Tag: pandemic

Healthy Swellness: 2020 Year in Review

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What can I say about this past year…I debated not writing this post this year, but then I started thinking it might be helpful to look back and see that this year wasn’t a total write-off…

This year started off really well for me. 2019 had ended amazingly with a phenomenal trip to Thailand. And I felt like 2020 was going to be my year. Work was going well, I was working with many smart and kind people and was in a groove. In early February of this year, I had the phenomenal opportunity to run the Dead Sea Marathon (I just did the half distance as I was not in race-shape) and extended my trip and fell totally in love with Israel. The phenomenal food, the sights, and I will always remember Tel Aviv as the city where a complete stranger secretly paid for my lunch, just out of the kindness of his heart.

Then I came back in early March from a press trip on a cruise and the pandemic had fully grabbed hold of Toronto a few days later. And 2020 all went to SH*T. It was most definitely not going to be my year, or anyone’s year. And it’s been hard AF.

But a couple of weeks ago it dawned on me that this year has not been the most challenging year I’ve experienced, and since then, this has made me feel more prepared to make it through each day. I feel like I’m always a work in progress when it comes to being more resilient and if anything this year has shown how resilient we all are. Day to day life has been a struggle for sure, and as overwhelming as those struggles have been, I’m happy and proud of a few things I managed to do this year:

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I ran my first ultra race. I worked my ass off and ran 1,021.68 kilometres in 91 days, and then ran and walked another 1,021.68k before the official end of the four-month period of the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. Thinking back to May and June now, I truly can’t believe I ran sometimes as much as three times a day to complete the race more than twice as early as I initially planned to complete the race. And to have doubled the distance with including a ton of walking. I had Laz Lake comment on one or two of my Facebook comments so having this running legend correspondence, plus doing this virtual race with my friend Aylin, well, this experience would not have happened without the pandemic as I have always sworn that I am not someone who runs every single day, including getting up to run at sunrise (which in an of itself is an accomplishment for this non-morning person).

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I read 17 books. I started the year with a few goals, and I only managed to complete one of them. While I failed at learning how to use my camera and doing workouts other than running, I crushed my goal to read one book a month. I’m thrilled to have returned to my passion for reading. I took too many years off from reading books and being able to disconnect from social media and escape into a book has helped me regain a sense of calm. I have an ongoing list of books to read and plan to continue and hopefully boost how much I read in the new year. (Of the two books pictured, I reco Ask Again, Yes; I didn’t get to the Gladwell book yet!)

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I found new ways to spend time with friends. My go-to for catching up with friends is typically to meet for dinner and drinks. While that will always be something I love to do, with restaurants closed for dining much of this year, it means with some friends, we have discovered new ways to see each other. Including hiking (something I love but somehow with certain friends we just have never made the effort to), or just meeting at a park or for a bike ride. And enjoying the outdoors always serves up a fantastic mood boost.

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I rode my bike more than I have in my entire life, and on city streets. I only started riding my bike towards the end of August, as I was entirely focused on completing as many running and walking kilometres for my virtual race up until then. But once I completed that race, I rode my bike (even on busy streets like College St.!) to get around the city, and I met up with friends to go for a ride, usually with our destination being a delicious local food spot. I still am not 100 percent comfortable with riding in the city, but this year I’ve ridden at night, in the rain and snow and was on my bike up until December 29th. Today there’s some snow and ice on the roads so I might need to pause until spring, but all of the kilometres I completed on two wheels these last few months is a major feat for me.

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The biggest and best thing to come out of this year, though, is that it’s forced me to remember and appreciate what really matters, being in good health and the people that are important to me. I’ve tried my best to nurture both those things; that said, I regularly fail at getting enough sleep, though, and have developed a chocolate habit the past few months; and sometimes I just don’t have the bandwidth to check in on loved ones. I try not to beat myself up about it, we are all doing the best we can, after all. We survived this unprecedented way of living and that’s a lot, and it’s enough if that is “all” you can chalk up for this year.

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Take a moment to think of the best that’s come out of this past year. I think you too will find there are those moments, even if small. Even if fleeting. Even if the only thing you can think of that you accomplished is finishing a puzzle (I have only managed to complete one, turns out I’m terrible at puzzles. But I’m still working at it!).

Oh, I almost forgot to check my 2020 Top Nine on Instagram…about half are fitness-focused. A couple of travel shots, and one is from my Billie Jean-centred partnership with Giant Tiger (she’s still snacking on the treats from that partnership!). And one is all about gin, which makes sense as I sure sipped more than a few cocktails in 2020!

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And with that, I wish you a brighter, safe and happy 2021.

k xo

Leave a Comment December 30, 2020

Fitness Swellness: What I learned at Sugo Sundays

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They had me at Sugo.

If you follow me on IG, you know I’m a fan of the food at Sugo, an Italian-American resto at Bloor and Lansdowne; I did an early carboload there for my Detroit Marathon last year, and just about two months ago, celebrated finishing the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (and Back Across Tennessee) with a meal there. The velvety sauce on the rigatoni, crave-worthy and the perfect comfort food!

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So when Sugo slid into my DMs and asked me if I wanted to participate in their first ever edition of Sugo Sundays, I was little confused as to what the goal of the fitness-focused workshop was but my immediate answer was yes, I’d love to take part!

For three Sundays in September, a group of about 20 or so of us met up at a track and first worked on a warm-up of dynamic stretches with some of the team from Myodetox, followed by a short run and running drills, then a kickboxing session lead by Striking Concepts. And last but not least, refueling on food from the team at Sugo, yasss!

(Plus, the folks from Myodetox offered some stretching and fascia work post-workout as well).

Sugo Sundays got me to foray into running again (I’ve been taking a rest since completing GVRAT mid-August), I had what is possibly my first (!) mini session doing fascia work with a physiotherapist (and I felt so much better afterwards–my body is a bit angry at me still from the 2000+ kilometres I did over the summer), and I found the kickboxing sessions enlightening; I’ve been to other classes at a few studios in the past but I find it’s very often not focused on form but rather just getting things done quickly in a HIIT format, and all I get mired up in is figuring out the damn sequence based on the numbers for jab, hook and cross. Here, thanks to Evan from Striking Concepts, I got to understand for example what angle my arm should be at, the proper positioning of my feet, and more.

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And from the refuel, I discovered that the Sugo kitchen can put out more than just great pasta. I missed week 1 of Sugo Sundays (it was a downpour and even though I’ve run and raced in the rain, I simply couldn’t get myself to bike to the track that day to start the workout drenched), so I missed the classic Sugo carb up (the meal was lasagna, still sad I missed out!). For week 2, the meals was keto (think trout and sauteed spinach) and week 3 was vegan (a quinoa bowl with tofu and an incredible chocolate cake), and both meals were very satisfying and ones I’d happily eat regularly. And I appreciated Sugo co-owner Conor Joerin saying that eating healthy means finding what works for you, adding that the team doesn’t eat pasta 24/7. So true, and why I bristle when people seem surprised I’ll happily eat a giant bowl of pasta or a plate of fried chicken. Do I eat that daily? Of course not! I eat what works for me.

I asked Conor what made them hold Sugo Sundays and he said he was initially inspired by a workshop he’d done with Lululemon a year or so agao and the lasting connections he’d made on that trip. With the pandemic and being a social person himself, he was felt this was a great way to build community and bring together healthy lifestyle-type folks with people from the restaurant industry (who, he noted, are not always leading the most active type of lifestyle). And he felt that with this continuing pandemic, and with us heading into the colder months, it was a great time to bring people together to make connections at a time when we all especially need it.

I’m sad Sugo Sundays is already over… but I can’t wait to set up an appointment at Myodetox and cook up something using the jar of organic tomato sauce made from tomatoes at Conor’s farm! Thank you to Sugo for the invite, and see you over a plate of pasta soon, or a slice of pizza (did you know they recently opened pizzeria Conzo’s next door to Sugo?)!

P.S. Conor promised us a few recipes from our refuel meals, and I’ll share those when I get them!

 

 

Leave a Comment October 4, 2020

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

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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


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