Tag: marathon

Fitness Swellness: Reaching Volt Level on Nike Run Club app

IMG_20200620_113936

I never knew attending the media launch of NikePlus in Toronto in the spring of 2007 would turn me into a runner who just last month logged 15,000 kilometres on the NRC app to reach Volt Level.

I couldn’t have predicted it. I hated running in gym class in school. I remember walking with a stitch in my side as I walked the perimetre of the schoolyard and hating my life at that moment.

I got to learn a little bit about running just before the NikePlus system launched here; my sister had gotten into running, and at the time I just didn’t understand the sport at all. I didn’t know a marathon was by definition 42.2k (I thought any run was a marathon and would call a 10k race a marathon, hahaha), and when I went to cheer her at her races, I didn’t understand how she’d been running for several hours, nor how we were able to predict where to find her along the route.

But I went to the NikePlus launch in 2007 and given I’d just started covering health for Flare magazine, I soon after registered for a Learn to Run clinic at the Running Room so I could put this system to use (back then the system involved putting the little sensor into the sole of your shoe, remember?!).

From there, I went onto the 5k clinic, 10k clinic and half-marathon. I stuck to the half distance for a little while since my time was quite slow, and I found myself struggling. Then I discovered I had a Graves Disease (that is, an overactive thyroid autoimmune disorder), which was why I would get so tired running (I’ll never forget my endocrinologist’s look of shock when I asked about running halfs and his direct order to not run long distances since it causes your muscles to tire quickly meant that I had to take a break for longer distances for a bit). A difficult breakup caused me to take another break, and then finally with my thyroid issues sorted out, and a halfhearted desire to get my life back on track, I joined a clinic again with a friend. It helped pull me out of depression, and I went on to register for marathon clinic, and I ran my first marathon in 2012, and finished with a time I was thrilled about for my first marathon.

Over the following eight years til now, I ran several other marathons (including Chicago for my third time in this race which I ran with a horrible cold) and halfs (my most recent and most memorable being the Dead Sea Half-Marathon), and a few 30ks (namely Around the Bay, which I last ran in 2014). Which brings us to 2020…

I’ve never been a runner who does a high volume, but with the pandemic, and no races in the calendar thanks to the pandemic, I decided to make simply logging distance a goal, so for April, I aimed to run 200k. Done and done.

And then at the end of April, when I needed another goal to keep me going, I came across the Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee 1000k and realized that if I registered, I would reach Volt Level and cross the GVRAT finish line at the same time. And if I could run 200k, certainly I could do 250k for the next four months, right?

I quickly realized my finish lines for Volt and GVRAT would not coincide since the virtual race is based on Lazarus Lake miles (and because the actual distance across Tennessee is actually 1021.68k) but no biggie, they’d just be a day or two apart. I registered for GVRAT…and within a week became intent on finishing the race as quickly as my body would allow without getting injured. Full breakdown of my GVRAT obsession in this post here!

00100trPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200628094044826_COVER (2) (1)

 

And less than two months into this virtual race, on a very hot and humid Sunday morning, June 28th, I reached Volt Level on NRC! 15,000 kilometres run. Given the number of runs not counted on NRC for a variety of reasons, I know IRL I reached this distance a little while go but I try not to focus on that missing data (but anyone who tracks their runs and for whom it’s a big motivating factor knows how it can make the run not seem like it even happened, hahaha). It took 13 years, and an intense 1021.68k race during a pandemic to get me to reach this level now (without GVRAT, I would’ve reached Volt sometime later this year).

Screenshot_20200628-091649

In terms of the NRC app, I have to say reaching Volt status was a little underwhelming in terms of the app. I expected something celebatory on the app. But the only difference is the screen now is the signature Volt yellow. It doesn’t even appear under the Achievements tab. But that’s OK, I have my own run celebration in store for this (hello, burger picnic with my running pal who’s also doing the GVRAT!). Oh, and I’ll happily be returning to using the NRC app on my Apple Watch rather than my phone (I had to switch for a few months as I didn’t have an iPhone to sync with my watch).

Although I find much of the personal motivation from the numbers (my pace, the kilometres I’ve completed, etc., etc.), the sport is about so much more than just the numbers, though. Running has brought so much to my life and changed me as a person. I’ve made good friends though the sport, had the opportunity to run in some incredible places around the world (Istanbul! The Dead Sea! Philly! Vancouver! To name just few.), and it’s pulled me out of low times in my lif, which I wrote about for Flare in 2012. The lessons in strength and resilience it’s taught me are immeasurable. On the days I dread having to run (because, believe it or not, I don’t consider myself someone who loves running, it’s very obvious to me when I talk to runners who are truly passionate about the actual act of running), I remind myself of all of the things running does do to enrich my life in incredible ways to get me to slog through sweaty, endless runs.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank you to Nike Canada for all of the support and gear and running opportunities through these 13 years, and the gear and events from other brands as well such as Apple, Reebok, Saucony, New Balance, Gatorade, Saucony and iRun magazine. (My apologies for brands I’ve overlooked, I think I’m still weary from my 1000k race!).

15,000k complete, and so many kilometres to go. There is no finish line.

Leave a Comment July 13, 2020

Fitness Swellness: My goal for the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee

IMG-20200513-WA0015_2

When I started the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, I fully intended on using the full four months (the race is from May 1st until August 31st) because anything more than the 8.5k daily (or approximately 60k per week) sounded very close to impossible.

I started week 1 with this schedule in mind. I’d just run nearly every day in April to complete 200k and I was kind of regretting having jumped right into a race that would have me running nearly daily all summer.  So I’d run 8.5k one day, but the next if I was tired I ran 6k, figuring I’d make up the distance with a longer run on a day with nice weather later in the week. I was very conscious of not falling behind on distance because it could quickly add up and become impossible to complete the race in time.

Then came week 2. And logging my miles into the GVRAT system, I saw where I stood amongst the 19,000 other runners, and well, that competitive side kicked in. I regularly upped my mileage, and now my usual run is 15k, and I’ve taken no days off. Taking a rest day usually means running 10k at a pace that feels easy.

And my goal for the month of May has changed over these past three weeks as well. I initially planned on 250 kilometres; then when I realized the race is actually 1021.68 kilometres (because that’s the actual distance across Tennessee) I added on the extra 22k to May, making my goal 272k. But then with my increased mileage, I realized I’d easily reach that, and I upped it to 300k, then 322k.

So this photo, which I took about a week and a half ago, was intended as a photo for reaching my goal at the end of the month. Except I’ve just reached 322k today, May 24. As for this upcoming last week in May, I’m going to stick to roughly the distances I’ve been logging daily, depending on how my body feels. Today and last Sunday, I can tell my legs need some rest after the 21k I’ve logged two Saturdays in a row.

The race has become a really welcome distraction in my life during the coronavirus pandemic, and my overall goal for the race is now to complete the 1,021.68 kilometres as soon as I can, within reason. I’m wary of injuring myself (this is more mileage I’ve ever run in fixed period of time, and run streaking is also something I haven’t done much of, and knock on wood, I’ve never had a running injury before and I don’t care to have my first injury now).

I’ll recap May at the end of the month, but right now I’ll continue my routine (which besides running, sometimes multiple times a day, translates to so much showering and running-gear laundry!).

1 Comment May 24, 2020

Fitness Swellness: I’m running 1,000 kilometres in the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee

IMG-20200504-WA0012_2

So…I’ve set a major running goal for summer 2020: I’m going to run 1,000 kilometres in the next four months.

But let’s backtrack a bit so you can get some context. On April 30th, I reached a distance goal of 200k I’d set for myself for the month of April. I’ve run more than that distance before in one month, but always when training for a marathon. For me, 200 kilometres without a marathon goal race in the calendar is a lot. I’m not the kind of runner who loves doing anything much longer than 10k unless I need to for training. And my preference is to run three days a week, four if I’m feeling ambitious. In April, I ended up running 24 days. They were mostly run at a comfortable pace; given the higher overall mileage and greater frequency, my focus was just getting the distance completed. My legs were tired and my pace never really improved, but I was fine with that. It wasn’t about speed. These runs in April became some much needed almost daily stress relief and nice outing in the fresh air while living in quarantine.

How did I come around to making my goal to run 1,000k this summer?

On the last day of April, here is my series of texts to a running friend:

4:06 p.m.: I completed my 200k goal for April and reached 14,000 km on Nike Run Club. My legs are tired, though. I’ll scale back my distance in May.

8:16 p.m.: In crazy runner fashion, now I’m thinking maybe my May goal should be 250 km.

11:40 p.m.: (upon coming across an article on Facebook about the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000k) Oh, and look what just popped up in my feed! That would be 250k a month!

What’s the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000k? The GVRAT is a summer-long race from the creator of the extremely vigorous Barkley Marathons, Lazarus Lake. The distance from the southeastern corner of the state of Tennessee to the northwestern corner is approximately 1,000 kilometres (or 621 miles). The race started on May 1st and goes until August 31st, which means participants have four months to run 1,000k. I was already considering 250k for May… so why not making it four months straight?

(N.B. The distance across Tennessee is actually 1,022 kilometres…and tbh, I’m not clear if it’s 1,000k or 1,022k I have to complete–as it stands, I will complete 1,022 to ensure I complete this virtual race!)

I hemmed and hawed about registering and I had some mixed feedback from friends about whether I should register or not. One reason I was compelled to register? Completing the 1,000k in the virtual race would also coincide with reaching Volt status on Nike Run Club (NRC), so it’d be kind of epic to complete both at the same time.

However, a reason I was iffy about registering (besides the daunting distance through the heat of the summer) was that if I had to prioritize, I’d rather run a marathon in the fall. My plan is to run Detroit Marathon again since I had such a great race last year there. But with the pandemic, who knows if marathons will actually be held this fall. If I were to register for GVRAT, and fall marathons do indeed take place, I’d have to figure out how to manage my training. While I would complete about 250k in a four-week period roughly a month before the marathon, to be completing 250k each month while hoping to run a great marathon is asking a lot of me, mentally and physically. And in training for a marathon, I’d be focused on improving speed and doing hill training, rather than simply completing distance. So juggling the two goals would be a challenge.

I waffled a bit, but I decided it would help to have a goal like the GVRAT to focus on and help me manage  the stress of the pandemic. I can’t control many aspects of life right now, but I can manage my running workouts. It will be a good distraction, and having a running schedule would add some structure to my calendar. Also, normally, I often have to juggle marathon training around traveling for work; now, it will likely be a long time til travel picks up again, so I have plenty of time while at home in Toronto and I can invest that time towards this running goal.

And so I registered for the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee and joined the 16,000+ runners worldwide taking part as well. You can also register your dog, and Billie Jean will likely run most of the 1,000k with me, but I can’t be sure of that (sometimes I may run home from an errand when she’s not with me, plus I can’t have her run with me very long on the days it is unbearably hot and humid), and so I haven’t officially registered her in the dog category of the race.

How I will structure my 1,000 kilometres

Currently, my plan is to switch up the distances. If running daily, 1,000k works out to approximately 8.5k daily. I prefer to have some rest days so I plan to change it up from week to week with some longer runs so that I can take a rest day. That said, I don’t really enjoy running more than 20k when not in training for a marathon. Right now, I’m thinking a decent week might be to run four 15k runs, plus a short recovery run. Also, I predict many of Billie Jean’s quick pee breaks will likely become short, slow and easy runs. I’m going to play around with the schedule and see what works best for me mentally and physically. The race rules allow you to walk (but it has to be a walk with the purpose of walking/hiking, not simply the tally of your day to day steps).

Here I go! Virtually traveling on foot across Tennessee!

A few days into it and it’s nice to have this distraction. GVRAT team is working hard on getting the online tracking system up and running. The site has fun stats including where you are in the standings, projected finish date, and shows you approximately where you are on the course. Today, I finally reached Memphis!

Who else is doing the race? By the way, registration is still open… anyone else want to register? The more the merrier, we can cheer one another on! In any case, you can follow my progress across Tennessee on my social media (follow me on Instagram and Twitter!) and here on the blog!

Leave a Comment May 4, 2020

Previous page


Recent Posts

Categories

Recent Comments