Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Running doesn't solve everything

I've been running 30+ years now.  Back in the day I could eat what I wanted to, drink what I wanted to yet could keep the weight and belly fat off by just going for a run.  Ahh...the good old days.  Fast forward to my mid-50's and that model has mysteriously gone out the window.  I guess if I paid enough attention to my changed metabolism I wouldn't be this stressed.  But you know me, I just charge along stumbling and fumbling along the way.  Running of course!

So I got to thinking:  running doesn't solve everything.  Oh it tries, it really tries but there are things that running doesn't solve.  Here are a few that come to mind:

  1. Running doesn't get rid of belly fat.  Try as I have, I can't seem to shake the middle-age belly roll. I saw a T shirt at Mark's Work Wearhouse that promised to 'reduce the midrift shape' and was intrigued.  Girdles for men?
  2. Running doesn't reduce stress.  Not thinking about work-related problems reduces stress.  Staying focused on running and enjoying the outdoors reduces stress.  The act of running increases muscle stress...which is good stress.
  3. Running won't cure a hangover.  Well actually it does.  But you have to run for long enough for your increased heart and breathing rate to burn off the hangover feeling.  And it will hurt:  Your legs will feel like lead, your head will pound...you will promise never to drink again.
  4. Running doesn't turn back time.  It slows it down though...if I hadn't started running 30 years ago I'm pretty sure I'd still be at a size 42" waist, be on medication for high blood pressure and who knows what else.  That reclining armchair would have been my friend.
  5. Running won't help you make friends.  OK, this one is not true.  Larry, Dan, Navin, Mike, Jet, Joy, Diane, Frano...way too many other's to name.  And I made friends with my kids Andrew and Court who I've run with in Toronto and Jamaica a couple of times over the past few years.  Court even got me through the Reggae Marathon Half Marathon in 2010 when he sacrificed his time to pace me back to the finish line.
So, running really doesn't solve everything. But running sure does makes life so much better. 

Until next time...


I'm raising funds for the Heart & Stroke Foundation in 2013.  My goal is to raise $2,000 by December 31.  My planned races in 2013 include:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Getting High with my Favourite Running Songs

The Runner's High...it is real. Not psychedelic high like drug-induced highs.  Endorphin high that washes away anxiety, stress, moodiness and replaces them with euphoria, calmness and a state of general well being.  I generally can't go a day without running and not feel anxious...so to reduce the anxiety I go running.  I love the Runner's High!

Most of my running is alone.  Since I run early morning along city streets, I need to be aware of vehicles and traffic.  When I run the trails, I like to hear the birds chirping.  Sally who has recently started walking the Humber River Trail near our place says the same thing.  She has already experienced the Walker's High!

I love music.  Rock, Jazz and that wonderful combination of Jazz/Rock mastered by bands like The Dave Matthews Band are favourite genres.  But even though I love music, I don't run to music.  I don't like the earbuds at all and I carry my Samsung Galaxy Note Smartphone to take pictures and videos.  But I do like running music...music that gets my foot tapping, my blood pumping...music that I have to play LOUD!  Here are a few of my favourite 'Getting High' running songs:
  1. "Running Back to Saskatoon", The Guess Who
  2. "Life is a Highway", Tom Cochrane and Red Rider
  3. "Two Step", Dave Matthews Band
  4. "Loose Yourself", Eminem
  5. "Walking on Sunshine", Katrina and the Waves
  6. "Echo Beach", Martha and the Muffins
  7. "Thunderstruck", AD/DC
  8. "Relax", Frankie Goes to Hollywood
  9. "Two Tribes", Frankie Goes to Hollywood
  10. "Desire, the Hollywood Mix", U2
  11. "Firestarter", The Prodigy
  12. "Running Down a Dream", Tom Petty
  13. "I Got a Feeling", Black Eyed Peas
  14. "Tubthumping", Chumbawumba
  15. "1999", Prince
  16. "Beat It", Michael Jackson
  17. "Ramble On", Led Zeppelin
  18. "Midnight Rambler", The Rolling Stones
  19. "Brick House", The Commodores
  20. "Last Dance", Donna Summer
I have been know to sing these songs out loud while running.  Out of tune and flat for sure but sung with all the emotion and energy they inspire.  And I'm pretty sure that after going through the above list at least one of them is currently playing in your head right now. You're welcome.

Until next time...
I'm raising funds for the Heart & Stroke Foundation in 2013.  My goal is to raise $2,000 by December 31.  My planned races in 2013 include:

Please join me on Facebook at Run for Heart.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I stopped to take in the scenery on my last run

Every once in a while I stop running and take a few moments to take it all in.  Last Sunday morning on my long slow distance run was one of those moments.  I was near the end of my run anyway (about 1 mile from home).  And with my Samsung Galaxy Note with me (shameless product plug) I caught a few pictures plus the video below.

I took this photo from the trail on the east side of the Humber River just south of the Dundas Street Bridge.  For you history buffs, this is in an area originally called Lambton Mills and is about 2 miles north of Old Mill on Bloor Street.  For most of this part of the trail it's really hard to remember that I'm in the heart of Etobicoke with busy streets nearby.  And because I run very early in the morning, I generally have the trail all to myself.  Later in the day it gets very busy with walkers, runners and cyclists all sharing the trail very courteously.

But the video below really does better justice to the almost complete separation of city and country possible by running the Humber Trail.  I shot it at a small waterfall and the sound of the water rushing over the edge completely drowns out the sounds of the city.  The illusion is complete!

Over the years I've enjoyed running in just about every location I've visited or lived.  Most recently I enjoyed running along the beach in Wasaga Beach.  But now back in Toronto, it's tough to beat the magnificence of running along the Humber River.  It's enough to get me to stop long enough to take it all in!

Until next time...
I'm raising funds for the Heart & Stroke Foundation in 2013.  My goal is to raise $2,000 by December 31.  My planned races in 2013 include:

Please join me on Facebook at Run for Heart.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Speedwork and Hills!

I used to just go for a run.  Then one day I decided to race.  It's been a battle against time ever since.

That wasn't necessarily a bad thing when I was young and foolish.  But now that I'm on my second half century it's become a bit more of a challenge.  On two fronts actually.  First, the work it takes to run faster and second the challenge to stay healthy and un-injured.  So speedwork and hills.

On the speedwork front, I use the local high school dirt track.  Prior to the recent hurricane level rain it was a lovely oval of hard-packed red clay.  It's suffered some damage recently that I hope will be addressed before the new school season starts in September because it's really messed up my weekly speedwork sessions.  Normally I head out from home at a faster-than-usual pace for the 1 mile distance to the track.  Then I do a series of 'Repeats to Failure':  sprinting the straights then walking/slowly jogging the curves to catch my breath.  So far I'm up to about 6 laps of this torture (about 1 1/2 miles) before I'm spent.  The really hard part is the slow 1 mile jog back home.


Then there are the hill workouts! 

Where we live there aren't too many real hills.  We do have the descent/ascent down to the Humber River however and it's become my nemesis! It's a steep, narrow, uneven dirt path up the side of the ravine.  It starts steep then gets really stupid for the last 5 metres.  I know 5 metres doesn't sound like a lot but after my 3rd repeat my thighs are burning and my lungs are trying to do an 'Alien'!  Again, I try to do these hill repeats only once every other week.  These photos are of the trail but they really don't do justice to the steepness of the incline.  You'll just have to trust me when I tell you that after my 5th repeat I've invented some new swear words to go along with the burning in my quads and searing in my lungs.  The beauty here though is that it's a quick walk back home and the relief of a cold compress on my knee.  Yeah, there's some pain but I've been looking after it carefully.

The big benefit of all this pain is that my regular runs have become fun again.  While it may only be in my mind, I feel as if I'm running faster.  For sure I'm running more comfortably with the mid-foot running style. We'll see how fast I really am this fall in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon where I'm running the 1/2 Marathon and again in Negril in Decemeber at Reggae Marathon where I'm running the 10K.

Until next time...


I'm raising funds for the Heart & Stroke Foundation in 2013.  My goal is to raise $2,000 by December 31.  My planned races in 2013 include:
Please join me on Facebook at Run for Heart.