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How to dress for a cold run outside

Have you ventured outside for a run since the temperatures dropped below -5C? Don’t be discouraged. Get out there! With lockdown keeping us indoors and isolated, we need fresh air and some human interaction. Even if it’s waving to people and their pets in the neighbourhood while you’re out for a run.

If you’re wondering how to dress in this cold weather (-8C or colder), here’s what I had on today:

  1. Base layer/long johns
  2. Brushed cotton tights (lined inside- not my regular tights)
  3. Double- layer crew socks (prevents blisters and keeps feet warm)
  4. Long sleeve shirt (wicks moisture away so the thermal layer can keep you warm)
  5. 1/4 zip thermal long sleeve
  6. Jacket
  7. Touque
  8. Buff neck warmer. Can be used as a head and face cover too.
  9. Mitts because my fingers freeze in gloves
  10. Bonus for night time runners: please wear a light! I wear a bright headlamp and often reflective tights. This is so others can see YOU.

I get cold easily so I dress in layers. Be careful not to overdress. A rule of thumb is to dress like it’s 10 degrees warmer but that doesn’t always work for me in the winter. I find that guides me in every season except winter.

Do you have any cold weather running tips? Keep warm and be safe out there!

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So, you want to start running

A lot of people ask me how to start running. If I was a smartass, I’d say “put your shoes on and run.” But I’m not, and I don’t want you to hate running, so that’s definitely not my advice.

I’ve been running for almost 20 years and I’ve completed seven marathons, seven Around the Bay 30 km races, and 12 half marathons. All of those races have happened in the last 10 years. The first 10 years were spent running casually, not training. I didn’t start off running marathons from the get-go. I worked my way up to that kind of distance.

Over the years I’ve put a lot of kilometers on these legs. I would like to think I’ve gained some wisdom that I can pass on to new runners. Here are some things to consider as you lace up for your first run.

  1. Start in the spring. You should be outside in nice weather and it’s still cool this time of year. I am not a fan of the treadmill (or dreadmill as some of us call it). To me, the treadmill is only to be used as a last resort when the weather outside is next to impossible to deal with.
  1. Get fit for shoes. Being a flat-footed gal, I’ve always had trouble with shin splints. I believe in starting off on the right foot (see what I did there?) and being fit for the right shoes for your feet and body. The Running Room or a trusted running store where all they sell is running gear, staffed mainly by runners is the best advice I can offer. They will watch your gait as you run and walk to determine which style is best for you. On impact, your feet absorb about three times your body weight so put something comfy in between them and the road. Running starts from the ground up (ah man, I did it again!).
  1. Be able to carry on a conversation while you’re running. If you’re gasping for breath, you’re going too fast. Slow down until you can speak and run at the same time. You’re not running a race, are you? Because then, you shouldn’t be able to talk. But when you first start running, start slooooww and then build from there. You have lots of time to get faster.

  1. Try the run/walk method. I learned this at the 5K Running Room clinic, and I still use it today in my training and races. It works like this: run for one minute, walk for one minute and repeat for however long you want to be out there. If you want a 20- minute run, do this for the whole 20 minutes. Simple! Set your phone to notify you of the intervals, or invest in a simple Timex watch that has intervals built in. You can program it to beep every minute, so you know when to run and walk. Try 1:1 for a week, then bump it to two minutes running and one- minute walking the next week or so. Keep progressing until you’re up to 10:1. That’s the standard at the Running Room but once you feel comfortable, you might just prefer to run straight through and that’s awesome too!
  1. Run with a buddy. I started running with some friends at work during our lunch hour. They were more experienced but welcomed me to join them. We would run to a certain point where I could rest and catch my breath, then they would take a lap around a pond and come back to pick me up and we would continue. It was motivating for me to run with people better than me and it pushed me to get faster and stronger so I could keep up.  You could also join a Learn to Run clinic like the ones offered at the Running Room. You’re starting with other newbies so you’re basically the same level, and you’ll always have someone to run with. On days when you don’t feel like going, you’ll feel accountable to your new friends and get your butt there. Plus, you’ll learn all kinds of fun things such as how to dress in hot or cold weather, how to pace yourself and how to fuel your body.
  1. Here’s a tip for dressing for the weather: dress like it’s 10 degrees warmer.  You might be cold when you leave the house, but once you start running for a few minutes you will warm right up and thank me for not wearing that jacket you now have to tie around your waist.

  1. At first, just run for time, not distance. Maybe it’s 15 minutes a few times a week. Then 20 minutes a few times a week. A long slow build is ideal because you risk injury doing too much too fast (hello, shin splints!).
  1. Be consistent with your runs. I would recommend running three to four days a week with at least a day off in between. Don’t run back to back days when you’re just starting out. Your body needs rest to deal with the new stress you’re putting on it. When I’m injured, I try not to run back to back so I can give my body a break. In regular training, I can run back to back days but never three days in a row.

Overall, be kind to yourself and figure out what works for you. These are only guidelines, not rules.  Most of all, enjoy the journey and get outside!

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Meditation and Malas

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a mala making and meditation workshop. It was led by Jackee DeSimone- a yoga teacher and entrepreneur from Hamilton. I met Jackee at the recent Toronto Yoga Show and Conference when I stopped by her booth, and we started to chat. She has the loveliest free spirit, and she’s a really nice person! I absolutely loved her workshop. Not only was it fun to make my own mala, but I learned some great things to add to my own meditation practice.

But first, what is a mala?

A mala is a string of beads used in meditation practice. Mala is the Sanskrit name for garland. It looks like a rosary and pretty much does the same thing. In Japa meditation, it is used to repeat a mantra or count breaths while passing the beads through the fingers. It can also be used in quiet meditation to slowly count the beads to calm the mind.

There are a few ways to hold the mala, but the index finger never touches it. The index finger represents the ego and will interfere with your practice. Simply hold the mala in your right hand and drape it over your thumb and middle finger. Starting at the bead to the left of the guru bead, use the thumb to pull the beads towards you as you repeat a mantra in your head, or under your breath.

All malas have 108 beads plus a 109th bead called the guru bead. Each side of the mala must be mirrored, and no more than 108 can be on the string. The guru bead represents the relationship between the student and guru. This bead is sacred and must be passed over when meditating. It isn’t touched, rather, the mala is flipped over in the hand so you can continue to meditate.

In our workshop, Jackee gave each of us a string of 108 rudraksha beads. Rudraksha beads come from trees and are actually seeds from something that looks like a blueberry. These are used in many traditional malas, but you will also find malas crafted from beautiful gemstones. The rudraksha beads were the starting point of making our malas. We were invited to choose from a variety of beads on the table to customize our malas. It was really fun to get creative with the colours and the guru bead. I could have spent all of my time choosing beads! But then I would have run out of time to actually create my mala.

While I built my mala, it was being infused with my energy and intention. My patience was certainly tested while I sat on the floor feeding the small string through each of the tiny beads, but it was so satisfying to see them all neatly lined up. I had gratitude for my fingers that could hold the tiny beads, and eyes that could see! I didn’t keep track of time or worry about messing up the pattern. I performed regular counts to make sure I stayed on the right track and if I missed a bead, I just went back and fixed it without angst. This encouraged me to bring these positive thoughts and affirmations into my daily life. Just like taking mindfulness off my yoga mat and into the world.

Once we finished our malas, Jackee spent time with each of us tying on the last bead, the guru bead. She also encouraged each of us to write down our own personal mantra on a card and keep it somewhere we will always see it to inspire us.

Now that I have made my first mala, I can’t wait to make another! I’ve already used my mala today to meditate and I plan to incorporate meditation off my yoga mat too. If you’re just getting started, I highly recommend Japa meditation because it’s easy to get the hang of it. If your mind wanders, you have the beads to bring you back to your mantra.

Check out Jackee’s website http://www.jackeedesimone.com for more information on her Make a Mala workshops!

Have you tried meditation yet? How was your experience? If you haven’t, what’s holding you back?

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Time to reflect

Last year I left my job to go back to school so I could take my career in a new direction. Now that school is over, I’ve been off work for several months while I search for my ideal role. It has given me time to reflect and also brought me clarity.

Some days I feel regret for walking away from a steady job to start down a new path, but then I remind myself why I did it. I wanted to learn and grow. I truly consider this an investment in myself and it has been the most rewarding investment I have ever made.

I’m also a big believer in fate. I believe things happen for a reason and there is a reason I haven’t yet landed in the place where I’m supposed to be. I’m not ready for it, or it isn’t ready for me. That’s okay. I can be patient. Patience has given me a lot in my life, so I trust in it. I also trust in hard work, so I guess fate needs to sync up with hard work in this case!

Being off work for almost a year has taught me some things. And I love to learn, so this has been a valuable learning experience!

Believe in your dreams

I had a dream I would work in the music industry and it happened. I had a dream I would work in the golf industry and it happened. I dreamed I would become a makeup artist and it happened. Right now, I’m working on some more dreams. Among them, I want to become a yoga teacher, tell meaningful stories, build strong relationships and help people and animals. I also want to somehow combine all of those things into becoming an entrepreneur one day.

Make a plan

It will change a million times, but you need an idea of where you want to go. None of these dreams would have come true if I didn’t have a plan. For example, in high school, I worked in a record store (yes, I’m showing my age right now by calling it a record store). In the store, I met someone at a label. In university, that contact led me to a part time gig. After I graduated, I waited (with so much patience) for my opportunity, and it appeared. It was worth the wait!

Try not to worry about money

Make a plan to live, do whatever you need to do so you can enjoy this time off and not freak out about paying the bills.

Call it an unpaid sabbatical

Lucky you, if it’s a paid sabbatical! Personally, I needed this time for a wellness break. I felt unfulfilled in my job, so I channeled that emotion into motivation to make a change.

Have a supportive partner/friend/family

I couldn’t do this without a lot of supportive people. As my mother says “you always land on your feet. Something will come along.” But she also says, “I can’t believe it’s taking this long.” Like all mothers, she means well, but man, what a kick in the butt! Thankfully, I’m grateful for her tough love.

Don’t sit still

Be creative. Learn some more. I went to school, but I’m also trying to teach myself more about social media marketing. I read a lot and try to find people to learn from. I volunteer to do social media for a non-profit so I can practice. I taught myself to use WordPress and built this website. I’m working on my yoga practice with different teachers so I can discover what kind of teacher I want to become. Always be learning and growing. Being curious and having goals outside of work will make you better in your work.

Continue to network

There are so many cool people out there who will make an impact on you. Go find them! I enjoy introducing myself to new people and hearing about their journeys. Building new relationships is at the heart of my personal and professional identities. You never know where it will lead.

Taking a self-prescribed “time out” may not be for everybody. We all have responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be a year. It can be a month or a few weeks. If you need it, take some time to recharge your batteries and do some soul-searching. So much good can come out of it. Not just for you, but for people around you too. You never know, you might inspire someone to shake up their own journey!

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Around the Bay Race takes determination

Webster’s Dictionary defines determination as “a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult.” In honour of the 125th anniversary of the Around the Bay Race yesterday, let’s talk about determination. I will tell you from experience, it takes a lot of it to complete this race!

First of all, it’s 30 kilometers. I could stop here, but there’s more. There are hills. Lots of them. They come in the form of overpasses starting at five kilometers. There they are, looming ahead with a wall of people climbing up and over. After that grind, the long, flat, stretch of Beach Boulevard is a welcome break. That is, until you turn onto North Shore Boulevard and there’s a whole new set of mountains to climb. The hills are back! Between 18 kilometers and 26 kilometers, your determination will be tested on the rolling hills of North Shore.

The Around the Bay race is an exercise in determination. Not just completing the race, but the work it takes to get there. Yes, you need determination to get up Heartbreak Hill. And have the will and energy to continue another four kilometers to the finish. But it also takes determination to get to the start line.

Since the ATB is at the end of March, that means training through the winter. The cold, Canadian winter. Many of my own group training runs were cancelled on Wednesday nights this winter due to extreme cold, freezing rain, heavy snowfall and icy conditions. Some people jumped on a treadmill while others moved hill training to another day. It’s not always easy to move training days around if you’re a busy guy or gal or have a family and other commitments.  It’s difficult, but the determined continue to try.

The Bay is challenging. Every single person who ran it yesterday will tell you that. But we all had something in common: we were determined to do it. We started even though it was cold and windy. We kept going when it became demanding. And when we got our final “second wind” entering the finishing chute, there was no better feeling right then because determination helped us cross the finish line, upright and smiling.

Congratulations to everyone who completed their journey to the Around the Bay yesterday!

Now that you’ve had some time to come down from your runner’s high (or maybe you’re still on it!), what’s your next race?