The Road to a Faster 5k, part II

On January 9  I started doing simple drills to increase leg / glute  strength.  This was the first step towards  increasing my running speed.   On January 19 I met with my coach, Capt. Jackal (not his real name) for the second time and he gave me more homework assignments in the form of mobility drills.

The concept is simple.  Build strength and power by doing specific exercises.  Once the power has been established, we will further unlock my potential by adding more exercises  and then eventually speedwork.  As the Jackal outlined the drills, he told me that there would be no days off.  There are two sets of drills, and they are done on alternate days.  As a run streaker I am familiar with the concept of No Days Off, so this won’t be a huge issue for me.

The drills are simple, so simple in fact that it doesn’t even feel like I am working hard enough.  Jackal assures me that these exercises pack a big punch and will result in big gains.

I have listed the exercises below, for my own benefit so I can review as necessary. In the few weeks since I have started, I can already feel my body becoming more flexible and strong.

Stay tuned.. next up is Hill Drills.


Pre – Run Drills

  • Stork Stretch Walk
  • Lunge , Twist from hip, ( 5 each side)
  • Side / front leg swings

Post Run ( do drills on alternate days.)

Drill #1

  • 2 x 20 squats, tense glutes
  • 10 weighted squats
  • 20 alternate Walk Lunge, pushing off with power
  • 5 each side, Skater squats
  • 3 each side, single leg bridge with dorsiflexion , hold 3 seconds

Drill #2

  • one leg stand on Bosu Ball, 60 seconds
  • 20 heel /toe pivots on Bosu Ball
  • 20 squats on Bosu Ball
  • 2 x 10m walk on high toes barefoot
  • 2 x 10 m walk on heels in shoes.

Mobility Drills ( Every Day)

  • Wall hurdles , 20 each side
  • Leg swing, front and side, 10 each side
  • Hip circles,  15 each direction



The Road to a Fast 5k

My journey has begun. This year I will be working hard to see how fast I can go. My goal is a sub-26 minute 5k, which is more than 4 minutes off my best chip time.

The journey actually started mid-December when I made up my mind to do this incredible thing.  My race season ended in October, and I spent a full month in Recovery Mode before settling down to just running for pleasure.  The thing about running is that you have lots of time to think…about life, family, goals, etc.  I spent a lot of time reviewing my 2017 running accomplishments and thinking about what to do next. By the end of the year I knew that I needed to get back to the basics and learn how to run faster.

I have mentioned my co-irker before, a fellow runner that I work with who has provided me with valuable running tips and insight.  He suggested that I contact a friend of his who has coached many people to running success.  I made contact with Coach Captain Jackyl (not his real name) in December and we decided to meet in January to see if we could work together to achieve my goals.

Through email he gathered my info such as gender (ok, that one was a given) , age, race times, running history, etc.  With this information he would make a Training Plan that would be specific for Me.

We met for coffee on January 9 to discuss the training process.  It is quite simple.  For several weeks I will be working on increasing my Power and Mobility, but not changing my running patterns.  Jackyl gave me some simple pre-run and post-run exercises to do. He also recommended that I stretch these muscles after every run ( 2 x 40 seconds) : Calves, Hamstrings, Groin, Hip Flexors, IT bands, Glutes, chest.

Pre Run Drills:

Dynamic Stretches

  •  Stork stretch walking Alt 10 – 5 each leg
  • Walking Lunges with twist at hip ( 5 each side)
  • Side and front leg swings

Run (Desired Distance)

Every 2 days do the following:

Post Run Drills:

  •  2 x 20 squats – hold squat tensing glutes for 2 seconds  Remember to breath
  •  2 x 10 One Leg Calve raises
  • 10 each eccentric stretches each calf
  •  10 each leg – One leg skaters squats (make sure your knee doesn’t collapse inwards) Use chair to stabilize if necessary.

This is how it went.

The Drills were easy to do and don’t require a lot of time.  They do pack a punch and I am feeling it in my Glutes/ hamstrings.

I run every day and I stretch most days but I never hold a stretch for 40 seconds ( let alone 2 x 40 seconds!)  so this was a big adjustment for me.  Instead of stretching for 5 minutes ( or less) I need to commit to 15 minutes of stretching after every run.  Did I mention that I run every single day? It is getting easier though I still struggle with finding  making the time every single day.

My second meeting with Jackyl was on January 19, when he gave me more Homework to do.  I will write more about that soon.

I am leaving you with a photo of one of my recent runs.  The Road to a Fast 5k apparently includes snow! Who knew?




Search 4 Speed (2018 goal)

If you have been following my journey then you know that I have gone from Couch to Ultra Marathon in four years.  2017 was all about seeing how FAR I can go, and  in 2018 I want to see  how FAST I can go.

My fastest 5k chip time is  30:12.  My goal is sub 26:00.  That is an astonishing goal of 4 minutes off my fastest 5k.  Yes, it will be a challenge and it does scare me a little bit.  But it is a realistic goal, and achievable IF I am willing to work for it.

My goal race will be Maritime Race Weekend Sunset 5k. on Sept. 14.   I chose this race because it is an early-autumn race that has been on my bucket list for a couple of years.  This will allow me 9 months to work towards my goal.  Bonus points for being an evening race, as that is my favorite time to run.

I am excited to be working with a coach who has a proven track record. ( no pun intended) We met last week to evaluate my goals and develop a training plan.   With his guidance, I will be going back to the basics and learning to run all over again.

Let the games begin.




2017 in Review


20170630_161248It is hard to know how to review 2017.  In January I was very clear about my yearly goals .. I wanted to increase my speed and set some very specific distance/time goals.  At the time I was training for the Ottawa Marathon (May) and  planned to Recover all summer before working on getting faster at shorter distances.

Oh , how naïve I was .. to think that I could do it all.  And  the plan might have worked.. if only I had stuck to it.  In February everything changed.  On a whim I signed up for  a 50k Trail Run scheduled for September.  With a marathon and ultra trail run looming over me, speed goals went out the window.   Suddenly my focus became about how FAR I could go, instead of how FAST I could go.

Our winter was predictably icy / cold / slushy so I did a lot of my workouts on the treadmill.  Treadmill running is a new discovery for me every year.  I love it / I hate it.

In February I ran my third Hypothermic Half Marathon.   In April I did my third Lorneville Loop 13k road race.  This is a hilly route and I was pleased to cut 25 seconds off my previous best time.

As I toed the Start Line at the Ottawa Marathon I felt strong and confident.  That strength and confidence disappeared a few hours later as I struggled with the consequences of  training in cold weather for a hot weather marathon. I learned this lesson  firsthand at the 27km mark.   Ooof… what a lesson!  I crawled / staggered the remaining 15k and somehow made it to the Finish Line but it wasn’t a pretty finish. Ottawa Marathon – Ready or Not

After the marathon, my immediate thoughts turned to building  on that distance to prepare for the Ultra  but my body said NO WAY.  Post marathon fatigue, food poisoning and a sprained toe were some of the obstacles that I faced.    When I tried to push through it, my body decided to curtail all my efforts by breaking out in Shingles.  There was no way that I could argue with that. June was my lowest mileage month of the year with 113 km.

Training for the Ultra began in earnest in July.. except that Life happened.   Who has time to train in the summer..?  I discovered a lovely technical trail near my house so I was pleased to be able to train there often but my longest run in July was only 18 km, monthly distance was a mere 177 km.

Training for the Ultra began in earnest in August… except that Life happened again.  Gosh, I thought training in winter was hard!  Training in summer is very challenging.  I did manage several quality runs, including 18 kms a couple of times ,  monthly total was 217 kms.  Eeeep.. That Ultra is looming large now..

Early in September I finally  managed to run 25km, and planned to run a similar distance a couple of days later … but my PT forbade it.  Hip flexors and adductors were paying the price for sudden increased distance on technical trails and PT recommended short flat runs for several days.  Short flat runs.?? But I have a 50k trail run in a couple of weeks. ! You can read the rest of that story here.   Race Review / Fundy Circuit Ultra Trail

After that epic 50k trail run,  I  had a full 2  weeks to recover  before doing the 5 Peaks Round the Cape 24k Trail Run in October.  Easy peasy. …. Race Review – 5 Peaks Round the Cape

That concluded my race season and I spent the remainder of October Recovering. In November and December I ran strictly for pleasure,  running only as far and as fast as I wanted to.  The first couple of weeks after the back-to-back trail runs were very  hard. I felt like my body had forgotten how to run but I slogged through it and eventually started to feel like I was actually running again.

2017 was an incredible journey for me.  The biggest discovery for me was that I learned how therapeutic trail running can be. It is not about time or speed, but simply about feeling in sync with your body and soul.

Of course I ran every day  because that is what I do.  Total mileage for 2017 was 2222 km. I have some crazy goals for 2018.  Stay tuned.



Streaking in 2017


On November 29, 2017 I completed the third year of my Run Streak.  By now it has become a habit so it’s not much of a big deal for me.  When people express amazement at my accomplishment I just shrug and say, “Meh, it’s no big deal, running is just something that I do every day.” And it really is!

There were some highlights and some lowlights in 2017 and I will share them with you here.

I am fortunate to belong to a wonderful run group who support this silly runstreak, and a few of the members have taken ownership of some milestones and planned fun group runs to celebrate.  January 14 was one of the coldest days of the winter to date.  Despite the frigid temperatures, several group members showed up at the local Casino to celebrate Day #777 with me. Check it out here.777 Consecutive Days of Running

Day #888 was thankfully much warmer. Again several group members celebrated by meeting at a local Pool hall on May 5 to run, and then shoot a couple of games of pool and other shenanigans. Read more here. Eight Eight Eight

DBAJ48cXkAAkLjM.jpgSadly I was out of town for Day #911 so I was on my own, but I made sure my route took me past a couple of fire stations. Okay, I actually stopped at a fire station and asked a firefighter if I could get a photo with him. Of course he was happy to oblige.  Big shout out to all emergency personnel out there. Thank you for keeping us safe.

I think it is very cool that my milestones keep falling on the weekends.  Day #1000 was on a Friday and again my amazing run group planned a fun run which you can read about here. The Day I Earned My Comma

2017 was not without it’s challenges.  Here in eastern NB we have cold, ice, slush, rain, heat, humidity, wind, freezing rain, windchill, etc.  Thankfully we don’t have all those weather conditions in the same month!  Each of those weather conditions present their own challenges and it is necessary to plan ahead.  In 2017 I ran in temperatures ranging from -35c to +35c.  I prefer the -35!

Being a Streaker means that I have to run the day after big events.  In the days after the Ottawa marathon I went for a long walk, with a 2k run sandwiched in the middle. I was really worried about the day after the Fundy Circuit 50k, but again I went for a long walk with a short run in the middle.  Active Recovery is a thing and really aids the recovery process.

On October 12 I inadvertently started  a Streak within a Steak.  While checking my October stats I realized that I had run at least 5k every day since Oct 12.  Naturally I decided to see if I could run 5k every day in November.  Then I decided to challenge myself by running 5k every day for 100 days. It was just my luck that a Deep Freeze descended on us mid December and lingered until the New Year and beyond. January 19 will be Day 100 of 5k Every Day and I will reevaluate at that time.

There were some serious threats to the Streak.  A sprained toe in June was painful to walk on, but strangely it didn’t hurt (much) to run on it.  I swear I almost died of food poisoning once but still managed to drag my sorry ass around the block.  Colonoscopy prep is never fun, but with careful planning you can get the run done. The biggest challenge that I faced in 2017 was running with Shingles.  I was very fatigued, and air movement was painfully cold.  If my run streak was not so firmly established, it would have ended then.

My PT endorses my run streak. With her help,  I successfully ran through injured hip flexor, soleus, hip adductors, and deep core stability muscles.  I am very blessed to be able to run every day without serious injury.

I know this streak will end someday and hopefully on my terms. But today is not that day, so for now I streak on.


Things I learned in 2017

  • It is okay to modify completely change your goals.


  • Waterproof sunscreen is mandatory while running marathons in hot weather, especially if you haven’t seen the sun for weeks. DA_d13aW0AAymO7


  • I run faster at midnight.  (note to self: check local race listings for Midnight 5k. Or create one.)



  • 13 Laps around my street is  5k. dec29







  • There is nothing more tranquil than Nature’s Surround Sound.20170828_124107


  • I have overcome my fear of being eaten by animals on the trails.  Sort of.


  • When running becomes a pain in the ass, it is time to find a good PT.


  • Massage Therapy is great for getting rid of that pain in the ass, and other tight muscles.


  • Massage therapists expect that you will be naked under that sheet.. even if you have just met.


  • Pilates is a good investment of time.


  •  Sex toys are disposable. Who knew..?  17499286_10154262554012461_7183271835563190544_n


  • This is not a new revelation, but I have a great Run Club.  Riverview Running Idiots Rock!  17800244_10154420441541024_8941869714555508828_n



  • I still hate windy days. wind


  • Trail Running is Fun
  • Trail Running is Hard
  • Trail Running is Awesome


  • Volunteering at local races is a great experience.


  • Protein bars with chia seeds is not a good fuel choice while running an Ultra. Those suckers swell in your mouth and taste like vomit.


  • Using the word Fuck like a comma really is a thing.


  • DFL ( Dead Fucking Last ) is something to be proud of. 22007711_10210499062455559_7344499634051432495_n


  • Mill Brook hill in Cape Chignecto is a bastard to climb.



  • There are no strangers in the running community. Some of my biggest supporters are people that I meet during a race.


  • If you don’t get to the Start Line on time, they will start without you


  • You really have to bust your ass if everyone else has a 2 minute head start.


  • Squirrels get pissed off when invaded by runners during a race.


  • Squirrels can have a very accurate aim while throwing pinecones.


  • Snot rockets may be socially acceptable outdoors, but frowned upon at the gym.


  • Active Recovery is better than Inactive Recovery.


  • When binge eating after a marathon, avoid tainted seafood. #pukeallthefood


  • I am stronger ( more stubborn?) than I thought I was.


  • Running is cheaper than therapy, and just as effective.



Resolution Run

My sister and I started the year off on the right foot and then the left foot. Right, left, repeat to cover a total distance of 5k for the annual Resolution run in Moncton.  It’s a great way to start a new year.

26234089_10155018192667461_1677888170_nOur temperatures have been extremely cold for the last week or two, but I have been running outdoors everyday so I have acclimatized.  Sort of.  My sister had never run in such cold temperatures and she considered not participating but I managed to persuade her not to be a wimp. I also offered some advise re. layering and using petroleum jelly on exposed skin.

Temperature was around -13C with a Real Feel of -25C.  Because we dressed appropriately, it was actually a great day for running. The route was along the riverfront trail in Moncton.  As expected it was snow packed and icy in places so we chose to run slowly and carefully.  We finished in exactly 35 minutes, about 4 minutes slower than our usual pace.

resi=oution.pngA big shout out to the coordinators and volunteers who braved the frigid temperatures to make this event so successful.  A nice hot bowl of chili at the Finish Line was the perfect touch.

Happy New Year everyone.