Imperfection

Hi Everyone!

 

Hope you all enjoyed a perfect weather weekend. Looks like we’re in for some rain this week. But, we gotta train in everything because we might get anything.

 

What I’ve been thinking about lately is perfectionism. I think many of us can identify with the perfectionist mindset. It is behind a lot of distance running tendencies. Show up, do the work, achieve results, feel good about yourself. The more we repeat this behaviour loop, the more it becomes a habit, and then a self-identity. Although these tendencies can lead to success, I think it’s important to remain self-aware and know when they are holding us back in certain ways. For example, in terms of fear of failure. When we are given a workout to do, or think we know the direct path to our goals, the more rigid our mindset, the scarier it is to veer from that path. And in fact, if our perfectionist habits are influencing our self-identity, it can become terrifying. Who am I if I don’t “succeed”?

 

But the truth is that imperfection and even failure IS an option. I have a talented new-ish runner whom I coach, and I’ve been giving her workouts to do with the group by time. So basically a number of timed segments, without too much guidance from me on exact pacing (it is cross-country after all). Afterwards she said she never knows how hard to start because she’s worried that she won’t have anything left for the last one. I told her that we’re trying to find that point in practice, so failure is a data point. I said go out, have fun, take the limits off, and if you don’t finish the workout as prescribed, this is a safe space to do that!

 

This is a hard headspace to try to embrace for many perfectionists, but it is also the path to higher potential limits. Yes, you might fail. But if you’re secure enough in who you are, failure becomes a learning opportunity – not a threat to your identity. I have seen some of you do this well when I’ve given you “prescribed workouts”, and I celebrate that. Within reason. I’m not advising recklessness. But if you find you’re always sticking so closely to the rules because you have to execute “perfectly”, maybe try to challenge that inner voice. This holds true for a “perfect” number of miles per week, a “perfect” long run, and “perfect” workouts. Your races will very likely not be perfect. So practice imperfection. It might take you to new places – and honestly, it’s more fun.

 

On to our workout for tomorrow! – something special planned so we’ll start at 6:00 am.

 

  1. 4 x 1 mile at HM pace w 1:30 rest. If you can creep the last two down in pace close to 10K pace, go for it.

THEN: Fall Marathon Racers (Boston, NYC, Georgina): 2 x 1 mile at race pace, taking water each time you pass the 400m mark. I will be set up there with water and cups so you can practice taking it at race pace. Don’t worry, I’ll pick up the garbage. Just grab, sip while running, and throw. I’ll show you how I do it. I think this is a good thing to practice or at least take some of the anxiety out of doing it “perfectly” on race day. If anyone wants to stick around after the 4 x 1 mile and help me hand out water, you’re welcome to! I think it will be raining. So imperfect.

 

Thanks all – see you in the am!

 

xo

 

Seanna

Groundedness

Hi Everyone!!!!

 

First up, congrats to all our triathletes this past weekend! Shauna, Adam, Carolyn and I went to Montreal for the Esprit de Montreal ½ Ironman, and Jon McCrea did the C3 ½ Ironman and Zoe and Carol did the relay. Wohooo!!! As nervous as I was leading up to it, it was a good reminder that racing really is fun and special. (Just a reminder to all of you in the middle of hard things right now and maybe asking “why am I doing this again?” – it IS worth it)

 

What I’ve been thinking about this week is the concept of “groundedness”. There is a new book out by Brad Stulberg (one of the authors of Peak Performance) called Groundedness. I haven’t read it yet, but have caught some insights and listened to him talk about it.

 

Here’s what I’ve taken from it so far: Whatever we’re reaching or striving or training for, it’s important to have a strong foundation of roots which “ground” us. It’s important both to set these up first, and to cultivate them along the way if we are looking for long-term success. For example, one of the principles of groundedness is building a strong community – people who share our values and support us – win or lose. In the running analogy, this is our base. Now, once we get into the frenetic chase of a specific goal, it’s easy to put our heads down and chase in the name of “efficiency”. Lifting weights at home is more efficient than going to the gym. Doing your workout on your own time is more efficient than meeting a group. Eating lunch at your desk or texting a friend is more efficient than a meet-up or a walk. It’s true. And sometimes we need to do these things – we’ve all found ourselves there. But they will only sustain us for so long if we don’t have strong community roots, and at some point we will have to go back and become “inefficient” and build our community and friendship ties if we’re in this for the long-term. A race is one data point on a long trajectory. It might blip up or down, but if the long-term trajectory is to go up, we need to be firmly grounded. We sacrifice a lot in our culture in the name of efficiency, but often our long-term success depends on those things we are sacrificing. Our culture places a high value on results – whether it’s in work or race results or financial “success”. But if we haven’t cultivated a strong base, by being intentionally mindful of the process and finding value in the journey, whatever results we get will feel hollow. On the flip side, if you are firmly grounded and have grown and strengthened your values and support through training (just talking running here again), the race itself becomes less stressful. In fact, you are more likely to succeed because you feel free to take risks. You’ve already won, so you can go out and enjoy the process, and the outcome will not define your entire journey.

 

There are many other points on Groundedness which he brings up, but maybe I’ll actually read the book before I share those! Lol.

 

Ok, onto tomorrow’s workout:

 

First, thank-you SO much to all who have signed up for and/or donated to our Work Out For War Child team! Lucky you, now you get to do 15 x Pottery Road hills!

 

  1. If you’re up for some sort of challenge, come out any time and see how many you can do – no pressure! I’ll aim to be there by 6 am with Gatorade, gels and bars. It will take me a long time as I plan to do lots of walking. Remember: relay style is fine!!!
  2. If you’re training for Boston or NYC or Georgina: 6-7 x hill, followed by 2 x 2K @ MP w 3 min easy (let’s not over-do the hills bc there’s a big wrkt this weekend)

 

That’s all! Let’s hope for not too much rain – if it rains it’s my fault bc apparently I’m weather-cursed this summer.

 

Thank-you!!!

 

Xo

 

Seanna

Do You

Hey Gang!

 

How great are these temps for running right now? Ah the sweet pay-off from all those hot runs – enjoy!!!

 

Most of us are in various stages of training and running. We are quite a diverse, big group, and as is natural, we are not all doing the same things. That is great – there is strength in diversity.

 

What I want to remind you all of is this: remember to do you. It is easy to look around at what other people are doing and think that’s what you should be doing as well. It isn’t.

 

If you’re feeling like your training or vibe isn’t comfortable or jiving with your headspace, I encourage you to go back and remember why you started. When you signed up for whatever you were training for – why did you want to do it?

 

Was it to challenge yourself and have fun? Then keep your training and headspace consistent with that.

Was it to work really hard and set big goals and see what you can achieve when you put in your all? Then remind yourself of that during your big workouts.

Was it to just get to the start line so you could enjoy the experience of the race itself with not too much pressure? Then don’t get caught up with comparing yourself to others who have other goals – that’s not you!

 

It really is fine to train differently and have different reasons for doing things and to have different goals. It’s ok to be intense and it’s ok to be chill. All of these human experiences make up the beautiful mosaic of races and training buddies and life. So this is just a gentle reminder that it’s ok to stay true to your own intentions and not get caught up in comparing yourself with what others are doing. You do you. You’re good. You got this.

 

 

We’re back to Lakeshore tomorrow! Normally we’d be at a hill rotation, but we’re doing our Work Out For War Child Pottery Road Hill challenge next Wednesday (quick plug – if you want to support or join us, you can do so here: WOFWC Lower East Siders)

 

  1. Miles! 3 x 1 mile at HM pace w 1:30, 3 min rest, 2 x 800 slightly quicker w 1:30
  2. As fartlek: 3 x 7 min w 1:30, 3 min, 2 x 3 min w 1:30

 

If you are racing the half-ironman on Friday, sleep in. This won’t help you. I may come out to jog and cheer, but if I’m not there, have fun without me!

 

xo

 

Seanna

The ‘Grind’

Hi Everyone!

 

Hope you’re all finding ways to beat the heat. Way to go everyone who’s getting in their long runs and rides despite it.

 

What I’ve been thinking about lately is how we all seem to cycle through what we ask of running. Sometimes we just want it to be there for us, so we can work hard and challenge ourselves when we feel like it, and run gently and enjoyably when we feel like it. When we’re running “by feel” like this, we can keep our motivation and effort aligned.

 

But sometimes we commit to a goal – something that we know will challenge us beyond what is comfortable, in order to get something out of it for ourselves. Maybe we’re looking for validation (internal or external), maybe we think we need this in order to push ourselves as hard as we think we should, maybe we know we learn something about ourselves when we do this, or maybe we just enjoy the big challenge of the unknown. Either way, when we take something like this on, there will be days when our motivation and required effort are not aligned. That is just how it is. It is a beautiful thing when our program calls for a hard effort and we are motivated and ready and show up and execute. It is another thing when we are given that same effort and for whatever reason, just aren’t “into it” that day. But this is when we have to remember our goal. We knew there would be days like this. The best thing we can do at these times is just accept it. There is a lot of hard, unsexy work that goes into achieving big goals. Many people refer to it as “the grind”. I can guarantee that your progression towards your goal will not be a linear set of continually improving workouts. I can also guarantee that you will have some hard or “off” days. It’s what you do with them that matters. If you can accept them, not judge yourself, and use them as an opportunity to work on your mental strength, grit and positive mindset, then you will get through this just fine. 

 

Most of you who are training for Boston or NYC are in the “grindy” phase about now. Keep grinding. Those of us who are letting our running lead us right now will cheer and support you. We’ve all been there and we know what it’s like. And we want this for you! So use your whole team to help support you. And then the cycles will flip and we’ll all find ourselves in another phase again – training for a goal, or not.

 

Lakeshore Workout for tomorrow!

 

  1. People on a recovery week: 1 mile @ marathon race pace, 2 min, 4 x 400 w 1 rec, 2 min 1 mile @ marathon race pace
  2. People not on recovery week: 1 mile @ half marathon, 2 min, 2 sets of 4 x 400 w 1 rec (3 bw sets), 2 min, 1 mile @ half marathon
  3. If doing fartlek style: 7 mins tempo, 2 min easy, 2x (1:30 ON, 1 min OFF) – 3 easy in bw, 7 mins tempo

 

See you in the am!!

 

xo

 

Seanna

You are not your running

Hi Everyone!

 

Hope you’re all soaking in August and running in the sun (with sunscreen!) when you can. We are getting some beautiful days so let’s soak them all in so we have them deep inside come February!

 

One thing I was thinking about and wanted to share was to make sure our running/working out stays in its running/working out box in terms of how we judge ourselves. I think we can sometimes start to let our values seep across areas where they don’t actually belong. If you get up and run 10 miles at 6 am, that does not make you a “good person”. If you sleep in and run later in the day, or (my god!) take a rest day, that does not make you lazier or less moral than the person who is doing more. It is just running. Yes, we love it and place a high importance on working hard and reaching our goals. And often times doing these things brings out the best in us so that we can be our best selves in other areas. When we start our day feeling good about ourselves, it can have a snowball effect and we continue to feel good and act generously. That’s great. But just remember: you are not what you accomplish in your running and training. That is just a thing you do. Your self-worth should definitely not be measured by what you accomplish on the roads. You can allow your running and training to complement your good qualities and bring out the best in you, but it will not change who you are. If you are generous and kind and curious, that will continue whether you nail your workout or not. So don’t confuse the two things in how you think about yourself. Sometimes it’s good to remember: it’s just running.

 

If you’re in a groove and feeling good, we’re onto hills this week! As always I recommend keeping these in the rotation – for strength, running economy, endurance and especially if you’ll be running a hilly race!

 

  1. Boston and NYC people: focus on steady pace up and down. So the down is “running” down vs. slow shuffling. You don’t have to crush the uphill – keep them all steady. I recommend 6-8 and then a 10 min tempo after a 3 min recovery.
  2. 5K runners: 4-5 “full” hills and 3-4 “half” hills
  3. People training to train: Any combo you like 

 

Have fun everyone – I am away tomorrow but will try to do “something” on my own.

 

Seanna

 

Nourishment

Hi All!

 

Hope you’re all doing well and staying cool, hydrated and replenished. All three of those things take a lot more work in these conditions, so don’t take it for granted. Your body’s usual cues for thirst, nutrition and electrolytes/nutrients may be slightly off as you adapt to the heat, so make sure you pay attention and stay on top of it.

 

On that note, what I’ve been thinking about is an interesting analogy I heard about workouts as nourishment for our bodies. Before we nourish ourselves however, we need to have an objective. Is today a long, aerobic base building day? Then it is nourishing to push yourself a bit longer than usual through some fatigue so that your body adapts to going longer.  However, it is not nourishing to take the pace too fast and finish a ragged wreck. In that case you’re over-stuffing yourself and won’t be able to adapt correctly. If it takes you more than a day or two to recover from an effort, you’ve over-stuffed yourself.

 

If your workout is a VO2 max workout then it is nourishing to work hard within your range. However, adding an extra rep or running someone else’s pace is cramming yourself full and will not help – your body won’t benefit from the extra work. Just as your body will pee out too many multi-vitamins taken at once, there is a certain dosage of exercise that your body just won’t be able to do anything with and you won’t adapt. It’s been said many times that these types of workouts are best left with the feeling that you could do one more. That is nourishing. Your body is adapting and getting the exercise nutrients it needs for the purpose.

 

If your workout is a recovery run, it is nourishing to go by effort and feel. If you’re finishing your “recovery” runs tired or find them hard, they are not nourishing you. If you’re feeling tired after 20 minutes – stop. There is no recovery to be gained by doing more. It’s empty calories to your body.

 

So as we continue on our summer training plans, let’s remember to understand the intention behind what we’re doing so that we can nourish ourselves appropriately. A training plan will never be written out perfectly in an all-knowing way of how each individual will react and adapt. So be smart about listening to your bodies’ signals and understanding your own needs. Give it what it’s telling you it needs, not necessarily what the training plan says it needs.

 

Alright – onto tomorrow’s Lakeshore workout! (I will be there but eating my broccoli and doing mobility vs. the workout, but will cheer you on)

 

  1. 3-4 x 1200 @10K pace w 2 min rec. Here’s the twist: take 45 sec rest at 800. So they look like 800 (45 sec rec), 400. This is because it’s hot and we’re building back up to longer reps at the right pace. I don’t want these to turn into a tempo (you already do those) and we’re also building the strength to hold the pace. In this heat, a little reprieve partway through will give you the physiological benefits you need. We’ll close that gap later on! For some ppl it will be more nourishing to do 3, for others 4. I trust your judgement. (hint – if you’re falling off your paces – stop)
  2. If doing this as fartlek: 3 mins (45 sec) 1:30 – repeat 3-4 times

 

Have fun and see you in the am!!!

 

xo

 

Seanna

 

Having Fun

Hey All!

 

Hope you’re all enjoying watching the Olympics. Wow. So much drama and emotion and so many stories!

 

I have always loved sports. To me, sports have always represented fun and play. When I was a shy little kid and my parents asked me what camp I wanted to do in the summer, I always said “Sports Camp”. There was such a thing. It was completely generalized –  which worked for me. I didn’t care which sports I played – I just wanted to play. My favourite day of the year at school was Journée Sportif which was basically a mini-Olympics but we all did all of the sports. I think that’s where I began to self-select into the longer running events vs. shot-put and high jump, but I certainly had the opportunity to “play” at everything. All through elementary and even high school, my favourite class was always Phys-ed. Again, I didn’t really care what game we were playing – to me Phys ed meant running around, laughing with others and basically having fun. Phys ed was my absolute relief from math and science and geography – sitting still at a desk was so boring!!! (still is tbh). So of course when I learned that Phys Ed was an actual degree you could take in university, that is what I took!

 

Aren’t we lucky that as adults we still have this opportunity to play and run and laugh together? That is what I want to remind us all about. When did sport become so serious? I guess I get it for our Olympic athletes, although in some you can definitely still see the elements of play and fun they have managed to hold on to. For the rest of us who are running and biking and swimming for our “goals”, let’s not forget to keep it fun. Fun, play and enjoyment are the reasons I got into all this sports stuff over 40 years ago. And to be honest, they’re the reasons I’m still doing it. And yes, it’s “fun” to work hard, but let’s not lose the ability to keep the lightness in there – to laugh with others and at ourselves, to show up with excitement and enjoyment and to remember that we’re playing here. This is what we do as a relief from work and stress and obligations. So keep it fun. Or if you prefer, I could always give you a sheet of long-division problems to do on Wednesday mornings!

 

Tomorrow’s workout: (and here’s a sub-goal – smile as you pass ppl every time)

 

  1. 3 x 800 @ HM pace, 3 x 800 @ 10K pace (all w 1:30); 3 min rec,; 2 x 400 w 1:15 @ 5K pace
  2. If going fartlek style: 6 x 3 min on, 1:30 off (first three @HM, second 3 @ 10K), 3 min easy, 2 x 1:30 w 1:15
  3. If training for 5K: 2 x 800 @ HM pace, 3 min, 4 x 400 w 1 @ 10K, 3 min, 4 x 400 w 2 @ 5K
  4. Tempos are written in your plans

 

See you at 6:15 and Have Fun!!!!

 

xo

 

Seanna

Asking

Hi Everyone!

 

It’s been so great seeing so many of you out doing a multitude of activities. And I hope everyone is getting in some good Olympics watching! I am loving it.

 

What I’ve been thinking about this week is the ability to ask for what we want or need. I think many of us have had this ability trained out of us by society or our own inner voices. But being able to ask for what you want is a huge strength. People want to help us – they just don’t always know how.

 

I was listening to a podcast with Brandi Carlile. She was asked whether she was good at asking for what she wanted. She unapologetically said “Yes! I know what I need and I can’t get it all alone”. I loved this. There was no shame in asking – only confidence. A lot of what she asks for is charity involvement for fundraisers. She joked that people in Hollywood probably screen her calls because she is so unafraid of asking, but she believes in what she is doing and makes things happen. And in reality, people do want to help.

 

A female friend of mine who is a top executive in a male dominated industry was on a podcast talking about going back to work with small kids. Her team had meetings at 8:30 am. She asked for them to be moved back an hour because she was doing the school run. No problem. She has since risen higher and higher and that is in part because she has been able to ask for what she needs.

 

Similarly, as we take on commitments in our lives as athletes and in service to others (paid or unpaid), it will only help us if are able to ask for what we want. Can you make dinner on these nights? Can we move these meetings a bit later or earlier? Can you join me on this hard effort? Can I have this half day off to attend to my wellness needs?

 

The people around you want your success. But they can’t guess what you need. So please learn to ask. If not only for yourself, then as a path that you’re carving for those who are coming behind you and who maybe won’t have to ask as loudly. Jumping through hoops while carrying all the balls yourself won’t help you. Please learn to ask. It will make you so much stronger and more successful.

 

For this week! We are back to hills:

 

  1. 5-6 x Pottery Rd Hill – 3-4 min recovery then 2 x 8 mins @ mara pace w 3 min recovery
  2. If on a recovery week, 3 x hills and a few good strides after
  3. 5K runners: 5-6 x Pottery (or similar if in beach) and 4-5 x strides after
  4. Short tempo for recovery week ppl if feeling like you need something: 5min, 2min, 2min, 2min – same tempo paces – don’t speed up bc it’s shorter – all w 2 min easy OR no tempo
  5. Tempo for 5K ppl: 3 x 5 min w 2 min, then 5 min easy, then 5 min a bit quicker
  6. Tempo for ppl building: 2 x 12 min w 3 easy

 

That is all for now – see you out there!

 

xo

 

Seanna

Magic Bullets

Hi Everyone!

 

Hope you’re all managing to stay cool and drinking lots of water (dehydration can sneak up on you when you’re going from heat to air conditioning). Also, let’s just stay aware of this smog that is hanging over the city – it is particulates from forest fires, so if you’re feeling any irritation in your lungs or feeling light headed, back off. Hopefully some rain tonight will clear it out.

 

What I’ve been thinking about is our strange irrationality as humans (again). What if I told you you could take a pill that would give you greater exercise adaptation, increased muscle growth, bone building and fat burning? It would also be your recovery salve when you’re injured as it would increase your recovery rate by increasing protein synthesis. And it would increase your motivation to work out and make your workouts feel easier? Would you take it? How much would you pay for it? Consider how much you invest in all of your other products that give you a slight edge. Now what if I told you it was free? Yes, I’m talking about sleep.

 

This is where we become irrational. Yes, workouts are important, and fitting them into our busy days are hard. And the truth is, you won’t get fitter and stronger if you have nothing to recover from. But continually depriving yourself of sleep in order to work out will eventually lead to diminishing gains if not injury.

 

I’m not lecturing, just reminding you of something to remain aware of as you lean into training at the same time that you rediscover patios and socializing, and your kids and partners get busier, and work is not slowing down. None of these things should be taken off the table. But please remember that sleep is not the one that should constantly be compromised. It won’t help you. Rationally, if you want the best results from your efforts, the smartest thing to do is to compromise your workouts every now and then in favour of sleep. We think if it doesn’t feel hard, we’re not working towards our goals – but that is not the truth. I’m telling you that. So shut off that part of your brain that is compulsively telling you to “push through” and take the advice that will actually get you fitter, stronger, faster. Sleep!!!! It actually is a magic bullet.

 

Ok, onto Wednesday workout!

 

  1. 1K tempo; 2 min rec, 6 x 600 @ 5K pace w 1:30, 3 min rec; 1K tempo
  2. If doing this fartlek style: 4 mins tempo, 2 min easy, 6 x 2 min Hard, 1:30 Easy, 3 min easy, 4 min tempo
  3. If on a recovery week (like me!) feel free to join me for jogging, strides and mobility

 

 

That’s all – have a good one and see you out there! (Lakeshore & Leslie at 6:15 J)

 

xo

 

Seanna

Set-Backs

Hi Gang!

 

Many of us are getting into the groove of summer training. We have fall goals on the horizon and are excited to work towards them. This is what we love! Big goals with plans filled with hard work and fun in order to get us there.

 

As we start out and map everything out, I just want to set you all up with one expectation: expect the odd set-back. Most people will not have a completely smooth journey and be able to follow their plan 100% to the letter. That is expected. Most of us will confront schedule changes, energy ebbs and flows, injuries, life events that will lead to set-backs – large or small. That is OK. That is all part of the journey. These set-backs, and how we handle them, are actually more significant for our growth and learning as athletes than a smooth road.

 

I was listening to an interview with LeBron James. He was talking about his kids. He said they would never have the same drive as him because he could never recreate the circumstances that led to where he is. He grew up poor, in a single parent household, in rough neighbourhoods and schools. His kids have a stable family, live in wealthy neighbourhoods, and go to private schools. Of course this is what he wants to give them, but LeBron also said, I wish for my kids enough hardship and obstacles in their lives that they can grow and learn.

 

As parents and as coaches or leaders, we all sort of hope for this, but yet we would never put hardships or obstacles in our kids or athletes’ way on purpose. Rather, when they experience them, we don’t stress about it or try to fix it, but rather let our kids/athletes/mentees struggle and grow through the challenge – even if it’s uncomfortable.

 

So, as much as I hope for smooth journeys for all of you, I know as a matter of odds and experience that that won’t be the case. And when we each hit our own set-backs, although I won’t be celebrating them (they are tough), I also won’t be stressing and cursing and wishing it were different.  We all have the opportunity to gain wisdom, self-knowledge and strength with every new challenge, difficulty and failure if we are able to accept them, use them, and move on. So whatever happens, this will be a great season for all of us J

 

On to our Wednesday Workout: (6:15 am start at Lakeshore and Leslie)

 

  1. 2-3 sets of: 800-800-400. 1:30 between reps, 3-4 mins (and 400m easy jog back) bw sets. Marathoners, do three sets as half marathon/8K pace. 5K runners do 2 sets as 10K/5K pace.
  2. If doing this fartlek style: 3min-3min-1:30 w 1:30 bw reps, 3-4 mins bw sets
  3. Tempo: 3 x 5 min w 3 min (unless you’re a marathoner doing work in your long run this weekend)

 

See you out there!

 

xo

 

Seanna