Can running make you happy?

Hi Everyone!


Huge congrats to all of our racers on Sunday. Those were some hot and challenging conditions, and you all put your hearts and bodies on the line and went for it. I am so proud of you!


What I’ve been thinking about: More than once I have heard someone say to myself or someone else: “Wow. You run/bike/workout so much. I wish I could do that”. And I think Do you? Why? If you’re happy not doing all of that so much, why wish yourself into a bigger compulsion? Running doesn’t make you a better person. But then I thought … does it – can it make you happier?


I was listening to a podcast where the guest defined happiness as a combination of these three macro-ingredients: Pleasure, Satisfaction and Purpose. The trick is in finding the balance between all of these three. Under this lens, I would say then that running certainly can provide all of these ingredients. 


The pleasure principle in running might not seem obvious at first (because it takes some will and faith to get there), but there are definitely some runs I have with friends or even solo on a beautiful day when my thoughts and legs are flowing, that feel like pure pleasure. It just feels good. There is definitely a large dose of pleasure in the post-run glow of endorphins and dopamine. Again, it takes some work to get there, but it’s definitely part of the equation.


Satisfaction with running is an obvious one. We set a goal, work towards it, learn a lot along the way, and sometimes achieve it. Sometimes we don’t. But there are definitely satisfying milestones along the way. The key here is setting yourself up so that you can be satisfied. Never-ending goals always outside of your reach are not satisfying, and therefore not part of the happiness equation. But neither is never reaching or striving, and always sitting in your comfort zone, so there is an elusive balance there also. We have to learn how to make it satisfying to ourselves.


Purpose is a big one. Can you find purpose in your running? Many people can. I believe the people who have been in it the longest have found purpose. Purpose through running can be things like finding and contributing to community. It can be the relationships. It can be being a mentor or a mentee. It can be finding the growth and learning opportunities whether you succeed or fail. It can be taking what you’ve learned and using it to help others – in running or other areas of life. I see that a lot in our community. There is a big, purposeful generous spirit here.


So, can running make you happy? Maybe it can. Win or lose, it’s being able to find pleasure in the moments, enjoying the striving, and learning and giving back. And maybe those people who wished they ran/biked/worked out more are actually wishing they had the key to happiness.


Onto tomorrow’s workout – back to Lakeshore! 6:05 drills, 6:15 Go time (we’ll be sharp bc people are back in offices now)


  1. Cut-downs! 1600-1200-1000-800-600-400-200 – all w 2 mins. Starting at tempo and working down in pace. I leave it up to you guys how much you want to lean into these. If training for an upcoming race or trying to get your fitness up, you can start hard and finish harder. If you’re talking yourself into it one rep at a time, start easy and see how it goes. Both are fine and fit into different phases of life and training.


  1. If doing this fartlek style, 6-5-4-3-2-1-(30sec) min Hard w 2 mins Easy.


That is all – have fun and see you soon!





Just slow down

Hi Everyone!


Hope you all had a great long weekend and were able to spend time outside and with family. I don’t think anyone from this crew raced anything this past weekend, but correct me if I’m wrong. Coming up we have Ottawa! Kerry in the half and Fran and Gillian in the full. Sending all our collective energy your way!


I’ve been thinking lately about big, long undertakings. Especially as I try to increase my time biking in preparation for this Ironman. One thing my training partners and I have repeated to ourselves is this: if it feels too hard at any point, slow down. It’s amazing how calming and reassuring this statement is to me. You can just slow down! We all know how to push hard and go fast and make it hurt. And it’s good to know we have this gear. But we don’t always have to use it. In fact, in most events until the very end, and in at least 80-85% of training, we shouldn’t be touching it. I find it funny that I need to remind myself that I have permission to slow down, but just telling myself this makes me feel relaxed and like I can complete what I set out to do.


I’ve even started using this in other areas. Sometimes I take a look at my to-do list and feel such a sense of overwhelm that I just start unproductively flitting back and forth between frantic things. Sure, I can try to whip through everything at hyper-speed, but just the thought of that burns me out. So I tell myself to take a deep breath, and give myself permission to move slowly and accomplish one thing. Everything doesn’t have to feel hard. I can slow down and take my time and get it done. It is amazing how just this mentality can give you breathing room and energy. For me anyway. Maybe most of you have caught on to this long ago! I am newly embracing it though. Slow is way better than “all out or nothing”. Just keep moving. It’ll get you there.


On to tomorrow’s workout – back to Leslie and Lakeshore – 6:05 for drills, 6:15 Go time.


  1. 1 mile tempo, 3 min rest, 4 x 400 w 1 min rest, 3 min rest, 4 x 400 w 1:30 rest, 3 min rest 2-4 x 200 w 1 min rest


This is a classic track workout. It’s pointing at 5K fitness, so not particularly slow. The key is the rest. It’s broken up so you can hit your times without over-extending too much. In a track workout like this, the rest interval will tell you a lot. When we give the workout to our competitive track crew, it is the rest that tells them how fast to go. Sometimes we even say 7 minutes rest before something. That doesn’t mean we are being super generous and nice. It means that next thing is supposed to be pretty damn hard and we want you recovered for it. Don’t worry – we’re not doing this at this point! But just letting you know that the longer rest in the second set implies that you pick it up a few seconds per 400.


I get that this workout doesn’t really follow the theme of my email, but in order to slow down you have to have a faster baseline which you touch sometimes. You can’t slow down from standing still.


  1. If racing in Ottawa, sleep in if it will serve you better! If up and want company, 1 mile at race pace, then 4 x 400 just a tad quicker but not over-extending.


That is all – see you in the am!






Hi Everyone!


Hope you all managed to get some runs in in the heat this past weekend. May as well just get it over with and get some of those hotter, ego-challenging runs in now. You will adapt, but only if you do it!


Isn’t the greenery and full summer vibrancy of colours amazing right now? It feels like it happened overnight. I don’t even remember noticing any buds and suddenly we have full foliage straight from what looked like dead winter branches. But obviously there was a lot happening in all the plants and trees preparing to bloom. In fact, the buds we are seeing blossoming on trees now were formed last August! They were then protected and fed and sheltered until the time was right, and it appears as though they’ve just burst forth from nowhere. It looks like it’s just taken a few days for nature to transform itself, when in reality the transformation has been taking place for the past 9-10 months.


Sometimes I think our training feels like it follows a similar pattern. Often someone will produce a great result or we will surprise ourselves with a training session that we could never have fathomed a year or two or three ago. And we might think: “well, I guess that person is really talented” or “I must have had this in me all along”. But that’s not true. Those “out of the blue” results come from months and sometimes even years of patient work that from the outside might look like it’s not progressing. But it always is. It’s the bud that is formed in August and is protected and fed and nurtured until it is ready to bloom. There is a lot of unglamorous work and seeming day-to-day stagnation that happens in training. And this is the most important stuff. It takes faith and patience, but the truth is that months and sometimes years of patient work is the foundation of strength and development that is required for a full bloom. And then when it happens, people will say, “where did that come from?” “What did you do differently?” And they will look for the “magic workouts” and few “key runs” that made it happen. I’ve seen this pattern in athletes who jump from program to program hoping to find the one that will bring success. When in reality it is the ground-laying, non-results based work that makes the real long term difference. Consistency, consistency, consistency. It’s not glamorous, it’s not sexy, but man, it works.


It wasn’t that one warm, sunny week in May that we had that produced the leaves we’re enjoying now. It was the months and months of careful nurturing through the dead of winter when no one could see anything exciting happening. So keep working and keep the faith! You will blossom when you’re ready.



Onto tomorrow’s workout – Back to hills! With a twist and non-hill option for Ottawa people:


Riverdale Hill (by the clubhouse at Broadview across from The Rooster)


  1. Sets of 3 x hill (nice and powerful) then walk across the street and run tempo the block from Riverdale, to Logan, to Withrow to Broadview. The entire loop is about 1.3K. Walk back to the hill and repeat this sequence 3-4 times.


  1. If doing the Ottawa Marathon or Half Marathon: Do 6 x that loop with 1:30 rest. No hills. First three at half marathon pace, next three a little faster. Option of a 7th at race pace.


  1. If in the beach or doing on your own, the Riverdale hills is about 200m, and you can do a 1K loop or out and back.


I’ll be there at 6:05 for some light warm-ups before we start!


See you soon 






Hi Everyone!


We had some fun races this past weekend: a few people ran the Sporting Life 10K as part of their long run, some raced it (including our 75-year-old honourary member Tim Hammil), and we had a few people who ran a 14K trail run in Kelso. I hear there are some hills out that way! Way to go all!


This weekend I attended a coaching course put on by Athletics Canada. It was a neat course, but one of the best things about it was the opportunity to meet with other coaches and discuss different coaching theories, techniques, questions and shared experiences. What I found very interesting was that we had a mix of long-time athletes who had competed at the university level, an Olympian, a multi-sport athlete and a newer community run group based runner. But no one was the expert. We laughed about some of the “old ways” we used to do things. The Olympian struggled with some of the new drills we were introduced. There were some scenarios that we had to agree to disagree on, but we’re still rolling them over in our minds. What this led me to understand is that we never stop learning. Once you become an “expert” in something, if you think you have all the answers, you are in trouble. And sometimes you can learn the most from the new person who asks the right questions.


That’s why I love coaching this group. Each one of you presents a unique compilation of strengths and weaknesses and physical, emotional and intellectual make-ups. It is a puzzle to figure out how to put all of those into a pot and come out with a perfect creation. Sometimes we over or under cook it a bit, and sometimes we realize we left out an ingredient or two, or maybe added something that made the flavours not perfectly balance. All that means is that we are learning. I have experience, but I by no means have all the answers. I love it when you come to me and say “hey, I think I need this”, or “I’d like to try this”. I’ll let you know if I think it’s way off base, but for the most part, I’m totally open to learning with you. So thank-you all for continuing to experiment and teach me as we go. This lifelong learning thing really is fun.


Onto tomorrow’s workout: Back to Lakeshore! 6:05 drills, 6:15 GO time


3 sets of 3 x 600 w 1:15 rest. 3 minutes between sets. The trick: start at a pace that you’ll be able to shave 2-3 seconds off per set. So first 3 probably around 10K pace, next three a bit faster, last three a bit faster. IF you are training for an upcoming 5K or 10K: take 3 minutes and then do one last one fast. Ottawa people, depending on how you feel at the end, you can do one last one at Half or Marathon race pace.


Fartlek style: 3 x 2 min @ 10K pace w 1:15 easy, 3 easy, 3 x 2 min faster w 1:15 easy, 3 min easy, 3 x 2 min faster w 1:15 easy. Option of one last fast 2 min section after 3 min easy.


If you raced Mississauga or Sporting Life and are not training through for something else, keep the paces all at the first set pace. Just a re-entry into “speed” work without too much extending.


If speed work is still relatively new to you, do 3 x (2 x 600). Nail the effort before going for volume.


Sound fun? See you in the am!