Monthly Archives: January 2014

Race Recap: Cobble Hill 10k 2014

Since I had a good finish at the Harriers Pioneer 8k a couple of weeks ago, I decided to sign up for the Cobble Hill 10k (which took place on January 26, 2014).

Normally, I don’t do a 10k race that early in the year, but I thought that if I did one now, then I would get more experience racing that distance and be ready to kill it at the end of April (TC 10K).

Of course, whenever I race, I always look to achieve a personal best, regardless of the distance and regardless of the time of the year it is.

The other reason I signed up is because I’ve never done this race before and my friends were doing it too.

On race day, I got up a few hours before the start of the race because I knew I had to drive about 40 minutes to get to the race. I left the house early enough to have some time to pick up my race number and warm up a little without having to rush to the start line.

It’s very important to calmly arrive at the start line because if you rush to the start line and feel stressed, then it will be very hard to focus on the race, let alone perform well.

I also find that I use the shorter races, like 8k and 10k, as substitutes for speedwork as I train for the BMO Vancouver Marathon. They make speedwork more exciting because there are lot of people cheering and also a lot of fast runners to pace with.

In this race, I wanted to be as close to 40 minutes as possible when I reach the finish line. My best 10k time was 41:52 last year so I definitely wanted to beat that.

My only race strategy this time was to not deviate from the 4 minute kilometer by anything more than 12 seconds. I had my Garmin, so that it would tell me how fast I was doing each km. This means that at any given point, I would not go faster than 3:48 per km and neither would I go slower than 4:12 per km.

The hardest part was definitely trying not to start too fast, since that’s my biggest racing mistake.

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Above: Just after finishing the race. 🙂 Sporting my Public Myth teaser super crop leggings and racer back sport bra.

This strategy seemed to work because I didn’t have any super slow kilometers mid way through the race, which used to happen when I start too fast.

Feeling great at the 8k mark, I decided that it was time to pick it up a bit. At 9k, I realized I didn’t go fast enough to break 40 minutes, but I suspected that it would be close-ish. I finished my last km in 3:45, which I thought was good.

At the end, I finished the race in 41:30, which equates to an average pace of 4:09 per km (about 6:41 per mile). I also came in 2nd in my age category.

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Above: The awards ceremony. 🙂

I was thrilled to have a 20 second personal best in my first 10k race of 2014. I’m very excited for the next race!!

10 Tips to Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

Have you ever set a fitness goal, got all excited about it, only to have it fall by the wayside for some unknown reason? If you’ve answered “yes”, you are not alone. Many people set fitness goals and then lose track of them. Life gets in the way. We get too busy. We forget why we started in the first place…

What led me to write this article was a question from one of my clients before she started training with me. She said to me: “I always want to improve my fitness level, but I can’t seem to motivate myself to actually follow through and achieve my goal. Do you have any ideas on how to change that?”

Since she wasn’t the first person to ask me those questions before starting her program, I thought that maybe if I wrote this article then I could just send it to the next person who asks me this. That way, we can maximize the efficiency of our session time and my clients can read this one on their own.

A lot of people expect immediate results and give up within less than 90 days of starting their fitness program if they don’t see those results as quickly as they wish for. I hope that this article will help you trust the process, which ultimately leads to results.

1. Find an activity you like to do. Just because I like to run, doesn’t mean that you have to run as well. If running is not your thing, try biking, Bellyfit, Pilates, Yoga, etc.. There are tons of different exercises and activities that you can do, so you are bound to find one or two that make you feel amazing. If you like an activity and it feels great, then you are more likely to continue even when you don’t see immediate results.

2. Schedule your workouts ahead of time. If you plan your daily workouts the same way that you plan meetings, you are less likely to skip the workout. Blocking off about half hour to one hour each day, whether it’s before work, at lunch time or after work. Your workout is your own appointment with yourself.

3. Find a workout buddy. Do you have a friend, family member or co-worker that has similar fitness goals as you? If yes, then that person would be your best choice for a good workout buddy. You can motivate each other and be accountable to each other.

4. Work with a trainer. A trainer will motivate you, encourage you, help keep you on track and design you a safe and effective fitness program. When you work with a trainer, you are accountable to the trainer as well as to yourself.

5. Don’t be afraid to try new exercises or fitness classes. If you’ve never done spin class or Tabata training class, why not try it once just to see if you like it. You have nothing to lose when you try a new exercise or a new class and what if it becomes your favorite activity? Plus, a group setting can be very motivational because you will meet other like-minded people who might have similar goals. Be adventurous with exercise and you will not get bored.

6. Sign up for a charity event that involves exercise. Examples include: Run/Walk for the Cure, Jump Rope for Heart, or Ride to Conquer Cancer. Those are all great. That way, you know that not only are you exercising, but you are also helping the community. Also, many local running races give you the option to run and fundraise for charities. You can do it as part of a team or on your own. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to take part in road races.

7. Find out why your goal is so important. If there is a significant reason as to why reaching your goal is so important, then you are more likely to keep yourself motivated. Why did you start fitness? What do you hope to accomplish? Why is the result important to you personally? Answer these questions and you will be able to find the reason to keep going because you will keep your eyes on the prize.

8. Write down your goal with as much detail as possible. Writing down a goal shows that you are committed to it, makes your goal more concrete and gives it more clarity.  It also allows you the opportunity to review your goals without having to wonder what your actual goals were.

For example, if you want to lose weight, write down how much you want to lose and in what period of time (be realistic) and then write out an action plan outline for how you are going to get there.

9. Track your workouts. Get a calendar and put a check mark on each day that you worked out. It would be even better if you also indicated what you did that day. For example: Wednesday, Jan 1, 2014-2 mile run. That way, you can see how much you are progressing over time as well as keeping yourself accountable.

10. Put $5 away into a safe place each time you do a workout to save for something  you want.  Think of something you want to buy but aren’t able to afford immediately. Then, get a jar and call it “change”. Each time you complete a workout, put $5 into that jar. Pretty soon, you will have a few hundred dollars in that jar, which you could have spent on something else. Instead, you put it in your “change” jar, so you will reap the rewards, both physically and financially.

If even one or two of the above tips resonate with you, I will feel like I’ve accomplished my goal.

Please share if you find these useful. 🙂

Race Recap: Harriers Pioneer 8k 2014

When I signed up for the Harriers Pioneer 8k, I knew that it would be my first race of 2014. I wanted to see where I’m at and what I need to work on. Given that the last time I raced was the Victoria Marathon in October, I thought that I might be a bit rusty.

Honestly though, not racing for a couple of months felt weird, but I also felt like taking a break was (and still is) a good idea for anyone that feels they need some recovery time before resuming racing.

I was so thrilled to learn that my friends were in the race as well. Waiting around at the start line together and cheering for each other at the finish line makes the whole racing experience 10x better than it already is.

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Above: Me and my friends warming up before the race. We were all smiles on this great day 🙂

On race day, there were a lot of runners. They even had to delay the start of the race by a few minutes due to the race’s popularity (a lot of race day signups). In my opinion, it’s still great that they have the option for people to register on race day because a lot of people aren’t sure if they will do the race until that very day.

I also like to do races with a lot of participants (think TC 10K) because the bigger the crowd, the more energy I feel I get from their presence.

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Above: Just a small representation of the huge number of runners that were at the race.

This time, my choice of race wear included the Public Myth Teaser Sport Bra and B-Belt Crop Leggings. As for shoes, I wore my beloved Saucony Ride 5  (great shoes!). Lastly, somehow I could never bring myself to race without my Garmin, although some of my running friends prefer not to wear any electronics when racing. I just like to see where I’m at all the time.

I was very excited at the start line. First race of the year and I wasn’t nervous at all. Gotta LOVE that feeling!

Immediately, I started too fast (like I often do…hahaha), but it still felt great. Did the first kilometer in 3:35, but then slowed down a little. I believe that I went way too slow between km 4 and 5. However, I sped up again and finished the last km under 4 minutes.

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Above: Me trying to outsprint the guy beside me as we come towards the finish line. At the same time, I’m also looking to the side to see what the “clock says”.

I ended up finishing 2nd in my age category with a time of 33:03 (average pace per km was 4:08 and average pace per mile was 6:39). Also, I was about 40 seconds faster than my last year’s 8k time. I was very pleased with the results, especially because I haven’t raced for a while.

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Above: Closer to the finish line and still beside him. I think in the end he got me by a couple of seconds. Maybe I should have focused on the sprint, rather than looking at the clock. haha. 😀

Lastly, I liked the course and I thought that the race was very well-organized. What’s really awesome is that this race (same with other Vancouver Island Race Series races) has runners of all levels, from beginners to elite, so you can always find someone to tag along with when the going gets tough. I would love to do it again next year!

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Above: The age group awards. I’m second from the left. 🙂

Garmin Forerunner 110 Review

Since a few clients asked me about my GPS watch, I decided to write this review. For those who are new to my site, I run with a Garmin Forerunner 110. I’ve had my Garmin for almost two years now and I bought it on Amazon .

At that time, I had been looking for a GPS watch for quite a while and had read several reviews of different brands and models before deciding on the Garmin Forerunner 110.

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Above: The Garmin in use (on my wrist) 🙂

When it comes to buying GPS watches, I consider the accuracy, ease of use and size of the device. Since the idea of a GPS watch (at least for me) is to be able to track the distance and pace of a run, I’m looking for accuracy. I find that anything within 200m is more or less acceptable.

In addition, I’m looking for a device that’s fairly easy to use (as are most people). I don’t want a bunch of complicated bells and whistles integrated into my GPS watch.

Size is another important factor. I want a device that looks more like a regular wristwatch as opposed to a bulky computer that straps to your wrist.

When my Garmin Forerunner 110 arrived, I could not wait to give it a trial run. It’s my first GPS-enabled watch I’ve ever owned. One quick read through the user’s manual and I was good to go. I definitely like the Forerunner 110’s simplicity. It’s very easy to use.

The watch allows you to choose if you want your distances in miles or in kilometers. In addition, it will let you see the approximate amount of calories that you burned in your run when you view your “run history”.

The model I have does not come with a built-in heart rate monitor, although you can buy one separately, which will work with it. I don’t use a heart rate monitor in my runs, but that’s a personal preference.

The Garmin Forerunner 110 also serves its purpose (at least for me it does). I wanted to be able to accurately track my pace, time and distance while training and this device does all of the above.

You can also upload your runs onto Garmin Connect through a USB cable which comes with your Forerunner. Garmin Connect allows you to track your runs, set goals and share your activity with others in the running community. I don’t use Garmin Connect, so I honestly can’t tell you much more.  

There  is one feature that I wish the Garmin Forerunner 110 had that it does not, which is the ability to view the time it took to run each km or mile in any given run, rather than just the average pace per km over the entire run. However, it’s not a big deal for me especially because I can usually remember how long it took me to run each km.

If you are looking for a reasonably inexpensive, easy to use GPS watch so that you could accurately record your runs, then this product is for you. It can be had for under $200 on Amazon, which in my opinion is good value for the money and functionality of the watch. Yes, it’s an older model of the Garmin, but I believe that it does its job and I’m satisfied with it so far.

Do you have a fitness-related product you want me to review? Contact me! If it’s great, I will be sure others know about it and if it’s not great, I will only let you know.

5 Tips to Overcome Pre-Race Anxiety

You’ve signed up for an upcoming local race. You are all excited because it’s a challenge that you are looking forward to taking on. Maybe you’ve raced before and want to do better.  Maybe you’re looking for a personal best.

Then, you start to wonder how fast you will finish the race. Slight self-doubt starts to creep in and you begin to worry about how you will do.

Sound familiar?

Yup. I call this pre-race anxiety. A little bit of nervousness before a race is fine, but it becomes an issue when performance starts to suffer because of it. 

Pre-race anxiety happens for a variety of reasons, including: self-doubt, fear of embarrassing yourself, fear of not finishing the race, pressure from people around you  and worrying about other circumstances that surround your taking part in the race.

Sometimes, the mental aspect of “racing” is much more challenging than the physical preparation required for that race.  Even during training, the mind gives up before the body does.

For example, one day I set out to run 40km because I was 5 weeks out from the Vancouver marathon. However, I ended up stopping after 30km.  It happens to everyone.

Even the elite runners sometimes have a bad training day or a bad race, so please don’t beat yourself up over it and please don’t think that one bad race is a reason to quit-it’s not.

Yes, I posted a good time on those 30km, but the bottom line is, I just stopped. Stopping had nothing to do with my inability to physically do 40km, especially because I’ve ran distances longer than that many times.  

Sometimes we have good training and race days and other times not so much. Some people said to me that I appear very relaxed and composed before races, but the truth is, I too have pre-race anxiety.

With that in mind, I learned how to keep it at bay (most of the time).

1.Sometimes it’s good to forget about pace. Yes, you’re racing a few weeks or months from now, but remember that sometimes the most important thing is to just get out and run. It’s very healthy to go for runs without your watch and take in your surroundings.

You should have easy days where you run to clear your head and calm yourself down. Don’t always put pressure on yourself. Just run and log in the miles and stop stressing out about the upcoming race. If you put in the mileage, you will be good.

2. Remember, you will not be last. If you’ve been training, there is a good chance that you will not be last, so quit worrying about embarrassing yourself.  Yes, you will run against some people who are faster than you, but at the same time you should know that there is a 99.9% chance that you will finish faster than some others. Also, remember that you are running for you and don’t worry about everyone else.

3.  Focus on what you can control and run your own race. You can’t control who will be at the race or what the other runners are doing. You can’t control the weather, the traffic on your way to the race or the fact that the line-up to the restroom is too long. The only thing you can control is your own pace and mindset.

I’ve noticed that every time I focused too much on other runners, I’ve run a worse time than if I just focused on myself. If that’s your first race and you’re a beginner, focus on finishing within your own time goal. If you’re trying for a personal best, then focus on that.

4. Prepare yourself. Hopefully, during your training, you had a chance to experiment with different foods so that you know how your body responds to them. That way, you know what to eat and what not to eat the morning of the race.

Also, it’s good to prepare your pre-race meal, outfit, shoes and other things you need for the race the night before so you are not scrambling in the morning of the race.

5.  Visualize success. By focusing on the positives, you will do much better in your race. Remember all the hard work you put into the training and preparation for your race and therefore you are bound to succeed. Picture yourself excited at the start line and hitting the perfect pace each kilometer.

Imagine yourself achieving your time goal and finishing the race strong. Imagine not only achieving your personal best but also making great friends at the start line who share your interest in running.  

I hope that you found this article helpful. Please share this with your runner friends if you did 🙂 Good luck in your upcoming races!

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