Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

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Three tips to find time to run

November was a busy one. And we are just coming upon what is sometimes referred to as the “season of busy” which can make it hard to get our runs in.

Slow cooker

Tip # One
Buy a slow cooker

For much of my adult life I have been meaning to try out slow-cooking. Driven by one of the busier months of my life, I finally got around to ordering one. To determine which one to buy I consulted this popular blog on slow-cooking. And of coures, to save time, I ordered the slow-cooker on-line. I would estimate that I saved 2-3 hours this past week thanks to my slow-cooker.

Tip # Two
Run to and/or from work

Being a daily runner, I know I WILL run so using my running time to get to work saves me at least 45 minutes. In my case it is also so much easier to hit the road knowing that running is much faster than the cross-town transit options and a $3.00 saving each way.

Tip # Three
Do chores, shopping and window shopping on the run

This really works well for small and /or lightweight items. Swiss army knives are a great gift for many people that can be easily picked up while on a run. Gift certificates to Mountain Equipment Coop are another. I do a lot of on-line ordering but sometimes you really do want to see an item, hence window shopping while running makes perfect sense. The new practise of looking at items in a store and then ordering (often at better prices) is called “showrooming”.

Trips to the bank and post-office are also good candidates for doing-while-running. Especially if you can time your visits to be at low-traffic hours. Get thee to the post office early! Running with a hip-pack or back-pack is not that bad. It certainly beats missing a run. I’ve got my eye on some hip packs including this Patagonia Hip Pack

Hip pack

I’m an admitted time-management book junkie. Hence I got a chuckle out of something a former workmate had this on posted on her bulletin board:
“Your lack of planning is not my emergency.”




On blogging, baking and running around

Yikes! My goal is to post at least once a week and I am behind. I am seriously busy these days but my running is going very well. It just leaves little time to blog. And I do miss blogging and both my husband and son read my blog. I think they miss the blogging me 🙂  I also miss having the time to bake but was able to squeeze in a lemon-poppyseed pound cake for my boss’s  birthday and some wild pig shaped gingerbread cookies which I mailed to my nephew in Phoenix.

Havelina (wild pig) gingerbread

I’ve been taking a course which takes about 15 hours a week of my time. I’m in the throes of organizing a gala which my husband and I Co-Chair and work is fairly intense these days. I hope to run under 21 minutes later this year for 5K and have been joining my track team 1-2 times a week for speed sessions.

I ran 6.5 miles yesterday in the most broken up fashion ever in trying to fit everything in. I’m planning to run a 5K in the beaches area and the race is a throwback to the days of small community driven races. There is no on-line entry and no mail-in entry. The registration takes place over the course of six evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. way out on the other side of town. A real dilemma for the time-crunched. I considered finding another race but I’ve run this one a couple of times and I like the low-key atmosphere and the course is a fairly fast, out and back route along the eastern beach.

Lemon poppyseed pound cake

There are a couple of friends who live way east of me who I’ve not seen for awhile. I sent an email in the morning to see if they might be able to meet me for coffee during my rare appearance in that neck of the woods. Bingo! One friend had a date nearby that meshed with my timing.

Here is how my run went:

  • 5:00 p.m. Run half mile to subway
  • 5:05 – 5:20 p.m. Read course material on subway
  • 5:20 – 5:50 p.m. Run from Coxwell subway to friend-meeting point at Book City on Queen street.
  • 5:50 -7:00 p.m. Catch up with Dolores and enjoy bowl of seafood chowder with slice of bread
  • 7:00-7:05 p.m. Run to community centre to register for run
  • 7:05-7:20 p.m. Register for run
  • 7:20-7:55 p.m. Run to Coxwell subway station
  • 7:55-8:10 p.m. Finish reading course material on subway
  • 8:10 – 8:15 p.m. Run home

Total distance run over 3 hours and 15 minutes was 6 1/2 miles. Perhaps the lowest quality run ever. However, I’ve been having really great workouts since February including the night before. It was magical to be able to run on the Varsity stadium track at the very end of winter. WooHoo! I ran 6 x 1000 meters at a steady pace.

The week before I was really pleased with my result at the Canadian Masters Indoor Track Championships. I ran the 3000m in 12:32 which was a very solid national class age-graded score equivalent to running 9:52 in the open category. My confidence has really been boosted by racing on the track.

That's me on the left in the outside lane

As for the course, I just finished an assignment that is due Saturday. I’m frantically trying to get ahead of the game as the date the big project is due coincides with the gala. Enough, is enough and I’m now allowing myself the luxury of a blog post.

This is not a sustainable pace and I look forward to life post-gala. But the effort is worth the result and sometimes, there is no other way to get things done than get into fifth gear for awhile. If I get this post done tonight I still have ten days to get two more done by the end of the month.

I have no one to blame but myself for this state of affairs. But I do feel quite fulfilled and it won’t be long before I can take my sweet time and hopefully run a 5K under 21 minutes at age 56 with enough time to smell those roses afterward. According to the age-graded calculator my new motto should be:

20:59 is the new 16:59 . . . sigh


62 Miles = 100 Kilometers

Nowadays when I tell people how far I’ve run or my weekly mileage tally most people assume I mean kilometers not miles. So, for the record I ran 100 KM this week.

NYC Marathon

That would be miles, not kilometers

A highlight of the past eight days was that I ran with two new people. The first was our roommate Alain, a friend of my son’s who lives with us. We enjoyed a 10K run at a faster-than-usual easy day pace. A few days later I ran with a 19 year old friend from Afghanistan who hasn’t been running at all but did come second in the city wrestling championships in the 55 kilogram category. He easily ran with me for five miles through High Park including Deer Pen Road, the steepest road in the Park. He did this while wearing his wrestling shoes. We are planning to run again. It feels good to be able to run with fit youngsters who have mothers 10 years my junior.

I enjoyed introducing him to High Park. He lives less than a mile away but had never visited. He really enjoyed the trails and particularly enjoyed the part I dread most, the off-leash dog area of the trail. As it turns out, he had a dog in Afghanistan and as he started to tell me about his large Russian bred dog, said, “Things are different in my country” which was perhaps in my little world, the understatement of the year. I rightly guessed that his dog was an attack dog, trained to protect people and property.

He got quite a kick out the packs of unleashed dogs playing on the trail and encouraged one to run alongside us, to the chagrin of the owner. I do confess as a tending-to-cower runner in the presence of dogs, I rather enjoyed this show of confidence. My friend thought it quite funny that I would be scared of Canadian dogs. I asked a friend from Sierra Leone about the dogs in his country and he confirmed that owning 2-3 dogs trained this way was a necessity.

As for NYC Marathon training, the week went very well and I felt surprisingly good today after my 18 miler yesterday which went a big way in getting me past my minimum target of 60 miles for the week. Mixed in to those miles was 35 minutes of tempo running and 10 x 1 minute hard.

Yesterday I woke at 4:00 a.m. and set out on my 18 miler at 6:40 a.m. The morning grew hotter and more humid and while the run was hard, it was not a slog. I napped for a couple of hours afterward to make up for rising so early.

My goal for next week is to hit 65 miles minimum. I’m going to have to tighten up my time management as I’m heading into a very busy period at work.  Today I learned how to make lists on my BlackBerry which I hope will be one tool to improve my ability to Get Things Done.  One thing I’ve been doing this year to save time is to avoid shopping if at all possible. You would be amazed at how much time you can save if you decide just to get by with what you have and avoid stores.

Best to save that leg power for running not shopping.  Marathon training can save you money 🙂

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Warm Winter Surprise

I skipped my run this morning and went to work early instead, in spite of my husband’s disapproval for allowing the bleak morning to deter me.  The run-plan, an early departure from work and an indoor run to follow.  A very good plan indeed with today’s escalating snow storm.

Once again, I sing the praises of working a mile from home.  How pleasant it is not to rely on public transit or a car.  One of many walking route options takes me past a supermarket, where I stopped to buy spinach and carrots and then a Tim Horton’s where I picked up an orange-carrot whole wheat muffin.  This muffin $1.10 tax included, is delicious and great value.  Then on to the YMCA, just ahead of the post-work rush to easily find a free treadmill for an easy three miles.   I’m enjoying taking a mileage break.  It is very unusual for me to do three milers, let alone three of them in one week.

It has been over a year since I’ve used the full locker room facilities at the Y.  I usually run to the Y from home, store my outerwear in a locker and after working out, head home to shower.  What better day to luxuriate in the whirlpool and then dry off in a sauna.  Nicely warmed up I even found myself looking forward to shoveling our sidewalk.  As our walk came in view, I saw that our roommate Alain had already shoveled and salted.  I shoveled the 1/2 inch or so that had accumulated just because I felt warm, happy and fortunate.  I hope the day was not too trying for others.

Happy Day Muffin

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Run, Run, Rest . . . RUN

Way back in the mid-eighties, I discovered the benefits of the easy week.  I like to think of myself as one of the early adopters of this principle. The hard-easy day principle of training was well ingrained in anyone who had read articles from Runner’s World and Running Times but not so, the easy week.

One reason for experimenting with easy weeks was having spent half of the my first five years of running – injured. Out of necessity those first five years of running were all about trial and error and a lot of research into how the body works.

Fortunately, I was never prone to running through pain so I did not set myself up for chronic injuries. Just as the body carries the memory of hard-training and top fitness, making the road to achieving this easier, once traveled, my sense is that the body also remembers when the warning signal of pain has been ignored and the time for healing replaced by pushing through or masking the pain, a recipe for developing a lifetime chronic running injury.

The easy week, is all about distribution of effort. The hard weeks are more challenging and the easy weeks, well easier. Over the past decade or more, I was running similar weekly mileage to my peers, as an average, but thrown into the mix, would be some blockbuster weeks of say, over 100 miles and weeks with mileage lower than most “serious” marathoners would consider worthy. The concept of the easy week can be expanded to think of easy years. For example, I knew I wanted to be in the best shape of my life when I turned 50. Leading up to this key racing season, I mixed in an easy year just before. I was increasing fitness, however, I was banking all-out race efforts for when I changed age-groups.

Author - Dr. Jim Loehr

Maximizing performance through distribution of effort can be applied to how we manage our lives. I enjoyed The Power of Full Engagement written by Jim Loehr. He says, “Managing ënergy not time is the key to full engagement and optimal performance.” and I think this is relevant to marathon training as well as life management.

In spite of the faulty analogy Loehr uses to describe his insights, unflattering comparisons of marathoners with sprinters, the basics of what he says rings true for me. As for the analogy, Loehr is a tennis player and his sprinter versus marathoner metaphor demonstrates that he is unfamiliar with the training methods of high-performance distance runners who in fact, must draw on several energy systems  to perform optimally.

In running and in life, knowing when is the best time to do what, and the energy demands or complexity of those tasks is a step towards improving RESULTS.

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Don’t Stop Movin’

The best way to aggravate back problems, lower back problems particularly, is to SIT for long periods.  The worst thing to do in the morning after six or more hours of immobility is to SIT in front of your computer.

I incurred what I refer to as an under-use injury when I flew from Frankfurt to Toronto this fall and due to 8 hours of inactivity my sacroiliac joint locked up.  If you use a laptop my tip is,  move your laptop to a height from which you have to work from a standing position.  Another benefit of standing while on-line is that you are less likely to find yourself aimlessly surfing or getting sidetracked in cyberspace.

Sitting at my desk for 7 hours of work aggravated this state-of-affairs and was at times painful.  Naturally, I felt great when I was running, with its massaging motion!  The sacroiliac joint eventually let up, in part due to a routine of regular walks at noon hour.  It is my view that noon hour walks are one of the most under-used exercise opportunities there is.  Lunch can be eaten prior to a walk with no digestive troubles and a quick lunch can leave you with up to 50 minutes for a brisk or leisurely walk.  Whatever the pace, it is a quantum leap from the alternative of SITTING in a lunchroom to break up a day of  SITTING at your desk or sitting in a lunchroom.  I formed the habit of having a pair of running shoes designated for walking, by my desk.  And you don’t have to miss out on socializing with workmates if you invite colleagues to join you.

Lunchtime Walks in Hogg's Hollow

When the weather worsens, I make use of my metropass to travel underground to different Starbuck’s locations.  The air is not as fresh as an above ground walk but at least you are movin’ and have the chance to do some stair climbing.

I am a firm believer in taking a full hour for lunch when at all possible.  I find the break, makes me far more productive in the afternoon.  I would rather take that hour and stay late, when work piles up, than skimp on a lunch break.  I have indulged in noon hour walks even on days when I have run a few miles in the morning and then 8 miles home from work.  A walk is like a  third workout for me while marathon training.

Too much SITTING when not balanced by movement is a degenerative activity and with the computer, left, right and centre of our lives, proactive measures are needed to counteract the ill effects of the inactivity it engenders.

It is no surprise that a so called,  Fat Habit #3 has been identified by one writer as Not Multitasking While Watching TV.  My mom had strong views about television.  She once issued a list of shows that were banned in our household; on that list was one of our favourites, Get Smart (we loved that show!), although I don’t think this regime really took hold as she had strong views but was not particularly strict.

She also insisted that we be involved in other activities while watching TV.  Thus, I would draw, sew and sometimes iron to satisfy this criteria.  I carry the multi-tasking habit with me to this day.  Thank you mom!


Getting Things Done

I’ve already blogged about Dave Allen, guru of productivity and positioned the goal of the quest for finding more time, as finding time to run more miles. After some thought it dawned on me that in fact, it is not about finding time to run, or the time to run more miles because running is a part of my daily routine, like brushing my teeth. It is about finding the time to do all the other things I love to do.

Those “other” things don’t have the magnificent health benefits of running, which explains why they don’t fall into the “like brushing my teeth” category. For example, I love to garden and if gardening had the same health benefits of running, it would definitely give running some stiff competition for my time. That being said, I do believe  there are many mental and physical benefits to gardening but that’s a whole other discussion.

I have a voracious appetite for time management books and books on getting organized. I definitely have a bent towards systems and organization, scoring 21 out of 22 on my Meyers Briggs test on that count, referred to in the MB context as Judging (not to be confused with judgmental). Friends often laugh at me when I say, “I have a plan” . . .  so what else is new they chuckle.  This is a very clearly defined aspect of my personality and statements such as the ones below reflect this approach to the external world. I believe it makes me a good match psychologically with the demands of marathon training.

# I like to have things decided.
# I appear to be task oriented.
# I like to make lists of things to do.
# I like to get my work done before playing.
# I plan work to avoid rushing just before a deadline.

Lately, I’ve been listening to Dave Allen’s first book Getting Things Done on my IPod. Both this and his second book, Making It All Work are available on ITunes. I’ve read it before but it is definitely worth a reread.  One thing that struck me was his statement, “You can only feel good about what you are not doing when you know what it is that you are not doing.” He maintains that unless we unload all the things-to-do that are cluttering up our short term memory we cannot do the best thinking our minds are capable of.

Getting Things Done

Whatever your goals for 2011, I recommend that you consider Dave Allen in print or audio to Make It All Work!

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Mind management and marathon training

I’m thinking about how to find the time to add on those marathon training miles. To this end I’ve been listening to Dave Allen’s book “Making It All Work” on my IPod. I know that the efficiency gains that will result from reading this book means more time for more miles. And, I’m learning about how to do this while I’m running. I read his first book, “Getting Things Done” and found it one of the better books on time management. Although, as Dave Allen would say it is more about mind management. He’s known as the GTD guy, short for “Getting Things Done”. In this latest book, he outlines why his organizational systems line up with the way short term memory works to make more room for creative and focused thinking and of course, getting more things done.

David Allen

Purchased from ITunes

I am a huge fan of time management literature. At some point in time I’ll inventory all those I’ve read. I’m trying to learn how to “tweet” and Dave Allen is the person I am trying to “follow” on Twitter. This because of a course I took this summer on social media and blogging. One of the outcomes of the course was that I disabled my Facebook site. Although, I rarely used it, only had it because it seemed to be a social necessity, I learned that there are numerous unaddressed privacy issues inherent in the Facebook platform and that there are other ways to have a web presence i.e. blogging.

Speaking of getting things done, I better get out for my daily run, and daily dose of marathon and mind management training.