Things You Need To Know + Reebok Spartan Race Entry GIVEAWAY

Hi!

Just popping in quickly with a bunch of random/exciting news in the social media-sphere.

Jen is hosting a ProCompression giveaway and it’s open to Canadians! My life is 28349x better now that I wear compression sleeves while running and hiking. No calf swelling, no cramps, no sore legs the next day. I can’t even remember the last time my legs were sore from running!

 

 

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^^^ Jen. In her compression socks.

I’ve been doing a plank-a-day for the past few weeks (okay, almost everyday – sometimes I forget) and I’m going to continue through the month of May. Jen @Peanut Butter Runner is hosting an Instagram #UltimatePlankChallenge + giveaways featuring 30  plank variations.   All you have to do is take a pic of yourself doing the daily plank, post it on Instagram, tag  @jdecurtins + @premierprotein, use the #UltimatePlankChallenge and you can win some free stuff!

 

 

 

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 Delta Lodge at Kananaskis (near Canmore/Banff) is giving away a Wellness Retreat Package via Instagram.  I WANT TO WIN IT! Up for grabs: accommodations & healthy breakfast for two people, daily spa credit & a welcome smoothie. This had me at smoothie.  If you win, can I be your date? ;)

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Have you ever done a Spartan Race? Do you want to? For free? (Say yes!)

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(images via Reebok Spartan Race media)

Friends, you’re in luck. I’m giving away a Reebok Spartan Race entry to one lucky {Canadian} reader to be used in either a western or eastern Canada event. You can view dates and locations HERE.  (Vancouver would be my first pick! Which one would you choose?)

You’re also welcome to use the discount code AROO15 to receive 15% off any race!

HOORAY FOR CANADIAN GIVEAWAYS & DISCOUNTS. Winner will be selected on Monday, May 12.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Have you ever done a Spartan Race? What’s the next event on your race calendar?

Running: How I’m becoming stronger & more efficient

I’ve been thinking about my running progress lately and reflecting on how much improvement I’ve seen in the past year.

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I’ve been running for around 7 years and I’m just starting to reach the point where  I might be getting “good” at this little old hobby of mine. Looking back on my RunKeeper data (I started using it in 2012 and just recently purchased a Garmin) I noticed a few things:

-I ran 4-5 times per week and covered the same 6km loop (except for when I was training for half marathons)
-My speed didn’t really improve
-I never forced myself out of my “comfortable pace” running zone. Same pace, day in and day out
-Anytime I upped my mileage, I seemed to get injured
-Running always felt extremely challenging

When I moved to the Rockies, it felt like a fresh start for… well, everything. I immersed myself in rebuilding and restructuring my life in a way that best suited me. I was tired of being afraid of pursuing my desires and promised myself I wasn’t going to live like that anymore. One of my goals was to become a more efficient, faster runner. (Part of me wanted to fit in with all the fancy athletes that live and train here in the Rockies – haha!)

Weird confession: when people used to ask me about my running times I felt embarrassed because I thought I was too slow. Now I’m kind of nervous they’ll be mad because I’m getting faster. Hahaha

 

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The first time I headed out on a mountain run, I felt like I was going to die from the altitude. I had difficulty breathing and my legs felt like lead. If you haven’t experienced high altitude running, I’d compare it to trying to run while holding your breath. Or breathing through a very tiny  straw. You feel as though you’re not getting enough oxygen, no matter how hard you try. It’s weird.
On a good day, I could barely maintain a 10 minute mile, but as with any new skill, you keep chipping away at it until it gets easier. I’ve gone from running 10+ minute miles to 8 minute miles (and sometimes in the 7s) and here’s what I credit it to:

-Less run days, but I don’t hold back on my training runs. Old me used to think, “I have to run 5-6 times this week, so I don’t want to push myself too hard! I don’t want to be tired/sore.” Now, I’m averaging 3 days a week: usually two 3-5 milers where I focus on speed and a long, SLOW 10-12 miler on weekends.

-I frequently switch up my running routes and terrain. I rarely run on flat surfaces unless I’m in the city; I’m constantly running hills and forest trails. One of my favourite paths has a 1000 ft elevation loss and gain.  I even use a treadmill here and there, which I used to refuse.

-I don’t run with music very often. My run tends to be much more relaxed when I focus on the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, my breath and the sounds of nature surrounding me. It’s easier to listen to my body and feel my way through my run when I’m not distracted by music.

-I strength train 2-3 times a week. I do a lot of weighted squats and lunges, planks and arm/back moves to keep my muscles strong.

-I leave room for other activities I love: hiking, going for walks, cycling, whatever trendy fitness classes are hot right now (spin, barre), paddle boarding, etc.

-I don’t take myself that seriously. I do it because it’s fun, I like the challenge and it’s a great (free) way to stay in shape.

-I listen to my body and don’t force myself to run if I intuitively know I could use an extra rest day. I used to think I had to complete my planned training run, then experience  a shit run because I wasn’t feeling well.

-Sometimes I talk to myself while running. I tell myself this isn’t the hardest thing I’ve done, I’m strong, It’s okay to be afraid but I’m doing it anyway (my current life mantra), etc

-I’m studying Chi Running in depth. One of my favourite tips I apply is SMILING. It relaxes your entire body.

-I keep it simple. I hate gimmicks! Shoes, gear, supplements, etc. There is so much value in a less is more mentality: if you eat well most of the time, get lots of sleep, drink plenty of water, wear shoes that feel comfortable and always do your best, you’ll be just fine.

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 I’d love to hear how you approach your running, or how you’ve improved over the years/months/weeks. 

Have you ever felt pressured to perform like your running friends? Do you ever feel upset with yourself because you feel like you should be “better” or “doing more”? Oh friends, I’ve been there. Once I stopped looking at what everyone else was doing and focused on me, running (and life) became significantly easier.

I couldn’t be happier!

Spring is here and I couldn’t be happier! I’m pretty sure the boy is going to kill me soon if I don’t stop pointing out blossoming trees and flowers among the cityscape.

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What’s that old saying – small things amuse small minds?  At least it doesn’t take much to impress me. Warm weather + sunshine + plants = one happy gal.

Last week was filled with all kinds of fun!

-The boy came to the mountains to celebrate his birthday

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The Iron Goat has the best patio in Canmore. The food is decent, but nothing to write home about.

-I went to Cirque du Soleil’s “Kurios” (it was SO GOOD! I am dying to jump on a trampoline and do acrobatic/gymnast moves now.)

-I practiced football skills with the Calgary Stampeders (??!!)

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I had the opportunity to represent the company I work for at a football seminar. I gave a speech on what it’s like to live, work and play in the Canadian Rockies, with an accompanying photo slideshow. Like most people, I’m incredibly uncomfortable  being the center of attention or speaking publicly. It’s a fear I’ve been working through for years. When I was a kid, my family moved around a lot and I was frequently ‘the new kid’ in school. I always felt like everyone was staring at me, or noticed kids whispering to each other about me. Teachers would make me stand in front of the class and introduce and talk about myself. As a result, it made me really self conscious, nervous and shy. I think that’s where my fear of speaking up or being put on the spot came from.

Old me used to let fear paralyze  and prevent me from moving forward. It’s just not how I live my life anymore.  Instead, I acknowledge and accept when I’m afraid and do it anyway.

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-I created and registered a team for the Kananaskis 100 mile relay

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This race has been on my bucket list for years and I’m thrilled to not only participate in it, but lead the team as well. We’re each running 10 miles. Through the mountains. At times, we’ll be at an elevation of over 7000 ft. Whoa.

Look who I convinced to join my team:

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Jen,  Sam, Ange

Oh man, I hope they don’t hate me after this. These girls run half and full marathons all the time so I know they’re capable.  Our team of 10 is going to need a lot of NUUN tablets and Advil.

-I ate my new favourite dish from Calgary’s best veg restaurant The Coup:

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Tempeh shawarma. I used to be obsessed with their falafel quesadillas, but that ship has sailed.

-I had a pretty good week of training. I feel like myself again, yay!

Monday: 4 miles @ 8:07 avg

Tuesday: 3.1 miles @ 8:46 avg – half of this run was straight up a mountain road. I was gargling my heart and have no idea how I managed this quick of a pace.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: BODYPUMP @ GoodLife Fitness (with Sam!) + 3.1 miles @ 7:56 avg

Friday: Off

Saturday: BODYPUMP @ GoodLife Fitness + 2 miles @ 7:30 avg

Sunday: 10 easy ‘zone 2′ miles @ 10:30 avg (the boy came with me. I needed someone to talk to/entertain myself with)

Can we talk about how hard the leg tracks are on the new Bodypump release? I can’t remember a time when I was able to walk straight.

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-I made a giant fruit cobbler for dinner on Sunday. Yes that’s right, I said dinner.

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I mixed fresh strawberries, pears, raspberries and chopped dates with some lemon juice, sugar, flour and cinnamon and tossed it all together. For the topping: flour, oats, cinnamon, sugar and melted butter then baked it at 375F for 45 minutes. (Eyeballed the measurements)

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Topped with fresh whipped cream. The boy and I ate half the pan. Our legs were hungry from our run? And we love food. We live to eat.

What’s the last dessert you made?

Have you ever done a relay race? This is my first relay race. Any tips would be very much appreciated!

Tell me three things about your weekend!
Note: This post was written as part of the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program.

I never thought I’d say this.

After taking 10 days off from training, I was itching to lace up my shoes and sprint off running into the forest/sunset/arms of a lumberjack… or something like that.  During today’s lunch break, I spent some time in the gym working my arms and shoulders with tricep dips, chaturanga pushups, mack raises, shoulder raises and bicep curls with 5 & 10 lb plates. Bodypump taught me those moves and I regularly incorporate them in my strength workouts.  I hope I’m sore tomorrow! The last time I lifted weights was last weekend when  the boy trained my arms.  He had me do one of those bro workouts where you lift heavier weights with less reps. It was hard and my arms and back were sore for three days.

Once 5pm rolled around, I set out for an easy 4 miler in shorts and a tank top. Ahhh!! It was so warm out today. I’m definitely a summer girl.

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I wanted to show you that I don’t always nail my self-timed shots. A few moments before this one was taken, I was frightened by something rustling around in the forest.

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… it ended up being a squirrel.

Normally when Monday rolls around, I’m excited to tackle the week ahead, but I wasn’t feelin’ it at all last week. I was tired, cranky, and… this is way too much TMI but whatever: I got my period, a cold sore and a demon virus all within a three day span. Seriously. How? Why? I’m gross. *hangs head in shame*

So I took it easy.  One evening, I alternated between sitting in a steam shower and taking dips in the pool. (I use the facilities at my work)

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Another night, I went for a walk, attempted to jog, inhaled a cloud of bugs and gagged so I went home. Defeated.

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For the most part, I took naps, chugged tons of water, green juice, smoothies and tried to not stress about my lack of running.

This is why I’m not on board with compressed 2-3 month half marathon training plans. It’s just not enough time for the average person to prepare because life ALWAYS gets in the way. It’s best to slowly build a solid base of consistently running around 10-15 miles a week first and THEN build a structured training plan on top of that existing foundation. That way, if you need to check out of life here and there, you don’t  have to worry about forcing yourself to play catch up. (And potentially getting injured in the process.)

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I had a buy one get one free coupon for Jugo Juice.  Kale Aid juice and a Coco Plus smoothie for me and an unpictured Calgary Marathon ‘Speed Date’ smoothie for the boy.

Thinking back to what I ate last week, I’m fairly certain the only solid food I consumed was green curry and oatmeal. I mentioned this on Instagram, but I hesitated posting this picture because I didn’t want to be “that person” who Instagrams boring bowls of oatmeal.  (You can find me on Instagram @ livingmintgreen)

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1. I actually plate my food like this in real life. Oatmeal, yogurt bowls and salads are neatly organized because it looks more palatable, food is art and I am a neat freak.  I secretly die a little inside when I present a meal like this to the boy and he instantly stirs everything into one big sloppy mess.

2. This breakfast is so filling! It’s the perfect carb/protein/fat/fibre ratio for me and usually keeps me full for 4-5 hours.

I cook about 1/3 cup of rolled oats (not the gross flakey instant kind that turns to goo) then mix in a splash of almond milk, 1/2 scoop unsweetened whey protein, 1/2 a banana, chia & hemp seeds, cinnamon and a scoop of peanut or almond butter. Mmmm!!! I never thought I would say that about oatmeal. Seriously. Oatmeal!

What are your thoughts on short half-marathon/marathon training plans? Recipe for disaster?

What have you been eating for breakfast lately?

Fav way to cross train? BODYPUMP!!!! (you already knew this though, right?)

I’m not running + Where to eat in the Alberta Rockies

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I really love this time of day. The golden hour. I’m comin’ at ya from bed right now and this is the view greeting me from my bedroom window.

The past week has been a complete write off in terms of training. I’ve been battling swollen glands, a headache, body aches and a mild fever so I’m taking a break until I feel like my ol’ self again. I’ve matured enough over the years to realize there’s no point in forcing yourself  to run when you’re not feeling well.   Not only that, I can’t stand half-ass-ing things.

I made a massive batch of green juice when I got home from work today. My immune system needs all the help it can get!

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I don’t have a juicer, but my Blendtec gets the job done perfectly. It’s powerful enough to completely pulverize the plant fibre into a fine pulp. I add a cup of water to thin it out and voila – a full blender of fresh juice for a fraction of the cost. My dad would be so proud. He hates it when I spend $8 on fresh pressed juice or smoothies.

In the mix:

1 head romaine, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
2 big handfuls of spinach
4 oranges, peeled
1 pink grapefruit, peeled
2 basil leaves
1 cup water

Come on healing plant power, work your magic!

I’m hoping to meet up with Ange and Jen on the weekend for a long run. In the meantime, I’ll be in my sweatpants. Eating my favorite comfort foods. I had a fantastic green curry from Thai It Up last night. It was everything. The best part? It wasn’t a massive mound of rice with a few measly little pieces of vegetable and chicken drowning in sauce.

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Since people frequently ask me where to find the best eats in the Alberta Rockies, here ya go!

Canmore:

Communitea (Mega Fresh bowl, Tangled Thai salad and nori wraps)

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-Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.

-The Grizzly Paw (or, ‘The Paw’ as us locals  call it. It’s a mandatory pit stop for post-hike beers + burgers)

-Wild Orchid Bistro (sushi, veggie tempura – everything on their menu is gluten free)

Banff:

-Nourish Bistro  (Beautiful Burrito, their famous 22 ingredient nachos and falafel salad)

-Magpie & Stump (burritos & margs)

-Eddie Burger + Bar (Eddie Presley burger)

-Wildflour Bakery (homemade bread & cookies)

Do you have any favorites to add to the list?

I’m not sure how to segue into this next part. Do you follow Danielle LaPorte’s work at all? Have you seen her new #TruthBomb necklaces?

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LOVE LOVE LOVE. I WANT ALL OF THEM. 

Anyways, I just wanted to pop in to say hello. Tell me about your week!

What’s the best thing you’ve ate so far?

What are your tried & true methods for boosting your immune system?

 

Do your friends know?

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Sigh. It’s views like this that allow me to breathe a giant sigh of relief.  Waves lapping at the shore. Sunshine beaming on my face. In those moments, all is right in the world. :)

I’m going to tell you a funny story. Do your friends know about your blog? A handful of my closest buds do, but for the most part, I rarely tell people about it unless we’re connecting professionally or they’re social media enthusiasts like myself.  Otherwise, they just don’t get it and I feel incredibly awkward and embarrassed trying to explain what I do and why.

Case in point:

Friend: “Wait. You have a blog? WHY? So what do you write about?”
Me: “Mostly healthy stuff, like running.”
Friend: “So is it like, “Oh my god I just put my shoes on, I’m going to run to Banff now.” and then after is it like, “Oh my god, I just took my shoes off. I’m home from Banff now.”

… and then I cried tears of laughter because, well, he’s  right? #NAILEDIT

Runner friends! Have you heard of Chi Running? (Or read the book?)

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It’s been on my to-read list for… oh, four years or so and I finally decided to research it in depth instead of googling the principles and techniques.
I highly recommend adding this to your collection (local friends – I can lend it to you when I’m done). The author talks about how running isn’t “bad” for people, in fact, it’s a natural movement and one of the easiest ways to stay in shape. The problem is, we don’t know how to run. Our Western culture has taught us that we need to focus on building bulky leg muscles, “power running”, ignoring our bodies natural pain cues, pushing too hard, too fast and way too soon.

In a nutshell, Chi Running is:

-Great posture
-Relaxed limbs
-Loose joints
-Engaged core muscles
-A focused mind
– Good breathing technique

The technique and the benefits are the same thing, in addition to more energy and no injury.

What struck me was how much the ego plays a part in running injuries. Runners tend to have a “no pain, no gain” mentality and then we wonder why we end up injured, burnt out and unhappy. Or why we can never get faster or stronger. Chi Running teaches a gradual process training plan that doesn’t JUST focus on the physical, but incorporates mental and spiritual training as well.  In order to be a happy, healthy runner, all three need to be balanced.  Cool, hey?!

I’m only about a quarter of the way through, but I’m really hoping there’s a chapter on what to do about the terrible calluses on my feet. Maybe you can offer some insight on how to prevent or deal with the alien-growths torturing my feet. I mean, I try to land as lightly as possible, wear two pairs of socks and take a blade to the calluses every couple weeks but they come back right away!  What else is there to do?!  (When I started telling my boss about my current foot dilemma he cut me off and said, “Will you please stop telling me about your disgusting feet?”)

I hit the jackpot at the library this past weekend. They were having a used book sale where you could fill a bag for $7 and as  luck would have it, I scored some new-to-me (except Born To Run) titles to add to my running  collection.   Other random finds: a NASM personal training textbook (I love exercise physiology and can you TRULY call yourself a healthy living blogger/expert until you have your NASM certification? Have I reminded you lately I’m Canadian and NASM doesn’t even exist here? This is the weirdest run-on sentence ever), yoga, Buddhist philosophy and a few real-life mountaineering adventure paperbacks. And the movie Boyz in the Hood. Haha!

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So fun! So nerdy.  I get excited over nothing.

I planned a laid-back outdoorsy date night in my backyard for the boy and I recently. Does this look like paradise, or what?!

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It’s technically a three minute walk from my backyard to a park, but close enough. My real yard is a boring parking lot and an empty lot.

While waiting for him to commute to my neck of the woods, I made a bunch of snacks and picked up  a bundle of firewood so we could enjoy a campfire picnic by the water. :)

There’s something so gratifying about chopping wood and building a fire together.  It was just like camping, except we got to  take a hot shower and climb into a comfy bed afterwards! Best of both worlds.

 

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I’m getting excited for upcoming camping adventures. I’m dead set on doing some real, roughin’ it, backcountry camping, though. As in, no showers, toilets, trailers or RVs. Just a tent, sleeping bag, self defense weapons, fire building material, Clif bars, wine, and the wilderness. (And dry shampoo, towelettes and deodorant)

Do you like camping? Where do you usually go? Have you ever roughed it?

Tell me about the last date you went on!

What kinds of things do you get all nerdy about? I’m a major nutrition/fitness nerd. Funny how I can remember the micronutrients of broccoli, yet can’t remember what I did yesterday.

Thinking Out Loud: Loving Lately

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Good day to you!

I slept for 10.5 hours last night. Do you think I needed the rest, or what? Haha! After a few nights of poor sleep and waking up way too early, I think I died a little?

Onto Thinking Out Loud….

Believe Training Journal

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Throughout my running journey, what has helped keep me accountable and aware during my training, is putting pen to paper and planning my workouts. I used to keep half marathon training schedules taped up around my house, but keeping a journal is much more helpful. What I love about this one is it’s intended for running and includes goal setting, check in points, inspiration, workout plans, tips for training and more. It’s everything you could ever need in a training journal!

Smoothies

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Now that the days are getting longer, sunnier and warmer, I’m back to drinking a green smoothie a day. I find my digestion and “sense of wellbeing” is heightened when I’m consuming plant-y smoothies regularly. One of my current go-to recipes:

A few big handfuls of leafy greens (I like Earthbound Farms Power Greens mix)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 cup frozen mango
1 small frozen banana
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp hemp seeds
a few ice cubes

It tastes like a tropical paradise.

#PlankADay

We all need more physical activity in our lives, that’s for sure. Even someone like me who is a post-work/weekend warrior. Sitting at a desk all day is one of the unhealthiest things for humans to endure, but it’s a necessary evil. So are planks! That’s why I’m on a mission to do one a day and it really takes no time at all. Maybe a minute or two? Will you join Kaella and me? Say yes!

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Colorful snack plates

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Okay, so this one isn’t new, but the addiction is still going strong.

Have you read “You Do You: The Relationship Edition”  by Jen @ Peanut Butter Runner? Oh goodness, you must! It’s been on my mind for the past week and almost everything she shared  resonated with me.

Particularly, “It’s taken years of internal work and therapy to get to a place where I even feel comfortable talking about being divorced at 30. It’s not exactly the path I imagined myself taking and for a long time, I treated it as a stigma. The word “divorce” made my stomach turn every time I said it.”  

I’m not sure if I’ve reached the point of being completely comfortable talking about my experience with being married. See? I can’t even write divorce. Even when I tell people about my past, I say, “I used to be married.”  Part of it is because I can’t believe I used to be that person. My memories of that life feel completely foreign.

Another aspect is I still carry the shame of tearing my ex’s world apart, but more importantly, because I let things get so out of hand to begin with. Because I was afraid.   I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that wonders if I’m unlovable or destined for bad karma as a result of my actions. I know it’s not true, but those questions have definitely entered my mind from time to time.

A Course in Miracles  has been instrumental in helping me see the truth about what and who I am, what I want, and assisting me in identifying illusion (fear) vs. truth (love).  I’ve been studying it for two years.

Do you remember when I talked about making a birthday wish last summer? Well, it wasn’t really a wish, it was more like a promise to myself. Going forward, I dedicated myself to choosing Love over fear. Shortly after,  the Universe gave me my first assignment.  Oh man, was it ever a big one and I’m STILL in the midst of it!  You see, I was craving an authentic, loving, REAL connection. But I was equally afraid of it.  Funny how that works, hey? We fear what the heart wants the most. Why? Because we know it’s true but we’re terrified of change, losing control or upsetting others in the process.

We like to think life and the way it unfolds is on OUR terms. But it’s not. 

The only difference this time around was that I was willing to be open to a new way of thinking and experiencing life. My old, limiting ways of perceiving relationships hadn’t served me, so it’s not like I had anything to lose.

And then I met ‘the boy’ that I sometimes talk about on my blog.  Initially, I reverted to my old ways of immediately putting up walls: I’d flinch when he’d try to hold my hand and tried to talk myself OUT getting too close. “I’m not ready for this!” I thought. “It’s moving too quickly!” “What would my family think?” “I don’t want my family to be disappointed in me” “After what I’ve done, I’m not deserving or worthy” “If this continues for much longer, we’re going to get attached and I don’t feel ready for this kind of commitment”  “I have no idea where my life is headed and until I figure it out, it’s not fair for me to be in a relationship”

“Figuring it all out” is such a bullshit illusion, by the way. 

I’m confident I’ve experienced every self destructive thought possible. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was also asking himself the same questions. Like Jen says in her post,  “We were two broken people putting up walls.”

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Despite the uncertainty and self-doubt, it was hard to overlook how authentic,  easy and fun our connection and dynamic was (is).  It seemed too good to be true.  Even though it’s not “perfect” it feels like the closest thing to perfection. Does that make sense?! It’s difficult to put it into words.  That said, it’s been a messy but beautiful process of questioning ourselves, confronting deep rooted fears, learning to heal and grow, a break up (during Mercury Retrograde – of all times!) and then getting back together after my Dad suffered a heart attack. It’s interesting how my Dad’s broken heart ended up bringing us back together. Since then, things just feel… better. And different.   I have complete faith and trust that the Universe is giving me exactly what I need to grow into the best version of myself.

Before you get too excited, this isn’t a Happily Ever After/I’m Getting Married story. I actually have no idea what the future holds and I’m at peace not knowing rightthissecond. As with anything in life, the answers are revealed AFTER THE WORK IS DONE. <– Sometimes I think I need this tattooed on my face as a reminder to not get too far ahead of myself.  So far, trusting my heart is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself because it has always led me to the truth. Yes, it’s going to be scary at first, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue it.

The bottom line is: despite the trauma and drama I’ve endured, I believe in Love more than ever. It’s the only thing in this world that is real.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your day!

As Oprah likes to ask, “What do you know FOR SURE?” 

Name three things you’re obsessed with right now: 

Easter Adventures!

Hi! Welcome back to reality from spring break and Easter. I hope the holiday was good to you. Did you travel anywhere hot and sunny? Overdose on chocolate eggs?

My Easter was a little different this year. Instead of a huge family dinner, I climbed a mountain, ate (the most amazing) pizza, stuffed my face with chocolate and relaxed.

During my time in the Rockies, people have been urging me to summit Mount Yamnuska. With it’s close proximity to Calgary, it’s one of the most popular hiking and climbing routes in the Canadian Rockies.  After this weekend, I can understand why!

At an elevation of 2240 meters, it’s an ideal ‘shoulder season’ hike as there’s no avalanche risk on the south facing slope and even and neither too windy nor chilly.

Yamnuska is absolutely one of the funnest hikes I’ve done for a few reasons: although moderately challenging, it’s not too gruelling.   On a scale of 1- Ha Ling, I’d rate it at a 6 or 7. (Ha Ling will make you gargle your heart.)  What I loved most about Yamnuska is it’s diversity: the perfect combination of alpine trail, scrambling, a slightly nerve-racking traverse across a narrow cliff edge (while holding onto a bolted chain), stunning views and most of all, a thrilling scree down to the bottom.

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There are two ways to access the summit: via the hikers route (which takes you behind the mountain where the scary bolted chain is) or the climbers route, which is a steep, steady, climb up the south facing slope (I wouldn’t recommend going up this way unless you’re a glutton for punishment and want to walk on loose rock for the majority of the climb.)

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Taking a water & Clif bar break in a crevice. Calm down, Mom! My feet were on the ledge, but the rest of me was tucked into a safe, secure spot.

The view behind me:

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The next part of our journey brought us to the chain…

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I didn’t even allow myself the time to ‘talk myself into it’ – I just barrelled straight ahead and tried to not look down. I was shaking for a good 10 minutes afterwards, but now, thinking back, I’m like, “eh, it wasn’t scary.” It’s funny how in hindsight, things are never as scary or ‘bad’ as we initially perceived.

From there, we continued our ascent to the top…

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I’ll tell ya, there’s nothing quite like walking along the ridge on top of a mountain. It makes you feel so alive! (And badass)

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At the summit, we were greeted with fantastic views of the Bow Valley: it’s pretty cool to stand on top of the world and witness where the prairies abruptly meet the Rockies.

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As mentioned earlier, the climb down was my favourite part. After descending a few hundred feet and walking/running along the ridge of the south facing slope, we literally started running (more like leaping) down the scree.  

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I felt bad for the brave souls walking UP this slope while we were flying down at what felt like 100km/hr. Eventually, the trail connected with the alpine trail we started on, and by the time we made it back to the car, it was 4pm and we needed pizza.

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New favourite pizza in the world: Tim’s Pizza in Cochrane. It’s a family-owned restaurant and there is so much love in their food. They make all of their dough from scratch and offer white, multi-grain, whole wheat and gluten-free crusts. Canmore/Mountain friends: you have to go!

Tell me all about your Easter! 

What do you pack for adventure-snacks? Clif bars, raw veggies, sometimes sandwiches or wraps, water

What/where is the best pizza place in your city?

My current {running} plan.

It was so spring-like on the weekend, I nearly cried tears of joy when I stepped outside without a jacket and felt… warm?  Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in a place where I wouldn’t have to worry about the weather ruining my plans (or life). A land where year-round outdoor running is possible. A life without vitamin d deficiency and bone de-mineralization. It’s what my dreams are made of, friends.

I have a feeling only Canadians can relate to my (non-existent) problems. We have two seasons: summer and winter and we either complain about being too cold or too hot. There is no in between.

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To celebrate, I drank a marg because margaritas = summer. (I actually drank 3)

How’s your day going so far?  Did you have a good weekend?

After this weekend’s long run, I’m feeling much more confident about my running progression. Fortunately, I was able to get a head-start on my training this year.  Since January, I’ve committed myself to building up a solid base of  around 10-15 outdoor miles per week before proceeding with a more structured schedule.  So far, three ‘run days’ is working well  and it leaves me with enough room to pursue my other fitness passions: Bodypump, strength training, hiking or long walks to the fridge.

Last week’s training looked like this:

Monday: 3.1 treadmill miles @ 8:16 avg

Tuesday: Upper body strength + 30 mins elliptical

Wednesday: Lower body strength & core. Strong bum = strong runs! (I’m going to do a piece on the best moves for runners soon!)

Thursday: 4.25 miles @ 8:07 avg

Friday: Off

Saturday: Bodypump @ GoodLife Fitness

Sunday: 10 easy miles @ 9:45 avg

The boy woke me up at 9am on Sunday morning by poking me and saying, “Wake up, you gotta run”
Me: “No. I don’t feel good. I’m going to cancel” (I wanted to keep sleeping)
Him: “No you’re not”
Me: “Okay I’ll aim for 5 miles and if I feel horrible, I’ll quit”
My original plan was 8, but you know the old runners logic: I’ve already run 8 and feel good, might as well make it 10. And even after 10, I wanted to add another 3 just for fun. I’m so glad I decided to not be lazy and lace up instead! It was such a fun afternoon.

I ran with friends during my “easy” 10 miler.  We stayed in zones 2 & 3 (70-80% & 80-90% of  max heart rate) until the last mile when I  began sprinting because I was thirsty, hungry and had to go to the bathroom.  I think the trick to enduring long “Z-2″ runs is to round up friends to train with. We chatted and laughed the entire time and the miles flew by in no time!   These types of runs are the ultimate patience test for me.  My instinct is to run faster because it feels too easy, but some experts suggest it’s an essential piece to getting faster and building endurance in the long run. Ha! The long run.  (Want more info on heart rate zone training? Here’s a Runners World article that breaks it down.)  I’m on the fence with Z2/Z3 training. I feel like there’s a high probability that long distance, easy runs are ‘junk miles’ which focus more on quantity instead of quality. How do you expect to run fast if you don’t practice running fast? On the other hand, how can you endure long distances if you don’t practice running long distances?    I guess that’s why it’s important to do both. High intensity intervals on some days, long, easy “safe” runs on others.  Sorry, I’m thinking out loud and rambling here.

In other news, I ordered a running day-planner from Amazon to keep me organized and accountable. Cassie recommended it and I believe everything she says.  For me to be successful, I need to put pen to paper and plan my schedule. That said, I still leave room for flexibility and anticipate to adapt to life as needed. Sometimes a training run won’t happen due to work, illness, injury, plans with friends, Netflix marathons, etc.  A few years ago, I’d feel really disappointed in myself if a training run didn’t go as planned or I skipped one.  My attitude is so much more relaxed, and wouldn’t ya know it – I’m a better athlete (and human being) because of it!

I’m doing the best I can with my current ability – I’m challenged, but not pushing myself to extremes in order to “keep up”  with my perception of what ‘I think other people are doing’. THAT, right there is the key to being a happy and healthy runner (or human being) – just focus on you, and don’t worry about what other people are doing. Self-imposed expectations of how you “think” you should perform and then feeling angry or defeated when you don’t live up to your “standards”? That’s such a yucky feeling.  Been there, done that, it didn’t work, so I stopped.

 

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The only thing I need to make a habit of again is yoga. I fell of the wagon around Christmas when my schedule was disrupted and busied myself with running instead. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to commit to my practice! This pattern is cyclical:  I love it, but don’t feel like going. Not only that, my feet are covered in blisters and calluses and I’m scared to reveal how gross I am.

However, once I start practicing again, I say, “I forgot I’m such a better person when I’m doing yoga! Why did I stop?”   Ugh. Someone yell at me, please.

Here’s to a great week ahead – if I don’t chat with you again before Easter, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and spring break! <3

What kinds of foods do you crave while immersed in training? SALT. ALL THE SALT. I’m craving orange juice and pretzels in particular today.

How do you approach planning workouts? Do you create a schedule or just wing it?

What’s the last workout you did? 

Thinking Out Loud: (I just wrote ‘Running Out Loud’)

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Thanks for your sweet words on my latest running recap.  Have you ever noticed running forces you to confront your self-doubt, fears and uncertainty?    I’m confident it’s one of the reasons why people fall in love with the sport –  it will show you things about yourself you weren’t consciously aware of.  We can absolutely do challenging things despite ‘that voice’ that tries to tell us otherwise.

One of the books I’m currently reading is ‘The Untethered Soul‘ and there’s a piece on fear that I loved so much:

“We think we’re supposed to figure out how life should be, and then make it that way. Only someone who looks deeper and questions why we need the events of life to be a particular way, will question this assumption. How did we come up with the notion that life is not okay just the way it is, or that it won’t be okay the way it will be? Who said that the way life naturally unfolds is not right?  The answer is, fear says so….

You’re either trying tho figure out how to keep things from happening, or you’re trying to figure out what to do because they did happen. When you have fear inside you, the events of life invariably stimulate it. Life creates situations that push you to your edges all with the effect of removing what is blocked inside of you… 

If you truly want to grow, you’ll realize that keeping your stuff (holding onto fear and trying to avoid it) is keeping you trapped. Eventually you’ll want out and you’ll realize LIFE IS TRYING TO HELP YOU. Life is surrounding you with people and situations that stimulate growth. You don’t have to decide who’s right or who’s wrong. You don’t have to worry about other people’s issues. You only have to be willing to open your heart in the face of anything and everything and permit the process to take place. When you do this, the first thing you’ll see is situations will unfold that hit your stuff (fear). But, in truth, that’s exactly what has been happening your entire life. The only difference is now you see it as a good thing, because it’s an opportunity to let go….”

That blurb is from the chapter, “Let go now or fall”.  Let go now. I’m going to keep that one in my back pocket!

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I experienced a zero-gravity float tank for the first time. The boy arranged it at Float Life  as a post-race surprise for us – a way to relax, unwind and soothe our sore muscles.

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I had no idea what to expect. The boy described it as  “complete sensory deprivation”; “laying inside a small pod for 90 minutes” ; “feeling restless” and “awesome”. So yeah, he really sold it to me.  It made much more sense when he pulled up the website to explain the health benefits of floating:

“The Float Pod creates an environment that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. During your session you are floating effortlessly in 1200Lbs. of epsom salt dissolved into 11-inch of water within a lightproof and soundproof environment. The water is maintained at the same temperature as your skin and after a few minutes you lose the awareness of where your body ends and the water begins. After you feel the effects of your first float you may wonder how something so simple can have such a profound effect on your overall well-being. However, the benefits of floating are backed by over thirty years of mainstream scientific research in human performance.”

Magnesium is known to be ‘the calming mineral’ and epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) are thought to be easily absorbed through the skin, soothing aches, pains and calming the nervous system. Unfortunately, there isn’t much solid research or data to back up the claim – it’s one of those ‘folk remedies’ that seems to work. As a kid, my mom used to draw epsom salt baths for me when I was experiencing ‘growing pains’ in my legs.

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Here’s how it went down:

Each room is equipped with a pod and shower. After stripping down naked and showering, you climb inside the pod, close the lid turn the light off. And then… you just let your body relax. Because of the high salt content, floating is effortless and you essentially feel…. nothing. The hardest part for me was silencing my mind. I truly wanted to relax enough into slip into a deep meditation or  sleep, but it didn’t happen.

At times, I experienced a ‘spinning’ sensation, or as though I was swaying from side to side. But for the most part, nothing.

In a nutshell, it was like this, just minus the Hawaii aspect. Ha!

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The 90 minutes flew by in no time, and the end of the session was signaled by music filling the pod. I showered again, then chugged a ton of water.  Post-float, I felt as though I’d spent the day at the beach. Blissed out, relaxed and ready for bed. (But really, when am I not ready for bed?) I’d definitely do it again!

I’ve been researching GPS watches help with my training and I need your insight, friends. Here’s the thing: I’m looking for simplicity and a lower-mid range price point. All I  need is something that will track my mileage and pace.  I don’t want the watch to be smarter than me or tell me I’ve been sitting still for too long. I’m already aware I sit too much during the day and don’t need some smart ass gadget making me feel shitty about myself.

Here’s two options I’m interested in:

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Garmin Forerunner 10  – $129

 

  • Tracks distance, pace and calories
  • Start running with the press of a button
  • Identifies personal records
  • Virtual Pacer™ compares current pace to target
  • Plan, review and share runs at Garmin Connect™

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Garmin Forerunner 15 $179

 

  • Tracks distance, pace, heart rate¹ and calories
  • Activity tracking counts steps and calories and reminds you when it’s time to move
  • Compatible with foot pod² for recording distance indoors
  • Up to 8 hours of battery life with GPS on or 5 weeks in watch/activity tracking mode
  • Save, plan and share your activities at Garmin Connect™

So… what do you think? What kind of watch do you wear? Do you use it for tracking all of your activities or primarily running?

Lastly, I love this link for 13 snacks for clean plant-based protein via Mind Body Green. I’ve added the coconut yogurt bark to my weekend food prep list.

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I’m in such a food rut right now. All I eat are snack plates, hummus, avocado toast, PB toast, oatmeal, protein/oat balls (similar to the cookie dough bites featured in that link up) and chia pudding.  The most exciting thing I’ve eaten this week is a veggie pizza with green beans and carrots on the side.

Have you tried putting avocado on your pizza? Oh goodness, you must! Pre or post baking, it doesn’t matter.

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Head over to Spoons to join the link up/read more randomness!

Are you in a current food rut? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve eaten this week?

Have you ever tried a float tank? What kinds of ‘holistic health’ treatments are you into? I love Raindrop Therapy massages!

Lets talk about GPS watches. Thoughts? And go: