Holding Onto Motivation, Keeping That Determination


So here I am exactly halfway through training for my first full marathon. I started training nine weeks ago and I have nine weeks left until thousands of us come together at that starting line. Really, only nine weeks ago? I feel as though I’ve been doing this forever. Being at this halfway point through training, I’m about to encounter a new level of training I’ve never experienced before and start to run distances that a few short months ago did not seem possible. I’ve been asked by people along the way how do I do it. How do I find time or the motivation to get my butt out there day after day? Motivation is the easy part, it’s all around me. I’ve been lucky enough to connect with some amazing people through social media who are run streaking, marathon training, trail running, doing relay’s, charity runs, you name it people are talking about it. People from all different lifestyles, communities and sense of purpose are talking about running and sharing their stories. I am in constant awe of the running community and it really inspires me to follow what they are doing. That being said, we’ve all heard that quote that the mind will give up a thousand times before our bodies will. Sometimes we need to change things up a bit to keeps our mind motivated.

A Friendly Boost

I am very fortunate to live in a city that has multiple running clubs that are willing to take in strays. On any given day of the week you can join up with a running crew and enjoy the company of others. If ever you get sick of running alone or need a little boost in motivation I highly recommend seeking out your local running crew and joining in.  In my experience all are very accepting of fellow runners regardless of speed which was really reassuring for me. If you are a runner in this city, I can guarantee you are apart of an accepting, unbiased, extremely friendly community of amazing people. You just have to reach out and join in! Having a commitment to show up somewhere and run definitely helps give you that extra push to make sure you get that run in on those days when you feel like it’s easier to make up excuses and skip out. These are especially helpful for the longer runs to ensure that you’re running at conversation pace. The company on runs that last hours at a time is always welcome as well!

NIght Terrors

Family and friends of course can be your biggest source of motivation, after all these are usually your number one fans! Every time someone calls me crazy or insane for training for a marathon it’s a rush of motivation. People are following your progress and cheering you on. Even though running has become an everyday part of your life, you start to realize that you are inspiring people around you. Have you ever felt that excitement when you have successfully shown someone the joys of running? Some have come to rely on you for that spark in motivation. A glimmer of inspiration. Any positive impact on someone’s life is a reason for me to push harder and to keep climbing.

Avoid Monotomy, Spicing Things Up

Let’s face it, running every day is not for everyone. Although I do admire those who can do it, injury and boredom are very real possibilities for the majority of us. Cross training has done wonders for me personally. I am still not the fastest runner out there, but I am very excited that I am currently injury free and going strong! Spinning and swimming are my go to cross training workouts. Both allow me to work on my cardiovascular endurance without pounding the pavement, giving my shins and feet a bit of a break. I currently cross train three days a week and run three to four times a week. Before cross training I was bogged down with sore muscles and injuries. It’s really made such a positive difference for me and the change up keeps things interesting as there’s always a new challenge awaiting me in each of the three sports.

As you can probably tell, I enjoy change. I do get bored easily so everything about my training continues to change week to week. In addition to cross training, I vary my running routes often. If I’m doing a long run I tend to get lost in a trail system somewhere. For short tempo runs, I’ll aim for flat surfaces to better gage and maintain my speed and for those short easy runs I often don’t plan it at all.  I just let my feet direct me around the nearby neighbourhoods. Variety is key to keeping my interest. Changing up the scenery and terrain has been an easy way to accomplish this. Music is another. I have a lot of music, some of it organized, some of it scattered. Although it looks hilarious clipped to my clothes, I run with my little iPod shuffle. Whatever mood I’m in I add that playlist and if I really want it to be random, I put it on shuffle. It’s as easy as that. My brain works in mysterious ways, and even if I am forced to run that same route for a little while, by changing up my playlist it’s like a whole new route altogether! Music also flows closely with my mood. If the two clash, I’m in for a messy run! Sometime even though you’ve changed up your route and music, you still can’t seem to get out of that running rut. When all else fails I recommend forgetting about your training schedule altogether. Forget about paces and the marathon ahead, leave your watch at home and just run. Enjoy your favourite landscape and route, listen to your favourite music, keep your head up, look around and run until you feel like heading home. A few of these runs can remind you why you fell in love with running in the first place. Sometimes that’s all I need to get me back on track.

Avoiding Procrastination

As marathon training progresses, more of your time is required. Some days you need to dedicate 4 hours just to working out. That’s part of the journey, the road to getting to where you want to be. Some days you wake up full of pee and vinegar, other days you wake up procrastinating through the day pushing your run later and later. Although I’m a big fan of night time running, mostly because I work well into the evening most days, I do know that if you wake up and get your run out of the way, you won’t dwell on it and have time to make excuses as to to why you can’t fit in that day. Don’t think about it, lace up and get out there. Even if you’re tired, once you get out there and running, you’re much more likely to get that full work out in. There are more times then I can count when I’ve been sore and tired and have convinced myself that I’ll only run a few km to loosen up instead of the full workout I should be doing. Once I get out there, I always end up finishing the full workout and feeling pretty good about it. The hardest part is always just getting your butt out that door when your mind is telling you to curl up on the couch.


Writing out your schedule helps keep your workout schedule realistic. I have a monthly calendar on my fridge dedicated solely to my marathon training. I write in my workouts in two week blocks and manoeuvre things around to fit my work schedule or personal commitments. Having a hardcopy helps  stick to the plan and I get this odd sense of gratification when I get to check off the day. I also keep a log and each day type out what workout I was suppose to do, what I ended up doing and how I felt about it. This keeps me accountable to myself and to my coach. No one wants to write down and admit that they’ve skipped a workout!

The next time you are thinking about skipping out on a run, think about how much work you have put in to get this far. Remember those runs this past winter? I think they still haunt me! How does that saying go? Don’t look at how far you still have to go, look at how far you have come! Nine weeks will go by in the blink of an eye. Get out there whenever you can and enjoy every step. I don’t know about you, but from losing toe nails to submerging myself into ice baths, this has been one heck of a ride so far and I know that crossing that finish line at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is only the beginning. I can’t wait to see you there!

Back in the Game


So it’s been a while! Let me explain…

Like most runners, when things aren’t going well I just don’t want to talk about it. I kept wanting to write about it since it’s suppose to be therapeutic right? Not always. I’d start writing and then get so upset I decided to just let it be. Much like this post. I’ve probably rewritten it four times, each time starting to talk about the last few weeks then deleting it. I’m not going to get into it right now, not while I’m gearing myself back up!

THE GOOD NEWS is that after about three weeks, I’m running again pain free and it’s such a relief! I’m not putting in very many miles but I’m out there and it feels amazing! My endorphins are pumping and my mood’s improved. Ladies and Gents, I’m back in the game! I’ve had to make some adjustments and I’ve learned a lot but that’s what this is all about!

Yoga’s become a staple for me. I do it quite regularly now. I still can’t touch my toes and I don’t feel very flexible but I’m rarely sore. That doesn’t mean I’m not getting a good workout. Yoga kicks my butt most days I just do some restorative stretches when I’m done.  I like to work out at home and boycott gyms. I find that they overcharge (at least in Toronto) and that I just don’t need them! Not to mention signing up for a gym membership these days is like signing a mortgage. I’m a contract-a-phobe so working out in the home and outside is perfect for me. I can’t wait until Erin Motz’s My YogaPro launches online. I’ll be all over that!

Spin! I’m the kind of person who needs that cardio. I need to sweat to feel like I’ve accomplished something! I usually spin at home with my baby hooked up to the trainer. There’s something about someone yelling at you though that just pushes you to the next level. I’ve started going to spin classes at least once every two weeks just to get my ass totally kicked ;) Another plus is that I can feel spring coming. I know it’s just around the corner and then I can start cycling again. I’ll probably still keep up the biweekly spin classes though. Who doesn’t love a good ass kicking now and then?

Swimming. Ok, a little bit about me. I can’t swim! I flail around to what kind of resembles swimming but I really don’t know what I’m doing. When Lindsey suggested I start swimming I got really nervous. I’m working on my form but I’m not going to lie, it’s terrible and I definitely stand out in the pool. It’s still a work out though and I’m sure one day I’ll look back at where I am now and laugh. I should add that I’m looking to join swimming lessons to help me out a bit. I’ll have it down eventually! I’m glad she added this in. I’ve always wanted to do a triathlon but the swimming part gave me anxiety just thinking about it. I’ve heard horror stories about getting kicked, hypoxic and disoriented so I shied away from the sport. This might just be the kick I need to finally sign up for one. I’ve other things on my plate right now but it’s coming, I can feel it!

Shoes. Alright, I may have grown up a tomboy but that shoe fever that womyn get? I’ve got it bad. I can’t help it. I love a sexy shoe even if it is a runner! With the knee pains, it was suggested that I get new shoes. AH! In the past, the lighter the shoe the better. I find them so comfortable. I used to struggle with the bulkiness of shoes and it drove me nuts. Then the minimalist movement took off with a bang, I was in heaven and jumped right on board! Looking back on it, it was that fever and not sense that got to me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great if your gait can support that type of shoe but I know now that mine can’t. When it was suggested that I try a new pair of runners I knew it was a good idea but I didn’t want to give up my beauties! I went to Blacktoe (a local running store I had been hearing so much about) for some help and to my surprise I was face to face with Rejean Chiasson! I wasn’t expecting it and I’m somewhat of a quiet person. I had so many questions I wanted to ask him but I kept it to the shoes! Maybe next time I’ll pick his brain ;) Anyways, he let me try on a million pairs of shoes and I decided on some New Balance 890v4’s  and we both had a good laugh because the ones I liked were blue/pink, super ugly and they didn’t have any other colour. Honestly, so ugly! I swallowed the big lump in my throat and bought them. Even as I got in my car I thought I should go back and return them for something better looking but really Amber?! Comfort over style? Who are you? lol I brought them home, put them on right away and went on a dirty rainy run so I couldn’t return them if I changed my mind. The good news here is that I’ve found their inner beauty!

The most important thing I took in from my ‘break’ from running was the importance of stretching. I always did it but now I do it a lot.  Trust me, don’t ever skip out on them. Even if you feel like a million bucks, DO THEM. If you don’t, one day injury will plague you! It’s only a few minutes of your time and it’ll help stave off injury. I’ve learned to enjoy it quite a bit. Even on the days that I don’t run I’m doing lunges, squats and foam rolling.

So there it is, a few changes! I’ve unfortunately had to put a hold on my plans to finish my first marathon. It was REALLY hard for me to accept, but you have to listen to your body. Mine was clearly telling me to wait. Don’t good things come to those who wait anyways? ;)  I’ve exchanged my BIB for a half instead and my marathon plans have been pushed to the fall where I’ll hopefully finally catch that 42.2! October 19 watch out Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon…. I’m coming for you!

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again


I had fully intended on this post being full of exciting news about how my training is going and how awesome I’m doing. I’ve been delaying writing because unfortunately I haven’t much progress to share.

Let me back it up a second. Coming into my third week of training the side of my knee started to hurt. After reading up on it, I started to learn about my iliotibial band and how much of a pain in the a** it can be if you’re a runner! Turns out it likes to rub against your knee, get all angry and inflamed and then cause you a heck of a lot of pain.

I was out scheduled to do an easy 8 km’s. It was only -12 out and it had been -20 / -25 the last few nights, so I was excited to shed a layer of clothing. I did my stretches, put on my new Garmin Forerunner 210 watch I had just bought (and was really excited to test out) and headed out the door. I felt good. I was dancing in my head to the songs playing on my shuffle and was running at a good pace. I stopped at a red light and when it turned green and I started to run again it hit me. That lateral pain almost stopped me dead in my tracks! I was only 3 km out and for some reason thought maybe it would just go away. I am a bit of a daydreamer! I ran maybe a block further and it was excruciating. I stopped, turned around, took another few steps and started to walk. I felt so defeated having to walk for some reason. Like it was the end of the world at that particular moment in time.

I was angry, then sad, then cold… so very cold! Why had I shed that extra layer! I had forgotten how cold it can be outside this time of year when you’re not running! I was freezing and couldn’t feel my finger tips so I decided to try to run again. I took a couple gimped steps and nope, this knee had firmly decided to walk only. This went on for another km before I decided to just stop punishing myself. I was going to have to tough it out and walk the rest of the way home. It’s embarrassing to admit but I was definitely sulking and feeling sorry for myself. I kept thinking about everyone else. Reading everyone’s posts recently about the Around the Bay Run and the milage people were hitting had already made me a bit concerned over the last few days. That worry came over me now. I felt so behind already being new to running and now with not being able to put pressure on my knee, I knew I was about to fall even further behind. People are hitting 21-28 km runs pulling in 80-100 km weeks! I’m struggling with 30. Oh dear!

I let my coach know what was going on and as expected she toned down my mileage. I had downplayed how I felt a bit hoping it wouldn’t happen, but she knew. I knew. It was really upsetting knowing I wasn’t going to pick up the pace. I have so much energy and motivation inside me I just want to give it my all and now I’m struggling to try to push through a few km. I was upset for a few hours, and then I decided to smarten up and stop being such a cry baby. What is wrong with me? Suck it up Amber! If I wanted to do this, I had to be prepared and overcome whatever obstacles stood in my way. A sore knee? Come on, it’s really not the end of the world. People deal with injury and overcome it all the time. It was time to zone in on ME and stop worrying about what everyone else was doing.

I started icing my knee religiously, stretching, epson salt baths, anti inflammatories, yoga, foam rolling, lunges, squats, oi! You name it I’m doing it! If I’m smart about this, listen to coach and just lay off the mileage and let my body heal I can come back with more strength then I had originally started with.

Week three hasn’t been a bust, many lessons were learned! I’m currently looking at starting to jump into the pool to keep my legs moving while my knee is healing. Tomorrow may be a new day, but I’m not about to waste today. I’m doing everything I can to get myself back on track. It’s kind of fun too! I’m diving right into yoga and loving every minute of it. I can really feel it in my quads, hips and oh those abs! Perfect. Weak hips is probably what got me into this mess to begin with. I’ve always wanted to learn to swim too, what a perfect opportunity!

So that’s it! I just have to be patient and trust it will all fall into place. I’ll put in the work that needs to be done. We all stumble and fall to get to where we want to be. No worries, I’m still on track, I’ll get there soon! =)

photo (7)

Ginger on a mission


So where do I begin? I’m not new to running but I’m new to training to run. I ran cross country in high school but only because my basketball coach made me.  I was really athletic in high school, one of those kids you could always find in the gym. Basketball, volleyball, track and field, soccer, you name it I played it! When going through university and college, I dropped down from competitive sports to intramurals to eventually nothing at all.  I would occasionally lace up and run whenever life got to be a little bit too much for me and I needed to clear my head. I now know, I was doing it all wrong.

From time to time I’d sign up for a half marathon without any training and just wing it. I knew it was dangerous but I’d do it anyways and then regret my decision at every starting line. I’d sign up for gym memberships but just end up wasting my money. I even tried at home cardio programs but they would just collect dust on the shelf. I finally decided that 2014 was my year! No more working myself to death, unhealthy eating or fitting in fitness only when it was convenient. My issue was my lifestyle and it needed to change. I work in healthcare and hold three jobs trying to secure a full time spot in a hospital. My hours were ridiculous and I’d flip from nightshift to dayshift within short 24 hour periods. Days off? What were those? I would get one occasionally maybe once or twice a month but they would consist of sleep and sleep alone! After four years of working like a madwomyn enough was enough. My relationships and health were suffering. Health should NEVER be compromised for career. It’s not worth it and you end up missing out on the good things in life as a result. It was time for me to finally come first. 2014 was my time to change and start living the life I had envisioned for myself. I’ve drastically cut down my working hours to the point where I almost don’t know what to do with myself some days! My eating habits have taken a 180 now that I actually have time to cook and I’m ready to start running! So I’ve made this decision and now I’m once again asking myself where do I begin?

Social media. Probably not your first choice, but it was mine. I started a twitter account, starting tweeting and the rest was history. I’m not kidding, that’s exactly where it all started! I started following fellow runners and suddenly I was apart of this massive online community I didn’t know existed! Anytime I had a question about anything, someone was willing to take the time to give me advice and help me out. I was learning an overwhelming amount of information for which I’m still so grateful for. Twitter also connected me with Lindsey, who I’m learning is an incredibly amazing and strong womyn. Although she is 800 km’s away, she’s helping me become the runner I want to be. With her help I’m going to complete my first marathon on May 25th of this year. To be honest I originally wasn’t going to jump into it that fast but the half marathon was sold out so I decided to step it up a notch and sign up for the full. For me this was a HUGE deal and I wasn’t sure I could do it. When I asked Lindsey about it, she was all for it and didn’t even question it which I thought was awesome!

I dove right in and started training in the middle of January so it’s only been a few weeks but I already feel amazing. I’ve actually signed up for a 30 km race along the way and I’m already planning a second marathon before completing my first! Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I feel amazing and want to keep going! I’m still heavily relying on twitter to help me navigate my way through training. The ups and downs, the do’s and don’ts. That community is there to support me and I’m hoping to start contributing back to it through everything I’m experiencing.

So what is this blog about? My Journey. What works, what doesn’t, what I’ve learned and what’s next! Writing makes me feel somewhat accountable. If I’m accountable to a coach and a blog dedicated to talking about my training, then I’ll definitely stick with it right? I guess we’ll find out! ;)