Erin’s February

photo (35)
I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions and words of the year. The beginning of the year is a time for change and to do all these things, but I’ve always found making a resolution — and sticking to it for an entire year — to be overwhelming. Same goes for a “30 by 30” list, which I made and never shared.

I’ve been toying with the idea of setting monthly goals and, in Word-of-the-Year style, choosing a word to guide me throughout each month. In January, I had the word “restore” in the back of my mind: restoring my health, my marathon training, my schedule. But I didn’t put it on this blog and didn’t articulate it to anyone. Partly because I was unsure if it was a good idea, and partly because my Advent Fitness Challenge failed so miserably. I was reluctant to put any sort of goals beyond my marathon out there, in case I failed (again) and had to explain why (again).

But screw that. This is why people have fitness blogs, right? To set goals, share goals and discuss what it takes to achieve them, and what it means to succeed or fail.

So here it goes. This month, I will choose a word to frame my efforts. And I will set a few goals. Vague resolutions (be happier, be kinder) are tough to execute and tough to measure, so these goals will be specific and executable. I’m good at “run this race in XX:XX.” I’m bad at “be a happier, kinder person.” So let’s play to my strengths.

If it works in February, I’ll give it a go for March. As soon as it doesn’t work, I’m done.

February’s word: Work.

Why work? It’s time to step up. There are two freelance projects I have neglected since 2014 began (for obvious reasons: working double shifts means that LAST thing I want to do at home is work some more). I have some personal things I need to complete. I have a new boss and want to work hard to show her I’m passionate about what I do. And I want to put the extra effort into my marathon training. January was a good starting point, but if I learned anything from week 4 of training is that I need to step up my game if sub-4:00 is even going to be a possibility.

There’s a difference between working hard and working a lot. In January, I worked a lot. February will be about working hard.

My goals for February:

1. Plank every day.

I planked this morning, when I decided to make this goal a goal. It seems straightforward enough: I can do it any time, anywhere, and it will help my core, which will help my running. I’m going to start at a minute and work my way up.

2. Go to the gym once a week.

I have built 2 gym trips into my schedule this week. If I go once, I will consider this a victory. This will be my plan all February. Let’s see how dedicated I can be.

3. Finish those two freelance projects.

I don’t really want to talk about them here, but I have two proposals I need to write. Let’s finally write them.

4. Go skating.

I’m putting this down, because I really want to go skating but have yet to have found the time to do so. An excuse, I know. But if I put it down here, it’s more likely to happen. Right?

5. Go swimming.

This goal is contingent on the St. Lawrence pool getting fixed. Go swimming. Just once. And then build from there.

Okay, that’s my plan for February! In addition to my regular marathon training, of course! What about you? Have any goals for this month?!

Want to wake up early? Here are a few tips!

My morning to-do lists. Simple, casual, easy.


With September almost over, my first month of my personal happiness project is almost complete. The biggest — and best — change I made this month was shifting my wake-up time up 45 minutes, from 7:15am to 6:30am, and then use my morning to be productive, whether it’s write a blog post, clean the house, or work out.

Now that it’s pitch black outside, waking up at 6:30 isn’t as much fun as it was in early September. I’m looking forward to daylight savings time! But, overall, it’s been not as difficult a transition as I thought it would be. So I thought I’d share my tips with you!


1) Go to bed early.

This one seems obvious, but it’s true. I used to go to bed at 11, and now I try to be in bed by 10. I also try to follow a “no screens after 9:30” rule and spend that last half hour reading a book or magazine or just taking my time with getting ready for bed. Figure out how much sleep you need, then work backwards. Gretchen Rubin, the happiness guru, says that if you’re too tired to do anything but watch TV or surf the internet, just go to bed and she’s right — it makes a world of difference.


2) Get a good alarm clock.

I use the SleepCycle app on my iPhone and it works great for me. I set the window to wake me up between 6:20 and 6:40 and I’m usually up and out of bed by 6:35. Your alarm clock shouldn’t be aggressive (unless you’re into that) because it’ll just anger you — and that’s not the way to start your day. Think of your alarm clock as your perky friend.


3) When your alarm clock goes off, get up.

Just get up. Don’t think about it. Don’t hit snooze. It doesn’t matter how not awake you are, as soon as you are stumbling around in the dark, you’ll wake up. 90% of life is just showing up, my basketball coach used to say, and that is 100% true in this case. (It’s also one of my happiness commandments. )Put your alarm across your room, turn on your lights immediately, it doesn’t matter. Just get up.


4) Find a morning radio show you love.

My mornings have gotten so much more pleasant when I remember to turn on Metro Morning right away. Not only does the sound perk you up, it’s a great way to get informed and wake up your brain as you go about your morning. Talk radio, music radio, choose something you like and turn it on.


5) Make all your big decisions before you go to sleep.

As in: know what you are going to wear, know what you are going to eat and know what you need to get done in the morning. You don’t have to lay your clothes out like an eager school kid, but eliminating decisions in the easy morning haze will make early wake-ups less stressful and more productive.


6) Invest is a time-set coffee maker.

If you love coffee, this is key. I set mine to start brewing at 6am. By 6:30, the smell of coffee is in the air and I can grab it as soon as I wake up. I love the ritual of coffee and it sets the tone for my day. Find a ritual that works for you. Maybe it’s tea or lemon water or doing 25 push-ups the moment you wake up. Having a ritual sets a positive tone for the morning.


7) Decide to make change.

Waking up earlier is like losing weight or working out. You need to want to make the change in your life. Once you’ve set this intention, stick with it. It’ll happen.


Waking up early isn’t for everyone. But it’s made me much happier. It’s made me more productive. Chores I hate aren’t as awful in the early morning. I can come home from work late or say yes to an unexpected social engagement because I’m done whatever I was putting off for after work. And I’m not perfect — I’ve slept in since making this change or I’ve not done anything on my list. But like life, it’s a process.


Do you have any tips on waking up early? Let us know’ we’d love to hear them!



Team In Training: One month to race day

Cecilley and I getting ready for our giant yoga class!


Ahhh!!! I have one month left to the Nike Women’s Marathon. Oh my goodness…

After what felt like the longest two weeks of my life – not running or doing yoga makes me very, very cranky – it was time to put my foot down. Erin, I totally understand your fustration. September means a very busy time for me too, Fall event season tends to get crazy, and although I have no problem fitting yoga into my daily routine I’ve decided to stop being a baby and complaining about not working out. Erin’s September goals really struck a chord with me. I want to run faster and be a better runner. And this won’t happen by me complaining and feeling sorry that I stayed in bed instead of getting up and running that morning. What’s wrong with me?! I would never make an excuse not to work out before.

So, like Erin, I’m doing something about it. I’m going to start waking up early too. Whether I run or not isn’t the point. I want to be awake earlier and start feeling better. That two week drought — as lovely as it was having my friend in town and dancing the nights away at the Ottawa Folk Fest — I need to get back into the swing of things. Promto!

It’s also important for me to accept that breaks are not a bad thing. I know this and I know this is advice I need to listen to and stop beating myself up about. But it’s hard. After looking back, my mini vacations were important. I know I needed the time to disconnect from running and training and enjoy the moments with friends. But now, I am ready to be responosible again.

So here goes nothing! In addition to waking up early I WILL run 4 to 5 times a week. I will do this. And I’ll do yoga the days I don’t run. I need to do this. Not running is one thing, but when you take yoga out of my life I can’t function without being angry at myself. My body also hates me for not doing yoga. I made a promise to myself in the spring to do one morning yoga class a week. I was doing so good and I loved how I felt before, okay maybe not before, but definitely during and after class. I’m going to make this happen again.

Wow, blabbing out all these goals really feels good! I’m feeling so ready and determined right now.

With one month to go I should be feeling this way. Now to make smarter eating choices. The two week bender, if you will, wasn’t my proudest in terms of eating and drinking. This also really bothered me because I have no trouble steering away from bad foods and alcohol during the week. I’m sticking this out once more. Goodbye week day drinking, hello lemon water mornings! I was also a very bad blogger these two weeks. This also upset me. Geeze, a serious life check is in order here. The more I think about the things that upset me during this “empty” time frame the more I want to prevent it from happening again. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast at the Folk Fest with one of my best girlfriends from University (who I love and admire dearly). But the sad part is, I can’t stop thinking about how I didn’t go to Moksha Ottawa, not once, the whole time I was in Ottawa. This is bad, I know. So, instead of feeling bad and upset by not going then, I’m going to make up for it now. Plus that trip wasn’t about doing yoga it was about be there with my friend and enjoying awesome music. I need to learn how to let go and seperate the different parts of my life.

And lastly sleep. I’m also going to start winding down and settling into bed at a reasonable time from now on. Weekends maybe the exception, but I’m okay with that. Work is getting busy and I want to bring my A game to the office and to my training, once again.

I’m very self sufficient and I know with a little push I can get back into my groove. My fellow Team In Training runners probably think I’ve fallen off the face of the earth — I haven’t been to a Saturday morning run in forever! — missing TNT runs is also coming to a stop. I will be there every Saturday until I leave for San Francisco. Like Erin said before, Show Up! I will show up and be accountable.

Seeing Erin’s monthly goals has made me sit down and set my own. The push from her and a big swift kick in the butt from TNT is just what I need to Be Ready for NWM. Hey, that’s what sisters are for!


Looking forward to the rest of 2012

One of the weirder — and more fun — fitness accomplishments of 2012.


At the beginning of the year, both Jill and I set fitness goals. Ambitious ones. Don’t remember? You can check out mine here.

Of the five goals I set, I’ve accomplished four. Weekly yoga is no longer a goal, it’s part of my work-out routine. Jill and I crushed a sub-55 10k on April 13, when we ran the Toronto Yonge Street 10k together in 54:57. In general, I’m a pretty healthy eater, sticking to a near-vegan diet. Sure, I slip on the carbs and the alcohol occasionally, but I don’t want to punish myself constantly. I work my body hard and it deserves a beer (or three) or a glass of wine (or bottle) every once in a while. And the morning person thing is so much easier in the summer, but, in general, when I plan a morning work-out, I make it more often than miss it. There’s still room for improvement here, but I consider this goal complete.

Which leaves me with the first goal. And the biggest one. I had my eye on the May 6 marathon, but training beat me up. It made me tired, sore and hate running. I do not regret down-grading to the half-marathon. Not one bit. But the disappointment I felt with my 2:14 time had me re-assessing my running goals for the year. And now that Jill is quickly on my heels as the premiere runner in the family, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I want out of running.

I want to get faster.

I want to run a sub-2:00 half-marathon more than I want to complete full one right now. I know I have it in me to do a full and I know that my time to run a full will come. But I want to do with 4 hours on my mind, not 5. I want to run a sub-1:30 15k. I want to pass more people than people pass me.

It’s that simple. After putting my body through 30 days of yoga, I realized that fitness, for me, is about pushing my body to get faster and stronger, to test new limits and try new things. It’s not about celebrating what I can do and accepting what I can’t. It’s about running as hard and fast as I can, and crossing the finish line knowing I gave it my all. It’s about finally doing a handstand. It’s about doing a 5-minute plank, then saying ‘screw that, let’s go for 10.’

I think running faster ties into this better than running farther at this point. I believe this will change eventually, and I’ll seek to run faster and farther in the same training cycle, but not right now. Eventually.

First up is the Midsummer’s Night Run 15k. Jill is running it too. I want to cross that finish line under 1:30 together.

I’m on the hunt for a great half-marathon this fall. Suggestions?

Jill’s 2012 Fitness Goals

2011 was a good year for me in both my work life and personal life. I was a much too frequent yogi at Moksha Yoga Downtown and decided to join the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre once my student statues had expired at George Brown. Other than the hopes of meeting new people and keeping fit, I hadn’t given much thought to what exactly I wanted from going to the gym all the time (other than a cure to boredom). This year I want to achieve something other than the self-satisfaction “I worked out today”. I’m setting tangible goals I can cross of my list and brag about once I do!

1) Run a race

Mostly out of pure sisterly completion (and wanting to be just like my big sister), I have convinced myself to be more like Erin and become a runner. Despite wearing practically nothing in the middle of December and running a 5k race for a class assignment — which count as races — I don’t think can classify myself as a runner just yet. So in 2012 I will run. Looks like I’ll be signing up for the Toronto Yonge Street 10k with proper running clothes this time. Next up the NYC Marathon! Or maybe another 10k first.


2) Do some triathlon training

This resolution, again harnessed from pure competition – my old roommate completed her first triathlon last summer using my bike, while I watched her do it. And I also discovered at my work Christmas party – I work with very fit people Bullfrog Power apparently employs Iron Man competitors and Extreme adventurists – who knew. And I can’t leave out the fact my housemates happen to be marathon runners. I’m constantly reminded of my un-accomplishments everyday, so now I want – more like need – to belong at work and in my own apartment. I need to stop telling myself this is something I could do and actually do it! I want to swim, bike and run my little heart out in 2012. Shannon would be so proud of me!


3) Lose weight & get in better shape

A very cliché resolution, I know. But, who doesn’t want to lose weight really? I would love to see my self 10 to 20 pounds lighter on the scale, but it’s more about improving my BMI and shedding the unwanted body fat weight, then actually losing weight itself. Building muscle definition is my primary objective and therefore may not directly show up on the scale. But, once I’m squatting more than my current body weight I’ll know I’m doing better. Not that I want to look like I could be in a fitness competition (but this could a resolution for 2013?) I want to improve the shape I’m in.


4) Do a handstand

Not only with this force me to improve my shoulder, core and total upper body strength I will also feel as though I have proven Personal Trainer wrong and perhaps shock myself with my athletic abilities and determination! Personal Trainer is the name I gave to one of the JCC workers whom said I have a lot of work to do if my goal is to do a handstand. Well, Mike, I will have the last laugh.


5) Eat better

Not only will this help my over all fitness challenge to lose weight, but I’ll feel energized and stronger. I like the sounds of that! Hence, all other training will be that much easier. Easy, right? Ummm. The eat better plan will be similar to Erin’s – eat less sugar, carbs and plain garbage that I do not need (I do have a sweet tooth so this will be difficult), I also plan to cleanse all unnecessary toxins out of my body four times this year. It’s the yogi in me saying this.






Erin’s 2012 Fitness Goals

2011 was a year where I got back into fitness in a big way. I’ve always been an on-again, off-again runner, but I finally committed, to great results. A year later, I have 2 half-marathons, 1 15k race, and 3 10k races under my belt.

It was an interesting year, as I struggled with bringing together what I expected my body to do, and what it could actually do. Thoughts like “Of course my first HM will be under 2 hours!”, “15k with little proper training? No problem!” were frequent in those early days. Now, I have a solid base to build on and can set reasonable — and achievable — goals.



1) Run a marathon

I keep toying with this idea, but I need to get over any fear or anxiety I have about this. I just need to put it out there and try my best. I have my sights set on the Goodlife Toronto Marathon on May 6th (training shall commence in a few short days!). While the hope is to just finish the damn thing, I’m keeping a 4:45 time goal in the back of my head. Because running your first marathon isn’t hard enough…


2) Do yoga weekly

I was a semi-religious yogi before I took up running. I rarely missed my Sunday ashtanga class. But as running became more and more frequent, I found it harder to fit in a weekly yoga class — especially during the busy literary seasons. Excuses no more! I’ve built 2 weekly yoga classes into my marathon training. I’m going to need that downtime as I creep into 50k+ and 60k+ weeks.


3) Run a sub-55:00 10k

A weird thing happened in my three 10k races. Each run was stronger and more consistent than the last — but each one was slower. I chalk thing up to the courses being harder and harder. My 10k PR is 57:15 at Sporting Life last year. I know with a bit of speed training, sub-55:00 is within my reach this year. If I don’t snag it at the Toronto Yonge Street 10k on April 22, I plan to make this the focus of my summer running.


4) Eat better

The plans for the diet are, like every year, big! But instead of listing these as “no more sugar!” and “no more carbs!” I think it will be more achievable to simply try to eat better. I read somewhere that 50% of the food you eat every day should be raw. I’m going to do that. I’m a pretty healthy eater as it is, with one exception. CARBS. I love bagels a bit too much. So, if I plan to cut back on the fast food (bring my lunch more often!), sugar (this should be easy. I don’t have a sweet tooth, I just get lazy and eat crap) and carbs (this will be the big one), I won’t feel like a I broke a resolution or cheated if I slip up every once in a while.

Besides, eating better will mean running better. That should be enough, right?


5) Become a morning person

Why? I like my mornings. I like the ritual of reading the news and drinking coffee and getting ready for the day. And the earlier I can wake up, the more fitness I can fit into a day. But I’m the kind of girl that needs a good 8 (or 9 or 10) hours od sleep a night. So this morning person goal means shutting the TV and computer down and closing the books early — 9pm is the goal! If it goes well, that’s an hour to unwind and a 10pm shut eye — which I need if I’m going to start saying hello to 6:30am.

Wish me luck!