Free energy

Hi Everyone!


We’ve got a full week of beautiful looking running temps coming up here in TO. Wohoo! For me, we’re in that perfect “not too hot, not too cold” sweet spot, and I’m loving it!


As I’d mentioned in my previous email, I am doing some track work in preparation for a summer track race or two. The track always feels more intense to me, so I can easily get overly keyed up and pace things wrong, and it feels like a shock to the system to run at various faster paces than I’m used to. And after a couple of hard efforts I can easily think to myself, “that’s enough, I can’t do more”.  So I’ve gone back to where I started with track workouts: I’ve attached myself to a crew. I just slot myself behind some more seasoned track runners, and let them carry me around the oval. It is amazing how much easier it feels to run within a pack. I mentioned this to one of the ladies yesterday and she agreed – “I could never do this alone!” As I’ve said before, this is selfishly why I started our Wednesday morning sessions – I could not do those alone.


The same can be said for so many of our runs and workouts. I know that almost every time I’m not meeting someone in the early morning for an easy run, I don’t make it out. And when I go later on my own it just feels … more effortful. I do sometimes love a good solo run – I appreciate the space for my own thoughts and sometimes prefer to customize my pace. But boy oh boy – I know I wouldn’t have the same consistency in outings or effort if they were all solo. When I fall into rhythm with someone beside me, the pace just comes so much easier and the time and km’s fly by with less strain. It’s quite amazing how we can actually share our energy with others. It sounds a bit “woo-woo”, but when you experience it as a physical reality, it’s hard to dispute.


I know many in this group take this philosophy and go out and in turn share their energy with others who maybe don’t have the benefits of a group or running buddies. You run with neighbours or kids or friends who are testing the waters and could use a little “running buddy” energy. I love that it’s an infinite resource and only becomes amplified with use.


So just a big “thank-you” to everyone who shares theirs. We are adding free energy to the world – one group or buddy run at a time.


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


  1. 1K-800-600-400-200 all w 2 min

4 min set rest

800-600-400-200 all w 2 min (we get to start lower on the ladder for the second set ;))

Starting a little slower than 5K pace for the 1K then moving to 5K pace and faster for the rest.


  1. If newer to workouts or feeling your way back in, start the second set at 600.
  2. If going by time: 4min-3min-2min-90sec-45sec all w 2 min. 4 min set rest. Start again at 3 min and work down.


That is all – see you in the am!






Mixing it up

Hey Everyone!


Hope you all had a great long weekend. In races we had Brianna (2nd overall!), Jen and Ingrid all running the Toronto Women’s 5K! Way to get out there crew. As we all know, this is not a fast course but it is always a great event.


I was up north this weekend, and did a long-ish run for me these days. The last season I’d been up there training it had been for an Ironman, so my memory was fresh with long rides along those roads. As I was running this time, I turned to enter the last 6K stretch, and my mind said “so easy – we’re almost done”. This was odd because I can recall this stretch feeling super long and hard, and like I might not make it. But when I was on the bike (my most recent experiences), it really was just the last little bit. So my mind remembered what it represented on the bike, and it felt like the last little bit and was not a big mental battle.


I am currently training for a lot shorter distances on the track. Again this is putting my perception of paces and distances into different perspectives. I just completed an entire workout on the track, including warm-up and cool-down which took about an hour. And I covered 3 kilometers total in the workout. Which sometimes represents just the first rep in other workouts. It was broken up, and there was lots of rest, and I hit speeds I haven’t touched in years. And it was super fun!


My point behind all of this is that it is important to mix things up so that we can break out of our old paradigms of thought and experience. Now is a great time to experiment with training for “off distances” – whether shorter or longer than your usual. I see many people in our group doing this and I love it. The long rides can really put time and distance into perspective. And the shorter, faster training can really make your marathon race pace feel cruisey and not too intense (at least at first). Of course specificity of training helps, especially as you get closer to your event, but I do believe it’s important to “play” at other distances to keep your mind and body fresh. In Angela Duckworth’s book GRIT, she credits the grittiest people as being able to incorporate nuance into their pursuits. Nuance keeps it fresh and interesting and exciting. And importantly it allows you to experience your pursuit with a new perspective. So if you feel yourself getting a little stale in what you’re doing, my advice to you is to shake it up. Do a trail race, hit the track, get on the bike and do a long ride, … anything that will allow you to make the old new again. That just might be the mental edge you need to break through in your next race.


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


  1. 2 x 800 @5K pace w 2 min rest. 4 min rest. 4 x 600 @ a little faster w 2 min rest. 4 min rest. 4 x 200 @ faster w 1:15 rest.

Yes, this is more rest than we’re used to. Let’s work on getting our legs used to running a touch faster than usual. We will accumulate volume at these faster paces, and then eventually we can increase the distances and take down the rest.

  1. If going by time, 2 x 3 min @ 5K pace w 2 min rest. 4 min rest/easy jog. 4 x 2 min faster w 2 min rest/easy, 4 min rest, 4 x 30 seconds fast w 1:15 easy


That is all – see you in the am!





Celebrating and Negative Visualization

Hey Everyone!


Hope everyone this group had a wonderful Mother’s Day and celebrated or were celebrated. It was a gorgeous weekend for running (we deserve this), and a number of us celebrated with the Sporting Life 10K! Pearce (PB!), Ingrid (PB!), Elese (PB!), Jen and Myself! Thanks to all who came out and cheered – it always helps!


It is already mid-May, and races are happening all over the place. I have run five races now this Spring. Some have been better than others – in none would I say I’ve knocked it out of the park. But for all of them I have come away thinking, “that could’ve been worse.” A couple of things here. 1: I have noticed a few people around me, in this group and others, who have gotten PB’s and still been hard on themselves. RULE #1 – ALWAYS celebrate your PB’s!!! Personal BEST. That is the best you’ve EVER done! You need to pause and really appreciate that and let yourself bask in it. When you’ve been around long enough, you know how precious these are – and the work that has gone into them. Don’t leave a personal best open to self-criticism. Pat yourself on the back and be proud. Throw your arms up and celebrate that shit.


Number 2: Try practicing negative visualization. Stay with me here. I’ve been reading about the philosophy of Stoicism, and this is something they practice. It is an answer to the hedonic treadmill of never being satisfied, and always wanting more, faster, better. It’s a way to remind yourself how to want what you do have. Here’s how it works: picture not having or losing the things you currently have. In order to create the desire for the things and accomplishments you have, you should contemplate their loss. Picture not having your spouse, your job, your house, friends, kids, etc… Or even your health or current state of vitality. This is a mindset – not an objective reality. Even the poorest and most destitute could have less. And even the richest could have more. The fastest could always get faster. We can always find a faster course, buy faster shoes, train a bit harder, make a few more sacrifices, … When will we be satiated? When we learn to be grateful for what we have. Maybe counterintuitively, instead of this mindset turning you into a depressed pessimist (things could always be worse!), it actually makes you happier as you really appreciate your current state and circumstances (I am so grateful that I have this!) And this brings me to my 5 races. Did I want to run faster in all of them? Yes. But could they have been worse? Hell yes. And so I will celebrate what I am currently running. You should too.


On to tomorrow’s workout – Pottery Rd Hills! Let’s do a combination of strength (long hills) and speed (short hills). Strength = the ability to run hard when tired. Speed = muscle power and mechanics. I like going back and forth with these because the batteries of one can fill up a bit while working the other, so we can maximize work done on both ends.


Sets of 2 x full hill (~400m), 1 x half hill (~200m). Hard up, easy down.

2-3 sets should be perfect. Can add some half hills at the end if feeling peppy.


Ppl who raced Sporting Life, take a break. I will run up to Pottery, but will prob just jog around.


Get going once you get to the hill. I usually arrive around 6:10-6:15.


If meeting in the Beach, meet at Queen and Glen Manor at 6:10.


That is all – see you in the am!





Racing and Growing

Hey Everyone!


Huge congrats to everyone who raced this weekend! In the Georgina marathon Jason ran the full (BQ and PB) and Andrew McKay(training/comeback run) and Nir ran the Half. In Vancouver Miguel ran the marathon with a solid BQ, and here in Toronto, Amy (BQ and PB!), Adam (BQ), Jon McRea (BQ), Dave Steinberg (BQ) and Avia ran the full while Erin and Colette ran the half. I think pretty much everyone in our crew has put themselves on a starting line this season, and I truly love that.


I’ve been thinking about why I love racing. By no means do we have to race – I go through seasons where I’m just not feeling it. So no judgements on those who aren’t. But this follows the theme I spoke about in my last newsletter: honest and clear self-evaluation and learning. It is not to show our times to others (again – no one cares) but to expose ourselves in complete vulnerability, and experience everything that comes along with that. When we race we can see how we show up. What do we do when it gets hard? How do we ask more of ourselves in a moment than some people do in a lifetime? How do we react when things don’t go according to plan? How do we handle not living up to our own expectations with grace and self-compassion? How do we look back and find wins in our losses and dust ourselves off and try again? These are the character building blocks we get out of racing. We don’t have to do it, but most of us are wired to push ourselves into growth mode. And racing is a good way to do that. As I continue to race as I get older and slower, I’m still learning about myself every time. I feel like I’m still growing and expanding, even as I’m slowing down.


I heard an anecdote the other day that stopped me cold. A friend was talking about the new weight-loss miracle drug. Friends of her sister-in-law’s had been taking it. They’d all lost the weight they wanted to and attained the sizes they’d been trying to reach. But they could no longer play basketball, which was the activity that had originally brought them all together. Their muscles were no longer strong enough and their bodies couldn’t handle the effort. I know some people have to do this for health reasons, and that trade-off is probably not one they would have chosen. But I am also sure there is a South Park episode that parodies this exact scenario. All this to say: I think when we run and race, we obtain a view of our bodies as part of us – working in conjunction with our minds and emotions, and we inhabit them fully. Our bodies aren’t external to us – things to be molded and shaped separately from “us”. They ARE us. And they allow us to experience these opportunities for personal learning and growth as well as a strong connection to community. Isn’t that the whole point of being a body? I say being a body, not having a body. We don’t have them – we are them. And we change in harmony with them through the cycles of life, and I guess, that’s just living man! I’m glad we’re all doing it 😉


On to tomorrow’s workout!

Let’s get back to something a little snappier but not too crazy. We’ll do strength 400’s. Meaning, 400’s with not a ton of rest. Don’t go down to 5K pace or you’ll get in trouble. Start at around 10K pace for the first set and you can pick it up slightly for the second if feeling good.


  1. 2 sets of 6 x 400 w 1 min rest. 3-4 min between sets.
  2. If still feeling your way back into workouts after a marathon, do the first set, and feel out how many is your number for the second set.
  3. If running Sporting Life 10K, just the first set and keep them in check.
  4. If you raced this past weekend, stay in bed and enjoy the sleep in!


That’s all – see you in the am!







Results and process

Hey Everyone!


First up, huge congrats to Julia Costanza who ran the Big Sur Marathon! Looks like a gorgeous but quad blasting course. I’ll put that one on my bucket list. And to Cindy (PB!), Kerry and Carol who ran the Mississauga Half! Also from what I hear, a twisty, hilly course, with most of the uphills coming in the back half. So character building! Haha. And finally Sam Farrell and myself who ran the Bum Run 5K. LOVE 5K’s! Ok, they sting a bit, but it’s over so quickly.


I’ve been thinking a lot about results vs effort lately. Most of us start out in sport (I think) because we love the intrinsic effort and sense of satisfaction we get from trying our hardest. But it is so so hard to maintain that pure, unobstructed mindset once we achieve a few external accolades or awards. To hold onto the perspective of “this is what I do” not “this is who I am” is a constant challenge. Recently, one of the top long-distance triathletes in the world was caught for doping. This threw all of his teammates and competitors into a soul searching tailspin. What is the point of all of this if it isn’t about finding our own limits and looking ourselves square in the eye? Lionel Sanders had an honest take on it. His video is HERE. Basically his point is, there is only one winner. Everyone else is doing what all athletes do most of the time in sport: picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, accepting their less-than-perfect results, learning and growing, respecting their competitors, and getting back to the process. In truth, that is what it’s all about. Sure, we’re all aiming for the win or a great result, but we have to be mindful of when that becomes more important than the process. I notice this cropping up in myself and others when we put too many asterisks beside a result. “It was hilly”, “the course was long”, “so windy”, “I had to stop for x, y, z…” Basically what we’re saying here is, “I want you to see me as better than the result you see”. This is common, and I do it myself. But it leads to being dishonest. We’re trying to manipulate reality. I can’t think of one race any of my athletes have run this season that hasn’t been hilly, windy, “long”, or otherwise imperfect. So what? Everyone has still challenged themselves and run with heart, and committed to the training and the effort and accepted the result. And I am proud of every single one. This is sport. This is why we do it.


AI will soon be able to do many of the things that we thought were personal talents or uniquely human. It will be able to produce results – probably far superior to our own. This will make us question everything. But it will never be able to reproduce the sense of achievement felt through personal effort. That’s what we should continue to cultivate in ourselves. To work hard and try our best. YOU know when you’re proud of yourself. Results are meaningless. And seriously … no one cares what you ran.


On to tomorrow’s workout: Let’s do a social/fartlek along the spit! Meet at 6:05 at Leslie/Lakeshore for drills, 6:15 we’ll start making our way down to the spit.


  1. Ppl tapering for Toronto Full/half! (Amy, Avia, Colette, Erin): 2 sets of 3-2-1 min on w 1 min easy, 3 min bw sets (3 mins @ race pace, can pick it up slightly for the 2 and 1 – nothing crazy)
  2. Everyone else: 4 sets. Ppl coming back from marathons, keep the paces cruisey – especially the 3 min segments (think tempo). Ppl training for 5’s and 10’s, up the intensity. Starting a little slower than 5K pace for the 3 mins and picking it up as you go.


That’s all – see you in the am!







Training vs Running

Hi Gang!


Huge congrats to the power couple of Andrew Higgs and Roz Salter who ran the London Marathon and both came away with PB’s! For these two, crushing a marathon overseas in the rain was their “vacation” together. Lol. We get it. And for those who are fans of the sport, Sifan Hassan ran her first ever marathon, cried in the morning because she had committed herself to running so far, stopped twice to stretch a cramping muscle, wondered at what point she was going to stop and run off the course, but then found herself back with the lead pack with a few kilometers to go, and sprinted away for the win with 100m to go. This is why we love the marathon! The drama and the chaos! Anything can happen! That said, I do think marathons are special, and a monumental strain on our minds and bodies, and racing one to our full capabilities is an act which we can only deliver a finite number of times. Running a marathon “for fun” is one thing, but if really trying to race it, you should be strategic about how often you race them. That’s just my 2 cents as a performance coach. As a lifestyle coach, I understand the draw to keep doing the big, challenging thing, and I do believe the marathon can be a great teacher of many things. Just a little reminder not to take it on lightly, and the marathon is not the be all and end all of performance running and growth. (I’m hearing a collective “NOW she tells us!” as this marathon season is over or peaking for most – haha!) I do love it, I just want to be transparent about my views.


On that same vein, while I love the discipline and grit developed while training for focused events, I also think that running can teach us a lot when we disconnect from the “plan” and reconnect to our senses and intuitions about where, how long and how hard to run. Most of us here are high-performance type people, and it is satisfying in a personal development sense to find, tackle and overcome our perceived limits, push through physical and mental barriers and achieve remarkable things. I love how we can discover so much about ourselves and the confidence that comes through training. BUT. I think we are also here because we love running. Period. We love it for the freedom it offers. We love it for taking us into nature and cleansing our brains. We love it for the easy camaraderie it generates with our running buddies. We love it for the meditative physical rhythm we can find ourselves in. So for those of you “between” goals, maybe make your goal to reconnect with the intuitive runner inside. Lace up, head out, and see what happens. No one is telling you to go further, shorter, faster, slower. Your mind or body will tell you. Sometimes you just go out for a “short one” and then are struck by the impulse to reach a certain landmark. Sometimes all you need one day is 20 minutes. Sometimes the weather matches your mood and it calls you out for longer, or makes you move faster. Sometimes you just feel like walking up that hill. You’ll know when you’re drawn to the structure and commitment of a more formal plan again. There is time and room for both seasons in your running. So enjoy the phase you’re in and it will cycle around again.


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


  1. People in their last push for a Spring Marathon or Half Marathon

1 mile tempo/Half Marathon pace. 2 min rest. 3 x 600 @ 10K pace w 1:30. 3 min rest. Repeat. (second set might just be 2 x 600 – see how you feel)


  1. People training for 5’s and 10’s (including if you’re signed up for Bum Run this weekend)

1 mile tempo (keep this tempo – the fast stuff comes later). 2 min rest. 3 x 600 @ closer to 5K pace. 5 min rest. 2 sets of 600-400-200 (all w 1:30) – 5 min bw sets


  1. People tapering for the Mississauga Half this weekend!

1 mile tempo. 2 min rest. 3 x 600 @ 10K pace w 1:30.


That is all – see you in the am!







Celebrating runners

Hey All!


Holy what a weekend. For those who don’t know, it was the Boston Marathon!!! I hadn’t been here since around 2002. I’ve been missing out! From our crew, running the marathon we had: Shauna, Annick, Laura, Meagan, Lara, Amanda, Steph, Jordan, Bob. And they all ran with heart and grit and made us all so proud. That course is no joke and I am so inspired to be part of this crew. And in the 5K we had: Fran, Erin, Tanis and myself.  Also, out west in BC, Lyndsay Hayhurst ran the Sun Run 10K and pb’d through 5K and 10K! You are all amazing.


Do you ever feel, as a runner, like a bit of an odd duck out? Like you have to explain yourself to others for certain things, and that people don’t understand your quirkiness? I can remember working in various offices where I’d either have to fit my run in as a commute in, or out, changing awkwardly in the bathrooms and getting odd stares as I walked out or in, in my running tights. I know how to under-exaggerate when people ask how far I’ve run or how often I run. And I still brace for their response. I’m aware that I eat more at a sitting than “normal people”, and am used to the comments – “great job on finishing your plate!”  I know it’s “a thing” when I have to work backwards from a departure time to fit in a run, or leave a gathering early because I have a morning run. I’m aware that I have these eccentricities and that most people don’t really get them, so I tend to downplay them around others. I often hide them and try to blend in as a “non-runner”. But guys. When you come to Boston, EVERYONE is like that! And all our running weirdnesses are celebrated! The whole town here really really loves runners and they let you know it.


So many of us alien-type runners descend on this city for this weekend, and we recognize each other and let loose in all of our running-ness. The marathoners are the stars here, and are celebrated and cheered for the values and lifestyles that they represent. They do a big, hard thing (marathoners are used to doing big hard things), but here they are actually recognized and lauded for it, instead of considered eccentric oddballs. For one weekend a year in Boston, everyone seems to love runners, and runners have the opportunity to inspire others with their passion, grit, determination and pure physical and emotional strength and endurance. I love this so much. You shone so brightly here. Thank-you marathoners and thank-you Boston. My cup is feeling very full.


On to tomorrow’s workout: (Marathoners obviously take a break)

Short hills and tempo. Meet at Riverdale clubhouse for 6:15

This will help to work on some of our strength and power, as well as a bit of pace.

Riverdale Hills – 3 x Fast up, Easy down – 2 min rest, 4 min tempo

Repeat sequence 2-3 times

(I have a kid’s swimming conflict again in the am so I am so sad to say I will have to do this on my own later! Have a good one all)