2:15:00 in 2015


At the beginning of 2014, I had grand plans for my running. I was going to run my first 30K race with a view to building up from there to a full marathon by 2016. I already had eight half-marathons under my belt, so while I knew it would be a challenge, I felt that it would be achievable. I registered for the Around The Bay 30K which takes place in March, and I drew up an ambitious but doable training plan.

The plan got derailed when the Polar Vortex hit. The temperatures were lower than anything I have ever experienced. Even with all of winter running gear, I wouldn’t have been able to handle running in that cold. The bigger obstacle, of course, was the ice. There were sheets of it on the roads and sidewalk that were inches thick in places. Even the most seasoned of winter runners were staying indoors.

As a result, I was forced onto the treadmill for most of my training. I did do a couple of grueling runs in heavy snow, but for the most part, I was clocking up 18K runs and more at the gym. A month before the 30K race, conditions were still too severe for outdoor winter running, and I decided to pull the plug on my training. I did not think it would be wise to attempt my longest ever distance right at the end of the worst winter in recorded history.

I went with Plan B: I sold my bib for Around The Bay and instead registered for the 30K Midsummer Night’s Run, which happens in August. That way, I would have the summer to train in safer conditions.

Enter the Ankle Of Doom. More than 20 years ago, my left ankle was seriously injured. In spite of a lot of medical intervention over the years, it has never really been right since. It always hurts for about 24 hours after a long run, but as long as it recovers quickly, I can live with that one day of pain each week. Except that this summer, when I was running distances of 22K and more, my ankle wasn’t recovering. It was constantly hurting and I developed a semi-permanent limp. When I set out for my long runs each week, I was still in pain from the previous week.

I knew I was pushing myself too hard, but I kept telling myself that it would improve, that all I needed was time for my body to get used to the longer distances. Even though I knew this wasn’t working, I was continuing on with desperate hope.

I was finally forced to face up to reality one day in July, while I was doing 25K along the lakeshore trail. Ankle Of Doom throbbed the entire time throughout the first half of the run. As I reached my turnaround point, I knew I was in trouble. I took a two-minute walking break and then, feeling a little better, I started running slowly again. About 3K later, I was feeling OK, so I decided to kick up my speed a notch. Five minutes later, I felt an almighty twinge in my ankle, as if someone had pulled back on an elastic and then released it.

There was instant agony. I could still put weight on my ankle, but with every step, I felt as if a hot poker was being skewered through my foot. I forced myself to continue: I was on a trail, nowhere near a road, and I did not have the option of calling my husband to come and pick me up. Only 8K to go, I kept telling myself. You can run 8K in your sleep. This is nothing for you.

8K is excruciatingly long when every step feels like torture. My ankle got more and more wobbly after every step, and I knew that if I wasn’t careful, it wouldn’t be able to carry me all the way home. For about 3K, I alternated fifty steps of walking with fifty steps of running. The counting definitely helped – it gave my mind something to focus on other than the pain, and alternating walking with running enabled me to keep going. Those three kilometres or so went a lot more quickly than I thought they had.

But then I reached a point of meltdown. I sank down onto a rock facing the lake and burst into tears. By this point, I had less than 5K to go, so I knew that I would make it home. It would take a while, but I would get there. But the realization hit me that I would have to forego the 30K. I knew that in all likelihood, I would never get to achieve my dream of running a full marathon.

I went through the rest of the season in a kind of haze. I switched my 30K registration to 15K and had a good race, and I ran my autism fundraising half-marathon, which also happened to be my 10th half-marathon. A doctor told me that if I concentrated on rehab exercises for my ankle for the next year, I might be capable of training for a marathon.

But I’ve decided that enough is enough. After having pushed myself very close to the point of not being able to run at all, I have accepted that a marathon is not a viable goal for me. I am proud of the fact that I can run half-marathons – for someone who, let’s face it, is not naturally athletic, that’s quite an accomplishment.

And so instead of hurting myself trying to chase a goal that could permanently disable me from running, I am going to improve on distances that I have already accomplished. I am going to get my 10K time back to under 1:03:00, and I am going to run a sub 30-minute 5K. Best of all, in 2015, I am going to run a half-marathon in under 2:15:00.

As modest as these goals are, I have my work cut out for me. But instead of making me weaker, working toward these targets will make me stronger.

Am I sad about giving up on the marathon dream? Of course I am.

But I would be sadder if pursuing the dream took away my ability to do anything at all.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit: Ludo Rouchy. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.


Training Roundup: Adaptation


The trouble with drawing up a training schedule is that I feel obligated to follow it. This is, under normal circumstances, not a bad thing. The schedule holds me accountable and keeps me on track. If I stick with the program, I can be reasonably confident that I will meet whatever goal I have set out to accomplish.

The trouble starts when something happens that forces me to deviate from the schedule. Changes in plans make me feel vaguely anxious, and if I don’t get to do a run that I’ve been mentally gearing myself up for, it’s a little disruptive to my psyche. But we all know that life is that thing that happens while we’re making other plans, and sometimes we just have to roll with whatever life throws at us.

Not that life has thrown me anything major in the last week. In fact, I knew going into the week that my training schedule would have be adjusted. I volunteered at the Toronto Women’s Half-Marathon on Sunday, and I didn’t want to go for a long run on top of that. I was on my feet for the whole morning, and in any case, I wanted to hang out with my family instead.

Plan B was to go for a long run on Monday afternoon instead. I really needed two hours to complete the distance, and due to a series of unforeseen issues that had to be taken care of right away, by the time I set out I only had an hour available to me. That turned out to be plenty: it was very hot on Monday afternoon, and because my body has not yet acclimatised to the warmer weather, there is no way I would have been able to pull off 18K. I did about 9K, and that just about killed me. Before I had done the first kilometre, I knew I was in trouble. During the run, there were a couple of unscheduled walking breaks, plus one lean-against-a-tree-and-cry break.

On Tuesday I had a rest day. I had planned to rest, but I wouldn’t have had a choice anyway. Monday’s run had the effect of completely draining me of energy. I was exhausted beyond belief, to the extent that I worried about whether Wednesday’s run would happen.

On Wednesday morning, I saw the kids off to school and then, with trepidation, I put on my running shoes. I was supposed to do a 5K tempo run, and I really didn’t know if I had it in me. I needn’t have worried: I had a fabulous run. I did 5K in just under 30 minutes, and I felt great.

Thursday was another rest day, but not an intentional one. I had some errands to run, and I met a friend for lunch, and time just ran away from me. I didn’t mind. I hadn’t seen my friend for a year, and it was great to catch up. As much as I love running, sometimes other things are more important.

Today – Friday – was an odd day. I was scheduled for an easy 5K run followed by a weights workout, but I spent most of the day helping to set up for a local ribfest that’s happening this weekend. I was on my feet, walking a great deal, carrying heavy things. By the time I got to the gym late this afternoon, I was quite tired. I got onto the treadmill and set the speed to a brisk pace – definitely too fast to qualify as an “easy” run. By the time I had run 4K, I was done. I felt that if I tried to continue, I would end up on one of those YouTube videos featuring people falling off treadmills. I didn’t feel too bad about docking a kilometre from my run, because I covered several kilometres walking around at the ribfest this morning.

After I stepped off the treadmill, I headed to the weights area, and actually got in a full strength training session. When I was finished, my muscles were quivering. I feel that I have earned tomorrow’s rest day, and on Sunday I will be ready to tackle 18K.

My mileage this week was lower than I would have liked, and I only got in one strength training session instead of two, but I feel that the week was moderately successful. On days when it would have been easier to make excuses and not do anything, I found ways to get in some miles. I feel good about that.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit: rick. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.


Training Roundup: Conquering Achilles


George with my Scotia 2013 finisher's medal

George with my Scotia 2013 finisher’s medal. He’s the reason I run.

With the Goodlife Toronto Half-Marathon eleven days in the past, my period of sitting on the couch doing sweet eff-all post-race recovery is over. I had a harder time than usual with my recovery, because I wasn’t in top form on the day, and all of the downhill running killed my quads. For four days, I couldn’t walk down stairs without whining like a little girl.

I finally laced up my running shoes again on Tuesday. In a rare departure from the norm, I was actually in the mood for the treadmill at the gym. Tuesday was a rough day – it was the first anniversary of the death of Fran, one of my best friends – and I went through the day in a state of emotional upheaval. I needed the noise and busy-ness of the gym.

I hammered out a fast 5K or so on the treadmill, and it felt surprisingly good, physically and mentally. The exercise helped clear my head, and doing a fast workout with high leg turnover loosened up my muscles. I was back in the groove – or so I thought.

I woke up yesterday morning with pain in my left Achilles tendon. It eased up throughout the morning, but when I tried to walk from my house to the bus stop down the road, I discovered that all I was capable of was a hobble. As I went about my business for the afternoon, things loosened up and I felt OK, but from time to time I’d feel that Achilles tendon nagging at me.

I came home and iced it, and resolved to rest for at least two days. The last thing I want, as I head into the next phase of my training, is a torn Achilles tendon. The next phase of my training is going to be very intensive as I work on both speed and mileage, and I need to be in the best form possible. I don’t have time to be messing around with injuries, so I’d rather just rest up properly now instead of letting things get worse.

While I’m resting, I will be planning out the training schedule that will get me from here to my Big Race of the season: the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront half-marathon on October 19th. My calendar this year includes a distance that I have not attempted before – 30K – but my ultimate goal is to get a personal best time at the Scotiabank half-marathon. That is my autism run, my opportunity to do my small part in making the world a better place for my son and other kids with autism. All of the other races throughout the summer are training runs to prepare me for the big event. It is on October 19th that I really want to shine.

So here I sit, with ice wrapped around my ankle and a calendar in front of me, figuring out a schedule that will help me go further and faster.  I will also be searching for ways to fuel my body better, and that quest will include a mission to find a healthy cheesecake recipe. Because – you know – cheesecake.

What are your health and fitness goals for the summer? If you’re a runner, what is your “A” race this season? And do you have any healthy cheesecake recipes?

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit to the author.



Sometimes Goals Change – And That’s OK


At the beginning of this year, I had some lofty plans. I was going to either launch a freelance business or become gainfully employed. I was going to run three half-marathons in addition to my first 30K. I was going to clean up my eating, once and for all. I was going to find ways to become happier, more fulfilled, and better at being me.

We are two months into the year, and so far, none of my goals are shaping up quite the way I wanted. Although I have been looking for and applying to work opportunities, my heart hasn’t really been in it. I’ve been feeling a little adrift, not really knowing what direction is the right one. In addition, as hard as it’s been financially, there is one aspect of my unemployment that I’ve been enjoying: having time to be a mom. I love being here to get my children ready for school, and I love being here when they get home. At some point, unless I can get enough freelance work to keep the wheels turning, I will have to give that up.

My running goals haven’t been panning out, either, largely because of the winter we have had. Months ago, I registered for the Around The Bay 30K race, which happens on March 30th, and I promised myself that I would set my mind to my training. It has been a lot easier said than done. To be fair to myself, I have tried hard, but the Polar Vortex had other plans for me. Because of the ice storms, excessive snow and unbelievably cold temperatures, I have been forced off the road and onto the treadmill. The few runs that I have managed outside have been challenging – running through snow, running through icy puddles of melting slush, falling on ice and hurting myself.

A couple of weekends ago, while I was heading to the gym for yet another long run on the lab rat machine, I suddenly asked myself how much I cared about doing this 30K race at the end of the month. On the one hand, I hate registering for races and not doing them. But on the other hand, how wise would it be for me to attempt a new distance right after the worst winter I’ve ever experienced?

As I did that run on the treadmill, I pondered the idea of bailing on the Around The Bay race and instead going for the Midsummer Night’s Run – also a 30K event – that happens in August. I mentally experimented with this notion, and discovered that I felt surprisingly comfortable with it. Not only does it feel comfortable, it feels right.

And so I found another runner to take my spot at the Around The Bay race and I transferred my registration to him. As soon as I received payment from him, I signed up for the Midsummer Night’s Run. Now I can comfortably ease myself into outdoor training, and I will have an entire summer to train for this new distance. It means that I will only be running two half-marathons this year instead of three, but that’s OK.

And that is really the whole point of this post – that there is no shame in changing a goal. This time last year, I would have been horrified at the thought of not running Around The Bay. I would have berated myself for deciding to cut a half-marathon from my schedule. I would have thought of myself as a failure, as a person who gives up. But something in me has changed in the last year. Maybe I’m just getting older and wiser, or maybe I’m getting more realistic. Or maybe I’m simply realising that I deserve to give myself a bit of a break.

I still have some things to work on – like sorting out some kind of regular income, and developing eating habits that are consistently healthy. But I feel that in accepting and embracing changes to what I want to accomplish, I am at least moving closer to being happier with who I am.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit: This picture has a creative commons attribution license.


An Athlete’s Lesson In Self-Talk


It looks pretty, but it's not great to run in!

It looks pretty, but it’s not great to run in!

I have been struggling a great deal with my running lately. I had such high hopes, at the beginning of this year, that I would be able to stick to the training schedule I had set for myself – a schedule that was demanding but certainly within my capability.

I tell myself that the main reason for my struggling of late has been the weather, and it is true that Mother Nature has not been on my side. Temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius, snow and ice have combined to make running conditions very difficult. I have gotten around it to an extent by going to the gym and running on the treadmill. Like most runners, I intensely dislike the treadmill, but it is better than nothing.

Still, I have to be honest with myself and ask the question: to what extent have I been using the weather as an excuse? Yes, it’s been hard and I am sick to death of the treadmill. To my credit, I have not missed any of my speed training sessions. But I have missed two of my long runs, in two consecutive weeks. On both occasions, I had the opportunity to make up the run the following day, and I didn’t. Out of the four days – two Sundays and two Mondays – I can only claim prohibitively bad weather on one of them.

The truth is that in recent weeks, I have been walloped with depression. Along with depression comes low self-esteem and inevitably, negative self-talk. I’ve been telling myself that I’m just not good at anything, and I’ve been fulfilling my own words. This negativity has touched every area of my life, without me even realising it.

I got a bit of a wake-up call yesterday. I decided that, snow be damned, I was going out for my long run. I was quite excited as I dug out my winter running gear and put it on: it felt good to be doing something positive instead of making excuses.

Before I’d even run a block, I knew I was in trouble. My breathing was laboured and I was struggling to find any kind of rhythm. To be fair, the conditions weren’t great. It was snowing, and the ground felt all sludgy. Telling myself that this was just a part of winter running in Canada, I trudged on gamely.

I managed about three kilometres before giving up. I kept slipping in the snow, and I just didn’t feel that I was in good enough shape to last for 18K. Bailing on the run was the right thing to do from a safety point of view. If I had continued, there was an excellent chance that I would have turned an ankle. Knowing that didn’t make me feel better, though. I felt that I was failing as a runner.

As I spent the afternoon brooding over how hard it had been for me to run those three kilometres, I thought of how poor my diet has been lately. I have been doing what I usually do when depressed: eating very little, and eating absolute junk on the occasions when I do eat. It’s no wonder that running has been such a challenge, that yesterday’s short distance proved to be too much for me. I haven’t exactly been fueling my body properly.

These thoughts were swilling around my head throughout the afternoon. I told myself that of course nutrition has been a problem. I’m a person who has been going through depression, and I have a messed-up relationship with food at the best of times.

You’re an athlete, piped up a little voice in my head, out of nowhere. Eat like one.

Well. That shut the negative part of me up. It derailed a train of thought that badly needed to be derailed. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard that little voice, the one that has confidence in what I can do. That little voice, in addition to reminding me that I am, in fact, an athlete, made me realise just how unkind I’ve been to myself lately.

In a sudden flurry of activity, I attacked my fridge, throwing out junk and old leftovers, getting rid of vegetables that I had bought and let go bad. And then, armed with a shopping list containing healthy foods, I corralled my family and dragged them to the grocery store with me.

Last night I cooked a healthy meal with a touch of carbo-loading. I ate it and went to bed feeling better than I have in ages. When I woke up this morning, I had peanut butter toast instead of breakfasting solely on endless cups of coffee. And then, once I had packed the kids and the husband off to school and work, I went for a run.

It was hard going. For about ninety percent of the time, I was running on snowy sidewalks and streets that hadn’t been shoveled or plowed. In addition to running, I had to work hard to keep my balance, and I had to push off from a slippery, slushy surface. I worked muscles that I didn’t even know I had, and the last couple of kilometres were excruciatingly difficult.

But I did it. I finished 18K.

Because I am an athlete.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit to the author.


Around The Bay 30K: Training Week 1

runningshoes Monday

Today was supposed to be a rest day, but I figured that since the weather forecast was calling for minus a gazillion degrees on Tuesday, I would run on Monday anyway. With the roads being impossible to run on, I gritted my teeth and headed for the gym for what was supposed to be a 6K tempo run. I only managed 5K: I had not run for an entire month, and I was getting over a cold. I wasn’t all broke up about the lost kilometre. In the grand scheme of things it’s really not going to matter. What’s more important is that I ran.

What I was supposed to do: Rest
What I did: 5K in 30:21
How I felt: Like I’d been kicked in the rear-end by a pissed-off buffalo



Today Environment Canada warned that anyone going outside could start to feel the effects of hypothermia within ten minutes. We didn’t even send the kids to school, partly because the school buses were canceled. Fortunately I did today’s run yesterday – not only was it impossible to run outside, it wasn’t even possible to navigate the icy roads in order to get to the gym.

What I was supposed to do: 6K tempo run
What I did: Rest
How I felt: Cold – even the central heating wasn’t enough to ward off the chill



I hate days like this. Things were more normal – the kids went to school and we ventured out of the house – but all of this staying indoors because of the weather has thrown off my schedule. Being holed up in the house has made me run short of groceries and fall behind on errands, so I didn’t have time to go to the gym today. Boo-hiss.

What I was supposed to do: Stationary bike and weights
What I did: Sweet eff-all. At least where exercise is concerned
How I felt: Guilty. Probably a throwback to my Catholic school education.



I was frantically busy today. My son’s birthday party is on Saturday, and as usual I have left everything to the 99th hour. By now I was supposed to have everything purchased and the cake made and ready for icing. I haven’t bought a single thing, including the cake ingredients. But my training runs are not going to do themselves, so I forced myself to include a trip to the gym in my jam-packed day. Another run on the treadmill – there is still too much ice to be safe, and I am kind of partial to having all of my bones intact.

What I was supposed to do: 5K easy run
What I did: 5K run on the treadmill – quite an intense one
How I felt: Much better, although my calf muscles felt appropriately tight after the workout.



Today’s trip to the gym wasn’t going to happen, not with this birthday party tomorrow. I made the cake, assembled gift bags, organized prizes, bought a pinata. I told myself that I would find time for my workout, but that was never a realistic prospect.

What I was supposed to do: Treadmill warmup and weights
What I did: Nothing exercise-related, unless you count running around like a chicken without a head.
How I felt: A little panicky. Missing workouts does that to me.



Designated rest day today, although since I missed yesterday’s workout, that doesn’t really mean anything. Hosting a tribe of hyperactive eight-year-olds feels like the most exhausting workout in the world, though. It was a bloody marvelous day that I will write about later in the week.

What I was supposed to do: Rest
What I did: I didn’t exercise, but I definitely didn’t rest
How I felt: Exhausted



Yesterday was a lot warmer. The temperature managed to claw its way up to plus seven degrees Celsius. I had high hopes that this would thaw the ice enough to allow an outdoor run, but that wasn’t to be. A lot of the ice did melt, but there was so much to begin with that there are still sheets of it all over the place. If anything, an outdoor run is even more impossible: now I would be combining skating with puddle jumping – not a good combination. I had no choice but to head to the gym again, and to grit my teeth for 14K on the treadmill. That is a long time to spend on a lab rat machine, and I came very close to giving up several times after I hit the 10K mark. But by breaking it up into tiny little chunks, I got through it. This was an excellent test of my mental strength.

What I was supposed to do: 14K
What I did: 14.37K in ninety minutes
How I felt: The fact that I actually saw this run through to completion made me feel awesome. So Week One is in the bag. I missed a couple of workouts but I got in all of my scheduled runs. Hopefully Week Two will see some outdoor action.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit to the author.


Race Report: St. Patrick’s Day 5K


Three weeks ago, my sports medicine guy told me that I was not to run the half-marathon that I was registered for the following weekend. Through my own stupidity, I had aggravated my old ankle injury, and the doctor practically guaranteed that if I ran that that half-marathon, I would be out for the rest of the season.

If I behaved myself (in other words, if I followed doctor’s orders), I would be allowed to run the St. Patrick’s Day 5K. So I scaled back my training and paced myself more appropriately. When the doctor told me to run on the treadmill, I ran on the treadmill. I only ventured out onto the road when he said I could. I behaved impeccably, and sure enough, I was cleared for takeoff. When I asked the doctor if he wanted me to exercise any caution during the race or if I could just go hell for leather, he said, “Run like you stole something.”

All right, then.

If I was going to run like I stole something, I might as well have fun with it. I decided to dress up a little, in keeping with the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day. And so on the morning of the race, I got onto the subway with temporary Irish-themed tattoos all over my face, ridiculous green-and-white striped socks going all the way up to my knees, and green and orange hair extensions attached to my hat. I didn’t even stand out. Torontonians – even those not of Irish descent – take St. Paddy’s Day very seriously, so I blended right in. It was the people dressed normally who stuck out like sore thumbs

I got to the start line with about half an hour to spare. Usually I like to arrive at races at least an hour ahead of time, but it was icy cold, so I was glad to have less time for standing around. I checked my bag and did some half-hearted warm-ups. After my injury, I wasn’t really expecting to be a speed demon at this race. My goal was to beat 32 minutes.

Ten minutes before the start, I stood at the start line among about a thousand other runners, almost all of whom were dressed for the occasion. It was fun to see all the leprechaun hats and bright green wigs. The starting siren went, and we were off.

My strategy was simply to go as fast as I could, but I got boxed in by the crowds at first. I was only really able to take off after 500 metres or so. The course was pleasant: downtown Toronto is kind of flat, so I was able to go at a fairly consistent pace. The mood was festive throughout. Runners were laughing and joking, admiring each other’s outfits, and cheering each other on. Some had liquid in their water bottles that looked suspiciously like beer.

The best part of the race was the inspiration I drew from the runners around me. The Saint Patrick’s Day run is organized in support of Achilles Canada, an amazing organization that enables people with disabilities to be athletes. There were a lot of runners on the course with a variety of challenges. There were blind athletes running with guides, people in wheelchairs, double amputees with prosthetics.

It was humbling to witness the enthusiasm and dedication of these athletes. I felt truly honoured to be among them.

I was absolutely spent at the end, and struggled to get through the last kilometre. But when the finish line came into view, I felt that magical surge of energy, and I was able to kick it up a notch, finishing in a time of 30:32.

Not bad for a post-injury first race of the season. I feel like this run has given me the kick-start I have been needing to start my season of training in earnest.

One final thought: the free post-race beer went down very well!

(Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle)


Looking For My Mojo

Last year I had a dismal season of running, but in spite of that, I enjoyed just enough success in order to ask myself: If I can set these PB’s (personal bests) with such a patchy season, what will I be capable of if I actually train properly?

Unfortunately, my dismal season has been followed by an even more dismal off-season. Usually, I manage to keep going in the winter, even if it’s endless boring runs on the treadmill at the gym. This time round, I just haven’t seemed to have it in me.

I have run a mere handful of times since my half-marathon in October, and I have not run at all since participating in the Resolution Run on New Years Day. I tell myself that my dearth of running is due to a pinched nerve in my back followed almost immediately by a cold, but how much of that is true? And how much of it is merely an excuse?

In two weeks’ time, I will be starting my 2012 season of training. I have a coach – someone who knows what she’s doing, knows what I’m capable of and will not hesitate to hold me accountable if she sees me slacking off. Despite my recent form, I have motivation. I have goals and I fully intend to accomplish them.

And so I decided that today I was going to run, come hell or high water. I diligently laid out my running clothes and packed my gym bag. I set my alarm last night and went to bed.

Only to wake up a full half-hour after I was supposed to. What had happened to the alarm? Clearly I had not set it right. My run would have to wait another day.

Immediately, I put a stop to that line of thinking. Come hell or high water, remember? I accessed my work email, clicked onto my calendar, and saw that I had a nice clear block of time right around lunchtime. I scheduled it in as running time, repacked my gym bag, and took it to work with me.

During the course of the morning, I discovered that an independently run gym right beside my office had been taken over by the fitness club group that I’m a member of. Sweet! This meant I would not have to go schlepping around on the subway in order to get my run in.

At the gym, I got onto a treadmill and set it for 35 minutes. I had been out of it for a while – no need to push myself on the distance when my main goal was simply to get back into it.

I’m not too hung up on the distance I covered, mainly because I don’t actually know what it was. The distance that my training watch tells me is probably inaccurate. I have not recalibrated my foot pod since replacing its battery. And because the treadmill has a built-in TV screen with full cable access, I wasn’t paying attention to the stats on the display.

I was more concerned with how hard it was, how exhausted I felt. I gave serious thought to stopping after 24 minutes, but I knew that would leave me feeling dissatisfied. I took a thirty-second walking break, and then resumed running at a slightly slower pace. And somehow, I made it for the full 35 minutes. I wasn’t hurting, and I wasn’t out of breath – I was just tired.

As I reflect on the run, I have a choice. I can feel bad about how hard it was and how exhausted I felt. Or I can feel good about the fact that I did what I set out to do anyway. I do believe this short run gave me the kick-start I’ve been needing to get myself on the go again.

Have I rediscovered my running mojo? Perhaps not entirely – not yet – but it’s very close, lurking somewhere nearby.


Running In The Rain

This morning I woke up to the gentle pitter-patter of rain against the window.

Actually, that’s a lie. I woke up to the alarm on my phone going off, making a blaring, raucous noise that set every single one of my nerve endings on edge.

Once my central nervous system had gotten over the initial shock of being awake, then I heard the gentle pitter-patter of rain against the window.


I wanted to go running, and I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to run in the rain. Thanks to all of the dental goings-on of the last few days, it had been about a week since I had run at all. I was not in the mood for dodging puddles and having rain drip into my eyes. I was in the mood for a nice, uncomplicated run that didn’t require any actual thinking.

Who’s in any fit state to think at five in the morning, anyway?

I had a choice to make. Don’t run at all, run in the rain, or run on the treadmill.

I knew that not running at all would lead to a day filled with angst and guilt, and I had no desire to see the inside of a gym (almost a month of showering in the gym due to our dearth of hot water at home has left me a little gym-weary). So that left me with no choice but to run in the rain.

I threw on my running clothes and added a hat as a measure against the rain. Music cued, training watch set, and off I went. Following the logic that the faster I went, the sooner I’d have this over and done with, I set off at a hearty pace.

The run went surprisingly well. Not only did I find the rain to be refreshing and soothing, I actually managed to maintain the pace that I set at the beginning. Usually when I charge out of the starting blocks like a racehorse on steroids, I kind of peter out after three kilometres or so. Today, though, I finished my 5.65km in just a touch over 31 minutes, at a very respectable pace of around 5:42 minutes per kilometre.

I really should wake up more often feeling half-hearted about running. These runs always turn out to be the best ones.

(Photo credit: This photo has a creative commons attribution license.)


Treadmill Running: Better Than Nothing

Today, for the first time in many months, I came face to face with the treadmill at the gym.

Anyone who’s read my previous posts about treadmills will know exactly how I feel about them. For those who haven’t, I will merely say that I’m not a fan of the lab-rat machines, but regard them as a necessary evil. There are times when road running is just not possible, and running on the treadmill is better than not running at all.

Over the last few months, when I have had to run on the treadmill, I have used the one at home. It sat gathering dust for a few years after my younger son, then aged two,  put his hand onto the treadmill while it was moving, and took off the top few layers of skin. He is now old enough to respect the treadmill, and he knows to stay well away from it.

Treadmill running at home is marginally better than treadmill running at the gym. For a start, my home treadmill has a natural incline to it, so even on its “flat” setting I can simulate outdoor running reasonably well. And in addition, I can watch what I want on the TV without having to plug headphones into a weird little box that may or may not work. So the home treadmill has been a reasonable enough stand-in for “real” running on occasions when I’ve had no-one to watch the kids.

I was supposed to do a tempo run yesterday morning, which under normal circumstances wouldn’t have been a problem. The only thing is that when I do morning runs during the workweek, I have to get out early. I have to be awake by 5:00, outside waiting for my GPS watch to get a signal by 5:10, and running by 5:15. I have discovered that running on less than six hours of sleep makes me feel sick (unless I am racing: I can race on virtually no sleep at all, but racing has its own special set of rules), so I have to be asleep by 11:00 the night before an early morning run.

The night before last, we were having a whole lot of things happening at home. No hot water. Kids refusing to settle. A visit from my accountant. A dryer that wasn’t drying properly, resulting in me having to put each load through the cycle twice.

I did not get to bed until shortly after midnight, and by then my husband and I were so wound up that neither of us could sleep, so we talked until the wee hours of the morning. I did not get to sleep until well after 1:00 in the morning.

There was no way I could run when I woke up. I felt nauseous when my alarm clock went off, and that was before I’d gotten out of bed, never mind attempted to actually run anywhere.

But runners can be flexible, so I decided that it was no problem. I would just move yesterday’s run to this morning, and tomorrow’s run to Friday.

Last night – or should I say this morning – I got to sleep at about 2:30. Fannnnnnn-tastic.

When my alarm went off this morning, I got up, thinking that maybe I should just bite the bullet and run. But as I got up, I felt light-headed. I actually swooned, like they did in eighteenth century novels.

I was left with no choice. Either skip the run entirely (Scandal! How could I even think that!), or I could put in time on the treadmill at the gym at lunchtime. Like I said before, treadmill running is better than not running at all, so the gym it was. I stuck my headphones in my ears and turned on the music, set my training watch, and programmed the treadmill for a 45 minute hill workout.

It was good. I mean, as good as a treadmill run can be. My legs felt strong, my heart rate – inexplicably – stayed in the 150-155 range despite the fact that I was running quite intensely, and I actually kind of enjoyed it. I’m not suggesting that I am going to make treadmill running a regular part of my program, I’m just saying that it’s not always so bad.

So my scheduled run was finally done – albeit a day and a half late – and I have taken another baby step towards my goal of shattering last year’s time for the Autism Run.

And I feel a sense of accomplishment that has me grinning like a village idiot.

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