Friday, May 27, 2011

Run Skills

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to have my running form assessed by my friend and newly minted coach Tina Dubois. (An embarrassing aside: I had to ask her what her last name was...Hahahah! I never paid attention to what it was, and when I was telling someone at the Cochrane pool about my "friend," I was asked, "What's her name?" as Cochrane is a small town. My response? "Ummm, I actually don't know her last name, but I haven't needed to!" Eeeeeeep. Heh-heh-heh!)

Tina's assessment was an AWESOME experience. If any of you have ever had your swim stroke videoed -- you know what I am talking about. What you think you are doing is not at all what you are actually doing. Hahahahahah -- or let me rephrase that...what I thought I was doing, I wasn't.

The session began with Tina filming me running on the treadmill. Next, we sat down and reviewed the video clip, frame by frame. After looking at the video, Tina made an educated guess about running injuries I may have had, and pain I might frequently experience. The accuracy of her observations piqued my interest immediately. You know how those fortune tellers are so good at reading people? Hee-hee! It was like that! I was thinking, "How can you tell? Does my running form really indicate that? I don't see anything so funky on the video!"

She explained the nuts and bolts of running -- what a lot of people end up doing compared to what they are trying to accomplish. A number of pictures punctuated our discussion -- really illustrating her points.

For anyone who knows me, I have a hard time sitting still and not talking, and it took all my willpower not to interrupt....Well, Ok, I did interrupt and ask a few questions. Hahahaha! I was that kid in class who would squirm in her seat and raise her hand in the air to answer questions.

For instance, I wanted to make Tina understand that the pace I had been running on the treadmill while she videoed me was a "jog" and that I run faster than that, and that it is an awkward sort of warm up pace. She smiled and said, "We are getting to that..."

And sure enough we did. She showed me frame by frame how long my foot would be on the ground during the running (or my excuse of a jogging) cycle. Then she explained how having a higher cadence reduces that length of time, and load on the feet...This was where I interrupted and said, "Yeah, but...I was warming up, my legs move faster when I am RUNNING."

What followed next truly blew my mind! As someone who does not have natural running skills/body awareness, her next demonstration really was an epiphany to me!

She hopped on the treadmill herself and turned on her electronic metronome-thingy. She started running at 4.0 mph. She was ticking over right in time with the digital beep-beep-beep of the metronome. Then she increased the speed to 5.0, then 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, then 9.0. Her cadence remained the same at all speeds!!! WOWZA!!! This was a huge lesson for me!

Then came the fun part -- she had me do a number of exercises and drills both on and off the treadmill. The metronome was turned on, and my shoes came off. It was AWESOME. It was like the very first time I felt the "catch" is swimming (see, this memory is still very vivid as it happened so recently -- LOL.) I FELT good running -- It felt very different and easier. More effortless -- I wasn't struggling. I NEVER realized that it was even possible to run at a high cadence at all speeds.

Tina shouted out various coaching cues as I ran on the treadmill. Again and again she would catch me reverting back to old habits and would repeat the cues. The effect would be instant. I am good at doing what I am told. (hee-hee -- Mike doesn't think so -- LOL)

The culmination of the session was taking another video of me running -- a before and after if you will. It was so COOL!!! She filmed me, then we sat down and looked at it frame by frame again. My cadence had increased - my foot wasn't lingering on the ground so much! I have proof! Hahahahaah!!!

What I find so exciting about this new knowledge is that it is unlike anything I have heard of before -- the coaching cues caused me to focus on different things. Instead of focusing on how many times my feet are hitting the ground for instance...she gave me a new set of cues (much more effective for me personally) that worked straight away. Most importantly though, is that I FEEL the difference.

Awesome, awesome, awesome stuff.

And an awesome coach too -- Tina is very observant and clued in to the varying needs of an individual. She emailed me all the exercises and coaching cues after our session -- and the videos as well.

If you are interested in having a revelation about your running style, eliminating running injuries, and a greater body awareness, here is her site:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Sometimes I feel as though I am a fraud.

I mean, I am a cultured person…I’ve been to plays, to an opera even! I have lived in major urban centres and I have travelled extensively. It’s just that for some reason, a few things have seemed to slip by me…things that the vast majority of people seem to somehow *know.*

Like what to order at Starbucks.

My God, I am 36 years old and I still have NO idea what all those terms mean up on the chalkboard. One shot, double shot, Americano, espresso, etc. What does it all mean? My background in coffee consists of drinking black coffee from Tim Horton’s, and reading the occasional novelty coffee story in those news ads before I sign into my yahoo email account.

You know those stories? They are always accompanied by a picture of a big bowl of coffee with a heart drawn through the frothy milk, or a cute furry animal whose poop is the most expensive coffee bean in the world.

I’ve heard that espresso actually has less caffeine than a regular cuppa Joe (I forget exactly how and why, but I remember I watched an interview about it), and I have a number of friends and family members who have quite firm opinions on what makes a good cup of coffee:

My Dad (a.k.a. “Garbage Guts”) – drinks coffee from Tim Horton’s and gas stations. On our 5000km road trip across the US last year, we tried all kinds of gas station coffee. And it has to be pretty raunchy for my Dad to pass it up. Think: Sludgy, black, and toxic.

My Victoria Friends: Starbucks all the way. They know precisely what they want in a coffee. They take into account the time of day, what they’ve eaten/drank beforehand, and what they presently feel like. They order something different every time, and I am always impressed. I always order, “What he’s/she’s having,” in an attempt to broaden my coffee horizons and hopefully enrich my lacklustre coffee knowledge bank. They also buy specialty beans and grind them every morning.

My Calgary Friends: Very similar to my Victoria friends, with the exception that Tim Horton’s is an acceptable substitute. They know how to order at Starbucks, but will not hesitate to order a half hot-chocolate/half coffee from Tim Horton’s. (You see, by ordering your drink using that language, you pay less than if you asked for a Mocha Coffee or Coffee Mocha or CafĂ© Mocha or….well, you get my drift, right?)

My European Friends: Opinions range all over the map here. My friends from England do NOT like Starbucks – something about there not being a lot of actual coffee in a drink…or something like that. My German friends love Tim Horton’s, and like Calgarians, will order the half-hot chocolate/half-coffee, but will add whip cream on top of it all.

And then there is me: I buy the big red tub of Folgers from Wal-Mart. Or, when I am in the city, from Costco – you know they sell the even bigger red tubs of Folgers? And I brew it in my Tim Horton’s coffee maker. That thing ROCKS. As fast as you pour the water in, the coffee is made. Sweet coffee action. I drink it black.

Starbucks still intimidates me – the employees (do they have special names too, like barista or something?) are all brusque and business like. Friendly, but no-nonsense. Like the customers who stand in line behind me as I stammer out my order trying desperately to fit in. I always screw it up. You see, the harder I try, the more I concentrate on articulating that unique coffee language of “Skinny,” and “Grande,” or “Tall,” , the sooner I automatically default into an apologetic, “Can I have a small black coffee please?” And do that half-smile/grimace – making eye-contact with the barista (is that the right word?) as he/she nods empathetically to me with an understanding smile.

The strange thing about all this is that my quest for ordering a cup of coffee from Starbucks without feeling like a total idiot is far from over. Like a moth drawn inevitably to the flame, I continue to “go for a Starbucks,” with my friends. Always copying what they order, always asking what they like/don’t like about certain drinks. For I believe that one day, I will be able to stride confidently into a Starbucks and rattle off my order of a “Skinny-minnie-latte-no shot-one-shot-whatever,” and not only KNOW what I have ordered, but understand too.



Saturday, May 7, 2011

My bike nutrition...

And I ate all those bananas except one -- for a 3:18 ride. My jersey pockets were gross -- covered in brown banana slime from me cramming the peels back in my pockets.

For those who don't know me....I really do eat that many bananas. :) :) :)

I LOVE BANANAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!