It’s a New Year

I finished up 2016 with 823km under my belt. My first full year of running, and quite the improvement over my 168km total for 2015!

My longest single run for 2016 was 21.2km, and I clocked the most kilometres during March, April, and December – just over 100km in those months!

The winter season arrived but that didn’t hold me back from continuing with my training. I had all my layers ready, and my best purchase ever was the IceSpikes I got for my shoes.

The IceSpikes allow me to stomp my way through the iciest of conditions without slipping, it’s amazing! (There is nothing more frustrating than having to waddle your way through a winter run!)

Then for Christmas we got a treadmill – which was the best surprise ever! This allowed me to squeeze in quick runs at any time of day over the busy holiday season – and probably the only way I would have been able to keep up with my training over Christmas/New Years!

Because I was able to keep up with my training, I decided to sign up for my first winter race in January: 10k at the Richmond Road Races. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being able to PR my 10k time in the winter, but I did!! Such an amazing feeling!

My training on the treadmill shows me running at a much slower pace than when I’m outside on the roads, despite the fact that it feels like a much harder workout. I sweat buckets working out on the treadmill! But all those indoor runs must’ve done some good after all. I don’t take 10:1 walking breaks on the treadmill, so I definitely noticed an improvement in my endurance, which may have been the key factor to my faster race time.

Another challenge that I decided to take part in was Run Ottawa’s January run streak, where we run every day for the entire month of January.

Because I have the treadmill now, I knew hopping on for a quick 1 mile run those days in between training sessions would be easy for me.

I amazed myself by being able to hang on to my running streak for those first three weeks ..but then was hit hard by an unexpected bout of depression.

I could feel it coming on in the weeks prior, but because there was always so much going on I would try to distract myself with the next task or activity. And at night I would blast tv shows into my head until I fell asleep so that I didn’t have a chance to think too much and trigger that downwards spiral. Every morning I would wake up with a start, as if someone had sent a current of electricity through my heart. Just a pure jolt of anxiety to start my day. It was inevitable.. Each day I became more and more anxious and it became harder to repress. I stopped being able to sleep and even eat, and dropped a good 20 pounds in the span of a few weeks. Then one day I woke up with the darkest of thoughts swirling around in my head, and I knew I was done fighting. I had reached my absolute lowest point.

The next couple of weeks are a blur for me as I immediately fell ill with a fever too, which lasted for a few days, then developed into bronchitis; lots of sleeping, lots of blasting sounds into my head so that I wouldn’t have the chance to think or feel. I went back on medication to help bring me back, but it didn’t feel like anything was helping this time around. I had never hit such a low like this before. And I was wracked with such guilt and shame because all I could do was sleep and lie in bed for days on end.

I don’t know how many other runners out there also suffer from debilitating mental health issues.. How you manage it and how it impacts your training. But for me I was at the point where I was just done and couldn’t picture myself getting back into running ever again. Having just become a member of Run Ottawa’s Team Awesome, My Peak Challenge, and Oiselle Volée, I felt like I had failed and let everyone down. I had also signed up for the full marathon clinic at the Running Room and had already missed the first two weeks of training. I felt like I was in way over my head and should probably back out of everything.

Fast forward to today and I’m doing a lot better than I was before. Though I’m taking on a whole lot less than I had been previously. Trying to keep myself from getting too overwhelmed; trying to stay stable. My life is very simple these days.

I did venture out to join my marathon clinic for a run yesterday evening, however. I quite enjoyed the outing, though I still feel incredibly terrified by this challenge I’ve set for myself – marathon ready by June when I’ve only run a half marathon distance once?!? But I guess it doesn’t hurt to try and see how long I can keep up, while at the same time benefiting from the training.

I feel my enthusiasm for running coming back, and so I’m just going to take things one day at a time.


Winter Training

I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to continue my training despite the snow and ice! As a new runner who isn’t a big fan of Canadian winters, I wasn’t going to make any promises. But it has proven to be a fun challenge to get myself out there! In fact, I was that crazy person who just had to go out and run when we had our first -30°C (-22°F) windchill just because it seemed SO HARDCORE AND CRAZY, YOU GUYS, WATCH ME!


Though, I have to admit this winter has been especially kind to us compared to most thanks to a ‘Super El Niño‘ sending gusts of warmth our way. Take THAT, Polar Vortexes of winters past!!

I’ve been doing my runs in a simple pair of Saucony Excursion TR8 trail running shoes.


They aren’t made with Gore-Tex fabric (which is what makes shoes waterproof), but they still keep my feet nice and warm for the distances that I run (usually about 4-6k). And the bottoms feature a carbon rubber outsole with multi-directional lugs that work so well to prevent me from slipping – more so than my winter boots, even, it’s amazing! I found them on sale during October and they are just perfect for me!

I’m still getting used to the process of layering my clothing just right for when I go out, but have always erred on the side of being too warm rather than too cold, as is my preference. (Once you start running, you do work up a sweat quite quickly.) And that’s been just fine for me!

So, how has my winter running been going so far?

Well, my times are definitely taking a hit. I still wear my Garmin to record each run, but now focus on just getting my 5k in, regardless of how long it takes me to get there.

The snow is definitely a challenge to work with. If it’s too thick or too fluffy, it just sort of absorbs my shoe and my foot will slide back a bit, adding a lot of extra work each time I move my crazily pumping legs. So when I’m running through the neighbourhood I’ll try to sneak onto the part of the road that’s clean, while facing traffic so that I am prepared to waddle back through slush to yield to the bigger vehicles as they pass.

In January, weekly training sessions started up at the indoor track in Blackburn Hamlet for runners of all levels. These sessions include warm up, running technique drills, intervals, cool down, and core training – all of which I could seriously benefit from some instruction! I’ve been meaning to give it a try too, especially as it’s sooo close by! Unfortunately, these sessions start at 8pm and I’ve found that a little bit too late in my day to go for an intensive workout! (I’m totally “solar powered” and desperately need sunshine in order to remain functional, lol.)

However I did make it out to a Run Effortlessly clinic a couple of weeks ago, which I highly recommend! They show you techniques for running more efficiently with less impact (which means less chance of injury!). It’s amazing. There were maybe 10 of us in total; we would run and they would show us what parts to relax and which body parts to shift our focus onto instead. It’s going to take a bit of practice, but it was an eye-opening experience as I could already feel the difference! Whoa!

Goals for the summer?

I am excited that I will be entering the 2016 running season with a bit of experience under my belt! Right now I am deliberating where I want to go from here. 5ks have become part of my regular routine – even during the winter – and my first big race this year is going to be the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend in May, where I will also be running the 5k.

So, I’m thinking that it would make sense for me to work my way up to higher distances now, right? Perhaps 10k or half-marathon. Yet, my pace is still pretty slow, and I would love to be able to run a sub-30min 5k! So I’m also considering just staying at 5k and trying to figure out ways to become faster first.

For now I think I will work on speed for my 5k race in May. See if I can get a nice time in. From there I’d like to move my training towards getting those longer distances to complete more challenging races. We shall see!