Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Lucy Chi

Lucy Chi is a social worker by profession, and one of the inspiring athletes I have the amazing opportunity to run with at Forerunners. I’ve always been curious about Lucy’s background, and how she got into running. Lucy has previously written two guest posts for my blog:  sharing her experiences from the L.A. Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. I recently sat down with Lucy at my local Starbucks before one of our Monday night speed clinics to learn more!

This post is the second in a regular series profiling local Vancouver runners and their accomplishments. Stay tuned for more! The interview has been edited for clarity, and slightly condensed for greatest impact!

Lucy Chi

Lucy running Fairhaven, WA in 2014

QUESTION: How did you get into running?

I got into running when I was 12 or 13 – and to be honest I got into running because I wanted to lose weight. Looking back, I wasn’t seriously overweight, but I was a teenage girl and I thought I was a little overweight. So I thought, “What should I do?” and I started running!

I started running in preparation for the mini-Sun Run, about 2k…and I thought I had to train for months and months for it. That was my first race, and ever since then I’ve been trying to run on a regular basis. I ran throughout high school, I did cross-country and track – I was no star athlete but that carried over. I took a break during university because of all the schoolwork, but I got into marathon running around 2010.

Q: Do you remember that first race? How did it go?

Yes, my sister came with me – Vivian – she took me to the race and waited for me at the end. I thought it went by really fast. I remember getting to the end and there was no one there, and there were so many goodies – I stocked up on water bottles – it was my first post-race experience!

Q: What happened in 2010 to change you direction, to get you into marathon running?

I think one of the things was that my friend did a marathon the year before. I was like, “Oh, I should try doing it, but it seems like a different ballgame”. I did a half in 2006, but I didn’t do much between 2006 and 2010 – I don’t think I was running any races. But in 2010 I thought I’d try doing a marathon. I’d been running for a while and I just needed a new goal. So that’s when I joined Forerunners and we had the program working toward the marathon – it was sort of perfect. And that’s how I got started.

I wanted to go somewhere where people showed up consistently, I didn’t want to look around wondering if the run was going to start or not – something about this group made it seem like people were consistently committed to it. And that really turned out to be the case.

Q: Tell me about the training for your first marathon, and your first marathon experience.

I think I just had a goal like, “Oh it would be nice to get under 4 [hours]”. So I ran with the group and I don’t think I had any expectations. I think I ran in the same [pace] group as I do now – I’m pretty consistent. It was fun, it was social – and I was just getting to know people then. People were super-duper nice at the run group. That was 7 years ago and I’m still coming back to the same place. I feel like I’m getting something out of it…

My first marathon was Vancouver and it was a good experience. My sister did it too – we both trained together, she came to the clinic with me. She actually sold me out on the first day, she was supposed to come to the first session and she didn’t show up so I was really mad about that!

We both ran the race and my dad actually came out and watched us which was really neat, because he doesn’t usually come out and do things like that. We saw him along where the Roundhouse is, which is about 2k from the finish line…and I know my sister was all emotional about it. I was OK, but she was all, “Oh, it was so good seeing Dad out there cheering us on!”

About the race itself…I don’t remember it being a terrible experience, I don’t remember suffering or anything. Whenever I say that it makes me think I should be running harder [laughs]…it was good! I knew that you’re never going to have your first time again, so I knew I’d PB so I was going to enjoy the race. I looked around and took it all in.

Q: Did you reach your goal?

I think I got 4:04 – not under four, but I was OK with that…I tend to give myself a lot of leeway. I should probably push myself a little harder!

Q: What has kept you running? What motivates you?

The group is definitely a big part of it, there’s a social aspect to it. More so now than before, especially in the last year. We’ve gone on running related trips.

It’s a health thing as well…I feel like many runners are internally a little bit obsessive in a way – I want to be healthy, keep my same weight, eat what I want…and it’s a good balance to what I do for work…when I ran my first marathon it was a good divider between work and weekend life.

When I came out to the run Thursday night speed work I’d be all stressed, but once I did the run I’d forget all about it because you really couldn’t think about anything else when you’re running, and working out really hard, and breathing really hard. So I think those are the main reasons because the work can get really challenging at times.

Lucy Chi

Lucy and me at a Monday night workout

Q: Can you tell me about your training regimen?

My regimen? I’m trying something new… prior to this year I’ve been doing three or four runs a week, I don’t really do more than that. Speed work, tempo and a long run…Carey’s schedule [ed. Coach Carey Nelson, who manages the Forerunners run clinic].

I just got tested at Peak Performance – threshold testing…what I learned from it, and what they tell a lot of runners, is that you need to do more training at your Zone 1, which is doing your easy runs. What ends up happening is a lot of people end up running at their Zone 2, and they call that ‘junk miles’. You’re running faster than you need to for a training, an easy run. Their advice to me was to do four runs a week, and do three of those runs at a very easy pace – and one tempo run once a week. And that would result in showing improvement.

[Tweet “Lucy’s injury prevention tip: “Definitely roll!” #running @candyaficionado”]

Q: Is it making a difference yet?

I think it’s too early to tell. The first week it felt amazing, I felt super well-rested. The only thing I can attribute it to is running in accordance with that program….I’m hoping it will pay off by May or June. Is it worth it? I’m only going to know when I see the results, but it’s nice to change things up. I’ve been doing the same thing for 3 or 4 years, I feel like I’ve plateaued…just mixing it up has been kind of fun.

Q: What’s the most unique race you’ve ever run?

The Hood to Coast Relay! We’re doing it again this year – we did it for the first time in August 2013 and basically it’s 200 miles [ed: it’s 198 miles!], from the top of Mount Hood to Seaside, Oregon. You’re with a team of 12, and you basically alternate legs that range from 7 to 10 kilometres, continuously, until you reach Seaside. So that means running during the day, running at night…you run three legs, and you’re stuck in the van with 5 other people so it made for an interesting experience overall.

Lucy Chi

Lucy at the Hood to Coast Start Line

One of my legs last time was running at 1 o’clock in the morning, and I think we fell behind because we missed one of our exchanges….so I was essentially running alone in the middle of Oregon…it was kind of scary, but looking back now that I’ve survived it it was kind of neat, it’s that layer of nostalgia that happens when you look back on things. The person who put the team together in 2013 is putting the team together again this year, so I want to take another stab at it. I would recommend that!

Q: What’s your favourite race ever?

We did the Big Sur in 2012, and that was really fun. Since then, it’s been impossible to get into that race… It’s a marathon in California that takes place in April and you don’t do it for time. It’s a point-to-point along the Central California Coast from Big Sur to Carmel – you run along the Pacific Coast Highway. You reach Hurricane Point and there’s a piano player on the top – it’s super scenic, really hilly, rolling hills, but super amazing in terms of the scenery when you get to the halfway point…the piano player playing Chariots of Fire or whatever inspirational song he’s chosen. And that was really cool because my sister came and we had a lot of fun.

Lucy Chi

Big Sur Marathon – amazing scenery!

Lucy Chi

Lucy and her sister, Vivian – Big Sur finish line!

Q: Would you do it again?

Ya, if i can get in!

Q: Do you have a bucket list race?

It’s going to sound kind of cliché, but probably New York or Boston because, like with Boston, you want what you can’t have. It’s not easy to get into…and plus I’ve been to Boston and it’s a nice city and I’d like to go back, and I’d know that I’ve earned a spot in the race, which I haven’t yet. New York would just be kind of cool – I haven’t been there in over 10 years so I’d like to make a trip out of it with my husband. It would be nice to see the city from the perspective of a runner, through the five boroughs!

Q: Do you have tips for when you travel for a race?

I think the biggest thing is making sure you bring your food with you…I try to make sure we’re situated by a supermarket so we’re not eating out, we can find healthier food. It saves money, and ensures you’re getting good, nutritious food beforehand. I try not to walk around too much, but it’s hard because you want to sightsee. And I try not to arrive on the Saturday, but arrive on the Friday so I don’t feel like I have to rush.

A hard thing to get down is the bathroom routine…is this OK for an interview? [laughs]…you go at a certain time and when you travel it kind of throws it off. There’s been times in races where I’m like, “What do I do?” but…mind over matter! I try to make sure I go beforehand…it happened to me in Chicago and a bit in L.A. but…what do you do, right? I can’t be slowed down by a porta-potty! It’s a real distraction…

Lucy Chi

Don’t let this slow you down!

Q: Have you ever experienced injury?

I’ve been pretty lucky. In the first couple of years I had runner’s knee, and I’d have to stop during a training run. I used to pack Advil in my hydration belt, but I don’t have to anymore. But one thing is that I make sure I roll on a regular basis, use trigger point rollers – I’m pretty religious about that because when I had runners knee I’d literally have to stop. And it really seems to help….that’s my tip, definitely roll!

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve had from another runner?

Probably just making sure the runs are about quality, not about running fast all the time for all the runs, because that doesn’t necessarily translate into faster times or great race results. That’s just recent advice…it’s a hard thing to wrap your head around…but being disciplined pays off.

[Tweet “Lucy on #running: “Make it a habit – a healthy obsession!” @candyaficionado “]

Q: What’s advice you’d give to a runner just getting started?

Don’t miss your workouts. Go for a run even if you don’t want to. You have to make it a habit – if you make it a habit, you don’t even have to think about it. That’s what the Saturday run has become for me. It feels weird not going on a  Saturday morning. You feel guilty not going. You have to go when you don’t want to go…you can’t think about it, you just have to go. It’s easier said than done, but it can be done! Make it a habit, even if it means being a bit obsessed…a healthy obsession!

Q: Looking back, what advice would you give to a younger Lucy?

I should have tackled doing the marathon much earlier. I was put off because I thought I’d be training 5 or 6 times a week, “Oh I can’t do it I’m so busy,” like I’m so special. Doing it now, it’s like a habit…it’s not earth-shattering difficult, you just have to make time for it. I would like to tell me to tackle the marathon earlier so I could have had a longer time to qualify for Boston! I’d like to qualify before I make it into the next [age] category…but if I don’t get it this year, I’ll aim for it when I’m older.

Q: What’s your marathon PB?

3:38 – in Skagit. And the qualifying time [for Boston, for Lucy’s age category] is 3:35.

Q: What races are you looking forward to in 2016?

A few of us from the clinic are going to Berlin, that’s in September. Maybe I’ll try to qualify then!

Thank you for asking me to do the interview – I feel very honoured – and hopefully some of the information I shared will be helpful to somebody out there!

Lucy Chi

Lucy and me – West Van Run 2016!

You can follow Lucy on Twitter: @candyaficionado

Friday Five

I’ve never really been a gear-head, and I’m not the kind of person to be beholden to a brand. I like what I like, but I’m always willing to try new things and I’m pretty suggestible. However, since becoming a BibRave Pro in 2015, I’ve been rewarded with the opportunity to experiment with running-related gear that I might never had encountered otherwise. In addition, as I’ve increased my engagement (one of my Themes for 2016) with the running community both locally and on social media, I’ve been exposed to different ways of thinking and innovative products out in the market.

Without further ado, here are five running brands I’m loving right now!

Strava

When I first started running, it was a true struggle. One kilometre had me achy and winded. In those early days, it became clear that tracking my progress was motivating, so I outfitted myself with a Nike+ iPod. My commitment to running grew and technology – combined with social media interaction – became more of a priority. I switched from Nike to Garmin (mostly so I could use GPS without roaming fees!).

Running Brands - Strava

And then came Strava. While it’s not exactly ‘gear’, it is a social media platform and a community of athletes that has developed into a true inspiration. It syncs ‘automagically’ (one of my favourite words) with my Garmin, and I can follow my friends and running buddies all over the world. It has a great app! It’s free!

I welcome you to follow me – I’ll follow you back – right here.

nuun

One of my shortcomings when it comes to training is proper fuelling. My approach is somewhat ad hoc, I make things up as I go. But when I don’t hydrate properly – which nearly knocked me over during the 2014 Scotiabank Half – I suffer for it.

My very first encounter with nuun was at the expo of the Ottawa Half Marathon. These guys were awesome to talk to, and really stood behind their product. And now I do, too!

Running Brands - nuun

nuun comes in effervescent tablet form, and in a range of delectable flavours. Watermelon is my favourite, but lemon-lime is pretty tasty, too. Drop nuun into a glass or bottle of water, and you’re off to the races – or, perhaps, recovering from one! Drink up!

XX2i

Running Brands - xx2i

I’m not going to reiterate too much what I already wrote in my recent review of xx2i Sunglasses. What I can tell you, though, is that I cannot wait until the rainy Vancouver winter turns into a sunny summer, because I will be wearing these things ALL THE TIME. I’m enamoured with xx2i. Enough said – but seriously, go read my review for the real scoop!

BUFF

Oh, Buff – what can I say about you that hasn’t already been said? If there was one running item that gave me the most delight in 2015, it would be Buff. It’s a headband! It’s a neck warmer! It’s a cap! If you happen to have hair – unlike me – it’s a hairband! This multi-functional piece of material has become a staple of both training runs and races, especially since the weather turned a bit chillier.

Running Brands - BUFF

I’m actually wearing TWO Buffs!

Again, I’m not going to give you the full run-down here…so check out my more-thumbs-up-than-I-have review!

SAD FACE: I think I’ve lost my Buff from the Overlander Half Marathon in Yellowknife (pictured above).

*****

Full confession – my fifth ‘brand I love’ is one that I’ve never tried. Let’s call it unrequited love.

Orange Mud

Running Brands - Orange Mud

On its reputation alone, Orange Mud is a product I want to get to know better. Generally speaking, on long runs I’m beholden to:  water stations during races; Coach Carey’s water stop during our Forerunners clinic; or water fountains around town. I cannot and will not wear a water belt – I’ve tried and it was sheer misery.

During a recent #bibchat (Tuesdays at 6pm Pacific!), I heard nothing but positive reviews of the Orange Mud Hydraquiver. It seemed to me that these folks should be hired on a salespeople by Orange Mud, so passionate were their professions of love enthusiasm for this product.

Running Brands - Orange Mud

Since I can’t speak from first-hand experience, I’m going to refer you to a review by fellow BibRave Pro, Chadd Balbi – read his post here.

I may have convinced myself to make Orange Mud my next running purchase!

 

What about you? What’s your favourite running brand?
And what’s on your wish list – that brand you really want to try out?

DC-Trifecta-Friday-Five-linkup

As you might have guessed, the theme of this week’s Friday Five is ‘Favourites’. I’m excited to once again link up with the awesome folks of the DC Trifecta:  Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar on the Run, and Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!

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I’ve been planning to write this post for many months, but my race schedule has resulted in my pre-empting other posts for race reports. However, I’ve decided that it’s finally time to share my 7 Tips for Newbie Runners!

Although I no longer consider myself a ‘newbie’ in the technical sense – I’m coming up on 7 years into my running ‘career’ – I’m still very green compared to many of those in my running circle. And those newbie days are not so distant that I don’t remember them pretty clearly.

So here they are:  7 pieces of advice (one for each year that I’ve been running!) for some of the newer runners out there!

1. Find a running buddy/crew. This advice applies to everyone – newbie or otherwise. But I think it’s especially important when you’re a less experienced runner. Having a running buddy is valuable for a variety of reasons:  you keep each other accountable; you have more fun; you motivate each other; misery loves company; you can learn from each other. I can’t even count the number of times that I would have convinced myself to hit snooze one more time and stay in bed if it weren’t for the fact that I had promised my running buddy (or buddies) that I’d be out for that run.

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The awesome folks of West Van Run Crew!

If you honestly don’t know another runner – which may be the case if you’re just getting started – find a running crew. This is pretty straightforward if you’re living in a large urban centre – there are probably multiple groups to choose from, either sponsored by a local running store or organized by local fitness buffs. It may take time to find the right fit for you, but persevere. Personally, I think having a running crew is even better than having just one running buddy, because you’re almost guaranteed to have company.

2. Invest in good technical gear. When I ran my first couple of races, I wore the cotton event t-shirt provided with race entry. Cotton chafes, holds moisture, and doesn’t breathe. I also wore long warm-up pants, which were way too big for me and likely impacted my overall speed. Get yourself a decent technical shirt or two, ones that fit well and make you feel good, and a good pair of shorts/tights. Depending on the weather where you live, some additional layers may be required.

Back in the old days, I had some well-worn barely used running shoes that I had picked up somewhere along the way – likely bought without anything but price in mind. Take the time to try on different types of shoes, find the size and fit that works best for you, and talk to the professionals. I recommend going to a dedicated running store, rather than a generic sporting goods store – they can provide more tailored advice.

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Nikes are still my go-to shoe

Running gear shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. Keep an eye out for sales at your local sports stores. Talk to the folks in your running crew (see Point 1) – runners love to give advice!

3. Don’t compare yourself to others. This is one that I still struggle with. It’s easy to look at that girl who makes every stride look effortless, or the guy dressed in an Elmo costume in the middle of July who still runs faster than you, and wonder why it’s so easy for them. And so hard for you.

Just. Don’t.

Everybody – and every body – is different. We are all uniquely built. We have different backgrounds, different histories and relationships with athletics, different struggles (both physical and emotional), different day-to-day lives. This may seem self-evident, but it never hurts to be reminded.

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I still feel extremely self-conscious at the gym. I’m trying to get over it.

Unless you are an elite runner, or competing for a spot on the Olympic team, the only person your should be comparing yourself to is you. Yesterday’s you. The you from a year ago. Former couch potato you. And even then, be gentle with yourself because today’s you might just be having a bad day.

[Tweet “Advice for newbie runners – 7 tips to get you started!”]

4. Track your progress. Technology has come a long way in the past few years. Don’t feel that you need to invest in the most pimped out GPS watch with heart rate monitor that the internet has to offer. I started with a Nike+ foot pod that connected to my fancy basic iPod Nano. Tracking distance and speed, even though it wasn’t tremendously accurate, kept me motivated. I could watch my improvement, see how much I’d progressed, and feel a little smug about my accomplishments.

Heck, you could even just keep a paper log, or an Excel spreadsheet – but with free apps like Nike+ and Strava, why not take advantage?

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Strava connects you with other runners, too!

It may feel like your progress is slow at first, but it’s rewarding to look back and see how far you’ve come.

5. Set a goal. Maybe it’s to run for 10 minutes without stopping. Maybe it’s your first 5k race. Maybe it’s to run a half marathon. The goal should be achievable, but also challenging. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, make it a SMART (specific, meaningful, action oriented, realistic, timely) goal! For me, though, signing up for my first 8k race after watching an inspiring movie was enough to motivate me to begin on the journey to where I am today.

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Once you’ve achieved your goal – celebrate it! Then set yourself another one. Stretch yourself a bit more. Fall short of your goal? Learn from your mistakes…and set another goal!

6. Be consistent. Sometimes just getting out the door is a struggle. When the weather turns nasty or darkness comes early, or when life simply gets in the way, skipping a run can be easy. The key is to integrate running into your weekly routine, to find a time that works for you, and stick to it.  For me, being part of a Saturday morning running group has kept me accountable, and roused me from sleep even on mornings of torrential rain.

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Yep, I got up and ran, even in this.

Book runs into your calendar. Make appointments with yourself, or with your running buddy. Figure out if you’re more inspired to run in the morning, or if a post-work workout is better for you. Once running is ingrained into your schedule, you’ll know it because you’ll have a sense of something missing when you miss a run.

7. Do it because you love it. This may sound a bit glib, and believe me there are days when I do not love running. When I started out, there were a lot of painful days when I thought i) I couldn’t go on and/or ii) I would never run again. I still feel that way on occasion. But once running gets into your blood, it really becomes a part of you. Yes, you do it for the sense of satisfaction it gives you. Yes, you do it for the t-shirts and the medals. Yes, you do it for bragging rights.

In the end, though, you do it because you love it.

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What have I missed? What advice would you give to a newbie runner?
If you are a newbie – or not a runner at all – what advice and/or questions do you have?

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Now I realize that this Friday Five topic was probably inspired by the upcoming US Thanksgiving weekend. Here in Canada, we had Thanksgiving back in October (and I ran the Victoria Half Marathon that weekend!) – so I’m really keeping the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season in mind as I put these ideas together.

We love the holidays – festive music, decorations and lights, Christmas cheer, time with family and friends, office closures, and lots of food and drink! In the midst of all this, it doesn’t take much for the good habits we’ve built during the rest of the year to fall to the wayside be downright obliterated.

While these tips may not offer foolproof solutions, here are my 5 ways to stay healthy during the holidays:

1. Experiment with new recipes. Holiday meals! Butter, fat, sugar – some of the yummiest things out there! It can be easy to default to old favourites, to the tried and true menu items that you know and love. Absolutely, make the most of these! But take the opportunity to try out some fresh and healthy ingredients you haven’t utilized before. Find creative ways to incorporate veggies into your meals. Even if you don’t consider yourself much of a cook, Google is your best friend – I always use search terms like ‘easy’, ‘simple’ and ‘quick’ when looking up recipes online! Plug in a few key ingredients, and you’re on your way to healthy (or, at least, healthier) food! Or pull out an old recipe book and try something new!

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My favourite cookbook ever!

2. Take advantage of time off. When I get a day off – such as a holiday Monday – I consider that a great time to go for a run! Normally, I’d be on my way to the office. On this day, I have the time for that exercise. While sleeping in during the holidays can be an attractive option, studies have shown that sticking to a morning routine is much healthier. Get up when you normally would, enjoy a bit of leisure time, and get out there – spend a bit of time at the gym, go to a yoga class, or go for a run. (Don’t sleep your day away, like Osker would…)

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Osker knows how to nap!

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He’s had a lot of napping practice

3. Plan activities. Especially when the weather outside is frightful, you might want to huddle under a blanket on the sofa, watch a movie, and eat a bag of chips. At least, that’s what I want to do. There’s nothing wrong with this – but resist the inertia that can overtake us during the holiday season. Plan activities with friends and family that take you out of the house. Weather permitting, go for a hike or visit a local park. Or track down free events in the area that you can attend. Just keep moving!

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Stanley Park – nice place for a walk

[Tweet “Want to stay healthy over the holidays? Check out these 5 tips! #FridayFive”]

4. Focus on quality over quantity. Often the holidays equate to overindulgence. There’s so much good food! Yummy desserts! Another bottle of wine! Sometimes it’s hard to resist. When you know that your eyes are bigger than your stomach (or perhaps your liver?), be picky. If you’re eating out, spend a bit more on a fancy meal – rather than consuming the sub-par food at the all-you-can-eat. Rather than a box of the cheap and cheerful booze, splurge a bit and savour a higher end wine. Take your time. Enjoy.

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5. Relax. The holidays can be a hectic time. Staying healthy is not only about looking after your body, but also taking care of your emotional well-being. Set aside some time for yourself to do what makes you feel good. Read that book you haven’t had a chance to get to. Call that old friend who you haven’t talked to in months – you know, the one who no matter how long it’s been since you’ve chatted, it’s like you just saw them yesterday. Go for a long run. Take a bubble bath.

What are your secrets for staying healthy during the holidays?

I am excited to link up with MarCourtney and Cynthia for my first Friday Five!