Experiencing vs. Remembering Selves

Hi Everyone!


What I’ve been thinking about this week is our “experiencing selves” vs our “remembering selves”. I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but I find it endlessly fascinating.


Basically, we’re story tellers. Our brains interpret our realities and then narrate them back to us. And the story is sometimes quite different from the reality.


I was reading about miler Jim Ryun who was running in heats and finals in a big race. In the heats he ran 4:07 – well off his 3:55 high school record time, and he recorded in his log “was hard”. He made it through though. The next day he ran the finals and won in a world record time of 3:51 – running the last lap in 53 seconds. He wrote in his log “felt very easy”.


Interesting right? Same body. Same race. How could running slower feel harder than running a world record?


I was listening to renowned psychologist Danny Khaneman recount an experiment which he found fascinating. They took subjects and held their hands in freezing cold water for 60 seconds. Then they later took the same subjects and repeated the 60 seconds of freezing water, but then left them in for an additional 30 seconds where they slightly warmed up the water. When asked which experiment they would prefer to repeat, the subjects all said the second one. Their “experiencing” selves had had the exact same amount of freezing water discomfort, but their “remembering selves” which had finished with warmer water, remembered the entire experience as having been more comfortable. So they preferred the irrational choice of keeping their hands in cold water for longer.


Back to Jim Ryun. When he was recording each effort in his log, his mind narrated an experience as it remembered it. One didn’t go well, so “felt hard” and another did, so “felt easy”. Had you been able to freeze him at any point during either race and ask the experiencing athlete how hard it was, I’m sure he would report they both felt similarly hard. But like the freezing water, one ended with a better experience, so was recorded differently in his mind.


When Khaneman was asked whether he’d rather have a more positive experiencing self or remembering self, he said remembering self. In the end, our memories are who we are – our experiences are fleeting. How interesting. So just remember, whenever you’re in the middle of something hard or “intense” or painful, try not to let that be your story. I’m no expert here, but it seems like, if you want to make things “feel easier”, you have to encode them to memory with a positive story. And I am 100% sure that’s why runs with friends feel so much easier!


Onto workouts for this week:

(Boston marathoners, please really take this month easy – you will have three full months of escalating training starting in June – don’t start depleted!)


  1. 4 x 800 with 1:45 rest a bit slower than 5K pace, 4 min, 5 x 400 w 1:30 rest @ 3K pace
  2. If doing fartlek style: 4 x 3:30 Hard, 1:45 Easy, 4 min easy, 5 x 1:30 Hard, 1:30 Easy
  3. Tempo: 2 x 12 min, 1 x 8 min all w 3 min


Have fun!






May 5, 2021 – Types of Fatigue

Oh man – who’s feeling tired these days? I definitely go through phases, but when the weather isn’t great and my motivation is low, I can really start to feel the low energy. But what does it actually mean when you say you’re feeling tired? Having experienced training for endurance events, being a new mother to a non-sleeping baby, being a working parent to young kids, living through a pandemic with teens, I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of fatigue. And let me tell you – there is not one word which adequately covers all of these sensations! I think there should definitely be different words to describe each experience – especially when, as a coach, an athlete tells me they’re “tired”. Ok … that’s a very rough start. In case it might be helpful for you in deciphering how you’re feeling, here is a brief breakdown of my different sensations of “fatigue” (I’m sure there are more):


If I’ve just completed a hard workout, I may have the fatigued but “buzzing” feeling in my legs – a satisfying sensation because it means I’ve just worked hard and will hopefully reap the benefits – by becoming more fit, stronger, faster in my next outing. My legs are tired (that’s the point), but good tired.


If I’ve just finished a long run, I probably have more of an energy depleted feeling of fatigue. It’s also satisfying for similar reasons, but demands slower movement and less activity for the next 24 hours. It’s more in my whole body than just my legs.


In the day and sometimes days leading up to a race, I often self-check and find I’m feeling tired. I’ve done this enough that I know it’s a false cue from my mind. It’s either nerves, or my mind forcing me to conserve energy for a big upcoming effort, but I’m familiar enough with this routine that I now welcome it as part of the race experience. And as soon as I get close enough to the start for adrenaline to take over, the phantom fatigue vanishes.


Then there is the sensation of fatigue in a hard race or workout. I don’t even really categorize this as fatigue – it’s more like intensity (I try not to say pain, but it’s close). This sensation is so far removed from the sensation of early motherhood sleep deprivation fatigue, that I find it incredible that we give it the same name. But we do, so that is another type of fatigue I’m familiar with and am surprisingly comfortable with. If someone tells me they were “tired” at the end of a race, I interpret that to mean it is something that is trainable.


Sometimes, if I’m in the middle of heavy training for something I’m pushing my body to adapt to, like a marathon or Ironman, I will have an ever-present sensation of general body fatigue. It’s not a fatigue which necessarily requires more sleep – if I were sitting on a couch, I wouldn’t want to go to sleep. But nor would I want to get up and run around the block for fun. This is another type of fatigue I’m familiar with and comfortable with. I know it’s my body adapting to new demands.


Then there is the deep, achy fatigue, which I can only seem to categorize as “deep, or bone” tired. I associate this feeling with over-training. It’s when I get into a workout and there is no sharpness or desire to push. It’s just a generalized ache which feels like it could be adrenal or neuro-muscular. I’m familiar with this fatigue, but I’m not comfortable with it. I don’t like it. All I can do for this type of fatigue is to take some easy days and back off hard training. The amount of recovery and rest depends on how long I’ve ignored the feeling and pushed into it. Shockingly I’ve learned this lesson more than once, but I’m getting much better at recognizing it and backing off quickly.


When I was a new mother, my baby did not sleep at all. He preferred to be gently rocked all night. And during the day, he preferred motion next to my body. So I found myself cradling and rocking all night and walking all day. To say I was exhausted would be an understatement. This was pure sleep deprivation fatigue. I felt like I was existing on a different plane from everyone else – I could just function well enough to appear human, but I did not feel human. I did go for the odd run – there was nothing tired about my muscles or legs. I just needed sleep.


Then there was a phase when I had young kids and a corporate job and decided to train for a half marathon. The only time I could fit in my training was at 5 a.m. I did all of my runs and workouts at this time. I would wake up sometimes in the 4-somethings, run hard, get my kids to daycare and myself to work, pick them up, make dinner, read to them and absolutely crash. Similar to the new-mom tired, I was just sleep deprived and craved it all the time. I sometimes had to pull my car over to have an emergency nap. I could close my eyes and fall asleep anytime anywhere. I fantasized about being able to sleep. But my other goals were more important. Surprisingly, my body held up fine and I ran a solid race for me for the half marathon. My body could still respond well – I wasn’t deep, achy, bone tired – I was just sleep depravedly exhausted. It’s a different tired.


Sometimes I’m scrolling through headlines and I realize I just can’t click on one more thing to do with … *whatever crisis has been making headline news. I reach my limit on something, and I just find it too exhausting. Or if I’m feeling down or depressed, the smallest tasks can feel too overwhelming and exhausting. I can’t even bear answering the phone when I see a friend calling. I classify this as mentally exhausted. It’s under the umbrella of “overwhelm” but I think it’s what we mean when we say “I’m so tired of this!” It does actually seem to manifest as fatigue.


And then there’s the “blahs”. The no spark or excitement or motivation fatigue. It is true that not being engaged in something will sap your energy and actually make you feel tired. This could be what many of us are experiencing right now. I was listening to an interesting podcast with Reid Coolsaet who said he was training and doing marathon workouts with the hopes of qualifying for Tokyo, but his times in training were not there. Then he heard word of a race he was allowed to enter, and immediately his workouts and energy improved. He wasn’t “not trying” before – he just didn’t have the spark. You can’t fake the spark. It’s ok if you’re feeling a little tired because there are no sparks. You’ll be ready when one is lit.


So that’s my 2-cents on helping you decipher your fatigue if you’re feeling it. Most of these have a solution and might just take some patience and acceptance for where you are (except the new-mom thing – god help you if you have a colicky baby – but just know if you get through that you can get through anything!)


Race reports: Congratulations to Cullen who ran 1:19:22 in a solo effort Half Marathon this weekend! (sorry none of us could help pace you – I suppose if we’d used a bike…) Awesome job.



Onto workouts for this week!


  1. I’m back on this one – I don’t know if anyone did it earlier, but I suspect not. Let’s try it this week. 200/200 run as Hard/Tempo continuous. Do two sets of 4-5 repeats with 3-4 mins b/w sets. I promise you’ll feel tired! (a good tired)
  2. If doing it by time, 30 sec Hard/30 sec Tempo – same sets and reps
  3. Tempo: 2 x 3K tempo w 1 K easy, then 1K faster


That’s all – enjoy!





April 27, 2021 – Taking a pause

Hi Everyone,


What I’ve been thinking about this week is pauses. Those moments where you allow yourself to stop moving forward for a minute. Or maybe two.


I think it’s a good idea to build in pauses either at the end of a significant chunk of focused work, and even often in the middle. Pauses are not times where you move backwards. In fact, it’s the opposite. Pauses allow you to fully absorb what’s come before so that you have room to take on more.


Pauses are crucial parts of all growth. The rotation pattern for the most productive fields are sewing, farming, harvesting, and fallowing. The fallow season is key for maintaining high quality yields. When a field is left fallow, it restores its natural fertility which would be stripped to nothing if it were continually used to produce.


This is absolutely true in terms of running. Most plans and coaches plan a “recovery week” in every three or four weeks during a build phase. This trend is borne out by many real life experiments with athletes where it has been shown that an unrelenting progressive workload is both unsustainable and destructive. So if you want success, you plan in pauses.


The same goes with bigger pauses after macro-cycles. If you’ve been training for something for a long time, whether you hit your goal or not, your brain and body need a little pause to regroup and catch-up at the end.


I am thinking about how many of us have used running to help us to navigate a difficult winter. For almost all of us, running has been our main social outlet, has represented our sense of control when so much else has been out of our control, has given us space to tap into our own thoughts and emotions, and has been a very necessary physical outlet. If, like me, you are grateful for all running has given you this past year, maybe say a little word of thanks, and take a small pause so that you can reflect and absorb before launching yourself forward again.


What this pause looks like might be different for different people. You might need a little break from running altogether. You might need to run “for fun” for a while, and not track mileage or time workouts. You might keep your favourite types of runs in there, but replace some others with other types of activities, like cycling or paddling, to take the pressure off running as your sole outlet and ambition.


But remember that a good pause is a sign of nurturing and respect for the thing you love. You are not going backwards or losing fitness – you are absorbing and regenerating. And I’m no expert, but I bet the same holds true for other things in our lives. It’s not a sign of weakness if you need to take a pause from the news, certain tasks and activities, or even certain relationships. It means you care enough to want to come back with more energy.  So take and embrace pauses in your life where you need them – they will serve you well!


Onto workouts for this week if you aren’t pausing:


  1. Hills! I think we’re due! I like keeping a mix in these to keep them from getting too tedious – something like 2 longs and a short or long/short repeats. Whatever works for you, but try not to make to too “grindy” right now.
  2. If something is hurting and you don’t want hills, go with the strides workout. A Good warm-up, drills, then 4-8 cruisy strides. So good for you.
  3. Tempo option: 20-8-4 min tempo w 3 min rec


Have fun!






April 20, 2021 – Gift Economy

“We have created a grotesque economy that grinds what is beautiful and unique into money, a currency that enables us to purchase things we don’t really need while destroying what we do.” – Charles Eisenstein



Hi All!


I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking recently about the “gift economy.” Especially now, with new lockdown measures in place, it’s more important than ever to recognize the gifts we have and to embrace the feeling of community which comes from taking part in a gift economy. The gift economy is a concept which is shared eloquently by Robin Wall-Kimmerer (author of Braiding Sweetgrass). It is a system which many indigenous cultures have thrived on and some still do, to ensure strong community relationships. It is one of sharing all of what you have with your neighbour instead of hoarding and compiling ‘wealth’ or goods or knowledge. This sits in contrast to the type of economy we’re familiar with: the capital market economy which is built on the concept of scarcity, a never ending hunger for accumulation, and encourages individual success over that of the community.


Understanding the gift economy can become a way of seeing and living in the world. Wall-Kimmerer is a botanist, and sees gifts in nature all the time – fresh berries on a tree, a bird’s song in the morning which lifts your spirits, a tree’s canopy that brings shade on a hot day. These are not services which you can pay for – nor are they to be pilfered or hoarded. They are gifts of the earth. And when we recognize them as gifts, we respond with gratitude and reciprocity. We start acting in ways that honour and cherish where they came from and this encourages protection and regeneration.


I’m not naïve – I realize our society is too large and disconnected to function solely with a gift economy. However, Wall-Kimmerer notes that gift economies can function successfully in smaller communities along-side market economies. And that is the space where I see our Lower East Siders running crew.


This group of people are among the most generous people I know. And I also know that every time I am able to offer any piece of advice or support that will help someone, I benefit in many ways because I’m part of the whole. Maybe I’ve touched the artist who will make beautiful art for others to enjoy, or maybe the doctor who will pass it along in her care for someone else, or the volunteer who will make my community run more smoothly through their efforts. I understand that there is no truly selfless giving because we are all connected.


Gratitude and reciprocity are the currency of a gift economy, and they have the remarkable property of multiplying with every exchange, their energy concentrating as they pass from hand to hand, a truly renewable resource.


To name the world as gift is to feel one’s membership in the web of reciprocity. It makes you happy—and it makes you accountable. Conceiving of something as a gift changes your relationship to it in a profound way…” – Robin Wall-Kimmerer


This crew does not exist as a service to get you to run fast. It might work well that way for many of us, but it only works because of the presence of all of the givers around us who hold it together. I love running with others and sharing that, and I know people in this group do too. We have created a real economy – I don’t feel I have to specifically reach out to everyone all the time – I know that when one of us is injured or down there are at least five sets of arms reaching out to help them up. What differentiates us from many other running clubs is that we are not consumers of a service – we are participants in a community.


So I just want to take this moment to say thank-you to all of you for your gifts – of your friendship, of sharing your cheers and energy with others when they run, of listening to/reading my thoughts, of reflecting whatever you gain from this back out into the community. And if you do feel like you’ve benefitted in any way from anything that the Lower East Siders have brought you, I only ask that you reciprocate it back to someone else in any way that is meaningful to you.



Oh, I also wanted to give a big shout out to Karen who ran a stealthy and solid ATB 30K this weekend in the midst of an absolutely crazy time at work! Way to go Karen! And her partner in crime Adam who snuck in a sub-19 min 5K PB last weekend (18:53!!) and then paced Karen this weekend! I guess if the only person you can run with is doing 30K, you do 30K! lol. Way to go team.



Onto workouts for this week:


  1. Ladder: 1600 (@HM – 1:45 rec), 1200 (@slightly faster – 1:30 rec), 1000 (@10K – 1:30 rec), 800 (@5K – 1:30 rec), 600 (@5K – 1:30 rec), 400 (@3K – 1:30 rec), 2 x 200 (@1500 w 45 rec)


  1. If doing this as fartlek: (6-5-4-3-2-1-30 sec-30 sec) Hard w Easy jogging as rest above
  2. People coming back from ATB just start at 4 mins and work down IF you’re feeling like working out again (not if you just did it this weekend)
  3. Tempo: Let’s give you a cut-down also – 10 mins, 8 mins, 6 mins, 4 mins – all w 2 min rec


That’s all! I think many of us are getting vaccinated this week (yay!) If there is one other person you feel comfortable running with, I’m not looking. I suggest the timed version vs path for stealth reasons.


Stay safe and see you soooooon!!!!








April 14, 2021 – Focus on the good moments

Hey Everyone!


Huge congrats to everyone who ran Around The Bay virtual 30K this weekend! (Shauna, Stephanie, Samantha, Laura, Amy, Zoe). What an inspiring show of positivity and “the show must go on” attitudes! I know many of us trained with you through the winter, and were very inspired by your races – just a reminder that even when you think you’re doing something just for yourself, it can have a large ripple effect to others.


Onto my thoughts this week! What I’ve been thinking about is noticing and paying attention to the moments that are fine. Or even good.


There are so many parallels in this pandemic with running a marathon, so I’ll start there. First up, in a marathon, the closer you get to the finish line, the harder it gets. There is no sense of relief with 10K to go. And please for the love of god, if you’re ever cheering for anyone running a marathon, never ever say “You’re almost there!” unless they are steps and I mean steps away from the finish line. And I think that’s where we find ourselves in this pandemic. We’ve put in the work and the time which have led us to this place pretty exhausted. And although yes, we have less actual time to go, it is all relative. It is so much harder now as we get closer to where we want to be. That is precisely because of all the work we’ve already done. Starting fresh, we could do this last bit no problem. But we’re not fresh. And everyone knows the marathon STARTS at 30K.


Most people also know that good marathoners work on their mental game as much as their physical game. One thing they really practice and get good at is staying in the moment.


Don’t think about how hard it is now, and how far you have to go, and that there’s no way you can maintain this pace given how this feels. That is the kiss of death in the last third of any race. Instead, seasoned racers who can push themselves to the limit think “right now, this is ok. Right now, I can put one more foot in front of the other”. They know their brains are bad at projecting and can get overwhelmed, but that a series of manageable present moments add up. They often don’t think beyond the next kilometer, or sometimes even the next footstep.


So don’t think:  “these days are so hard, I’ll never make it two or more months”. Just remind yourself that right now, you are ok. I was walking during sunset with a friend the other evening, and I said “this is all very hard. But this right now is really nice.” We smiled and enjoyed the moment. It’s up to you to notice those fine or good moments. Even during a time of difficulty they will appear, so it’s up to you to pay attention and savour them. That’s where you’ll find your mental strength to go on.


On to workouts for this week!


ATB racers – I hope you’re taking a good chunk of time off. No running for up to a week and then nothing structured for at least another. Then let your body and motivation guide you.


Everyone else:


  1. 5-7 x 1K w 1:45 rec. Start at HM pace and if feeling good can work down to 10K pace.
  2. If doing fartlek: 5-7 x 4 min Hard, 1:45 Easy
  3. If your legs are bored or tired or needing something different, do a drills and strides “workout”. 2-3K w-up, 20 mins of drills, 4-5 strides, 2K c-dn
  4. Tempo: try this – a few of us did it the other weekend and it was different and fun – 2/3 of your regular qty of hills followed by 2/3 your regular tempo. So something like 3-4 hills followed by 15-20 mins of tempo. The tempo is actually a relief after the hills!


Have fun everyone!





April 6, 2021 – The confidence to do less

Hi Everyone!


Hope you all had an amazing and chocolatey weekend.


What I’ve been thinking about this week is confidence. But not confidence as it applies to “going out and getting it”, but confidence as it applies to being able to step back and slow down. And yes, that does take confidence – in yourself and your ability to be able to pick back up when you’re stronger and ready.


When this pandemic hit us all over a year ago, I was included among those who felt vulnerable and insecure. How would I keep going without all of my usual supports and structures and tethering events, people and places? Well, I could just put the pedal down and make sure I didn’t stop. Because who knows what would happen if I stopped?


Many of us apply the same strategy to other areas of life. Just don’t stop moving. Be busy. Keep getting stuff done.


I came across a quote a while ago: “Being busy isn’t the same thing as adding value.”


When we are feeling insecure and lacking in confidence, we can easily mistake the two things.


In running, there are times where you have to trust yourself and have the confidence to take a break. Whether that’s a day or two off a week or a week or two off every now and then, is up to you and your needs. But you have to KNOW it won’t make you slower or lazy or less of an athlete. In fact it’s the opposite. Running more doesn’t always add more value. The most confident and secure runners know this and live by it. The most successful runners are not the ones who do the most and the hardest workouts. And let me tell you – it takes a huge amount of confidence to watch someone else do more than you and yet stick to your plan. But I have seen it play out in race results time and again: very often what looks like less can actually give you better results.


Similarly, it takes confidence to slow down in life and take time for yourself without always having to “be busy”. We all know “busy people” who can’t sit down. They don’t exactly imbue a sense of confidence. They are being driven by perceived judgement – of themselves and others. Yes, there is always something to be done – just like you can always run more miles. But maybe pausing and thinking about what real value you are adding can help you more. Very often we are “adding value” without producing anything tangible. That takes confidence to see and be content with.


I think at this point in the pandemic, we should all stop clinging frantically to movement and forward motion and task completion, and remind ourselves that we’ll be ok – even better – if we embrace a pause. Take a week or two off running. Be the person who has time and presence to be available for others. Spend an hour or two on a contemplative walk. And don’t consider these things “cheating” or extravagances. Consider them investments in yourself and those around you. We won’t fall into a pit of inertia. We won’t stop and never start again. Try to find the confidence to pause, take a break, and come back recharged and stronger with the mental, physical and emotional energy that add real value where you want it.


Onto workouts for this week!


  1. Hills if you haven’t done them in a while. I snuck in a few on the weekend and my butt is now reminding me that it had been a while. Just steady up and down and add some shorter power hills at the end if you have time!
  2. If you did do hills on the weekend, let’s do a Lakeshore wrkt: 1 mile (2 mins), 4 x 800 w 1:30, (2 mins) 1 mile – miles at HM pace, 800’s at 10K. Let’s keep this one restrained pace-wise
  3. If doing tempo style: 7 min, (2 min easy), 4 x 3:30 on, 1:30 off), (2 min easy), 7 min
  4. If doing ATB this weekend! Taper workout: 2 x 800 @ race pace w 1:30 rest, 4 x 200 w full recovery – just relaxed and fast


Enjoy and see you on the roads!





March 30, 2021 – Listening

Hi Everyone!


First up, huge congrats to more Achilles runners! Gillian Irving ran her first EVER 5K and beat her 25 minute goal time with a 24:52! Also Jon Feasby crushed his predicted time and ran 19:45!!! Sub-20 club. (he was already a member but from a *short time ago 😉 ) We still have a few to come in, so keep the results coming in to me as you do it!


I’ve had to give myself some reminders this past week, so I thought I’d remind some of you as well (although many of you are probably like, d-uh Seanna – that’s so obvious!)


The reminder is to listen. Deeply. To the outside world and to ourselves.


When I started running in the ‘90’s there were no GPS watches, and you could run with a Sony Walkman, but it was pretty clunky and heavy and only played one tape, so I never tried it. Running connected me with my place and with myself.


I’ve noticed recently that as much as I “don’t care” what my watch says, I know it’s there, and it influences me. There is emotion tied to how I “should” feel at a certain pace – even when it’s not a run without any other goal than to just run. So I’ve started running with just my old digital Timex again, and I’m loving it. I can listen and respond to how my body is feeling without any external judgement or influence. I know about how far I cover in 30 or 60 minutes. If I misjudge my distance slightly, it won’t be by any significant measure that will affect me. I am feeling much more free and in touch with myself and I’m loving it.


The second behaviour I’ve fallen into – more recently over COVID – has been listening to something while I’m running. Maybe I’ve needed the distraction from myself, or maybe I’ve been craving information and a feeling of interaction with others. Either way, it’s become more often than not a habit when I step out the door. I will tell you though: in my 30+ years of running and not listening to anything for almost all of it, I have never once in my life had the feeling of boredom. Not once. And I’ve trained for multiple marathons solo. I feel that by not listening to anything, you become better friends with yourself. Give yourself this one activity to be with just you. You can plug in while doing a billion other things. But there is something about running and actually hearing your own footfalls, your breathing, the birds, the bugs, the wind, the rain, dogs barking, the cars, peoples’ conversation as you pass, that connects you physically to your place here. Don’t tune it all out – take it all in – you are part of it. And your brain loves it. Physical movement and free flowing thoughts and ideas go hand in hand. But not if you’re clogging up your brain with other people’s thoughts and ideas – as good as they might be!


So that’s what I’m doing and I invite anyone who isn’t doing it to join me. Run without listening to gadgets and electronics and data that someone else has decided you might need. You’ll become way more sensitive to hearing things like your own internal cues, you might start to notice which birds live along which routes you run, and I do believe you’ll become a better companion to yourself.


Ok, onto workouts for this week! 2 options depending on whether you’re training for a Half and above, or 5K/10K’s:


  1. Half’s, 30K’s and Marathoners: 8-12 x 600 w 1:30 rest. This looks like a lot, and it is. The key here will be finding a rhythm and not straining. Start at half marathon pace and see if you can work down to 10K pace. Please only do 12 if you’re feeling good and are in a building phase. ATB peeps, you’re coming down now, so keep to the lower end.


  1. As fartlek! 8-12 x 2:30 Hard, 1:30 easy


  1. If aiming for more of the 5K/10K realm: 2 x 800 w 1:30, 3 min, 2 x (4 x 400) w 45 sec jog (or 100m jog), 3 min b/w sets


  1. Tempo option: 12 min, 6 min, 6 min all w 3 min jog


That is all – enjoy and see you on the roads!



March 23, 2021 – Fresh Start

Hi Crew! 


First up, way to go Achilles runners! We still have a number of ppl running their races next weekend (good luck!) but some of us did ours on Sat. Notably: Sean Forest came out of the woodwork with a 5K PB of 21:01, Brianna who decided to forego the 18 minute mark altogether and ran a 1 min and 1 sec PB of 17:59, Amy Robinette (virtual LES member from the west end) who ran a 10K PB of 41:57 and I ran 37:42 for which I credit all of you who came and cheered and those who paced me to the finish! Oh, and big shout outs to our generous runners/pacers who ran to help others – Carolyn and Cullen! Carolyn realized at the start that a race wasn’t what her body needed, but turned the disappointment into an opportunity to help someone else. And Cullen was totally game for whatever pacing duties we threw at him (in this case he ended up being versatile enough to adjust mid-race to a 6 second per km faster pace than he’d been prescribed). Yay team!!! 


What I’ve been thinking about this week is about fresh starts. There’s something about spring and a change in the weather that brings about the feeling of renewed energy and re-evaluation. The feeling of a Fresh Start is interesting. It doesn’t land on everyone at the same time, and you can’t force it if you’re not feeling it. I heard a great analogy about a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. When they go into their cocoons, caterpillars actually digest themselves and dissolve into a goo which reforms into a butterfly. But they require every single cell they had as a caterpillar in order to make up the butterfly. If they go in too early, they won’t be able to turn into a complete butterfly.  


Similarly, only you will know when you’re ready for a change or fresh start of some sort. When you are, you will feel the energy and impulse to change or transform something in your life. And turning a page is a perfect place to start. In studies of baseball players who are traded to new teams in different leagues so their batting averages are reset, those who had lower averages brought them up after the switch. A blank slate allowed them to let go of past identities, and create new realities with new visions.  


I think we’ve done very well in weathering a long COVID winter. It took grit and determination and inner strength. It’s definitely not all downhill with the wind at our backs from here, but if you’re feeling the energy of a fresh start, you can evaluate what you have liked and want to keep in terms of habits and routines you’ve set up, and what you might want to change or leave behind.  


No one knows what will come next. It will still be different than anything we’ve experienced. But we’ve done a whole year of living with a pandemic now. We have the wisdom and confidence that comes from that, and can set ourselves up well for a new fresh start if we want to. 


Onto workouts for this week! 


  1. 2 mile tempo (half pace) 3 min rec, 4 x 800 w 1:30 @ 5K pace-ish (if your raced Achilles, slow it down and do a couple less)
  2. If going by time: 12 min tempo, 3 min easy, 4 x 3 min hard w 1:30 easy
  3. Tempo for this week (ATB racers don’t have one – you have some work embedded in your LR): 3 x 12 min w 3 min easy (ease into these and see if you can pick up the pace by a few secs/km for each set) 


Have fun and see some of you on the roads! 






March 16, 2021 – Teammates (2)

Hi Everyone! 


What I’ve been thinking about this week is teammates. Many people in this group I would consider direct teammates of mine, and are teammates with each other.  I see, communicate with and rely on many of you in some form or another. I think of many of you as teammates in life as well as in running. We know we’re here for each other and there is a huge confidence that comes from that. I’m grateful for it. 


I was listening to an interview with Quilen Blackwell, a social activist and changemaker. His view is that life is a team sport. Oftentimes when you’re on a path or undertaking something new, you might find you’re on a team, but you don’t necessarily know who your teammates are yet. But here is the thing: there will always be teammates who show up. I love this idea that we have people just waiting quietly for us to appear so they can join us and help us to move forward. Many of us are lucky to have already experienced this. In the same way, we often encounter others who we didn’t see coming, and recognize a teammate in the path they’re on, and so think nothing of doing whatever we can to help them achieve their goals.  


I think this is called having faith in humanity. Not everyone is on the same team, but we do all have our own invisible teammates out there who want the best for us and will help us get there. You’ll know them when you see them. And you’ll be one when you can. Here’s to teammates. 


Ok, onto workouts for this week!  


  1. I think we’re up for hills again. Wow, three week cycles seem to be passing fast! For those not doing an Achilles 5K or 10K virtual, do hills! And mix it up. If you normally go long, throw some half hills in. They are so good for power and fast twitch strength and form. We endurance junkies can forget about that sometimes. 


  1. If you don’t want to do hills, here’s a fun/different one to try. 8-10 x 200/200 run like: 200 Fast (3K pace – basically hard), 200 Medium (keep this at 10K or Half Marathon race pace). No breaks – keep going. This is a great workout for teaching your body to clear lactate. Equals higher lactate threshold. Equals can run at a higher pace for a more sustained period of time! So handy.  


  1. If doing the Achilles this weekend, let’s do workout 2 but maybe cut the qty in half so we can go in fresh. 
  2. Tempo: ATB peeps have 30-32 mins straight up. Start 5-7 sec slower than normal tempo. This one is a big confidence builder – you’re just callousing yourself. (callouses are ugly but so useful for protection and armour) Do what you need to to mentally stay with it. If you have a few slower km’s that’s fine. Learn to regroup and find a way through. You got this! 


That is all. Go Team! 




March 9, 2021 – Make it feel easy

Hi Everyone!


Yay warmer temps! Don’t get too comfy with them, but enjoy them while they’re here. Ahh the love/hate relationship with March.


I recently read or saw something with Ryan Hall coaching his wife, 2:20 Marathoner Sara Hall, from the bike. One of the things he said as he was riding beside her and she was straining through a race pace interval was “Make it feel easy!” I love this. He didn’t say “make it easier”, he said “make it feel easy.” This is so fascinating to me. He was telling her to be in control of her internal settings. I love the idea that without external circumstances changing, we can control something internal that will make our tasks feel easier.


I tried this in my tempo the other weekend. Often in the last third I start to strain and reach and tighten up in order to maintain my paces. This time I didn’t look at my watch but just said to myself “just run tempo effort”. Tempo can mean many things to different people, but to me I’ve always thought of tempo as being “comfortably hard”. Tempo is not racing. Tempo is not straining. So I just thought “cruise at tempo” and I relaxed and then found that I had maintained my paces regardless.


So is “making it feel easy” mental or physical? Both, I guess. A mental state relaxes your physical state and the whole thing flows better. A tough command to follow on demand in the middle of doing something hard though. I know it will take practice, but it’s a mantra I’m going to try to work on.


I think it applies to other areas of life as well. There are so many external factors in life that we just can’t change. But if you were tasked with “making something feel easy, without actually making it easier”, could you? I think you could. You’d have to practice shifting things around to see what worked. You would change your mental dialogue. You might stop straining and reaching and just relax into the effort of whatever you’re doing. You would stop fighting the pace or the barriers or the inconveniences or the other people, but without compromising your results. You would settle in and keep going as fast or as hard you could, but you would find a way to make it feel easier. I think some people might call that doing it with grace. Or getting out of your own way. There are a lot of fights in this world that are worthwhile, but fighting yourself is not one of them. So while you’re out there kicking ass and doing something hard, it’s worth remembering to try to make it feel easier. That will be your superpower.


Onto workouts for this week: (some ppl are doing Achilles 5K ot 10K this weekend and some next weekend – I have moved mine to next weekend – at least one benefit of virtual races!)


  1. 2 x 1200 w 2 min rest (5K pace), 3 min rec, 2 x 800 w 1:30 rec (slightly faster) 4 min rec, 4 x 400 w 1 min rec (slightly faster again – so leave room!)
  2. If fartlek style: 2 x 5 min Hard w 2 min Easy, 3 min easy, 2 x 3 min Hard w 1:30 Easy, 4 min easy, 4 x 1:30 Hard, 1 min Easy
  3. Taper wrkt if doing Achilles this weekend! 1200, 3 min easy, 800, 4 min easy,  2 x 400 w 1 min, strides


Have fun!