Tag: goal setting

Fitness Swellness: 5 things I’ve learned training for the 2018 Chicago Marathon

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As I mentioned last week, this training season for Chicago Marathon has been rough. And I’m not feeling like it’ll be a strong race for me. I think I’ve run enough marathons to have a good sense of what I can expect from my body. While I don’t think I’ve gotten strong enough physically, I feel like my brain has been working against me, so I’ve been working on looking at the positive aspects of this upcoming race. Because otherwise, I fall into thinking, “Why bother?” with completing the race if I won’t PB. And that is not the right mindset when running 42.2 kilometres!

So, here’s what this Chicago Marathon and this training season has going for it when it comes to my running goals:

  1. Chicago Marathon is where I do well racing the 42.2k distance. I’ve run it twice before (in 2017 and 2014) and these are my two fastest marathons (and that’s even with the intense heat we had for 2017’s race). I remind myself of this all the time.
  2. I discovered NRC Guided Runs thanks to Nike Run Coach Brittany Moran adding a few to my training sched, and they’ve improved treadmill training by making them less boring. I avoid the treadmill as much as possible as I find it about as dull as Outlander (don’t @ me) but having the coach talk me through each interval in the NRC Guided Speed Runs helps to break up the workout nicely. The one with Kevin Hart and Coach Bennett (remember when he told me I needed psychiatric help for running two races one week apart, haha) had me laughing.
  3. I’m getting better at replacing dreading runs with being grateful. When Nike Run Coach Brittany Moran heard I dread each long run, she reminded me that a lot of people aren’t able to run, and I know how awful I feel when I’ve been told to lay off of running (due to issues like my formerly overactive thyroid, or not being able to wear contact lenses).While those long runs in nearly 40 Celsius weather this summer have been grueling, I am thankful to be injury-free and physically capable of completing runs short and long. “To be honest, I’m jealous,” said a friend who’s taken a break from running about me running Chicago.
  4. I now think “fun” not “fast.” In the NRC Guided Run Run with Mo, Mo Farah instructs you to think not about going fast, but having fun, I now make a deliberate effort to think that when I do speed work. Rather than repeating, “This is freakin’ brutal and my heart feels like it’s going to explode and I can’t possibly run harder or faster,” I think “Let’s have more FUN.” I can’t say it works entirely (it still hurts to push hard through a tough workout and I know I really just need to try my best to hit the pace I’m aiming for), but thinking “fun” helps to shift my focus into a more positive space.
  5. Running gives me quality time with Billie Jean. I’ve been mostly training solo, which can be draining. But with my work schedule and travel, and with me not being a morning person (which is when most run crews run), the flexibility of running solo is often what works best for me. To help me make it through long runs, I usually run 22k alone and then pick up my dog, Billie Jean, for the last portion of my run. She’s run as long as 14k in the past with me, but with the intense summer conditions, I limit her distance to be on the safe side.

A friend who’s completed Ironman gave me a little pep talk the other day, too. She reminded me that even if Chicago 2018 isn’t my best marathon, it’ll help me prepare for future marathons, I can use it as an opportunity to experiment (whether I want to use a pacer or not, for example, in future marathons when trying to BQ) and that even if it’s not my best time, I’ll know what my current marathon time is to gauge my fitness level going forward. And last but not least, she reminded me that I may just surprise myself and it’s possible that every element comes together (nutrition, rest, weather, gear, mental state and crowd support), and I may just BQ.

I may BQ. It could happen. After all, in 2014, I was less than two minutes from BQ-ing and I totally didn’t expect to finish with that time (I’d anticipated finishing about 13 minutes slower!).

Plus, I have an excuse to go get a killer manicure again.

It’s only a crazy dream until you do it, after all. That’s what I learned at the Just Do It HQ Chicago I visited last week. And besides, PB or BQ or not, there is some very rad Chicago Marathon Nike gear this year.

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Also, while at the Just Do It HQ last week, I got the chance to customize a Chicago Marathon tank, which I will wear proudly after the race (once I’ve earned it!).

Nike Chicago Marathon tank

Leave a Comment September 24, 2018

Healthy Swellness: 2017 in review

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As 2017 comes to a close, I will tell you I don’t really want to reflect on what’s been a very hard year. But I will because it’ll help me move forward and motivate me to work on making next year better. Up above is my best nine as determined by that site, and yes, there are some great highlights there.

I have been thinking about this past year all week and even I have to admit that there are some shining moments, ones that I let get overshadowed by overwhelming anxiety and stress. When I put some time into thinking about the year, 2017 will be the year that I will remember for these moments:

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My life changed for the better by adopting Billie Jean. In February, when an extremely scared hound landed at my door as my very first foster through Save Our Scruff, I had zero intention of adopting a dog. I wanted to foster as that was a way I could help a great organization while also getting some quality time with dogs that I could fit with my schedule. Then as Billie Jean came to trust me and came out of her shell more and more each day, I fell head over heels for her. More than love for this incredible pup, she was good for my health. She helped me to stress less and forced me to have more balance in my life. The truth is that there are days I feel stress and anxiety are swallowing me whole and I want me up feeling as though I’m in a dark place, and yet I have no choice but to take her out for a walk. Her trust, sheer happiness and wagging tail are like a switch for me. I exhale and she reminds me that we just have to keep on keepin’ on.

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I got to travel and explore and make new friends. I don’t believe that if you put something out in the world that it’ll come true…but I’d become fixated on visiting Lake Tahoe, and I was lucky enough to travel there for work and it was as stunning as I hoped. The same goes for Park City. I had been intrigued by this city I’d heard so much about and I felt so fortunate when I got to ski there in some epic conditions and do one of the most incredible SUP yoga classes ever. I visited California several times again this year and fell in love with it even more. More and more, I think I’m meant to be a California girl. Belize has always, too, been on my radar and I was thrilled to go on an epic trip there with G Adventures where we went caving, made tortillas from scratch with some inspiring women, and learned drumming with locals. 

Camping with Billie Jean and Bun

I road tripped all summer long and learned to camp. I spent much of the year focusing on close-to-home getaways with Billie Jean from late spring through to the fall. From a few trips to wine country (including PEC and Niagara) to learning to camp (a new passion for me—and am thrilled about partnering with MEC for some gear I plan to continue to use regularly!), staying in Ontario and enjoying quality time with my favourite dog was perfect. With it being Canada 150, it was great to celebrate what an incredible country we live in and discovering areas I’d never been to like Norfolk County. Besides the fun of camping and exploring Ontario, I’m also giving myself props for all the driving I did this year. Truth is I prefer to be a passenger but feel more comfortable behind the wheel now and even did my first two days at a race track.

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I met Charlie Hunnam. Last year, I got to meet Taylor Lautner, this year JAX TELLER.  What can I say, I fangirl hard for some celebs. As a Sons of Anarchy fan, meeting him, I was on cloud nine. I also go to meet Nicholas Hoult and had dinner with chef Curtis Stone so it was a pretty star-studded year. Oh, and I partied on a Bacardi bus with Luis Fonsi (I still love that song Despacito!)

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I got to see Backstreet Boys in concert. Yes, I’ve seen them many, many times but it doesn’t make it any less special, haha! Front row at their show in Las Vegas cost a fortune and was an ordeal (lining up so we could nab our prime spot at the stage, ugh) but seeing them in concert makes me ridiculously giddy and happy so it was well worth it. As was seeing NKOTB in concert again. I swear I feel an endorphin rush just reminiscing about it while writing this. I got to make a deep connection with the souls (OK, hold hands briefly…) of almost every one of these boy band-ers this year, yassssssss!

NKOTB 2017

I ran two marathons and cross-trained more. After my longest break from the 42.2k distance, I ran the Chicago Marathon and Hamilton Marathon, bringing my marathon total up to eleven. While Chicago was fine and Hamilton quite terrible, and neither was the ultimate result I wanted, I am proud to have these races completed. A marathon is difficult and a lot of hard training (which I think I forget sometimes) and I have to remind myself that there once was a time I couldn’t even dream of completing such a distance.

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As for  cross-training, I still focus heavily on running but I did work in a bit more variety to my fitness. Dance classes at Dance Life X is something I adored (I grew up taking dance classes and have always loved it). I made the effort to go to yoga classes and through work I got to include workouts such as Pilates, Spinning and HIIT. With Billie Jean, I hiked more and got out into nature more. She’s good for my health in so many ways.

kick back with a tall cold one

Work including some fantastic collaborations. Work has its ups and downs but this year there were projects and partnerships I loved working on: Working with Reebok on content about running and travel. Food campaigns with Loblaws. Content with Dairy Farmers of Canada, including this super fun retro-inspired one (above) and one about the power of protein. Some fun video content with College of Kinesiologists of Ontario. And let’s not forget projects I got to include Billie Jean on such as with Dyson and Marks.

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So, what are my goals for 2018…

With just a few hours left in 2017, I see that this year wasn’t entirely without good moments. Looking ahead to 2018, I strive for more balance in my life. While I traveled less this year (which was what I aimed for), I still went on eleven trips and 12 road trips, and the time, effort and disruption to my schedule that caused is simply very stressful and overwhelming for me. I need to work on not overextending myself.

Health-wise, I intend to try to include more variety and will continue to try to improve my running. I think more dance, tennis and Pilates will be key to my happiness when it comes to working out. I will plan on some goal races, but I have not yet decided on which ones. Ideally, I’d like to do one marathon destination race. When it comes to other aspects of wellness, I will continue to work on getting better sleep, drinking more water (I have started to drink a bit more!), and eat more veggies. A little more self-care, too, in terms of keeping my negative inner voice in check. I had a wake-up call recently when a client told me some content beat up on the reader too much, and I realized that the copy was essentially how I speak to myself all the time.

For work, I aim to continue to partner with brands who align with Health & Swellness. I’ve met and worked with several people who truly understand my brand and for that, I’m proud and plan to pursue collaborations with such companies more in the new year.

For this blog, I hope to blog more about my passions. Sheer lack of time has meant I cover some interests too infrequently. I have lots of ideas and things I want to write about, but just run out of time. But if I can achieve a more manageable schedule, you can look forward to more beauty and food posts in 2018 and my ramblings…I’ll try to keep the boy band love to a minimum, I promise!

Here’s to a safe and happy goodbye to 2017, and wishing you an incredible 2018! It’s a year brimming with possibilities!

Karen xo

Lost in Paradise in the Bahamas

 

 

1 Comment December 31, 2017

Healthy Swellness: My Ocean Spray® PACt® Cranberry Extract Water #evenbetter goal

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A couple of weeks ago, I challenged myself to get #evenbetter with my running, specifically in terms of improving my pace. And to help me reach that goal, I had a few tactics in mind, including hydrating with Ocean Spray® PACt® Cranberry Extract Water, which contains the #powerof50 cranberries.

I suppose I should remind you that speed work is not my favourite. Nor is sweating. But I’ve been down about my pace slowing significantly so my hope was that this goal would give me the push I needed to kick-start my training for a fall race.

During my two weeks working on my goal, the weather was hot, I traveled both to New York City and Sayulita, and life was, as usual, just plain hectic. But having the goal to work towards, as well as clear strategies to get me there, worked. In NYC, having not run in a day or so, I committed to getting out of my hotel before 5 a.m. for a short sprint, and this night owl managed to do it.

On a warm Saturday evening, I was very close to putting off my tempo run, but I knew that’d set me back from meeting my goal, and so I ran just as the sun was setting.

And on a particularly hot afternoon, when I would’ve normally eased into a comfortable pace, I was lucky to have my running buddy with me, and she motivated me and helped get me through this run in which we ran tempo and then fartleks.

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Hydration also played a key role in helping me working toward my goal. I’m a heavy sweater so I should hydrate more than I do. With a supply of Ocean Spray® PACt® Cranberry Extract Water it was easy to keep hydrated throughout the day since it’s tasty (I always resist drinking plain water as I’m simply not a fan), and the subtle flavour worked well as a drink during my training as it didn’t bother my stomach (always key during a run!). My favourite flavour was Cranberry Pomegranate for running, but I did enjoy having a variety of flavours for sipping when not training.

So did I achieve my goal? While my comfortable pace is still slower than I am happy with, I did learn that when pushing myself to run faster for a shorter distance than I usually train for, I am not as slow as I think I am. When I ran with my friend, she was checking our pace to make sure we were on track and she had us rein in our pace at one point as we were running a sub 5 min/km pace, and that was a nice surprise.

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I’m happy to know, thanks to this #evenbetter goal, that I can reach target speeds when I set my mind to it.

Being well-hydrated is always a good idea, so I think being able to enjoy low-cal, tasty Ocean Spray® PACt® Cranberry Extract Water set me on a good track both for my goal and my overall wellness. If, like me, you haven’t been able to get on the water train because you find it bland, you might have more success hydrating with Ocean Spray® PACt® Cranberry Extract Water.

So that’s my #evenbetter goal completed. How about you? What small goal will you challenge yourself to?

Ocean Spray® PACt® Cranberry Extract Water is a tasty and low-calorie way to hydrate in a more meaningful way. Packed with the power of 50 cranberries, PACt® Cranberry Extract Water delivers unique cranberry health benefits. Visit http://pact.oceanspray.ca to learn more and find out where to buy PACt® water at a store near you.

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Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Ocean Spray® via Mode Media Canada.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Ocean Spray®.

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1 Comment July 20, 2016

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