31 December 2015

no time to waist!

four days ago i was at my wife's side of the family for christmas dinner.  as it was the end of a training week, i gave myself permission to enjoy the meal (and desserts) freely.

i also weighed in at the end of the evening - the scale read 143.2 lbs., which was the most that i'd weighed in probably about 8 months.

yesterday morning i weighed in after my run, and the scale read 137.2 lbs. 

yep, back down to pretty much racing weight, and six pounds shed in about 60 hours (without employing any unhealthy or dehydrating methods).

as this is the time of year that many of my runner friends begin to feel guilty about themselves - indulging in holiday goodies and perhaps choosing to forego the occasional workout due to weather conditions - i thought that it might be helpful to share a few quick suggestions and insights on the topic of food and weight management.
1.  the scale doesn't lie ... but it doesn't tell the whole story either

when you or i snack on those extra calories they will undoubtedly show up on the bathroom scale (acknowledging of course that there are day-to-day fluctuations and that it's better to look at a broader period - e.g. a week - at a whole).  the thing is that while raw weight measurements are among the most trackable of statistics they don't necessarily indicate whether or not you're actually healthy.  you are smart enough to know that people can carry very little weight and be extremely unhealthy for a variety of reasons.  conversely, just because your body type or proportion of muscle-to-fat tissue contributes to a higher weight reading that doesn't mean that you're not in your healthy zone.  remember that healthy is healthy, despite what the scale reading might be.

2.  water, water, everywhere!
i am a huge proponent of drinking water over just about any other kind of beverage.  in terms of purity and usefulness to your body's metabolism i don't think that you can beat a big glass of water.  on top of that though i make sure that i do a couple of other things with water to help navigate my way to a healthy weight:

  • start the day with a big glass of water - as an early morning runner this is really my only pre-run nutrition six times out of seven.  it kick-starts my metabolism for the day and helps to get my hydration levels off to a good start.
  • drink a full glass of water before every meal - this helps to ensure that i don't overeat (aka 'eating with my eyes') by filling up some of that empty stomach space with liquid.  with that glass of water i'm already on my way to satiating my appetite.
3.  breakfast is big ... or (in the words of captain jean-luc picard) make it so!

after a good night's sleep your body has been fasting for maybe seven or more hours - so make the first meal of the day count!  following a study group of one (yep - me!) indications are that the more substantial your meal is during the early third of your day the better fueled (and less hungry) you are throughout the remainder of the day.

4.  whassup with supper?
conversely, if you can make the final meal of the day the smallest one (given that you do not need to load up for the overnight period) you will serve yourself well.  there's an old saying that goes "eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper" - and by and large it is a good guideline for anyone looking to effectively manage their energy levels and waistline.

5.  enough gas to get to the next stop
after a quick thumb-through of meb keflezighi's book Meb for Mortals i took note of the little eating tip that he offers to runners, which is to think of your body like a car and each meal like a gas-station stop.  you want to load up on enough fuel to get you over to the next station - this is a little mental reminder that i've also found to be helpful, especially since i tend to eat until i'm full instead of putting my fork down once i've had 'enough'.

6.  keep groovin'!
this is the 'easier-said-than-done' part.  i tend to be on the relentless side when it comes to my running, so i hope that it doesn't sound pedantic or condescending to say that if you want to manage your weight well that you should do everything you can to stick to your exercise regimen.  or at the very least do some of the little things that will help keep the ratio of calories consumed vs. calories burned from getting too out of whack.  for instance:
  • choose a parking spot a good distance away from the door/entrance of your destination
  • stand more than you sit
  • leave the car at home for small, nearby errands whenever possible.

... so there are just a few suggestions - i'm sure that you can come up with some of your own if you really put your mind to it!

so buckle in, buckle down, and here's to a happy and healthy 2016 for us all!  

29 December 2015

the 2015 round-up

as we prepare to flip the page on another calendar year i thought that it was time to share a few things from my 'best-of' list for 2015 - i hope that you enjoy!

favourite running moment
while my new marathon PB at the detroit marathon is a close runner-up, there's really nothing that holds a candle to having been able to run a race together with my wife and two of my daughters at the MEC Barrie Race Four 5k.  for too long i've had running as 'my activity' and it's definitely been something that i've wanted to not only encourage the rest of my family to take up as a means of exercise but i've also hoped that perhaps in some way it could become an opportunity for relationship building/bonding ... and 2015 afforded us that.  between having regular 'family run nights' and seeing each of these girls across the finish line i felt like running finally became more of an investment into my potential to be a better dad and husband.

most enjoyable running read
i'd have to give this to hal koerner's field guide to ultrarunning.  being still what i would call an 'aspiring ultrarunner' i found this book to be both insightful and entertainingly written.  well worth your time if you want to wrap your head around what it takes to succeed in the world of endurance running.

most exciting change in my running routine
by and large i am a creature of habit - though that may surprise a number of people who would say that they know me fairly well.  but i do crave variety and celebrate changes in my routine - and this year without a doubt the change that has been most engaging and encouraging to see has been the growth of the RunNinjas (the tribe formerly known as the Barrie Running Ninjas).

our little running community (i can say that i remember when it was pretty much just three of us going out on saturday mornings a few years ago) has now blossomed to a regular group of 30+ on saturdays, with another official workout night on wednesdays and unofficial group meet-ups happening throughout the remainder of the week.  of all ages, shapes, sizes, speeds, experience levels and aspirations, the RunNinjas are a dynamic collective focused on not just becoming better athletes but more activated human beings.  as our running sensei jim would say, "i love you freaks!".

most coveted piece of running gear
you might think that it was shoes, but it's not.

last christmas a good friend of mine (and fellow runner) gifted me with a nathan reflective safety vest.  it was mostly out of concern for the fact that i most often run in pre-dawn, low-light conditions and had nothing special by way of illumination or reflectivity that this vest came my way - and no word of a lie i wear it on 99% of my running workouts.  it's super-lightweight, completely unobtrusive and highly visible.  my only 'too bad it doesn't' observation would be that it would be great if it had even some meagre storage pockets - but it's far from a deal-breaker for me.  i love my vest, and it has likely saved my bacon more than a few times this year.

most satisfying ethical decision (related to running)
this one may confuse you - but i decided this year not to renew my affiliation/sponsorship with Team Running Free.

and it has nothing to do with Team RF itself ... this is one of those 'it's not you, it's me' break-ups.

i've loved my experience with Team RF.  their mandate, vision and mission are fantastic, and i wholeheartedly endorse them on those fronts.  their support team is top notch.  and the other team members?  what can i say - a finer group of runners, triathletes and adventure racers you'll be hard pressed to find.

so why step away?

it really has to do with the energy that i've focused on seeing the RunNinjas grow.  from the outset the homebase for this group has been MEC Barrie and truly without them there would be no group.  it's also been great to be involved with the annual Race Series hosted by MEC which has provided a grassroots-level point-of-access to running races in our region.  with all that in mind i felt like i couldn't very well (in good conscience) continue to pour the majority of my attention into MEC events and the RunNinjas while still carrying the Team Running Free banner.  it felt disingenuous on my part - and very much self-serving, as the benefit to me (in terms of promotional gear and discounts) would outweigh my tangible contribution to Team RF.  so it's not without a significant degree of sadness that i bid fare thee well to all of my friends and compatriots at Team RF ... i'm sure that i will see you all around in person and on social media, and will continue to proudly declare that i was once a member of this Team.

blog that i most look forward to reading
the blogosphere offers a fount of information - and many of the offerings that i value the most are authored by people that i actually know (i can't pump up 9run.ca enough!).  but i've got to say that out of all the online journals and teaching outlets that i've come across the one that has captured my attention more often than not has been jae gruenke's the balanced runner.  there's nothing quite like jae's post-marathon breakdown of the running form of elite athletes (e.g.after the 2015 NYC Marathon) ... it's just sooooo good.  and this top 10 list of running form cues is a must-read for anyone, regardless of experience level. 

seriously, go read it.  you won't regret it.

... and that's it for now!  i could go let this list drag on with other bits and pieces that would eventually bore you to tears (or make you wonder how many other 'best of' categories i can concoct) but better to leave you wanting more than wishing i'd quit while i was ahead. :)

thanks as always for joining me at The Rendezvoo Point, and here's wishing you all the best for an invigorating, healthy and memory-filled 2016!

02 December 2015

road review - Skechers GOrun strada

maybe i'm a sucker for advertising.

when i saw meb's name first associated with this shoe (back at the start of this year in runblogger's teaser article) i thought that it must have some merit, and that it was worth trying.

[ photo from Runblogger.com ]

i can now say for myself that i'm glad i did.

the production version of the GOrun strada (as released to the purchasing public) is a neutral training shoe - overall a more substantial shoe than just about anything else that i have in my running rotation.  i feel a much more structured upper especially with the layered synthetic material wrapping about the midfoot and structured heel - while it provides a nice and snug fit it does also add some weight (with my size 10s coming in a shade under 10.5 oz).  inasmuch as they are heftier than what i would normally prefer in a road running shoe that's also what i was looking for - something to wear on easy/recovery days that would remind me that we're not trying to ramp up the speed.  i also wanted to have a pair of shoes that might offer just that wee bit more protection from the elements during my dead-of-winter runs.

the outsole features what appears to be a dual-density resalyte configuration - the darker segments are a little tougher and seem (to my untrained eye) to follow the impact zones from heel (if you're a heel striker) through the M-strike area through to the big toe.  this higher durometer but still cushiony material lends a bit more durability to the rubber-less bottom of the GOrun strada and again is a slight contributor to the overall weight of the shoe.  at an 8mm heel (25mm) to toe (17mm) drop, it's on the higher side of what i normally like to have - but interestingly enough i have not found there to be any issues when it comes to an unimpeded forefoot landing, and i don't even have to deliberately think about it.

no swapping around of insoles this time - they're glued down nice and tacky!

the ride is comparable to the upper - on the stiff side.  that being said, i've been quite surprised that it doesn't strike me as being overly clumsy ... and in fact i've managed to pull off some paces that would otherwise seem to be uncharacteristic of such a relatively built-up shoe (and that without any undue expenditure of energy).  so while i have mentally positioned the GOrun strada as a recovery day shoe it's actually performed quite admirably delivering as a well-rounded trainer.

after all's said and done i'd have to say that i grossly underestimated this shoe - i actually do look forward very much to the days that i get to don the Strada for a workout, whatever the pace and effort level might turn out to be.  whether or not they'll hold up the way that i want them to through the mighty canadian winter is yet to be determined, but for the time being i'll enjoy them as much as i can.  four feetprints out of five and recommended for anyone looking for a blue-collar beat-up-the-road-not-your-feet training shoe.

and here's a look at the video review - enjoy!