Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nail polish at 2?

So my older daughter is already influencing her 2 yr old sister! Look at this picture:

sisters :)

yes, it's bright red nail polish that N put on M's toes. M was so happy, she couldn't wait to tell her father when he came back from work last night. This morning at 7:00 I heard a big "WOW" coming from her room... when I went to see what's going on she was sitting in her bed admiring her toes' colour... "Regard, mama, c'est rough"... (Look mommy, it's red)... later her father took her to see her grandfather while I was at work (I teach Child Development on Saturday mornings).. so the first thing M did was take off her socks and show her toes to her grandpa... I think from now on there will be 3 of us requiring pedicure :)

On another note, I am happy with my running. I ran 8K on the treadmill on Thursday (way to windy to go outside). I was back to running outdoors today (6K) and was happy with my pace (10:15M). So all good. Boy, is it boring to run on a treadmill or what! And so easy to give up - I mean, when I run outside I run away from my house and then I have to get back. Even if I am tired, I have to get back home so when I want to do a longer distance I run half of it away from my house and then turn back an ...I find motivating, I am moving towards my target... Totally different story on the treadmill: I can stop at any time. The first negative thought and I am done.. or the first sign of fatigue and I am thinking about a nice hot bath, which is just two floors above my head ( my treadmill is in the basement).. I don't know how a friend of mine (Jo) runs >20K on a treadmill, I find this an accomplishment itself! To make it through my 8K treadmill torture, I stole M's portable DVD player and watched "Moon Struck" with Cher and Nikolas Cage. A very silly (but cute) movie I can watch over and over... OK, not more than once a year but still, I've seen it at least 10 times. The strange thing is that I cannot watch moves more than once but this one is an exception ... go figure! ... Well, I love the stereotypical (Italian) neurosis and loudness you can only see in Italian (or Mediterranean) families . Very Bulgarian too so watching the movie makes me feel like I am back home ...

Back to running, tomorrow I have a long run scheduled, I will try for 15K with hubby. Very exciting!

Question for you: Do you have a movie or movies that you like to watch every now and then? My hubby watches "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" every Christmas. Now we are all hooked.

Happy running to all!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


The weather is Montreal is starting to look more like what it usually looks like in February around here. Show, and more snow. Wet snow! I ran 6K yesterday and hated running in the slush. I was planning a 10K but it was so unpleasant to run with wet feet that I changed my mind. Here is what it looked like in my neighborhood:

Today I got my new orthoses and can't wait to try them out. I am supposed to take it easy and run no more than 5K for the first few days. I hope they make it better for my (new) friend Mr. Achilles Tendon. I will let you know who it goes.

Question for you: How many of you run with custom made orthoses? Did you find a significant difference after you started using them?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pace and HR improving!

I ran 6.2K today and was really happy with my pace (6:30K or 10:38M). I was very comfortable throughout the run and my HR stayed below 80% of my HRM. My present objective really is to build back my base training and endurance so at this point I am NOT working on speed . To see that my pace is getting faster while my HR is the same is a sure sign of improvement :) And a bonus -  my Achilles is fine!
I love my Garmin for all the data and analyses I can do post run.
Now, I am off to pilates for some hard work.

Question for you: do you obsess about pace and HR?

Happy running to all!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's HARD jogging with a stroller!

Yesterday I did 5K my hubby and since it was a nice, sunny day we decided to take our toddler (in the stroller) with us. I pushed the stroller (hubby hurt his back a few weeks ago so he was careful to not compromise his form). This is the first time I run while pushing the stroller... man, was it HARD! My pace was considerably slower (almost a minute longer per km) and my HR was up.. half way through I crashed and was sure I won't make it but took walking break (1min) and made it to the end of the 5K. It was surprisingly difficult not to be able to move my arms. I read your blogs and so many of you push  2 or 3 kids and run 10-16 miles, even half-marathons and I really don't know how you do it! WOW! I know I am not going to try it again unless I absolutely have no other choice. But hats down to the women who do it every time they run! That's determination!

Today was a rest day, tomorrow is my killer pilates and I am hoping to run before that.

Happy running to all!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Crying in Shavasana?!

I never thought it would happen to me. I've heard about people having weired reactions to yoga (or massage) but it had never crossed my mind that yoga can make me cry (not from pain). I went to my hot yoga class today after a long break (replaced by stott pilates). I so needed to go! I've been feeling this stiffness all over my body so I planned my schedule around the lunch-hour class. I love the style of the teacher that leads the Friday classes and was looking forward to stretching my body in the hot room.

Well, the teacher had changed his usual routine and had incorporated some very cool dance-like move sequences, where you twist and turn around our own body ("dance bridges"). It's hard to explain, just imagine doing back bends balancing on one hand and the opposite foot and then switching sides while constantly moving. At first, I was afraid to attempt the sequence of moves but when I finally mustered the courage to do so I was surprised by how good and liberating it felt. It was just awesome! The flow of the moves was so soothing (although it took considerable core strength to do it) and after a while my body fell in its own rhythm. Here is what it looks like, just imagine rotating around your own body in this pose.

 I was right in front of the mirrored wall and could see the excitement in my face. I even thought "wow, I look like a young girl during her ballet class". Long story short, the class was great and after 75 minutes of sheer joy I was SO ready to go into my last pose, the Shavasana. I love Shavasana, I always fall asleep in it. Well, not this time. As I settled onto my mat, wet body covered with my towel, and the lights went off, the teacher put this AMAZING music! Music that got right into a part of my 'inner self" that was so sensitive ... or maybe weak.. not sure exactly but a minute later tears started rolling down my face (and pooling in my ears, I hate that!)... I was floored... I didn't know what to do! I didn't know what triggered it, I was feeling so good up to that point.  These were no tears of joy, they were sad tears but also tears of relieve... I wasn't weeping, I just had these rivers of tears and I didn't know how to stop them (or if I should even try to stop them). After few minutes the teacher came to put lavender oil on the back of my neck (he does this to everybody) and saw my tears (I was hoping he won't notice in the dark room or he'd think it's just sweat). But he did and he said "Good, don't keep it in".

I am a psychologist, I can give you million explanations of why I cried today but the truth is, I really don't know (could be my PMS). Was it some kind of a spiritual connection I made with the music that the yoga practice had facilitated? Was it that my body was super tense and the intense stretching the hot room opened up some channels (chi)? I don't know.

When I got out of the changing room the teacher was waiting for me and said:

"If you don't feel comfortable talking to me, make sure to at least talk to a friend about it"

me: "Really? Why? I felt great, I was just very tense and the class helped me release my negative energy"
teacher: " Hm, not really! It's not as simple as that. I can help you. That's what I do."
me: "Oh, you are a psychologist too?"
teacher: "oh, no, no, no. I do yoga"
me: "I don't understand, I just did your class?!"
teacher (putting a business card in my hand): "Call me and we'll start with sun salutations, we have a lot to talk about"....
and then he left
me: confused!

So, is there something I don't know about yoga? He sounded so mysterious but also so sure I had no clue about  the important things in ... yoga?

My question to you: Have you cried during or after yoga?

BTW, here is the website of the yoga teacher. I checked it all - did not find any answers. I am definitely intrigued as to how he can help me and will talk to him again next time I go to his class.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

So far this week... 7.5K and 11.5K!

I've been busy (and stressed) at work so no time to really write a long post... or to even vent out about my bad, bad, very bad PMS this month! Instead, just a quick update. I ran a 7.5K on Tuesday and today I did 11.5! I was aiming for 13K today but stopped at 11.5 as I started feeling it in my (weak) ankle and also in the opposite knee. I guess I was compensating for the weakness in my right ankle and putting strain on my left side. Sigh! I was also thinking that the bike path I usually run on is not leveled and that might be further contributing to the imbalance. I do try to switch direction every 20 min or so but often forget or choose not to so I can avoid head wind. Well, I am still very happy with my 11.5K AND with my pace (average pace was 7.05K or about 11:10M). A pace of 7:05 is a new post-injury PR so I am happy :) Plus today was very windy, here in Montreal, so next time I might be even faster.

Here is the plan for the rest of the week: hot yoga tomorrow, a tempo run on Saturday (probably 5K) and I will try for another 10K on Sunday if I feel I've recuperated by then. I need to catch up on my 1000K goal for the year.
Happy running to all!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

chalet and weekend recap...

I was very low on energy this weekend but managed to run both yesterday and today (5 Ks each day, although I had planned a  10K for today). Yesterday was not so bad as I ran first thing in the morning. Then we went to the country cottage of friends of ours for the weekend. I had big plans: cross-country skiing, run on the trials, etc, etc. Ended up with even lower energy and not feeling well so none of my plans happened... I was nauseous and weak... not sure what it was... we came back today around 4pm and I was sure I wasn't running till tomorrow. With the intention to relax, I started reading blogs in the attempt to catch up on the ones I follow. People did a lot of cool things this weekend. Many of you had great runs, or had to overcome low energy to follow your training programs, so I felt inspired and motivated ... sure enough, 15 minutes later I was changing into running gear... and went for a run! Even better, my husband came with me (for the first time ever!) and it was just GREAT. A nice Valentine's Day run! I am still low on energy and feel iffy but I feel a tad better than before the run. Yet another confirmation that you (bloggers) can and DO inspire people to run! I am grateful for running blogs! I am grateful for the ability to get inspired by the successes of others!
Weekend at the Laurentides (North of Montreal)

I can't stop kissing my little girl :)
my crazy husband playing in the snow with his (our) little princes
Afternoon nap at the chalet :)
capturing the fun (love my dSLR camera!)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

3K and nutrition...

Well, I got new running shoes today. Again! I won't talk about it but let's just say that the Mizunos didn't work out and I ended up with Brooks Glycerine. I hope that's the end of my shoe hunt. I ran 3K with already and it was OK, not super, just OK ... but just OK can be good on the long run so I am hopeful....

So, I wanted to talk about weight... I am not overweight but I have a few pounds (let's say 5) that I gained over the last 5-10 years that am I constantly struggling with... Over the years I would lose and gain them time after time... but then, after my second pregnancy, it looked like they were there to stay so I saw a nutritionist to figure out what was I doing wrong... I am a healthy eating freak (always has been) so I didn't know why, after eating so well, my waist line was getting chunkier... it turned out I was eating too many carbs and not enough protein plus I was deficient in vitamin E and several minerals... long story short, I balanced my diet and lost those last post-baby pounds... interestingly, every time I increase my cardio, my weight also increases! I didn't know why?! I would gain 3-4 pounds each time I got back into running and, believe me, on me even 3 pounds show right away (I am 5'3)... Well, guess what? The pounds are back now that I am running again... but this time I was really frustrated! I thought that I had finally figured it out, that it was just poor nutrients balance... so I went back to the nutritionist and got even more surprised after her analysis of the situation... I WASN'T eating enough and therefore I was GAINING weight... but that is counter-intuitive, isn't it???? Not really. The truth is that if the body does not get the proper nutritional input, the metabolism slows down... I was running off (on average) 1,500 calories per week but was not supplementing my calories intake so my body was shifting to "starvation mode" and shutting down my metabolism... starvation mode is a very adaptive mechanism insuring that the organism can last longer when there is no food around... in some people this mechanism is not so sensitive so their metabolism will not slow down when the calories expenditure is greater than the calories intake. So when those people start a new exercise routine, they see results right away... I am not one of them... my body adapts too well so if I don't adjust my food intake, I end up gaining a bit of weight. Some of it can be muscle mass (but only if I do weight training, not with running)... but most of it is fat that is stored just in case I continue to not eat enough.

Here is the shocker! If I want to lose weight I have to eat MORE! And I mean more! I have to have at least 2200 calories on the days I run! And these calories have to come from a very specific combination of complex carbs, proteins, and fats. I was floored! I cannot eat so much! My base metabolism is about 1250 calories a day plus add 500 to accommodate my lifestyle (including moderate exercise), so 1800 calories is all I need and have been eating now. Just a quick look at my new "performance program" makes my stomach hurt... I have to be eating all the time! I can't believe I am complaining about it but I am. The problem is that I can't just eat what I want.  Simply adding 500-600 calories to my daily diet is not going to do it. It has to be specific foods and/or combination of food. On top of that, these are foods that for the most part I have to prepare myself, which means finding the time to do so. Sigh!

Another problem with me is that when I start exercising regularly, I retain water for the first few weeks. My nutritionist explained that to me too. The extra intracellular water is needed to help repair the muscle cells that have been strained or damaged during the exercise (especially if you increase frequency or intensity too quickly). Once the body gets used to the physical load, the water retention should diminish. Finally, increased cardiovascular activity leads to an increase in blood volume, which can easily add 3-4 pounds to your weight...

So, the nutritionist assured me that the extra pounds will disappear when I adjust my diet and when my body gets used to all this new physical activity... I will listen to her and do what she says. I have some great performance recipes she suggests for pre- and post workouts. She also recommended a book by Brendan Brazier (who does iron man competitions) called "The Thrive Diet". I bought it and it is very informative but a bit boring to read. However, I loved his recipes for home made sports drinks, sports gels, and power bars and already made a few of them... He has another book, titled "Thrive Fitness" which is similar but geared more towards exercise programs.

That's all for today! Happy running to all!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Biomechanically challanged...

yes, that's right, I am officially bio-mechanically least my right side is... here is the story: I've been talking a lot about my Achilles tendinitis lately and how now both my ankles are sort of stiff when I run longer distances... I told you how few years ago a Running Room shoe expert told me I need stability shoes cause I over-pronate... and last summer I was told that I didn't need stability shoes but motion control cause my ankles move too much when I run... and finally two months ago (after I ended up with Achilles tendinitis) I was told I actually don't roll in my feet when I run (a sing of over pronation) so I need a neutral shoe (cushioning)... every time I was given a new diagnosis, I bought new shoes and after running with the new pair for few weeks, I'd stop running all together due to pain (in different parts of my feet, knees, or hips)... Turns out, all three sales reps were RIGHT! But they were right at the same time and what I needed was a shoe that would correct for overpronation, cushion, and control excessive motion. The problem is there is no such shoe! Let me explain. yesterday I went to see a specialist, who works mainly with runners. She has so many professional titles so I am still not sure what kind of specialist she really is (or isn't) ... a kinesiologist, podiatrist, orthotist, and another one I didn't bother remembering... regardless of her titles, I was told she knows her stuff. So I booked an appointment. The moment I met her I knew she was a runner so I felt good right away (I've seen several specialist before and had orthoses made but never really wore them as they didn't do much so I was still pessimistic going in to see this new one). Well, 60 minutes later, black (washable) felt pen marks all over my feet, calves, knees, etc, I had a diagnosis. Hallelujah! I was an over-pronator on the right side ONLY and normal on the left! I didn't know one can be both! I still had doubts so  the lady put me on a treadmill and film me walking and running and made me watch it after. What did I learn? Besides seeing clearly on the screen that I badly needed a pedicure, I saw my right foot overpronating and opening to the right every time I took a step. Not only that, my right knee was shifting to the left, and my HIP (it's more the lower back area, not just the hip per ce) was way too mobile, overextending to accommodate for the poor alignment of my right ankle and knee. No wonder why my right lower back/hip area has been so tight and sore, often resulting in a radiating pain down my right hamstring and very sore right gluteus muscles. Phew! I didn't know I was so crooked! Thank God at least the length of my legs is the same!

So, back to the Running Room staff - they were all right but depending which side of my body they observed when they were testing me walk/run. So, obviously, no respectable shoe making company will invest their money in researching how to make shoes for the very bio-mechanically challenged runners-wanna -be and my only saviour is custom made running orthoses that I have to put in the most neutral shoe of all. Right now I have Asics, I had Pearl Izumi before, tried Brooks and all the Nikes, and now I am advised to go with the Mizunos. Apparently their neutral shoe is the least corrective/supportive and best for use with custom-made inserts.  I ordered my orthoses and they should be ready in 2 weeks. I am off to the Running Room again to buy the Mizunos today. Let's hope this will be the end of my running shoes (and pain) saga...

Let me share an experience from my childhood with you :)... I grew up in communist Bulgaria and actually had a lovely childhood. It is a whole new post (if not blog) to talk about the pros and cons of communist regimens but there are several good things that were happening in communist-ruled countries- healthcare, education, and sports. Sports was the way to let people achieve and feel happy so to distract them from the reality. But you couldn't practice any sport you wanted! All children were evaluated at a very young age and assigned to a sport based on body structure. These evaluations were rigorous! They lasted almost an entire day. I remember mine. We were taken to the gym where 10 or so separate assessment stations were set and different specialists took our weight and height, made us run, climb, bend, stretch, throw, kick, jump, etc.. they took measurements (now that I think about it, they were very similar to the ones I had yesterday with the bio-mechanical specialist) and then told us what sport we can register for. I wanted to go into athletics as my best friends was there. I still remember the face of the man who was registering for the athletics team when he said no to me. He had that smile and rolled his eyes when he looked at my file. So, I was banned  discouraged  from running in Bulgaria :) but I was accepted with arms open into the rhythmic gymnastics team where I did very well (Bulgaria was and still is very strong in gymnastics and usually wins all the gold medals at international competitions)... so, being told that I am bio-mechanically inappropriate for running is not news to me but that OK! After all, I can't be perfect, can I (joking)? I can still run for fun and I am loving it (not joking)! I just hope my new inserts are going to take care of the handicap :)

This week so far I ran 10K on Sunday, did hard-core pilates on Monday, and ran 5K yesterday. I am planning another 5K today, then rest and run 8 or 10K before the end of the week. We've been invited to spend the weekend at our friends' chalet so I am hoping the weather would permit cross-country skiing :)

I still have to tell you about my appointment with the nutritionist but have no time now. I will try to do it tonight or tomorrow so stay tuned :) Really interesting stuff!
Happy running to all.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Just a quick update - on Friday I ran 6K and today 10K slow jog. Very happy with my Achilles although towards the 7 kilometer today I felt tension in BOTH my ankles, no pain, just tightness and tension so I had to slow down and was ready to stop but ... I didn't and today's run was my longest since my return to running and since my Achilles tendinitis, so I am very happy. Was it hard? No. Not hard on my heart, not hard on my muscles, not hard on anything EXCEPT on stupid ankles... yes, ankles... I noticed today that it was BOTH my ankles that felt stiff ... I don't get it! I stretched, I went slowly, I have new shoes, I am running with my orthotics...and my ankles are still acting up! No sharp pain, just stiffness. And I am constantly watching my strike so that it's mid foot ....Any suggestions from those of you who've been through this before? I am starting to want to try barefoot running and if my problem isn't really in the shoes...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Running and ADHD

Yes, there is a link between ADHD and running.  I have ADHD and when I first stared running 10 years ago I discovered that my attention got better every time I ran or speed walked. I soon after I started using my runs to be productive - I'd practice my public speeches and talks while running, or prepare answers for job interviews, or make arguments for breaking up with boyfriends... later I started asking my husband (or my teen daughter) to come for a walk with me, usually when I wanted to discuss something important or difficult... I would use my runs to get motivation for things I didn't want to do or things I needed a lot of courage to do...

At first I though that I was the only one who got such effect from running but I was wrong. Years ago psychologists started recommending physical exercise as part of the treatment for ADHD although it was based mostly on anecdotal evidence. No more. There is now solid evidence that the activation of the cerebellum (the part of the brain that helps coordinate movement) leads to increased stimulation of the attention centers in the frontal lobes of the brain and consequently improves ability to focus and pay attention. Of course, the relationship between cerebellum and running is a lot more complex but that would be a scientific publication and not my blog scribbles... now, some interesting facts related to running ... Google is one of the companies that decided to use walking and running in order to improve productivity of its employees (not that the company needs ANY more money). How do they do it? By offering treadmills to employees who might want to change their old-fashioned way of working for a more productive one... and their board rooms? No tables, no chairs - TREADMILLS... yes, Google executives make important decisions on treadmills wearing running shoes... well, they are walking more than running but I can't imagine someone (probably one of less powerful executives) getting frustrated with the meeting and breaking into a sprint :) ... so yes, I am not the only one who's attention (and brain in general) becomes sharper and better... it is just amazing how different if feels in my head when I am moving as opposed to sitting at a desk... it's calm, it's crystal clear, it's smarter, it's more positive, it's more daring (I mean, sometimes I will make decisions and then after the run I'd be like what was I thinking, I can't do that!)... so, running is my Ritalin! (I had a whole paragraph right here on growing up with ADHD but accidentally deleted it and now have no patience to re-write it again, did I say I have ADHD).

I love this man's set up ... I am thinking of putting two treadmill in my office, one for me and one for ADHD clients I assess (sometimes sessions last 3-4  hours at a time) ... actually, a psychologist in Toronto already uses the treadmill approach to therapy.. note to self - get a bigger office :)

My daily question to you all: is running helping your attention or decision making processes? Do you run so that you can think better?

As for my running today - 6.25K! Yes, 6 kilometer of chaos-free brain! Priceless! And then off to my nutritionist to work out some dietary changes to my (running) diet. I will tell you about it tomorrow :)

Happy running!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Training programs - what is your experience?

I just got the February Runner's World in the mail and one of the first articles  that caught my attention was about "less is more" training programs. Most of you probably read it (The Slow Road, click here to read it if you haven't), so in a nutshell, the experts are advising less training in order to achieve more. I like what the author says about the most common mistake runners make - set up a high goal and give themselves very little time to achieve it. End result? Injuries! I won't go into much more details about the article but do want to tell you about my "take home message". It's the best advise I've ever read. Elite and recreational running coach Greg McMillan asks people to think where do they want to be next year. That concept, that single question will make you train safer. In fact, he recommends giving yourself at least 1 year to train for big races. Rather than focusing on immediate satisfaction and ramp up speed or mileage, take it easier but do it better over the course of 12 months. It makes a lot of sense but it goes against what I are used to (work harder to get better results or no pain no gain, etc). I find following this slower approach a challenge on its own and I know a lot of runners who will agree with me.

Another great point was about training while living your (real) life. According to the author, ALL training programs are made assuming your are "100 percent, 100 percent of the time". This means that these programs do not take into consideration work, family, stress, colds, flues, injuries, etc... It is up to the RUNNER to factor in those other responsibilities and decrease effort and mileage on weeks when life is taking over. I like that, I will definitely follow it. It means I have to change my thinking a bit as my favourite time to run is when I am stressed at work... I can still do that, just that I have to go for a shorter (or slower) run or even a power walk if I want to let steam off. So, yes, I like this approach. I will do that from now on :)

As for today, a 5K (5.5 with warm up/cool down). A bit faster than my last run, no pain, all good! Yay!

Question for all of you (my new thing now is to ask daily questions :) : What is your training program? Slow and steady or fast and agressive?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pilates day

Today is my pilates day. I take private sessions with an instructor that uses the Reformer machines and let me tell you, that stuff ain' easy! Every session is a challenge. I've been doing it for close to 2 years now and still, after every session my core muscles (and all over the body) are sore. The thing with pilates is that it makes you work out small muscles, ones that are often not used in other physical activities,and believe me, it is HARD! You are challenged every single time you go on that machine and if you go on vacation for even a week, then oh, boy, you feel like it's your first time again. But the effect is great! I got hooked after I had my second child at 38 and after an 18-year difference with my first. Trust me, my abdominal muscles were totally gone and my belly looked like a knee stretch on an old pair of sweat pants. Pilates brought everything back where it was supposed to be. Last week told my teacher I that was running again and now she is making me work muscles groups involved in running, even ones I didn't think WERE involved in running. She is insisting that to improve my running I do need to do those tiny lateral leg lifts while my feet are strapped in the springs (that woman know, she does Iron Men races for fun), and I am doing what she says ... but now my body is on fire... no complains, all good.

On another note, my husband started cooking! Yuppie! Since we did the kitchen reno and changed our range for propane, he feels inspired and I can't be happier :) So far, gourmet pasta, osso bucco, fresh herb shrimp on jasmine rice, a tiramisu! I am loving it :) Let's hope his new hobby will last and that I won't start gaining weight from all that eating.
Sunday night dinner - Osso bucco

tonight's dinner - shrimp with fresh herbs and jasmine rice

It is SOOO much better when somebody else prepares dinner?! Tastes much better!

So, a question for all of you: who does the cooking in your house?