Training and values

Hey Gang!


I think I’ve already said we were getting close to Spring, but guess what – now it’s officially Spring!!! There are already noticeably longer days. Running in the sun makes for much more enjoyable running. So enjoy!


A few weeks ago I wrote about racing according to our values. This week I’ve been thinking about training according to our values. This is a trickier one because there are so many more variables and decisions to make over the course of a training season. The reason I’m thinking about this is because I’ve been offered the chance to spend a couple of days and a night with some friends at a friend’s cottage. The date offered happens to be two days before the race I’ve been training for (Around The Bay). I mentioned this to my coach and it was met with silence, followed by the advice that he didn’t think it was a good idea to spend so much time in a car before a race, and possibly not be on an optimized eating and sleeping schedule. I took this into consideration, thanked him for his counsel, and said I would do it anyway. The reason is (for me) – I am almost always training for something and pretty much have been for the past 25+ years. Training and racing enhance the quality of my life. I also very much value friendships and relationships with people who fill me up, and I know the strength of these bonds requires investment and time spent together. If I were always optimizing for the perfect training and racing, I would be neglecting other areas of life which I value tremendously.


This is not to say I never prioritize. There are times when I know that I have to say no to certain things I want to do in order not to sabotage my other values. It’s a balancing act for sure. I value friends and relationships, I value my running and putting a true effort into training and racing, I value my family – spending time with them and doing all the things that need doing in the background to keep them propped up, and I value my work and commitment as a coach. I don’t have the perfect answer as to how to fit all of these things in seamlessly. Values and priorities will often bump into each other. For example, many people in this group just spent a week with their families for March Break. I think it’s pretty hard to be present and participatory in a family vacation while also focusing on hard training (which, although a valuable pursuit, it is inherently selfish). Many people also value being accountable to their teams at work and their high pressure jobs. What do you do when the people who are paying you and relying on you are asking for your time which conflicts with your training? These aren’t questions I can answer for you. Sometimes these values bumping into each other is what gives us the clearer perspective that we need. And sometimes we just have to pick one at the expense of the other, and then trade back the next time. Our guts will tell us which area is in debt and which can coast a bit. Personally, I have run enough races and foresee continuing to do so, that I am happy to “sacrifice” some potential performance for the investment in other areas of life. I wouldn’t make a terrible decision or completely self-sabotage a race, but when I weigh the pro’s and con’s of each scenario I currently have here, I am content that I am making the decision that fits with my values.


On to tomorrow’s workout: Lakeshore and Leslie – 6:05 Drills, 6:15 GO!


  1. Mile (1:30 rest), 800 (1:30 rest), 600 (1:15 rest), 400 (1:15 rest), 400 (1:15 rest), 600 (1:30 rest), 800 (1:30 rest), Mile
  2. Paces: Tempo, 10K, 5K, Faster … and up
  3. If running Around The Bay, just come down the ladder (mile, 800, 600, 400)
  4. If training for shorter distances this spring, Mile, 800, 600, 400, 600, 400 (fast finish)
  5. If going by time: 6-3-2-1-1-2-3-6 mins w 1:30-1:15 easy
  6. Important: If you are in the middle of a BIG WEEK (most Boston ppl), lean back on this one. Effort level: comfortably hard. The formula here for you is volume and consistency. Too big an effort on any one day can increase the need for recovery and decrease your ability to do the next thing. Look ahead and see what’s coming up and what you need to manage to be able to do that.


That is all – see you in the am!





Run towards the danger

Hey Gang!


First up, huge congrats to our LES contingent at the St. Paddy’s Day 5K and 10K on Sunday! I love the fearlessness of jumping in a race, knowing you’re training through and it likely won’t be your fastest time but committing to the effort. Ingrid came under her goal time by over a minute, and Eleanor and Erin used it as part of their long runs, and even so, they came 1st and 2nd in their age groups with solid times! And Samantha volunteered as a guide runner for the 10K (and also happened to place 1st in her age group while doing that!) Way to go all.


I’m currently moved and inspired by Sarah Polley and her work. I watched Women Talking with a great group of women from this group (SO good!) and have just finished her book – Running Towards the Danger. There is much to take out of her book which is a collection of essays from different points in her life. One of the stories I’ve been thinking about is the one where she talks about her concussion. (Spoiler alert). Polley incurred a significant and debilitating concussion which put her life on pause for three years. After much searching for remedies and many different recommendations by various practitioners, she finally landed on a doctor who a few friends had told her had finally “cured” their concussion syndromes. What this doctor told her was counter to all of the advice she had received leading up to that point. Instead of pushing herself to the point where she would start to experience symptoms and then backing off, she should get herself to that threshold and then start leaning in more. That is where the improvement would happen. On the other side of the comfort line. Previously she had been told again and again to listen to her body, and back off and lie down and retreat if she became uncomfortable. She later realized that listening to her body, although always advised with the best of intentions, was not the best guide. Polley’s mind and body were caught in a repetitive loop, and the only way out was through. She should turn up the lights when she entered a room, do vigorous exercise when she felt a headache coming on, ask everyone around her if the T.V. was loud enough for them, socialize in a group setting when she started to feel anxious. Hence the title of her book – she was to run towards the danger. Since this was her last hope, she complied with the prescription completely – she had nothing to lose. And through that she found her symptoms diminished and she regained control of her life. Thank goodness because now we can all benefit from her great work!


I loved this message. I also sometimes think I should “back off” a hard pace or maybe walk up a hill because I’m getting older, and maybe my body isn’t as strong as it once was. Maybe I should just touch my threshold to know where it is, and then retreat back to comfortable. But that’s not where growth lies. Listening to your body (although important and I’m not saying shut it out completely because it has some valuable things to say!) – may not always be the path towards expansion, learning and growth. It’s the same old stoic message repackaged: The Obstacle is The Way. Run Towards the Danger. There is wisdom here. It’s not to be abused recklessly, but something to consider.


On to Wednesday’s workout! I’m away, and my trusty second, Tanis is also away. So two options: meet at Lakeshore and Leslie at the regular time (6:05 drills, 6:15 GO) – and someone can flag the 400 mark, OR go by time.


Workout details: sets of 800-600-400. 90 seconds between reps, 3 mins between sets. (you’ll have to do some jogging and figuring out the start for the next interval – you’re all smart ppl I think you can do it!)

I think 3 sets will be good. If feeling good then maybe pick any two distances of the 4th set and do those. Aim for 5k-ish pace. This is a faster, shorter workout and should complement your longer stuff on the other days.


If going by time: 3-4 sets of 3-2-1 with 1 min bw reps and 3 min bw sets. (little shorter rest bc you prob won’t be covering quite the same distance and you don’t tend to go quite as intensely by time as by measured distance. I find.)


That is all. I will do mine on the treadmill I promise!


Have a great week and see y’all next week!






Racing and values

Hey Crew!


First up, huge congrats to everyone who race the Chilly Half on the weekend. Carol, David, Zoë, Sean, Jason, Patrick W and myself. I don’t think it was a super fast day, and for most people it was a fitness check-in and “training through” race, but still some solid results!


Of course, since I just raced, I’ve been thinking about races. I find it so interesting how we approach them and what we get from them. I think the number one thing about races is that they expose our raw vulnerability. We are openly showing ourselves trying our hardest. I will never not admire anyone who shows up to a race start line. It takes courage and guts to test yourself and see what you are capable of when things get hard – let alone doing that in front of friends and strangers. It’s funny that we do this, considering how much effort we put into making things easier and making ourselves feel less exposed and vulnerable in the rest of our lives. We like to be in control. When we expose ourselves to the world, we like to present the curated side our ourselves that we’ve examined and retouched into a version that portrays the image we want. We buy clothes and get haircuts that flatter, we put filters on our Instagram, we include excuses and show or hide the data we want on our Strava. But when we race, we are truly uncovered, vulnerable, and not in control of everything. We may have a plan, and know how we would like things to go, but we have no clue whether it will all turn out. And then we encounter effort, struggle and pain and face it and respond publicly. All in all, it’s just running, and pretty low stakes, but it’s interesting that we put ourselves in this situation at all. Maybe it’s because the rest of our lives are so protected from it. Maybe it’s because it’s the only way to be truly honest with ourselves. Maybe we know it’s the only way to show up genuinely. Maybe we know it’s likely the purest way to truly test our best effort. So we step up and go for it.


I found it interesting this weekend how keyed up we get around this self-imposed situation. Maybe some people don’t. I think most people get a bit stressed and nervous before this type of “test”. Even when we know it’s not a “key” race. Even the veteran athletes who have a lot of experience with these types of things – or maybe them even more so. An elite athlete friend of mine told me something she does to deal with the anxiety: she tells herself that while running is part of her identity, she also has a huge other part of her identity which is drawn from her values. And if she can race while maintaining her values then that is something she can control, and she’s not risking any part of her self-image or concern about how others view and judge her. I liked that. Race according to your values. And if your values include hard work, community, humility, learning, and growth, you are in a good spot.


Onto tomorrow’s workout – we’re back to hills!


Let’s do them like this:

1st hill – steady up/steady down

2nd hill – first half steady/second half hard/easy down

3rd hill – first half hard/second half steady/easy down

Repeat sequence – max 8-9 hills (Beach ppl, Pottery is ~400m, so similar distance)


The purpose of this workout is just good ol’ strengthening of your hill legs, but also practicing pace changes and the ability to settle in and keep going when tired – as happens in races!


If you’re racing Achilles this weekend:

2 sets of 3 x 400 – first set at 10K pace, second set at goal 5K pace. 1:15 between reps, 3:00 between sets.


Or 2 x (3 x 1:30 on, 1:15 off) with 3 mins easy in between


If you raced Chilly you can do a couple of easy hills, but no workout yet. I will be at Pottery but am doing a tempo wrkt on Thurs (March Break scheduling issues!) so will just cheer you guys on.


See you in the am!





The good, the bad and the ugly

Hi All!


Hey look – it’s March! Spring rivals Fall as most runners’ fave running season. I know we’ve had some seriously emotionally turbulent weather. And it will probably still give us a fair bit of back and forth, but for the most part we’re through the worst of it. And Spring is the time for races! There are quite a number of great ones coming up – from the Achilles 5K & 10K, the Chilly Half, Around the Bay (5K or 30K), the CRS Spring Run Off, the Bum Run, … If you’re racing a Spring Marathon, I do recommend throwing at least one shorter one in in the lead-up.


This weekend Aliphine Tuliamuk won the USATF Half Marathon in 1:09:37. A fast time for sure – not record breaking. What I thought was interesting was when she posted it on Instagram, I saw a comment from her teammate, pro runner Sara Hall. Sara said something to the effect of “See! I TOLD you you weren’t out of shape!” This made me smile. Aliphine is an Olympian and professional runner. You would think she would be able to tell objectively whether she’s “in shape” or not, but she obviously still has those “I’m not sure if I’m in good shape” doubts and voiced them openly – at least to her teammates. Who can’t relate?? When we’re training, we have good runs, we have mediocre runs, and we have bad runs. One elite runner claims it’s the law of thirds: you have about that percentage of training runs in each bucket. A third go really well, a third are fine, and a third go poorly. This is regardless of our experience and running ability. It is just how training and the body flows. So we’re left constantly doubting ourselves and questioning whether we’re fit, mediocre, or out of shape. And we keep trying to allay our fears by “proving ourselves” in workouts. But this is not what workouts are for. They are there to help us to challenge ourselves in various different ways – sometimes physically and sometimes mentally – and to work on building us up one piece at a time. Sometimes they’re there just to support and maintain the work that came before them so we can take a breath, lay a stronger foundation, and get ready for our next one. They work in combination with the runs that came before and to set up the runs that will come after. They are all just part of a whole system that will only be revealed on race day. It is impossible to predict a race through one or a series of workouts. They are just there – little bits of stimuli – on our good days and bad days – to help to support the overall building. And when we get to our key race we will probably look back and say, “well … I’ve had some great workouts, some so-so workouts, and some pretty bad ones” and we’ll have to be ok that that is how it goes, and we will race with the knowledge that we showed up on all the days anyway and will give it our best shot.


For tomorrow, back to Lakeshore and Leslie – 6:05 drills, 6:15 Go time!


  1. 6-8 x 800 w 1:30 Just straight up – nothing fancy. Start at Half Mara pace and work down to 10K pace.
  2. If racing Chilly Half – 3-4 of them.
  3. If going by time: 6-8 x 3 min w 1:30


That is all – see you in the am!







Running in a new place

Hi Everyone!


First up, huge congrats to Cindy who raced the Gatineau Loppet 50K skate ski race and came third in her age group in 3:38! I only mention the time to appreciate how long she was racing for. It was fast too.


I am traveling this week, so I won’t see you guys for runs or workouts. When I’m traveling I think about how grateful I am that I’m a runner because it really allows you to explore and feel part of a place when you move through it under your own power and can observe everything at a very digestible pace. When I arrive at a new place I feel like an outsider (I am), but running through and around a new place allows me to feel comfortable and familiar. I can bring my confidence in my physical movement to my perspective and understanding of a place. Usually when I run, I’m not going to where the crowded tourists are, and I see everything at a different time and different perspective on my own. I am outside of the scenes and places I run by – people waking up and walking to a coffee shop, surfers out catching waves, shops and restaurants opening up, people going to work and doing chores – but within them. I’m not expected to interact with anything other than with a smile and a wave (thank goodness because no one where I am speaks English and I forgot to learn Spanish before I came!)


But also when I’m running and traveling, I bring all of my running buddies with me. I remember when I traveled solo after my second year of university, and every single run I did I pictured my teammates doing something similar elsewhere. I still do that. It’s comforting. So welcome to Chile everyone! Hope you enjoy your runs with me in my head ‘cause I’m bringing you along. Not sure how far we’ll make it on our “long” run, but we’ll get something in. And my goodness I’ll miss your energy tomorrow morning for workout, but I will be channeling as much of it as I can.


Here’s the workout for tomorrow – meet at Lakeshore and Leslie as usual: 6:05 Drills (Kerry, can you please lead those?) and 6:15 Go time. (Also can someone who knows pls mark the 400 mark? Or just guess – it all shakes out)


  1. 1 mile tempo. 2 min rest

4 x 400 w 1 min rest (5K pace)

2 min rest

4 x 400 w 1:15 rest (a touch faster)

2 min rest

1 mile tempo


  1. If training for 5K’s, 10K’s and practicing running at a faster pace, do the same but without the last mile tempo.


  1. If going by time: 6 min tempo, 2 min easy, 4 x 1:30 on, 1 min off, 2 min easy, 4 x 1:30 on, 1:15 off, 2 min easy, 6 min tempo


The reasoning behind this workout: many of us are in the thick of long runs and bigger tempos. It’s important to access other (faster) paces as well. This complements the other work we’re doing. Training for long races does not make you into a slower runner. Never doing faster stuff makes you into a slower runner.


Have fun all!






Your watch is not so smart

Hi Gang!


Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope you all get to spend some time doing something you love with someone you love. If you really can’t manage that today, try to do it tomorrow or the next day. It’s a good habit to get into.


I’ve been thinking a lot about tech and how it influences our running. I came of age in running first without even a watch (I would check the clock in the kitchen, then head out for a run, and if I remembered I’d check it again when I came back), and then throughout most of my running development, with a regular digital watch which just captured the time. It was up to me to figure out effort and guess on distance. It’s funny what they say: you pay attention to what you can measure. I could only “measure” perceived effort, so that is what I paid attention to.


Now of course, most of us wear GPS watches to monitor exact pace and heart rate in real time, and we can see what training others are doing on shared training apps. Our watches tell us whether our run was “productive” or “unproductive” and whether we’re gaining or losing fitness. Our apps track us all the time and measure us constantly against our “best ever” day or week. We can also see what other people are doing and feel inspired or a little badly about ourselves in comparison.


There are definitely some benefits to be had by having this level of knowledge. But I think we have to constantly fight against relying too much on it for feelings of self worth or even for telling us what to do and how hard to push. I often think: “who designed these things? Some nerd who loves data and tech and knows nothing about training”. Seriously. The best coaches of the best athletes in the world are still constantly tinkering and experimenting and coming up with the best formulas. Do we actually think the dude or dudette who programmed our watches knows more than our coaches or even than we know ourselves? If so, we’re giving them way too much power over us. Similarly with the training apps. They are designed to be addictive because they are there for profit. They are not designed to make anyone into a healthy or particularly fast athlete. They feed on social status and insecurity and a desire for approval.


It’s interesting that the more confident and seasoned runners I coach rely noticeably less on their tech than most. They are in tune with their bodies and trust what their sensations are telling them. When they are tired, they take a rest day. They supplement with cross-training when they need to and don’t worry about counting mileage. I coach some very fast/experienced international class middle distance runners who have all trained and competed at a high level. The other day, we were doing a track workout, and they were supposed to do their last 200m “Fast”. They were flying. I asked them what they ran and they all looked at each other. Did anyone get it? No – no one got it. They weren’t fussed. “It felt like 31. Probably 31” they agreed. They’re all in tune enough with their bodies and abilities to not worry too much about the data. (especially at this point in the season when their races are in the summer). They got the effect they needed and were confident in that.


If as a coach I could leave you all with one gift, it would be the gift of self-knowledge and trust in self-appraisal. There is ultimate freedom in that. Get to know yourselves as athletes – you will always always be smarter than your watch or device. I remember seeing a tweet after Kipchoge ran his most recent marathon world record in Berlin. It was two days later. The tweet was: “somewhere, in Iten, Kenya, Eliud Kipchoge’s watch just buzzed at him and said: Unproductive”. It’s funny because it’s true.


Tomorrow we’re back to hills! Pottery Rd. I’ll aim to be there at 6:10/6:15.

The workout: 2-3 x hill followed by 1K tempo. Try to get into the tempo segment with minimal rest (like regroup, cross the street, and go). Repeat up to 3 x’s.

If training for Boston or Toronto, don’t go too hard up, especially in the first sets, but a bit quicker on the downhills. By the final tempo section you’ll be running with a fair bit of downhill stress on your legs. That’s the point. ATB people and ppl training for flat marathons, steady up, easy down (we don’t have to focus too much on downhill stress and it’s playing with fire there bc downhills are muscularly and mechanically stressful!)


Beach ppl meet at Glen Manor and Queen at 6 a.m.


That is all – see you in the am!






Managing your mindset

Hi Everyone!


Huge congrats to Amanda Bugatto who ran the Donna Half Marathon in Florida over the weekend in a “training through” time of 1:40 for first in her age group! Way to represent and help put a spotlight on breast cancer and celebrate its survivorship. Wohoo!


I have teenagers living in my house. They’re mine. What a whirlwind. Sometimes it’s just storms I know we have to weather. And I feel badly for them and the emotional volatility which they seem to be subjected to and haven’t yet learned to manage. When they’re in a bad mood, the world is obviously against them and they become the victims of their own stories. I often think “just work on changing your mindset and everything will be SO much easier!” It’s a real magic trick once you realize that reality exists in your mind and you have a hand in shaping it. But these are things we have to learn through experience and time.


But once we know how to manage our own mindets, do we always do it? Sometimes it just feels easier and indulgent to succumb to the weather of our minds. I was thinking about this as I had a long run to do on a Monday morning. I have enjoyed long runs, and often look forward to them. But I wasn’t particularly excited about this one. I wouldn’t say I was dreading it, but I was tentative and giving myself some soft goals and “outs”. It’s still cold and icy, it would be dark, I’m not feeling super peppy, I have other commitments I need to get to and it doesn’t fit in perfectly… Then I thought, ok, I have a day to work on getting myself into a positive mindset and excited about this. So I went to work on that. I had a physically relaxing day in preparation, I ate lots of carbs, I bought my favourite gels, I read stories from runners who had passion and were working towards goals (currently reading Good for a Girl by Lauren Fleshman – highly recommend). I replayed in my mind what I love about long runs, being alone with my thoughts and the physical challenge of doing something I’m completely in control of. Instead of working on my grit and ability to just tough it out, I worked on changing my perspective so that I would look forward to it and get into it. And it worked. By the time I stepped out the door I was in a good mood and excited for the experience.


I’m not saying we should have to do this for every run – sometimes it feels indulgent to act like a teenager and drag your bad mood along with you. I’ve shown up for runs with my grumpy bad mood for sure. But just know you can change it if you want. Your first reaction to a situation or workout or challenge is not a given. Instead of focusing only on training our bodies to do what we want them to, it might serve us better to work on what’s going on upstairs. You have the ability to make it enjoyable and fun. Really, you do. You really don’t have to struggle through anything. Unless you want to. I think my teenager actually seems to enjoy it sometimes so I’m like “have at it – keep hitting yourself over the head with a hammer”. It’s hard to watch, but I guess it’s just a rite of growing up and learning.


On to tomorrow’s workout! Lakeshore and Leslie – 6:05 drills, 6:15 GO.


  1. Sets of 600-400-200 with 30 seconds bw reps, 2 minutes between sets. Up to 5. I think 6 will feel like too much. Let’s see. The idea here is “broken 1200’s”. If we were to do 1200’s straight up it would just mimic our tempos. We want to encourage a little more speed and pace by taking small breaks, but not turn it into a V02 max wrkt. So don’t treat these like stand alone 600’s, 400’s or 200’s. They should start at around 10K pace.


  1. If getting into it and trying to encourage a faster pace and faster turnover (ppl not training for longer Spring races), same workout but longer rests and not as many reps. So 600-400-200 w 1:15 between reps, 2 min bw sets, and do 3-4 sets. Focus on fast turnover and good form.


  1. If doing this by time: 2:30-1:30-30s at 10K pace w 30 sec easy in between. 2 mins, then repeat up to 5 times.


That is all – see you in the am!





My shadow companion

Hey Gang!


Ooh, it’s cold again. I guess we knew it would finally come back. It is basically February. There’s just one month of this. We can do it.


I’m training for a longer race, so have been doing longer runs, and so have had more time with my wandering thoughts. The thought occurred to me on one of my more recent runs, about who I bring along with me, sitting on my shoulder throughout my runs. When I was a teenager and in my early 20’s, trying to prove myself in competitions, it was always my competitors shadowing me. I could picture them out training too (I knew they were – somewhere), and I was always trying to run a bit faster or do one more rep, which I thought would give me the leg up. I wanted to do more than them, faster than them, so I could beat them. That was the whole point back then.


As I got older, and was no longer running for a team or points, it became the shadow of my old self sitting on my shoulder, accompanying me on my runs. What did I used to do? Can I still do that? Surely I’m tougher now than I was then. I was always trying to outrun or at least keep up with the past me, fearing any signs that I might be “getting weak” or slowing down. I could literally picture my younger self running beside me and would constantly try to stay one step ahead of her.


I’ve recently updated who I bring along on my shoulder. Now it’s an unknown to me woman of similar age and life circumstances, doing the same thing. She’s a companion, not a competitor. She’s doing her best and wants me to do my best as well. I think about her when I’m doing an early morning long run in the cold, or a hard workout, trying to keep up. She’s not superhuman. I don’t have to beat her. She’s just out there doing the same thing somewhere. She’s getting older at the same rate, and also has good days and bad days. But she always seems to be out every time I have a run to do. I could easily bump into her on a race start line somewhere. And we’ll both try our hardest, and probably neither of us will get a PB, but we’ll both will wish the best for each other.


This is my favourite companion shadow. She motivates me in a good way. I’m not scared I won’t live up to her standard or achieve what she is. She wants me to come along with her and push her too. And maybe I’m even on her shoulder for her runs – I hope so.


On to tomorrow’s workout – bundle up – you can always shed some layers. Lakeshore and Leslie – 6:05 drills, 6:15 Go Time!


  1. 2 x 800 @ tempo w 1:15

2 x 800 @ 10K w 1:30

2 x 800 @ 5K w 1:45

2 x 800 @ tempo w 1:30

We are working on pacing here. This is a skill and something we can train our bodies to learn. Running faster as you fatigue is a good habit to wire into your body and brain. And then finishing with some tempo is just good for toughness and fitness. You can plug in your paces beforehand or go by feel, but take note of the times you run so you can record them and look at them later.


  1. If training for shorter distances and/or trying to dial in faster paces:

2 x 800 @ tempo w 1:15

4 x 400 @5K w 1:15

1:30 rest

2 x 400 a little quicker w 1:30


  1. If doing the workouts by time:

2 x 3 min @ Tempo w 1:15, 2 x 3 min @ 10K w 1:30, 2 x 3 min @ 5K w 1:45, 2 x 3 min @ tempo w 1:30


2 x 3 min @ Tempo w 1:15, 4 x 1:15 Fast w 1:15 rest, 2 x 1:15 a little faster w 1:30 rest


That’s all folks – see you in the am!