Category Archives: Change the pace

Well hello!

I never intend to fall off the face of the blogging world but it is so easy to just not write and not read other blogs.

When I got pregnant I didn’t want to become the blogger that goes from training and racing and going on fun travels to writing only bump updates. Although if you follow me on Instagram (search thechangeofpace) you’ll see those are basically the only photos I post.

However as I quickly learned, pregnancy takes over your whole life! Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just not what I intended to write about when I started a blog.

So here I am…

35 weeks pregnant and in the homestretch… six weeks since my last post… with not a lot to write!

I could recap the negatives: how brutal the end of 2014 was with house arrest and zero activity for nine days since I got so sick, or how I have chronic pain in my hips and now back that doesn’t allow for much sleep and has me waddling around in a constant state of agony.

I could talk about how I find pregnancy fascinating as a weekend warrior athlete: the weight gain (I think over 30 pounds so far?), how I miss simple things like being able to roll my IT bands (I’m too unsteady now!), and how despite staying fairly active I breath like an overweight, pack-a-day smoker when I walk upstairs.

Or, I could talk about the positives: how this babe is a mover and shaker with body parts sticking out left right and centre (Kelly thinks the baby is practicing ice and rock climbing), how excited we are to meet the little one, and how loved our baby is by so many…already! This is just scratching the surface of everything good.

Let’s stick with the positives and keep right on sailing into the final month of pregnancy. For now, I’m just grateful to be growing a healthy little being.

grateful

I’m not sure what blogging will look like from now on, but I suppose that’s part of the reason my blog name is Change of Pace. Life changes, and along with it goals, priorities and focus change, too.

What’s new in your world?

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Change the Pace – cross-country skiing

The blinding white beauty. The silence amongst the giant trees. The swish of skis gliding over the snow. Cross-country skiing bliss.

Silverstar

If you read my blog, you know that I love to cross-country ski. It’s one of the few things I love about living in a winter city. And it’s also one of the few activities that comes even remotely close to my love of running (although I’m a rookie and do it simply for pleasure).

XCAbbyNov13

History
Cross-country skiing has been used for thousands of years as a way to get around in the snow. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that it became a sport. It was a contest in the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France, and women began competing in Olympic cross-country  skiing in 1952 in Oslo, Norway (source).

Styles
There are three types of cross-country skis: classic, skate, and touring. (There are variations of these with differing lengths, camber, wax or waxless, etc.)

Classic skiing is typically done on tracked and groomed terrain with a stride then glide motion. Skate skiing is done on groomed terrain with a skating motion. Touring is for people who do most of their skiing on ungroomed trails, and these skis generally have metal edges.

Many outdoor stores rent skis (REI or MEC) so you can give it a try without having to invest in a pair.

Benefits
Cross-country skiing is a whole-body exercise that targets nearly every muscle. It’s also easier on the body than many other cardio activities. Your joints don’t take much impact, and it’s functional in that you move in a way your body is meant to move.

Some people say it’s as good a workout as running, but I say it could be. You need to develop the skill first. The people I see that know what they’re doing are definitely working as hard as runners. Kelly and I have often discussed taking lessons but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

I think the biggest benefit is for the mind. You’re outside in beautiful crisp and snowy conditions, without the noise of any traffic. It’s kind of like trail running!

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My experiences
I use classic skis and love slicing through a groomed trail on them. There are various groomed trails in and around Edmonton. We’ve also cross country skied at ski resorts (Silverstar in BC and Northstar in Lake Tahoe), cross-country ski centres, and made our own trails.

Cross-country skiing in Tahoe

I  can’t stop smiling when I’m skiing and would recommend it to anyone.

Have you ever tried cross-country, or would you? Best memory of it? 

I easily have two: spending last New Year’s Eve cross-country skiing with Kelly and Harold and laughing until I cried in Lake Tahoe with Kelly while xc skiing down pure ice.

Change the pace – the magic of the runch

Runch (verb): the act of running at lunch

I like my job. I really do. But on the days I runch, I love my job. Running at lunch, no matter how brief, clears my mind and invigorates me for the rest of the day. I come back to the office happy, full of energy, and smelling surprisingly fresh.

OctRunch

I would love to runch every day but I just don’t have the time to do it often. And when I do my runs are generally short.

The days I make the time? In fall when the leaves are glorious, the sun is shining, and winter is looming. During summer when the sun is out. When I crave trails. If I need a change of pace. On days I have after work or evening plans and want to fit a run in.

Trails_Edmonton

It’s actually fairly simple to run at lunch, if you plan ahead.

  • Check the temps and pack your runch clothes accordingly. Do it the night before so you don’t forget something important in your rush to gather everything in the morning.
  • If you runch often, keep a little bag at your desk with items you frequently use like deodorant, wipes or towels, spare make up, hair ties, etc.
  • If you have shower facilities, great! Pack body and face wash and a towel. If you don’t, take a hand towel, body wipes, and face wash.
  • Take a blowdryer. On a runch this summer it started to pour rain. My hair was dripping wet by time I got back to work. Thankfully there was a blowdryer in the change room so I could dry it instead of heading into the office with soaked hair!
  • Since most people actually eat at lunch time, you need to plan to eat a little before to hold you over. Don’t forget to pack good recovery food for after your run.
  • Let a coworker know what time you should be back and, if possible, the route you plan to take. Safety is still important during the day!
  • Realize stuff happens. You’re paid to work, not to run (well, most of us!). So if work comes up and you can’t runch, save it for another day.

I ran at lunch once a week for the past couple weeks. The trails were calling my name in the splendid fall sunshine. Instead of being disappointed my runs would be short, I ran one a bit faster and on the other took a hillier route.

YEGtrailsOct

As always, I went back to work happy and reenergized.

I love that more and more companies are realizing the importance of healthy, active employees and are offering benefits like subsidized gym memberships and employee fitness classes, or even time to runch once in a while. Check out Outside’s 100 Best Places to Work in 2013 (note the Best Perks: Fitness Plans portion).

Do you run at lunch? Does your work offer any fitness programs? 

Change the pace – hiking with Harold

It’s no secret we love our dog and try to include him in some of our adventures. Harold loves trails and loves to camp, so it’s only fitting to take him hiking.

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Although he’s not a large dog, he charges up mountains leaving me trailing behind in his dust!

Here are some tips if you want to take your dog hiking:

  1. Check park regulations. We generally hike in Jasper National Park in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Dogs are allowed in the park, on a leash. However, there are some trails where they aren’t allowed due to wildlife. Read up before you go and follow the park rules.
  2. Choose a trail that matches their ability. Know your dog’s fitness and activity level before choosing a hike. Take them on longer walks, up and down hills, and on various terrains before heading out.SAM_0106
  3. Read up about dangers in the area. Are there tics, snakes, poison ivy or other dangers to dogs? If so, what can you do protect your pet? Jasper has tics in summer, so we give Harold medicine before we go.
  4. Carry first aid tools. We take a pet first aid book with us that covers most topics. It’s also wise to take a mini first aid kit that can double for both humans and canines!DSCF1424
  5. Take food and water. You need to hydrate and fuel on a hike, and so does your pet! Take a collapsible bowl or a bottle with a large lid so your dog can easily drink.
  6. Understand wildlife in the area. Read up about local wildlife and their patterns. Jasper National Park posts bear activity on their website, and there are warnings posted at trailheads if there has been animal activity. It’s also good to know about the animals- where are bears more likely to be in spring versus autumn, when are elk calving and more aggressive, etc?
  7. Take the proper gear. Along with leashing your pet, make sure you have the proper gear. Will there be inclement weather and will they need a sweater, jacket or boots? Consider using a pet pack so they can carry some of their food and gear. (Be sure to start with a light pack and have them wear it a few times before a big hike.)WinterHike

We have only taken Harold on day hikes, so that’s what this list is geared towards. Next summer we hope to take him on an overnight hike!

Do you take your pet hiking? What tips do you have to offer?

Change the pace – exercising in hot, hot heat

It’s the middle of summer in Edmonton. Usually this means lots of sunshine, some hot days, and pretty temperate weather. Sometimes it means cool mornings, or hot days and afternoon or nighttime thunderstorms.

A couple weeks ago we had a stretch of incredibly hot weather. It was so hot in fact that we reached the hottest temperature ever recorded in Edmonton. The actual temperature was only 33 C but with the humidex it reached 43 C.

HottestDay

I’m sure people in Texas or on the East coast would laugh but it’s definitely hotter than we’re used to as a typically dry climate.

I generally wear a heart rate monitor to train but more out of interest, as I don’t train in HR zones or anything.

I know I struggle to get my heart rate up, even when climbing hills on the bike.  On the hottest day ever recorded I had an easy bike on the schedule after work.

I lubed up with sunscreen (my back is still in pain from Coeur d’Alene) and went for a spin. My cycling computer showed a temperature of 35C on the black highway.

As expected, my heart rate was much higher than normal. On flats, pedaling easy, my heart rate was what it normally is when I’m pushing hard up a hill.

With that in mind, here are some ways people can train on those hot summer days.

  1. Lower your expectations. Don’t expect to keep a pace you would on a mild or cool day. Your heart rate will be higher, making your effort feel much greater. Ditch the watch and run by feel instead of pace!
  2. Change the time of day you exercise. Go before work when temperatures are lower, or save your workout for late evening after the sun has gone down. (But check the humidity first since those times are sometimes higher!)
  3. Change your activity. If you have a tough workout planned, save it for another day. Hit shaded trails instead of the open road, let yourself take walking breaks, or cycle (where you’ll get a breeze) instead of run.
  4. Move it inside. Take your workout inside to the treadmill or bike trainer, join that class you’ve always wanted to try, or get in a good cross-training session by swimming.
  5. Stay hydrated. Drink throughout the day to stay well hydrated before you get out there. And take in electrolytes instead of simply water to ensure you replace what you sweat out.

Even by training smarter and trying to prevent heat-related illness, be careful out there. Everybody handles heat and humidity differently.

Harold trying to stay cool on the shaded grass!

Harold trying to stay cool on the shaded grass!

I’m glad we had a few hot days so my body could experience it. I have no idea what the weather will be like for Ironman Whistler, so I want to train in all conditions!

Oh, and we had a raging thunderstorm that night and enjoyed a slumber party in the cooler basement!

What’s the hottest temperature you have ran in?

In Ko Samui our morning runs were H-O-T! The daily temperatures rose to over 45C with the humidity, and I’m sure mornings were almost the same!

Chime in! What are your hot/humid running tips?

Change the pace – trail running safety

Did you know that Edmonton boasts over 150km of trails in the North Saskatchewan River Valley?

Trails_Edmonton

It’s the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America at 7,400 hectares. We are fortunate to have easy access to this trail system for running, walking, biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

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Cyclocross2

Although I love to trail run, I don’t do it nearly enough.  I love to walk, hike, and run them when we’re in Jasper. And I try to get out in Edmonton once in a while.

They’re easier on the joints with soft ground, they’re a nice change from mundane city running, and you connect with nature.

RunTrails2

I’m definitely no expert on the sport. However, I think I do a decent job of safety when I run.

With so many kilometres of trails, some of them are pretty empty. Add in other factors like day of the week, time of day, and weather, and they can be downright deserted. I realize the quiet is part of the beauty of trails. But, in the middle of the city, it can also be a danger.

A young woman running alone through a densely treed area without traffic, and sometimes no foot traffic, can be a target.

Here are a few things I do to, hopefully, keep me safe when I run the trails alone:

  1. ALWAYS tell someone where you are going, and how long you expect to be gone. If nobody is home, leave a note or call a friend.
  2. Change it up. Don’t take the same route at the same time on the same day each time you go. You don’t want to be predictable in case someone notices your routine.
  3. Take a phone. If you run into trouble, you can hopefully make a call. Or, if you’re uncomfortable, call someone before you’re in danger. (If you do answer your phone, text someone, or even stop to take a photo, stay aware.)
  4. Run without music. Be fully aware of your surroundings without blocking noises out. Plus, part of trail running is the sounds of nature!
  5. Make eye contact if/when you pass someone, and say hello. This lets people know you are confident and that you noticed them.
  6. Watch other people. If you pass someone going the opposite direction, turn around after a few seconds to ensure they’re still going the opposite direction of you. Or, if you were going the same direction, turn to make sure they’re a safe distance behind.
  7. Don’t get too zen. My favourite part of trail running is the peace. But, if you zone out too much, you’re less likely to hear footfalls behind you or see someone on a side trail.
  8. Leave something in the tank. Between hills and uneven terrain, trails can take a lot out of you. I like to have a little something in the reserve in case I had to sprint or fight, without depending on adrenaline.

So maybe I sound a little paranoid! But, scary things happen to women all the time when they run alone. These tips definitely apply to running in general. I just find trail running leaves a person more vulnerable without people and/or traffic around.

Have you ever had a scary experience? Do you have any tips to add? 

Other Change the Pace posts: