Process goals

Hi All!


Hope you’re all enjoying the cooler temps we’ve finally been getting. Although summer heat leads to fall PB’s, so you may want to hope for a few more sweltering days to get a bit more of the “poor person’s altitude training” in if you’re training for fall races! It feels bad, but it works.


What I’ve been thinking about lately is the concept of breaking down your goals into manageable “process goals”. Performance goals are scary, and to be honest, a bit too stressful to be holding onto at all times. Most of the time, it’s better not to think about them, and instead focus on something that is within your control.


I’m just feeling my way back into working hard again. And it really is all by feel. My body’s trying to bounce back, but I have to listen to it to know where I am in that rebound. The other day I was doing a tempo workout and someone asked me what paces I was going to go. I said, I have no idea – my goal is just to finish the sets at whatever pace it takes. And having that process goal was completely manageable and within me. I didn’t care how fast – I had a goal I could accomplish. Just finish. I could work on getting faster later.


In the elite training group I coach, we have moved our athletes to the grass as we train for cross-country season. Some people love cross country. For others (usually the shorter distance track specialists), it’s their kale. Just do it, it’s good for you. But they always have something negative to say. We gave one or two of them this goal the other day: Your only goal in this workout is not to complain. They really had to focus on not saying anything negative. But they succeeded. And guess who ended up having a good workout?  


Your process goals should be simple and completely within your control. Again, for swimming, I keep mine as basic as “get your body in the water”. I’ve never not swum after doing that, but I just can’t wrap my head around swimming PLUS performance.


Your goals can be very strategic: ie. My only goal for this long run is to consume a total of 4-5 gels – one every 30-40 minutes. If you complete that goal you will have successfully gotten through a long run.


The key is to not have a secret performance goals underneath. Truly, success is marked by finishing the workout, not complaining, getting in the water, consuming the gels… If you do those things, you have succeeded. The rest is gravy.


Tomorrow, we’re back to Pottery Road! Or a beach hill if you’re in the beach. I think many people are away this week, so if beachers want to consolidate and drive to Pottery, there will be a few people there to keep you company!


The workout: Straight up. 5-8 x steady hill. Steady up, easy down. If training for a fall marathon, add 8 mins @ goal race pace after a 2-3 min rest.


I will aim to be there close to 6:10-6:15-ish. Just get going when you get there and hopefully I’ll see a few people out!






Hi Everyone!


Congrats to our Sprint Triathletes Shauna C and Cassidy who raced it fast in Barrie last weekend! Shauna rocking another top-5 finish and Cassidy finishing first in the U-19 category!


I’ve been thinking lately about motivation. What it is, how we get it, why sometimes we have it and sometimes we just don’t. I’m thinking about this as I’m waiting for mine to build up again. But I also know it’s not always a passive act – to get motivated. Sometimes motivation lands on us, but sometimes, if we want to be following a certain course of action with passion, we can help to drive our own motivation.


I see motivation as a form of latent energy. You can only be motivated if you have energy. When I come in from a long training ride or run, suddenly all the motivation I might have had to clean my house is gone. Sure, I want a clean house, but not that badly. If you keep yourself constantly in the withdrawal side of the energy balance, you might find you’re just not as motivated for certain things as at other times. And this might not bother you! But I have found that freeing some of that energy up can lead to the thoughts and drive and excited plans for action that were just being suppressed. When I was doing a lot of training, I didn’t have a ton of motivation for creative endeavours, planning experiences with my family and friends, diving into new projects, reading and thinking deeply about things…. I wasn’t sitting there wishing I was doing these things – I just wasn’t motivated by them.


On the flip side, if you’re not motivated by your training right now (and want to be), maybe take stock of how much energy you have available, and whether you want to free some of it up. Even for a period. (As in everything I believe that balance exists in cycles – it’s not a constant perfect blend of life and priorities). This includes nutrition and sleep energy. When your batteries are full on those scales, you feel more motivated to put them to use. If you are constantly tired and not eating well or enough, you won’t feel energized and excited by the thought of pushing yourself physically. There is also the emotional and mental energy to manage – and sometimes these are harder to control, but being aware of them is the first step. If you really want to be engaged and motivated by a goal, don’t treat it like a distraction from your other pursuits. You have to allow it its own space.


Finally, I was listening to an interesting expert speaking on anxiety. She said anxiety can get a bad rap. Really, it is also latent energy. Anxiety is the sense that the outcome can go in either direction – well or badly. If we thought it would just end badly, that would lead to a sense of defeat and serve as the opposite of motivation. But anxiety primes us for action. We have a hand in directing the outcome to “good”. I think that’s why signing up for big, scary events can bring motivation. Scary motivation leans towards anxiety, but if that’s the stimulus you need and you have the constitution to manage it, it can definitely spur you to “action” (just ask any of us first-time Ironmen about that). I would just do a real self-check to make sure you have the mental, emotional and physical space for this first, because in this case you’re forcing it vs. letting it come to you.


But any way you find it, you do have motivation in there if you want it. And if you don’t want it right now, that’s ok too!


On to tomorrow’s workout. Back to Lakeshore! 6:05 drills, 6:15 GO Time!


I think last Weds was a bit of a long, grindy one. Let’s try to get a little more pep in this one.


  1. 2 x 800 at TEMPO pace w 1:30 (really – keep these restrained). 3 min rest.

4 x 600 w 1:15 @ 5K-ish pace. 3 min rest

4 x 200 a little snappier w 1 min rest

If training for a fall marathon, finish with 1 mile @ goal Marathon Race Pace (this should not feel hard – more of a lead-in to your cool-down)


  1. If doing this fartlek style:

2 x 3 min tempo w 1:30 easy. 3 min easy

4 x 2 min fast w 1:15 easy. 3 min easy

4 x 30 seconds fast w 1 min easy. 3 min easy

Option of 6-7 mins @MRP.


That’s all – see you in the am!





Feeling it

Hi Everyone!


Holy, we’re halfway through the summer! But what a summer we’re having. The weather is great, races are on, events and camps and traveling and get-togethers are on… this is one to savour for sure.


I’ve been savouring my down-time post Ironman. I’m letting myself do what I want when I’m “feeling it”. Which so far isn’t a ton. And I’m thinking how strange this is, because leading up to the race, I didn’t really ever have to talk myself into any training – I was “feeling it” and “into it” the whole way through. And now I have to start back up again at some point and get excited about something. I’ve been reflecting about this. How sometimes we are excited and invigorated by our training, and sometimes it feels like a bit of a chore. I think it’s important to stay tuned into this. It’s reasonable to have some days that just don’t come easily and the odd workout where you don’t want to be there for the whole time. But if these are happening more frequently than not, and you’re dragging yourself kicking and screaming through most of your training runs, it’s important to re-evaluate your goals. Is this something you really want to do? If so, why?


I was very excited about my Ironman training because I had so many unanswered questions: How far removed was I from the person who did this 20 years ago? Was I still capable of doing this? Where will my mind go? How will I react? Is this the same body? Is this the same mind? These were all questions I was very curious about exploring. When it turned out I had qualified for another Ironman a few months away, I had no interest in going. I had answered all my questions. I wasn’t training for training. I was in it because I was excited about this one thing. And I knew I couldn’t force my interest beyond that. I couldn’t take someone else’s goal and make it mine.


Here’s the thing though: sometimes we find purpose through training. We have to start somewhere, and then the WHY pops up. What’s the old saying … “Mood Follows Action”. A big unknown challenge is one thing, but so is persistent perseverance. You start training in little steps and find a groove and think – “what am I capable of?” Sometimes you just have to start and the purpose and meaning will appear. I can’t tell you what your purpose and meaning should be. These are deeply personal and I believe they are things you “feel” rather than rationalize. Is this something you are drawn to and can find some sort of significance in? You don’t even need to be able to verbalize what it is. But something needs to be pulling you forward. You can’t train for the events that we train for because you feel you should or because someone else thinks it will be cool. It’s totally ok to keep moving forward while searching for that feeling – but if you’re weeks or months in and still haven’t landed on it, it’s ok to take a pause and wait for it to reappear. I promise it will come back. (And no, usually it doesn’t take 20 years!)


On to tomorrow’s workout – I think we’re due for a social/fartlek! The mid-point of summer feels like a good time. Let’s meet at Lakeshore and Leslie at 6:05 for drills, 6:15 Go time. We’ll run along the spit since there is enough light these days!


  1. Easy jog if you’re just coming back from a big race or illness or that’s all you have in you.
  2. 6 min tempo, 3 min easy, then 2 sets of 4 x 2 min on, 1 min off, and 1 set of 4 x 1 min on, 1 min off – 3 min easy bw sets. This should lead to 5.5-7K of work for most. Don’t forget to regroup on all the Easy sections – starting with people is what makes this one fun!


See y’all in the am.





Behind the scenes

Hi Everyone!


Congrats to all of us who did triathlons this past weekend! Shauna, Tanis and Madalyn in the TTF sprint tri where they all seriously killed it. And at Ironman Lake Placid – Nir Meltzer, Chris Robinson, Eleanor Colledge, Carolyn Steele-Gray, Jon McRea, David Steinberg, Adam Nicklin, and I all rocked it (because there is only rocking it) and we are all IRONMEN!!!! I was so so grateful for all of my crew who convinced me to get off the fence and sign up and trained, traveled and competed with me on this journey. It would not have been the same alone! (in fact I wouldn’t have done it)


What I’ve been thinking about is how much our personal support crews and race volunteers play a role in our athletic endeavours. I just wanted to pause and reflect on this. From our family members and loved ones and friends who support us with emotional support and cheers and positive words and encouragement through all of the training, the teammates who train with us, whether they’re doing the race or not, the family members who accept that this is part of who we are and don’t complain that we’re tired all the time because of something we’ve imposed on ourselves, the friends and family who happily come along and help us with gear and logistics, the volunteers who point us where to go, the volunteers who feed and water us and tell us to keep going, the crowds who line the roads and cheer and cheer and cheer, even though they don’t know us, the volunteers who catch us at the finish line and make sure we’re ok, the family members and loved ones who patiently look after our post-race zombie selves. All of this is what has stood out for me in this training cycle and event. I think: “I’m just doing this little personal challenge – why do all of these generous people, friends and strangers, care so much and want to help me?” It is extremely touching and emotional to experience. So I just wanted to reflect on all that goes on behind these races, and I will continue to do my best to support and encourage others in their journeys, to cheer on random runners and they do their thing, to show up at races to help out and I will try to volunteer more at events. All of that “behind the scenes” is really where we see the selfless beautiful side of humanity. It is good for the soul to witness and experience it.


On to tomorrow’s workout! We’re back to Lakeshore. I will be there and will cheer you all on!!! 6:05 drills, 6:15 Go Time!


  1. 3-4 sets of 4 x 400 with 1 min between reps, 3 mins between sets. I would pace these closer to 8K than 5K to start, especially if doing 4 sets. This is more of a strength workout than a speed workout. Think of them as broken up miles. If you go out too fast, you won’t complete 4 sets. If you’re training for a 5K/10K, that is fine – do 3 sets faster. If you’re training for a fall marathon, you want the strength/endurance component.


  1. If doing these fartlek style, 4 sets of 4 x 1:30 Hard, 1 min Easy with 3 min Easy between sets.


Can’t wait to see you all in the am!









Hi Everyone!


I don’t think anyone raced this past weekend. Quite a few are racing this weekend – either the TTF Triathlon or the Lake Placid Ironman. Wohoo!!! Let’s go multi-sporters!


I’ve been thinking about some of what draws us to big challenges and to test ourselves in areas where we are not sure of the outcome. I believe that a big part of the draw is curiosity. I was listening to a podcast talking about the trait of curiosity and how it’s in dangerous decline. Why develop curiosity when google holds every answer you ever needed at your fingertips? We are surrounded by answers and instant gratification and the comfort of predictability. These days we rarely explore anywhere or anything without being armed with reviews, google maps and photos so we know exactly what to expect. That’s comforting. But it doesn’t challenge us or make us learn or grow. And it doesn’t really excite us.


Having a curious mindset is something that can be developed. Many of the smartest people we know are really the ones who were the most curious and followed where their curiosity led them. We can also learn to get comfortable seeking the unknown. I do think this trait of curiosity is what many of us are displaying when we enter races. If we knew the exact formulas that would predict precise outcomes, there would be no point in going and doing it. But winners in races are never guaranteed, and what we’re able to do on race day is an open question – no coach will tell you any differently. We can prepare as best we can, but no one can tell you what will happen on race day. This is a good thing! Expectations can be stifling, but curiosity is exciting. What are you capable of? How will you deal with adverse situations as they arise? What will the outcome be? No one knows! That’s the fun of it all! So as you approach your upcoming races, try to cultivate that curious and interested mindset. You can be confident that you’re prepared, but still maintain open curiosity about the experience. Races are beautiful mysteries which you uncover in real time. What can be better than that?


Workout for tomorrow – back to Pottery Rd hills/tempo!

I’m liking this combo – I know it’s not easy, but it packs a punch fitness wise. Remember: it’s JUST training! Workouts are not a test – it’s just practice. I’ll mix it up a bit from last time. Let’s do:

 2 sets of 3 x hill with 4 min tempo. Take 2 minutes after the hills before launching into tempo. After the tempo, you can do directly into an easy jog back down the hill for set #2.


I will jog up but won’t partake in the hills. But I will cheer you on!


TTF people: no hills for you. For you I would suggest something like 4-5 x 3 minutes at 10K Tri Race Pace with 1:30 easy.


See you there at some point in the am – just get going when you get there!

(Beach crew, please coordinate amongst yourselves)