Let’s Hear Your Story!

In social media I frequently come across posts celebrating the achievements of those who have lost a lot of weight since taking up running. Race and running brand ambassadors are often chosen for these inspiring stories and drastic before and afters. It’s amazing to see how far they have come. Their strength and dedication has paid off!

However, I want to dig deeper!

I feel that there are more stories about runners that need recognition as well. I’d like to hear more about what people have gained from running. The intangible benefits that cannot be seen or measured.

What I’ve found truly humbling is hearing stories of how running as helped someone shape who they are, shaped their lives, helped them overcome inner obstacles and become mentally stronger.

I am by no means an amazing runner. I do not have an impressive list of PBs under my belt or age category achievements. In groups people usually have to slow down so that I can keep up.

However, running was key to me finally discovering, in my thirties, who I truly am inside; realizing that I am capable of amazing things. Running gave me the strength to face a lifetime of internal struggles and gave me the confidence to push towards a happier, healthy life that I never imagined possible.

These sorts of achievements cannot be measured, but rather felt. These are the stories I would love to hear more of. But it will involve a certain degree of openness, shining the light on mental health.

From this I was inspired with the idea of starting a blog where we could share our own personal stories of the emotional and psychological benefits we’ve experienced thanks to running.

I have such a passion for creating more awareness and understanding surrounding mental health issues and how they impact our lives. And I love how running can be instrumental in changing lives.

So, if you would like to volunteer your story (and later on down the road provide updates too!) feel free to send me a message.

Here are some questions which you could either answer point by point or, alternatively, use as a base to help frame your own write up as another option too:

  1. What was your life life before you took up running? What were your struggles?
  2. What motivated you to start running? How did it go?
  3. What impact did running have on your life?
  4. What have you learned about yourself?
  5. What lessons have you taken away from running that you wish to impart upon others?

Responses can be sent to me by email [click here].

Unleash your creativity with your submissions too! You are welcome to include photos – perhaps it’s possible to see the inner glow running has given you. Plus, everyone has their own unique way of telling their story best suited to them – perhaps an audio file or video post would be easier for some than writing it all out.

I’m excited to see what we can come up with!


Refining my Training as a Runner

On August 8th I went in for an assessment with the Peak Centre for Human Performance in Kanata. Our Summer Marathon Clinic group had a talk from them a couple of weeks back about finding the right pace-zones to get the most out of your training – a good slow pace for your long runs, a challenging fast pace for tempo. We were all really motivated by what we had heard, and so approximately 40 of us ended up signing up to get tested (at a pretty sweet discount!).

It was really easy to book the appointment online, and I was quick to receive a confirmation email which said that I was scheduled for my preferred day and time. Woohoo!

When I arrived I was given some basic paperwork to fill out, and a waiver for what they called the VO2 Max testing. Then they brought me into the room and got me set up. First I put the heart rate monitor around my chest – just like the one I have at home – only they use a conductive gel on the pads to ensure a good reading. We discussed a good pace for me to start at, which would be recovery/Sunday long run speed. For me that was about 7:30min/km on their chart. I warmed up for a few minutes on their treadmill and the person testing me agreed that this would be a good starting pace. It was time to begin!

I neglected to bring any water, so I popped my head into their sink like the graceful creature that I am. Then the contraption of doom I had heard so much about from so many before me was placed upon my face: The Mask. It was a tiny rubbery thing that went over my nose and mouth. Even though I was fully aware that it would make me feel incredibly claustrophobic, I still felt momentarily startled, like “I can’t run with this on my face!” as it feels like you can’t quite get enough air in. I managed to wiggle it around to a point where I felt I could fully open my mouth and nose (which did feel a bit pinched initially), and then I calmed and was ready.

Back onto the treadmill I went. They attached some tubes that went into and out of my mask so that they could monitor my breathing. I glared at the tubes and silently hoped that they would be able to keep up with my air demands.

I started off on the treadmill at my Sunday long run slow-and-steady pace and held that for 3 minutes before they would increase the speed by 1km/h (if I’m recalling that correctly). All of which would be at a 2% incline. Before increasing speed, however, they would take a quick blood sample from my finger. I would place my hand on the side armrest of the treadmill, and they would quickly lance my finger and squeeze out a bit of blood.

Of course, by no surprise to me, I have cold hands with no circulation, and so I pretty much needed to be pricked a fresh hole for every cycle. I didn’t mind as it wasn’t painful. My history with blood tests at this point leads me believe that one would have better luck extracting blood from a stone than from my body!

My goal was to keep running for as long as possible to ensure we were able to collect enough data for my results. I was doing alright with my breathing, even though I did have to straighten out the tube to my mask a few times as it would get caught on the treadmill screen. I kept my mind occupied by watching the computer screen before me, which showed the elapsed time (I wanted to keep going for at least 20 minutes), my heart rate (the heart rate monitor beeping insessantly below me, reminding me that I was pushing myself, in case I wasn’t aware..), and my VO2 readings (which were constantly fluctuating and, if indicative of my VO2 Max, not very impressive).

At one point during what I deemed to be my last run cycle (I was just barely maintaining that speed!), I glanced down at my Garmin and saw that my pace was reading 3 minutes per km! I nearly flew off the treadmill in shock – I have never run that fast before!! Suffice it to say, I broke my records for fastest kilometre and mile run that day! I was positively giddy.

So for me it was definitely the legs that gave out first. Most people reported back that it was their lungs – feeling claustrophobic, not getting enough air in through the mask. I feel a bit disappointed that I couldn’t keep it up for one more 3 minute cycle, and that if I hadn’t seen my pace then maybe I could have. But then I remember I was just barely keeping it together long enough for him to take that last blood sample. When I was able to slow down a bit and catch my breath it was easy to say “let’s keep going!”, but that’s not how the test works.

All in all, it was definitely an interesting experience and I’m looking forward to seeing my results, which will help guide my training!

Team Awesome Inspo!

On my run this morning I decided to go on a little adventure through Blackburn Hamlet, which is where I grew up. They have lots of nature trails through parks that are beautiful this time of year. The weather was just perfect to get a long run in too, so I set out with no particular route or distance in mind.

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During this run, I couldn’t help but think of all the inspiring runners that have helped get me to where I am today. Being accepted into Run Ottawa’s Team Awesome for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend 2016 gave me the opportunity to get to know many great runners that inspire me daily with their posts and enthusiasm! I would never be as motivated to push myself to do more if it weren’t for this group of people. They are amazing, not only during races but in their daily runs as well.

Looking at Ashley’s Instagram will make you want to go running RIGHT NOW. Every day. Always. Her running routes are beautiful, she covers such great distances, and she is just so fast and enthusiastic and graceful!

Jayme’s blog will sweep you up in the excitement of qualifying for The Boston Marathon. You will want to do it too! And her posts will encourage you to reach your dream goals. Her strength, dedication and passion for running is just awe-inspiring.

On that note, following Leanne’s blog as she prepares for once-in-a-lifetime expeditions into ultra marathons goes to show all the great places you can venture into, and that the possibilities for challenging yourself as a runner are endless.

Noel is mind-blowing as a runner too. I never knew human legs were capable of going as fast as his! He has been passionate about running all his life and is truly an elite! Following Noel’s Twitter will keep you up to date on all the latest running news, articles, and products as well as his adventures now as a ‘Running Dad’.

I love reading Rebecca’s blog too. She’s done races of all distances and also coaches track at school. Her posts provide wonderful insight on her experiences as a runner – I particularly love reading about all the races she’s completed and live vicariously through her experiences.

I could go on! Suffice it to say, I am so pleased with my experience as a member of Team Awesome this year, the new friends I’ve made, and how much it has shaped me as a runner.

And right now until this Friday the 21st, Run Ottawa is accepting new applications for the 2017 edition of Team Awesome! So I just had to share. If you’re into running and would enjoy meeting other passionate runners, you should give it a try! 2017 is going to be a big year in the capital as well, in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, so I have a feeling this year will be like no other!