Fragile bird (and a mountain to run up)

English: Female House Sparrow, Bairnsdale Aust...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Week three is done! I’m tired but managing and glad for the sleep-in on Saturday morning. Last week’s Sunday long run went really well. I was nervous about it, as the group I run with are all slightly faster than I am. Sometimes it feels like it’s all I can do just to hang on and keep up. But my fitness is improving; last week’s run was just slightly slower than last fall’s half-marathon’s race pace. So my race pace has almost become my long run pace. Granted, our long run pace has been increasing but should pull back again when we start hitting the longer distances (half-marathon plus). It felt great to run this; even on a hilly route where I had to push on the hills I managed to keep up and even increase my tempo after the hill. (no slower running to recover!)

A few of us idiots keeners even managed to run up Mt. Tolmie after the run. I haven’t gotten photos yet, but when I do I’ll add a bit about Mt. Tolmie in a future post. It’s a little mountain that we run up for hill and strength training. Both sides are steep, one side much steeper and the other side much longer. It was good sign that I had the energy and was able to do Mt. Tolmie after an already hilly long run.

Thursday morning’s swim was also good. I had a rough sleep the night before so felt pretty disoriented and spacey getting into the water. It took me a few laps to remember you don’t breathe under water. Usually I start to flail and fail in the second half of the swim, but I was actually feeling stronger. My legs were still kicking and my breathing got into a good rhythm that helped sustain me for the last laps.

Friday morning I got up with the birds to run. I had to drive my husband to the airport so I needed to run before that, which meant being on the pavement by 5:30 a.m. I ran a slightly different route than I usually do, to incorporate more hills. I figure as I’m running slower on these ‘easy’ runs, getting more hills in might not be a bad idea. It was a beautiful morning, with sunshine and a pleasant temperature; I even spotted a herd of urban deer and a few gangs of raccoons. It was nice to be out when it is so quiet; there are fewer people on the roads, kids are out of school and things feel calm. I just ran in the quiet, even though it’s in the middle of a city. I saw the sun come up and it was a great way to start a day (especially given the rest of my day was completely rushed).

American Robin -- Humber Bay Park (East) (Toro...

My running buddy. (Photo courtesy:

For today’s long run we ran a route with a mountain to summit in it. Our coach likes to remind us when we run hills, “It’s not a hill.” Today he commented, “It’s not a hill. It’s a mountain!” Great motivation. The weather was great, after a rainy Saturday, as we ran on our national version of the 4th of July, known as Canada Day! Running in a group is so good for morale and support and motivation. Four km into the route we ran up (and down, have to come down) a mountain. It was about a mile long and an elevation gain of approximately 160 m (if I can read the map correctly). It was a grind, but another hill to crush. It was so great to see everyone working hard, encouraging each other, and making it up to the top. Strangely, coming down I felt relaxed and energized, which was great because we had more hills yet.

The flattest part of the road. (Photo courtesy of

It was great to feel strong enough to sustain a good pace up the hills. You know the feeling where you are feeling fatigued, you start hunching over, your legs are screaming, you are slowly going slower and slower and you’re thinking, “Why am I doing this? It hurts, it’s hard and I don’t like this. The hill is getting longer as I try to go up. What possessed me to get out here with all these people and do this? I could be having coffee right now and reading the paper.” In actuality, you are so tired, all your brain can muster is, “Stop. Stop. Stop.” Today was the beast over the mind and all I could think was “These legs are strong. Relax and get up that hill!” I even passed people! Woot! And that, my friends, is a great feeling!

I’ve also noticed that getting out after a long run is key for recovery. I usually don’t stretch enough after a run and then tend to come home, shower and be comatose for the rest of the day. Getting out, even for a walk, or something as simple as doing grocery shopping where you are moving around, helps.

It’s Canada Day so I am heading out for some music, face painting for the kids and general crowd-pleasing activities. Happy Canada Day to everyone!

*Did you run today? Don’t forget your sunscreen!


6 thoughts on “Fragile bird (and a mountain to run up)

  1. From my education in massage therapy, I remember that one thing to do to avoid being too sore after exercise is to use the same muscles in the same way, but less intensely. It makes a lot of sense to take a walk at some point after a long run, it moves all the leftover stuff out of your muscle cells so that they can be clean an happy. Good for you on passing people 🙂

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I knew that moving after hard workouts was helpful to flush out toxins and whatever got ‘stuck’ in your legs from a workout. (lactic acid sludge?). However, I never knew that you should work out the same muscles in the same way, but in lower intensity. Thanks for this! It makes sense now and it helps to know a bit of reasoning and some specifics as to what I’m doing to help recover.
      It felt great to pass someone on the hill. We usually run in such a tight pack that the place you start in the pack at the bottom of the hill is usually where you finish at the top, so it felt great to actually accelerate past someone, going uphill!

  2. Awesome job on those hills! It is such a great feeling to know that all your hard work is starting to pay off, isn’t it? I run with a group that is also slightly faster than me, and yesterday was the first time all summer I managed to say with them–on a hilly route–the entire run and still feel good at the end. Have to agree about doing something after a long run to gently stretch out the muscles. I love to take a relaxing walk in the evening.

    • It finally feels like months of struggle and hanging on are paying off. I think a lot of it – for me – also has to do with my own personal health. I struggled with a lot of health issues (really low energy, fatigue, cramping, etc) so to figure out some of my food needs and restrictions has actually allowed me to have some fuel for my body, instead of just barely making it through a run in complete pain. I’m so happy about this.

  3. as you know, I don’t run. But I do notice that my addiction to self-imposed pain arises when I find myself pedaling harder than I need to, or choosing to take a hillier route than necessary. Then I forget that the ride – the journey – is the goal. Hmm.

    • It’s an addiction to fatigue. That feeling of being so quenched and satisfied because you have done more than you needed to. That is also a journey! You are not alone.

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