A High Five? A Kick in the Ass? #WWMD?

Recently I made a funny little hashtag on Twitter – #WWMD – in reference to one of my running besties, Michelle. Michelle is a amazing person who has put me up not once, but twice on my running trips to Toronto. She also happens to be a kick ass runner who most recently set a national age group track record for the 5000m indoors.

Several of us joked about making “What Would Michelle Do” a thing because Michelle often offers advice to many runners on dealing with training – getting faster, getting stronger and especially recovering from injuries. She has many years of high level competition as an athlete and also coaches many athletes herself. However, as someone who still competes at a high level, Michelle is also under the watchful eye of a coach herself and is constantly looking for new ideas.

Thinking about the #WWMD tag got me thinking about what a difference having a person or persons to guide you through the ups and downs of training can mean for you. Most runners get to a point where they start getting injures not because of what they don’t know but because of ignoring what they DO know.

Obviously, asking more experienced runners and coaches makes sense. What also makes sense is that for whatever reason many of us are wired to listen to someone else moreso than we listen to ourselves – especially when it comes to disapproval. I can criticize myself all day long – and believe me, I’m my own harshest critic – but the idea of disappointing someone else affects me more. The more I respect that person, the more likely I am to at least try what they suggest.

Learning from the wisdom of others is one of the best ways to improve your running. It can help you avoid certain issues, heal from other issues more quickly and benefit from their experience. While there are a lot of people whose wisdom I appreciate and listen to – Michelle is definitely one of the more significant and influential runners (and people) in my life.

Whether it’s to offer you advice, celebrate your successes with you or to give you the kick in the ass that you need to stay focused and motivated sometimes you just need to ask yourself your own version of #WWMD.

Flip, Flop and Flebruary

“Oh month of my birth! Oh start of my forties! Why oh why must you be so cruel to me!”  – Me.


“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley” – Also me. Or possibly Robert Burns. I forget.

I was excited to turn 40. I was super stoked about 2016. I had dreams of it being even better than my fantastic 2015. Hell, even after the past two absolutely BRUTAL winters, the weather gods were smiling upon us. Shorts on Christmas Day? Mild weather all over the place? Barely any accumulation of snow??? Had the world gone MAD??? Were the fates going to align for an even more EPIC 2016????

Not so much. Or at least – not so fast there, mister.

As I wrote here earlier in the month – way back in my foolish and carefree 30s – I had some pretty big running plans for the middle of this month. In the span of nine days, I was going to do two races (a half and a 10k) and on the 16th I was going to run 40km to celebrate my 40th birthday.

I also wrote about how during the half marathon my hamstring cramped early in the race and slowed me down considerably. Six days later, it really went off the rails during the 10k which meant my birthday run was not going to happen. Since then I have alternated between bitterness and acceptance – almost moment to moment.

In the big picture it took an epiphany of sorts to help me accept what I’m currently going through. I’m still pissed to be injured again and it’s irritating to no end to have no concrete time frame for this injury – but I do know that with 99.999999% certainty that at some point I will return to training and eventually get back to – and even beyond – what I’ve already accomplished. Ideally, I would like that to happen in 2016 but if it doesn’t, so what?

Ultimately, my plan is to be a LIFELONG runner. If running is something I hope to be doing for the next 30 years or more, then I have to accept days, weeks or sometimes even more when I take a break to allow myself to heal. Keeping focused on the long game is important and something to remember. It never hurts to make the best of a situation, no matter how it seems.


Ending My Thirties With a Whimper


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I hate being injured. Really, really hate it.

After having my hamstring cramp quite badly during the Hypo Half and again during my only run during the week I somehow thought that still doing the Valentine’s Day run in Amherst was a good idea. Turns out it was not. Less than halfway through the race, I felt a pop in my left leg which resulted in me walking far more than I would have liked.

I had a pretty good idea with the cramping and residual tenderness that running 40km on my birthday (tomorrow – the 16th) was not going to happen. Even if I somehow managed to do it, the strain and wear on my legs at this point in the year AND the wonky hamstring would likely have resulted in having my season compromised even more so than it is at this current time.

I really had been looking forward to entering my forties in style – I was going to break the 40km into a couple of different runs. Part of the total was going to be with friends who have helped me with my training and life in general over the past little while and part was going to be solo – a time to reflect, be grateful for what running has added to my life and to just be at peace.

Overall, even with this hiccup I really do feel that this year will be just as fun as last year and that, more likely than not, I will see more improvements in my running. There is a lot of time left 2016, and my forties haven’t even started – a new decade to tackle!

I received a perfectly timed kick in the ass from Michelle yesterday who reminded me that there is a) plenty of time to recover from this injury b) lots I can do to prevent a relapse once I am healed but most important of all that there is a lot of strength and cross training that I can be doing (and should have been doing all along, admittedly) so that I won’t lose any fitness and may actually come back stronger than before.

So instead of celebrating by running 40km, I’m going to start my forties by planning my recovery, scheduling my cross training workouts and reaffirming my dedication to my spring goals. Tomorrow is just the start of another chapter and one I am excited to write.

Days Like This – Part 2

With a couple of days more to reflect upon last Sunday’s event (and even with an unsuccessful attempt at running last night) I feel like I’m in a better place today to look at all of the positives from the Hypo Half. Here are the things I really enjoyed about the day – which far outweigh any negatives.

Celebrating the success of others

The biggest positive from the day was seeing some of the people who started out in my learn to run programs last year complete the half marathon. For two of my friends, it was their first ever half marathon and I think it’s fair to say that they both met their goals – time wise and experience wise. Another of my friends completed her second half marathon, saying that she was very happy to have run her own race and even got a shiny new PB of her own at the end of the day. It was really excellent to see all of them at the race and it was also great to sit with two of them at the post-race brunch to chat about their day. I know it’s cheesy – but I am seriously SO proud of them. The running group continues to be such a positive in my life.


Pre-race smiles – so awesome to see Lindsay, Heather and Ally kick ass!!


Seeing Some #RunAtCan Friends


Ever since I’ve been doing the weekly Twitter chat (follow @RunAtCan – you’ll love it!!!) I’ve really loved putting faces to twitter handles when I go to pretty much any event. I was able to see Diane for the first time in person in almost a year and meet Michelle for the first time in person (pictured below). As is also the usual, there was a healthy contingent of Fredericton runners there – some of them just traveling up to cheer on their friends (such as the always amazing Kim).


Michelle, myself and Diane – #RunAtCan Tweeps FTW


Defending my brunch title

Through four years, three different venues and against all odds – I have maintained my streak of being first to the brunch. There are no medals awarded for this feat, but it is one that I oddly enjoy. I actually couldn’t help but giggle when I arrived at the clubhouse and saw the room full of empty tables and chairs. I mightn’t have had the best day on the course, but no one beats me to the meal


And still champeen….

Days Like This – Part 1


“My mama told me there’ll be days like this” – Van Morrison

People my age should get the song reference. I’m sure many of us recall it or think a similar line when we are just having “one of those days”.

The 9 days of running awesomeness are off to an auspicious start. Sunday I raced the Hypothermic Half Marathon in Moncton for the fourth consecutive year. After a terrific 2015 and a fairly strong couple of months of training I thought that , while a PB for the distance wasn’t in the cards (nor a goal), I should be able to run my best time on that particular course. Add in the conditions being the best of the four years I’ve done the race and I was confident. As it turns out, I was overconfident – as I will explain below.

The two weeks leading up to the race, I wasn’t able to run a lot but I felt like this was almost a taper – forced, but same effect. My overall mileage has been good, as mentioned, and my nutrition, hydration and sleep leading up to race day were all pretty typical.

Looking back, I really didn’t do any warm up at all which was likely my biggest error. I did some stretching, bouncing and whatnot, but no warmup run at all. Going from that to an initial race pace of under 5 minutes per kilometer did not end well for me. Only six kilometers into the race my hamstring tightened up like a vice and never loosened up. By the time I crossed the finish line, I had a time of just under 1:53 – my second worst effort on this course. During the run, I alternated between resignation that my course best was not in the cards and despair while worrying about that this result meant for my season. I considered calling it a day at the half way point (the run is two loops of the same course) but ultimately knew I would regret that a lot more.

I suppose that after so many successful races and hitting my goals last year that a result like this will ultimately be beneficial. I certainly can’t rely on improvement without sensible training and pushing myself harder than I have before. It’s also difficult but necessary to remind myself that it is only February. I have a lot of time left before my goal races in May and especially October. I need to be more particular about my training and be patient with runs like Sunday. They are going to happen but can help me reach my goals just as much as the good days.

As for the Van Morrison song I took the title of this post from? It actually refers to the good days, not the bad – it’s all about perspective. Right?

My February Stretch of Fun Running Stuff

While I’ve dealt with some niggling (meaning weird) minor injuries, 2016 has started out pretty well. I was on pace for well over 250 km for January but after a few days off I still managed to crack 200 – a significant improvement over the 125 km I logged in January 2015.

February is going to be an odd month for running, as my motivation has been low getting back from the injuries and fighting off the winter blahs. Over a span of nine days, starting on the 7th I will have two races (a half marathon and a ten) plus run 40km on one of my training days after the races.

On Sunday I will be running in the Hypothermic Half for the fourth year in a row. This was the first half marathon I did when I started running again so it holds a special little place in my heart. Well, the cool medal and awesome post run brunch don’t hurt either, I suppose. Even cooler this year is the fact that quite a few people from my Learn to Run clinics from the past few months will be running this half marathon as well. I am SUPER excited to see them on course and can’t way to cheer them on.

The following Saturday, I will be running a 10k for only the second time since I started running again – the Amherst Valentine’s Day run. Last year I volunteered at this race and nearly froze my bum off, so this year I decided that moving around might keep me warmer.

Finally, in just under 2 weeks I turn 40 (on the 16th – in case you want to send gifts, haha). I’m not going to wax poetic and I’m not planning on a mid-life crisis, but I feel that it’s significant. Over the past couple of years, there have been some pretty dark times for me and I wasn’t always entirely sure that I would see 40. To celebrate my birthday I plan on running 40km – not necessarily all in one stretch, but certainly as a total for the day. If things go according to plan, I will run parts of that distance with some friends who have been a big part of getting my ass out the door at all the past couple of months and parts of it solo just to think about what life and running in my 40s will look like.

I haven’t given much thought to beyond my birthday, but I have to get on a more specific training schedule after my nine days of running fun. I’ll post a recap each of my three “events” – it will be a great few days!!

Pushing, Embracing & Respecting Your Body



Do any of you remember the old CBC show “Yes You Can”? I used to watch it fairly regularly when I was younger and one of my favourite bits was Coach Cuddles Ford (a character name that nowadays would never, EVER pass – for the record). The gist of Coach Cuddles is that he would eat a healthy food and explain how it would give him enough energy to do a certain exercise for X number of minutes. Pretty progressive stuff, looking back at it.

Invariably, Coach Cuddles would suffer some catastrophic injury and then there would be a cartoon about the damaged body part, its treatment and rehab. Again – probably way ahead of its time but it’s always stuck with me and definitely become more relevant as I am now a reborn runner and facing my forties square in the face.

At this point, you are either reminiscing with me or wondering when I am going to get to the point. Well, if you’re in the second category – way to stick with it! What I’m getting at here the importance of listening to your body, respecting it and taking care of it. A lot of runners have the tendency to push themselves very hard – “testing their limits” – and while progress and improvement definitely require hard work, a balance must be struck.

When I was younger, I definitely subscribed to the “no pain, no gain” school of thought. I don’t think that this is the best approach though and I have adapted it now to “be comfortable with being uncomfortable”. What’s the difference? It comes down to realizing that pain is most often your body’s way to tell you to stop doing whatever it is doing – right now. We all have different thresholds, but we all inherently know when we are tired/sore/achy versus when we are in pain.

I honestly feel as though the improvements I’ve made (in the past year in particular) are a result of training smarter and giving my body a break when it’s asked for one. I’m not looking to break any records or land a spot on the Olympic team, so staying healthy and improving incrementally are not just more realistic goals but more sensible given my desire to be a runner for as long as my body allows.

The “never give up” mantra is a tough one to overcome in any athletic arena, but it is one that runners constantly hear. There is a lot of inadvertent pressure and even shaming that occurs and drives many of us to the point of hurting ourselves, setting ourselves back or even ending our ability to run at all. I can stop at any point during a run. I can withdraw from a race if I’m not ready or in the best shape to run the distance. I can even drop out of a race and I should never feel ashamed or embarrassed.

Never giving up can also mean knowing when to call it a day and keeping the bigger picture in mind. Ultimately, what I never want to give up is my ability to lace up, open the door and hit the road for a run.


2016 – A Look Ahead

Still in the first week of the year and I’m already writing a second blog. By my math, that makes this month about 10 000 times more productive than the previous half year at least in terms of writing.

In my last post, I reviewed 2015 so in keeping with that theme I’ve decided to put some thoughts down on what I hope to accomplish in 2016. I am going to attempt to be coherent, but let’s be honest here – it isn’t always my strong point. I’m going to embrace my tendency towards stream of consciousness and distractibility and



Smaller Number of Races, Bigger Goals

 Last year the vast majority of the events I signed up for were done so with the end goal of Toronto in mind and 2016 will be a very similar year. Some races will be testing how the training is going and others will be treated as specific workouts but all in all, there won’t be a large number of bibs and medals come December.

Maybe once my biggest goal of getting to Boston is met, I will start doing more events for the sake of doing them but having a sharper focus has made a significant difference on my results and progress. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

As of now, I am doing the Hypo Half in February (for fun – and by fun, I mean the brunch), strongly considering the Lorneville Loop again in April, Fredericton Half in May, another half in August TBD and then Toronto again in October.


More Miles, Lots at Tempo – and (eek) Speedwork

I haven’t really set a mileage goal with any determination or seriousness prior to this year. I’ve followed a more “isn’t this a nice round number” way of thinking without examining what it really meant in terms of dedication and commitment.

I’ve still set a round number, but I did it more as a result of thinking what I would like to achieve. My goal is to finish the year with at least 3000 km. This is factoring in my main race goals (to be covered shortly), some rest weeks, etc etc.

In 2015, I ran a lot of my mileage at or near my goal marathon pace of 4:59/km. Even runs that were not fully at that pace tended to have sections within at that pace as I really wanted my legs to be familiar with and comfortable at that speed regardless of how tired they were. A similar approach regarding my goal pace this year just seems to make sense to me.

Knowing that I got under 3:30 in Toronto but knowing that each minute faster is going to be tougher and tougher, I know I will have to start implementing more speed workouts into my routine. I have shied away from speedwork in the past – for fear of injury and even just plain old reluctance to do it. I realize that I can’t avoid it any longer if I really am serious about getting to Boston in the next couple of years and I finally feel as though I have a solid enough foundation to work in more speed. Even with no track to speak of in Sackville, I can find places to do the appropriate workouts and there is no avoiding them – they just have to happen.


Time Goals

I have two main time goals this year and they are related in that if I can achieve the first one, the second one seems a lot more possible.

The first goal I’ve set for myself is a 1:35 half marathon. I’m hopeful of achieving this in May in Fredericton. It’s a flat course and one that I’m familiar with – both factors which should help me in chasing down a solid PB.

The second and much scarier goal for me is to shave several more minutes off of my marathon PB and take it down to 3:15 in Toronto in October. Once again, this is a big stretch for me, but I was really motivated by setting the bar high last year, so maybe this is what I need.

3:15 is my BQ time but even if I am able to hit my goal, I don’t expect it to be under enough to actually get me into Boston – and I’m ok with this. I am thinking of the time as just that – a very challenging, but attainable goal and nothing more. 2015 showed me that training for a full doesn’t have to feel as monotonous and mind numbing as I have found it to be in the past. The miles themselves are their own reward and anything else is really just the cherry on top.

2015 – A Look Back


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So here it is. The first Monday of 2016 and I am trying, once more, to be an honest to goodness blogger. I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that writing things out helps me to stay organized, focus better and keep track of goals.

Like pretty much everyone else who has a fitness/running/lifestyle type blog – I’m going to go the easy route and start off the year by looking back at last year. I didn’t really keep the blog up to date on the year as it progressed – instead I stuck mainly to the social media standbys of Facebook and Twitter.

I’m not going to do a month by month account, but rather highlight certain things, lessons I’ve learned and just give myself and hopefully any readers out there an idea of the big picture. Make sense? Probably not. Andiamo!



I’m not even exactly sure of the number of races I did last year, as not all had medals, etc – but it was definitely a less race filled year than 2014. My third Hypo Half, the Lorneville Loop, Not Since Moses and possibly one or two more happened, as well as the highlights below.

I raced my first 10k in forever at the Fredericton Marathon weekend – didn’t die and actually kinda enjoyed it.

Placed second overall at Run St. Andrew’s 5k – for which I won a really nice print by a local artist.

Won the Fredericton Wine Run 5k.


Set a half PB at Johnny Miles (1:42.28) and then again at the Cobequid Trail Half (1:39.11)

Most importantly, crushed my marathon PB by 21 minutes and achieved my pie in the sky goal of being sub 3:30 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfrom Marathon (3:28.23) – due in no small part to the masterful pacing of my friend, Peter Lawless.

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My “Garmin mileage” was over 2200 km for the year, including my first month of over 300 km. Including treadmill and runs without my Garmin I feel like I was likely very close to, if not over, 2400km total for the year. In preparation for Toronto, the vast majority of my running was done on paved roads.

Last winter marked the first winter in which I actually made some effort to cross train, having invested in a TacX mag trainer. I didn’t log as many hours as I should, but I feel as though it was beneficial to my overall results. Yoga was also integral to my physical fitness and maintenance for the first half of 2015. It lagged once the summer arrived but I really enjoyed it and felt it was a big part of me staying injury free through the winter.


Still running, but not quite training

A new aspect I took on in 2015 was leading some local running clinics in my hometown of Sackville, NB. I had no expectations when I offered to do a 5k clinic in the spring, but demand was so high that the town had to offer two clinics.

The clinics definitely helped me maintain fitness through some periods of low motivation and the people I met were very inspiring to me. Many of the have kept running, some of them completing as much as a half marathon since. Some of them signed up for a fall 10k clinic I led as well, and the results were just as positive.


Not actual running, but still running related

Doing fewer races meant seeing a lot less of the friends I have made throughout Atlantic Canada. The trip to Toronto was a boon for actually meeting some of my social media friends in person for the first time as well as reconnecting with many of the amazing folks I met during my 2014 visit. Too many folks to mention, but a couple of pictures will give an idea.

The @RunAtCan twitter chat has continued to grow and I actually maintained the commitment of moderating the chats almost every Sunday night of 2015. The connections I’ve made and seen others make via the chat and meet ups has continued to be a huge positive for me.

The Bluenose Marathon actually had myself and a few other people from the twitter chat lead a panel discussion about the influence of social media on the running community. It was pretty well attended and definitely a different experience.


Life in General

In 2015, my older son Caleb entered high school and my younger, Tolkien, started what I would call junior high (in the olden days – yes, I said it). Stacey has entered her third and final year of law school and only has one semester before graduation and then she begins her articling year.

In April, I started work (part time) as the Executive Director of Triathlon New Brunswick which led to a whirlwind summer of (re) learning the ins and outs of multi-sport events. The learning curve has been sharp but my experience being around so many running events in the past couple of years as well as having been in involved with triathlons when I lived in Corner Brook, NL definitely helped.

I’ve been doing some other social media things locally as well, but being a full time dad with a wife away at school has kept me pretty busy. Overall, 2015 has been a challenging year but I feel as though I’ve learned a lot about myself.

Comments? Questions? Love to hear from you – comment below!

Passing on the Passion

I don’t know if there is a difference between being obsessed with something or being passionate about it. I suspect that there is a lot of overlap or dancing back and forth between passion and obsession, at least from my own personal experience. Maybe the question is moot.

Having gained so many positives in my own life from running and the running community I am definitely focusing more of my time and energy on introducing others to the sport. One way I’ve done that has been through Twitter with my weekly chat on Sunday nights (shameless plug – follow @RunAtCan on Twitter if you don’t already). The other thing I’ve done is I have started several running clinics here in Sackville over the past few months.

In the spring, I decided to see if there would be enough interest in a “Learn to Run” clinic (or as I called it “Learn to LOVE to Run”). The response was awesome and I had to actually do two sessions. Over the summer, I focused on my own training but once the fall came around I decided to up the challenge a bit and see if I could help some people accomplish their goal of running a 10k race.

As much as I enjoy pushing myself and achieving my own goals, it is definitely an amazing feeling to help others achieve things they once thought of as impossible. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that we all have a tendency to under estimate what we are capable of, regardless of our history of success. This is probably what makes the group setting so rewarding and so positive – especially when the group really gels.

My main role has been to get the group together, but once that is done, they really have taken it upon themselves to push, support and encourage each other. Yes, I’m there to bounce questions off of and give a supportive fist bump at the end of each run, but the positive energy that all of these people create and share is awesome to see. I LOVE that so many of them are continuing to meet and run together and several from the spring have already completed a half marathon, with more from the 10k group planning on taking on the Hypothermic Half in February.


Some of my awesome 10k Group!

Giving back to the community only makes sense as everyone who runs can only benefit by more people becoming involved, interested and yes, maybe even a little obsessed. Do you have any experiences like this? Or do you remember being on the other side and having someone else pass on the “running bug” to you back in the beginning? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below!