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)





Gratitude and effort

Hi Everyone!


I’m sure you’ve all been appreciating the glorious sunshine and warmer temps. THIS is why we go through winter – to be able to fully and collectively appreciate the emerging sights, smells, sounds and sensations of Spring!


That brings me to what I’ve been thinking about – Gratitude. Sometimes, like when we have a beautifully warm and sunny run with friends after a long, dark, cold winter, this sentiment comes naturally. But other times, we have to work on calling it up, and remembering how much and what we have to be grateful for. It is a mindset which I find helps before and during times of anxiety and effort. Many in our crew are in their last week of resting up before running the Boston Marathon. Taper week. This is one of the most difficult times mentally. You know you have a big effort on the horizon, and that you will be put to the test. But there is absolutely nothing you can do about it now. All you can do is rest up and count the days and then hours as the event approaches. This can (and often does) elicit some form of anxiety in most people. Especially since the way most of us deal with anxiety is through running and exercise, and that is being strictly curbed. Sometimes we look around at friends and family who aren’t about to subject themselves to such a test, blissfully going about their carefree days, and we might think … “WHY exactly am I doing this again?” Or, not uncommonly, we might find ourselves in the middle of it – stretching ourselves to our limits with effort and strain and think … “I’d rather be somewhere else, doing anything else right now”. These are natural thoughts and impulses – our brains looking for the out or the easy way. But we signed up for this. For personal growth, for a reminder that we are alive and engaged and vigorous, to challenge ourselves physically and mentally. We know deep down that we want to do this. So the best counter to these mental moments, is to call on gratitude.


It might sound glib and too simple. But to truly consider and embrace how much we have to be grateful for in these moments can really get us into a positive and productive mindset and to re-engage in the process. Think of any time you’ve been injured and haven’t been able to run (not to mention some of our teammates who are currently sidelined and would trade places with you in a second). Think of people who for many different reasons (financial, geographic, life circumstances) can’t participate in events like this. Consider your health and freedom and all of your friends and support network who are beside you in training, in spirit, and in the race itself. You are supported and surrounded and cheered along. People want this for you. Find gratitude in all of that. You are the lucky ones. Yes, it is uncomfortable. Yes, it is hard. Yes, we can be taken to some dark places. And Yes, we are grateful for all of it.


On to tomorrow’s workout! Lakeshore and Leslie: 6:05 Drills, 6:15 GO. (Unfortunately I won’t be there until later – my daughter needs to be dropped at school at 6:30 am! So get started – I am doing the taper workout and will prob arrive by around 7-ish)


Taper workout (if racing Boston Marathon or Boston 5K):

1 mile tempo (make this a chill tempo). 2 min rest. 4 x 400 cruisey (fast but not straining) – with 1:30 rest.


Ppl not tapering:

1 mile tempo. 2 min rest. 8 x 400 w 1:15 rest (yes, it’s shorter rest than the taper crew). 2-3 min rest. 2 x 400 w 1:30 rest (these should be a couple seconds faster – don’t do these if feeling any glute/hammy/calf/anything strains)


That is all – I’ll see anyone who’s still there at 7 in the am!





The best we can

Hi Everyone!


I don’t think we had anyone from this crew racing the Spring Run Off or Spring Sprint this past weekend. On that note, I really encourage mid-season races as part of your training. There’s fit, and then there’s remembering how to race. It takes a few races sometimes to get that feeling back. They do not have to be your goal distance race – in fact better if they’re not. They’re just good practice and you can build better fitness and learn more from races than from workouts. We’re getting a bit late in the season for Spring Marathoners and Half Marathoners to do that now, but if you have a Fall longer race on the docket, consider playing around with some summer 5K’s and 10K’s. I promise it helps. I have also found it helps to spur motivation – gets you excited and in the zone.


I’ve been thinking about a podcast I listened to a while ago from Brenè Brown. I can get cynical and overdosed on the Self-Help genre, but I find her to be smart, honest, and humble, and she brings me in. She was talking about encountering someone who really got under her skin, who was acting self-entitled and rude. She judged this person and felt self-righteous. Her therapist then asked her this question: Do you think that person is doing the best that she can? Brenè wasn’t sure. She had to think about this and took the question to other people. “Do you think that most people are doing the best that they can? Given their particular situation.” Most people said yes – fundamentally that’s what they believed. One friend said, “No way – look at me breast feeding all day and night – it’s the hardest thing I’ve done but some people just don’t put in the work”.  And Brenè sat there, having tried but not managed to breast feed her babies – and felt the weight of that judgement. She suddenly viewed the person who she had been judging in a completely different light. Who knows what set of circumstances she had been raised with, what she was mentally and physically capable of, what she was battling, … She was probably doing the best that she could.


I think if we navigate the world with this view, it can give us a sense of optimism and empowerment. It’s not to let anyone off the hook.. Sometimes the best someone can do isn’t very good (for example when your best leads to treating someone badly). And maybe not everyone is doing the best they can. But for the most part, most people are. If we can take this view and turn it back on ourselves, that becomes self-compassion. And it’s control. The only thing we can control is our effort. We might not all be genetically on the same playing field or have the same education and experience or even views and values. But we can do the best that we can.


This is a good mindset to hold onto in races. We cannot control the outcome. We don’t know exactly how our muscles and mitochondria will respond to effort and pace on a hill, when the weather is a certain temperature, and with a certain amount of fuel being shuttled to our cells. We’re not sure if the bad sleep we had two nights ago will affect us negatively, or if that little twinge we’ve been feeling will act up. Things could go sideways in the middle of the race and we might realize we are not having “a good one”. And then, all we can do is the best we can. That we can control. Given x, y and z, what is the best I can do right now. This is not a mindset to offer excuses. It is a mindset to remove judgement. Do the best you can. That’s all you can do. That might look very different from one day to the next. But just keep doing it. And assume that others are as well. It’s a nice outlook.


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


  1. 2 sets of (1 mile @ tempo, 2 min rest, 2 x 800 @ 10K w 1:30 rest) – 3 min bw sets. THEN choice of a finisher – 1 mile @ marathon race pace OR if aiming for 5K/10K’s – 2 x 400 @ 5K pace (1:15 rest). If not training for anything specifically you can leave the finisher out.
  2. Option 2 for ppl who haven’t been training for anything longer this spring, just one set of Mile-800-800 and include 2-4 x 400 at the end. Not as much volume for you, so see if you can really work the paces.


This is the last big workout for Boston people. You got this.


See you in the am!





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!