We have work to do. Welcome to the Grind.

The only thing that went right in my life this year was running. The only thing I continued to grasp hold of as the universe sent me challenge after challenge were my running shoes pounding through the trails. In the midst of everything working against me I found my strong, I decided what I wanted, and I began to work.

On my playlist I have several motivators. Find your strong videos, running and trail running motivation, but this one will always be my favourite. If you’re an athlete, of any kind, then this needs to be a part of your life.

“With each step comes the decision to take another. You’re on your way now, but this is no time to dwell on how far you have come. You’re in a fight against an opponent you can’t see but one you can feel, you can feel them on your heels cant you, feel them breathing down your neck, you know what that is, that’s you. Your fears, your doubts, your insecurities all lined up like a firing squad ready to shoot you out of the sky, but don’t lose heart, though they are not easily defeated they are far from invincible. Remember, this is the grind, the battle royal between you and your mind, your body, and the devil on your shoulder whose telling you that this is just a game, this is just a waste of time; your opponents are stronger than you. Drown out the voice of uncertainty with the sound of your own heart beat, burn away yourself doubt with a fire lit beneath you, remember what we’re fighting for and never forget that momentum’s a cruel mistress she can turn on a dime or the smallest mistake she is ever searching for a weak place in your armor, that one tiny thing that you forgot to prepare for….  And when your time comes and a thousand different voices are trying to tell you you’re not ready for it, listen instead for that lone voice in decent the one that says you are ready, you are prepared, it’s all up to you now, so rise and shine.

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Selfie – Resting On the Trails

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Recovery is never without hiccup.

This is my mildly depressing yet optimistic blog post about how much I hated being injured, and what an asshole my back has been lately.

In August I screwed up my foot. I was incredibly lucky to have only over worked a tendon and was back to walking limp free in a little over a week. I waited through a couple pain free days before getting back to the trails last weekend and had a short, but awesome 5kms on the trail… admittedly not the easiest terrain, we grabbed a chunk of the 5Peaks Golden Ears trail passing the best waterfall, but we kept the climbing slow and ran a modest speed flat and down. LET ME TELL – after 2 weeks of longing I felt ah-mazing. I was sure this was my comeback.

So what happened? Well, in true Amber fashion, we don’t really know. It wasn’t until the next morning… again… that I noticed there was a problem. Notice isnt the right word. I was brutally slapped in the face by a problem. The boyfriend and I had planned a morning hike to Lindeman Lake. We drove over an hour and when we pulled up to the parking lot I couldn’t get out of the car.

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Yep. That’s right. I went to sit up and I got the worst back spasm you can imagine. I’d never felt anything like it before… pretty scary. I tried to move up. Couldn’t. Tried to go back down. Couldn’t. Tried to move to the left, and to the right. Couldn’t. The initial reaction from my boyfriend was of course to get back in the car and leave… but I wouldn’t let him. I got myself laid back down and reclined the chair a bit. We waited, I tried again, it happened again. After a bit of relaxing I was able to get out the car and walk around without any trouble. I was able to convince my boyfriend that this hike was happening… although he wasn’t happy about it.

I had absolutely no trouble with the hike. I felt great and my whole body was happy to be out on the trails on a cool morning. When we got to the lake we hung out for a bit withe a fishing rod in the water. I tried to lean on large rocks instead of sitting down fully and only felt a pinch here and there when I went to reach down for things.

Over the next couple of days I was at the doctor who told me to stop running (why do we go and see them anyways?) and to sit on my ass. Then the physio who told me not to sit still, to keep moving and keep stretching. I like him better. I know myself, and I know that this only bothers me when I am sitting. Today was my 2nd day back at my desk job, and I’ve been taking regular breaks to walk around and do some stretches.

Feeling about 80% about things today. The back bothering is minimal, the ache is small. But the worry is high. My original plan to end the season with 2 more 5 Peaks Races before racing my first trail half at Mountain Madness just isn’t going to happen. Taking it easy isn’t something I am good at, but I’m going to try my best.

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The Stages of Injury.

Stage 1: Denial

When you’re in the first month of your 3 month training program and feeling like a boss, you don’t want to let anything at all get in your way. “Injury? No way. I didn’t even do anything…. I had a great run last night…” 

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What the hell happened?! I went out for an “easy 8km run” around my neighbourhood the Wednesday before last. Sure, I was tired that day and I was feeling pretty run down, but I thought an easy run day was just what I needed. I felt awesome and energized the entire time. Got home with a smile on my face, showered, watched TV and went to bed. It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I could barely walk on it.

Stage 2: Realization

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After a day or so or two of not being able to put much weight on it I had to accept that something was really wrong. The realization was extra awful considering I’m only at the beginning of a really grueling training road to Mountain Madness.

Stage 3: Depression

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First begun the days of limping around the house and office groaning and glaring at whoever pointed it out. All the while muttering to myself under my breath about what this all could mean for my week, month, training, marathoning… etc.. etc…

tumblr_inline_n93dobMXVz1snbmlqEventually all of this muttering and internal worrying leaves me in a state of “there’s no hope, feed me pizza and leave me to die”. Ok, it isn’t that bad, but it sure isn’t pretty.

Stage 4: Acceptance

When I finally accept the defeat… I can be realistic and figure out what’s wrong with me. It turns out, I’m pretty lucky. What I’ve been told is that I have “tweaked”, “kinked”, “over worked”, “hyper extended”…. the thing. So taking care of it is and has been a matter of stretch, walk it off and easy physio exercises.

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You have to accept it eventually, but that sure as hell doesn’t mean you have to like it.

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Osoyoos – Family Reunion, Beaches & Sunburns

Last weekend the boyfriend and I took a mini vacation to Osoyoos. His side of the family had a huge family reunion we weren’t originally sure we would be able to make – but we managed to swing it by leaving early from work on Friday and driving up that night. It takes around 4-5 hours to get there so it was pretty late when we pulled in. I wont even pretend we were cool and stayed up to party… it was right to bed after the hellos.

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I love late night road trips; its pitch black when you get there, so you get the fun of waking up in a totally different place with completely different scenery. It blew my mind a little when the boyf told me he’d never been to Osoyoos, so first thing in the morning, I took him for a drive to coffee and the best view point in town.

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Selfie – Burrard Inlet

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Enjoying the last bits of summer at the inlet on the weekend.

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Run-Hiking – Elk Mountain

Not long ago, the best and I were looking for a challenge…. so as always, I took this seriously and delivered. I know you aren’t suppose to judge a book by its cover, but I just might have chosen to climb this particular mountain because the photos I saw of Elk Mountain‘s peak on the Vancouver Trails website gave me wonderful day dreams.

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Train your mind to see the good in every situation.

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Hot Sweaty Trail Running & Ice Cold Ponds.

I love the summer time. I love the extended day light hours, letting me get in that extra bit of training on week nights, the warm weather, the smile the sunlight puts on my face… but then, there’s trying to train in it. I try to plan early morning runs on the weekend, but working full time monday to friday makes my body crave at least one decent sleep in (by sleep in I mean until 9am) a week…. leaving me wide open to heat issues. While I’m happy with the time of year in general, I have to admit that it is in some ways a form of torture to be out there workin’ it in this heat.

On the weekend I took my best friend from hiking to trail running. In retrospect, it would have been nice of me to take her on a cooler day, but hey, she said it was ok. Since starting my training plan at the end of July I had to tell her that our weekend hikes will be running for me, and she can yell “run forest run” while hiking her way behind, or keep up as much as she could. She did AMAZING.

We started around 9AM and kept the pace slow and steady. The run was scheduled to be “Easy pace with last 15mins at race pace” so I took my time and matched pace for the run up to the peak.

A few highlights from our run:

Enjoying the view from the top!

Enjoying the view from the top!

I've actually found this a few times, but finally had someone around to take my photo with it. Its 3 fallen over trees with amazing looking tipped up roots. SO COOL! & huge!

I’ve actually found this a few times, but finally had someone around to take my photo with it. Its 3 fallen over trees with amazing looking tipped up roots. SO COOL! & huge!

Hands down, the best part of our day was running into this waterfall with ice cold pools to dip in. BEST way to cool down during a hot trail run!

Hands down, the best part of our day was running into this waterfall with ice cold pools to dip in. BEST way to cool down during a hot trail run!

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MM Training Week 1: You just have to want it.

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Monday: Active Recovery/X-training
I scheduled the majority of my cross training days as strength. I have a pretty good set up at home, so I’ve paired those together with simple body weight exercises – especially targeting the core. Crunches, bicycles, leg lifts, squats, planks and arm exercises, etc. using my weights whenever I can.

This was also a landmark day for me and my plank: 2mins and 2seconds! I’d never gone more than 1:30.

Tuesday: Hill Repeats *6x30sec at 5k effort
This was a very exciting day for me. As I was getting ready to go, my bf, who has NEVER run or shown any interest in joining, offered just that! Since I would only be running a km or so around our neighborhood to warm up before hitting the hill, it seemed like an easy start. Not only was I SO PROUD of him, it was nice for me to have someone there for support and tossing me a high five when I sprinted past.

While I have done plenty of purposely hilly runs, hill repeats were new. I was proud at how easy it was to sprint up the hill each time… I have to admit I did push myself a bit too hard at one point and kind of felt like I might hurl… but I didn’t!

Wednesday & Thursday: 6k Easy Run & 6k Strides 5kis walking?
I’m pretty dissapointed that I fumbled here. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping, which caught up with me pretty badly when I went downtown to the beach to see fireworks on Wednesday night. I’m going to count this as an “active recovery” kind of day. We had to park really far from the beach and walk for a lot longer than we wanted to.

I barely slept Tuesday night, wasn’t home until after midnight from Wednesday’s fun, and by Thursday all I could see was the couch and sweatpants. My conscience was pretty pissed off at me, but my body was thankful I skipped another day.

Friday: Active Recovery/X-training
A big part of me wanted to make up some missed running on Friday, but I knew I’d be training hard enough all weekend so I let it slide. Instead I spent a small part of my evening, squating, planking, crunching and lifting weights.

Saturday: 8k Easy, last 15mins at race pace.
Saturday morning I headed up to Malcolm Knapp with my best friend. She’s been getting really in to running lately, and we’ve been hiking together a lot as well. Her fitness has gotten to be pretty bad ass the past few months and I couldn’t be more proud. I told her now that I’m training I have to RUN a good portion of our HIKES and she was happy to try! We got the full 8KM in, plus a gorgeous peak, and I ran ahead at “race pace” for the last portion of the trail to get my speed in.
Sidenote: IT WAS DAMN HOT THIS DAY. 

Sunday: 5k Tempo
I headed back to Malcom Knap and hit the lower level, flatter trails on my own. I had no choice but to go mid afteroon… it wasnt as fun as I wanted it to be. I ran the trails as fast as I could (comfortably, of course), sweat buckets and felt a bit pukey from the heat. Thankfully Id learned from the day before and put a handful of ice cubes in my pack for the adventure.
Sidenote: IT WAS DAMN HOT THIS DAY TOO.

Final thought for week 1:
This is exhausting. Im not made to run in the heat, I thrive in fall… winter… spring?! Not when its 30 degrees…. but we keep swimming running.

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