Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Shoe review - Kinvara Trail

First off, let me say that I probably buy new running shoes more often than I need to. But I had money left on a MEC gift card from Christmas that was burning a hole in my pocket and I recently discovered that my other saucony shoes are not meant for winter running. They have open mesh on the bottom that lets snow and slush in. Not fun to discover 6k into a run!

Anyways, on Saturday I convinced J to come to MEC with me to scope out new shoes.  He love love loves his Kinvaras and convinced me to try the Kinvara trail version.  I walked around for a while in a 9 and a 9.5. Although I wear an 8.5 shoe, I always size up my running shoes to avoid the dreaded black toe nails.

I ended up going with the 9.5 and eagerly laced them up to do a 6k run on Saturday followed by another 6k on Sunday.  On Sunday I noticed my calves were unusually sore.  By Monday it hurt to walk to work. This could be because they are a minimalist 4mm drop shoe, but so are my other Sauconys.  It could also be because they are a bit lower profile which is calling in my stabilizers.  I asked the twitterverse what gives, and was told simply to persevere.

Yesterday I ran another 6k with 3 hill repeats and then made a focussed effort to stretch my lower calves afterward.  I tried to foam roll them on Monday but that was not happening.

I am going to tough it out because they really are very comfortable shoes. No pinching, no rubbing, and they are pretty good looking too : )

Have you tried a minimalist shoe and experienced a 'breaking in' period??

Highs, Lows and Hills

Every Wednesday we have unit meetings first thing in the morning. We kick them off with a round table tradition of sharing our highs and lows.  It's funny because people think I always have horrible lows but I don't really - it's all part of the adventure.

Last week my low was I scraped the car on the side of our parkade.  This week my best friend moved to Calary and I broke the handle off the screen door because it was frozen shut.  I swear that someone might be following me around filming this for a new sit com.  But in the off-chance that my life isn't hitting prime time any time soon, I am happy to share the shenanigans with you.

Tonight I had to brave the -25 C weather and run hills. Mainly because I used my "get out of cold free" card last night when I skipped clinic (and -29 temps).

To be honest it wasn't horrible.  We ran 6km with 3x400m hill repeats.  If you haven't added hill repeats to your training yet, you really should. And I am not saying that because I enjoy it. I hate hills. I won't lie to you. But they are like strength training for your legs and secret weapons for lung capacity building.

And after you run them, you can come here and share your war stories. I promise to be empathetic.

Last night I bailed on my 6km run so I need to make it up on Friday.  I am trying to stay honest with my schedule to get the most out of the Run Project.  I am also thinking of marketing fake eyelashes that look like ice.  On second thought, I'm sure that has already been done at raves across the world.

Stay warm friends (and if it is warm where you are PLEASE send it my way)


Monday, 28 January 2013

Plant Powered Challenge. We are in!

Have you heard about the YUMUNIVERSE 30 day plant powered challenge?? Have you been thinking about going plant-based in 2013 but aren't really ready to take the plunge or feel overwhelmed by the challenge.  This my friends may just be your answer.

Join me and J from February 1-March 2, 2013 in a thirty days challenge.

It really couldn't be easier. Register for free here and you will receive:

  • A 34-page Challenge Starter Packet chock full of tips and recipe links

  • One free meal plan from the YU Meal Plan Subscription

  • And three lucky winners will receive unbelievable prize packages from Vitamix, Vega Cuisine-art and more!

Of course, I am already vegan but there is always room for a healthier diet.  For example,  have no idea how to make my own sprouts, I never use spices and I the only appliance I use on a regular basis is the blender.

I am also using the plan to cook meals for both of us and encourage J on his 30 day journey. His road might be a little bit rocky (I asked him if it was ok with you all that I shared that he has a mean Oreo cakester addiction. How did I marry this man lol).

Have you tried a plant-based challenge before??

I would be thrilled if you joined along and shared your experience with us!



Sunday, 27 January 2013

Weekly Workouts

Recapping of this week:

Monday, Jan 21  – Buns & Bellies class (55min)
Tuesday, Jan 22 – Run 6k steady
Wednesday, Jan 23  – Run + 3 hills (hill training has begun!)
Thursday, Jan 24 – OFF
Friday, Jan 25 – 60 minute spin on the trainer (avg HR: 122)
Saturday, Jan 26 – 6k steady run
Sunday, Jan 27 - 6k long slow distance

Checking in on last weeks goals:

  • Moving down to 1 cup of coffee a day - Negative. Although I have stopped coffee during work hours.

  • Fitting in all my runs this week - ✔

  • Foam rolling 1/day - 😞 (I did roll twice but I also missed the Saturday am track session because I had to work)

  • Planning my lunches - ✔ (yes it was PB and J every day. No I am still not sick of it)

I have other news I am really excited to share related to yoga and running but I have to wait a bit longer.

Happy Sunday!



Friday, 25 January 2013

Shifting the Focus From Weight to Health: Short and Sweet TEDx video

Great video to set off your Saturday!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Rest Days Optional??

It had been a busy week. Yesterday I spent 5 hours on the bus traveling to and from Red Deer to attend a meeting. Usually all that sitting would bother me but I was tired and had scheduled Thursday as a rest day so why not take the time to read blogs and news feeds right?

The idea of rest days has been on my mind since Tuesday when my coach dropped the bomb that not everyone needs rest days, and the academic and coaching community is on the fence about whether they are right for all people. So you might need one rest day, your friend who is just starting out might need three, and a veteran runner might not need one at all or cycles them in every 10 days or so.

Wha!?! This was news to me. I thought the body needed a rest day. I celebrate the rest day. I think I told you guys before that I usually build them in.  But then I got to thinking - does my body actually need it? Is it my mind that needs a day off?? And where is the research that can tell me more.  Here are a couple of tid bits (note this is for running only, I am sure things like cross fit etc. have entirely different stressors on the body and reasons for recovery):

On his rest day, German Silva, who won the 1994 and '95 NYC Marathons, ran an easy three miles, keeping his heart rate below 60 percent of max. These jogs may not boost VO2 max, but they loosen up the muscles to fend off sluggishness. (Runners World)

In preparation for the 2011 Boston Marathon, Ryan Hall used an online recovery-tracking program called Restwise, which looks at simple biological markers input by the athlete first thing each morning, calculates a daily recovery score from 1 to 100, then trends it over time (find out about RestWise here)

How Runner's World defines a rest day: Off completely OR 20 to 30 minutes (or 2 to 4 easy miles) below 60% of max heart rate.

Another option: cross train or participate in a low impact form of exercise instead of running (hello Zumba!). These days are considered to be forms of rest because they give the joints and muscles commonly used in running a break.  NOTE: this does not = simulating a Timetrial on your bike : )

Want to read more: 10 things that Runners World suggests you track or pay attention to  to determine if you need a rest day.

What I think: 

  • What does my head say? If I have a really bad run sometimes going out the next day will boost my confidence or sometimes I decide it is a sign to take a day off.

  • What is my body saying? If I start a run and I have 'heavy legs', my breathing won't normalize and my heart rate is acting strange I usually cut it short.

  • Other considerations: because of my previous troubles with iron levels, I sometimes have to consider that my tiredness may be due to low iron.   We can talk about that more later, but it is a women's problem that I need to read more on.

Do you take rest days? I would love to have a conversation about this!


Monday, 21 January 2013

Buns & Bellies


My apologies, but that really is the name of the class I take on Mondays over the lunch hour. I mentioned before that I take a circuits class on Thursdays that kicks my butt. Well folks, todays class was a killer too.

Here is a snapshot of some of the moves:

  1. Plie squats
  2. Lunges (with lots of pulsing)
  3. Single leg deadlifts (never underestimate the burn of 50 deadlifts with 5lb weights)
  4. Donkey Kicks 
  5. P90x crunches (awkward on your side crunches that I didn't really enjoy)
  6. Lying leg lifts and mini circles 
  7. Reverse crunches
  8. bicycles

It doesn't sound impossible, but the reps make it burn so much.  And I can't stop because I am in a room with women near my mother's age and I am wincing. Seriously.  Jane Fonda knew what she was doing with those aerobic moves.

The rest of today was kind of blah.  I had one of my last monday night coffee dates with my BFF before she moves to Calgary.  It's still really really cold out and my hair is defiantly staticky.  

Here are some questions:

  • Do you want to see more descriptive workout posts?
  • Do you want to see more posts about what I eat? (it's really not exciting)
  • Shopping posts?
  • I can write about policy matters too, but in my experience people don't really jump all over that : )

Hope you kicked off your week on a high note.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Weekly Workouts

Here is the recap of this weeks workouts. My running was awful.  I need to try something new... running at lunch or before work.

Monday, Jan 14  – Buns & Bellies class (55min)
Tuesday, Jan 15 – OFF
Wednesday, Jan 16  – 45 minute spin on trainer
Thursday, Jan 17 – 1 hour cardio circuit, 5km run
Friday, Jan 18 – Drum Yoga
Saturday, Jan 19 – 1.5 hr track session.
Sunday, Jan 20 - 60 minute spin on the trainer (avg HR: 122)

Other goals this week include:

  • Moving down to 1 cup of coffee a day.

  • Fitting in all my runs this week.

  • Foam rolling 1/day.

  • Planning my lunches.

Do you typically lay out your schedule in advance? I have a training schedule for running and some standing dates but I don't love to have strict schedules.

And... what is your go to lunch?? I need to spice up my PB&J habit : )


Moving it indoors

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 8.54.52 AM

I am supposed to run 8km this morning.  Supposed to, as in it is on my training schedule for the week.  I am a pretty hardy cold weather runner, but -31 is my threshold.  It's not fun. The icy eyelashes, the numb butt and the hours it takes to warm up.

So today I am replacing my outdoor run with a spin session inside on the trainer.  As as side note, the first run clinic I took was a learn to run format in Winnipeg in 2001.  I remember running in my snowboarding jacket and all the clothes I owned.  Maybe I have improved my speed over the years because I have shed weight in polar fleece in lieu of technical clothing.

For those of my fellow Edmontonians brave enough to take it outside today, I tip my toque to you ; )

Also on the agenda today: House hunting!!

Happy Sunday,



Friday, 18 January 2013

Yoga Beat

I set a reminder in my calendar that I should do a Friday Favourite post yesterday, but in all honesty nothing last week was particularly new. I am going to get Photoshop today though, and that will open up a whole new world of collages and maybe a new header.


Last night however, I had an amazing yoga experience.  I went to the Yoga Loft for the drum class.  No music, very little instruction and the rhythm of drums.  It was intriguing and the class was rather advanced. It's not every day you see people who can a) do the splits and b) rest their head on their front leg while in the splits.  Humbling.  We also dis side twists while in pigeon pose which I have never done before.  I felt awkward and stiff and old haha.


Class ended at 7:30 and we were famished so we headed downstairs to Under the High Wheel.  I ordered the vegan crepe.  It was one of the best meals out I have had in a while. Basically it was a simple vegan buckwheat crepe stuffed with roasted yam, squash and red peppers with a red pepper sauce.  I want to go back today.

Both the yoga studio and restaurant are located in Roots on Whyte, a relatively new concept building in Edmonton that has space dedicated to wellness practitioners, an organic hair salon, organic grocer and deli and a health store.  In our house search, I actually mentioned to the realtor that I would like to be able to walk there.  Edmonton needs more spaces like this. Immediately.

Well... it's 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning which means I am leaving for a track workout in half an hour.  I promise this will all be worth it in the end : )

What are your plans today?
Have you ever been to drum yoga? Did you love it??

Talk later!


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Weekly Workouts

I hope you are all enjoying this Sunday evening as we prep for a new week.  Last week's Easing In post I shared my weekly workouts.  I am going to make this a regular Sunday night task, mostly so I can log my own workouts and progress this year.

Monday, Jan 7  – Cycle Trainer 45 min
Tuesday, Jan 8 – 7km run
Wednesday, Jan 9  – Rest (it was supposed to be a yoga day but we had condo showings and I couldn't grab my gear. I went to Remedy for a vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cookie instead)
Thursday, Jan 10 – 1 hour cardio circuit
Friday, Jan 11 – rest
Saturday, Jan 12 – 2 hr track session.
Sunday, Jan 13 - 7.5km run, 75 minute hot yoga class

Typically I end up taking 2 rest days a week or an active recovery day like a long walk.  Do you log your workouts? If so, how much detail do you include (i.e. heart rate, pace, etc.)

I am thinking of trying to add some sort of calendar feature so I can display them a bit better.  Ideas are welcome!


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Project Run

Oh my goodness! I have to tell you guys about my first day with Edmonton Run Project. I spent two and a half hours at the track today with the coaches learning how to foam roll (properly), stretch, squat and do push ups.  I am sore and we haven't really worked out yet.

Saturday sessions are all about good form and drills. The foam roller and band you see in the cover picture are my new best friends.  I have always avoided rolling until I really need  to (aka help I'm injured).  In this program I am going to have to roll every day. The coaches tell us they will be able to tell if we don't and I kind of believe them.  There is no hiding the pain when I get into my IT band.  There was a time when I couldn't roll on my right side without tears. Folks this is a lesson - roll early and roll often.

The band is actually used for strength AND stretching. It's actually pretty cool.  We wrapped it around a pole and then used it to pull our hips back to get a good stretch. It doesn't makes sense in writing does it?? Maybe I can work on finding some videos to show you what I mean.

I am so excited to share the weekly workouts with you all.  I am also excited to see what the 10 weeks will bring (besides the 6am wake up calls every Saturday and Sunday).

Other things I learned today:

  • I have really tight shoulders. I blame my day job and sitting at a desk 9 hours a day.

  • I am getting better at pushups.

  • Tight lats will affect your stride.  I heard a crazy story about a lat actually tearing today... Ouch!

  • When you are in a lunge going deeper isn't better if it causes your back to arch.  This made me think about yoga and how often I probably arch my back. In fact I am pretty sure I always have an excessive arch in my lower back. This might be a problem.

  • You should not lift your toes off the ground or put your weight in your heels when squatting.  What!! We actually took our shoes off to watch our toes on this one. It is surprisingly difficult but when you do it right your glutes sure do fire.

  • When foam rolling you should both rock side to side and roll back and forth.  This introduces a whole new level of pain.  I know you are all thinking about trying it now.

I will share more next week.  I am by no means an expert but I am happy to pass on what I learn.

Happy Saturday. I am watching the rest of season 2 of Big Love tonight. I am addicted!

p.s. How funny is this card! Apologies in advance : )

Friday, 11 January 2013

Friday favourites


Hello Friday and hello Friday Favorites!  My friend Susan and I used to blog about our favourite finds from the week every Friday and I am excited to bring my own discoveries to you.  This week I am sharing a gem I discovered at the health store the other day while stocking up on vitamin D.  Simply Protein Chips!

I know these probably don't fall within my nutritionists less processed guidelines, but they are soy free with 15g of protein per bag! They are also gluten-free, vegan, all natural, kosher, and have less than 10 ingredients


Ingredients: Pea Protein (pea protein isolate, dehydrated potato flakes, potato starch, slat, calcium carbonate), Canola oil, natural cane sugar, and seasonings.

Pros: These Chili flavoured ones were probably a bit spicy for my 10 am coffee break and the texture was a bit different but they were crunchy, not overly powdery and packed with flavour. 

Cons: at $2.49 a bag these will have to be a special treat.  There is also a slight aftertaste but I did only try one flavour.

Other things I can't get enough of this week: Oscar Buzz, GT's Chai Kombucha, Endangered Species dark cherry chocolate and herbal chocolate chai tea.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

My troubles with soy

I wasn't sure if I would post on this just yet because I am always sceptical about my food sensitivities, but before Christmas I had a follow up appointment with my holistic nutritionist and she suggested (after a lot of trial and error) that I eliminate soy.  Soy! Seriously??

I took a couple of weeks to follow the advice because I was completely overwhelmed.  I don't eat tonnes of soy - but it was definitely a shift.  I will admit that I love smoked tofu. I eat cubes of it like people eat smoked cheese.  I also eat lots of clif bars and luna bars, both of which are heavy on the soy (and pretty processed but that is a whole other topic).

I haven't been overly adventurous the past two weeks but I have done quite well. I am eating a lot of chick peas, cannelini beans and vega shakes.  To be honest, the hardest part is the energy bars. How did I become this lazy?? I am not sure if ezekial bread with coconut oil makes me any less lazy - but I think it is a bit healthier.  Also,  as those with allergies are acutely aware, there is a lot of hidden soy.  I have not yet been that diligent with label reading. I started with the big stuff first.

So what's the point?

I am not sure if I have talked about it before, but I have some pretty yucky digestive issues.   I also have a milk allergy.  There have been many evenings spent in the fetal position on the floor waiting for the stomach pains to pass.  Becoming vegan was the first change that made a noticeable difference.  I still have some problems with iron and vitamin absorption - but I go for testing pretty regularly.

Recently things weren't that great however, so I have been trying to make tweaks.   So far the soy free approach seems to be working.  I didn't really understand how so I did a little digging.  Here is what I found:

  • The unusable vitamin B12 in soy actually makes the body need more B12.

  • Soy intake increases in the body’s need for vitamin D.

  • Phytic acid in soy reduces the body’s use of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and other important minerals.

  • Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders.

  • The plant estrogens found in soy, called phytoestrogens,disrupt endocrine function

While I am not a researcher or a dietician, I do feel it is important to be informed and I can speak to the positive changes over the past few weeks.

Have you had a similar experience? Did you eliminate or reduce soy significantly. Please share!

Ditch the Soy

Dangers of Soy

Studies Showing Adverse Effects of Soy

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Easing In

Here we are almost a week into 2013! I am not doing so great on the not swearing front but I am still diet pop free. Did you make a 2013 goal to be more active or sweat in a different way? If so, I hope you are doing great!

After a bout of bronchitis and 2 rounds of super antibiotics I am feeling much better and was able to move more this week. Here is how my week worked out (Sunday - Saturday):

Sunday - ran 9k
Monday - rest (after all... it was New Years Eve)
Tuesday - 1hr cross country ski, 60 minute candle light Moksha.
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - 1 hour cardio circuit
Friday - 60 min walk
Saturday - 75 min hot yoga.

I have to tell you, when J asked me about the new lunch-hour classes I signed up for I kept joking around  that it was going to be "lady-robics" and I wasn't expecting much. Um.. hello aerobics/cross-fit superwoman instructor. It has been a long time since I did so many jumping jacks and skaters... my calves are still unhappy. It brought back painful memories of that time I went to aquacise with my mumsy and almost drowned from a dreaded side cramp.

Tomorrow I have buns n' bellies which I know sounds hilarious but after Thursday's class I am a little worried. Wish me and my 5lb hand weights luck.


Saturday, 5 January 2013

Sweaty Mess

The title of this post reflects exactly how I feel 30 minutes into a hot yoga class, when the sweat begins to lose its saltiness and my hair is in a permanent sweat bun. If you are a hot yoga aficionado you know exactly what I am talking about.  My love of hot yoga ebbs and flows.  In the winter I tend to crave it.  The warmth of the room, the deepness of forward folds and the studio regulars that make it feel like a community hub.

Last week I signed up for 2 months of unlimited classes at one of my favourite hot yoga studios. I like it there because there is no regular sequence, teachers are free to do their own thing and each class seems new. I am also hoping it helps me out with my IT band issues when I run. I have horribly tight IT bands but lose hip joints. It's a problem!! My goal for the next 2 months is to make it to class 3x a week.  Totally doable right?

The downside of so much yoga. I'm thirsty all the time and have to wash all my gym wear after every wash. Oh and with the running I am hungry all the time so my grocery bill is probably going to go up over the next 2 months.  But I'm totally saving by not buying diet coke right?? (not really... because my Kombucha addiction is a pricey habit).

Are you back in the yoga thing for the new year? Do you change up your yoga routine or are you a yoga purist??


Friday, 4 January 2013

Simplifying Skin Care

I have never had perfect skin. Since junior high I have constantly been trying new skin care regimens. They tend to work for a while but either stop working entirely, or have side effects that don't make it worthwhile.  When I was 18 I was actually on accutane for one cycle. It was horrible.  My lips cracked, my nose was terribly dry and wearing contacts was near to impossible.

Flash forward about 14 years (don't do that math!) and I am still on the search for my clear skin miracle.  I even splurged on a Clarisonic last year hoping it would be my saviour.  It wasn't.

So last month I decided to strip down my routine. I switched out medicated cleansers with plain $2 baby soap, I stopped using stripping toners, and  used a simple moisturizer.   And friends, it seems to be working.  By no means are things perfect, but I am having far fewer breakouts and my skin doesn't seem as thin (retinols can thin your skin and make it sun sensitive).

There are a couple of other changes I made that might be contributing: I started taking Maca pills, B-Complex vitamins, and 1000mg of vitamin C a day.

So, over the next few months I will see if this good skin trend continues. Oh and just so you know, the soap I switched too is Live Clean Baby (fragrance free).  Here are the details:

  • 99% Plant Ingredients

  • Petroleum Free

  • Preservative Free

  • Fragrance Free*

  • Hypoallergenic - Pediatrician Tested

Do you have a skin care regime? Did you ever take a less is better approach? I'd love to hear about it (maybe make some improvements to my skin care regimen).


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

PBs and beyond

Can we take a minute to talk about running goals? Have you planned out your race schedule for 2013?

Last year I led my first half marathon clinic, and while I loved every minute of it, it took the focus off my running and placed it on everyone else's.  This year I am going to be a little bit more selfish.

I shared with you that I will be starting a new training clinic next week called Edmonton Run Project. I am pretty excited.  Like starting a new job excited because I have no idea what to expect.  It is 10k format focussing on form and speed. Two things that I am not great at focussing on. It was time for me to change things up. After 4 years of half marathons, a full and my first trail relay I noticed that I had plateaued.  Here's why:

  1. I hate speed work. I can't pace myself. I feel sluggish and I really, really don't like being out of breath. Enter coached speed work sessions!

  2. I always run with the same group.  I love my run group. They are like family to me. But it's time to branch out and run with different pacers, people faster than me that drive me forward. Except J. Our running relationship broke up 2 years ago and I have never looked back (he's faster than me and I am jealous and competitive)

  3. I have a 5min/k barrier. It is part mental part physical but I intend to crack it in 2013.

Does this mean I am done with distance? No way. I love it. I just am taking a back to basics approach to improving.  Watch for some race recaps here in Feb and onward! Also in 2013.. no more headbands that make my forehead look as huge as it does in that cover pic ; )

Do you have any running goals this year? Let's share them and keep accountable!

Your running bud,