For many years, people who know me well have heard me (repeatedly) say "I hate running!". I have always enjoyed short-duration, power based activities such as 50-100 m sprints, sled pushes, powerlifting and Olympic lifting and have found running long distance to be not quite as fun. We all have things we're good at and we generally like to do those things. I am without a doubt, a fast-twitch type person. In elementary and secondary school, I succeeded in sports like baseball, volleyball, and track and field events such as long jump and relays. In fact, I remember a very sunny elementary school afternoon when track and field try-outs were held; every student completed every event and then the teachers selected the top performers. I got to the 800-m run station and thought to myself god I hate this! I think I was in grade 4! Add to this some of my physical characteristics, such as short little legs, heavy muscular shoulders, bilateral congenital hip dysplasia and a history severe sprains of both my ankles, and you'll understand why I have always believed I was not 'designed' to run long distance.
Flash forward 20-something years and I'm training for Nike Women's 15 Kilometre race; that's right, that just happened! Why you ask? I had 3 major reasons
1. I have been trying to convince myself for the last 20 years that I could be a superhero! I already have a technology-obliterating forced field. I figured if I added aerobic endurance and mental stamina to the package, I might just be unstoppable... Honestly though, I really wanted to test my physical and mental capacity.
2. Working with Nike as an NTC trainer has been a true highlight of my career thus far. Working with the Nike Women's team is ridiculously inspiring - the effort they put into every last detail of their events and their dedication to promoting women's fitness is unrivalled. When I heard that they were hosting the Nike Women's 15 km race, I had to sign up, if only to acknowledge their hard work and dedication to women's fitness. The experience is going to be epic... Get ready!
3. It was time to put my money where my mouth is. Every week, I train a hundred or more women who are striving to reach amazing fitness goals. I push them...hard....every time I see them. I tell them their abilities should be diverse; they should be able to jump high, lift heavy and push hard. I tell them they have the mental and physical strength to push themselves in ways they never though possible, as long as they train in a way that is periodized, with proper form and recovery. All of this is true, and so I wanted to prove it.
I often rant about training with trainer who 'knows their stuff; NOT just someone who has a few certifications under their belt. I'm talking about trainers who have spent years in the gym doing the work themselves, who have studied and further researched the concepts they have learned at certifications, who compliment that experience with a deep and thorough understanding of exercise physiology AND the ability to apply that knowledge soundly when they program for or train their clients. There are not a lot of trainers who fit this description and even fewer who I would recommend unconditionally. Given my history of injury and unique needs, I went to a great friend and even better trainer, Fréyja Spence. Having never run farther than 5 km, and not wanting lose my muscle mass and strength, I knew I needed an expert. Fréyja not only runs herself (amazingly well), she also is the developer and leader of Darby Training System's Informed Runner course; a course focuses on teaching coaches how to assess and program for their running clients. Fréyja studied Human Kinetics at the University of Guelph and has completed a large and diverse range of certifications including DTS-Advanced Lifting, GBT-Animal Flow and ISI-Functional Nutrition, just to name a few. She has also spent years in the gym herself, experimenting and building on the information she received in those certifications. She KNOWS her stuff!
My program began with a running assessment, and several weeks of run technique re-patterning before I got anywhere near running distance. Over the last 9 weeks, as a result of Fréyja's program, I have changed the way I run, and have worked up to a 14 km distance with no pain, injuries or even muscle soreness. Her program was well-laid out, organized based on sound training principles and most importantly, took into account other factors in my life, such as my school and exam schedule, my strength training, stressors and time restraints.
I organized my own cross-training, being sure to train alternate energy systems and focusing on exercises that helped build stability, that reinforced the activation of and strengthened the external rotators of my hips, and helped to build tissue resilience in order to prevent injury. The short of it is, I'm here, I'm ready, 48 hours before race day, and I'm excited to run farther than I ever have before.
Now I know I got your attention with the Toronto Nike Women's Weekend and 15 km race, but there are some deeper messages within this post; a few key points I want to emphasize:
- Believe you can do it! With proper training or programming, almost anything is possible!
- Your program should be more than a list of exercises or distances; it should take into account your fitness level, nutrition, injuries and lifestyle. It should change based on your feedback
(which means your trainer should communicate with you) and should fit well within your daily routine:
- Invest in a good trainer! Ask for their certifications, experience, references and reasons why they're prescribing certain exercises (#alwaysaskwhy)! If they know their stuff, they should be able to answer those questions, in a simple, concise and logical way. If they use big words and jargon, I would probably find someone else to work with!
That's all for today! I do want to send a HUGE thanks out to Fréyja for getting me ready for race day and I want to encourage you to get out there and get after it! If I can run 15 km, anything is possible!