Consistency

How sticking with one thing can change everything

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Over the Easter long weekend Happy Hubs and I drove to Northwest Indiana to spend some time with his parents as well as spend a day in one of our favourite cities- Chicago. If you haven’t been to Chicago I highly recommend checking it out. It has some amazing coffee shops, incredible food, beautiful buildings and a waterfront to make all Torontonians envious.

Normally when it comes to travelling, even 3-day weekend getaways, I let everything fall out the window concerning the healthy lifestyle I lead in my day-to-day life (because nothing counts when you’re on vacation right?) However, at the beginning of this year a friend and I vowed to run a minimum of 100km/month for all of 2016. At first, I thought this would be a no brainer and was pretty excited to see that number reach over 200km/month once I started training for some goal races. However, after looking over my training logs, it seemed that I was in for a bit of a challenge. If there was anything consistent with my running, it was that I am unbelievably inconsistent.

Up until recently, it was apparent that I thought I was running much more than I actually was. Looking over my logs, even in the months leading up to my first half marathon, my runs were scattered all over the place. One week I’d run 4 times, the next only once, some weeks had no runs at all. I embarrassingly realized that I wasn’t even giving myself a real shot when it came to training.

While I am aiming to run a marathon this fall, I didn’t really have any upcoming spring races in mind (besides the Sporting Like 10k that I run every year) when I started running a consistent 100km/month. Very quickly though, I started to notice some small changes. I have been sticking to a long run every. single. week. and my gains have started to become very apparent on those long runs. Each week, just by consistently running 14-17km, I am getting faster, something that has never happened with long runs before. Building a base at these distances has helped me immensely. Until this recent consistency, I always took walk breaks but I haven’t taken a walk break now for over a month on a long run! While I have been doing speed work for quite some time, and throw in hill workouts every now and then as well, it’s really all started to come together since I started sticking to my long runs. For the first time, I feel like I am seriously improving at distance running and I feel I can begin to set some solid time goals (before, my approach was always “just finish”).

A big thing that has helped with this is that I started doing my long runs with the club I run with whereas I always used to do them alone. Running with people has helped me so much because we push each other to keep going, and chatting away week after week makes the kms fly by. On a bit of a whim, I have decided to run a half marathon at the end of the month in Montreal. I’m approaching it as more of a training run, just to sort of see where I am after a few solidly consistent months of running.  I think I kind of owe it to myself, now that I’ve actually been staying consistent.

All of this being said, one thing that I love about Nike Run Club is that so many different cities also have a club that more or less follows the same schedule. It’s pretty cool to see the larger Nike community on social media and know that we are all in this together. Happy hubs and I decided to stay overnight in Chicago and, to not throw off my consistent training, decided to do my long run with NRC Chicago on the Saturday morning.

I sure am glad we did. We have both spent a fair amount of time in Chicago before, but there is something to be said about seeing it on a run. We woke up bright and early at 7:00am, put on our run clothes, scarfed down some breakfast and headed out. It was chilly, but nice and sunny which definitely made up for it. It was pretty cool to see the Nike space in Chicago. While the space was different, it had the same vibe that the Toronto club does, a solid group of like-minded people buzzing about all there for the same purpose. The pacers were super welcoming and glad to have visitors from Toronto joining them.

We ran a gorgeous 8 mile out and back south along the waterfront. The waterfront trail in Chicago is just amazing. Sure, we have some nice parts of ours in Toronto, but it doesn’t even come close to the beauty that is the waterfront in Chicago. I’m already dreaming about running along it the next time I am there. If you are visiting Chicago, make sure you take a walk along the waterfront (north or south, it’s all gorgeous). The view from the Adler Planetarium is something else.

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If you had told me a few years ago that I would wake up at 7:00am while on a holiday for the purpose of running 8 miles, I would have not believed you. They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Now that I am three months into consistently running, I can’t imagine NOT running, even on vacation. It’s crazy how easily something can become a part of your life if you really make the time for it.

Now excuse me while I go get ready for a run….

Happy trails!

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Healthy Vacationing

I’m going to go quite a few weeks back in time again and talk a little about our honeymoon. However, I’m not going to bore you with a recap, rather I want to talk about how you can make your vacation a little healthier. Don’t get me wrong- Zach and I drank more than our fair share of beer as we explored the rockies and the pacific northwest, and we definitely ate a lot of ice cream and charcuterie. Even with all of this indulgence though, we tried to keep our vacation as healthy as possible. With the Christmas holidays upon us many of you are probably getting ready for a winter vacation, so I thought I’d share a few tips on how you can stay active while away (at least to balance out the intake of junk- because let’s get real, you’re on vacation and I’m not going to preach “eat a salad!”)

    1. Go for a ride! Rent bikes and explore the city you’re visiting, it’s faster than on foot, it’s cheaper than renting a car (and easier to park!), great for the environment and a great calorie burner (bonus points for riding up steep hills). Zach I rented bikes and explored Stanley Park and Kitsilano in Vancouver. We were able to see so much in a matter of hours (side note: the bike lanes in Vancouver are so great! Take note, Toronto.)IMG_8308
    2. Choose “active” adventures. While helicopter rides and boat cruises can certainly be an exciting adventure on a trip I challenge you to try something that also challenges you physically. For me and Zach this meant some intermediate hikes with some solid inclines. We hiked up to Upper Joffre Lake just outside of Pemberton B.C. and instead of taking the gondola up Grouse Mountain in Vancouver we opted to hike up and tackle the Grouse Grind.IMG_8226 IMG_8151DSCF7447 IMG_8335
    3. Take breaks. While sometimes long drives and train rides can’t be avoided be sure to keep your blood flowing and take some breaks to move when possible. Remember, even on a road trip half the fun is getting there. Taking a break allows you to see something new and explore a place you may have never been before. For us, this meant some short road-side walks and hikes, or even just a nice stretch break. A short hike break isn’t tough when the view looks like this:IMG_8059 IMG_8094
    4. Lace up those shoes. We chose not to rent a car while we explored Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. While a car is definitely convenient at times, not relying on it means you have to rely on your own two legs (and public transportation) which means a lot of exercise. I find exploring cities on my feet makes the experience feel a lot more authentic instead of just driving from point to point. Again, it’s nice to see so many different things as you make your way to a destination. Sometimes this does take a little extra planning, but it’s definitely worth the money you’ll save and the activity you’ll get. While in Vancouver there was an ice cream shop that I really wanted to check out. It was pretty far away but we took a beautiful long walk along the water seeing so much. By the time we got there I felt a lot less guilty about getting a double scoop (which we then chased with some samples from a nearby craft brewery)IMG_8421 IMG_8294
    5. Eat a solid breakfast. This is easiest when you find accommodations that all you to cook up a hearty am meal but having a kitchen isn’t always necessary. We tried to start our days with some protein (usually eggs) or something that would keep us going. When cooking wasn’t an option we had some instant oatmeal packages that only needed some boiling water. These types of meals are really easy to find on the go as well. I found that when I started my day with a pastry or something indulgent I spent the rest of the day hungry and wanting more junk. Starting the day off right kept the junk cravings at bay, or at the very least, left my stomach much happier when I waited until mid-day for that pastry.
    6. Rest. While it’s fun to pack as much activity as possible into a vacation don’t forget the importance of some R&R. Remember, so much of living a healthy lifestyle means taking the time to relax, unwind, take a step back and rest up. Sleep in, take an afternoon nap or lay in a park with a blanket (like we did in Seattle, pictured below). Even if you spend the majority of your vacation doing just this, don’t feel guilty. It is rare that we get the chance to do nothing and if you let it, it can be very rejuvenating!

While our trip was perfect for the warmer weather, I realize these things may not all be possible while exploring an area that gets snow in the winter. If you’re in the wilderness, rent some snow shoes, go cross-country skiing, or simply put on some good boots and go for a winter hike. If you’re exploring a city, check out the outdoor skating rinks in the area. The possibilities are endless!

For those of you travelling to a resort this winter there are also a ton of ways to stay healthy too! Go for a beach walk, dance the night away at the disco, join the water aerobics at the pool, explore a nearby town on foot, sign up for an active excursion or just bask in all the relaxation (while wearing sunscreen of course!)

Above all else, ENJOY your vacation and don’t feel guilty about a little indulgence, you’ve earned it!

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