Written by Laurel Richardson

Hidden Traps in Goal Setting

For every wild goal set, there are countless articles and resources on the topic. And if you’re reading this now, the chances of you already being an ambitious goal-setter, whether it be in sports, in life or in both is pretty high.

I’ll start by sharing a personal story. I share this because your time and energy are your greatest resources and I know that if you set a goal you’ll go after it full speed, pun intended, which is why your goals better be meaningful to you. Otherwise you’ll be squandering these resources instead of spending your time on something you really care about brings you personal satisfaction. 

Years ago, I set a goal to run 30 marathons before I was 30. I was 24 at the time and I’d run 1. I told everyone about it. They were so impressed. I wore that goal around like a badge of honor. I simultaneously over and undertrained for it and ran a whole 1 marathon more. When people asked about how it was going, I lied and said it was great, but in truth, I was tired, and stressed and quite frankly, uninterested. I realized my excitement in the sound of 30 before 30 didn’t outweigh that I made that goal for all the wrong reasons.  I made it up because I wanted something that gave me structure, sounded cool and made me stand out. This goal wasn’t inherently bad, but it wasn’t the right one for me. From the outside, no one can tell your goals are right for you, but you can, especially if you look out for these common traps in goal setting. 

Shoulding Yourself

Please solemnly swear not to set goals because you feel like you have to. It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking the seemingly logical next step, i.e. half-marathon to full marathon, or forcing yourself to pursue something because that’s what other people are doing or that’s what you would’ve done in the past. Look out for this especially after you’ve just completed a big race or achievement. If you’re not ready to jump back in, physically or mentally (pursuing something big takes both!), give yourself that time. 

If a goal starts with, I really should… Stop. Don’t should yourself.

Chasing Just a Number

Look, we’re all chasing numbers – paces, best times, placements, distance milestones, kudos – that’s the wonderful simplicity of running. Let these numbers propel you, but also explore why you want them and what they mean to you. You don’t need to justify it to anyone else, but be clear on the driver of this pursuit of a number. The driver will continue to motivate and move you forward, whether you achieve it or not.

Ask yourself: What about achieving this is important to me? (i.e. personal pride, because this number is the culmination of all the time I choose to dedicate and carve out for myself, because I want to show my kids that anything is possible, etc.) Almost any reason is a good reason, just make sure you have one.

Seeking Approval

Who hasn’t chased something because it sounds impressive? There’s nothing wrong with setting big goals that you find impressive, the trap here is catching when you set goals primarily because you think other people will be impressed. By default, they probably will, but it’s likely not enough of a reason that will be meaningful to you in the long term. On a tough run by yourself in bad weather, you won’t care if you’re impressive.

Ask yourself, if no one knew or was interested in me achieving this, would I still pursue it? If I never got another kudos, would it stop me in any way?

 

Being a Groupie

Choosing goal races with friends is one of my favourite parts of running. Let the group dynamic motivate and inspire, while also maintaining clarity on what you personally want. Maybe this is the year to do a group trip to a destination marathon, but maybe it isn’t. When you do this, just make sure there is something independently yours as well. 

Ask yourself, would I do it alone? There’s no question of IF you could do it alone, it’s WOULD you do it alone. We’re better together, but you alone are stronger than you know.

Choosing Someone Else’s Trajectory

“That person in my group is suddenly faster. I should be that fast too. That person raced almost every weekend. I can do that too.” 

We’ve all had this internal dialogue. Take inspiration from what others have made possible, but don’t compare or copy too closely. You are unique, and your background and trajectory are different too. Using someone else (even if that someone is just you from a different time in your life) as your success metric will do one of two things:

  1. It could hold you back from surpassing what you think you are capable of based on what they are capable of. 
  2. It could cause you impatience and resentment towards yourself for not reaching your arbitrary expectations.

Reflect on your goals and how you came up with them. If it’s by way of someone else’s achievements, continue to check in on whether it’s still a good fit for you. 

Letting it take care of itself

With a strong purpose and a clear goal. You still need tangible means to get there. Seek an overarching plan that works back from your goal from the day you want to achieve it to right now. Remember that your goal isn’t someday, it’s an actual day, so the little wins and decisions you make today will help you get there. 

Consider setting habit-based goals that you can start now. If you have a coach, this is something they can support you with too.

Let’s keep this goal conversation going as you head into 2020.

While we would love to stick to the roads year-round, it’s not always possible depending on where you live. Cities like Ottawa and Edmonton are known for their hard-hitting winters, and many of our athletes will have to resort to running on the treadmill to safely fit their workouts in.

When to take your workout indoors

We are most often asked when is it too cold to run outside. There isn’t really a temperature that we set the limits at. You aren’t going to do damage to your lungs by breathing in the air at temps that most of us experience from coast to coast in Canada. If you dress appropriately you should be okay running outdoors at temps as low as -30C. 

Our biggest concern when it comes to deciding whether to brave the elements or stay inside is the footing. If the ground underfoot is terrible because of ice, black ice, any colour ice and you risk falling and busting yourself we think the treadmill is a pretty decent option. It’s also a pretty good idea if there is a blizzard and you can’t see 5 inches in front of your face. Running outside might not be safe in those conditions, so break out a singlet and shorts and head inside.

If you’re taking your workout indoors and don’t have a backyard fitness shed, start with your local gym. Be aware that most gyms have a 20-30 minute maximum time use. Best case, try to find one where there is no limit at all, but be warned many treadmills shut down automatically after 60 minutes. I learned this the hard way, by falling on my face when the treadmill stopped dead unannounced!

But how do I run on the treadmill vs. outside?

The same way you run when you are outside, one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again. Some pro-tips: 

  • Do not try to change your running gait in any way. It might take a minute or two to find your groove on the tmill, and even though it might feel strange, your gait should be more or less the same as it is running outside.
  • Load up your mp3 player (remember those!) or phone with a good mix of tunes or a few podcasts. Some of our coaches’ favourite shows include ESPN 30 for 30, the morning shakeout podcast, and The Rich Roll Podcast to name a few.
  • It’s always shorts and singlet weather! Inevitably it’s going to get much hotter on the treadmill than out in the winter air and snow. Just as you want to dress properly for the colder temperatures, you’ll want to adjust for indoors. That means wearing shorts and a singlet, even if it might feel cool to start. You’ll thank us later.
  • Next, set up a fan if you’re using your home set-up or get on a treadmill at the gym that is close to a fan or air vents. 
  • Lastly, especially for workouts with pace work or long runs, bring a water bottle to stay hydrated. And while you’re at it, bring a towel to wipe off the ridiculous amount of sweat that you will expire.

But what about adding intensity?

Go by effort in the early going and always err on the slow side for everything from easy runs to hard workouts. If you try to match your outdoor running paces while running on the treadmill you’ll likely run into some troubles. Whether it is mechanics or comfort level or treadmill running conditions, what someone can handle outside and on the mill do not always correlate. Give yourself a big range of goal paces/expectations in your first few workouts. After a handful of easy runs and a few workouts you should be able to match your treadmill paces to the appropriate intensity efforts (ie, easy run, tempo run, etc). But, don’t bother comparing your indoor running self to your outdoor running self, this is a recipe for overdoing it/hating the treadmill.

Depending on the treadmill, you’ll need to be able to convert your paces/effort to miles per hour or kilometres per hour. We often refer to this website to help us with the conversions. While there are a bunch of cheat sheets out there that can help you, it’s best to shift to thinking about your running in terms of duration (ie minutes), rather than distance (ie kilometres or miles). There isn’t any science behind this, it’s just something that from our experience helps with both the logistics of prescribing workouts and helping to breakdown the time on the treadmill into manageable chunks.

Not all treadmills are calibrated properly or the same. Two identical side-by-side treadmills at a gym may not be calibrated the same. That being said, do your best to get on the same one time and time again.

Into the weeds: vary your approach depending on the workout

Easy runs

Set the incline to 0.5-1%. Although the research is mixed on this, we believe that setting the treadmill at this slight incline best mimics running outdoors. 

Add some variety by adding in a few hills throughout the run or a bit of a progression. Don’t up the incline or pace so much that it turns the easy run into a harder workout, but enough to keep things interesting and help pass the time.

Examples:

  • 1-2min @ 3% every 5minutes of the run, starting 15minutes into the run.      
  • increase speed by 0.1mph every 5minutes.

 

Workouts

Tempo runs 

These should be your go-to workouts on the treadmill. Even if you get a stretch of bad weather and are forced to be on the treadmill for weeks on end, the majority of your workouts should be tempo effort type workouts. 

Examples:

Break up tempo pieces, even with some short little breaks. You will need the breaks mentally as much as physically. The physiological gains really won’t be all that different than a continuous tempo. For example, Instead of 45min straight do 3 x 15min with 1min recovery. 

Tempo runs that have progression built into them are also a great option. Try 3×9 minutes, broken into 3/3/3min, increasing the paces by 0.Xmph at the 3 and 6-minute marks of each interval.

Interval workouts:

You’ll really need to tweak your recoveries on the treadmill compared to the traditional interval workouts you’d do outdoors. When coach Tony Tomsich was coaching at the University of Alaska he would have his athletes jump off the treadmill for their recoveries between intervals. This prevents you from having to speed up and slow down the treadmill for the recoveries and provides a nice mental reprieve. 

If you’re too afraid to attempt jumping off and on for recoveries be sure to add at least 30seconds to your usual recovery times, to account for the time to slow down and speed up the treadmill. The key to getting your heart rate down and getting a proper recovery in between each interval is to go really really slow, like almost walking pace. This will allow you to get your heart rate down and ready to nail the intervals. We don’t recommend doing intervals shorter than 90seconds. You’ll just spend too much time pressing buttons and changing paces. Instead, pick workouts where you can hit a good intensity but that aren’t so long as to be too hard mentally.

Ex: 8 x 3minutes at 10k pace (2minutes recovery)

Above all else, the treadmill takes some getting used to, so be patient and don’t be afraid to reach out to one of our coaches if you’re in need of some guidance. If you’re one of those winter warriors who like to battle the winter conditions, check out our guide to winter running before hitting the roads.

While winters are mild in Vancouver, where Mile2Marathon first started, that’s not the case for the rest of Canada. With the eastern provinces getting hit with colder temperatures and ample snowfall, winter running can be a challenge. You may already be looking out your window at a winter wonderland.

If that’s the case don’t be discouraged, many great long distances runners have trained through a great Canadian winter. How does the saying go…. “what doesn’t break you, will make you stronger.” While that’s true and good motivation to get you through the winter, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure you bound through the snow without setback. 

Be safe 

Injuring yourself by slipping and falling is a concern with winter running conditions. Sometimes the road is cleared better than sidewalks, and you’ll be relegated to running on the roads. Try to find quiet roads to run on.  Be sure to run against traffic so you can see what’s coming at you. Snowbanks can get very high after a few snowstorms and drivers may not be able to see you crossing the road. Pay extra attention at intersections and when drivers are turning right. Wear a headlamp and reflective gear when running at night. It’s as important to both be seen and be able to see. 

Modify your footwear

For running in the winter, you’ll want to swap your footwear for an option that provides a better grip while running on snow. There is a wide range of winter running shoes available, most with a Goretex or similar weatherproof upper and a grippy outsole to give you better traction on snow and ice. If you want to use your regular shoes, there are some traction devices that can allow you to do that. Yaktrax is a popular choice, however, these can cause some modifications to your gait that may cause new overuse issues. Another option is to put good old fashion 3/8″ sheet metal screws in the bottom of an older pair of runners or in shoes specifically designed for this, like the Saucony Mad River TR. This option is only recommended if your entire running route is going to be on packed snow or ice, like the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. Nearly 8km in one direction, you should all come to check it out this winter! 

Plan your route 

here are several things to consider when planning your run that you don’t really have to think much about during other times of the year. Since you may be relegated to running on the roads, try to plan a route that is in a low traffic area, this is one instance in which living in the ‘burbs may be an advantage. You should also plan out an approximate time or distance for your route, nothing worse than running too long or far in the snow. You should also be conscious of the wind direction. Start your run into the wind and try to finish with it at your back. If you run with the wind at your back during the first part of your run you’ll get hot and sweaty and then when you run into the wind during the second part of your run you’ll get cold very quickly. 

Dress appropriately

Layering is very important in winter. We recommend a windproof outer layer, and insulated and wicking mid-layer that moves sweat away from the skin. Your body temperature increases with running so dress for conditions that are warmer than it is. You should feel chilled when you go out, but your body temperature will increase and you’ll warm up quickly. If you’re heading out during the early mornings or into the evening, add a reflective outer layer and a headlamp to ensure you’re seen. 

Don’t be afraid to adjust 

When the snow is too deep or the weather is simply too horrendous to do any safe, quality running it’s better to adjust your scheduled training for the day, by either cutting your run short, finding an alternative, or pushing your workout off til a better day. It’s better to alter the schedule a little bit in this way than try to push through and potentially end up slipping and falling and tweaking a muscle that then hampers you for weeks or months afterward. 

Pay close attention to any aches & pains

Speaking of tweaking a muscle, you have to read your body really well when running on snow and ice. There’s a good chance that you’ll be a bit sore the day after running on snow, especially loose snow. Running on loose snow is similar to running on sand, it requires the use of many more stabilizing muscles than running on solid surfaces. So, if you’re sore the day after running on loose snow, it may not be reason for huge concern, as you’re waking up some stabilizers that have been dormant for a while. But, if you feel a particular muscle getting tighter and tighter during exercise, this may be more serious and cause for concern. So, tread carefully…

When in doubt, hit the treadmill

This is always an option that we don’t want to deter you from. Sometimes the elements just aren’t worth braving, and a run on the treadmill is a better option.  If you find your mind starts to wander or you bore easily on the treadmill, throw on some tunes or your favourite podcast to help pass the time. We promise the treadmill isn’t all bad. 

With the exception of a few races, most notably California International Marathon, most goal races have come and gone. We’ve rounded up M2M results from the last few weeks of the fall below.

Thom Green Fall Classic Half 1:43:25 PB
Liam Baird Fall Classic 10k 38:23.0 PB
Rose Cass Fall Classic Half 1:44:47
Colton Higgins Fall Classic Half 1:18:46
Aric Fleming Fall Classic Half 1:37:34 PB
Andrea Digby Fall Classic 10k 0:45:05 PB
Mark Nelson Fall Classic 10k 0:42:07
Sean Del Ben Fall Classic Half 0:47:14
Claire Villet Fall Classic Half 1:43:00
Ryan Hobson Fall Classic Half 1:28:48
Todd Nickel Fall Classic Half 1:44:25 PB
Kathryn Williamson Fall Classic Half 1:31:14
John Hamilton Fall Classic Half 1:29:44
Nadine Robinson Fall Classic Half 1:31:07 PB
Brandon Hillis Fall Classic 1/2 1:33:51 PB
Farid Muttalib Fall Classic Half 1:20:53 PB
Catherine Scott Fall Classic Half 0:55:17
Chen Lp Fall Classic Half 1:34:32 PB
Kyli Shorter Fall Classic Half 1:44:35
Raymond Chhun Fall Classic Half 1:32:22
Sofia Romero Fall Classic Half 1:34:20
Lee Kennett Fall Classic 10k 0:35:04 PB
Todd Nickel Fall Classic 10k 46:28.0
Todd Nickel Fall Classic 5k 25:28.0

 

Kashtin Bogart BC XC Championships 32:58.0
Chany Groenewoud BC XC Championships 0:30:43 8th place!
Josh Potvin BC XC Championships 0:26:04 8th place!
Adam Buzinsky BC XC Championships 0:27:45
Stephen Lue Frankfurt Marathon 2:53:10 PB
Aaron Carveth Marine Corps 10km 44:58:00
Sandra Sukstorf James Cunningham Seawall 10k 50:22.0

 

Tammy Pigion TCS New York City Marathon 4:01:36
Nancy Hancharyk TCS New York City Marathon 3:56:11
Jason Lloyd TCS New York City Marathon 2:48:38 PB
Brianna Hungerford TCS New York City Marathon 3:14:44 First Marathon!
Michael Cosentino TCS New York City Marathon 2:59:11
Kim Bennett TCS New York City Marathon 3:02:17 PB
Emily Rudow TCS New York City Marathon 3:14:37
Victoria Asikis TCS New York City Marathon 4:14:37 PB
Kim Nguyen TCS New York City Marathon 4:25:54
Leah Larocque TCS New York City Marathon 3:50:12
Jono Laurie TCS New York City Marathon 2:42:34
Pam Campbell TCS New York City Marathon 3:35:26
Alex Denysiuk TCS New York City Marathon 3:13:35 PB
Jeff Taylor TCS New York City Marathon 2:56:12
Shirley Wood TCS New York City Marathon 3:40:24
Erin Mayo TCS New York City Marathon 3:55:16
Dom Reilly TCS New York City Marathon 4:04:54
Lisa Stanley TCS New York City Marathon 3:54:25
Sydney G-O TCS New York City Marathon 3:10:10 PB
Dana Henson TCS New York City Marathon 3:22:18
Shira Daltrop TCS New York City Marathon 3:32:49
Chris Pearce Hamilton Half 1:33:22 PB
Esther Lee Hamilton Half 1:27:20 PB
Garrett De Jong Hamilton Marathon 2:39:13
Kerri Andreas Hamilton Marathon 3:08.26 BQ
Gary Cheung Angus Glen 10miler 0:57:09 1st place overall!
Annie Riel KRRA Anniversary Run 0:46:10
Neil McCallum Cookie Run 5k 17:55 PB
Stephen Andersen Cookie Run 5k 18:15:00 PB
Warren Isfan Cookie Run 5k 18:16:00
Dan Steeves Cookie Run 5k 18:48:00
Adam Adriaanse Cookie Run 5k 18:51:00

August 31-September 1

Simon Poulin 30km in QC 1:42:14
Kim Lanki Williams Lake 27.5k 2:47:08

 

September 7-8

Tyler Ashurst Rimouski Marathon 2:58:57
Esther Lee Erie Marathon 3:15:18
Kendal Paul Skagit Flats Half Marathon 1:23:33
Lissa Zimmer Skagit Flats Half Marathon 1:23:47
Kerri Andreas Longboat Toronto Island 10k 0:40:26
Sean Patterson Longboat Toronto Island 10k 0:36:03
Tammy Pigion Brockville Half Marathon 1:49:10
Quinn Spicker Holland Haven Marathon 3:36:19
Hollie Holden Cascade Marathon 3:25:26
Ian Kerr Queen City Marathon 1/2 1:23:07
Mark Dawson Coho 14k 0:55:10
Angela Law Whistler Gran Fondo 4:05:15

September 14-15

Linda Wong Tunnel Light Marathon 3:35:25
Louise Cameron Tunnel Light Marathon 4:01:01
Geoff Lyster Tunnel Light Marathon 3:15
Jaime Seeley Chicagoland Last Chance BQ 3:02:23
Caitlin Wood Wilmington Women’s 1/2 1:39
Kate Gustafson Philly Half 1:18:06
Marta Fenollosa Philly Half 1:26:47
Caitlin Wood Philly Half 2:22:58
Lee Kennett Eastside 10km 0:36:13
Andrea Wilk Eastside 10km 0:46:16
Josh Potvin Eastside 10km 0:32:00
Tadashi Yamuara Eastside 10km 0:38:46
Lissa Zimmer Eastside 10km 0:37:23
Kim Doerksen Eastside 10km 0:37:59
Andrea Chambers Eastside 10km 0:44:52
Jess Lam Eastside 10km 0:47:39
Max Faille Eastside 10km 0:47:40
Jill Emery Eastside 10km 0:44:10
Kendal Paul Eastside 10km 0:40:53
Kim Bennett Eastside 10km 0:40:51
Melissa Raven Eastside 10km 0:54:58
Felix Yu Eastside 10km 0:40:36
Sarah Whyte Eastside 10km 0:59:27
Jaime Stein Eastside 10km 1:09:25
Ali Gill Eastside 10km 0:39:17
Emelyn Ticong Eastside 10km 52:18:00
Natalie Ivanova Eastside 10km 50:25:00
Kyli Shorter Eastside 10km 47:29:00
Kim Nguyen Eastside 10km 0:54:32
Carlos Lesser Eastside 10km 0:33:56
Julie Pelly Eastside 10km Pacer
Mark Nelson Eastside 10km 0:41:49
Fainne Martin Eastside 10km 0:45:57
Anice Wong Eastside 10km 0:46:40
Sara Russell Eastside 10km 0:52:48
Fainne Martin Eastside 10km 0:42:34
Fiona Jackson Eastside 10km 0:44:27
Kashtin Bogart Eastside 10km 0:41:04
Cody Green Eastside 10km 0:42:08
Thom Green Eastside 10km 0:43:50
Tommy Cheng Eastside 10km paced
Gary Franco Eastside 10km paced
Alex Denysiuk Eastside 10km 39:35:00
Aaron Carveth Eastside 10km 39:47:00
Kathryn Williamson Eastside 10km 41:45:00
Laurie Assaly Eastside 10km 51:01:00
Ellis Gray Eastside 10km 39:08:00
Matt Diederich Eastside 10km 40:57:00
Harrison Glotman Eastside 10km 36:11:00
Nikki Layson Eastside 10km 57:47!!
Nadine Robinson Eastside 10km 39:47:00
Pam Campbell Eastside 10km 43:54:00
Taylor Maxwell Eastside 10km 41:41:00
Mel Webb Eastside 10km 55:35:00
Matt Zielinski Eastside 10km 43:33:00
Shirley Wood Eastside 10km 46:06!
Bri Hungerford Eastside 10km 36:13:00
John Hamilton Eastside 10km 40:57:00
Todd Nickel Eastside 10km 40:19:00
Chen Li Eastside 10km 43:24:00
Adam Buzinsky Eastside 10km 33:25:00
Richard Brittin Eastside 10km 0:39:56
Raymond Chhun Eastside 10km 0:43:39
David Gvozdanovich Eastside 10km 0:40:02
Atenas (Sofia) Romero Eastside 10km 0:43:25
Farid Muttalib Eastside 10km 0:37:05
Andrew Slack Eastside 10km 0:40:16
Mark Dawson Eastside 10km 0:38:45
Kara Naish Eastside 10km 0:51:40
Shelby Turner Eastside 10km 0:51:46

September 21-22

Victoria Asikis Montreal Half Marathon 1:51:14
Warren Isfan Montreal Marathon 2:58:53
Kelsey Hunter Army Run Ottawa Half 1:36:30
Ian Joiner Army Run Ottawa Half 1:38:21
Michelle Carlesimo Army Run Ottawa Half 2:00:17
Rachel Burdick Army Run Ottawa Half 1:45:43
Christopher Wereley Army Run Ottawa Half 1:32:07
Jacob Sears Army Run Ottawa Half 1:18:12
Jason Lloyd Army Run Ottawa Half 1:22:38
Billy Kearns Army Run Ottawa Half 2:05:41
Paul Steeves Army Run Ottawa Half 1:37:46
Ainsley Heyes Army Run Ottawa Half 1:38:55
Mike Milne Army Run Ottawa Half 1:24:14
Leah Larocque Army Run Ottawa Half 1:42:14
Simon Warren Army Run Ottawa Half 1:36:30
Mike Todd Army Run Ottawa Half 1:43:06
Dan Steeves Army Run Ottawa Half 1:37:52
Colin McLeod Army Run Ottawa 10k 0:38:27
Jim Fullarton Army Run Ottawa 10k 0:38:46
Nathalie Gauthier Army Run Ottawa 10k 0:49:44
Leah West Army Run Ottawa 10k 0:42:52
Sandra Sukstorf Army Run Ottawa Half 1:59:30
Sandra Sukstorf Army Run Ottawa 5 km 26:40.0
Adam Adriaanse Army Run Ottawa 5 km 0:19:28
Erin Mayo Army Run Ottawa 5 km 0:19:50
Shelby Turner WAM – 55 km 8:57:21
Craig Fowler WAM – 55 km 5:23:52
Rhys HIll WAM – 55 km 7:13:50
Claire Villet WAM – 55 km 9:25:23
Lawrence Buchan WAM – Accent Race 1:08:12
Neil McCallum WAM – Ascent + 25k + 55km 1:03:39
Jan Duzinkiewicz WAM 110 21:08:45
Dante Luciani Zoo Run 10km 28:11
Julie MacDonald Zoo Run 5k 0:21:04
Kerri Andreas Divas Half Marathon 1:41:10
Justin Yan Golden Ultra full pint Finished!

 

September 28-29

Jen Elliott Berlin Marathon 3:03:11
Kyla Wilkinson Berlin Marathon 3:30:40
Syd G-O Berlin Marathon 3:14:16
Ali Crandall Berlin Marathon 3:55:16
Ben Gustafson Berlin Marathon 2:28:28
Lauren Kratzer Berlin Marathon 3:44:00
Doug Philips Berlin Marathon 2:58:00
Heidi Coughlin Berlin Marathon 3:31:08
Julie Pelly North Van Run 10km 42:20.0
Jaime Stein North Van Run 5km 28:52.0
Andrew Geiger North Van 5km 16:03.0
Annie Reil Fort Henry 5k XC 22:40
Emelyn Ticong Bellingham Half 1:56:08
Kate Gustafson NYRR Bronx 10miler 58:14
Gary Cheung MamaYu’s 5k, Newmarket 16:25
Grace Sullivan MEC Road Race Five (10k) 56:04
Pat Swadden Sick Kid 5km 18:43
Tara Lohmann 4km Relay Leg 17:21

“What’s the most difficult part of coaching?” 


This question from my massage therapist (that interrupted my daydreaming) is still lingering as I stare at the shifty ceiling fan above me. Ceiling fans never quit. They will go on and on and on until someone makes them stop. Or they break on their own. They have different speeds of intensity, and if left stagnant, they collect dust. The answer to his question is so clear to me — it’s holding people back from this same relentless spinning around and around and around. Yep, this is an oversimplified analogous take on running but I do believe there’s so much we can learn from the world around us if we pay attention.

There are many overworked concepts tossed around in running circles. “Recovery” is high on this list. By definition, recovery is the process of regaining health. Intellectually we understand its importance and why it exists, and yet, athletes can take this simple principle for granted.

Culturally, we see social media or watercooler conversations celebrate suffering and long hard efforts. This happens in both the workplace and in training. Sure, we should all want to work hard to get where we’re going, but heck, we can’t do much when we’re going full tilt exhausted, under fuelled, sleep-deprived, and crossing that blurry line into burnout. Muhammad Ali is a great teacher in this regard: “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

Like Ali, there are far too many great thinkers out there to write another list of the strategies to recover well. The experts can do that. If you want to start somewhere in understanding what we need as humans when it comes to slowing down or dialing it up, go read Brad Stulberg’s Twitter feed (he says it like it is).

What I can add to this discussion is my own personal experience. Amusingly, as I looked at when to carve away time to write my thoughts for this post, I was up against recovering from a long solo 38k run around Manhattan. Nothing like being in the work to empathize with those you’re writing for. Recovery for me looks like getting high-calorie food and fluids in my body immediately after this type of effort. Sometimes I’ll use a foam roller, sometimes I won’t. Sometimes I’ll plug in the heating pad for my legs, sometimes I won’t. I try to spend as much time as possible off my feet and do something that’s unrelated to running. Lastly, and most importantly, recovery is sleep. I don’t bargain with sleep and I don’t stress about it. (I know there are parents reading this and your sleep patterns will surely look different). With the influx of apps and companies out there selling sleep these days, this essential human behaviour can become overwhelming and stressful. That is counterproductive. For a solid take on sleep, listen to Matthew Walker, a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science.

To add a few other practical ideas, when I started working with Dylan he was the first recognize that I couldn’t turn around from a hard Sunday long run and do a workout on a Tuesday. That’s not the athlete I am (I need more time) and through some trial and error, my hard efforts are very rarely stacked closely together. This is a solid reminder to keep communication open with your coach around how you’re feeling and to note when workouts just don’t seem to feel right. The seven-day training cycle is arbitrary and definitely not a one size fits all strategy.

As a lifelong dabbler in a broad range of sports, my athletic experience is deep enough to know that everything worth doing takes time. And in some cases, this has meant taking months away from running after a big marathon to fully recharge (physically and mentally) and focus on other things. All of my athletes take time off formal training after their marathons to prolong their passion and development in the sport.

So, back to that looming question from the RMT, yes, one of my greatest challenges as a coach continues to be helping athletes recognize when to turn off or ramp up. Just like that darn ceiling fan, every speed serves a purpose. On the flip side of this, some of the most meaningful moments as a coach have come when an athlete displayed the self-awareness to take a step back to recharge so they could show up for their family, work and future training in all of the right ways. Those are the big wins.

Recovery isn’t just about running, life is busy and full, having the ability to share what’s going on in your life with your coach is essential to creating an effective individualized training plan. The same goes for sharing your running goals with your colleagues so that they can understand you a bit more. Empathy, perspective, and communication are everything here.

Let’s keep pushing the dialogue that rest is not counter to work, it’s part of it.

Yours in running,

Coach Kate

Seawheeze Half Marathon, Vancouver

Rob Watson   1:09:47 1st place!
Chany Groenewoud   1:23:41  
Alanna Goobie   1:47:47  
Fergus Kung   1:23:41  
Linda Wong   1:43:00  
Melissa Raven   1:35:54  
Sarah Morris   1:59:52  
Jess Lam   1:41:37  
Kailey Buchanan   1:49:23  
Dayna Gerson   2:15:26  
Shae-lynn Pearson   2:00:12  
Natalie Ivanova   1:52;32 PB as first half marathon
David Lau   1:33:25  
Conner Galaway   1:44:15 PB!
Taylor Maxwell   1:32:20  
Nadine Robinson   1:30:05  
Alex Denysiuk   1:44:58  
Gary Franco   1:46:41  
Pam Campbell   1:36:39  
Tommy Cheng   1:55:46  
       
Brendon Lp   1:38:55 PB
Todd Nickel   1:31:43 PB
Anne Desplanches   1:48:53 PB!
Mark Dawson   1:26:02  
Kara Naish   2:00:07  

Edmonton Half Marathon

Lissa Zimmer   1:23:32  
Carla Kramer   1:33:13 PB
Raymond Chhun   1:36:22 PB
Jen Elliot   1:25:57 PB
Jody Bailey   1:27:27 PB
Dania Spillet   1:29:55 PB

Edmonton 10k

Allie Peterson   41:20:00 PB
Marc Dowdell   51:02:00  
Lindsey Graham   0:49:18 PB

 

M2M Elite – August Results

Pan-Am Games, Lima Peru

Rachel Clif – 10,000m – 32:12, Bronze Medal!

Justin Kent Classique de Quebec 1500m 3:45.36 Season Best
Luc Bruchet Classique de Quebec 1500m 3:45.00 Season Best
Kirsten Lee Classique de Quebec 1500m 4:26.61 No
Luc Bruchet Cork City Sports 3000m 7:49.84 SB!
         
Evan Esselink Edmonton Half   1:05:07 1st OA
Kevin Coffey Edmonton Half   1:05:56 PB!
         
Luc Bruchet Morton Games 5000m 13:30.36 SB
Justin Kent Morton Games 5000m 14:18.31  
         
Luc Bruchet Palio della Quercia 5000m 13:33.21  
         
Luc Bruchet VFAC Series Mile    

 

August 3-4 Results

Isaac Murchie NYRR 7 Miler 1:04:36  
       
Lisa Hoffart Gimli 10 Miler 1:10:00 3rd Female!
       
Nathalie Gauthier Farm 5k, Ottawa 24:33  

 

August 10-11 Results

Emelyn Ticong Lake Union 10k Aug 11th 53:29:00 PB!

 

Other August 17-18 Results

Syd Guloien-Olmsted Shakespeare Runs the Night 30k 2:16:01  
Esther Lee Shakespeare Runs the Night 30k    
Jon Minkarious Shakespeare Runs the Night 30k 1:54:45 1st OA
Kyla Wilkinson Shakespeare Runs the Night 30k 2:39:54  
Ben Gustafson Shakespeare Runs the Night 15k 0:50:56 1st OA! WOOHOO!

Jan Duzinkiewicz Squamish 50 11:05:37  
Richard Allen Squamish 50 7:02:25 28th, 9th ag
Jusin Yan Squamish 50 8:25:27  
Aaron Carveth Squamish 50 2:32:35  

Jill Emery Revel Chilliwack Half Marathon 1:37:40 9th Female!
Russ Esau Revel Chilliwack Half Marathon 1:16:06 1st OA!!
Tod Pelly Revel Chilliwack Marathon 3:16:08  
Jim Novotny Revel Chilliwack Marathon 3:34:55  
       
Mark Kerr Wooly Bully 10k 0:44:23  

 

August 24-25 Results

Ali Crandall Toronto Women’s 10km 0:47:14 PB! 14th! Wahoo!
Kerri Andreas Toronto Women’s 5km 0:20:43  
       
Joel Clarke-Ames CRIM 10miler 1:03:55  
       
Kat Cochrane Cornwall Sprint Tri 1:09:00 3rd Female/6th OA
Nat Vice Cornwall Olympic Tri 2:10:00 6th OA
Emily Alexander Ironman 70.3 Maine 4:56:00 PB, 3rd AG, 12th OA

 

Garret de Jong Glen Tay Block Race 0:51:59 3rd OA!

There are hundreds of resources with advice on pregnancy, exercising while pregnant, postpartum comebacks. It’s a lot. As a team committed to coaching many women who are also parents with full lives outside fo their running shoes, we set out a couple of months ago to hear from our own community.

Vancouver athlete and physiotherapist, Steph, was kind enough to share her story of running through pregnancy. More than 30 weeks in, she reflects on what she believes has allowed her to continue to run, feel good, and what she’ll consider when thinking about her postpartum comeback.

It’s been over 30 weeks running while pregnant and I have to say so far so good! I may have slowed down, dropped my miles and the faces in my pace group have changed, but I’m still out here, and couldn’t be happier. Since the day I found out I was pregnant I’ve treated every day I get to run as a gift, not a given (which is a really good lesson, pregnant or not) and my M.O has been to listen to my body.

At first, running really helped with my nausea, and since I’ve run almost my entire life, the guidance from my healthcare providers I could continue as I had been as long as I could still talk during my runs and that I didn’t feel dizzy. I’ve gradually slowed down, taken out a lot of my speed workouts, dropped my weekly mileage from 50-60km to now 30-35, in addition to dropping my paces 1min/km. Every week and every day is different in this whole human growing journey, and it’s been really important to let go of training plans, pace goals, and expectations and to listen to what my body needs.

Early on I added in an extra day of cross-training in the form of weights, pilates or boxing. I’ve always strength and cross-trained at least 1-2 days per week, which I believe is SO important to running strong and staying injury-free… sorry runners, but you can’t just run. I definitely think it’s a huge part of why I’ve avoided some of the common back, hip and joint pain of pregnancy.

Now that I’m into the third trimester and the finish line is in sight (obviously that’s what I’m visualizing), I’ve started to think of what my postpartum journey will look like and plotting my comeback. As much as I’m looking forward to setting some running goals again, my number one goal is to do it safely! I’m not in a hurry. My goal is to run forever and to enjoy it forever which means taking it slow and listening to my body and the experts.

I believe a huge misconception out there is that you can return to running after 6 weeks when your doctor or midwife clears you. However, most OB’s and midwives are looking at the healing of your pelvic floor or cesarean surgery not function which in my opinion, is WAY more important! It’s why I’ve been seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist and why they will be the opinion I’ll follow when it comes to returning to exercise and running.

Recently return to running guidelines have been released (a 40 page doc from PT’s in the UK, US and AUS), and the recommendations from this study, looking at LOTS of expert studies, state that “running is not advised prior to 3 months postnatal or beyond this if any symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction are identified.” Having this information has helped me set expectations on my own return.

As for the rest of my journey, I’m hoping to continue running for as long as possible, but I’m trusting my body (and my physio) to tell me if and when I need to stop. I know running will always be there for me, it’s not going anywhere and neither am I! It may be tedious and involve a lot of patience when it comes to my comeback, but I’ll get there and I know I’ll be back chasing my M2M teammates around the track when my body says it’s ready to go!

Spoiler alert: this is for runners with a marathon goal race.

So you’ve registered for a marathon or your reluctant lottery entry got you into the Berlin, Chicago or New York City Marathon? Good for you! Hopefully, you also have one or two shorter races lined up before you pack your bags. That’s right, we’re talking about tune-up races, people! The purpose, timing and even the distance of tune-up races can vary quite a bit depending on the distance of your goal race. In this case, we’re talking about those 42.2 kilometers of pure exhilaration we call the marathon.

 

Why should I race before my race?

One: It’s fun to know where you’re at. Typically you can figure this out with your coach from your workouts. But a race can be a great (and also fun) indicator, especially if you’re training for the marathon for the first time or you feel like your workouts are at a new level.

Two: It’s the perfect practice environment. It’s so valuable to simulate your marathon pace and you’ll get the chance to practice everything you’ll do race weekend. It’s like a dress rehearsal before the big show. You can wear what you’ll wear in Chicago, eat what you’ll eat in Berlin, fuel like you’ll fuel in Sacramento, and drink water like you’ll drink water in New York freakin’ City. Dialing in on what works and what doesn’t at a tune-up race is not only smart, it is essential.

 

Three: Nothing beats the thrill of racing. We often see athletes so focused on an uninterrupted block of training that they’ll go months without racing and forget what it’s like to race. Hello, logistics and porta-potties! This can create a big mental barrier for athletes come marathon morning. Simply going through the process of pinning on a race bib, getting to the start line, and running in the company of others can be valuable.

When should I race?

Couple things you’ll want to think about and talk through with your coach:

  • How much time you’ll need to recover after the tune-up race?
  • When will the marathon taper begin?
  • How will the race impact your weekly training?

Runners often tackle a half marathon as a tune-up race before a marathon, and typically this is the race distance we will recommend for our athletes. Whether your goal is to run the half marathon all out or as a workout at marathon pace, this distance is most beneficial before your marathon. This will allow you to simulate your plan for the 24 to 48hrs prior to the marathon, with considerations around nutrition (carbo-loading and hydration), racing shoes, racing gear, on-course fuelling, and more.

Common running knowledge says that you shouldn’t race a half within four weeks of a goal marathon. In our experience, however, the best bet is actually five or six weeks out, to prevent any staleness through the final segment of training. But, roll with us here, we would argue that if you’re using a half marathon to practice marathon pace, it can be run within two weeks of a goal marathon. You’ll likely have already started a bit of a taper and 21.1km at your goal marathon race pace is a solid indicator that you’re on track. The danger here is that you will not be disciplined enough to stick to goal marathon pace and run too hard and then fail to recover for the marathon. For this reason, this tactic isn’t our first choice. 

Yo, what about the 5k and 10k?

Talk to your coach. Often these races can replace a weekly workout! We’re 100% on board with shorter tune-up races to simulate a race environment, practice competing, and work on developing a positive mental mindset around race day.

What does my tune-up performance actually mean?

If you’re looking for an indicator of marathon specific fitness, it’s hard to find that perfect race or race distance that does the trick. If you’re in the thick of marathon specific training and knock out a personal best time in a half marathon tune-up that’s likely a good sign that you’re on the right track for marathon race day. The strength and endurance needed for both of these distances are similar. On the flip side, a half marathon is only half the distance of your goal race (that’s high math!). If you haven’t put in the specific training for the marathon, your half marathon tune-up race isn’t likely to indicate a whole lot.

Not all tune-up races will go well. Because sometimes they don’t. This does not mean that your marathon won’t go well. While in the midst of training for a marathon you may be more tired than after the marathon taper, so your legs just might not have that extra pep in their step that you were expecting even though your fitness is high.

Lastly, it’s all about the process when it comes to tune-up races. Make a point to connect with your coach on what makes sense to add or remove from your schedule so that you’re excited about the upcoming season of running. See you on race day!

During a marathon build, we can get so focused on hitting the miles, nailing the workouts and perfecting our recovery routines, that we forget the crucial piece of nailing down our marathon fuelling plan. 

Science tells us that no one can get through 2hrs+ of running without their muscles becoming depleted, and for them to continue to work, we need some kind of fuel. Nike’s famous Breaking2 project put the spotlight on the importance of fuelling, with scientists and athletes heavily invested in finding the perfect fuel and strategies to break the 2-hour barrier. 

Building a fuelling plan

The early weeks of your marathon build provide the perfect opportunity to build a fuelling plan. This means considering what you’re going to use for fuel, how much of it you’re going to take and when you’re going to take it. 

Start with research

Find out what products will be available at your goal race and decide if you want to use that fuel, carry your own, or some combination of the two.

How to pick the right fuel for your marathon training and racing? 

The most common forms of fuel are gels and sports drinks. At the end of the day, all these products are just different combinations of sugars that convert to carbohydrate (CHO). CHO is what your muscles crave and need to keep you going on race day.

Picking your fuel is an extremely individual choice. What works for your training partner might not work for you, so try out a bunch of different products during training to find what you like the taste of and what agrees most with your stomach. Practice taking fuel on your long runs or long tempos, since these best simulate the blood flow through your gut will experience on race day.

We suggest trying the fuelling products (gels and sports drinks) that are available on your race course first, and going from there. If the fuel available at the race doesn’t work for you, try something else that you will carry in the form of gels or blocks and gummies. Though sports drinks can be a great option, they are harder to carry than gels, so unless you’re getting bottles handed to you every 5km, stick to your own fuel or the aid stations.

How much should you be taking in? 

We cannot stress enough how important it is to practice the amount you need to take in. 

We suggest some minimums that you should aim for, based on the grams of carbohydrate in your fuel. This information can be found on the packaging for most products. Focus on consuming at least 30grams of CHO per hour. Most gels have between 20-25 grams of CHO in them, but you’re unlikely to suck out every gram of gel as you frantically stuff it in your face mid-race. 

Rule of thumb: subtract 5grams the number of carbs in your gel and you have what you’re actually getting in. To hit 30grams, you need to be taking down, at minimum, roughly 1 and 1/3rd gel per hour, or 1 gel every 40minutes.

If you’re using a sports drink instead, you can change up the concentration of the drink to get in more CHO. Instead of adding the standard 1 scoop of powdered drink, add 1.5 scoops. See where that lands you.

What’s the maximum? It’s when your GI system shuts down, which you’ll only find out by practicing fuelling. Be sensible here – you don’t want to completely ruin a training run by trying to take down 200grams of CHO per hour. Most athletes can handle between 60-80 grams of carbs per hour. 

When to take in that fuel?

Early and often.

Start by taking fuel 5-10minutes before the race, and then take on fuel at consistent intervals throughout. We suggest every 20-30minutes of running, taking roughly the same amount of fuel each time. 

A common mistake in fuelling is that people often wait to start sucking back gels until they feel like they need it. If you wait, it’s going to be too late, as all of these forms of fuel are going to take a while to kick in and deliver the energy you need. 

Gels are usually taken with water, something that you should also be practicing on your long and tempo runs whenever possible. Unlike fuel, hydration is much more dependent on race day conditions. Hydrating properly is a strategy in itself, so we’ll save this topic for another time. For now, make sure you’re washing down those yummy gels with some water.