SUMMER RUNNING CAMP & RETREAT

Where do you start when you are planning training? Do you start from where you are and work to where you want to be? Or, do you start with where you want to be and then work backwards to where you are at now?

Might I suggest the later? The ultimate objective is a certain speed/velocity over a certain distance. Sub 15 minute 5k – 2:59:59/ per kilometre over 5 kilometres of running. 3 hr marathon – 4:17 per kilometre over 42.2 kilometres of running.

So let’s take the marathon example a bit further – now we know where we want to get to – we must find out where we are now. This doesn’t mean you go out and race a marathon to figure this out – and in truth, this is just one aspect to look at – we need to look at, for example, 5km speed, current general fitness, injuries, fueling, volume of training, etc.

Once we get a sense of where we are at now, we can try and fill in the gap to get us to the goal outcome. For example, if a runner is only able to train at a very low volume before they get injured – we need to strengthen this runner so that they can handle more training volume. Or, perhaps this runner has great endurance but only has a 5km personal best of 20:45. A 20:45 5k runner can’t run a 3hr marathon (that 5km pace is just too close to goal marathon pace).

Lastly, when you are looking to make improvements – focus on things that will make a big difference! Consistency and overall running volume – major difference. Supplementation and ice bath – minor difference.

So yeah, what is your goal pace at a certain distance? Where are you at now? What are you going to do to bridge the gap?

Had blast being a guest on ‘Smoke Signals’ -Jukasa Radio 93.5 – a Six Nations Company

The segment was an hour and it flew by! We barely scratched the surface – could have been a two hour segment. Thanks Donna for inviting me on!

1. Some theory
2. Lots of movement activities
3. ‘Take home’ workouts and strength routines
4. A tiny bit of fun will be had…
5. Bonus: Are ‘super shoes’ right for me?

April 1st @ 1:30pm
Bernie Morelli Gym
$10 to help cover the cost of the gym rental

Sign up here

Progressive runs are bread and butter training runs. They work on lactate threshold while, typically, are not too demanding. There are many ways to structure a progressive run (cut down the pace each mile/km, cut down the pace each third or quarter, etc). Next time try this:

Set your watch so it shows your ‘average pace.’ I.e. not the pace you are currently running. Start your run at relaxed running pace. Check your watch 5-10 mins into the run and note the average pace. Then, each time our check again just make sure that the average pace is getting faster – that is it. This way you don’t need to fuss at the actual pace you are running – just that you are getting faster. And that is it. Check out my run from today using this technique:

look at that pacing…

Jacob has been a really calm, supportive and clear running coach. As a stay at home father I didn’t think I would be able to really push my running to a new level. But Jacob worked with me to find a system that worked in my schedule and with my stroller. It never felt like a cookie cutter plan but something specialized to who I was as a runner and a person. I now feel like I have a lot more confidence in my running ability and see more clearly where I can grow. It’s a great feeling.

I have always wanted to be a “runner” but I wasn’t sure where to start or how to do it. Jacob’s coaching has been a game-changer for me. I feel accountable to him and his strategic plans make it easy for me to understand how to build my cardiovascular endurance without getting hurt. I track every run and seeing the electronic “kudos” from Jacob every time I finish makes me realize that there is someone who cares about my success and growth as a runner and is committed to ensuring I don’t get hurt, which without a plan I’m not sure would be the case. Jacob’s long-term commitment and knowledge of running is what makes him so valuable as a coach. Watching him do a 100km run really motivates me to get my 5 kilometres in!

I ran the Lochside Regional Trail as an out and back run. Is it the fastest time ever run? Probably not. Is it the Fastest Know Time? It is now, because its on the internet!! Am I pretty darn pleased with the run? Yes.

https://fastestknowntime.com/route/lochside-regional-trail-bc-canada

https://www.strava.com/activities/5010457329/overview

Some stats: 36.44 miles (58.65 km); Total time 4:43:21; Pace 7:46/mi (4:48/km)

I fuelled with gels, nuun tabs, one snicker bar and water. I stashed the water on the route and thankfully they were all where I left them when I needed them. And yes, I picked up my empties and extras when I was finished.

Before and after – I’ll let you guess which one is which!

This run was a break though for me. Not only did it go well in terms of pacing and fuelling but I felt really strong mentally. It’s a bit of a soul crushing route – lots of long boring straightaways and not tons on scenery. I knew to run well there would be no stopping and no walking, which I’ve never accomplished on a run of this length. To put the pace into perspective I went through the marathon in about 3:20 and 50k in 3:58. This might be one of the few times I way exceeded my expectations.

Oh yeah, there are some big piggies on the run…

So my running is going great, I’m getting into better and better shape, running faster, healing an injury, reaching my weekly running goals, etc. – but I fear I am falling into a trap. The trap is this – if I achieve big things in running, I will be happy and feel good about myself. Essentially, I’m hoping that a certain running outcome will satisfy my ego and bring lasting happiness.

I have been here before. And the truth is – there is not one single achievement that will bring lasting happiness and satisfy my ego. Why? Because our human experience is that everything comes and goes. Thoughts, emotions, and sensations – arising and passing. I wish it were otherwise. I wish that the feelings of joy and satisfaction when I broke 15 minutes in the 5,000 meters would have lasted forever. I wish that my feelings of ‘I am a good runner’ would have lasted, but the ego is insatiable! And of course, this is true for life. There is no job, partner, income, house, experience, party, etc. that will do the trick and bring us lasting happiness and settle our ego.

Please like me:)

So we must find refuge in the present moment – in our moment to moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions and sensations. Even when they are crappy. So what does that mean for running? It means enjoy the journey and the process. You certainly don’t need to enjoy all your runs. It’s ok to get out the door and squeeze in an 8 miler just to hit your weekly mileage. But just don’t trick yourself into believe that if you do great things in running you will be a great person. We are all amazing humans!

Oh, and just to be clear – running has tremendous power to bring joy and happiness – but sometimes we can veer off course (pun intended).

‘running’

Well, that was hard! I entered the One Track Mind 24hr track race thinking running 100 miles would be no problem. Boy was I wrong! I thought that the biggest challenge would be mental and running on a flat track wouldn’t be physically as challenging as say a mountain trail ultramarathon. So wrong. After about 50 miles of running in circles, I could run no more. I managed to walk another 18ish miles, but I literally could not pick up my legs to run. My quads were entirely shot! But I thought quads get beat up when running downhill? WTF! In the end I ran for 15hrs and about 68 miles (68.68 according to my watch). When I dropped out I was going slower and slower and I just couldn’t see myself walking for another nine hours! I did fully feel disappointment. I wanted more out of the run and my body/mind but it wasn’t to be.

I do feel proud of myself. It’s rare that we set goals and objectives that we have a pretty good chance of not achieving. I’m proud of myself for putting myself in a really tough situation and knowing I might not finish. I am also proud of myself (us) that I raised over $1,000 for Help Fill A Dream.

I also can’t express how impressed and inspired I was by all the runners. People were working so freaking hard and giving it their all. What else can you ask for? It was really an amazing experience. Felt like I was really living life, ya know??

Below are some shots from the day

Daycare drop-off
very underwhelming covid start line
Running with the famous Gerry Hughes who ran over 550 kms in 6 days

So, what do you do when all your races are canceled, you are a stay at home parent, and you want to run a 50K? Well, you run the Oh Baby! 50K, of course! In essence, my goal was to run 50K between Keshet napping and Keshet in the stroller. So not a true 50K, but who cares man! I felt pretty confident that I could go the distance, but could the baby go the distance? Oh yeah, she woke up at 5am!

So, to the dismay of my mother, I put her down for a nap, watch her on the baby monitor and run very close to my house…she slept for 1.5 hrs, so I was able to get in about 9.5 miles or 15 kilometres.

Strava Don’t lie!
What a good nap!
Proper fuelling is crucial to any good ultramarathon performance!

As any parent knows, keeping your baby well-fed is hard, keeping yourself well-fed is nearly impossible. This would catch up to me later in the day. I basically fuelled on kombucha and goldfish crackers…

Time for some stroller running!
Over halfway there!

Somehow, we squeezed in nearly 7 miles or 11 kilometres for the run. I think that is a record for Keshet.

Getting there!
Another good nap!

Another great nap performance and I got in about 9.5 miles or 15 kilometres!

Don’t make me go running again!!!

Heading out for our last stroller run. Only 8.5K to go, but she was cranky, it was hot, and I had hardly eaten all day…we made it, but it wasn’t pretty!

50K done!

Well, we did it! It got hard at the end, but it was super fun! Running time was about 4hrs 45mins and overall time was about 8hrs 15hrs. I’m really proud of myself for making this happen. I love ‘big days.’ There will, G-d willing, be many more ‘big days’ of running in the mountains and on trails, but the Oh Baby! 50K really was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of day…

Keshet was less than enthusiastic about her accomplishment!

Three Rivers 100k

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Were all of your races cancelled?  Yes!  So plan your own.

This past Sunday, May 31st, I ran my first 100k.  I dubbed it the Three Rivers 100K.  Check out my Strava link to see why.

It was a really great day and a huge accomplishment for me.  It took me about a month to plan out all of the logistics and I’m happy to say that all went according to plan on ‘race day’.  Oh yeah – and I finished first!!

While, I can’t tell you how you should plan your ultramarathon, I can tell you how I planned mine.  

Step 1 – Pick a distance

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I picked the 100k distance because I’ve wanted to go farther than I’ve run before and 100 miles seemed too much for me right now.  Also, running 100 miles by myself didn’t sound too fun.  100k seemed doable for me.  I’ve run a 51 mile trail race, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim, and the ‘around the mountain’ trail on Mt. Hood in Oregon.  My training has gone pretty well since January.  I’ve had really good overall mileage – a bunch of 60/70 mile weeks and some longer runs.  The one place I didn’t feel well trained in was long runs.  I am a stay-at-home dad to a now one-year-old baby.  I can get in a lot of 60-70 minute runs but the longer runs, and especially longer trail runs, are tricky to get in.  Also, as a healthcare worker my partner works a lot.  So I often choose family time on a Sunday over trail running.  So anyways, pick a distance!

Step 2 – Plan your route

I used the route planning tool on Strava.  While it is a bit finicky, it should give you a pretty good idea of how long your route is.  I also assume that it will measure a shorter distance than what is on your watch.  Strava/Google maps/etc. run on perfectly straight lines, while you and your watch do not.  I wanted a course that was mostly trail running, not too hilly, and started and finished at my house.  For some reason, I like the idea of starting and finishing on my porch…very COVID-19…

Step 3 – Find a way to record your run

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In this time of social isolation and cancel everything, I knew that I wanted to be able to record my run and share it.  My previous watch was a Garmin 225 that had a battery life of about 8 hrs, so I knew that wasn’t going to cut it.  Also, the Garmin 225 isn’t able to keep your activity recording while it is being charged.  After toying around with recording on my phone, I broke down and bought a new Garmin 245.  After all, we are in an economic recession and I have a civic duty to stimulate the economy, right?

I’m happy to say that this watch is sweet!  After 14 hrs of running, using GPS and GLONASS satellite systems I still had about 45% battery life left.

Step 4 – Logistics (food/water/gear)

Food- Bring a bunch of food!  I planned on 300 calories/hr for 16 hrs.

Water- I started with one litre (two 500 ml bottles) and planned to fill up in the creeks and rivers. I treated the water with Pristine/Aquamira.  I do have a 1.5-litre bladder but I hate running with it, so I left it at home.

Gear- Most of this run was very close to ‘civilization’ so I went light.  I carried:

1. Small first aid/blister kit

2. Bear Spray

3. Ultimate Direction Running Vest

4. Cell Phone

5. Earphones

6. Aquamira water treatment

7. Two 500 ml Ultimate Direction soft bottles

Step 5 – Friends!

I wanted to meet up with some friends and I was so glad to see them on ‘race day!’  There is definitely something to be said about going it alone, but in the end seeing friends was uplifting and the coconut water was delicious!

If you have any question about planning your own ultramarathon please let me know!

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Genny

After reconnecting with my college friend, Genny, at our friend’s wedding, we started scheming up a running adventure.  At first it was running around Mt. Hood, but we missed that window.  When I started planning my spring break I realized I might be able to make the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-Rim run happen.  This had been on my mind for a few years now and seemed to be lining up perfectly.  I was in good shape, I had the time off work, my wife was away for the month at a meditation retreat…I just needed a Genny!

Turns out, she wasn’t too hard to convince!

In Mid-March we met up in Boise.  Shortly after, Genny, her husband Andrew, and I were headed down south to the the Big Ditch.  After a romantic evening in Kanab, UT and a really nice trail run, we had arrived.

We waded our way through the traffic, checked in at the ranger office, set up camp, ate dinner, packed our packs, checked out the trail-head (this is one of the best things we did), and went to bed.

We woke: March 24, 2:45AM – We successfully ate breakfast and took our morning poops.

Andrew drove us to the South Kaibab parking lot and we walked the mile(ish) down to the trail-head and at 4:45AM we-were-off!  It felt so good to be running – all the planning and anticipation were behind us and all we had to do was run.

The three of us ran down to Phantom Ranch where we said good-bye to Andrew.  According to Andrew he saw ‘no less than 1500 tourists’ on his way back up the South Rim!  Also, he ran out of water…

Heading up the North Rim

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Running up was going great, but Genny did have a minor bonk as we got into the steeper stuff.  Here is a picture of Genny at her ‘low point.’  As we made our way higher and higher we encountered more and more snow.  We also encountered a mini-fridge sized bolder whizz by us!  There was a lot of debris all about the trail, and with the snow, the going got slow.

The North Rim

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We had been told that there was one water spigot with flowing water on the North Rim.  After an hour of running around we finally found the water.  Pro Tip:  get very clear directions from the back-country ranger on how to find the water!

Out-And-BACK

Well, they don’t call it rim-to-rim-to-rim for nothing!

Some highlights from the return trip:

-Nice running, nice people, scorpion sightings, finishing in dark, and seeing Andrew waiting at the top for us!

The End

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So grateful this adventure happened! Thanks, Genny and Andrew!

I hear people say things like ‘running is my mediation.’  And I’m not really sure what they mean by that.  They might mean something like running makes me feel good, connects me with my body, and focuses my mind.  Well, I guess those things do sound a bit like meditation to me.

beliketheriver

But I think saying that running IS mediation is a bit of a short cut.  While you can bring mindfulness to running (and running lends itself to this), it is not the same as seated mindfulness meditation.

I have been running for 20 years and meditating for five and I can really say, from my own experience – they are different.  Not only are they different in practice, but they are often different in result.  When I was running in college and after (80-100 miles per week) I wasn’t learning how my mind works.  I wasn’t seeing my own grumpiness, my impatience, my anger, etc.  It was through the practice of mindfulness meditation that I began to grow in my self-awareness and change my habits and thought patterns that were not serving me.

And now, meditation really supports my running – I have developed tools to enhance my running that I didn’t have 10 years.  I have learned to actually listen to my body and mind.  I have seen that no one achievement (breaking 15 mins for 5k) will bring me any amount of lasting happiness.  Sure it feels amazing to run fast and achieve a goal, but this feeling passes.

So, in my own experience – running and mediation are different!  I recommend doing them both, everyday!

IMG-0012Wow, that was awesome!  Yesterday, I ran 21K of the Squamish 50K course with about 150 other runners.  It was a beautiful day, with perfect running weather.  I was a bit nervous to start, mostly because it was all pretty new to me.  Once I got checked in, and especially once I was running, I felt relaxed and all smiles.

The running part felt really great, mostly.  There was a big downhill section that really seemed to take it out of me.  Also, there was some snow and ice that I ran really slow over.  The second half of the course was more rolling hills and snow free.  The running here felt amazing.  It took me longer than I had expected, finishing around 2.5 hrs.

Even though this was not a competitive run – I did notice that I was comparing myself to others.  And I definitely ran faster at the end because I was running with other people.  But this little bit of competitiveness was mostly fun.  And I didn’t let it dictate my day.  I went out super easy for the first 10K – stopping to make adjustments and chatting with people along the way.

Some things I learned from the run:

  1.  Downhill running is hard.  I will need to do more of this.
  2.  The overall pace may be a bit slower than I am anticipating.
  3.  Running is really fun, especially trail running with 150 people.
  4.  My pre-race breakfast didn’t really do the trick – I felt a bit off for the first hour of the run and super hungry at about the 2 hour mark.

A few years ago, I was doing a bit of climbing with my partner, Riki.  We were at a crag with some pretty easy climbs.  It was just us at the cliff, when another fellow arrived and began doing some free-solo climbing (climbing without the safety of a rope).  As he was climbing, we could hear the guy talking to himself.  And man, was this guy harsh!  He was saying things like “don’t fall now you piece of shit, you suck, your worthless,” etc.

If you are like most humans, the voice inside your head is almost always going.

But what does the voice sound like?  Is it harsh and critical?  Or caring, supportive and understanding.

We have a false belief that if we don’t ‘push ourselves’ then we won’t achieve anything.  We often ‘push ourselves’ by being critical, mean and short tempered.  When I was running in competitively,  I ‘pushed myself’ hard.  And while I did have some achievements, most of the time I was fighting injury, burnout, and disappointment.  So the questions is, what did I really achieve?

On a recent run, I again felt a mild pain in my left knee.  As soon as the pain came up, I launched into a whole story about how ‘this injury is going to get worse, I’ll have to stop running, everything will suck if I can’t run, my body isn’t resilient, I always get injured…’

Luckily, I noticed this narrative, took a breath, and changed my tone…’you must be scared that this will turn out to be an injury that makes you stop running, or course that is scary, running is so important to you, running makes you happy and feel good….etc.’

See the difference?  We all do it, some more, some less.  So check in with that voice inside your head and see if you can be more supportive and loving to yourself, its makes all the difference.

And I’d just like to add one more thing: just because you think it, doesn’t mean its true!

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When I began my running hiatus – there were few options for running watches.  I have always used a simple Timex watch.  It keeps track of overall time, splits, laps, and has a timer and alarm.  Sometimes when I am feeling so inspired, I leave the watch at home.  I remember the first time I saw a runner using a heart rate monitor – seemed pretty weird to me.

Well, for anywhere between 200-600 bucks you can get all sorts of watches.  They measure your HR, pace, distance, elevation loss/gain, sleep, etc., etc.   But do we really need all of this information?  Especially for those of us who are simply just going out for a run in the woods.

I prefer to ‘run by feel.’  What does this mean?  Well, just keep checking in:  How am I feeling?  What is my breathing like?  Am I thirsty or hungry?  How is my form?  Any aches and pains?  Am I having fun?  Can I be grateful in this moment?  These questions should guide your run.  With this approach there is less chance for injury, burnout and disappointment.

During my last run I was experiencing some tightness in my left knee.  I noticed this and asked myself what could I do to support my knee better.  Am I running too fast?  How is my form?  Is the terrain adding to the discomfort?  Should I finish my run or keep running?  No matter how much money you spend on a watch – it won’t give you this crucial information.

So be kind to yourself.  Check in with your body and mind in a kind and gentle way.  This is mindful running.  If you set out to run a certain distance, in a certain time – you don’t allow for things to change.  Running, as with life, is dynamic and ever changing.  You need to be flexible and adaptable.  An excellent life skill.

I’ve been running, in a structured way, for over 20 years now.  Apparently, the first sentence out of my mouth was ‘I num.’  I was running as soon as I could walk, so in a true sense, I’ve been running for over 30 years.

In 8th grade, for whatever reason, I began running a 3 mile loop before school each morning.  As it is for nearly all 12 year olds, this was a weird awkward period of my life.  Running gave me a sense of pride and self-confidence that I desperately needed.  And I found success in running as well – I placed 4th in the PE mile!

Thus began my career as a competitive runner.  In high school I ran 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters in cross country.  In college I ran 5k and 10k in track and 8k in cross county.  Post college, I ran a few 3ks and 5ks on the track and one marathon.  This all concluded in 2010.  Over the next many years I flirted with training and getting back in shape, but injuries and myself seemed to get in the way.

I began to get really into other outdoor pursuits, such as climbing, fishing, biking and skiing.  I also began a meditation practice.  In about 2012, after a very brief training stint, my Achilles began to act up.  This progressed over the next five years – to the point where if I ran for 20 minutes, I would be limping for the next week while I recovered.  I really thought I may have to give up running forever.  It was a really process of growth and personal exploration that helped to get past this injury (post to follow about what I learned in the process and what did/didn’t work).

Over the past six months I have been on a running awakening.  I have found the joy in running!  Where did this come from? – I just don’t know.  (I do have some ideas – which is the reason for creating this blog).  My entire perspective on running has changed.  I feel like I have been missing the point of running for the last 20 years.  Joy was the reason I ran as soon as I could walk.  But over the course of my competitive running – I lost the joy – This led to feelings of inadequacy, burnout, and injury.

There are many keys to running with joy, which I will discuss later.  But the joy is back!  And I couldn’t be happier!  I’m running (nearly) pain free, about 50 miles per week, and a long run of around 2.5 hours.