Posts filed under ‘Fitness’

Fitness Friday: Hot Stuff

I’ve had the Wineglass Marathon website open in a tab in my browser for about 36 hours now. I can’t seem to get out my credit card and make the payment though.

If you’ve experienced childbirth, you rarely remember the pain, but you remember that in that moment you felt pain (if that makes sense). That’s kinda how I feel about  the marathon; I remember that I felt pain but I don’t remember what it felt like. And I think that ignorance in this case is not bliss, but a road block. It can’t have been that bad, could it have?

I almost registered for the NYC marathon lottery last night but then I looked at the prices and started adding up all the extras and the time around the marathon, and the waiting in line-ups and I decided that for my first time getting back on the proverbial marathon horse I want to pick one that is relatively stress-free.

So, Wineglass, Niagara, Toronto Waterfront, Montreal (too hilly maybe – the course is not set yet)? I need some input here from you marathon runners.

Onto the subject on the title of this post – the heat. It’s hot here. Running in the sun is hard. Even in our little gym, the treadmill is in the sunniest part of the room in the corner furthest from the little air conditioning units.

I’m still managing to get my runs in though… usually I’ll do part outside while I turn the A/C in the gym on full blast, and then part on the treadmill. The beach here is great for running if it’s not too late in the day. At low tide there is plenty of   flat space and the hard packed sand is fairly easy to run on. The length of the beach there and back is just under 5 km. On the way out there is wind against you and then you’ve got a lovely tail wind to push you home. I think I might do this 3 or 4 times tomorrow for my long run (my bro is planning on doing half with me).

I brought my Fuel Belt for water – since I need it here – except I forgot the bottles. And those tiny little 8 oz bottles are not exactly easy to find here. May have to add that to my online order (or it’ll have to wait till someone I know is coming to visit). For the time being I fill a bottle at the gym and just plan my route around stores at which to chug bottles of water.

In Ottawa I would never be caught wearing this little on run:

Here it feels like too much clothing (sports bra, short top, skirt).

I have seen both men and women running in bikinis. I gagged a bit when I ran by the 55 yr old man running in a Speedo, a tight singlet over his pot-belly, mid-calf socks and sneakers.

This Week’s Running Rundown 

Sunday: 11 km easy 2.5 km on the road; 8.5 km on the treadmill

Tuesday: 5 km easy 2.5 km on the road; 2.5 km on the treadmill

Wednesday: 4.5 km easy on the beach

Thursday: 10 km: 2.5 km warm-up on the road; 6 km tempo at 5:20 min/km on the treadmill; 1.5 km cool-down


Mon – Fri: plank to plunk down planks plus a set of 10 push-ups

Tues, Thurs: Speed strength training (one set per body part)

Have a great weekend! And don’t forget – I need advice on marathon selection.


January 6, 2012 at 7:57 pm 5 comments

Fitness Friday: Strengthen Your Core for a Cause

Shortly after I started blogging, I posted about my friend Julie’s daughter Kate. Since then, and after four years of unanswered questions, Kate has been diagnosed with a very rare form of mitochondrial disease.

One of Julie’s friends is organizing a really fun event which will not only kickstart your core work for 2012, but will get your giving self off to a good start to the new year too.

Here’s Brenda’s description and information on how to participate:

If you wish to participate in this event, you are agreeing to complete a side plank and a front plank everyday for a minimum of 30 secs each. You will agree to donate .25 per plank completed. If you miss a day you will agree to donate .50 per plank not completed. All proceeds will go to Mitocanada.As you may or may not know, a friend whom I met throught the Ottawa Triathlon Club (Julie Drury) has a daughter Kate, who has an extremely rare form of mitochondrial disease that has caused many medical conditions, including:
– Global developmental delay
– Profound deafness
– Cyclical vomiting + and hemodynamic instability with episodes of unexplained illness and pain
– Sideroblastic anemia
– Nephrocalcinosis and hypercalciurea
– Chronic constipation
– Immunodeficiency (Hypogammaglobulinemia)
– Post-anesthesia complications
– Spinal syringomyelia (syrinx)
– Pili Torti
What is amazing is that Kate has gone 4 years without a diagnosis. Her diagnosis of mitochondrial disease is recent – though it was always suspected. She is 1 of 9 in the world with this new form of mitochondrial disease. The type she has has yet to be defined and described in the medical literature.

Mitochondrial disease affects 1 in 6000 people. It is not a rare disease, but it is very difficult to recognize and diagnose – and has no known treatment or cure. MitoCanada raises money to provide support to families living with mito, raise funds for research and to raise awareness and knowledge about the disease among physicians and the public.

More information about the organization can be found here:

If you wish to sign up, click on this llink:

Put your name down and each week put the total under the specific week. The document will add each week to the next and give you a total to donate. Julie Drury will be asking Mitocanada to put a link up for us to donate to.

Thank you in advance for agreeing to participate. I know that Julie, her family and Mitocanada will value any contribution we give and our core will thank us for making it stronger.

So, are you in? If you complete all the required planks, you are committing to donate $22.50 (3 planks/day x 30 days beginning Jan 2nd). If you complete no planks, you will be on the hook for $45.

I am upping the ante and suggesting that you go for a minute for each plank (even if you have to break it into a two parts).

This Week’s Running Rundown

Travel and a lack of running clothes cramped my running style this week, but I still managed to get in a little more than half my usual kilometers.

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 10 km Christmas Eve run with Elation Run Club

Wednesday –8 km mid-pace run on the treadmill in a very hot workout room in our condo community’s gym. I think I would rather sweat like that outdoors. Uugh!

Friday – 10 km easy run on the beach. I have discovered that the length of the beach and back is 5 km. I cannot verify this, because my Garmin was stolen – boo.

Cross Training

Wednesday: Quick strength training circuit in the gym. One set only… I’m gonna do better than this in the coming weeks.

Have a great week in fitness. I hope you’ll join me in 2012 as I participate in Plank to Plunk Down for MitoCanada.

Oh, and to keep up with my running log, I am posting and logging my runs on (since I no longer have my Garmin to keep my stats). You can ‘friend’ me and we can share our workouts. My name is simply Liisa.

December 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm 7 comments

Fitness Friday: Plant-based Whole Foods Diet

I’ve gradually changed my eating habits over the last 6 months. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a long-time vegetarian who occasionally eats fish. As long as I can remember, I have had no taste for meat. In 2000 I stopped eating it outright.

Too much ice cream or cheesy pizza never agreed with me (except my taste buds).

This past year, I noticed how much better I’ve felt when I don’t eat milk products at all.

I’ve also started incorporating tons more vegetables and leafy greens into my diet.

With much education and reading, I would say that I’m now a mostly-plant-based whole foods eater (the mostly being home-made cookies and other delicious baked treats).

Here are some things I’ve learned over the last few months:

  1. I can maintain my energy level on much less food. I do have to monitor calories on long run days because otherwise the next day I will be ravenous!!!!
  2. Milk products are out for me for the long haul. I have eliminated even hidden dairy and it made a huge difference. It’s not life-altering in the short-term, so if someone offers me something and can’t guarantee there are no whey ingredients, I won’t immediately turn it down, but I am so aware now.
  3. I love coffee and it does not make that much of a difference to me so it is worth it.
  4. I love wilted kale salad with sesame seeds and a sesame oil, cider vinegar dressing.
  5. All plant foods in their whole form are made up of 10% protein.
  6. Sunwarrior protein is my favourite protein boost.

Here is a great resource for plant-based whole food recipes or education programs on this type of eating. Here is a great resource for fueling your training on a plant-based diet.

Though I do like animals and I personally do not like the idea of eating them, I am not a veg for ethical reasons. I don’t identify with the dogmatic vegan (read PETA) movement that often eats just as many processed foods as any other typical eater.

This is really about my personal decision to improve my well-being.

My family still eats meat and dairy, but hopefully more fruits and vegetables as a result of my influence. We don’t eat the same food but we eat together. I have read that kids eat what they know. Hopefully having seen, smelled and (sometimes) tasted almost every vegetable variety in the produce aisle will mean that at some point, they will know them too.

This Week’s Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 17 km run – part with group and part on my own

Monday –8 km fun run on the treadmill

Tuesday – 10 km tempo run on the treadmill in the evening; might not have run if I didn’t have the gym membership

Thursday – 12 km run

Cross Training 

Wednesday: Hips focused vinyasa yoga

I’ve got 5 classes left in my yoga class package and 9 days till I leave the country for 6 months. That’s a lot of yoga to fit in.

I hear my family coming in from soccer practice. It is loud and there is whining.

Enjoy the last weekend before Christmas/Hannukah!

December 17, 2011 at 12:21 am 10 comments

Fitness Friday: A Big Finish

I bet you think I haven’t been exercising since I haven’t been writing my Fitness Friday posts. Well you would be… WRONG.

While I have not been doing a whole lot of strength training, I have been running a lot (loving it) and working in yoga and/or what I would call “strength maintenance” here and there.

I don’t know what it is, but I have really fallen in love with running. I find it relaxing, rejuvenating and exhilarating. There was a few weeks after the Army Run where I didn’t feel like doing speed work so I just did three or four longer fun runs of 12-17k throughout the week.

I’m now back to enjoying a proper training schedule on a four-week rotation. Each week includes a fun (easy) run, and a longer run. Three of the four weeks include a speed workout (with a 10-14k fun run instead on the off week) and two-three of the four weeks include a tempo run of between 5 and 10k (plus a 3 k warm-up and 3 k cool-down).

I have to thank the fabulous Sherry Carson from the Elation Centre for providing the training program to get me through the winter in Costa Rica, so I’m back in June ready to hit the National Capital’s paths training for my fall 2012 MARATHON!

I haven’t picked which one yet, but I’m leaning towards either the Toronto Harbourfront Marathon, the Niagara Falls International Marathon or the Wineglass Marathon. I am looking for flat and fast – yeah, let me emphasize FLAT. I’ll be in my fortieth year after all… I’m hoping to beat my 27-year-old self by 10 full minutes (see the time to beat here).

Anyone want to join me?

This Week’s Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 17 km run – part with group and part on my own

Monday – 6.5 km fun run

Tuesday – 11.5 km speed run 3 km warm-up; 3 x 1 min fast with equal rest; 3 x 5 min fast with 4 min rest; 3 x 1 min fast with equal rest; cool-down

Friday – 5 km tempo at 5:07/km pace with 3 km warm-up and 2 km cool-down

Cross Training 

Tuesday: Yoga

Thursday: Core Workout

So, I’m gonna keep up the running through December’s craziness and this will hopefully keep me less than crazy. My goal is to complete 4-5 runs and 2 yoga/core conditioning classes or strength workouts throughout the week.

Got any December fitness goals?

December 2, 2011 at 8:50 am 4 comments

Fitness Friday: Aborted Plans

No… we have not aborted the move plans.

I was scheduled, well at least signed up to run the Rattle Me Bones 10k run this coming Sunday. It starts at 8:55 am.

I am scheduled to host my son’s birthday to which the guests have been invited for 11:30 am at local bowling lanes.

That gives me 155 minutes to get from the race start to greeting Lil D’s guests.

Somehow, I expected to:

  • Run my 10k (48-49 minutes)
  • Get to the car (10 minutes)
  • Get home (20 minute drive)
  • Shower and make myself host-worthy (30 minutes)
  • Drive to bowling place (15-20 minute drive after Derek and I get the two kids into the car more like 25-30 minutes)
  • Arrive early enough to greet punctual guests (10 minutes before party-time)

That plan would work if the race starts exactly on time; Derek does all the leg work in getting the boys ready and fed in the morning (as he would say “manageable”, but not necessarily fun); the  boys don’t have any last-minute pit stops or crises; I can tolerate a heightened anxiety level all morning (might make me run faster?); I leave the house with wet hair; I don’t eat post-race.

It’s not gonna happen. At least the race is a charity-organized one so I know the money is going to support the Ottawa Hospital.

This week my running was pre-10k race prep:

Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 11 km run – no alarm and we slept through the start of my group run, so I out I went with my audio book (4-Hour Work Week, T. Ferriss – so much of what he writes is how we live right now; book is helping us to fine-tune our strategies)

Monday – 5 km recovery run

Wednesday – 5 km easy run

Thursday – 5 km – 1 km warm-up; 2 x 800m @4:30; 800m rest; cool-down

I was fast (for me) yesterday, having to  slow myself down on those 800s. I wish I was running on Sunday, but it will have to wait. Maybe the Cookie Run on Sat Nov 5th? Not my fav organization to support (nothing wrong with them, just not my thing) but I do like COOKIES (not really those kind of cookies… but there is “cookie” in the name of the run, so that’s good enough for me.

Plus, they have a 1.5k run for Lil D; he’s been looking forward to a race and has been asking to do a longer one than 1k.

I’ve got a hectic and fun weekend ahead: There’s Lil D’s party and all the usual kid sports PLUS I’m meeting my four month-old niece for the first time tomorrow!

Lil C is looking forward to giving her a pink Spartacat toy. It’s nice to finally have a girl baby in the family; I hope she likes ballet. I’ve registered both my boys in dance classes and they’ve each refused to finish the sessions.

October 22, 2011 at 12:23 am 1 comment

Fitness Friday: High Pressure

A few months ago Derek went for his regular annual physical and was told that he had borderline high blood pressure (HBP). This was a little surprising to both of us as we equated HBP with stress and other risk factors that he doesn’t have (or exhibit). WebMD describes the causes of HBP as:

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of physical activity – he exercises vigorously a minimum of four, if not five or six times per week.
  • Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day) – he has the occasional 2 drinks at dinner out on the weekend.
  • Stress – according to Derek he does not feel stressed; anyone who knows him would describe him as “laid-back”; we discussed the possibility of subconscious stress.
  • Older age
  • Genetics – can’t do much about this one
  • Family history of high blood pressure – We discovered a big YES on this one
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Adrenal and thyroid disorders
  • Too much salt in the diet – a good one to attack wholeheartedly
  • White coat syndrome
So, with this information in hand, we went about attacking the salt in his diet (I like salt and have low blood pressure so I wasn’t about to change my diet!):
Biggest sources of hidden sodium in his diet:
  • Salad dressing: Home-made or store-bought
  • Breakfast Cereal: Kashi Go-Lean is guilty
  • Bread – yes, a single slice of bread has 10% of the recommended daily sodium intake
  • Deli meat: not so hidden, but part of his diet before he changed it up
  • Cheese
The big changes:
  • Breakfast now consists of Shredded Wheat, the lone national brand low-sodium cereal, fruit and milk with a cup of tea.
  • Lunch and daytime snacks have now changed from turkey sandwiches and salads with cheese to salads with home-made sodium free dressing, much less cheese, and home-made bread.
  • I bought a bread-maker at Derek’s request (on Kijiji – they are a dime and dozen) and have been experimenting with various recipes. The last one was the biggest hit – I’ll share it in a separate post. It’s not salt-free, as those attempts tasted like cardboard, but it’s much lower in sodium than store-bought bread.
  • Dinner is whatever is on the family menu, but I cook/prepare without adding salt now, and add at the end for myself and/or the boys, if really required.
The doctor also suggested to Derek that he cut back on caffeine from a couple of cups of tea and a few Coke Zeros to one cup of tea. He has made this change.
Six weeks passed
Derek went back to have his blood pressure checked. It was essentially unchanged. Uuugh!
We kept at it, trying to eliminate even more sodium (to about 800 mg per day; try it, it’s hard). He added some additional very low intensity walking to his days as recommended in the literature.
Another six weeks passed
Another appointment; another high/normal reading. Essentially no change. This time the doctor suggests Derek get a home blood pressure monitor like one of these:

Derek started taking daily readings at home. They are normal, a little on the higher end of normal, but in the normal range. He is recording them daily for a month. He has white coat syndrome.

He is still watching his sodium and caffeine intake now that we know he is in the high normal range and has a family history, but we are feeling somewhat relieved.

He still has a follow-up appointment with the doctor to show her his findings. I’m pretty certain she’ll tell him to continue to take periodic, though less frequent readings, and to continue what he’s doing with his lifestyle.

I’m proud of the changes he’s made and the earnestness with which he’s treated this potentially serious condition. Undiagnosed and untreated, high blood pressure is a life-threatening illness.

Now the usual Fitness Friday stuff: This week I tried something new. I noticed that my moods are very cyclical (sound familiar anyone?). I have also noticed that I am in a much better mood on days I run. So, this week was, on my personal calendar, a week that I am often moody. I decided to try running more frequently to see if it made a difference.

It did! Derek even commented last evening that I’ve been in a very good mood this week (he doesn’t even realize it would have been a “traditionally” bad week for my moods).

I’m thinking that running 5 days a week is probably not always going to be possible, or a good thing, but I’m going to try to do it again next month.

Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 14.75 km run – part with group and part on my own

Monday – 6.5 km recovery run

Tuesday – 11.5 km speed run 3 km warm-up; 5 x 2 min fast:1 min acceleration: 4 min rest; cool-down

Wednesday – 5 km easy run

Thursday – 7 km – tempo(ish) run at speeds between 5:07 km/h and 5:25 km/h (that’s why I added the -ish)

Cross Training 

Wednesday: Strength work at home

Friday: Vinyasa yoga

I’ll leave you with that yummy bread recipe I promised:

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
adapted from Cookie Baker Lynn

Makes three 1.5 lb loaves

3 c lukewarm water (you could substitute milk/almond or coconut milk for half
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1/2 c honey
5 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (I used canola)
6 2/3 c whole wheat flour

1. If making in bread-maker, add ingredients in order specified for your machine. Knead and remove from machine. You could do the whole cycle in here, but I prefer to bake in the oven for three lighter, fluffier loaves rather than one dense one. Remove and proceed to step 4.

2. If mixing by hand, mix the yeast, salt, honey, and oil with the lukewarm water a in a 5-quart bowl or a lidded, not airtight food container.

3. Using a spoon, food processor with dough attachment, or a stand mixer, mix in the whole wheat flour without kneading the mixture.

4. Cover the mixture, and allow it to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flatten on top); approximately 2 to 3 hours.

5. Although the dough can be used after it has risen and collapsed, the authors state that the mixture is easier to handle when it is cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded, not airtight container and use over the next 5 days. After the five days, put the dough in the freezer for up to 1 month. I made one loaf with the fresh dough and it was just fine.

6. On baking day, lightly grease a 9x4x3-inch nonstick loaf pan. Using wet hands, scoop out a 1 1/2-pound (cantaloupe-size) handful of dough. With wet hands, quickly shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

6. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan filling it slightly more than half-full.

7. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Flour and slash the top of the loaf using the tip of a serrated bread knife.

8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 5 minutes, if not using a stone; otherwise, preheat the oven 20 minutes before baking time.

9. Place the loaf on a rack near the center of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake the loaf for 50 to 60 minutes or until deeply browned and firm.

10. Allow to cool completely before slicing in order to cut reasonable sandwich slices.

October 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm Leave a comment

Fitness Friday: Canada Army Run Race Recap

What a whirlwind week! I’m exhausted. However, it’s Fitness Friday and I know if I don’t post my Canada Army Run race recap this week, I won’t get around to it forever.

Race Day Preparations

Saturday, Derek and my little guys came along with me to city hall to pick up my race kit. The boys took the opportunity to climb on some army vehicles but were disappointed when we cut their fun short so I could rush to the airport to pick up my run buddy and her man.

Over the course of the day, I drank four litres of water – hydrated for sure!

Day of the Race

Sunday morning, I grabbed a half a bowl of steel-cut oats with pumpkin seeds and raisins and a coffee. I gathered my gear, but, to my deep dismay, my Garmin had frozen at 11:51 pm on Saturday night… and it wasn’t until it lost it’s charge on Tuesday that I was able to recharge it and use it… no constant pace-checking for me during the race, perhaps a blessing in disguise.

I changed up my fuel strategy for this run: plain water with an electrolyte tablet (Nuun) and package of Sharkies. I ate one or two Sharkies at a time throughout the run beginning around 40 minutes into it. I also grabbed a few sips of Gatorade at the last two stations along the way.

My friends Jenn and Molly arrived to pick Jess and I up at 7:45 am. Molly was kind enough to drop us off near the start. We made a pit stop at City Hall and then met another friend before heading to the start.

The Race

What a difference the start was from the Race Weekend in May. I never felt crowded… I watched the big screen as the injured soldiers took off 15 minutes before the mass start. Finally the canon boomed for us. We walked just over a minute before we heard the distinctive “beeeeeep” as we crossed the start.

I dropped my “throw-away” sweatshirt at the 1k mark. We ran fast for 2k downhill and then tried to slow down. We were having too much fun. Jenn and our other friend were aiming for a faster time than me so I thought they were ahead. They weren’t. I was going too fast (there was at least one 4:40 km). Eventually they caught up with us and we ran together until I had to tie my shoe.

The run went by so many Ottawa landmarks on that sunny morning, I had a great time playing tour guide for Jess.

At about the 17 k mark I started to feel tired. The description “flat and fast” that is written all over the Run’s website is false advertising. I would call it “rolling hills and somewhat fast”. My expletives upon seeing another hill got worse as the run progressed.

At that point, we had time in the bank and decided to just run to enjoy ourselves (as we had been, but this meant slowing down to continue this reasonably comfortable feeling). We ran and chatted. I saw friendly faces along the way. At about the 20 k mark I had given up on my “A” goal, but suddenly the finish line was in front of us. They didn’t have those silly signs counting down the last 500 metres that I had been expecting!

The Finish

Can you see us in the bottom right corner crossing the finish?

Jess yelled at me to push myself to the finish, that I had trained for three months and what was a few seconds of hard work. So I did, and it felt great.

When I finished, I had no idea what my chip time was. I knew I had enjoyed the run and gone faster than I did in May, but it wasn’t till I got home and checked the computer that I realized I achieved my goal with a whopping nine seconds to spare.

Run done; let's eat and drink!

Post-Race Bullets

  • Lunch at The Corner
  • A kiss goodbye to Lil C and D who were off to a movie and a sleepover with my parents (They give the Lion King 3D two thumbs up “a little sad but good”.
  • A walk around the Byward Market where I happened upon a delicious box of brightly coloured chocolate-covered sunflower seeds
  • Dinner at Town. OH SO YUMMY. Two glasses of wine and I was toast – how times have changed. Have booked another dinner there next weekend.
  • Monday lunchtime break at Metta Massage – aaaahhhhh…

So who else ran this one? Would you agree with my assessment of the race organization and route? How did it go for you? What about the 5k? Was it hard to get moving in that run?

Regular Fitness Friday stuff for this week (recovery week!):

Running Rundown

Thursday 4k – easy

Friday 1k- easy with Lil D (who ran a total of 3k with his school’s KM Club) Way to go Lil D!


Wednesday – hot flow yoga

Back at it for real next week… Costa Rica on the horizon which means many hours in very little clothing.

September 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm 3 comments

Older Posts

My Tweets




Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 368 other followers