Why I Miss Streaking

imageRunning every day is no easy task. It’s a huge commitment that requires constant motivation and persistent dedication. It’s the type of challenge that you hear others talk about and are intrigued, thinking there is no way you can do it yourself. You think about it for a while, contemplate how you could do it and then bam, it’s part of your day, every day. You find yourself making a week, then a month then 100 days and you realize “Hey, I can do this!” and you are. I stopped my 365-day runstreak exactly 3 months ago. It was a love-hate relationship near the end but man, do I ever miss it now. There were many days I found myself pulling a late night mile just to get it in plus there were injuries and then flu. It was hard but that’s not what I remember about streaking. What I remember is all the amazing things that surprisingly don’t continue after you stop.

Your body becomes a machine

Running everyday conditions your body. It keeps it a well-oiled machine capable of getting up and going at any time. I know this because now that I’m not streaking I have to stretch or I’m like a stiff board when I start to run. Now, even the littlest of injuries feels like a life sentence but when you run every day you somehow seem to be able to shake off that nagging hamstring, re-align that knee or ease that sciatica. Your body is strong, resilient and elastic. I could wake up and be out the door in five minutes, say screw-it to a warm-up and be instantly ready to do hill repeats. Today, I’m no slug but I’m not ready to run on the drop of a dime like I used be. When I was streaking I was tuned.

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Day 328 was on ice in the middle of winter while I was recovering from the flu. Looking back, I don’t know how this was possible. I was super sick but I got it done.

Decisions made easy

Streaking releases you from the chains of deciding if it’s a “runday”. I never thought about whether or not I had to run, I just ran. It was routine and my bag was packed each morning before my lunch. I usually had a few outfits in case plans changed, weather erupted or I just needed a choice. You see, there’s no excuses allowed or it doesn’t work, you won’t survive past day one. Before I started my streak I was just like many runners. I’d look outside, see the rain, snow or wind and then check the weather on my phone. I’d scroll through some motivating memes, or check my favourite IG accounts for inspiration. I might have even put together a new cute outfit in hopes that it might get me out the door or down to the dungeon on the ‘mill. If it wasn’t absolutely perfect out, I needed to find motivation. When I was streaking, I didn’t need this. I couldn’t risk wasting time, I just went. Every day was runday.

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This was one of my favourite streak days. Not only was it super-crappy wet weather but I got busted by the cops taking this picture. No handcuffs or anything but I was pretty embarrassed 😉

Buh-bye guilt

Have you ever gone for 5 or 6 days without running? How about a few weeks? There were times in my past where I’d slack for a while, even during training and “oh the guilt”. I’d look at my running shoes and say I’d see them soon, in just a few days, after I wrote report cards or when life was less busy. I would have times when I would board the lazy train and getting back to running seemed so hard. This obviously doesn’t happen on a runstreak. Sure, you may find that for a few busy weeks you’re only doing “mile days” but you easily get back on track. Without the guilt, without stalling.

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There were definitely periods of lower activity like this time around Christmas where I ran a lot of “mile” days. The difference was that it was waaay easier to get back on track and motivated again!

I’ll have a double burger with cheese please or not

Ya, so you can just about eat anything when you’re streaking. You can, but most likely you won’t because you know how that works right? Food is fuel and when you’re streaking you’re active every day and who wants a 20-pack of timbits floating around? I used to run to eat-eat to run and it worked for me but something changed on my runstreak. I became this person who wanted to eat better to perform better. I wanted to see if this nutrition thing made a difference. It does and I figured out pretty quick that the less you weigh, the faster you go and the stronger you are the more you can maintain. I started downing protein like a gym-rat and I felt awesome. Of course, some days around the holidays I’d cheat and eat all the desserts but it really didn’t matter. When you’re streaking you can afford to eat a few treats or all of them.

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By day 357 I had figured out what fuel my body needed to run everyday and for long distances. 19.5k day

 

Sleep like a baby or more like a log, a heavy one

I’m not going to say too much here except that if you tried to wake me when I was streaking, you’d be there awhile. I’d fall asleep in only a few minutes and wake up with the alarm. 8-9 hours every night. Just don’t get my husband started on this, he had issues with it for some reason?!?

You can do anything

Most runners are addicted to goal setting. We sign up for longer distances, assign ourselves faster start corrals and run more races. We do this because we love the feeling of accomplishment. We crave the feeling of killin’it. Running everyday makes you feel unstoppable. It makes you believe you are capable and that you can do anything your mind can think of. Each day you cross off, you feel another step closer, a little bit stronger and a whole lot more confident. You begin to dream big and accomplish amazing things. Don’t get me wrong, I still set some goals that push me hard but there’s nothing like a runstreak to accomplish a goal every single day.

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Day 365 was 5k in the morning with my uncle and another 5k in the afternoon with these amazing ladies!

See you soon my friend

My runstreak was one of the best decisions of my life. It was difficult and I often had to pull some strings to get out on the trails but it was worth every step. I didn’t know it at the time but it did a ton for me physically, mentally and it boosted my self-confidence. It made me feel connected to me at my best and taught me I’m capable. You may be thinking that by my age I should have known all these things, I should have already been there. Maybe I did, maybe I was but not like I am now. It changed my life. I’m not sure when I’ll start this running every day thing again but I know it’s going to happen. It’s too good not to.

 

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Thoughts from a Mother Runner

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You’re not selfish or neglecting them. You have enough time and you need this. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true. No matter how busy you are, you can totally make this work. Even if you swear you don’t have a single spare minute. You do and it’s a choice. Here’s a few things I’ve learned along the way that helped me make it out running every day with a full time job and a family. You can totally do this.

You are worth it

It’s true – you are! I know that a lot of us are not great at taking time out for ourselves but we need to. It’s hard not to think about the laundry that’s exploding out of the basket, the dishes sitting in the sink and the kids that need their noses wiped. But we have to. Things can wait but our health and wellness can’t. I’m not an expert but I do know that running helps with stress, anxiety, depression and so much more. Plus for me, on a really busy day a run helps me put things into perspective and gain a clear focus. I need it to function! Even my kids will notice when I’m crabby or impatient and say “Mom, maybe you should go run.” It’s not selfish. It’s not neglecting our duties. Taking care of ourselves and investing the time to feel good is so important.

You have the time

Seize yourself some me-time. You know that saying “no matter how slow you’re going, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch”? Well, it’s true. It doesn’t matter if you go for an hour or 15 minutes. If you have some time, use it! I am really good at bringing my gym bag everywhere and that way it limits excuses. I have changed in some pretty desperate places but it’s been worth it. Sometimes using that time while waiting for your car to be fixed or between appointments will show you some amazing new routes. My most favourite run-escape is while my daughters are at gymnastics. I watch for a few minutes but then I run for the door and straight to the local conservation area and the beautiful trails that are only a km away. I can get a good run in and it’s now a habit. I just put my stuff on and go. Other good times to use are before work, lunchbreaks, after work/before daycare pick-up and before bed (it’s not as awful as it sounds). The important thing to remember is not to think for too long and just go. You’ll feel better, even if it’s only for a short time.

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This escape is only a 5 minute run from where my girls do gymnastics. I have learned to not feel guilty for not saying to watch them every night. I need this time for me.

You have admirers

I didn’t realize it at first but they are always watching. They peek at me in the shower, watch me pee and catch me using bad words (for the record “shut-up” when used in place of “that’s so cool” is not swearing). So, knowing this I like to think that spending time running is setting myself up as a good role model. It shows perseverance, dedication and a healthy life-style. They look up to us and we need to do this to show them that being healthy is a life-long choice. Actions speak louder than words. If we tell them to value fitness but don’t do anything ourselves then what are we really saying? I want my kids to be the best versions of themselves and being active is a big part of that. Did you know that physical activity increases brain function? It’s not just looking good, it’s feeling good, being healthy and smart! We can create kids who live an active lifestyle by showing them how to live that way.

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I’d always dreamed of the day when I could share my love of running with my girls. My oldest now asks to join me on short runs.

You have partners

Running is beautiful alone but it’s better with friends. I don’t get a ton of chances to run with others just because I live in the middle of nowhere but when I do, it’s so fun. I swear the miles are shorter, time flies by and it’s more like meeting for coffee than running. Although, I know we’ve run because I feel it the next day. If you can, finding a group or a partner will help you get out the door more often. But not everyone has this option. It was probably out of necessity that I discovered that my kids were great runpals. At first they were cheering me on from the stroller. I’d hear “go faster” and “weee” from under the canopy. Then, it was “I’m coming on my bike” and along we’d go, sharing the road. I’d be running while they would ride beside me. The conversation wasn’t stimulating or motivating but it was fun all the same. However, now on Friday nights I’ve been running with my oldest. It’s one of my favourite things. We run, talk, laugh and just spend time together.

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You may not get a long run in with a stroller but if it gets you out there then that’s all that matters. This wasn’t my running stroller but that’s what was in the trunk that day.

You can do it

I know I don’t know you but I bet you’re just like me. Being a Mom is hard and there will be times when making it out the door is difficult. There will be times when you just don’t feel like going. Try to think about the positive feelings that happen from running. Try to remember that you are busy but you need to do this for you. You have the time. Not every run needs to be a marathon and you can multi-task by visiting with friends or spending time with your kids. You can do it, you’ve totally got this.

The feeling of 50k

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Pick Your Poison 50k Race Recap 

Don’t worry, you weren’t alone in thinking I may have taken on too much with this race. You see, even I didn’t know if I could handle the training for an ultra, in winter, with 2 children and a full time job. I also totally understand that when I got the flu and was off work for a week and didn’t train for 2 more, you thought I might not make it. I didn’t think I had enough training either. However, good thing for me that I’m too busy to worry about what’s getting me down. It wasn’t until taper that all of my doubts would surface and I’d question if I could run that far. Thankfully, I have some amazing supporters and you all encouraging me here.
It was due to some last minute worries about gear that I woke up pretty tired but super excited. The jitters were gone but the weather forecast had changed so I had some new concerns. It was now going to be hot (spring standards) with +15 and full sun so I had to make some last minute changes to my kit. I made two major gambles by choosing a skirt I’d never worn on a longrun and a hydration pack that was brand new. No worries, I had body glide just in case!
The race began at 9 am and I met my uncle Carl at the startline. He would be running the first 2 loops and leaving me to do the last 2 solo. It was a mass start of 350 runners of which 91 were tackling the 50k and the others were doing either 12.5k or 25k. There were no timing chips so the start was a little hectic. The horn sounded and we were off on a  logging road which allowed the pack to disperse but not nearly enough. It was tight and at about 1.5k the single track began and it slowed to a walking pace. There was another 1.5k of flats and all was fine until I caught my foot and took a rolling tumble in the dirt. Thankfully, no injuries and I was happy that I now looked the part of a dirty trail runner. The next few kms were mainly uphill with mud traverses and an aid station at the top of the ski hill. We skipped this one as both of us had water and fuel on us. Our first downhill started and it was beautiful. Around km 7 we hit our first technical uphill. It was super steep, long and washed out. Watching our footing was key. This was ok the first loop but it would be my most challenging part of the course as the day went on. Surprisingly, I had to walk the flats for a minute to regulate my breathing, which was a hard pill to swallow. I was now loosing my goal pace and it was only the first lap. This course was way more difficult than I thought and from the comments of those returning from previous years, the new single track sections were lengthening their times too (It turned out that the top female would be almost 40 mins behind last years’). The loop continued on to be even more hilly and technical. It was painfully beautiful and totally amazing. It ended with a long, steep downhill and I felt super strong. I ditched my long sleeve and my uncle had a quick break. 3 laps to go.
Losing the 12.5k crew was helpful. We were able to run the second lap without slowing on the single track. I felt good but had a hard time on that same hill. I reminded myself of a quote @gosskristy sent me earlier. “Don’t look back, you’re not going there.” Despite the desire look behind me I just kept pushing up. I didn’t need to see what was behind me. I didn’t need to congratulate myself on how far I’d come. What if it wasn’t enough. What if looking back made me see how far I had to go? I just kept moving up. At the top I realized that after this lap there would be even less runners. I turned to my uncle and said it was going to be lonely without him! We talked about how different the two laps were and carried on. At the next aid station we stopped and in conversation with the volunteers he said he wasn’t stopping this lap. He was going to stay with me! I was totally blown away. I mean, who in their right mind would want to run another 25k when the finish line was in sight?!? He would, because that’s how amazing he is! At 21k we had a laugh about how this was the distance that started our running journey together. How fun it was that it just seems like hardly anything today but was huge back then. That’s how it is with running. Crush one goal and on to the next.
As we finished lap 2 he went to check in at base and I reapplied body glide and grabbed some chips. 25 kms and half way done. It was at this point that I noticed some swelling and realized I needed salt.
Lap 3 was hard. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We spent too long at base before starting again (maybe 5-8 mins) and I was dehydrated. My head hurt, my vision blurred and I didn’t feel good. The sun was hot and I slowed way down. I felt bad because I needed breaks. I pushed the thoughts aside that told me to keep running, keep pushing. I gave into to my softer side and walked a little bit. You see, this distance is serious. You have to run smart. I couldn’t keep stressing and expect to just get over it. I had to wait. Wait for my hydration tab to work. Wait for the salt to absorb. Wait for the sign that I could start pushing it again. The second wind that is always there when you’ve taken your body to that place that’s so close to too far. We carried on running slower. In one of the downhills I jabbed my foot on a stick and it lifted my toenail. I had some pain but I didn’t realize I’d torn my sock and it was bleeding until after the race. The technical uphills were turning into impossible mountains. I did more walking this loop than in the entire race. My uncle started having muscle contractions in his leg. As we descended the final hill the tears hit. All I wanted was my husband. I needed his encouragement. He’d had a super busy day and hoped to meet me to send me out on my final lap. I was really hoping he made it. I didn’t see him until I rounded the corner and it was the best feeling. Our youngest daughter was with him and I can’t say how much this changed my race. All of a sudden there were these little eyes looking up at me telling me she’d come to see me run. That was all I needed. I was so pumped to run then. So excited to make them proud. Unfortunately, my uncle was feeling the race and was having a hard time. His legs were twitching and he was fearing a charley horse. We stopped for a while at the aid station. The soup that my uncle ate didn’t stay down. It was time to go but he wasn’t ready. We stood and rested. I didn’t want to ask but I was mentally preparing to run the last loop alone. It was what I’d planned right? But I didn’t have to worry, he wanted to keep going. 37.5kms down and 12.5 to go. I was at the farthest distance I’d ever run. It was all uncharted territory now for me.
Lap 4 started slow but got faster. I was feeling better and knew we needed to make up the time we’d stayed at the base. We easily ran past a section that we had to walk the last lap and from then on I knew I was back. My uncle was fading but I thought if I set the pace he’d follow. He’s strong like that and we needed to get this done. Plus, his stride is long and his fast walk is my slow run 😂 We hit 42k and I realized I was at marathon distance. We were just under 6 hours at this point and I cringed a little. My finish time was not what I hoped but I reminded myself that this wasn’t a road race. It’s a tough course. 1613 metres of elevation (5292 feet) on mostly single track. It wasn’t supposed to be easy. We made our way through the forest to my epic hill. This time, even it didn’t seem so bad. Somehow not as gruelling, not breaking. I turned to my uncle at the top and said “That’s it! Last time for this hill.” From that point I knew it was just a fast stroll in the park. We spent the last 6km flying through the trails only walking what was necessary for safety. I ran sections I walked for the last 2 laps. I was feeling good. However, there were others that were feeling the hills and heat of the day. By this point we had been out for almost 7 hours. I came to the last section of single track switchbacks. The runner in front of me was fading. At the top the forest leads out to a treeless ski trail and our final uphill. I had resolved to run this last section to make up some time. I looked over as I passed him and he asked me for help. “Could you take my arm?” and that is how we walked to the top. My new friend Hans was 78 and running his 2nd 50k race in 2 weeks. He told me he’d taken on too much today. I told him I hoped I’d still be running at 78. My uncle caught up to us near the top and we all carried on together. I didn’t want to leave Hans on the downhill to the finish but he insisted he was fine. We picked up the pace and my uncle and I crossed the finish at 7:14. I took 12th place of 30 women. The race officials moved my uncle to the 50k roster and his time was good for 42nd of 61 men. Hans was 43rd.
What an amazing race day. I am so impressed with my uncle’s determination and in awe with the spirit of this trail race. I am so proud to be an ultra runner. I can’t wait for what comes next because right now I feel like I can do anything .