Crisis of Runner’s Faith

Is it lack of motivation?

Is it fear?

Or, is it just time to take a break?

For the past week or so, I’ve been experiencing what I’ll call a Crisis of Runner’s Faith. I finished Star Wars Half and the next day I started to wonder why I am doing this. Why have I been putting my body (and mind) through this? What am I trying to accomplish?

I Love Running

Source: Unknown (downloaded image awhile ago)

The only race I have planned as of right now is my first marathon on May 29. That’s about 4 months from now and it seems both so close and so far away at the same time. I’ve been trying to think about the reasons for taking on my first marathon. And of course, while I am thinking about it the fears come up and my crazy mind takes over.

Can I do it? Can I handle the training? Will I ever qualify for Boston?

Seriously, my mind has been running rampant.

Of course, I have a lot of other things going on in my personal life. I’ve been hit by a bit of a rough patch, and I’m just trying to keep in mind that this may be affecting my runner’s faith. Plus, returning to winter running after a nice break in California certainly has had an effect on my seasonal affective disorder. At this time I need to remind myself that other things are going on and that running is actually good for me. Running keeps me sane. Running helps with my anxiety. These kinds of benefits are important to my life. So, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to quit.

No, I know I don’t want to quit.

runners crisis

But even though I know I don’t want to quit, I still need to find ways to remind myself of why I am doing this running thing. I need to remember how it helps with my depression and anxiety. I need to read and see inspiring stories. I need to know that I can overcome these obstacles both in running and in life. Sure, I need to live in the here and now, but I also need to look ahead and realize that this current rough patch isn’t forever. I need to remember that I can get through this.

Side note: Having awesome support all around me helps a lot, that’s for sure! Plus, watching inspirational Ironman videos like this one and this one. Or, this Xterra Championship video here. Plus many many more if you go down the YouTube rabbit hole. :)

Have you ever experienced a crisis of runner’s / triathlete’s / swimmer’s / fitness faith? How did you bounce back?

My Word for 2016

Over the past week I have been inspired by fellow bloggers and Instagrammers who have posted about their word for the year. Since I don’t really do resolutions, I thought that considering a word – or short mantra if you will – would be more productive and meaningful for me.

I thought it over for a few days, but really I already had the word in mind. In my last post I mentioned that instead of a resolution I was just going to try to be more gentle on myself. To tone down the self-criticism and negative talk. So, as a result, my word for 2016 will be… Compassion.

Compassion.

For myself and others.

compassion Jan2016

Unfortunately, during tough times I can become quite negative. Trust me, I’ve been trying to work on this over the years because it isn’t productive and it just drains energy. Life can be very difficult at times (hello end of 2015), but being negative does not make things better. Beating myself up and blaming myself, definitely doesn’t help either. So, I need to be more compassionate towards myself. I need to go a little easier on me when life’s shitty moments happen. I’m not to blame for everything, so I need to cut that out.

I need to be compassionate and caring about the state that I am in (especially when others aren’t). Some people don’t understand depression and anxiety, and that’s fine, but when someone says to me “omg just get over it” I need to let that go and be caring toward myself instead. I also can’t spend energy taking on everyone else’s shit when I got enough of my own. But, compassion towards others who need it most is important too. Seriously, in this day and age we need to take care of each other more. Times are tough for a lot of us, let’s have more compassion for others and help when we can.

Truth be told, I’ll probably have to revisit this post many times throughout the year. I’ll need to remind myself of this promise, so I’ll write it in my journal and repeat it as a mantra when needed. This word for 2016 is very important to me and I need to do my best.. I owe it to my self, soul, and heart. <3

2015 – The Positive Side of a Challenging Year

Wow, this year really flew by! Seems like it wasn’t that long ago when I was looking back on 2014 and reviewing successes and perceived failures, and here we are again.

To be very honest, I don’t really like New Year’s. I feel like there is so much pressure on thinking about how to make the next year better that it causes me anxiety. Especially after having a tough year. 2015 really had its up and downs, and unfortunately there were definitely more downs. There were more challenges than I would have liked to face. I know this is how life goes, but I honestly now feel more pressure to make 2016 better because of how 2015 went… and this is distressing. Yes, this should be a happier time of year, but I can’t be the only one ruminating on the past year during this holiday season.

Playing with my GoPro in the snow!

Playing with my GoPro in the snow!

Because of all this, I know I have to focus on positive events that happened in 2015, so I started compiling a list in my journal that I also wanted to share here. It’s a good reminder to consider the happy events that occurred, no matter how big or small. I personally need to feel a sense of accomplishment from other events because career and life were a bit challenged this year. So, here’s a list of some of my better moments of 2015

– Started the year off going to California for the first time in my life to run the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland

– Visited family in Halifax, Nova Scotia & ran a 10K race while I was there

– Put my feet in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in the same year!

– Moved across the country to Calgary again without too much stress ;)

– Ran 4 half marathons – Star Wars (California), GoodLife (Toronto), Stampede Road Race (Calgary), and Harvest Half Marathon (Calgary)

– Ran a couple 5 & 10Ks in Toronto, Halifax, and Calgary

– Ran my longest distance – 30K – at Around the Bay in March and kicked butt!

– Met awesome running friends in Toronto after finally putting myself out there (and I miss them very much!)

– Ran my first whole winter outdoors in Toronto. This took perseverance!

– Went to some pretty fun country music concerts – Eric Church – Dierks Bently, Randy Houser, Tim Hicks – Miranda Lambert

– Had tons of fun at this year’s Calgary Stampede with awesome people & got to be a junk food judge for a day! (I was soooo full!)

– Saw California in the summer time (and didn’t want to leave)

– Had box seats to a Blue Jays game with my best friend (her first game live!)

– Got good grades in a course I’m taking so far

– Took lots of fun pics with my GoPro (looking forward to getting better at this!)

– Started running with the local Mec running group and met some cool people

– Ran over 1000KMs for the first time in my life!

I’m sure I could list more, but this post has to end at some point. The whole idea is that it’s good to have a look over the awesome things that happened during the year when you feel like it wasn’t that great. Trying not to ruminate too much on the bad and keeping in mind all the good. I also have to thank everyone involved in these awesome moments, I am forever grateful to have you all in my life.

I heart Venice Beach

I heart Venice Beach

As a closing, I’ll let you know that I don’t really do resolutions. In general I strive to do my best and be a good person, so I think that’s what matters. One thing I will do though is set the intention to be easier on myself in 2016. I’m going to try very hard at this because I am certainly my own worst critic. I need to be more proud of what I’ve done and focus more on how to stay positive during tough times. This will take work, but it’s something I know I need to do for myself.

I hope everyone has a lovely New Year’s and I wish you all the best for 2016! <3

Do you set resolutions or intentions? Why or why not?

Holiday Update

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted and right now I’m trying to do this from my iPhone in a small cafe that offers wifi. Should be fun to see how this post turns out, so please forgive any typos / mistakes. :)

Some readers may have seen my tweets or Instagram posts, but if not then I’ll let you know that I’ve been in my hometown of Halifax for the past 2 weeks with no internet access. Sure, I have phone data but I have since gone WAY over that limit. My next bill should be fun.

Anyway, I’ve been here on an unplanned visit for 2 weeks, which I may write more about at another time. Right now it’s still too difficult to write about. But being here with family has certainly helped. Times like this family needs each other, so I’ve been doing the best I can.

Somehow I’ve managed to keep up with my Star Wars Half Marathon training… Mostly. I think I missed a hill workout, but I’m trying not to dwell on all that. Since running is my sanity, it’s a good thing I brought my gear with me on this trip.

I get to spend half of Christmas Day with my family and then I’ll be on a plane back to Calgary to be with my bf’s family. I’m sure you’ve missed my posts and GoPro pics, right? Right?! ;)

That’s my update for now, hopefully I didn’t make too many mistakes in this post! Hope everyone has a lovely holiday season and a happy new year!! :)

Me Christmas 2015

Holiday Gifts for Runners

So pretty!

So pretty!

It’s that time of year again!!! December has started and now we’re counting down to the holidays. Are you excited?

To be honest, I am a Christmas crazy. I love the decorations, lights, movies, and music. I’m already listening to Christmas music at work… don’t judge me! ;)

So, with the holidays comes trying to think of the perfect gift for those special people in your life. Sometimes this can be stressful, but I don’t think it should be. Over the years I’ve tried to minimize what I buy and have really narrowed it down to purchasing gifts for those most close to me. Honestly, as I’ve aged I like to focus more on being together with those I love, and well, the food. I love the food. :)

If you’re still reading and thinking about what to get that special runner in your life, then I got some ideas for you!

– Race entries! For some runners (me) races become an addiction, so a race entry for almost any distance will make a great gift.

– Gift cards – for run or fitness gear, to a running store, etc. This is a great way for that finicky runner in your life to pick out his/her own gift. Trust me, we appreciate being able to get more gear… even if there’s no room in our closets.

– Books or fitness journals – motivational books or tracking journals are great for motivating us to get our butts out the door… especially in winter!

– iTunes gift card for creating some kick ass playlists

– Nutrition/protein – be careful with this one, runners are particular! If you see certain types or brands all around your house, go with those… otherwise, gift card.

– Hydration pack/belt

– Foam roller… love/hate, but we need this one!

– GoPro or selfie stick – does you runner love taking pics? One of these will brighten up their day and really up their running pic game!

– Electronics – does your runner need a new tracking watch? Maybe an iPod for music or cool headphones?

Sticky9 magnets of your runner’s favourite pics – no, they didn’t ask/pay me to say this, I just love these for myself and for friends. They make a great little addition to Christmas cards or stockings too.

Spirit of the Marathon DVD – seriously inspirational.

Your complete support and love for us when we’re being crazy, hangry, training, etc. This one is the most important. <3

Running to holiday coffee ;)

Running to holiday coffee ;)

There you have it! A great list to get you started on finding an awesome gift for the runner or fitness addict in your life. This might also be a list of what I want… but, shhhhh. :)

What would you add? As a runner or fitness nut, what are you hoping to receive this holiday season?

Confession: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Me

If you’ve checked out any of my recent posts, you can probably tell that winter has started where I live. Yes, the daylight hours are very short and it is cold and snowy almost everyday. Not the most ideal environment for a winter-hater like myself, but it’s a nice city so I guess I’ll be staying. ;)

You read that right… “winter-hater”. I’m a born & raised Canadian and I don’t particularly care for winter. It’s cold, dark, messy, and inconvenient. It’s difficult going months without seeing much daylight when you go to work in the dark and go home in the dark. But another reason I don’t like winter is because I suffer terribly from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I can’t control it and I don’t like the person I am when SAD kicks in. To be honest, I can usually make it till about early January without sinking too deep, but then after that I don’t know how I will react.

Running in snow already!

Running in snow already!

I may have mentioned this aspect about myself on Twitter before, but I thought I should share this post as we’re heading into winter. I feel it’s worth sharing because sometimes I don’t think people take it, or me, seriously. Yes, I will complain about the weather on Twitter or Instagram. I try not to, but when I get the winter blues I will share my hate of the cold weather & snow on social media. I need to watch this because the general response is not positive. Of course, I’m being negative, but I’m not trying to be a “debbie-downer”… I’m trying to share my pain in my own strange complain-y way. It’s not constructive, but it’s like part of me is searching for others who may be experiencing the same thing. I’ve dealt with this for as long as I can remember – through winters in Halifax, Toronto, and Calgary – and I still can’t beat it.

Often when I share my sad feelings about the weather I receive comments like “why complain? you can’t control the weather” – um yeah, I know. Or, “at least it’s not worse”… such as a hurricane or something. Yes, I am most certainly glad it’s not at natural disaster level. People just don’t seem to understand where I am coming from… they see the negative post and assume I’m just being a whiner. And this of course causes me to feel worse.

I share this with you because I know there are others out there dealing with SAD every winter. We don’t feel well. We aren’t ourselves. We WANT to feel better.

I don’t like feeling like a shell of myself.

Honestly, I got shit to do. I want to run. I’m going to train for a marathon. I don’t want to hibernate and lose all face-to-face connections. I want to be my silly, vibrant, weird self.

I’m going to try my best this winter, but I know I’ll need help. Winters tend to be a little longer in Calgary than the other two cities I’ve lived in, so I need extra help. I’ve got a few tips for dealing with SAD in the winter… but, what would you add? If you deal with SAD every year, what’s your best remedy?

My Tips for Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder

– Vitamin D drops

– Healthy balanced diet

– Get outdoors even when you don’t feel like it

– Exercise… again, even when you don’t feel like it

– Tell people what you are going through. Don’t try to hide it.

– Light lamp… I hear these help. Looks like I should invest in one. Got a brand you recommend?

– Journal and meditation.. write those feelings down.

– Treat yourself – bright new sweater? Warming latte? Do it. Just don’t go overboard… all about balance!

– Keep fun upbeat music or funny movies nearby

– Keep your Christmas lights up as long as you want if they bring you joy (totally me!)

– Travel if you can and if you like to do this sort of thing

– If you need a day bundled up warm at home with movies and hot tea, do it. I like to hide from snowstorms and windchills too sometimes.

– Find a buddy who does enjoy outdoor activities in the winter and join him/her. Allow him/her to kick your butt out the door if necessary.

– Try something new in the winter! I want to finally try snowshoeing this year.

– Go to a local park and just take in the beauty after a fresh snowfall. I don’t like snow, but doing this gives me a more positive perspective. Take pics and post them if you damn well feel like it. :)

I’m sure there’s more that I can do to try to keep the winter blues at bay this year. What has helped you in the past?

Yep. (Great share @JennVFitness)

Yep. (Great share @JennVFitness)

Some resources on SAD:

Canadian Mental Health Association

Mayo Clinic

University of British Columbia

(Note: I am not a doctor, these are tips from my own experience. Please check with your physician if you’re going to change any program or exercise regime. Also, if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of SAD, please consult your physician.)

So, I signed up for my first marathon

If you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram then you probably already know that I registered for my first full marathon on Saturday. (If you don’t follow me, what’s going on?! :P)

Yep, you read that right. I signed up to run 42.2 glorious KMs (or 26.2 miles for my American friends) at the Calgary Marathon on May 29, 2016. Sure, there’s a lot of time between now and then, but I’m really going to need to prepare. The furthest distance I’ve raced was 30KM (18.6 miles) at Around the Bay earlier this year. I distinctly remember thinking at the end of that race “how the hell could I run 12.2 more KM?!?” and that thought has certainly ran through my mind again because I’ve only ran up to 21.1K (13.1 miles) in the past 5 months or so. This marathon is going to be a huge challenge for me, but at this point I feel ready… ask me again in February

It's official!

It’s official!

With this new endeavour I’ve really had to think about what needs to change in my life in order to be successful. Yes, I can follow a plan and just complete all the runs, but that won’t be enough to get me to the start (and finish) line. So, I thought I would share with you a few things that come to mind right now that need to change for me to kick ass at my first marathon (in no particular order of importance).

Better nutrition. Right now I mostly follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to healthy eating. 80% of the time I eat super healthy and relatively balanced, 20% of the time I will have a treat (wine, macaroon, poutine). Of course, I am not a doctor, but I believe this is a system that works for me. The alternative side is that I don’t eat enough to sustain a body that will train for a marathon. I’ll really have to look at my nutrition making sure to eat enough of the right foods so that my body is optimally fuelled.

Cross training. This is tough to admit, but I really don’t cross train right now. I just run. And sometimes do yoga and stretching. I can seriously acknowledge my weaknesses and I know that cross training will set me up for success while training for a marathon. I’ll need weights and low impact exercise for non-run days. This is one area that I have to really get serious about.

Stay strong. Since I will be training through a Calgary winter, I am going to need all the motivation I can get to do those long runs outside. The furthest I ran outdoors in the cold was 25KM training in about -20 celsius (-4 fahrenheit), which was not enjoyable AT ALL. But, I did it. So, I will need to channel that motivation again for even longer training runs in possibly colder weather. I will need to do my best to stay mentally strong through a long winter of training, keeping the ultimate goal in mind.

Connect with community. Further to the point above, I will need to be less afraid of connecting with the running community both online and offline for support. I’m sure I am not the only one training for a first marathon in the winter, so seeking advice or just chatting about issues will be extremely helpful. I need to reduce the fear associated with asking for help. I love the way runners support each other and feel grateful to know people all around that will be there in tough times.

Group runs. I need to keep doing this. I need to get out and about with people, whether it’s a full long run or just running with a group for part of my long run. This will help me stay motivated and happy to also know others are embracing the cold weather running too.

Looks cold right?!

Looks cold right?!

Get the run gear. My winter running gear collection is not perfect. I need to seek out some sales and grab some extra gear so that I am not making excuses and skipping outdoor runs.

I’m sure a few more things that I need to change will come to mind, but these are the immediate ones that I need to start taking care of right away. I’ll be honest, I am both excited and scared of running my first marathon. The distance seems insurmountable, but with proper training and care I know that I should be able to tackle this challenge with strength and tenacity!

Mec Group Run

While shopping at Mountain Equipment Coop (Mec) recently, I noticed their listing for a group run on Saturdays on their community board. I’ve been thinking about joining a group on the weekends as the weather gets colder because I know I’m going to need the extra motivation when winter really sets in. As I’ve mentioned, this will be my second winter running outdoors and I’m not sure what to expect in Calgary. So, having some people to “suffer” through winter with might actually be helpful. :)

I was a little nervous going to this running group because I actually haven’t ran with a group in about 5 years. There was approx 2 years in there when I hated running and didn’t do it, and then the rest I have been self-motivating and running alone. I’m proud of what I have done on my own, but last winter I did face some mental challenges and I believe it would have been nice to commiserate with people in person about this tough season. I’m thankful I had people cheering me on and being supportive through Twitter, but I think there’s just that little extra when you are able to gather together and give each other a push in person.

Stunning! {Crescent Heights, Nov 7/15}

Stunning! {Crescent Heights, Nov 7/15}

So, on Saturday I went to my first run group in years and really enjoyed it! I showed up a little too early and the store wasn’t open yet, so I was pacing and freezing outside the front of the store while I waited. I’m hardly ever early for anything, so this amused me. While I waited, slowly more people started to show up and a very nice gal introduced herself to me, which made me feel welcome right away. Everyone seemed cheerful and welcoming, which you don’t always get with run groups. The run leader (Josh) was this hilarious guy who seems to have way too much energy on a Saturday morning. He made everyone in the group feel welcome and got us all laughing while doing warm-ups and stretching. In this group there were all levels of paces and I mostly ran somewhere in the middle. Parts of the route I was on my own, but it was nice and I didn’t feel left out. We ran a route I normally wouldn’t do on my own (huge hill) and then did a round of the Memorial Street stairs, which was very challenging for my first time. I can see why people are training on these stairs constantly, definitely a good workout! Once we were up in Crescent Heights the views were STUNNING!! I actually took a few moments to walk and snap a pic so that I could take in the beauty and peacefulness of the morning. During the run I had great chats with a couple of different runners and enjoyed sharing running stories with each other. We ended up running about 7.25K and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Afterwards a couple of us went to a local coffee shop (Bumpy’s) and chatted away for about an hour about running, winter, etc. It was really nice to get out and meet some fellow runners and I look forward to doing this again. While living in Toronto I didn’t meet great running friends until close to leaving, which I regret now. This time around, I’d like to get out there, meet people, and be part of a community. Really looking forward to joining this group again… and who knows, maybe I’ll lead my own run group someday. A girl can dream! :)

Winter Running is Here

So it begins…

What, you ask?

Winter running.

That’s right, winter running has started in Calgary, Alberta and I will be honest… I’m not ready. I was debating doing another season of running outdoors because I did face some difficulties last year, but then I realized that I can’t stop now. Especially since I am considering a spring marathon as my first, well, I need to get my running butt outdoors. Even though I came to this realization, I didn’t want winter running to start so soon. But, this is Calgary and you can’t predict what mother nature will give you.

Yep, that's snow.

Yep, that’s snow.

So, this week we had snow on November 2nd… yes, you are reading that correctly – snow. And then the temperature dropped. My first “winter” run happened on November 3rd at about -5C and I was layered up. Don’t laugh, you know by now that I am a chronic over dresser. I probably didn’t need the jacket you see pictured, but what’s done is done. My worst over dressing experience definitely was Around the Bay 30K earlier this year, so I need to keep that in mind for future long runs. I don’t have all the answers for winter running, but I definitely learned some lessons last year. There will be new ones to learn as I embark on my second season of outdoor running in a different city. I’ve lived in Calgary for 5 winters previously, and I will say that they weren’t awesome. Very different from winters in Halifax and Toronto, especially the length. One year winter was from October to May! Yeah, that’s long for a girl who only really enjoys sunshine, warmth, and beaches. I really know how to pick where I live! :)

And so it begins... brrr!

And so it begins… brrr!

I’ve been enjoying seeing pics on Twitter and Instagram of people still in enjoying fall… pretty leaves, shorts on, etc. But here it’s time for winter running and I am trying to get myself pumped! Got any tips?

See you out there! I’ll be the girl bundled up. ;)

Toronto, I will miss parts of you…

Can you believe that I started this post months ago and then just never got to it? I had every intention of posting this during my transition from Toronto back to Calgary, but I got busy… and crazy… and busy. It happens to the best of us!

I decided I should still post this blog because I KNOW you are on the edge of your seat wondering what I will miss about big, crazy Toronto. Some of you may know that I had a difficult time adjusting to the huge city life in TO, but I think it started to grow on me near the end. Although I have been excited about this new chapter in my life, there are things, people, and places that I will miss about Toronto… so here’s a cool list for you to peruse. :)

Ten things I will miss about Toronto (no particular order)

1. The area we lived in. We were up in the north and the area was quite nice with all of the trees, wide open spaces, and parks. I never felt crowded in my area, which I can’t say about downtown.

2. The maple trees. The area that I lived in is lined with large, beautiful maple trees up and down the streets. It’s a gorgeous green in spring and summer and then in the fall the fantastic colours can’t even be described properly with words. It’s a gorgeous sight that I revelled in every day of the fall season. (I’m missing these trees right now!)

Stunning. <3

Stunning. <3

3. My best friend from Nova Scotia lives in Toronto. Enough said.

4. Going to Blue Jays games. I’ve loved baseball since I was little and the Jays have always been my team. I will definitely miss going to games and having a blast with friends at the ballpark.

5. My favourite football team is SO CLOSE. I’m a Buffalo Bills fan (go ahead and laugh) and living in Toronto has been convenient for making it south of the border for games. I’m not sure I’ll see a live Bills game again at this point.

6. Favourite restaurants – I have a few in different areas of the city, they will be missed. Danforth – Louis Meat Market. My area – Sushi Kiku & Wimpy’s Diner. Little Italy – Utopia. There’s definitely more, but I will miss these places most.

7. Wine country is very close. I love wine, so you know it’s nice to have so many wineries only about an hours drive away. Niagara wine country is absolutely stunning and definitely will be missed. … but my wallet may be happier. ;)

8. Large body of water nearby. Lake Ontario certainly doesn’t fill in for missing the Atlantic Ocean, but it was nice to have close by.

9. The winters are shorter than Calgary’s. Not a winter girl, wish I could avoid it, but alas I live in Canada. Seriously, there were flurries in Calgary in August. I can’t make this up.

10. My running friends. Perhaps too late into my journey in Toronto, I met some really awesome running friends. I miss these people every day, but I am glad that we still connect on Twitter and Instagram. Such a great support group of strong, confident people. Lisa, Carmy, Cathy, Melly, Gemma, Courtney, Heather, and many more both in person and online. You’re all awesome and I hope to see you again soon! Related – I will miss all the awesome races available in Toronto to run with these people. Great times and lots of fabulous memories.

friendstorontowomensrun

Awesome ladies!

Great group of people!

Great group of people!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know, there are probably more than ten things that I will miss, but this keeps the post short and to the point. I never thought I would say this, but I hope to visit Toronto again soon. It’s tough missing people in both Halifax and Toronto now, but I am glad to know great people across our amazing country. <3

Tell me, did I miss anything? Something else I should have mentioned about Toronto?