what I feel we’ve learned? To stop getting beaten down by it. We’ve been through this. We know how it goes. We train hard towards our goals, but we remain flexible and nimble and adaptable if they change. We don’t moan and complain and sit on the couch and wait it out. We get out there and charge ahead, and every now and then the clouds break and we get to run a race or go to a destination, even if it’s not exactly how it used to be, and we celebrate that. I’m feeling like this January, despite restrictions on gatherings, gym and other closures, race uncertainties, an inability to make absolute plans, and really an unknown deadline to all of it, we are going forward with the energy and enthusiasm of the pre-2020 years! Obviously this is something that comes from a pre-learned pattern. We know how to get excited and work together to share our energy. This is resiliency. It’s standing tall despite the waves crashing over us. And it’s not just going through the motions in order to be defiant – I can tell it’s a true sensation of “I’m not beaten down, I’m excited to charge ahead”. I can tell this from the attitudes that I’m seeing showing up to runs and workouts. I can tell from the conversations I’m hearing around race goals and training plans. I can tell from workouts I’ve done with people where we’ve found that old energy of leaning in together again. It all feels like less of a struggle and more like enthusiasm and fun. And it’s contagious! (sorry – trigger word). But seriously, I’m super excited and super proud of us. Maybe we let ourselves get down for a bit there, but damn – we know when enough is enough! Time to work together, get fit, and charge towards new goals. Thank-you for sharing that with me.


Onto tomorrow’s workout:


Hills with a twist:

  1. Meet at the Riverdale Clubhouse (Riverdale Park, south side, at Broadview).
    1. 4-6 x hard up the cement hill (from the washrooms all the way to the sidewalk = ~ 200m) – run back down between reps. Take 2 mins at the top, THEN run 8 mins tempo (up Broadview to Danforth is about 1K so most won’t get further than that in an out-and back). REPEAT. So 8-12 x hills, 2 x 8 min total.


I’m not sure how this will feel, with the volume and intensity which is why there’s such a range. If we consider they’re about half of Pottery distance-wise, then that’s a pretty good volume with the tempo pieces.


The reasoning behind this: We know how to run hills and we know how to run hard. People running hilly races (Boston, Around The Bay, even Mississauga with a significant jarring downhill first portion) need to know how to run hard in between hills. So … practice makes perfect!


*I am getting boosted this aft so really hoping for minimal side-effects but will def be there even if I can’t fully participate


Thanks All – see you soon!






Hi Everyone!


As we re-enter the now familiar routine of closures and restrictions, I think it’s more important than ever to look at our goals and resolutions for 2022. Not in the “I want to improve myself” sense, but in the “what excites and drives me” sense.


I agree, at this current moment, it’s not easy to feel bright, inspired and optimistic. Especially if we are on social media and allow ourselves to listen to too much of other peoples’ negative headspaces. So here’s my challenge to you: find a way to get yourself inspired and excited for what’s next. Screw the negative bullshit and find a person or event or challenge that gets you fired up. I know we all know how to take a deep breath and get to work on hard things that we “should” be doing. That’s not what I want for this year’s goals. I want you to find that inner spark of passion. I know it’s there – we’ve all had it at some point. You may have to work a little to rekindle it. So work for it. Take some time to really think about what inspires you and gets you excited. Read stories of other people who have this spark. Here are some I’ve found inspiring lately: Tommy Rivs, Shalane Flannagan, Lanni Marchant. If you don’t know their stories, look them up, but basically they’ve all been dealt different life circumstances and challenges and continue to find passion and purpose through running – all three in very different forms than they once did. There are more out there. Look for them (and share them!)


Wayne Gretzky said that no one ever once told him to practice as a kid. The hours he spent on the ice alone in his backyard which eventually developed him into “The Great One” came from his own inner flame. It wasn’t  a work ethic or talent that drove his success – it was passion.


So this year, don’t try to better yourself, or improve a time or a habit just because you think you should. Instead, find a way to rekindle your passion. When you have that drive, you won’t need willpower or discipline to keep going, and obstacles like restrictions, closures and cancellations will only be pylons to sidestep as you follow your inner path.



Onto tomorrow’s workout! (Gatherings are now limited to 10 ppl outdoors. Let’s see who shows up tomorrow – if we’re more than 10 we can split into two groups and start at opposite sides of the path and run towards each other.)

I will be there for 6:05 drills, 6:15 GO TIME. If anyone wants to group up for an earlier or later time, feel free!


  1. 6-10 x 600 w 200 jog.

The key to this workout is keeping it continuous (we’ve done this one before). Keep the 600’s at 10K effort – no faster and the 200’s at a pace that is not an easy jog. As you adapt and improve on this workout, the parameter that changes is that your 200’s get faster. The stimulus here is teaching your body to deal with and use lactate as fuel. So don’t get hung up on your 600 times – work for the effect, not the workout “performance”.



  1. If doing this fartlek style, 6-10 x 2:30 Hard(ish), 45 seconds Medium


Please let me know if anyone has any questions!


Hope to see some of you tomorrow.