October 20, 2020 – Training Shape

Hey Gang! 


First up huge congrats to Amy Hayes, Zoë Webster and Samantha Farrell who ran half marathon and 30K virtual races respectively this past weekend! Amy and Zoë both ran their “A” goals solo on a windy day. And Sam just decided to “jump in” to a 30K (virtual Around the Bay) race a few days prior! Not quite a PB, but a very solid run to be able to just jump in and conquer at any time.  


This leads me to my thoughts for this week. What I’ve been thinking about is the answer to that never-ending question we receive, “What are you training for?” Many of us don’t even think about this when we set out to run, whether hard, easy or something in between because it’s just what we do. But when we’re asked, we’re forced to ponder it. Is it all pointless if I’m not training FOR anything? I asked this question to a friend recently (Alex Hutchinson – an accomplished runner who wrote Endure and the popular column Sweat Science). I see him working out fairly hard on Saturdays, doing a solid tempo with a crew. And I know he’s obviously running on days I don’t see him, so I was just curious. He gave me the same answer that I often give people to this question: “I’m just staying in good enough shape so that I can get into shape when the opportunity presents itself”.  


This “ready to get into shape” fitness is not nothing. It includes workouts and tempos. Maybe the odd long run. But it’s flexible and shouldn’t require too much mental energy. Workouts can be missed or changed, or moved around. The key is to stay in touch with how it feels to run hard and fast. I love hanging out in this zone. In fact most of my “training” occurs in this zone.  


Every now and then you’ll hear the call to really dial it up and see what you can do in a race (virtual or live) situation. You’ll feel motivated and ready to put in an extra bit of mental and physical energy. If you’re starting from “in shape enough to get into race shape” you won’t have too long to work to really get into race shape. Probably 5-8 weeks (depending on the race). But you can’t hang out in “race shape” for too long without getting burned out, so best to only go there for specifically targeted times.  


On that note, apparently the Tannenbaum 10K will be happening virtually! And Andrew has found a live 5K in Caledon on Nov 28th (socially distanced waves of 25ppl every 30 mins). I would love to enter a Tannenbaum team if anyone else is game. Whether you’re in “race shape” or “training shape” it could still be fun (I say could bc last year really pushed the limits of what I consider ‘fun’). 


Happy to write a plan for anyone interested – we have about 6 weeks! 


Ok, onto workout options for this week: 


  1. 1 mile, 4 x 400, 1 mile, 2-4 x 400 – 2-3 mins bw sets, 1 min bw 400’s 
  2. Fartlek option: 2 x (7 min Hard, 3 min easy, 4 x 1 min Hard, 1 min Easy) 
  3. Tempo – 3 x 8 min Tempo, 3 min Easy 
  4. Hills – how about the cement hill at Riverdale – it’s in-between the steep grassy ones and Pottery – start at the fence near the track for about 200m to the top of the hill (repeat 4-8 times w jog down recovery) 


Have fun! 



October 13, 2020 – Flowers and Fall

I heard somewhere that older people tend to be more drawn to and appreciative of flowers than younger people are, because they have experienced and witnessed more of the world’s ugliness. Over time, that will happen. Children like flowers, sure, but they run past them without much thought. If you’ve experienced hardships, grief, illness, tragedy, loss, failure, you are more likely to think that flowers are a bigger deal. Their beauty and scents shine more brightly.


These days I’m acutely aware of how quickly everything can change and certain pleasures can disappear. We’ve gone from slowly re-opening and gathering with friends to now retracting back due to COVID resurgences. We’ve seen our friends and family on the West Coast and in the US struggle with wildfires and political turmoil. Many of our small business owner friends and community members are struggling financially. Most of us as well as our close friends and family members are struggling with the loss of physical connection and close personal connections. These are all realities. We can’t change this and we can’t predict what will happen next. We will weather them and survive, as humanity has over hundreds of thousands of years of hardships.


And through these hardships we will suddenly be wired to experience beauty more fully. I’ve been thinking of this as I run freely in the fall air as the trees turn brilliant shades of reds, oranges and yellows. Am I noticing them more brightly this year? Am I appreciating every step and every breath and yes, even every feeling of burning in my legs a little more? When I run by the water, the sun sparkling over it looks more magical than ever. The rainbows, sunrises and sunsets I’ve witnessed this fall have literally taken my breath away. And the flowers are definitely bringing me more joy than they used to. For all of this at least, I am grateful.


I’m not saying the hardships are worth this perspective – it’s not something you can weigh or compare. I’m just encouraging you to take the opportunity to experience the beauty and glory of nature this Fall while you can. It might look more beautiful than you remember.



Ok, onto workouts for this week: 


  1. Hills – I think we’ve gone 4 weeks here so throw them in if you haven’t – they always help!!! 
  2. 4 x 800 w 1:30 rec, 3 min, 4 x 200 w 1 min 
  3. Fartlek: 4 x 3 min Hard w 1:30 easy, 3 min easy, 4 x 30 sec Hard, 1 min easy (not a long one but they don’t always have to be) 
  4. Tempo: 3 x 8 min tempo w 2-3 min easy 
  5. If gearing up for a Half this weekend: 2 x 800 @ race pace w 1:30 rec, 4 x 400 a touch faster w 1:30 (3 min bw sets) 



Have a good one y’all! 




October 6, 2020 – re-hunkering

Hi Everyone! 


I can’t help gushing over this fall running weather. So beautiful out these days! Don’t forget to pause and appreciate and enjoy the beauty while you’re out and about. 


What I’ve been thinking about recently is the feeling that we are going to have to hunker down and shrink our worlds again for a bit. This is not easy, or fun but one thing I’ve learned from the past 7 (!) months is that this Lower East Siders community is more than just a running group and we will remain a supportive, inclusive, inspiring community whether we get together consistently or not. It’s hard to plan and look forward when you don’t know what the next few months will bring, so let’s not waste energy trying to control things that are out of our control. What we can’t control: illness, weather, school closures, event cancellations, other peoples’ behaviour (I’m sure it will get wacky again).  What we can control: how we treat other people. That’s why I love this crew – I feel we have our priorities straight. This isn’t easy but let’s just continue to hold tight and do what we do best: be generous and gracious with our love and support – it’s about all we can count on for sure these days, and I’m so grateful for it.  


Speaking of support, this weekend Ingrid is running virtual Chicago!!! No pressure, but if we figure out her route and timing I’m sure a bunch of us will try to do a run-by on a weekend run to cheer. If not, we are all behind you in spirit Ingrid – Go Get It!!! 


Also, Mike G wanted me to pass along this message: “The ‘official’ half marathon race Oct 17th is cancelled given COVID resurgence and the potential negative optics to our LES group of running any sort of official event. There are however some who plan on meeting up for a half on that weekend so there are still opportunities for a good hard test for those interested!” – on that note, please also let us know your day/time/route so we can run/cheer.  


That is all for now – also please keep me posted on virtual races you want to try out if you’re looking for a program. I’m thinking of targeting a 5K in a bit. Onwards!!! 


For tomorrow: 


  1. 2 sets of 5 x 600 alternating Medium and Hard efforts (I’m thinking about 10 sec difference) – 1:30 bw reps, 4 mins bw sets. Yes, it’s 6K of work. Only 3K should be HARD though if done correctly (note to self) 
  2. If doing this fartlek style, 2 sets of 5 x 2 min on, 1:30 off, alt Hard and Medium efforts, 4 mins bw sets 
  3. Hills!!! (I know we’re actually due this week but I have to be back early so shifting mine to next week) 
  4. Peeps doing the Half on the 17th: 2 mile tempo, 5 x 600 


GUYS: did anyone watch Sara Hall’s finish in London on Sunday? I guarantee you her last 400m was refined doing hard repeats of 400m intervals. That’s what her body called upon. Not her long runs. Even people training for long races can benefit tremendously from shorter harder efforts.  





September 29, 2020 – Listen to your body

Hi Gang! 


Hope everyone is enjoying the awesome Fall weather we’re getting – whether you’re running, walking or sitting on a bench, now is the perfect time to enjoy being outside! 


My thoughts this week have been centered around recharging. Many of our schedules have shifted dramatically over the past few weeks to having with many more demands on our time and energy. That’s fine – many of us were waiting for this – but it’s so important not to forget to take care of your own energy levels. I find the art of listening to your body to be very helpful. Our minds can get into fast forward and become good at blocking things out, but our bodies are very smart. They know when we need to slow down and give us little signals which become increasingly loud if we’re not good at paying attention. The best athletes I know are the best at this art form. They are fine to sit out a workout or take a few more rest days if that’s what their bodies are telling them. I’m not sure if it’s the best athletes who are able to do this because they have the confidence to do it, or if they’ve become great because they do this. Either way, I have noticed the correlation. People who are able to charge the hardest are also able to re-charge the hardest. And since there is no perfect formula to rest/recovery for everyone in every circumstance, we have to become masters at reading the signals from our bodies. So that’s just my little note as things ramp up and we get busier and possibly more stressed – keep a sensitive ear to what your body is telling you – it’s on your side! 


On to workouts for this week: 


  1. 1 mile, 2 x 800, 4 x 400, 4 x 200 – 2 minutes between everything (yes, that’s not a ton of time between the mile and 8’s but that will keep those paces as they should be – comfortably hard. It will feel like a long time between 200’s which will allow you to get some good turnover in) 
  2. Fartlek style! 7 min, 2x 3 min, 4 x 1:30, 4 x 30 all w 2 min rec 
  3. Tempo: 2 x 12, 1 x 6 min all w 2-3 min rec 


Thanks guys 



September 22, 2020 – RBG

Hi Everyone! 


First up congrats to our long course triathletes who competed (and medaled!) on the weekend – some after having run virtual Boston the weekend before! What the heck – I think there’s something different in the water we’re drinking. Very inspiring y’all. I don’t have official results but I believe Carolyn Steele-Gray came in as the FIRST non-pro woman, and David Steinberg, Jon McRea and Jason Jacobs rocked it. Carol McFarlane did the bike portion as part of a relay. Way to go crew! 


This week I’ve been thinking (and learning more about) Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She has said many meaningful things, but two which stand out for me are, “I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.” And “To make life a little better for people less fortunate than you, that’s what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself but for one’s community.” 


I like these because they are empowering and they take away the comparison angle. We each have separate and very different talents. We can follow those to make the changes that are within our reach – no matter how big or how small. I sometimes get caught up worrying that I’m not making a huge impact like someone like RBG, but I try to remind myself that I’m not her and all I can do is try to do my own small part.   


This mindset can apply to our athletic achievements as well. This crew is amazing in its huge breadth of talents. There are some fast-twitch, some slow-twitch, some mentally super tough, some able to find joy in everything, some flexible, some rigid, some great leaders from the front, some lead by following and supporting others. Whatever our talents or interests are, we should use those to the best of our ability. And use them to help and prop others up where we can – not just for ourselves. We are the fortunate ones. Thank-you RBG!!! 


On to workouts for this week: 


  1. Hills (some ppl did them last week – if not I really recommend keeping them in in some form periodically) 
  2. Those of us who did hills can do the 800-400-200 workout from last week. It looked fun! 3-4 x 800-400-200 w 1 min bw reps, 3 mins bw sets 
  3. If you did that last week and need another option, let’s do 8 x 400 w 1:15 rest. These are designed not to be super fast (read the rest to gauge output) but nice and consistent to keep the wheels turning over. A good one to get back to if you want to hit up some 5 or 10K’s this Fall. 
  4. Tempo: 10 min, 3 x 5 min all with 2 min rec 


Have fun!




September 15, 2020 – Perseverence

Hey Gang!  


I’m still basking in the glow of the weekend where we had a crew running the Virtual Boston Marathon and a huge turnout of supporters, volunteers, pacers, to help them out. I’ve gushed about this a lot already, so I don’t want to over-gush, but I am just feeling so grateful for the community we’ve built together and for the fact that everyone takes such joy in supporting each other and being part of it.  


I’ve been thinking a lot about the perseverance of the racers who started training for this race LAST DECEMBER. They got a huge bulk of the way into hard training for their goal when it was pulled from under them with about one month to go. It was a bummer, but no one whined or complained. When given a new option to run the race virtually 5 months later, they all figured out how to pick themselves up and keep going. That takes a huge amount of resilience and perseverance. Regardless of race outcomes, the attitude you all showed in that moment shows true character. I just had the image of the line from the Rudyard Kipling poem “IF” come to mind: “…Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, 

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.” Sort of what all of you did. 


Many of us are still in the “goal pulled from under us” stage for various goals. Some have gotten injured along the way (yet still 100% show up to support those who are still running), some have had a hard time landing on a new goal, and some are fine with not having an imminent goal for now. But at some point I believe we’ll all stoop and start building up again. It’s the curse of runners. We have to rebuild our fitness Every. Single. Time. Good thing we love doing that 😉 



On to workout options for this week: 


  1. 3-4 x 800-400-200 w 1 min bw reps, 3 mins bw sets (I like this one but feel I’m due for hills – I may try to throw it in later or it may pop up as a workout option again next week!) 
  2. Fartlek style: 4 x 3 min Hard, 1:30 Hard, 30 sec Hard w 1 min easy – 3 min bw sets 
  3. Hills!!!! (I’m going to try to add either a lil’ tempo or some 200’s after if anyone wants to join for that fun part too) Pottery or a good Beach Hill 
  4. Short hills! Let’s do these while we can before the snow falls! So good for power and form. Something like 2-3K w-up, 5-8 x Riverdale Hill, 2-3K c-dn 
  5. Tempo: 4 x 2K @ Half Mara pace w 2 min rec 


See ya soon!




September 28, 2020 – Fear = Growth

Hi Everyone!  


Am I the only one who’s feeling the buzz of energy in the air? It suddenly really feels like Fall and fresh starts. My son expressed his feeling of anxiety to me about going back to school this week as a bad feeling in his chest. I said “Actually, that’s a good feeling – it means you care! And you’re not alone. Many of us have that feeling right now.” I’ve spoken to a number of people in this group doing new and big things this week (including the Virtual Boston Marathon!!!) It made me think of another Gloria Steinem quote:  


‘When you attempt something new, there is always fear. A couple of
helpful slogans for me have been these: ‘Follow the fear’ and ‘Fear is a
sign of growth’. 


There is no objective measure as to whether something is scary or not. If it is scary for you, then you will grow from it. That’s all that matters.  


So I see you all going out and doing your own scary things. I’m proud of all of us for challenging ourselves and continuing to seek that feeling. Success or not, there will be growth. Follow the fear.  


Ok, onto workouts for this week:  


  1. 1 mile @ half mara pace, 2 min rest, 2-3 x 800 @ 10K pace w 1:30 rec, 2-3 x 800 @ 5K pace w 2 min rec  
  2. If tapering for Boston: 1 mile @ mara race pace, 2 min rest, 2-3 x 800 a tad quicker (half or 10K pace) w 1:30 rest  
  3. Above as fartlek: 6 min tempo, 2 min easy, 3 x 3 min medium hard w 1:30 easy, 2 min easy, 3 x 3 min Hard w 2 min easy  
  4. 4 x Riverdale Hill, 10 min tempo, 4 x Riverdale Hill (something different)  
  5. Tempo: 3 x 10 min w 2 min easy  


Feel free to coordinate meet-ups here!


Good luck to everyone 



September 1, 2020 – Art of Life

Hi Guys,  


I haven’t had any deep insights this week, but I was listening to a podcast with Gloria Steinam, and man, she’s still a total badass at age 86! One of her quotes which really resonates with me is this one: “The art of life is not controlling what happens to us, but using what happens to us.” I guess by 86 you realize shit will happen that you can’t control so you’d better make the best of it. I think many of us (me!) are still learning this lesson. How we have handled our running and our lives in the face of the COVID pandemic has been pretty eye opening. There can be an urge to want to control as much as we can in the face of uncertainty. We make rigid schedules and stick to plans and count numbers, because we can control those things. But the quiet confidence of accepting the unpredictable and trusting ourselves to handle whatever comes our way and USE it to make us stronger can actually serve us better. As Gloria says, it is “the art of life”. Because that is what life is – messy, unpredictable art. And we are all artists.  


Workouts for this week:  


  1. 6 x 600 w 1:30 rest, 4 min rest, 6 x 400 w 1:30 rest (the key here is to keep the paces very similar – don’t speed up too much if any for the 400’s. It’s a way to get a bit more volume of speedier work in)  
  2. Fartlek style! 6 x 2 min w 1:30 easy, 4 min easy, 6 x 1:30 w 1:30 easy  
  3. Short hills and strides – honestly I wish I did more of these. Gyms have been closed but this is running specific power and strength stuff  
  4. Tempo: 20 min tempo, 5 min easy, 10 min tempo  


Group up here – and have fun!  


August 25, 2020 – Reinvention

Hi Everyone! 


One thing I’ve been thinking about this week is Reinvention. We humans are so unique in our ability to reinvent ourselves. It is an amazing ability which isn’t dependent on age, gender, personal history, or past accomplishments. We are limited only by our own imaginations and senses of adventure. Sometimes our incentive to reinvent ourselves is because of something beyond our control. Our current path has come to an end and we need to start a new one. And sometimes we just feel pulled in a new direction. If we’re able to bring the same energy and curiosity to our new path, we can enjoy an entirely new dimension.  


In this group we have a number of people who I can think of who have reinvented themselves in one way or another. A concert musician who sustained an injury and reinvented herself as a medical professional. A sprinter who reinvented herself as a marathoner. Runners who are reinventing themselves as multi-sport athletes with cycling and swimming. A physiotherapist who reinvented herself as a financial executive and then as an entrepreneur.  


I just find this inspiring to see and our capabilities to do this are endless. I’m not sure when we know the time is right, but I think there comes a time when we decide we’re ready to walk away from an old identity which might be holding us back and into a new one which we find more exciting or purposeful.  


Just remember to try to get excited and motivated by your potential to change and to be grateful for the chapter you’ve had. “I am just a runner” or “I am not a marathoner” or “I don’t sprint” or “I’m not musical” are not who you are. They’re what you’ve decided to be right now. And that can always be reinvented. 


Ok, for workouts this week, here are options: 


  1. 2 x 1 mile w 2 min rec,  2 x 800 w 1:30 rec, 4 x 400 w 1 min rec – 3-4 mins bw sets 
  2. Fartlek style: 2 x 6 mins w 2 min rec, 2 x 3 mins w 1:30 rec, 4 x 1 min w 1 min rec (3-4 min easy jog bw sets) 
  3. Hills!!! (I’m def due for these this week) – marathoners, no more hills for you 
  4. Tempo: 3 x 10 min w 2 min easy 
  5. Drills and sprints 



See ya out there! 




August 18, 2020 – Comparison

Hi Everyone!


And now we get the rewards of having run through searingly hot and humid summer days. How good do the lower temps feel! I’m sure we’ll cycle around again a few times and then we’ll start complaining about the cold, but today feels … dare I say it … perfect!!!


One thing I’ve been thinking about and noticing lately is how much our mental engagement has a real physical effect. When we’re excited about an upcoming race or effort, we’re able to draw more out of ourselves and it doesn’t feel as hard to push or work towards our goals. When we’re not in that mental state, it’s harder to get the same effort out of ourselves. This is totally fine!!! Just don’t compare your efforts when you’re not training for something to efforts when you are. They will not match up. Your running will serve you for whatever phase you’re in. Let it. You’ll know when you need it to serve you differently. Let your goals come to you. At a certain point you might feel inspired to challenge yourself and go for something. Then your runs will take on purpose and excitement and energy, and you’ll be able to put up with a lot more. But you can’t fake it. And you can’t always be chasing a goal. Maintenance is a very comfortable and great place to be and complements a lot of what else we have going on in life. Just stay off comparing yourself from one phase to another. Comparison is the thief of joy – especially when we’re comparing ourselves to ourselves!


Ok, on to workout options for this week:


  1. 4-5 x 800 w 2 min rest, 4 mins, then 1-2 sets of 4 x 200 w 1:15; 4 min bw sets (marathoners add an extra 800 and only 1 set of 200’s) – 800’s at 10K pace or slightly faster
  2. The above but by time vs distance (I prefer this if you’re getting back into workouts and want to keep the head judgement part out of it): 5 x 3 min w 2 min rest, 4 min rest, 6-8 x 30 sec w 1 min rest
  3. Hills! If you haven’t done Riverdale hill sprints in a while, I suggest these. So good for power and muscle building. Go glutes!
  4. Workout of drills and strides. REALLY love this one, especially if you’re in maintenance phase. It’s what we should always do more of but don’t have the time/energy when we’re in hard training. Do it now – it will serve you well.
  5. Tempo: 15-20 min tempo, 4 min easy, 2 x 5 min tempo w 2 min easy

Here’s the sign-up sheet – I’ll follow-up peoples’ leads as to when they’re working out but I will do Option 1. Just to let ya’ll know, the washrooms at Tim’s at L&L open at 6 (don’t forget your masks). It seems there are currently some construction port-o-potties on Carlaw – haven’t checked them out myself yet though so not sure how great.



Have fun!!!