Tag: training

Fitness Swellness: My Gatorade #KeepSweating progress and the importance of hydration

Gatorade and G2

As you may know, I’ve got a big fitness goal for this fall: qualifying for the Boston Marathon, and to help me, Gatorade has partnered with me to help me work towards that goal during what we’re calling the Summer of Sweat. They’ve provided me with a supply of Gatorade, G2 and Gatorade Protein Shakes for hydration and recovery, plus I’ve joined the Pace & Mind team, so I have help from running coach Rejean Chiasson.

Since officially kicking off this Summer of Sweat program, life has been a whirlwind. I now somehow find myself with less than 40 days until the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (it’s on October 18, 2015) and I barely felt like I’d officially started training and I’m all of a sudden running the longest distances we will be doing for training. I think I was caught off guard because it took me awhile to decide on a goal race, so while I was maintaining and slowly building distance, mentally, I wasn’t officially in marathon training mode.

It didn’t help that in August, I was home in Toronto for only 11 days. I can manage shorter runs when I’m traveling, I prefer to run my long distances at home. My busy schedule also means that I have yet to make it out to run with my Pace & Mind teammates as a group. I’ve run with one team member and am regularly in contact with Rejean about my training. There’s a lively group chat of some very enthusiastic runners in the group, though, so that’s a new element to my training. The next few weeks are less travel-heavy so, it’s a goal of mine to train with the Pace & Mind team.

Given the hectic pace of August, I managed to maintain a consistent schedule for training, but I have slacked on the speed training, which is precisely what I need to get me to my goal. So I definitely need to focus, work hard and #KeepSweating from now on.

As luck would have it, Toronto was also hit with some extremely hot and humid weather, which made sure I kept sweating. My pace for long runs decreased significantly and I can’t help but find that stressful. I can’t even meet the slowest pace that coach has assigned me but he assured me that the pace he refers to is during ideal conditions (i.e.: when it’s not 38 Celsius outside).

Given the conditions, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to hydrate with Gatorade during my runs. My favourite flavour is Cool Blue, but as it gets closer to my goal race, I’ll likely try to stick more to the Lemon-Lime since that is often served on race courses.

I see so many runners without water and it boggles my mind. Even on a run as short as 5K, I feel parched; on a 32k run last week, I drank two-and-a-half bottles of Gatorade and a one-and-a-half bottles of water, and immediately downed a chocolate Gatorade Protein Shake (which has 20 grams of protein and rings in at 270 calories) as soon as I got home to help with muscle recovery. I always try to be really careful with hydration when I run since I’m not so great at consuming enough fluids from day to day (a habit I still struggle with improving) and I’m a heavy sweater. Like, seriously heavy. I think this is why I dislike sweating so much; I don’t experience just a light glistening of sweat like other girls in my NTC class. I am dripping and my gear is absolutely drenched with sweat.

If you’re not too clear as to how an electrolyte sports drink like Gatorade helps you when you work at high intensity, well, when you sweat, you lose sodium and potassium, Gatorade contains 210 mg of sodium and 55 mL of potassium per 500m to help replace what you sweat out. For more information on the importance of sodium and potassium and the science behind Gatorade, check out www.gatorade.ca

This is why I tend to only drink sports drinks on my long runs (which last for more than one hour), but not so often during my other training runs. My easy runs are a much shorter distance so I can hydrate with water or G2 (I’ll drink the G2, which is lower in calories depending on the intensity of my run and other factors such as the temperature outside.

During a recent 32k run last week that lasted over three hours, based on what I’ve read, it seems I may be on the low end of carb replenishment based on how much Gatorade I consumed, but I also ate several Honey Stinger electrolyte gummies during my run as well. I’ve taken note and will now try to up my intake since I believe I sweat more than the average person.

By the way, when running, it can be easy to fall into a zone and forget to drink so to make sure I hydrate regularly; every two kilometres I take a big sip. (If you run with regular walk breaks, say if you’re running 10s and 1s, use your one-minute break to hydrate.)

With 24 days to go until the Scotiabank Waterfront Toronto Marathon, stay tuned because my next Gatorade #KeepSweating post will be my marathon recap! And in the meanwhile, follow along with my training on Instagram and on Twitter.



Leave a Comment September 23, 2015

Fitness Swellness: Marathon-training mental meltdown

Actually I can

With six days to go until I run my eight marathon, the Goodlife Toronto Marathon, I’m overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, and I have been for weeks.

It’s more than just pre-race jitters. And it’s more than this having been a brutal winter to train in (although that certainly didn’t help out matters). I think running marathons for three-and-a-half years (two marathons a year, and one year during which I ran three, along with a few 30k races and some halfs and 10ks) combined with my type A personality is swallowing me up whole with stress. Type A personalities tend to be very competitive and self critical, and they get wound up easily. I’m surprised my picture is not next to the definition I just googled. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do better, run faster, and get that PB, but lately, and ironically, the very sport that I’ve been using for stress relief is now perhaps causing me more stress than it is alleviating it.

Don’t get  me wrong. I think some stress when it comes to training is good. It helps keep you disciplined when it comes to your training. But I’ve had a few moments running when I get so overwhelmed with it all that I lose my breath and have to stop running until I stop coughing and can get a handle on my breathing. I had a conversation with a friend who pointed out with concern that when talking about the race, I’m rocking back and forth out of anxiety. And I ruminate on marathon running constantly…”What pace do I have to maintain? How much faster should I adjust for the breaks I’ll need to take to sip water and for fuel? What will I race in the fall if I don’t qualify? If I do qualify, should I still run that race? What’s the weather on race day since the last time I checked? If I don’t qualify this spring or fall, should I try to add another marathon in the fall?” And so on and so on and so on.

I’m  not sure what’s different now that’s allowed this stress to reach this tipping point. Maybe it’s not taking much of a break from marathon-ing. Maybe it’s that I’ve set my sights on qualifying for Boston since I came so close in the fall in Chicago (although I have to constantly remind myself that just because I came within less than two minutes of qualifying doesn’t mean I “just have to take off two minutes.” I have to actually be able to run that entire race faster, it’s not just a matter of two minutes.)

Add to this that I’ve read how being psychological stress will cause your muscles to recover more slowly…which, you guessed it, only made me stress more.

My anxiety hasn’t lead to overtraining. But it has me contemplating what I need to change in my training, and in life. For now, with the Toronto Marathon in less than a week, I thought I’d remind myself of the things I do like about running to try to get into a better mindset for the race:

I’m fitter than ever. Running three (sometimes four) times a week, combined with weekly NTC classes with Nike, means I’m in the best shape of my life.

The friends I’ve made. Through the Running Room and through Nike, I’ve made some incredible friends. Shawna, who I’ve trained with for the past couple of years, well, we’ve laughed and cried through so many runs. I consider her one of my closest friends now (you get to sharing a lot when you’re running for three hours together!), and training is bearable on the days I’m not feeling it because we are training together.

That sense of accomplishment. It’s pretty satisfying to think back to when I could barely run a few minutes for an interval back in 2007 and then last fall running the  Chicago Marathon straight through. Crossing the finish line of any race is more fulfilling than…well, it might be one of the most fulfilling personal achievements I can think of right now, actually. And even more so when it’s a personal best.

The chance to explore. I’ve gotten to discover parts of the city I might have never come across if I weren’t a runner. And not just in Toronto, but when I travel and run in other cities, too. Running in the heat of Bonaire and finding that funny little tree of flip flop sandals, spotting some sea lions in San Francisco as I ran along the waterfront, stumbling into the market full of delicious food running along the Thames in England.

Those are just a handful of reasons. And I have a confession: even in the  midst of all of this anxiety eating me up whole, I registered this weekend to run the Sporting Life 10k race on May 10th…

Maybe it’s a running intervention I need! (gulp)

I’ll return to figuring out my future plans after the marathon. In the meantime, my focus is on this Sunday. “I’m not going to PB,” I told Shawna. “But you can’t go into the race thinking that. You just have to try your best,” she said. And she’s right. After all, as per Coach Taylor (Friday Night Lights forevah!): “I didn’t say you needed to be better than everyone else. But you gotta try. That’s what character is: It’s in the trying.”






1 Comment April 27, 2015

Fitness Swellness: Nike Women’s 15k Toronto


You heard right, ladies! Nike is adding the 6 to its awesome women’s race series: the Nike Women’s 15k Toronto taking place on June 14, 2015! There have been murmurs about Nike having a race in Toronto for awhile and finally, the official announcement came this week. It’ll be a whole weekend of activities, the race takes place on Toronto Island, and there’ll be waves at the start as Nike expects a huge turnout for the race. As for the medal bling at the end, that’s still a secret.

Entry for the lottery to be able to snag a registration spot in the race (which will be randomly drawn) opens March 9, 2015. Mark it in your calendars!  Three are now a total of 20 races in the Nike Women’s run series, for more information on them, click here.

Why a 15k? Well, the idea is that it’s a distance that’ll challenge you to run faster or run farther. Perhaps you’ve only run 5k or 10k — here’s a distance that’ll give you a longer distance goal, without it being as long and perhaps as daunting as a half-marathon (which is 21.1k). For seasoned long-distance runners, 15k is a solid distance to push yourself to run a faster pace.

With Olympic athlete Sheila Reid

At the announcement of the race was none other than Olympic track and field athlete Sheila Reid. She is super stoked and will be running the race. I chatted with her and was relieved to learn she dislikes treadmill running as much as I do (for speedwork, she likes the loop around Queen’s Park). “Running is so awesome because the job is never done. There’s always a new distance, a new time, a new course, and I’m so excited to get to share some of my training because it’s totally doable over the next few months to get that in before the race.”

To help us all run more efficiently when training, the Nike store in the Toronto Eaton Centre now offers a free run assessment (no appointment necessary). “This analysis is elite level, just the tiniest inefficiencies that you would never notice to the naked  eye that can add up to so much over 15k,” says Reid. You run for two minutes on the treadmill and then your gait is analyzed. I had mine studied by Nike Running’s Kristen Kuzemko and Dave Christiani, running coach from Central Athletic Training Centre. Check out my analysis here (this is the cool video you’ll get if you go to the Eaton Centre to have your assessment done!):

It turns out I over-pronate (ie. my feet roll inward) but I am wearing the right shoe for that (currently, the Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 — I knew I preferred these and now I know why!). I also am a  heel striker (which I knew), and need to work on striking more at the mid-foot than the heel. Both Kris and Dave were quite impressed with my relaxed arms and upper body, which means I’m efficient in that respect and not burning up energy with too much arm swinging, for one. They also both recommended a heavy focus on doing speedwork on a track or even just incorporating about 100 metres of running at a fast stride at the end of a long run to activate my fast-twitch muscles.


run analysis at Nike "The Loft"


Photos: @amillionminds





1 Comment January 23, 2015

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