Monday, March 19, 2012

HRG Runner Profile: Meet Kaitlyn!

Much like with Durwin, who I profiled last week, I've never met @Kaitlyn_S. However, she's become part of my running network on Twitter, and when I asked if she would be willing to be profiled on my blog, she willingly agreed to. I expect one day we'll run across each other at one of the local races, or perhaps our shoes have already crossed paths while running in and about Halifax.

In reading through Kaitlyn's answers to my questions, I've learned a lot about this busy and dedicated mother of two girls, run coach and aspiring Everest Base Camp climber! Who knew!

Without further ado, I give you Kaitlyn (@Kaitlyn_S, aka Sweaty Sneakers, this week's HRG Runner in Profile!

HRG: Tell us a bit about yourself .
Kaitlyn: Who I am: Mom of two girls (5 and 3), run coach with Team in Training Halifax, married for five years, "mature" student at SMU, two full marathons, seven half marathons, various 10k and 5k and one Sprint triathlon.

HRG: How long have you been running? 
Kaitlyn: I've been running for a total of eight years, but really consistently and with some distance for almost four years.

HRG: How and why did you start?
Kaitlyn: In 2003, a good friend of mine joined the marathon clinic at the local Running Room to train for the first Bluenose Marathon (May, 2004). Not to be outdone, I decided that I, too could run long distances so I joined the half marathon clinic.

The clinic night fit my schedule better. And by that I mean that the marathon clinic was on Thursdays and everyone knows that Thursdays are pub nights. Such were my priorities!!

So I ran the very first Bluenose half in 2004. I kept running off and on, a couple 10ks over the years until I had my second daughter in May 2008. When I was pregnant (the second in as many years), I was just so sick of feeling big and inactive, so I vowed that I would start running after the baby came and "get my body back."

I ran a 10k when she was four months old, a half when she was 7 months old and my first marathon when she was 15 months old. Eventually, running turned into a life journey where I was able to really meditate on my priorities and goals. Yes, I did get my body "back" after having kids, but I've also realized that you can never get something back, you can only move forward and grow from where you are now. 

Running has given me the clarity of mind to learn how to love myself (which is still a work and progress sometimes) and be a better person. Mother and wife, yes, but more loving and accepting of others. For most of my life, I thought that I was as average as a person could be, but in learning how to push myself beyond what I thought my physical limits were, I realized that not only am I pretty special, but so is everyone.

And so my goal when I coached at the Running Room and now at Team in Training is not only to help the participants complete their race, but to help them believe in their own strength so that they'll keep running after the season is over. I'm a long way from prioritizing my running schedule around my drinking schedule, but it's all been a part of it. Running helped me make priorities, and I am on my own list.

HRG: Favourite part of running? 
Kaitlyn: How it makes me feel, I guess. Running was the portal into a new and more loving relationship with myself. I don't always "like" going for a run, but I'm always happy I went. So aside from the happy glow I get for the rest of the day, running has helped me feel comfortable in my own skin. Also, things like a getting a perky butt are nice incentives ;)

HRG: Least favourite part of running? 
Kaitlyn: Getting out the door. That is consistently the most difficult thing. You'd think that by now, I'd be over it. But sometimes I'm just lazy and waste more time dreading the run than I actually spend running.

HRG: Favourite time of year/weather to run in? 
Kaitlyn: Fall! Cool and sunny days are perfect. Winter is probably my next favourite, followed by spring (I hate getting wet feet) and last is definitely summer. I overheat really easily.

HRG: Favourite distance to run? 
Kaitlyn: Somewhere between 10 and 12k. Long enough to give you a solid buzz, long enough that if you do it consistently, you can really change your body, not so long that you are in pain or need a nap afterwards.

HRG: Favourite route (training or race) to run? 
Kaitlyn: I really like running downtown Halifax because the scenery keeps me distracted. But I also really, really like doing long training runs on the deserted country trail close to my house. After a couple of hours running alone surrounded by nature, I feel more centered and focused and optimistic about my life.

HRG: How do you keep motivated? 
Kaitlyn: By making goals. Sometimes that goal is distance, sometimes that goal is speed, but if I don't have a race penciled in on my calendar sometime in the next four to six months, I find it really hard to get out and run. That said, I'm coasting between training programs right now, but I've been coaching Team in Training Halifax half and full marathoners on Saturday mornings. So in order to keep up with their distances and not injure myself, I've been maintaining my weekly runs.

HRG: Best pre-race meal? 
Kaitlyn: Eat pasta run fasta! Seriously, the night before a race I eat a big bowl of spaghetti around five or six o'clock. And if the race is a half or full, I eat something like toast with peanut butter and a sliced apple around eight. For breakfast I am all about oatmeal. Good energy but not too heavy on my stomach.

HRG: Best post-race meal? 
Kaitlyn: Peanut butter and jam sandwich (or two depending on the distance) and chocolate milk.

HRG: Upcoming race goal? 
Kaitlyn: Montreal Rock and Roll in September 2012, but in the meantime, I'm training to hike to Everest Base Camp in April which is a three week trek carrying a 30-40lbs backpack.

HRG: Tips or words of wisdom for new runners? 
Kaitlyn: Stick with it. Don't let crappy runs get you down. Get a support network by joining a clinic or a run group. Don't expect miracles, changes to your body and fitness level take time and consistency. Eat right so that you can fuel your body.

If you hate your run every time, try something else, like a new route or some new music or a new pair of running pants that look cute on you. Have faith in yourself and your body that you can form new habits and become strong.

Read books like John Stanton's Running: Start to Finish. Don't let self-consciousness make you afraid to try. Make realistic goals. Ignore the haters and nay-sayers. Don't let being "slow" get you down.

But most of all? You aren't going to become a better runner by wishing you were a good runner. You are going to become a better runner by running. So even when it sucks, even when you don't want to, even when the weather isn't what you want, just go run. Make the commitment to do it, and then do it.

HRG: Thanks, Kaitlyn! And good luck on Everest! :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Is there such a thing as a perfect runner?

On March 16, 2012, The Nature of Things aired a documentary called "The Perfect Runner." I happened upon it quite by chance through a post on a friend's page, but once I found out about it I figured there was no way I could miss it.

The basic premise of the documentary is that in prehistoric times, humans evolved physiological traits to become efficient runners in order to escape predators while hunting them better through persistence hunting.

It was an interesting documentary, and I'm glad I watched it, albeit with some skepticism. I would however caution that anyone who  is a new runner watch it with a grain of salt, especially when they arrive at the part about barefoot running (I would say at the very least, get your gait assessed before you try any barefoot running slippers) and ultra marathoning (what they left out in the documentary is that the host, Niobe Thompson, trained upwards of 100 kilometres per week before attempting the 125-kilometre Canadian Death Race -- he didn't just up and attempt it, like they made it seem).

This morning after my run, I happened to bump into a fellow Halifax runner, Jon Kirk, who trained for and attempted an ultra marathon last year at Leadville, Colorado. I asked him for his thoughts on "The Perfect Runner." As the co-manager of the Spring Garden Road Running Room, he also knows a lot about shoes, and gait.

"Well, it left out a lot of things, like that barefoot running isn't for everyone," he admitted, pointing out that the researchers who were interviewed have the luxury of having all kinds of high tech equipment at their disposal in order to understand gait, impact and so on when someone runs barefoot.

Jon and I both agreed, however, with the documentary's sentiment that our sedentary lives, which have become the norm, are abnormal. While most of my non-running friends tell me that they are impressed with how far I run, centuries ago this used to be the norm, and the only way to survive. Somehow, we've forgotten this along the way.

Those are my thoughts, in a nutshell. If you missed it, it's well worth watching. Or, you can read through my live-tweet of the episode, here:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

HRG Runner Profile: Meet Durwin!

It's amazing how much support and inspiration you can find from other runners online - whether through blogs, Facebook, or Twitter! Following my last race - the Hypothermic Half Marathon - I had lots of fun chatting about the experience with runners who I'd never met, but who had also had the same experience and run the same course as me on the same day.

So, since it's been awhile since my last HRG Runner Profile, I decided to reach out to some of the running buddies who I've made online.

Without further ado, I give you Durwin (aka @Durwin)!

HRG: How long have you been running?
Durwin: I'm coming up to 2 years now.

HRG: How and why did you start?
Durwin: Medical reason. I started getting crazy symptoms, burning up, tired all the time. So I got some blood work done and my doctor said I was one step away from being a diabetic. You need to change the way you eat and get some exercise.

The first week after march break 2010, one day I went for a walk. A couple of days later, another walk. Eventually I was walking every day. By the middle of April I started adding a jog to my walk. Then I found an iPhone app called Couch to 5k and started doing that. My running took off from there.

HRG: Favourite part of running?
Durwin: Telling people how far I go and their jaw drops every time. Sackville to Joseph Howe superstore and back. Running home from work, downtown HFX to Sackville. Sullivan's pond to Forrest hills extension and back.

HRG: Least favourite part of running?Durwin: Marathons are grouped together every spring and fall, which limits me to how many I can do. I miss out on a lot of races.

HRG: Favourite time of year/weather to run in?
Durwin: Summer and fall. Nothing better than a 6am run in the park as the sun is coming up and it's not too hot out. I also like running in a warm rain. Feels great.

Here's a little thing I do. Sunday mornings I start my run at Banook Lake and do my run through Shubie Park, then go for a swim in the lake. 8am, 10 min swim feels great after a long run. I just jump in with my running clothes on.

HRG: Favourite distance to run?
Durwin: I don't know why but 24k is one of my most popular distances. Aside from 5k and 21k, I
usually run even numbers only; 12k, 18k, 32k, 36k.

HRG: Favourite route (training or race) to run?
Durwin: On the weekends during the summer my runs are at Shubie Park. Most people don't know that the trails go all the way out to Forrest Hill turnoff. During the winter I run along the Bedford Highway. There's a bike lane or sidewalk to use and the roads are clear. During the week I run around the city.

HRG: How do you keep motivated?
Durwin: If I get slack on my exercising, I start feeling like crap and tired all the time. I don't like that so I keep running and exercising. Plus it doesn't hurt to have a set of running goals for the year. Me and my wife plan a trip every year to a marathon, so we would be very disappointed if we spent all that money and had a bad run.

HRG: Best pre-race meal?
Durwin: Oatmeal, one serving. 1 small banana and half a glass of OJ 1 1/2 to 2 hrs before the race.

HRG: Best post-race meal?
Durwin: Bacon cheese burger, Fries and a milkshake.

HRG: Upcoming race goal?
2012 - Blue Nose Full, Johnny miles Half, Maritime Race Full, PEI Full, Valley Harvest Half, Moncton Half, lucky seven relay, Las Vegas Rock N Roll Marathon Full.

HRG: Tips or words of wisdom for new runners?
I always tell runners, no matter what, how tired, sore or what pain your in, run across the finish line.

HRG: Thanks, Durwin!