Monday, 8 December 2014


So here we go, some goals for 2015;

  • some light indoor track racing aiming to dip under 9 for 3k
  • rotterdam marathon, aiming for south of 2:30:00
    • how far south, god hates a coward:-)
  • nationals track 10km, aiming to dip under 32:00
    • how large a dip, well one second would be just fine with me:-)
Nordic / Ski Racing
  • local alberta cups, depending on how back responds to skiing
  • local loppets, see above:-)
General state of affairs
I am almost back to full health running eighteen minute tempo runs not including warm up and warm down and just ramped those up to twenty four minutes plus 60 minute aerobic skis. Right now tempo runs are coming in at 7 minutes per mile and will look to get that down to under 6 over the next few months as health and fitness improves and the skiing will remain easy aerobic skiing as intervals are putting too much pressure on the back muscles.
This seemed appropriate for this post.
How are these goals going to all happen;
  • focus on nutrition
  • gradual reduction of body weight
  • focus on recovery
  • proper pacing of workouts
  • no ski intervals so not to irritate the back muscles, just aerobic paced skiing this winter
  • low rep, high weight strength training using two exercises;
    • overhead squats
    • deadlifts
Barring that, they will remain just that, goals:-)

Sunday, 30 November 2014

A lesson

After the World Mountain Running Championships, the goal this fall was Nationals in Vancouver.

Fitness was good and the first race of the XC season went extremely well, in the excitement of this new found fitness I pushed the training over the next few weeks and found the next race was not as strong, so I pushed harder in training and started to feel a few things start to break down. Ignoring the signs I continued to push. As Nationals drew closer I was struggling with an aggravated back and a tight achilles and in an "Hail Mary" attempt to regain some fitness I managed to come down with a cold.

There is a lesson in there somewhere I am sure:-)

Monday, 24 November 2014


Back doing aerobic tempo runs at 7 minute pace which is a good sign as these are generally 60 to 90 seconds slower than 10km race pace putting me in around 5:30 to 6:00 pace which is about where I left off. I suspect I am closer to be able to running a 10km race at around 5:45 pace at the moment so would need to see some improvement over the next few days before deciding to head to Nationals.

It hasn't been a quick transition back, but we are back which is nice!

Monday, 17 November 2014

11 days...

Well, we have eleven days.

Well now...

So I kind of over did it and then I tweaked my back lifting the start arch into the truck for an event so we've been on damage control for the past few weeks. So what does one do when one cannot run or ski, well in my case we walk, twice a day.

The running has begun again and as the sign says, "drink coffee and do stupid things faster"

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Not as strong...

Not quite as strong in Camrose with a less than stellar first lap, but made up ground on the second lap and finished strong.
Wait up!
Now we have two weeks to focus on training and building fitness pointing to the Stewart Cup.

It is certainly going to be a busy week next week with the Frozen Thunder Sprint race in Canmore on the Friday, Stewart Cup in Calgary on Saturday, back home for the ENSC Ski Swap on Sunday and then back to Canmore for the Frozen Thunder distance race on Monday.

Best get working on my upper body!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Ah …, too much!

Went out hard as planned at the SAIT XC Open but quickly realized that was a bad idea, and quickly switched to old school racing and hung on for dear life!

It was a hard course with some good uphill sections which seemed to be my strong suit losing some ground on the descents and not having quite the fitness on the flats.

My time was good enough for 16th overall and 1st in the 35+ and then using the age grading system that they use in cross racing my graded time put me in third overall which is a nice way to treat the old guy.

out hard!
guys…guys…wait up!
oh shit!
 Next up Stewart Cup in a few weeks.

Friday, 3 October 2014

It's fall so it must be XC season!

I am over the jet lag and have settled back into regular training. I am still a gong show but jet lag can no longer be the excuse. 

Cross season is upon us and it is time to hit the trail. I had intended to race last weekend in Red Deer but just did not have it in me, needed another week. This weekend I feel a little more ready to go and will be heading down to Calgary tomorrow for the SAIT XC Open as a training race in preparation for Nationals in Vancouver in November. Hopefully I will not have to use the seat warmers for the warm up, but one never knows:-)

Training wise I am back doubling down with rollerski workouts in the AM and run workouts in the PM as I am also looking to get ready for the Nordic Season.

I am expecting a Big Bang tomorrow as I blow up on course, the goal is to go out with the leaders and hang on as long as can and see where the chips fall. Now hopefully come race time I feel up to the challenge otherwise I may revert to good old fashioned pacing. Stay tuned this might be interesting!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Well, "these pants are ruined"

Ah, airports...
Our trip began with rain, horizontal rain in Toronto closing all but two runways which caused us to have to reroute to Ottawa to refuel. Upon returning to Toronto we had missed our trans-Atlantic connection. Thus the shenanigans began. The big hurdle was getting us on a flight from Rome to Pisa earlier than Saturday night before the race (far from ideal) and with no room for error. In the end we opted for an overnight in Toronto, the milk run to Rome and instead of flying to Pisa we rented a car and drove up the west coast of Italy from Rome to the race venue. In the process our luggage did not make the connection in Dublin so we left Rome sans baggage.
So, where's our gate?
Equipped with our essentials kit from air Italia we headed off to pick up our rental car which we find out is an offsite rental due to onsite being sold out. A taxi ride it is, and this needs to be quick as it is now 6:15 and the office closes at 7pm.

We arrive in time and process the paper work realizing my drivers licence has expired, well Shauna is driving.  Reprocess paper work and then walk through town with the rental manager and find our car fuelled and ready to go.  Yikes, have you seen the traffic in Rome?
On the road now, Shauna quickly puts on her best Mario Andretti and I work to find the route. Interestingly while flying over the pond I had read an article on the decline of the masters athlete including lower mv02, loss of muscle mass etc.  One thing not mentioned but very noticeable on this trip was failing eye sight particularly while trying to read the map when driving through Europe with a tourist map that might have had a four point font, I digress. After a few discovery round a bouts we got a system and managed to get ourselves to our race hotel. A discovery round a bout is when you drive in and continue to go around until you figure out where the hell you are and then exit at the appropriate time. Usually after three full circles you can make a decision.  If after four turns, give up and try another round about!
12 O'clock!
Arriving late at the hotel we had a short visit with a few members of the team and headed off to bed.  We met the rest of the team at breakfast, got the lay of the land and had a glorious breakfast.  Went for a run to shake out the legs. Very glad to have taken shoes and kit in my carry on. After the run we went for a walk to check out the town and pick up a few essentials with the lack of luggage.
Good news, hotel has a kitty!
After lunch I received my awesome new Canada kit - looking good! We made our way to the opening ceremonies on the race bus. The race buses were military buses and police prison buses complete with a police escort which was something to see.  This was worth the trip alone.  We had a full police escort of cars and motorcycles for the 30 minute drive through the busy streets of Massa.
Walking up to the opening ceremonies.
Fighting jet lag I was trying hard to fight off sleep at the ceremonies so details here are a little hazy. As things wrapped up we headed back via police escort to our hotels for dinner, a quick meeting and off to bed. One great thing about these short events there is not much to prepare, set out your shoes, shorty shorts and good to go. It was sweet dreams and a civilized wake up time, light breakfast and back on the bus. Did I mention how much fun it was to have a police escort?
Police escort preparing for departure.
Once we arrived at the small old town of Fondo we had two hours before start time. The team relaxed and at various times took to finding the WC. With one hour to go started the slow warm up exercises and gradually increased speed and intensity until just before the start. Charged and ready to go the team made it to the start line seeding ourselves accordingly. At the last minute, to Will's surprise, I went from the middle of the chaos to the back of the pack sensing I needed to give myself more space. Being on the line with 130 of the best mountain runners in the world I felt I would not be held up moving to the back of line. Two minutes from the gun there was a 15 man pile up where the road narrowed.  I ran through without incident. Will was not so fortunate or the little guy underneath him.
First main hill out of town.
 The course started with two short loops on a very narrow walkway through the mountain town trying not to go down with the bath water or get clothes lined by someone's laundry. Second time around we turned right and headed up out of town, followed by a steep downhill connecting back to the road we drove in on, a hard left and started climbing a long staircase to the next town where the women started their race an hour earlier.  In the next town which was also the start of the women's race we made a loop of the town climbing many narrow street styled staircases leading past many a residents door step and through one ladies kitchen or so it seemed at one point.

Leaving town,which was lined with spectators by the way, we started to climb some fairly steep single track trail combined with rustic staircase style climbs eventually leading us up to the marble quarry and the service roads which we followed to the very top of the course.  This is where I found my stride and started making time, gaining the nick name "Jack Hammer" on the steep service roads. The final pitch was something out of a Tour de France video with large crowds lining the hill with one man with a chainsaw revving the engine for effect and spectators running along side, some even giving push..

I can say I have never lost cookies before but at this finish line I had a moment and it wasn't pretty. Rebounding eventually Will and I made our way back down the mountain with a few shots of the sights and hooked up with Shauna who by her own right had an adventure of her own hitching a ride with the race director and the coach of the Uganda team up the mountain to see the finish after watching the start of the race.  The Uganda team as you might have noticed did quite well in the men's race.

At the end of the day I left everything I had on the course, had no back pain and did that after some not so smooth travel so I can say I am very, very happy with my efforts.

Afterwards we had time to connect with the team, exchange stories and enjoy the experience and take a dip in the ocean. The closing ceremony was a nice way to round out the great reception from our gracious hosts and meet runners from other teams and spend time with the parents of some of the athletes on the trip.

Closing ceremonies wine and cheese.
One last breakfast on the final day and the teams dispersed and we were left to ourselves at the race hotel continuing to wait for our luggage and to explore the area and after five days in the same clothes it was time to do some shopping as the clothes we were in were well, "ruined".

The next morning our luggage arrived and we could say goodbye to our hotel and move on down the road to explore the area further. Many a place, pastry and pizza, but our favourite was hanging by the pool in Fort de Marmi.

Well, well!
We return home after a wonderful trip and much quality time and look forward to getting ready for the Saucony series, Nationals and the Nordic season!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Fading Faster than a Kmart Towel

Start hard and fade is my strategy and it played out well for me on Sunday for the Edmonton Marathon 10k, keeping pace with Jeremy Deere for the first 5km when we split and he went on to do the half marathon and I turned to head back for 10km course. As I turned the fade started quickly, going from 5:15 pace with Jeremy to 5:30 to 5:45 pace over the final few km's. 
On task! 
"I'm a Kmart towel"
Let the fade continue...
All in good fun though, quite enjoyed the push and with some more solid training we will start to see less fade...

Three weeks to go before Worlds, need to get this body moovin!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Had me a Time Trial

After a solid week of training went out to Sherwood Park to run a 3000m Time Trial on the track with Will, Paul and Madeline on the track and Patrick and Kim on timing. It was a good effort for everyone.

Will Critchley in the lead!
Not going to lie, I am a little concerned with my effort but that is why we do time trials to help evaluate training effect and adjust accordingly.

Adjustments made!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Made me a Team

A World Mountain Running Championship team that is. Remember back, way back when I went to the Canadian Mountain Running championships and placed 15th and didn't make the team, well those in front declined.

Some light uphill running!
I do not make World Championship Teams often but when I do the guys that did declined:-)

That said I'm on the team and I am going to Europe!

Now we got some training to do!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

You got some training to do!

Have been working hard, focusing on speed utilizing gradual downhills for formal workouts to increase turnover and speed. On the strength front have been adding in some gymnastic style strength and have been having allot of fun with the new exercises from Gymnastic Bodies.

Run away

ha ha

ha ha

Also started some roller skiing

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

time for some training

With track season winding down and having dabbled with a few ultra based events it is time to take a few months and buckle down to some training and refocus and get ready for the fall cross season with the Saucony Series starting in September and the Nordic season starting in October with Frozen Thunder.

This training break will include a renewed focus on strength, specifically core and upper body strength and two quality workouts per day. The main formal workouts will be on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Saturday and then short tempo workouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday or Saturday and a recovery run on Sunday.

With the fire I lost my strength room for a while, but now have it up and running again with a few new additions;

  1. Set of rings for chin ups, dips and push up
  2. Ab straps for leg lifts
  3. 20-pound Dynamax Medicine Ball for wall ball squats
  4. Redcord for core work

In terms of the nordic side of training roller skiing will be added in most likely in the next few weeks once the upper body strength comes online, so to speak:-)

And we have one more 3000m race coming up on August 25th, the Fast Trax staff time trial!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Oval racing

Had some good running at the Provincial Master Track Championships this past weekend.

Quite like age grading, times look quite good after factoring in age. The fastest I ran in high school was 8:58, so in theory i am getting faster with age:-)

  • 1500m - 4:31.22 3:58.33 86.44%
  • 3000m - 9:43.42 8:42.63 84.19%    
Well, this is going to be a hotter start than S7!
Well, I am tasting blood, not good!
OK we need to stop surging:-)

Thats strange I seem to be fading, badly:-)
Next up, National Long Distance Mountain Running Championships, its my kind of course the downhills are at the end, not at the start so I have a good chance of finishing:-)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Weekend in the Mountains

Had a great weekend in the mountains running a few of the legs of Sinister 7 and in particular running leg 4 with Shauna.

This weekend we have the Provincial Masters Track & Field Championships in Sherwood Park with the 1500m on Saturday and the 3000m on the Sunday.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Mountain Running

A few pictures from the Canadian Mountain Running Championships in Golden, BC this past weekend. This event was of particular interest to me as it was an all uphill format as the downhill's have been hard on my disc over the years and as hoped it proved to be a good mix of a short hard effort with all climbing giving the epic but without the hard pounding to the back.

Heading into this I thought I might have been able to compete with the leaders but they were too much for my current level of speed and strength but in terms of the 40+ group I was able to hold pace and be competitive and on that note will be heading to the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in September.


I think this is a good fit for me as it is a uphill format event, allows me to focus on speed and strength and I will be racing with athletes my own age, 45-49. So an element of epic while being allot easier on my on going disc issues than the ultras I have doing in the past and has that international flavor I enjoy.

As for training the goal will be to continue with the track work, build strength, core and agility with a focus on climbing.
Lining up!
They are off!
Rounding the bend after the first 2km loop, now we head up!
The final pitch.


A view of the final few km's to the top.

A view of midway.
With this current mix of track, mountain running and fall cross country and the corresponding training I think this might transition well into the Nordic season and some great winter racing!

Saturday, 21 June 2014


Posted 4:32 for 1500m and 9:36 for 3000m last weekend in Calgary. Since back I have been doing a few hard trail workouts to prepare next weekends National 12km Mountain Running Championships. Also making a few adjustments to technique to increase cadence and decrease ground contact time and increasing core strength training.

Post Mountain Championships it will be back to the track looking to lower 1500m and 3000m times and maybe just maybe using this to get ready for the World Mountain Running Championships in August but that would be getting ahead of ourselves, way ahead:-)

Monday, 9 June 2014

Spiked Up, Psyched Up

With the marathon out of the way, looking forward to going short for the next few weeks;
  • CalTaf Track Classic - 1500m
  • CalTaf Track Classic - 3000m
  • National 5000m or 10000m - heavy maybe, depends on the above:-)
  • National Mountain Running Championships - 12km
Good workout to start this week on the track, keeping in mind, me on the track is like Forest Gump with track spikes:-)

  • 3 x 200m @ 40sec
  • 20 x 200m @ 35sec
  • 3 x 200m @ 30sec

each with 200m jog recovery.

Took a good 15 reps to find a rhythm but by the end felt much better. Should have found my way to the track sooner.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Go from tower, well no

Went down to Calgary for the marathon this past weekend but building tension in the back lead to the decision to not starting. Went for a shake out run race morning and could tell something was just not right with the back and went back inside and let Shauna know she could continue sleeping.

The good news, there was no loss in training, with an adjustment on Monday we will be back to training. If I had run the marathon with the back out of alignment I would have had to rest for three weeks, lost fitness and would have lost another three weeks to build back up.

Over the past three months I have been training as a 3000m/5000m runner with short intervals and short tempo runs in preparation for some outdoor track races and some shorter trail / mountain events but in the process I started to think about the marathon again but with this latest development we can continue with the shorter events.

Probably for the best the back acted up as it did, I almost ran another marathon and was starting to think another ultra was in the cards:-)

Hopefully things will stay on track and the body will adapt well to the training and we can start posting some fast times. Now the marathon itself did not have anything to do the back issues, but the timing of the flare up, turns out, works in my favor.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Just a light char

Managed to barbecue the house this past Tuesday, which lead to some stress and had to take a few days to collect my thoughts but things are settling down and starting to get after it again.

Through this I missed some training but managed to put in a solid workout on Saturday and then again on Monday. After the fire I was definitely having some issues with stress and smoke inhalation but with a few good workouts under my belt I seem to have worked though and look forward to getting back to the normal routine.

The morning after, some light charring!

Fire spread quickly to the bedroom.
All that you see in the above pictures stems from the oil pan not being in its position to collect the grease drippings from the grease pan, which seems to have been dislodged over the winter and was sitting on the base of the barbecue. 

In the span of three minutes I went from standing at the barbecue about to flip the steak to answering the door and then coming back to the barbecue to see the deck engulfed in smoke and flames within the next two minutes. In the moment standing in smoke, deciding what to do Shauna was on the phone to 911 which is what saved our house as within the next five minutes the house had caught fire and had started working its way up to the roof.

The only thing I managed to do was to close the door to the deck which saved the interior of the house from the flames, other wise there would have been even more damage. The moment that hit home was when we realized kitty was still in the house and the realization that she would head to the closet which was in the direct line of the fire. As we watched the fire spread and waited for the fire to be brought under control and the moment the fire fighters could transition to finding our kitty. After thirty minutes we were reunited with kitty and she was shaking from the experience as were we.

After a long night we packed up a few things we could take for the night and headed over to Shauna's mom's house. We have been here now for six nights and are settling in and kitty has her purr back and is happy with her new surroundings.

Kitty has a new home!
We are all well and happy and enjoying our time at home and the home cooked meals. Thought about skipping this Sundays Calgary marathon but in the end decided get after it!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Beep, beep

Another good week of double workouts each day, with a easy recovery run out at Blackfoot on Sunday and then a bang up of an extension workout this past Monday, 40 x 90 seconds with 90 seconds off. Some light "beep, beep" of the Garmin.

Running out at Blackfoot was a real treat running 10 minute mile pace and taking in the quiet and the beauty of the trail, aside from the couple having a light conversation over which direction they should go it was quite peaceful:-)

Things continue this week with doubles, no racing just yet. Will look to decide on Calgary mid week.

Tally ho!

What direction shall we go?

Monday, 12 May 2014


Time for some extension with speed in mind. With back strength improving and speed slowly coming back the goal is to extend that speed with the marathon in mind. To be able to keep the speed for the entire workout the rest needs to be easy and a little longer. The workout is 30 x 1minute with 2 minute rest at 5 minute per mile pace building to 40 x 1minute over the next few weeks so a 2 hour workout with a 15 minute warm up and 15 minute cool down for a 2:30 day.

I do this workout on the treadmill as it challenges me to get up to the desired speed, it's kind of like having a faster training partner and you are trying to latch on.

With this kind of speed I am able to tap into the nervous system and wake up the legs increasing stride efficiency and through the extension I can look at improving my speed endurance and bringing my marathon time down a notch or two or at least that is the idea:-)

If I attempted this type of extension in a non interval format I would not be able to hit these kind of speeds so in a sense which possibly makes no sense this is a long run, short interval infusion. But then again...

Nice kit fella!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Strength Gains

I have made a lot of errors with my strength training and the transferring value from strength training to running and cross country skiing. Strength training should not only be done in batches in a given period, but should be maintained throughout the season. It has also been important to focus on quality rather than quantity and that the exercises are performed correctly, not necessarily with high loads. 
What has been key for me is sling training, the instability in the slings enables the inner stabilizing musculature in a different way than traditional strength training, exercising strength, stability and coordination at the same time. You can have well trained and very strong individual muscles, but it does not matter when they don't work together or if you have weak links such as I do with my specific disc issues.

When I first started the program below I could barely hold the position without creating tension in my weak disc space but with time and gradual progression I can now add movement with no disc irritation.

Certainly a long way to go to get to the point of the strength shown in the video but the gains made have been noticeable and running stride has improved two fold and weakness running downhills has all but been corrected.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Yes, I am Aware

Good progression and very happy with training and how well the St Albert 10miler went on the weekend. Went through the mile in 5:30 and felt strong, settling into pace dropping down to 5:45 pace until the 10k mark where I could feel the distance and dropped a little further off the pace down to 6:15 pace. Went through 10k in 35:30 and my 10mile time of 58:42 was slower than the past few years but all things considered I felt it was a great start to the season given after the race my Garmin beeped off about "congratulations longest run of the year", "yes I am aware" :-)

All that said slower this year based on the fact my shape less:-)

Things continue with the workout doubles focusing on the short intervals and short tempo workouts as we gear up for a 10km road race next weekend.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Tale of the Tape

Back from a light vacation, one week with access to email, Facebook and twitter, so real light:-)

While on vaca I hit the road hard with two tempo runs per day on the non workouts days and then tempo and intervals on the key days. The tempo runs start out at an easy 8:00 pace for 6 minutes and then the pace picks up slowly dropping to 6:30 pace on the morning 12min tempo runs and 6:00 pace on the evening 18 minute tempo runs. Then they finish up with 6 minutes at 8:00 pace.

The intervals start with a 12 minute warm up at the same 8:00 pace and then things drop down to 6:00 pace for the first interval working down to 5:00 pace over the final intervals. These workouts are the long ones, they last 75 to 90mins with warm up and down.

Note pace may vary based on distance, wind and climb:-)

Things are also progressing with the diet, cleaning things up and getting off the comfort food and getting a little more grok. With the grok lifestyle the de-training 10lbs has dropped off and I am back down to 165lb from 175lb.

Some light grok
Each tempo run finishes up with Redcord type core strength.

With all the training and the core strength starting to click I am starting to get my marathon mojo back and may decide to take on the Calgary marathon.