Why I never said a word about my second marathon

In May 2019 I took on the Toronto Marathon, finishing in 3 hours 23 minutes which is an excellent time considering my age, the fact that I have a full time job (plus long commute) and that I am quite new to running which I started in 2017. So why I never mentioned it?

One of the reasons is that once I’ve got onto the marathons bandwagon (read my blog post about my first marathon) it didn’t feel that thrilling anymore though again, my time was pretty good and I was very happy with my accomplishment.

Initially I thought to give it some time then write something useful for wannabe marathon runners. But I felt like everything has already been said somewhere on the web. I still kept thinking about an article which eventually never came to fruition till now. Call it busy life, neglect, lack of interest into writing. The time went by.

There was also some frustration I had with the race. I don’t want to talk too much about it so I will only mention it down below. But I was really pissed off at that time so I would have had talk for too long about bad stuff had I had written an article right after. So I took my time. Maybe too much of it.

In the picture is me with my handsome son, which now is almost as tall as me, at the finish line of the Toronto Marathon 2019.

me and my handsome son at the finish line of the Toronto Marathon 2019

Why am I writing now, after almost one year? Because there are a couple of things worth mentioning. I also want to compare a bit Scotiabank marathon and the Toronto marathon and why you might want to do one over the other. That is if you have to choose. Ideally you will signup for both, not necessarily in the same year but at some time in your running journey.

So what was great about the Toronto Marathon?

Firstly the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Sunny, around 10C. I mean, seriously what could you ask for more?
Secondarily the course has a lot of downhill, not that much to damage your knees (yes, in fact running downhill could be more damaging to your knees than uphill) but enough to help you get a good time, no matter what target you have in mind.

Another reason I liked it is again related to the course. I loved it. I used to live in the area and being able to see it again over a competition was one of the pinnacles. The race started north of Finch on Yonge. We went a bit up from there, then south on Yonge to Davisville then into the beautiful (multi-million houses) neighborhood of Forest Hill for a bit then south towards the lake, west towards High Park and then finally ending at City Hall where the finish line was.

Toronto Marathon 2019 - me with my big ass race medal

The medal was one of the reasons I signed up. You see, I knew it you will laugh. But that piece of metal is for some of us at least, all it matters. That shinny metal to hang on the wall is what we are running 42.2 km. Why I liked it? Because it’s HUGE!

What was wrong about it?

The race organization was a disaster. The majority of the hydration stations carried water and not Gatorade though funny enough the cups were Gatorade. You would stop for a Gatorade and instead you would end up chugging on water. I stopped at probably 75% of them and I only got Gatorade 3-4 times. That is really bad. You need everything you could get to be able to run 42.2 km. Sugary drinks, snacks, gels. Whatever you can get. Well, enough said I haven’t gotten much from the hydration stations. I almost run the entire time on my GU energy gels and water. Gatorade was a high commodity. I would have expected something better from a $150 race. Oh by the way, I heard the European races are easily half price, e.g. the Barcelona marathon I heard is around 60 bucks. I bet is also better organized.

The second thing that bothered me was the (almost) complete absence of toilets. After my first 2-3 GUs I ran into some GI trouble and I thought for a while to stop at a washroom. Well I didn’t see any and luckily I started feeling better and I end up finishing with a nice time though missing the Boston Qualifier Time by around 3 minutes. Had I knew I will be so close to it I would have had forced a bit more. But my target time was a more modest one, 3 hours and 30 minutes so everything better was just a surprise for me. I finished my first marathon in 3 hours and 53 minutes so I calculated that 3 hours and a half could be a really amazing time for my second. Instead I ended up shaving 30 minutes. Crazy.

Toronto Marathon 2019 - at the beginning of the race

The third thing and the last that went bad at the Toronto marathon was the lack of people on the side along with not much guiding signs. And I’m not talking necessarily about fans but organizers / volunteers. There are some areas, especially down by the lake on the last legs of the race where hadn’t I had someone in front of me so I can guide myself (God bless I’m not that fast to be the first haha), I wouldn’t have known where the course is.

One of the reasons for all this failure I think it was because the Mississauga Marathon happened in the exact day with the Toronto Marathon. Hence the low participation and the lack of people taking a proper care of the event.

What contributed to my marathon success?

Toronto Marathon 2019 - me with David Lung, a very good runner from Rockies Road Runners group
David Lung (me and him in the picture), my friend from the Rockies running group came by and gave me a great pace over the last kilometers of the race and that contributed greatly to my time. Having someone to motivate you before finish is very encouraging. I hope I will pay him back one day. That was an awesome act of friendship! Thanks David!

Also running for years with the Rockies Road Runners group as well as with the Warriors (especially the hills program they do from January til March) were other two factors contributing to my success. Running with a group is essential for multiple reasons and I will talk about them in more detail in a future article but if I had to pick one reason alone it will be the feeling it gives you when running with others, the friendship, the common goals and motivation. The feeling of being part of something great. And that is running.

Scotiabank Marathon v. Toronto Marathon, what should you choose?

Toronto Marathon 2019 - right before the race start - clearly not as crowded as Scotiabank race
Obviously I haven’t gotten the chance yet to participate in other marathons but I just wanted to say right of the get go that Scotiabank Marathon is an excellent race to start with. It’s very well organized, the course is amazingly taking you from east to west along the lake (this race is also called Toronto Waterfront Marathon, get it?) so if the weather is hot the lake effect will cool the air for you. Scotiabank Marathon is a much bigger race in terms of participants and volunteers. It also gave me the feeling there was much more police. I remember at some point over the Toronto marathon, the police asked us to stop so cars can go through. That never happened with Scotiabank Marathon – the police would stop any car and would always let us go first – well, we were the ones against the clock, remember it was a race!

Toronto Marathon 2019 - photo taken by the race officials

The terrain is more favorable in the Toronto Marathon because a big chunk of the course is downhill which helps a bit.

Both races are Boston qualifiers so if your interest is into running the Boston marathon, you won’t go wrong with any of them. Just watch your time and make sure what’s the qualifying time for your age and gender.

You really cannot go wrong with any of these races but if I would had the chance to chose I would go with Scotiabank.

This was my little late update on the race, more like a rant but believe me I’m being more civilized now than I would have been should I had written the article right after the race. I hope I shed some light over the Toronto Marathon and that it helps you decide if it’s something for you or not.

Cheers, see you on the road!

How to choose a running watch

First and foremost you’ve got to be serious about running. So the first question is:

1. For how long are you running and for long do you think you will?

I’m running from 2017 and I like it. I don’t think I will stop soon so a big money investment in a sports watch is justified. I also used Fitbit for about 10 years and I know I will always like wearing a sports watch. They are sometimes bulky. At least mine is but I sleep, work, run and even take showers with my Garmin Fenix 5 Plus watch. So the question really is, how serious are you about using it?

If you are running for some time (months but preferably years) then you know for sure the money won’t go to waste if you buy something expensive. And, be sure sports watches can be very expensive. The latest line from Garmin and especially Marq Driver is 2,500 USD. I don’t know you but that’s a helluva lot of money for me.

2. What brands of watches are your running friends using?

This is not to gain some social status or more acceptance and love from your running friends. It’s not even about staying on top with the latest trends in terms of sports watches. It’s simply because, being in the same ecosystem with your friends will help you run more. Call it piers pressure, motivation or whatever you want, it helps. When I was using Fitbit I would die to be number one in the weekly or daily steps challenge. I’ve been like that for years. It could be that I am competitive in that aspect but oh boy, what better motivation is than being on top of your friends list for the longest distance for running every single time.

So if your majority of friends is with Apple then get an Apple watch. If they are with Garmin go get a Garmin. It will help to see how you stack against your running friends.

3. Obscure brand? Forget about it!

Buying a watch from an obscure brand won’t be good for you for a number of reasons:
– there are not a lot of people using it so that means you won’t be able to see how your running improves in time compared to others
– small brand = small support. It could be they are in the game for the quick gain, hit – collect the cash and run.
– there is a big chance if the product is not successful enough they won’t have the money power to continue improving the products and come up with better versions
– ultimately, small products may lack product integration with apps e.g. the watch you buy might not sync with Strava. Which beings me to the next questions:

4. Does it have an app for your phone? Does it work with Strava?

They usually do but don’t be surprised if the sports watch you think of buying doesn’t have. Also it’s important to have an app like Strava to sync with your watch. The reason for using Strava or any other sports app is because it acts like a hub – you change your watch brand but you are still able to keep track of all of your running activities. Having a way to go back in time and see how much you ran 10 years ago is very rewarding. I used to sync my Fitbit with Strava before having my Garmin and I could see all my runs in the Strava dashboard. Sweet!

5. Build in GPS is a must!

Imagine you run in a hot sunny day in the heat of the summer with just a tank top (maybe topless?) and a pair of shorts with no pockets. What are you going to do with your iPhone 11 Pro Max? Carrying it in your hand while running 20k?!? What, are you crazy? (I did it, I carried my Samsung Note8 phone in my hand for a couple of runs, switching from left to right and back, it’s not fun). So the solution is having a watch with builtin GPS so you can leave the phone home. There is no way around it, just do it.

6. Built-in storage for music is a must!

My Fenix 5 Plus has music storage so I can drag & drop music from my computer or I can listen to Spotify offline. I don’t know about you but running with music makes a big difference to me. It’s because running is not always enjoyable. Sometimes it just feels like work and having a little distraction like listening to a good playlist or a podcast or an audio book makes it more pleasant. I know people in my running groups running without music and that is fine but if you are like me you will love to have music on your wrist streamed to your bluetooth earbuds. Or at least I do.

7. Built-in heart rate 24/7 monitor is a must!

One of the measurements helping you figuring out how fit you get over time with running is seeing your heart rate. If you see a descended trend, meaning your heart rate is lower now than 1 year ago when you are running, that means your fitness level improved, your heart and cardiovascular system are well trained. Also having a heart rate sensor on the back of your running watch will help you not over-train. For example I check my heart rate every few minutes because I try to stay below 170 beats per minute. There is even a name for that, HR (heart rate) based training, when you base your running solely on the HR. My watch also tells me the VO2 Max level based on the HR sensor as well. VO2 max is an important indicator of your fitness telling you how much of the oxygen your lungs get your body uses to output in the effort. It’s complicated – if you are just starting with running, HR and VO2 Max might not be something of interest but you will find all these numbers interesting pretty soon.

The list can go on and on. At the end of the day we all have personal preferences and they can weight a lot in the decision to buy a running watch. So if there is one last important thing to mention here, at least for me, is:

8. How good is the battery?

I was lucky enough to have a decent battery for all the smart watches / running watches I owned. By decent I mean at least 2-3 days. I owned one of the initial bands from Fitbit, then Fitbit Charge, then Fitbit Versa first generation and now, as I already mentioned, I have a Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. I love my Garmin because of all I had, it lasts the longest, up to 10 days with no GPS. Every run takes in average 20% of the battery, more or less depending on what watch face I use, how many time I check the watch when I run and so on. I don’t have to say why a long lasting battery has advantages, I’m pretty sure you know the pain of running out of battery for any gadget you pwn (smartphone, watch, etc) and not being able to charge it when you need it.

I hope my article helps you find the best watch for you.

Scotiabank Marathon – my 1st

I kept going back and forth in my mind with the decision to sign up or not for a couple of weeks way ahead of the race. Around 1.5 months before it happened, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2018, scared and excited in the same time. I mean what could have been more exciting than a first marathon? Well, not so fast.

I will always be on the cautionary side when it comes to big steps and believe it or not, signing up for the first marathon is a big one no matter how trained you are or you think you are. Running 42.2 km or 26.2 miles is not something to put you at peace at night even if you sign up 6 months or one year in advance. Maybe my self esteem is not sky rocketing and to be honest it never was. But it might or it might not be a confidence thing. After all, aren’t we all runners a bit crazy? Ever seen a crazy man lacking confidence? I don’t think so. My point? I don’t know, I was scared shitless when I clicked the registration button. Then I was excited, then scared again. This, for a couple of hundreds of times until the race day.

After signing up I was more like, shit I will run like a cheetah. So I kept reading anything I could find online about running marathons, calculating finishing time based on my current pace and so on. I even thought at some point based on my training pace, I could actually finish in 3 hours and 30 minutes. Which ended up to be far away from the truth, not that I went for that time anyway to begin with.

Something funny I read just before the race was How to lose a marathon – very motivational in fact despite the name and of course as you can guess based on the title, hilariously written as well. I definitely recommend you to read it – you can find it in digital format as well if you are anything like me and for whatever weird reasons you prefer reading on a Kindle or Kobo as I do (nerds, I know).

So initially I though I will try my best because it’s my first and it will always be my base to compare with the next marathons.

But one day, someone beautifully said, just enjoy it, it’s your first, make it fun. And fun it was from the start to the end. I laughed, waved my hands, high-fived adults and kids on the side, you name it. I even did a little bit of dancing when the music was booming, cranked some big smiles and showed the ok thumbs-up sign every time someone would cheer for me. Some people even screamed my name which really put a smile on my face and a spring in my steps.

Race day attitude = fuck it, let’s do it.

So here I am, among some 26,000 runners, on a cold Sunday on October 21, 2018, waiting for the starting gun for my first marathon ever. I drove from Milton and left the car parked for free at Yonge and Eglinton Community Centre but I came at the race start line a bit overdressed with a warm layer under my winter running jacket. The jacket doesn’t look like much but I knew it will get me really hot and sweaty after the first kilometers, no matter how slow I would run. And for god sake, it’s a marathon so I didn’t intend to run it slow necessarily.

I’m lying, I was slow.

Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2018

I ran slower than a turtle the first 2-3 km, around 6 min per kilometer. We started at the City Hall, on University Avenue and the course took us north to Bloor, then west for a bit just to go back down south and right on Gardinier to High Park. Then back on Lakeshore and Gardinier, a hint north towards cabbage town with a loop on queen street, south again and left towards Woodbine. Then back to the finish line which was the same place we started the race at the City Hall.

I started slow and steady and I continued on an ascending trend throughout the whole race. Checked on my breathing, making sure I don’t go too fast too soon but I noticed how easily is to go faster (or slower) while running with other people – it is distracting. For that reason I tried to not pay much attention to other runners, stay inside my head, listen to 2pac and enjoy it. It felt like a celebration and it’s been a beautiful day 100% . It’s the way every race day should feel for everyone. We are for so many times too entangled in the pace and finish time numbers unfortunately, to be able to enjoy it.

I definitely took advantage of all encouragements from the side and they have been of great help. Thank you to everyone cheering at the race, you guys are all beautiful! Well, it’s most likely this page will be read by one person only BUT if you happen to be one of those amazing people, I would love to meet you for a beer one day. I’m serious!

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2018

I wish I can do what other runners do on their blogs when talking about the race they just finished, going kilometer after kilometer and writing about the things they felt, what was in their minds, how much water they had at every aid station, how many times they stopped or where they used the running gels. But I have no recollection of what happen to me other than my Jabra Elite Sport bluetooth earbuds dying around kilometer 33 leaving me to run the most difficult part of the race with no music to take my mind away from my beaten body. Blurg!

Ohh, I also remember seeing the elite runners (we called them Kenyans though most likely they are from more than one African country) coming fast from the opposite direction while I was running towards High Park. I even remember asking myself, how long is still left to reach the western point in the race since these guys are already back??? By the time I was at the location I’ve seen them, I already forgotten about it, that’s how long it was. They are fast. Actually I just saw the other day this 1 hour documentary about the first atempt done by Nike to break the 2 hour in a marathon. Unsuccessful but hey even the 2 hours and 25 seconds that Eliud Kipchoge runner managed to pull off is completely INSANE! I mean seriously, my BIB time was 03:53:09.7. Eliud Kipchoge pretty much finished in half my time. Comparing apples and oranges but still, these guys are something else.

The second part of the race was pretty much all a blur. I remember pushing harder on the last 2 km. Before the finish line I first heard a friend of mine, an Ironman veteran calling out my name while taking some shots of me (the only ones I have since I didn’t want to pay an additional $50 for the official race pictures – I already paid $150 for the race so paying an aditional $50 was a no-no).

Then I heard Robert, my son’s excited voice right before he started moving towards the finish line. However they made it difficult for people to join you or hug you at the end of the race.
He wanted to run with me the last hundreds of meters but he couldn’t get on the race path. I called my wife after getting the finisher medal and I met her, my son and my Ironman friend with his wife where the street food trucks are on Queen, right in front of the City hall.

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2018 Results

Man, a marathon can mess up so bad with your head. I was one kilometer away from the finish line and for whatever reason I thought a marathon is actually 41.2 and not 42.2 kilometers so I stopped the Jabra app on my phone one kilometer short. I realized the mistake shortly after and the thought of not being able to have a full marathon distance logged in as done is bugging me ever since.

Hydration is crucial. I stopped pretty much at all water stations. I started trying to gulp the water down while moving and that was a big mistake, I almost choked at my very first stop. After that I literally stopped every time, drink then go back at running. That definitely added up time but I found this method to work the best for me. They were handling running gels at some points in the race but I had mines with me and I didn’t want to risk it so I went with what I knew, chugging them down here and there throughout the race. The constant hydration and the gels helped tremendously along with the side cheers.

It might be that the stations with water were exactly the ones I skipped but all the ones I stopped were handling Gatorade. I am not against Gatorade at all but I wish I could have had some water along the way. Still, one thing I noticed at this race and other, the Gatorade they give to runners is not as sugary as the one I buy at the store. Which is great but still water is water and I really felt like I could have used it.

I run the races alone not because I am a loner, in fact I love running with others but because it’s hard if not impossible to find someone running the same pace. Now I’m thinking there should be an app or website to hookup runners like Tinder does for dates. I would be definitely checking it out. Should be great to have someone to train for races. I have my running friends to whom I enjoy running with and it’s plenty of fun, I just wish I can also run races side by side with them.

I did it, I ran my first marathon, my mind already racing thinking of the marathons will take on moving forward. I was emotional and the cold also started getting at me.

I made 2 major mistakes, not taking a backpack with changes to swap clothes after the race and secondarily I didn’t get the thermal foil they handle to runners when you are done running. I couldn’t wait to get in the warm hotel lobby across the street while figuring out where we can go eat something. Met Matt, my running friend from the running group Rockies I run on Saturdays with, he did the full marathon as well and since he didn’t have any use for the thermal foil I just asked him for it. Damn, it looks ridiculous but you know what, it keeps you warm. I walked like that to the food place, medal on and a big grin on my happy face.

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2018 - me and my son Robert

Walking around the City hall, there was a big sign 42.2 and people were lining up to take pics. I cut in front of everyone without seeing that there was a line, my son and my friends took some pics of me, then I saw some angry faces and realized, oops I cut in front of these guys. I managed to put on a smile and to say sorry, my head down but hey no one threw anything at me! I was safe! haha

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2018

I sent my friend from Romania the link to the live race coverage telling him what clothes I have but imagine 30k runners plus probably the same amount on the side. Even if I had worn the most colorful running gear, the chances to spot someone in that ocean of people is ZERO. Except if you are one of the race favorites which obviously wasn’t the case with me.

What I will do different next time

1. First and foremost I will make sure I will take more running clothes with me – a backpack to drop off with he organizers and pick off once I am done.

When I left Milton it was one temperature, when I arrived at the starting line it was a different thing. Weird enough it felt colder and not warmer as expected if you look at the 2-3 hours difference. It was most likely the lake effect. However I wish I brought with me the sub zero fleece. I could have run with that only. One of the reasons I didn’t purchased the official race pictures is because I look like a bag of potatoes in my running gear, my pockets stuffed with my gloves and visibly overdressed.

2. I will make sure I had my bluetooth earbuds tested properly for long distance runs. One thing I did wrong is activating the hear through feature which I believe it drained the life of the battery, hence them dying well ahead of the finish. Also probably, wouldn’t be a bad idea to have the voice readouts spaced out even more. I had them set to every 2 kilometers but I’m thinking I can set them to 6 or 7 km (6 – 7 readouts over 42k).

Probably turning the music one notch down and disabling the HR monitor would have helped the battery stay alive throughout the entire race. The HR monitor seems to be way off anyway, or at least comparing with my Fitbit Versa, is about 20 bits per minutes higher. Not sure which one is more closer to reality. Needs testing for sure.

3. I will make sure I will use gels more often and test a bunch of them way ahead of the race day. I never ran with gels before and I only got to test the ones I bought from Running Room, one week prior the race when I was practically in my taper phase. I only used 2 gels and I hoped they won’t make me poop my pants or even worst, take me completely out of the race. It didn’t happen but like they say, don’t change anything in the race day. Same shoes, same clothes, same everything. It applies for nutrition and hydration as well.

4. If I want a better time at the next race I will have to push harder. I think I will start doing that somewhere in the middle of the race. 6 min per km for the start should be reasonable but I really need to run faster if I want a better time. My goal is 3 hours and 30 minutes but I really don’t see that possible in the near future, not with my current level of fitness anyway. To be able to finish with that time I need to race in 4 min and 58 seconds per kilometer. That is not necessarily a crazy pace on a regular 20 even 30 km of training runs but it could be hard over 42.2 km.

A more realistic time will be 3 hours and 40 minutes which is 5 min and 12 seconds per kilometer. My preferred pace for my weekly runs is about that. Sustaining that speed over a full marathon distance is a completely different ask. Anyway, shaving 13 minutes off the current time would be a great accomplishment. So most likely, or at least as of now, I think I will try to finish in 3 hours and 40 minutes. Goal all set, ready to start the work on the next!

5. I will take that thermal foil and use it. It really is a life saver. I was wet and cold and I felt miserable. This shouldn’t happen again.

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This summarize it. Thanks for reading, see you on the run or at the race! And don’t forget to comment if you feel so.

Is Running Good for Weight Loss?

Is Running Good For Weight Loss
Is Running Good For Weight Loss

Probably there is no other question about running than this one. In short, yes, running is an incredible way to lose weight. Not only is it a great form of exercise…you can have great fun while doing it! One of the major reasons why running is great for weight loss is that it can become addictive so you might end up running for fun while losing weight. Isn’t that the best of both worlds?

By now, we’ve all heard of the ‘’runners high’’. It’s a genuine phenomenon that happens to everyone. Before we get into all that good stuff though…

Running Is One Of The Oldest Sports In The Whole World!
The oldest recorded, in fact. For as long as humans have been alive…we’ve been running. The earliest recorded Olympic Games in ancient Greece were in 776 BC! The history of the Olympic Games is quite interesting. Whether for fun, sport or even for hunting…running has been a staple exercise for humans.

Running is an Addictive Way to Lose Weight!
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually be addicted to daily exercise? Running works just like that. There are several reasons why running is not only a great way to lose weight, it’s actually addictive. Here are a few reasons…

The runner’s high is a real thing. The runner’s high is when your body gets a rush of endorphins while exercising. You’ll feel a sensation of pleasure come over you as you run. It could be 15 minutes into the run…or even 30 minutes into your run, it’ll come over you and it will feel great!

Here’s another major key: When you run (if you do it outside) it’s almost like taking a trip! If you run throughout your neighborhood you’ll get a chance to explore the entire surroundings of your neighborhood. You’ll also meet a bunch of your neighbors! If you run in the wilderness it’ll be a great chance to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors. All while enjoying your runner’s high!

How Much Weight Can You Expect To Lose?
This can depend greatly. One thing I can assure you of though…if you run and you run often, you will see a difference in your waistline.
Average Joe’s and even world class athletes use running to lose weight. The world famous boxer, Floyd Mayweather ran on average 8 miles per day to stay fit for competition. Football players run sprints on an almost daily basis.

One thing is clear: If you are a strong runner, you won’t have problems with weight. If you make a habit of running, you will lose weight or keep un-wanted weight off.
If you are just beginning to start your journey…take a look at this article from runner’s world. The results are incredible!
That particular article highlights the dramatic weight-loss possible from running. People of all different body types and genders, with lives completely changed due to running. Check those pictures out, they’re awesome!

But, is Running a Good Idea for You?
Long story short…absolutely! Running is a great idea for anyone looking to stay in shape and lose weight. Here’s another benefit: You don’t even need a gym membership. Gym memberships are optional. You can get started right away! Running is also the cheapest sport. If you live in a warm country that’s even cheaper because all you need is a shirt, a pair of shorts and a pair of sports shoes. Lace up and run, now!

How Long Should You Run For a Day?

How long you should run for per day will depend greatly on your goals. If you want to run marathons, you’ll have to run for a long time. If you’re running to stay in shape and lose weight…you won’t have to run like you’re training for a marathon. We’ll go over both lifestyles.

Before we get into how much time you should spend running per day, let’s go over something…

What Are Your Goals?

Getting clear on your goals and why you want to run will be a major key. The reason why you lace up your shoes each morning will be what keeps you on the road. If you’re not clear on why you’re running…it’ll be that much more likely you’ll stop running. Let’s keep you healthy by keeping you on the road.

Here are a few things to consider:
• Do you want to run a marathon someday?
• Are you an athlete looking to improve performance?
• Are you looking to lose weight and stay in shape?
• Are you a hobbyist looking to have fun?

Keep all these in mind. Which one speaks the most with you? Your goal is important because this reason will be your ‘’North Star’’ when you’re out on the road. Your north star will keep you out on the road, even if it’s a bad day.

How Long Should A Hobbyist Run For?

If you’re reading this and you’re a hobbyist, your goals will be different. According to the Mayo Health clinic, the average adult should aim to exercise about 30 minutes per day. You can read that article here. Aim to run about 30 minutes per day. A high paced run for 30 minutes is plenty. If you are running at a high pace running for 30 minutes will burn your lungs out.

Keep a varied schedule. Run hills, stairs, the track keep healthy variety. Variety will keep you running long-term. It’s also a great way to build endurance and speed at the same time.
30 minutes a day is recommended for everyone. If you’re running 30 minutes per day, you’re looking good.

How Long Should Athletes Run For?
Athletes should run as long as they need to. If you’re training for a half marathon you should be running at least an hour a day.
If you’re a football player you should be on the track for at least an hour per day!

Final Thoughts
Your actions have to align with your goals. A goal without action is just a dream. If you run for health purposes only, running for 30 minutes per day is perfect. After you’re done your 30 minute run…you’re then free to do whatever you like! That could be spending time with your family or anything you like.

Athletes on the other hand, have to dedicate themselves to their craft. If you plan on compete in running, run as often as possible. It would be a good idea to run an hour per day, 6 times a week.

Is it Safe to Run Every Day?

Three Quarter Shot of an Athletic Young Man Doing an Outdoor Running Exercise at the Park
First thing, first: if you have the dedication to run every single day …you’ll be fine (eventually). With so much information available to us today, execution is what matters the most. Ideas are common, execution is rare. If you can run each and every single day, you are way ahead of the pack.

However, running every day could become hard on your body. Let’s dive into the details…

Is It A Good Idea To Run Every Day?
Running almost every day is a great idea! For a highly dedicated runner, six days a week is great. If you are an athlete, running 6 times a week is a good idea. Running every-single-day is excessive. Your body and joints need time to rest, even when you are a professional athlete. Let’s find a balance.

How Much Running Is Too Much?
It is 100% possible to over train and over exert your body. It can happen to anyone. Especially if you are a highly motivated person. I am competitive (if you’re reading this I’m sure you are as well). Over-training means that you are on the right track. But let’s not go over-board though.

Here are some major tell-tale signs that you are running too much:
• Getting sick very easily (this is a major tell)
• Chronic fatigue
• Brain fog
• Looking ‘’Grey’’ (skin complexion)
• Sore Joints

These are common signs and symptoms that you are working out too much! Do not ignore these tell-tale signs. Overtraining will not only leave you sick, it will ruin your progress on the road.
How Can We Find A Balance?

Listen to your body. It can take some time to figure out the proper balance. A good rule to live by though is have one rest day per week. One rest day gives your muscles and joints the time they need to recover.
On a rest day however, you could have what’s called an ‘’active rest day’’. Let me explain.
An active rest day is when you perform and activity like stretching or walking. This is technically speaking still exercise; however you’re not out pounding the pavement. If you’re body is feeling good and you want to work out on your off day…go for a walk!

Walking is running’s best friend. Walking is one of the biggest steps anyone can take toward a better life. It is literally the most underrated form of exercise there is. If walking is too much, stretch a little bit (if you must).

What Could You Do On A Rest Day?
Let me be clear: rest days are a great thing. Rest days are something that you earn and deserve. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s vital for your body to recover.

Drink lots of water on your rest day. You’ve been exercising so much and your body needs it. Another thing is to get regular deep tissue massages. As many as you can afford, they are a major key for your health. If you’ve been spending time doing a lot of one particular thing such as running, you’ll have some muscular imbalances. Massage will help tremendously with this!
Remember that running is a tool to empower yourself, to improve. Don’t run yourself into the ground while doing it. Be safe and be smart.

I’m back at running (for some time)

I completely neglected my little online running journal so I just wanted to give some updates for that lonely user who happen to end up on my blog (most likely by a Google algorithm mistake).

First, I do quite good now, the injury went away but I still have some pain in my left leg when, I run, especially over 20 km. I guess it will never go away completely but who knows, I’m not a doctor. Hopefully it won’t bother me at all one day.

I started running longer capping a good mileage per week, a couple of days ago I even top up 77 km. Depending on how seasoned runner you are, that might not be huge in your world but it definitely is a personal record.

My commuting stays in between me and my happiness with those 4-5 hours daily but hey I found a couple of ways to run even so. One is running right after 5 on Dufferin, north of the office, then on Davenport and south back on Christie. It’s 10k and one even I even went north to Eglinton, running 17k. But running after work is hard. Anything after 10k and I feel the burn and the exhaustion.

Two nights ago I ran 24k but the plan was 27-28 and man, wasn’t that a drag to do even 24k! Again, it’s hard to run long distances after my 9 to 5 work. I’m considering doing 10k, 3-4 days a week for the after hours run and longer distances Saturdays and Sundays. Fits me better.

And one more thing, the nutrition and hydration are crucial for long runs. I used to make fun of people running with bottles around their waist, looking like Christmas trees but not anymore. I started taking with me a bottle of Gatorade or Powerade plus a Protein Builder bar and man, that makes a difference! But more on hydration and nutrition while running in a future blog post.

See you on the run!
Vic

How do I fix my IT Band?

Where is the IT band?

The Iliotibial Band is a rigid tissue that inserts up at the glutes and continues down on the leg, on the exterior side, towards the knee. It ends bellow the knee.

What Causes Iliotibial band syndrome?

iliotibial band syndrome
The lack of elasticity is the problem so stretching it during the pre-run warm up is a must. You need that because when you run there is a chance you will stretch it more than is used to and that will cause tears. Warming up will help your body be more prepared for your running.

If you get tears in the IT Band, there will be inflammation and ultimately sharp pain. That is how you know you suffer from the Iliotibial Band Syndrome. But don’t worry, your body will try patching those tears. The problem with that is that these patches, depending how many and how big they are, will rub against your knee joint so during rehab you need to be consistent with the exercises your physiotherapist recommends you.

How long does IT band take to heal?

If you do a full break with no running at all for a couple of weeks (I rested for 2 weeks), the pain will go away but when you are back at it, the pain will eventually surface depending on the distance you run, how fast you run and more importantly how big is your stride. It did flared back for me after my 2 weeks break so just resting won’t work with this injury.

I’m no doctor but for me is crystal clear that my strides are the key along with the distance. Of course is much more than just strides. Think of vibrations, torsion, running form and so on and so forth. But the strides are the key.

Big strides = big IT Band stretches = big risk of tears. Low strides = low IT Band stretches = low risk of tears.

It may take weeks or months to heal. Without proper care it might never get healed 100%. It depends on age, level of fitness, rehab workouts, how the injury occurred (if it was due to a mistake or if it came gradually in time), etc.

How do I fix my IT band?

Working the glutes so they are more active in running and stretching the superior leg, especially the IT Band side. The whole idea is to keep the IT Band as flexible as possible and get stronger glutes. IT Band is a tendon so it doesn’t have any elasticity but keeping it in good shape is crucial. When you jump of a rock or when you overtake another runners, you increase your stride. Train properly so you don’t run into issues.

This is what I do (requires an elastic band):
1. Standing sideways, leg swings with the elastic band. 12 x 3 sets.
2. On hands and knees with the elastic band around my knees: one fire hydrant, one back bent knee, one back up straight. 5 x 3 sets

You can do 3 things:
1. google IT Band stretches and follow a set of exercises
2. develop your exercises following a simple plan – whatever stretches your exterior side of the legs and gives a good workout to the glutes, that is a great warm up and will help tremendously your IT Band
3. do what I do

Aging affects it. Like any other tissue in body, the IT Band is affected by the age. I’m over 40 and while I wasn’t sold on this idea years ago, I am convinced now, runners over 40 need a proper warm up before running and races. If you run with a group and you don’t want stretching with them, arrive ahead of time and do your warm up before they show up. That’s my plan.

This is what I do to fix my IT Band so I can get back at running ASAP:

  • I run mostly alone for a while; piers pressure is not good for me as I am competitive and will try overtake anyone I run with. It’s a no-no.
  • Stretching before run and after run; 10-15 min should do it
  • running slower, currently close to 6 min per km
  • running a smaller distance, currently 3-4 km
  • lowering my strides, basically more steps per distance
  • exercising my glutes and my legs with emphasis on the IT Band whenever is possible; I found myself doing it when I watch TV, works perfect!

Whatever you do, don’t over do it. I rough warm up will cause more issues with your IT Band. Increase the warm up time and the daily exercises complexity over time. Don’t force it.

Thank god it’s fall. I would have hated myself should this have happened in the spring before the running season. But it’s time to relax and take it easy. Long cold weather ahead so for me and probably for you (except if you leave in Australia) is a great time to do some cross-fit workouts and go for slow and shorter runs. I will be back by spring at the level of running I was before my IT Band start giving me trouble. So, do you.

Good luck! See you on the trail!

I’m slowly back at running

Just finished a 7-8k run (I don’t know the exact distance as I didn’t use my Fitbit Surge and I didn’t use Strava either) and my IT band didn’t bothered me that much. It was a slow but consistent run with some walking and stops but it feels great to be back. I didn’t break any PB record but I’m happy to run again even if at much slower pace than my normal.

The weather is amazing, cold but sunny and beautiful.

The secret is running slow, staying bellow the pain threshold and avoid running uphill or downhill. I also started doing pre-run and after-run warm up and stretching. Plus, I have a set of exercises my physiotherapist recommended me which are apparently helping with my IT band issues as well.

And one more thing, I noticed I have a bad posture (well I kind of know about for a long time) and I also keep my legs at my desk all day long in a position that makes them hurt. So, I’m improving on those as well, one day at a time.

I hope is all well with you and you take fully advantage of these beautiful fall sunny days!

I hiked over 100k this week

Grange Park Toronto

If you think running 20+ km for 5 days in a row is hard, try walking the same distance. It’s exhorting. Long distance is tiring no matter what you do.

It’s also the time spent on a task that ads up. I spent close to 4 hours walking per day and this was only the commuting. I topped 24k steps per day. If I put the lunch walk and everything else in between it’s a lot.

Cedarvale Park Toronto

Fitbit workweek challengeTop of everything it was hot in Toronto, dump even at 7 am in the morning. About a third of the way I walked through the Cedarvale ravine and while usually is nice and cool in the mornings, this week was a mess. I was dripping sweat midway already.

I tried to do two things. First I set a workweek steps challenge on Fitbit with two friends (I lost short of 5k steps) and secondary I plan to walk both ways for a long time so I did. I usually walk to work in the morning which is about 9k. Hiking is time spent with myself so the more the better. I love it.