Sunday, December 13, 2009

Base Training: Week 2 Recap

Total Distance: 15 miles


Winter has been late to arrive this year, and I'm definitely not complaining. However, when the temperatures did finally start to drop last week, I was caught a little off guard. So when the winds picked up, I figured it was time to make a trip to MEC and stock up on some winter running gear. I got an insulated vest to wear as a midlayer on moderately cold days, and an insulated but thin hooded jacket to wear as a midlayer on very cold days. And I figured that on VERY very cold days I can wear them both together. (Or more likely, just run indoors.) I almost bought a balaclava too, but I figured that if it's -40 degrees, I will need more than the excitement of looking like a bank robber to get me outside.

New running clothes definitely give me a little motivational boost. Of course, this can become an expensive strategy if you use it too often, but I really was in need of some items to help extend my running season into the winter. Plus, there is something very satisfying about creating your own little microclimate to combat the cold weather.

Monday, December 7, 2009

What it's all about

I often have the urge to start a blog. Actually, I have followed through with this urge on several occasions. Once in my early twenties where I used my newfound internet voice to express my outrage at things like mesh trucker caps and ironic T-shirts. I kept this one up for quite a while. The well of my anti-hipster rage runs deep, apparently. More recently, a friend and I decided to start a blog that documents awkward situations. This one was a little more popular, but for one reason or another, we just stopped updating it. We still talk about resurrecting it, in fact, I’m thinking about it right now. (People keep asking about it, and it’s getting awkward.)

One thing I’ve learned from that experience is that I really do like writing and having a theme to adhere to did help me to be more disciplined about it. But having a theme can also be a little too rigid, especially when it comes to something that is essentially a hobby for me.

Since then I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a new blog with a different theme. (“This one will be different! I’ll choose a theme with endless possibilities. I’ll update frequently and keep it going, and achieve internet fame! I’ll get a book deal and finally be able to escape from my meager student lifestyle. I will drink fancy wines!”)

But, in all seriousness, my goal is not to become Internet Famous and get a book deal. My real motivation comes from the fact that I find writing to serve an important purpose for me – it helps me work through my thoughts and understand things better. I suppose I could get these benefits from a paper journal (and I do), but I also find that the internet can be a wonderful source of positive and inspiring people. I want to be more than a passive reader (and very occasional commenter) and become an active participant.

I’ve been gravitating towards two types of themed blogs lately: knitting/sewing/crafting blogs and running/healthy living blogs. I often get inspired and think “I want to be just like this person and knit beautiful things and then write about them in a sweet and endearing manner on my blog!” Or “I want to cook delicious and healthy meals and then share them with others!” However, I’ve come to realize that as much as I love knitting, I am not consistent enough to have an interesting knitting blog. And as much as I love running, I can’t see myself writing about it on a regular basis (at least not in a way that would be interesting to read).

All of this is a long-winded introduction to what I hope will be a unifying theme in this, my very latest and sincere attempt at having a blog. I will try to write about the following:
1. Things that make me happy/things I enjoy
2. Things I knit
3. Things I love about running
4. Things that help to keep me running
5. Things I learn along the way
6. Things I want to learn (projects!)
7. Things that don’t fit into the above categories

I’m hoping that this gives me enough structure to be disciplined about writing, but also enough flexibility so that I can keep it going.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Base Training: Week 1 Recap

Distance: 10 miles

Highlights: On Thursday I did my four miles in the rain. I actually really love running in the rain (within reason of course). During this run I was reminded of a nice thing that happened recently. I was in Boston for a conference and my roommate and I really wanted to run along the river at least once while we were there. The one morning we woke up to run, it was pouring. We decided to go out anyway. On the way back to our hotel, a passing car honked at us and the driver gave us a thumbs up. This little gesture actually made my day.

I don't drive often, but if I ever happen to be driving in the rain and see a runner, I'm going to do this. Sometimes a little "good for you" from a complete stranger is all the encouragement I need.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Not Yet New Year's Resolutions

I want to run a marathon in the fall of 2010. Here’s my plan:
1. Start base training and work up to 35 miles per week over the next 20
2. Maintain mileage (cycling between 20-30 miles per week).
3. Start Hal Higdon’s marathon training plan.
4. Post weekly training updates. I’ll try to find at least one thing I love about
running, or one strategy that helps me run each week.

I tend to fall into a routine and eat the same thing every day just because it is easy. Even if I choose the same healthy things every day, I think it’s safe to say that I could benefit from some increased variety. So, my plan:
1. Try at least two new recipes each month.
2. I’ll post recaps on the recipes I try (ideally with photos) and reviews of how I
like them.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Things That Work

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about “things that work” - those little habits or behaviours that can make your day run a little smoother and help you reach your goals. One thing that really works for me is checking things off of a list. I am bizarrely motivated to do almost anything that I’ve written down as part of some sort of To Do List. I also like to track things, like the number of kilometers I’ve put on my running shoes. Yes, really. I used to wonder what was behind all this neuroticism, but recently I’ve come around to the fact that it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that it works. So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to use my list-making/tracking compulsion to my advantage. I’ve realized that if I combine my love of list-making with some sort of internet-based accountability (i.e. this blog) I could truly take on the world. Or at very least accomplish a lot of the things I always talk about, but never quite get around to doing.

Next: I will list (!) all those things that I want to do with subsets (!!) detailing how I will do them. Then I will track my progress here. It could be terribly boring, but more importantly, it may actually be effective.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lace, Scones, and Early Mornings: Three Good Things

It's been a while, but I've accumulated three good things:

1. I finished the Lace Ribbon Scarf from Knitty. I knit this one for a friend, but I'm so pleased with how it turned out that I can't wait to make one for myself. I think I'll make mine in mint green.

This is the first real lace project I've done, and I may be addicted. There is something so gratifying about blocking lace. One minute all you have is an uninspiring lump of wool , but after a quick soak in the tub and laying it out overnight, you awake to a scarf you'd be proud to wear. It's the knitting equivalent of Christmas morning!

2. I had a wonderful and decadent afternoon with my dear Mom today. We met for high tea as a special treat, and it really was. We indulged in all kinds of delicious pastries and mini-sandwiches, while enjoying each others' company in the comfort of velvet chairs. I don't think this is the kind of thing that you can do every day, but I certainly wouldn't complain if I had to.

3. I've fallen in love with running in the morning. I never thought this would happen, even in the summer, but somehow it has. My favourite part is that I never have to worry about fitting in my run (something I used to spend a bit too much time thinking about). I really hope to keep this up, even when it gets darker out in the mornings.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thank you, Mr. Postman!

I'm finally at that age where I associate mail with bills, and welcome days when I come home to an empty mailbox. But every once in a while something good arrives, like the Dream In Colour wool I'd ordered.

Is there a better thing to receive in the mail? I'm sure most people would answer that yes, they would prefer to receive money in the mail. Although, I would most likely use the money to buy more wool, so really, this is much more efficient.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Night table reading

I’ve always loved short stories, and found short story collections to be a great (and low risk) way of getting acquainted with new authors. When I’m at a loss for something new to read, short story collections are my typical fallback. These collections are also perfect reading material for those stretches when you don’t have a lot of time to read for pleasure. While good stories are still compelling, they don’t demand the level of commitment that novels often do.

I picked up the 2004 edition of the Best American Short Stories a couple of weeks ago, edited by Lorrie Moore, one of my enduring favourite authors. I’m four stories in right now, and so far her taste is as impeccable as I was hoping it would be – not one miss yet.

On a related note, I’ve recently joined Good Reads , which is a great site for many reasons, but most of all it appeals to my obsessive love of list-keeping.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Weekend Escape

Every once in a while it's nice to get out of the city, even if only for a weekend. I find that being physically separated from work really helps me to take a mental break too.

And then, of course there's the diet of chips, beer, and smores. While not a great idea for the longterm, it can be pretty enjoyable for a couple of days.

The truth is, I usually find it a bit of a challenge to relax completely, and I often feel at least a little guilty for lazing about. But this weekend, I'm pleased to report that the only worrisome thought I had was how Carrie Bradshaw can possibly afford to shop at Dior on a writer's salary.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Pleasures

Patio season is one of my favourite things about summer in Toronto. Today was the first truly warm day in a while and I was happy to meet my Dad for an after-work drink. It was so nice and sunny that as soon as I got home, I picked up my camera, and headed back out.

Of course, once I got back outside it was overcast again, but I managed to get a few shots of the ROM - something I've been wanting to do for a while, but kept neglecting, despite living pretty much down the street.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Evening walks

I've been craving more evening walks these days, probably in response to studying during the day. Now that the days are longer, it's also been a great chance for me to take some more photos - another resolution that I've been working on.

I love walking past the local flower shops and seeing all the colours on display, although I was a little too late this time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Half-marathong training: Week One

I love it when conventional wisdom turns out to be true. I suppose it often is, it just takes me a while to realize that not only is it true, but that it also applies to me. I’ve often heard the advice that in running (as with other things in life) it helps to have a goal to keep you motivated. Amazingly, after all these years of running and struggling to keep motivated at times, I’m only just now putting this advice into practice.

Today was my first day of training for a half-marathon in the fall. I decided to go for my run in the morning, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier it was to get out the door just buoyed by the knowledge that I’m starting a training plan. I’m sure some of this excitement is a first-day thing, and that there will be challenging days ahead, but still, it was nice to know that every step was a step towards a specific goal.

As for the training plan, I’m using Hal Higdon’s novice plan. I looked at a few plans and this one seemed like the best fit for me. Plus, I find his writing to be so friendly and accessible that I sort of imagine him as my friend guiding me along the way.

As I was running this morning I thought about the last (and only other) half-marathon I’ve done. I was nineteen at the time and had just finished high-school a semester early and had the luxury of the kind of free time I’ll probably not know again until retirement. I didn’t even have the idea of a half-marathon in mind when I just started to run a little farther each day. On my birthday I thought it would be a fun tradition to run my age in kilometers every year (which is the kind of thing that sounds fun when you’re nineteen and ageing is just something that older people talk about, but not a concept with any personal relevance). It may have been my Dad (also a runner) who noted that 21 kilometers was only two more than nineteen. And with that simple calculation it was settled. We both registered for the waterfront half-marathon which we ran later that fall.

I guess when you’re nineteen the only logic you need to keep you running for two hours straight is that 19 + 2 is 21. Nine years later my motivation and my methods may have changed somewhat. I guess I’ve always been a little reluctant to take up any kind of training plan, because it seemed at odds with my ideals of recreational running. I thought that if I had a schedule to adhere to I would no longer be able to turn to running as a means of relieving stress. I’m happy to say that so far (after one day – perhaps a little premature), the opposite has been true – having a plan has allowed me to enjoy running in a new way. And that is something to be thankful for.