May 12, 2020 – Find Purpose

Hey Everyone!


Well, here we are – week 9-ish of isolation. What I’ve found with running is that I’ve found new routines and rhythms that work for me. I miss the social time, and I miss running with others who push me, and I’ll be honest: I miss having something to train for. But what is it that we like about having something to train for? It’s an external goal which can somehow justify our training and give us a purpose and reason to do what we know we already want to do. And it’s validated and lauded by other people. But I think it can mask and take away from much of what is beautiful and meaningful about running.


Now that I think about it, I think that would be the definition I’d have of someone as being a “runner”. You’re not a runner if you’ve gone out and run a certain distance in a certain time. You’re a runner if you “get it”. If you can find some sort of meaning and purpose in the act of running itself – no matter the distance or pace. And that is what we are doing and learning to do right now.


Some runs are hard and challenging, and we have to look inside ourselves and repeatedly answer the question “why”. I think continuing on is answer enough, and gives us a deeper understanding of ourselves. There is a lot of purpose and beauty to the inner dialogues and confrontations we have with ourselves.


Then there are those runs where it all just clicks and your legs start turning over easily, and you feel like you just want to lean into the pace and keep going for as long as you can. You are strong and in control and feel at one with your body and your surroundings. These runs only happen if you don’t have to think too much – you’re not holding yourself back so you can recover better or do a hard effort tomorrow, and you’re not trying to force a race pace that isn’t coming easily. You’re just floating. There is a lot of purpose and meaning in these runs. In fact, I think this is what many people are striving for much of the time.


Races stand in as “reasons or purpose” but it is these moments of self reflection and bliss, when it’s just us alone out there, that it actually all becomes clear and makes sense.


Anyway, I’m finding more of those moments these days and I hope a lot of you are too. Instead of looking for a reason or purpose to train, go out and run and let the purpose come to you.


A friend and fellow coach (Kate Gustafson) recently sent out this quote from and article written about Joan Benoit Samuelson, and I really love it:


“Precisely which one [marathon] is a question. She’ll train, reach racing fitness and then look around, in the same way that you try not to promise jars of jam to friends until you’ve picked the berries.”


Joanie trained hard (and 90% of the time solo) – because she loved it and that was what she did. If it fit with a race, the race would be the icing. There were many thousands of dollars of appearance fees she turned down because those races didn’t fit her rhythm. The purpose was never the race. Definitely resonates these days.


Workout options for this week:

  1. Pottery Rd hills if you didn’t do them last week or the week before
  2. Riverdale hill sprints – add 5-6 of them after a regular run
  3. 4 x 3 mins w 1:30 rest, 4 min rest, 4-6 x 1:30 w 1 min rest – 4-5 strides
  4. (if doing the virtual relay, option to just do the 1:30 sections)


And all this said, a bunch of us are doing a fun “virtual race” – obviously not as a race but more to feel together in something. These events are definitely more like hard solo efforts than races, but I for one love the camaraderie of knowing I’m not out there alone. Monica has put together an awesome schedule. Here are our rosters and the details:


Below are the teams, goal times, and rules for the inaugural LES team virtual relay!  Remember, the winning team isn’t the fastest team…it’s the team that comes closest to their team goal time. And be sure to wear your LES gear, encourage your teammates, and post to social media!


The rules:

  • Review the teams below – make sure we have your goal time listed correctly
  • All legs to be completed solo between May 14-17
  • Runners must follow provincial regulations and social distancing guidelines
  • Goal is to come as close as possible to your goal race time
  • Record your run via Garmin or Strava (honour system will also be accepted).
  • You are encouraged to post to social media and tag @lower_east_siders
  • Send your results to or tag @monicafaithblack on Instagram
  • Once all times have been collected, we will add cumulative times together to get the times for each team
  • The winning team will be the team that comes CLOSEST TO THEIR TEAM GOAL TIME   
  • Team 7 & 8 each have an extra participant so it will be a little harder for them to hit their team goal time, because of that, they will have a 10 second advantage that can be applied to their cumulative team time.
  • The prize for the winning team… pride and bragging rights (and lots of virtual high-fives)!

Good luck and have fun everyone – hope to see you out there!