Give 2015 A Running Start

I originally shared this post January 1st, 2015 on the Toronto Waterfront Marathon Blog. View the original version here!stwmlogo_printWith a new year comes opportunity for a fresh start and new fitness goals. For you that might mean finally lacing up those sneakers and experiencing for yourself what all this run buzz is about. To help you kick off 2015 on the right foot, here are my five tips every new runner should consider.

  1. Get Proper Shoes.

Wearing the correct running shoes for your feet is key for both comfort and injury prevention. Visit a running specialty store and chat with a professional about your foot type, gait, and style of running. Running in old or worn out shoes will only lead to pain and injury. With a variety of price points, consider this expense an investment in your health!

  1. Don’t Worry About Your Pace.

As a beginning runner consider your pace goal to maintain an easy or “conversational” pace for the duration of your run. You should be able to breathe easily and carry on a conversation with those you are running with. As a new runner you might also consider starting with a run/walk program, where you run for a certain amount of time, followed by a brief period of walking. This is a great way to get active while building your fitness level and endurance.

  1. Learn Proper Form.

While I often encourage new runners to move in a way that feels most natural to them, consider these points for a pain free upper body.

  • As your elbows pull back, keep your arms bent at 90 degrees with your hands at waist height, where they might brush your hips.
  • Keep your spine tall with your head up, your back straight, and shoulders away from your ears and level.
  1. Sign up for a Race.

One of the easiest ways for me to get motivated (besides tip #5) is to spend money and commit to a race. As a new runner, be sure to set a realistic length goal and give yourself enough time for proper and safe training. Once your race is on your calendar or in your phone, you’ll have something to motivate you on a daily basis. Wondering where to start? I suggest Harry’s Spring Run Off.

  1. Join a Tribe.

Company. Accountability. Speed. Fun. Toronto has an amazing number of run crews each adding something unique to our growing and evolving run scene. Check out the crew’s online presence – can you see yourself with them?, shop around giving each one a test run, and find a crew that works for you, where the runners have similar goals and the workouts fit into your busy schedule. Looking for a place to start? #JoinTheTribe


Setting a Running Goal

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure is only three weeks away which means it’s the perfect time to check in or set some goals.

Training Goals:
How has your training been going? Do you need to set some goals to get out and train more? How about some goals to stretch after every walk/run?
Tune in to what you can do to make each training session easier and more effective and to what you can do now to prepare yourself for the ultimate event day experience. Sure, you can push yourself to finish – but wouldn’t it be great to finish feeling great!

Event Day Goals:
For me, when it comes to Run day goals I always like to set three.
1. That is my ultimate race experience goal. If everything goes off without a hitch what would be my ultimate finish time.
2. What’s a finish time that I would be happy with? Sure it’s not your ultimate goal, but it’s something that is still challenging, but doable.
3. The third goal never has anything to do with my Run day performance. It’s often a goal about having fun, taking a really great finish line photo. Thanking 10 volunteers on course. Giving 5 kids cheering high-fives. Something that is total doable, and will leave you and in some cases others feeling great.

Fundraising Goals:
What is your personal or team fundraising goal and how will you accomplish it? My goal is $300. Help me make it by donating here.
What are some creative and fun ways you can achieve them? How about:
• Hosting a BBQ in your neighborhood and charging $3 a hotdog or hamburger,
• Have your kids set up a lemonade stand,
• Take some of your old clothes to a local consignment shop and put your profits towards the CIBC Run for the Cure, etc.

Or maybe your goal is to get involved: Register to walk or run, Donate or give your time and Volunteer.
Whatever your goals are, the best way to make them happen is to share them! Join the conversation on Twitter or Facebook and share your goals with others.

Race Report: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon:

On Sunday October 20th I ran my fourth Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. Because of where it occurs in my training schedule it is a race that I have always used for pacing and this year was no different – sort of.

What was different is that since May I have been training with a new team, the RUNWAY,  and so my race strategy was a little more specific then it has been in previous years. With the goal of a personal best at this weekends Road to Hope Marathon, I was under specific directions to run my full marathonrace pace during this half marathon – no faster, no slower – and this was hard – not physically hard, mentally hard.

My plan was simple, stick to a 5:30 pace and keep my walk breaks (which were every 20min -ish) to 30 seconds and come in at 2 hours – no faster, no slower. I came in at 2:00:59.

What was hard about this race was the mental game. I knew I could run faster – but the goal of this B race was to set myself up for success this weekend, for my A race.


The Tribe

So with this Mental Challenge in mind, here are 3 tips for overcoming the mental game while pacing at a race.

1. Have a Solid Understanding of Your Goal aka Run Your Own Race. I was mentally challenged for almost the entire race knowing I could run faster but shouldn’t. But because I knew the importance of keeping this pace I didn’t and no matter how frustrating it was – especially when all, yes all, of my friends ran personal bests, I held back and focused on my goal – slow and steady. So the lesson, don’t be worried if you see a lot of people passing you, run your own race!

2. Start Slow. My previous plan was to just go! I would get caught up in the energy and excitement and even after 6 years of racing and 4 marathons, I would always burst out to fast. But not this time! I used my Nike + SportWatch and kept pulling back and slowing down to 5:30, because that was the plan. So the lesson, listen to your body but take it slow. Remember the goal is to race the entire run, not just the first 2km. So take it slow, and know your body with thank you during the last few kms.

Now I ended up running this race with my friend Jenna, it wasn’t the plan but my pace worked for her race speed (gave her a PB) and the company was nice. So pretty much I broke this last rule, but will definitely be sticking with it this weekend.


Jenna and I, the Faster Dynamic Duo

3. Don’t Get Caught in the Hype. I like to chat, love saying thanks, and enjoy jumping and dancing around on course celebrating my run. When your race is for fun it’s great to get into the groove of the event, when you have a specific goal in mind, that’s where your energy needs to go. So the lesson, stay as calm as possible, resist the urge to high five spectators, bottom line is conserve your energy for the race. My exception – always find time to give thanks.


The Finish Line