Marathon Training Day #8: Rest

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Today is day 8. This means week one is done. Today is assigned as a “Rest or cross-train” day, but since I’ve worked out four days in a row right now, I’m taking it as a rest day.

Last week was tiring, but went well. I wish I had gotten a yin yoga class in there somewhere, but as long as I foam roll, I think it’ll be okay.

Week two’s plan looks a lot like week one:

Monday: Rest (I’m tired! I want to rest!)

Tuesday: 8k @ a moderate tempo (last week, I stopped on my run twice, so my coach told me I’m only allowed to stop once this week. Okay, coach!)

Wednesday: Speedwork (This time it’s at the track! Fancy! 6×400 splits with 90 second breaks. Anyone know an outdoor track in Toronto that’s actually in commission right now?)

Thursday: REST (holla!)

Friday: Hilly 30 minute route (I’m going to try to do a hillier route than last week.)

Saturday: Optional 45 minute run (I may choose to do yoga instead. We’ll see.)

Sunday: 15k route at an easy pace, as 10 and 1s (my coach stressed I MUST do 10 and 1s. I didn’t last week — oops! — so am planning to do this route solo so it’s easier to do what I’m told!)

That’s it! I’m feeling more confident about this week than last. I also plan to sleep more this week than last too. Because sleep is good.


Marathon Training Day #7: Running long



Yesterday, I dropped my old running shoes (above) off at the Nike store on Bloor Street. Their Reuse-a-Shoe program will turn them into basketball courts and tracks and other good things. I’ve been hanging on to these shoes for way too long (garbage guilt), so I’m glad they are being put to good use.

Also being put to good use are my new bought-for-marathon-training shoes. Today, I tested them with my first long run. The plan? 13k, run as 10 and 1s. My pal Kendal emailed me last week wanting to know if I wanted to do 8k with her and our friend Kate. The answer? Yes! (It’s always yes. If you want someone to run with, email me. I will come.)

We planned to meet at Danforth and Coxwell at 10am. I would run the 5ish kms there, we’d run 8ish together, then finish at Kendal’s house for coffee and cornbread (mmmmmmmm).

I woke up later than planned, headed out later than planned and ran slower than planned. This meant I didn’t get to Danforth and Coxwell until 10:15. (Sorry, Kate and Kendal!). I did 10&1s until that point, but ran straight for the group run, as Kendal and Kate are not 10&1-type runners. It was good to have them there, they push me. This was my first run over 10k since August and it was snowy and cold and generally gross and our post-holiday chatter was a welcome distraction.

I was sore and worn-out by the end, but felt accomplished.

Tomorrow is an optional rest day, but I’m going to take it. It’s only week one, after all.



The run: 13.8k in 1:39:15

The route:

Marathon Training Day #5: Rolling in Riverdale


So I paid for my mix-up today. I felt pretty strong after speedwork last night, so assumed I could power through a “hilly 30 minute run” without too much trouble in the morning, freeing up my evening for birthday good times. I set my alarm for 6 a.m. and went to bed, feeling confident.

When I woke up, though, that plan went out the window. My legs felt like rubber and the wind was howling. Time to change my plans. (Sorry, Kelvin!)

The run itself was a struggle, but was uneventful. I probably could have chosen a hillier route, but the snow + darkness prevented me from heading to Riverdale Park. When the days — and my runs — get longer, I have lots of painful options to choose from.

Until then, I’ll be grateful that I hurt like hell for only 30 minutes.



The run: 5k in 33:44

The route:

Marathon Training Day #4: Speedwork


After yesterday’s mix-up, it was time to work hard. Or at least do what I’m told.

And what I was told to do today is this:

“Start with a 10min warmup at an easy pace. Then pick up the pace for 2min followed by a 90sec recovery (walking or a light jog). Repeat this 4 times. The fast pace should feel difficult but not like an all out sprint. Finish with a 10min light jog as a cool down.”

Done! Although I was a bit confused about the 90 second intervals and walked in between my warm-up and first sprint and my last sprint and my cool down just in case. This was probably wrong, but what can you do? I tried my best. I added a few extra cool down minutes to my route because it was cold and I wanted to get home! Go me for the extra mile (0.26 km)!

Then I came home and foam rolled.

Blogger upon blogger write about the amazing-ness of the foam roller. And since I can’t afford a personal masseuse (I know! I can’t believe it either!) I asked for one for Christmas and Matt’s brother delivered.

I have used it every day since and it is the best.

I’ve had off and on hip problems that I’ve been too stubborn lazy stupid to deal with, but 4 days into my training, it feels as good as it ever has for about a year.

I believe I have my foam roller to thank for that.


The run: 5.4k in 35:47

The route:

Marathon Training Day #2: 8k on the Don Valley Trail



When Matt and I bought our house in the summer of 2010 “proximity to nature trails” wasn’t really on our list of things we were thinking about. Sure, we were both enjoy outdoor activities, but stuff like “outdoor space” and “ability for Matt to watch TV at all hours of the night without waking Erin” were much higher on our lists of must-haves. But we moved in, realized how damn close we were to the Don Valley Trail, and my life changed forever.

It seems melodramatic, I know. But having a trail less than 100 feet from my doorstep makes all the difference in the world for me. It brings me back to nature, gives me a place to run without worrying about cars or stoplights. It brings me back home, to where we grew up and were surrounded by nature constantly. It challenges me and inspires me and I’m so grateful this city of ours is filled with secrets like this one.

Today was my first official training run. I was told to do 8k at a “moderate tempo” and that’s what I tried to do. I chose to run the Don, despite its snowy cover, because tomorrow I head back to work and mid-day sunny winter runs will be relegated to weekends only. I felt strong and ran well. It was a good day.

Tomorrow is my first attempt at speedwork.



The run: 7.9k in 53:10

The route:

Marathon Training Day #1: Moksha Flow

This is my yoga bag. Like it? I made it. If you look realllllly close (okay not that close) you can see all the crooked seams. It's spectacular.

This is my yoga bag. Like it? I made it. If you look realllllly close (okay not that close) you can see all the crooked seams. It’s spectacular.


Marathon training day one. It was technically a “rest” day but my schedule says “rest or cross-training” and it’s New Year’s Eve and I didn’t have anything else to do today. So I went to yoga. I did the 3pm flow class at Moksha Danforth. I don’t do Moksha regularly and I forgot how stupidly hot it can be when you aren’t used to it. I struggled and sweated and made my shoulder a bit achy. (I fell off my bike Friday — slush = slippery — and landed on my shoulder. I will ice it once this post is complete and I expect it to be 100% soon.)

Despite my struggles, it was good to push myself outside my regular yoga routine and have one great sweat before I say goodbye to 2012.

Tomorrow, the running starts.


And so it begins: Marathon training

Blue Nose Marathon Training Schedule.xls

Today is Monday, December 31. In other words, it is Day 1 of my marathon training.

I tried to train for a marathon last year and it didn’t work out. I half-followed an online plan, didn’t complement it properly with enough yoga and stretching and just wore myself out with running. So I scaled back to a half-marathon and had an okay race. But the failure allowed me to focus and figure out where I went wrong.

This time, I plan to do it right.

I hired a running coach. (Hi, Andie!) My coach gave me a plan and we will have weekly email check-ins to see how it’s going and what I am doing. It’s going to be great! Or, at least, organized. I got new running stuff for Christmas. I got a foam roller, which I plan to use every day. (So far, so good on this front. But oh my god, does it ever hurt.)

This last week of working out was good: I ran on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, did yoga on Thursday and Friday and squashed and Bodypumped it on Saturday. There were only three of us in the Bodypump class, so when the teacher was yelling, you knew she yelling at you. Oh, aggressive motivation. It works so well. But it felt good to get that many workouts in, and gave me hope that I can fit in all my marathon training around life things.

For my first week of training, this is what I have planned/my coach is telling me to do:

Monday: rest (hahaha, this feels like cheating!)

Tuesday: 8k at a moderate tempo, which I can do as 10&1 if I can’t sustain that pace (On New Year’s Day! This will be painful. I dislike a lot of holidays, but NYE is not one of them. A holiday where the only expecation is to drink a lot? Now, that’s my kind of holiday.)

Wednesday: Speedwork: 10 minute warm-up, 4X2 minutes, with 90 second break in between (speedwork is the ENEMY, but I’m glad this is a time thing, so I can do it on the street)

Thursday: REST (This is on my plan in CAPITALS, so I know it’s serious.)

Friday: 30 minute hilly route, with 3-4 rolling hills (Thank goodness I live near Riverdale, where hills abound. I also plan to go to yoga this day, which isn’t on my coach’s plan, but is in the Erin Balser life plan.)

Saturday: Easy 30 minutes (This is optional, but I may pull a run-to-yoga OR join the Lulu Lemon running club and slow everyone down. I have a grand plan to alternating Saturdays with squash/bodypump and run/yoga. I recognize how ambitious this is.)

Sunday: 13k LSD, to do as 10&1s (HAHAHA, I might possibly die. I haven’t run over 10k in MONTHS.)

How will I do? I’ll let you know next Monday…



Running in the snow


Image by Bad Alley. Licensed via Creative Commons.

The Don Valley Trail. Image by Bad Alley. Licensed via Creative Commons.


There’s something magical about running in the snow, and when it all comes together — the sun, the crunch beneath your feet, the friendly people you pass (because everyone is friendlier on the trail in the winter) and even the songs the DJ on 99.9 chooses to play — there’s no place I’d rather be than pushing through on a nature trail in sub-zero weather. I’ll take days like today over summer runs any day. It helps I got to wear my new TEAL WunderUnders on their first ever run. Brightly coloured workout wear makes me happy, but they also make me look crazy.

Today was the last day of running for fun. Tomorrow is D1, the first day of training for the Bluenose Marathon on May 19. While I haven’t been running as much as I should to prep for this, I feel ready. I feel strong. I can do this.

And if I get more winter weather days like today, I might even enjoy it.


The run: 8.4k in 1:03:44

The route:


I got my marathon training plan


So, this week, Andie emailed me my training plan for the Bluenose Marathon. 20 weeks of running, beginning December 31. Yes, my first two runs take place on New Year’s Eve and Ne Year’s Day. Thanks, Andie.

I won’t go into details here (you’ll be hearing a lot about my training during the months of January-May anyway and if you look really closely, you can see it above), but the general breakdown is as follows:

Monday: rest or cross-training

Tuesday: 8-12km

Wednesday: Speedwork

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Hilly run

Saturday: short, easy run or cross-training

Sunday: Long run

My plan between now and December 31 is to get in the groove of following this plan: rest on Monday, work out on Tuesday and Wednesday, rest on Thursday, work out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “Work out” could be running, yoga, whatever. But yesterday was Monday and even though I had the day off, I didn’t work out. It felt weird. And today is Tuesday and I feel like crap, so I may skip this workout. So this plan isn’t going so well. But I have months! Months! Or so I tell myself.

Before I start training again, I need new shoes, new gloves and ear-warmers that I can wear over my ball cap. I also need a new bike helmet and bike lights, but that had nothing  to do with this post.

May 19, 2013. I’m ready this time.

Really, I am.