Thursday, 4 February 2021

Yoga Certification

It's now official.  I've successfully completed my 200 hour Yoga teacher training!   I am so happy to be able to share my knowledge of yoga with my clients and friends.  A little bit of good news today. 



Now that my teachers certificate has been issued, I'm happy to announce that I'll be holding regular yoga and pilates classes via zoom over the winter.  Since we're stuck in lock down, it is an ideal time to do some at home fitness classes.  I will be holding Yoga on Tuesday nights @ 8pm and Pilates on Thursday nights @ 8pm.  Send me an email if you're interested, all are welcome.  


Saturday, 3 October 2020

Moving Forward Through the Chaos with Yoga

If the Covid-19 crisis has given us anything, it would definitely be time to think.  About past decisions, current life and how we plan to move forward into the future.  While many of our condo gyms and fitness studios are currently closed or restricted, this quiet time of autumn has given me the perfect opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth.  So I'm excited to announce that I have applied for and been accepted into an immersive 200hour Yoga Instructor training program this fall.  I've long wanted to expand on my Pilates training and Thai Yoga stretching workshops and I decided to make the move to become a fully certified Yoga Instructor. 


So I am looking forward to not only teaching yoga in the years to come, but also to be able to incorporate aspects of yoga into my personal training packages for a more holistic approach to fitness training.   It will take runners stretching and arthritis care to a wonderful place, believe me.  I'm looking forward to sharing this with you in 2021.  Stay tuned for updates!



  

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Working out through Covid-19

This year has not gone the way anybody has expected.  With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, covid-19, many of our regular athletic and fitness activities have been severely affected.  All of my regular running events, triathlons and summer league sports have been cancelled or gone virtual.  

Even though most of the condo gyms we use remain closed or under tight restrictions, it is still possible to get a training session in with me.  For in person sessions - I've adapted my workouts to your backyard, local park and/or running track.  And of course, I also offer virtual sessions online if you prefer. 

So don't let covid 19 get you down, I'm still accepting new clients for the fall. Come train with me and stay strong! 

https://vimeo.com/454832272?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=28749




Tuesday, 31 December 2019

New Year - New Possibilities

As 2019 comes to a close, it is important to reflect upon the year behind us, and to plan for the year ahead of us. If you met all your goals for 2019, congratulations! If not, reflect on why and then reprioritize your goals for 2020.  After all, the new year brings us 365 opportunities for challenges, adventure, goals and ambitions.  Be sure to stop and think about what you want to accomplish in 2020 and then lay out a plan to bring those goals to fruition.  Don't be afraid to ask for help in the process.  We rarely do it alone. 

Good luck and Happy New Year everybody!!


Friday, 23 August 2019

Ironman #2 - Mont Tremblant 2019


Ironman Mont Tremblant
Sunday, Aug 18, 2019


It is always difficult to blog after finishing an Ironman.  It is such a completely exhausting experience in so many aspects - mentally, emotionally and physically. I’m unsure of how to start.  

I just watched the IMMT race recap video on Ironman’s Facebook page: (https://www.facebook.com/IRONMANMontTremblant/videos/2553036451578367/UzpfSTc5NDU5NTMxODoxMDE2MjE5MzgzNDQ4MDMxOQ/
so I’ll start with their theme of how doing an Ironman is a very individual sport but nobody gets there alone.  And its very true.  There were a lot of long lonely training days, but I didn’t always do it alone.  While I’m self coached and do not belong to a training club, there are a few people who have helped along the way this time and made sure I got to the starting line fit, healthy and happy.   

This year a new friend, Sasha, joined me on a few long weekend rides up in Angus Glen, and I have to thank Carolynne for unwittingly, dragging me up that bloody hell of a hill in Milton at Tremaine/Steeles on what was supposed to be a fast and flat training ride for Welland.  I’m sure I’m a better cyclist for it.     
And while not actually training partners, my friends Mark and Shauna, have always provided me with a safe haven while in Mont Tremblant, that makes my race week so much calmer. Your home in La Conception is truly a warm and beautiful place.  Thank you everybody. Merci beaucoup mon amis.  


This year, 2019, I came into Ironman Mont Tremblant with much valuable experience that I gained back in 2017, when it was my first time doing an Ironman.  I was a little less star struck, more focussed and knew where the hell I was going this time.  I arrived earlier, stuck to my taper plan but still had time to swim the lake, bike the hills of Duplessis and nail a shake out run on the course. I felt good, nervous of course, but in a healthy respectful way you should be before attempting to swim bike run 140.6 miles (225km).   

In 2017, I finished the course in 13:53:42, and my goal for 2019 was to simply beat that time.  I took 2018 to focus on the weaker aspects of my performance.  I wanted to become a better swimmer and cyclist.  I always felt good about my running ability, for those who know me, running is the strongest of my 3 events and I felt if I swam and biked better I’d have more energy to lay down the marathon I knew I was capable of doing. I am a Boston and Chicago qualifier after all, however, living up to that speed in an Ironman has proven difficult. 

I made some good training gains in 2018 doing a couple half-irons and was ready to face a full iron again in 2019. 

This year I seeded myself at the 1:25:00 swim start. I knew I was going to beat my previous time of 1:33:24.  I worked hard on my swim in the time since, and I knew if I had a good warm up and stayed calm and form focussed I would nail it. The nice thing about this race is that there is a rolling swim start, meaning its a much calmer and orderly roll out, 5 racers every 5 seconds so you have more space. Unlike the mass age group swim start which is choppy chaos.  I like this swim start and I stayed calm the entire time.  The air conditions were cool and overcast and my goggles fogged up pretty bad 

but thankfully there were lots of pink and yellow fluorescent swims caps, and yellow and orange buoys around me so it wasn’t too hard to point myself in the right direction.  

I know I’m doing well when I hear music in my head when I’m doing my endurance cardio.  This morning ‘Humble’ by Kendrick Lamar was playing in my mind during the swim.  I’m not sure why.  I told myself to be more aggressive on this course because I was better trained and familiar with the lay out, but perhaps it was a subtle reminder to not get carried away, stick to what you did in your training, pay attention to my arm position and don’t get overconfident.  Be humble.  Either way it was good.  I came out of the water in 1:25:29 (just 29sec off my goal time) for the 3.8km swim. Eight minutes faster than last time I raced Lac Tremblant (pacing 2:13/100m instead of the previous 2:27/100m). It was a good start to a long day. 



Out of the water I used the wonderful wetsuit strippers again and ran (not walked) into T1 and managed to take my transition time down from 9:55 to 8:46. Faster again. Things were looking good. 



Now out onto the bike.  This is always the part of the course that I find the most difficult. I’m not a strong cyclist but with the purchase of a new TT bike and a commitment to staying in aero position longer, along with more hill training this year, I was going to push harder to see what I could do.  


However, my aggressive attitude landed me my first ever drafting penalty about 25km into the bike course. An official on a bike snuck up on me and busted me. Oh well.  Be humble.  The music stopped as I pulled into the bright yellow penalty tent to serve my 5min punishment.  Not how I wanted to be faster on the bike. lol!  All I could do was sit and think. No eating, drinking or port a potties here. Just breathe I was told. 
  
After serving my time, I pushed on and new songs popped into my head.  One of the aid stations played ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ by Justin Timberlake and that stayed with me for most of highway 117, until I reached Duplessis and I resurrected my own song from 2017 ‘I Love Hills!’ for the brutal climb up to the top (356m).  I was out of my seat singing about how much I loved hills and how lucky I was to be there climbing.  One guy next to me created his own verse about how he loved his granny gear on his bike.   It is nice to inspire others in our moments of suffering.  You feel the pain a little less when you sing and smile, and then its all downhill from there. Until you have to do your second lap... 


This time around I managed an average overall speed of 25.2km/h on the hilly bike course, with a max speed of 66.4km/h going down Duplessis. Overall it took me 7:12:08 (including my drafting penalty, ugh).  I ended up only doing the bike course 10min faster this year, which was not as much as I hoped for but it is what it is, obviously I need to work both harder and smarter for next time.   

On to T2... this time I understood that the transition zone volunteers were there to take your bike and rack it for you, so I did not resist them, saving me a few previous moments.  It was pretty funny in 2017 when I fought the volunteer who was only trying to help me. Guess I missed that in the athlete’s briefing. Not this time though!  I moved through T2 15 seconds faster - 4:50 down to 4:35. 
I think I had my cycling cleats on too tight, boy were my feet aching, it was so good to get them off and into the heavenly comfort of my runners. After a quick port a potty stop, I was off and running ready to knock off this third discipline - the marathon. 

I remember from 2017 feeling completely overwhelmed at the start of the marathon.  I was so tired and had so far to go.  The thought of running 42.2km was just so overwhelming, my pace sucked and I had to rethink how I was going to approach it.  
This year, I had anticipated this feeling and knew that I was going to take it simply one kilometre at a time.  I was going to run 1km 42x. And that works for me. Everybody has their own way. I celebrated each and every km.  I was even more mentally stronger in 2019 and I started out on the marathon much more optimistic, it makes a big difference when you have the right attitude going into an endurance competition. This point in the day is more mental than physical believe me.    


I have to admit, the bout of tendinitis I struggled through in the spring was in the back of my mind, but my hip was pain free for the entire run, including the hills.  Of course, I had the usual ‘I’ve been pushing hard all day aches and pains’, but no tendinopathy pain in my right hip/glute. That was a huge relief.  But I have to wonder how much faster I could have run if I spent more time on my run training leading up to this event.  But you could drive yourself mad thinking like that...  

Anytime I started thinking about how tired I was I would always pass by another person who seemed to be carrying a bigger burden than me and that quickly gave me a reality check.  There was a fireman doing the marathon in full kit, including jacket, hat and compressed air cylinder. There was also a member of the armed forces doing the run in full kit. I called out for them to stay strong, gave them a fist pump, and re-focussed my own efforts.  Stop complaining I told myself.  Keep running. I still have another lap to go. 


There were a few moments on the run where I struggled but these were not mental struggles, but more fuel related.  I decided to start fuelling with coke at the 14km mark, a little earlier than I had planned (7km earlier actually). I usually start after the 21km halfway mark, but I felt more fatigued than I expected and thought why not start now?  But I ended up taking too much coke in short a period of time.  It wasn’t flattened enough and I struggled with gas pain.  I had to take 2 port a potty stops and worked my way through the issue. But it cost me time.  I should have stuck to the GU gels and liquid base endurance drink and then switch to the coke after the 21k mark as I had planned. Lesson learned.   

Anyway, I still ran a faster marathon than last time. I felt mentally stronger and learned you can have too much of a good thing.     

I pushed harder on the run this year.  I know I’m not going to have my fastest run off a 180km hilly bike course, but I felt I could do better than the 4:43:23 marathon I did in 2017.  Upon reflection of that race, I felt I ran conservatively due to the simple fact that I worried about even finishing.  Maybe bonking or hitting the proverbial wall, something like that I suppose.  This year I knew I was capable of finishing an Ironman and I wanted to push myself harder than before. Instead of an average pace of 6:43/km in 2017, I managed to hold a 6:31/km pace and shaved 8min off the run finishing in 4:35:39. Its not another BQ but hey, I’ll take it for today.  





Overall I finished in a time of 13:26:36, almost 30min faster than my last Ironman performance.  I raised my age group ranking from 33/66 (50th percentile) to 48/118 (40th percentile), and gender position from 262/500 (52.4 percentile) up to 263/618 (42.6 percentile). 



So what are my overall feelings about this Ironman?  

I’m glad I did it the second time.  I didn’t want to be a one and done kind of Ironman.  To me, doing something once might just be a fluke.  If you can do it again, and maybe even do it better than before, its more special.  Which it was for me.   
I wanted to know that I could go back and do it faster the second time.  While it was faster, I wish it was a little faster than it was. Maybe there will have to be a third time. 

But for now I’ll be recovering for the next couple weeks.  Lots of naps, food and very easy workouts. I also find I need to mentally recover as much as physically. I often feel a little depressed after a big event and need to be kind to myself. With all the time and effort of the last 8 months putting everything I had into this training, a gap in your life hits you hard post-race.  I’ve already finished reading a book and settled into a few movies.  I’m just listening to myself and being kind. I highly recommend taking it easy to all the other finishers and thinking about all aspects of your recovery, mental and physical.  At least until we take on our next challenges, whatever they might be.  As the Ironman motto says: Anything is Possible!

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Triathlon Training Update - Prepping for Another Ironman


This year, 2019, was the year I decided I wanted to go back and attempt another full ironman.  The first and only one was back in 2017, where I did the Ironman Mont Tremblant (IMMT) course in 13:53:43.  Not bad for a first attempt, I was told. 
In 2018 I wanted to focus on Ironman 70.3 races (half-irons) where I could focus on improving my bike and swim times, the areas where I felt I was weaker athletically, and then the next year go back for the full, new and improved.  I was happy with my training that year, especially with my swim at Barrelman where I knocked 6min off my 2km swim time, and did the full 3.8km swim in 1h24m at the LOST swim in Aug 2018 (down from 1h33m at IMMT). Things were looking good in the water. 

Late that fall (Dec 2018) I decided to upgrade my bike from my trusty Specialized Ruby road bike to a brand new TT bike, a Liv Avow Advanced Pro 2.  I was more committed to aero and speed on the bike. 
     
So far this year, I’ve had a mixed bag of results from the two races I’ve done, the Welland long course in June and the Ironman 70.3 Muskoka event in July. 



Due to a cold and wet spring, I did not have many opportunities for open water swimming before Welland and both my swim times so far average 42min/2km.  A few minutes below my PB of 40min. On this today I swam 43:43 down from 46:44 in 2017. An improvement from the last time I was at this event, but not my fastest. It was still early in the season, and I feel confident I can work on this in the month I have left before IMMT on Aug 18.  

I was actually really happy with my bike performance at Welland.  I knocked 12min off my bike time on the fast and flat course and that was a big confidence booster for me (1:55:26 down from 2:07:08).  The time I was spending on my my TT bike seemed to be paying off. Happiness.  

The run course was a different story.  If you’ve been following my blog this year, you’ll be aware of my hip/gluteal tendinitis injury. Basically I had to take a break from running for 6 weeks after my marathon in May, which set my running ability back from my usual performance.  Running has always been my strength and I personally struggled with my lack of performance despite being fully aware I was coming back form injury.  
Despite the run not being what I wanted it to be, I still had a PB at Welland this year in an overall time of 4:08 (2019), versus 4:17 (2017) and 4:25 (2016) in previous years. I finished 11th in my age group, so close to a top ten finish.  So overall Welland 2019 was a good event for me.   



The Muskoka half was more challenging for me however.  For those close to me, you know I struggle with depression and anxiety.  I hide it well from others. Not from shame but from a lack of desire to constantly discuss it at times.  For personal reasons, my anxiety had really flared up race weekend and I knew it was going to mess with my ability to perform on race day.  That’s just the shitty luck of the draw.  I don’t want to write a blog full of excuses but that was my reality that day.  I choked on the swim, had to breast stroke for 3 min at the mass start before I settled into my front crawl and made up time with a 42:57min swim in the end. (In 2018 I swam 42:39, so 18sec slower this year).


I started decently on the bike, but failed to push myself on the bike to my full ability like I did in Welland where my ride rocked.  There was no music playing in my head on this day, like last year when I knew I was in my groove. I just had this anxious fear of crashing.  I had witnessed 2 significant spills during my ride and it got under my nerves.   The bike sucked for me that day, less aero, more doubt. I only managed to pace an average speed of 26.6km/hr, while the previous year I paced 27.8km/hr. 


The run went better, I felt stronger and while I suffered in the heat and hills, and still hadn’t redeveloped my full run conditioning at this point, I felt more in control of my legs and ability, and I actually enjoyed the run.  I finished with a good kick passing several ladies on the last hill towards the chute and knew that my run strength was returning. More importantly, the run was completely pain free and I feel I’m now finally over the hip/gluteal tendinitis.  

I ended up finishing 33rd in my AG while last year I finished 17th. It just wasn’t my day out there. 

Needless to say, I have already started my more intensive run program to get my run back to where it should be with my physiotherapists blessing.  In regards to my anxiety, I’m discussing that with my doctor and I’ll leave it at that. 

So, triathlon training in 2019 has been a mixed bag for me.  Welland went well, Muskoka not so much.  But I’m taking lessons learned from both and working on controlling my anxiety better, building confidence on my kick ass, new TT bike, and rebuilding my run conditioning. My swim is good but I need more time in open water to work on the smoothness of my starts. 

I still have a month to go before Ironman Mont Tremblant on Aug 18, 2019, and I am confident that with the five weeks of training I have left, I can make up the grounds that I need to put in a solid performance.  I have some long sessions coming up in the next few weeks, but with the proper determination I'll get the work in I need to do to improve. 

I’ve decided to look at both Welland and Muskoka as 2 really tough brick workouts leading up to the main event.  I’ll be calmer, more rested, focussed and fully trained by the time I head over to Mont Tremblant. 

I got this.  



Sunday, 16 June 2019

Build a Stronger Back


Many of my clients come to me complaining of back pain, and they want to know what exercises they can do to help build a stronger back, thereby reducing back pain in the process. 
In theses cases, I draw on my knowledge of yoga and pilates to outline a basic back strengthening program that most people can do at home. 

I created 2 short videos where I clearly demonstrate each technique and you can find them here:

In the first exercise series, I outline 3 back and core focused exercises that are generally safe for most of the population to do, including those with common back conditions such as arthritis, as all these exercises keep the spine in a safe neutral position (e.g. no arching or extension).

Exercise 1 is bird-dog.  Start by positioning yourself on your hands and knees. Then extend opposite arm and leg (e.g. right arm with left leg) into the air.  Switch sides after 10-15seconds. Repeat 3 times per side. Remember to keep your spine in a straight, neutral position. Do not arch/extend your back. 



Exercise 2 is the bridge. Start by lying on your back, knees bent. Then lift your hips into the air by squeezing your glutes up.  Hold for 10-60sec, repeat 3 times.



Exercise 3 is the deadbug. Start by lying on your back, lift arms and legs, with knees bent, into the air, then alternate your arms and legs back and forth.  Perform for 20-60sec, 3 times.  




In the second exercise series, I outline 3 more back exercises that are slightly more advanced.  They include some back extension, so if you have any pre-existing back conditions you may want to consult your doctor or exercise professional before attempting.   

Exercise 4 is superpose. Start by lying on your tummy, with your arms and legs reaching out on the mat. Then lift arms and legs into the air, bringing your back into extension.  Hold for 10sec, repeat 3 times.  



Exercise 5 is the swan.  Start by lying on your tummy, hands underneath your shoulders.  Slowly lift your head and shoulders off the mat until your arms are straight. Slowly lower after 10 sec, repeat 3-5 times. 



Exercise 6 is the mid-back row (you will need a thera-band for this one).  Sitting up on the mat, take your thera-band and wrap them around your feet. Keep your legs and back straight, then row the band towards your body squeezing your back as your row.  Do 12 reps of 3 sets.  



Try these exercises 3-4 times a week and you should feel a noticeable difference in your back strength and discomfort.  Remember life gets better when you have a strong back, so take this opportunity to take control of your back health.