Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Gifts



Training for 100kms takes up a lot of time.  But, in a strange way, it also gives you a luxurious amount of time in return.  A four, five or six-plus hour run in the woods adds up to more 'free' time than I would normally see in a week, let alone a single day.  I like to 'do stuff', so my days are normally crammed from dawn to dusk with work, work, fitness, home projects, work, projects, fitness, work or sleep.  I am getting better at relaxing and have learned to appreciate the rewards that come from 'doing nothing' and 'free time'.  (Who knew relaxing and watching a movie could be so rejuvenating?)

Heading out for a run that takes half of your day is like switching  a light off for me.  My constant sense of urgency evaporates with the first few steps on dirt.  The further I get from the trail head, the less of a pull my 'list' has over me.  Thoughts of 'to do' may enter my mind, but they are quickly released into the woods.  Climbing to the top of a mountain, 15kms from my car, there is absolutely nothing I can do about the fires burning back in the Valley.  They are left to smolder and become specks beyond the back of my mind.  All I can do in that moment is run.  I have discovered that the forest still stands when I return to my real life.  Those fires never actually burn out of control when I am off duty.  Time and distance teach me that fires are only fueled in my mind.  Perspective shifts are a powerful thing, indeed.  It is one of running's greatest gifts.

The mind wanders with the trail and thoughts are released to fly free in the wild.  Random fragments of ideas come and go with the changing terrain.  Snapshots of my week are caught and thrown about by the mountain wind.  Beautiful, simple patterns appear all around me as the minutes turn to hours on the trail.  Nature's repetition helps to create lines and connect dots in my mind's eye.  Stands of strong and true firs are the backdrop.  Golden beams of 'komorebi' sunlight filter through the leaves.  An actual ribbon of endless single track is laid out before me.  Puzzles of rock are fit together perfectly under flowing water.  Nature never ceases to amaze me.  It is one of running's greatest gifts.

Hours of time spent with good, true friends.  You may think those days are in the past.  Sleep overs and road trips and sharing and laughing til you cry.  Running brings those beautiful experiences back into your life.  My trail peeps.  The ones who drag me up the climbs. The ones who chase me down the other side. The ones who share their fears and schemes and dreams. The ones who listen to mine. We share the supernatural, magical, unforgettable moments side by side.  It is a gift to spend luxurious hours of silence and belly laughs and deep thoughts and ridiculousness together. These are more than runs. These are deeply cultivated connections...these are real moments with real people in a fragmented, often superficial and always very busy world.  Running with friends is as great a gift as any.

I could write for hours on the endless and beautiful gifts of spending time on the trail...but I am out of time;)

PS I have been sharing my trail thoughts and images over on my Instagram account these days.  Please head on over and follow me there if you wish:)

Happy Trails,
Sarah.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How to Train for an Ultramarathon


This shot sums up the romantic (and my real life) view of training for an ultra.  Not every long run is filled with golden sunrises, rainbows and lollipops.  But, for me, quite honestly, most of them are:).  That is likely why I continue to return to tackle the challenge of training for endurance events again and again.  I feel grateful to have the 'half full' gene which makes every challenge seem achievable and every obstacle seem smaller.  Ultra running is 99% mental- and your perspective will ensure your success or your failure.  As they say, 'Whether you think you can or think you can't...you're right." 

Here are my unedited thoughts on how to train for an ultra marathon in no particular order.  A random stream of consciousness, straight from my brain on the trail over the past few months...


  1. Run more.  But, you already knew that.  There is a science to training for an ultra- but this post is more about the art.  If you are looking for detailed training plans, please head to the ELM website!  Seriously- follow a plan.  Work with a coach, or find a plan that is gentle on volume and kind to first timers.  You might admire Anton, Anna or Kilian- but you are not Anton, Anna or Kilian.  Very few runners can tolerate random training at such high volumes.  Learn the rules of training and learn to listen and respond to your body's feedback.  Intuitive training is an art and a science and can take years to grasp.
  2.  Run with heart.  You have to find joy in your training or you will ultimately fail- or at least suffer along the way.  Your journey has to have some meaning for you or you will grow weary of the early mornings, late afternoons and endless hours on the trail.  I am lucky to find joy in so many of the aspects of trail running that running with heart comes easy for me.  Nature fills me up and is my reservoir of joy and energy.  Sunrises, moonsets, ribbons of singltrack, tall trees, rushing rivers, wind in my hair, sun on my face, ferns blowing in a breeze, birds singing morning song...it all fills me up.  I am most at ease in the wild, so it is just the place that I want to be.  This makes running for 6 hours on a Saturday, much easier.  
  3. Discover your most powerful motivators.  This is an extension of running with heart.  When the going gets tuff and there is a stand off between your sneakers and your training plan, you must know WHY you are doing this.  Before your begin, ask yourself WHY you are committing to such an undertaking.  Then ask WHY that reason is important to you?  Get to the core of your motivation - and find a connection to your values.  Once you find that truth, you will be tapping into limitless drive, energy and motivation. As the journey continues, re-evaluate your WHY, because motivation is a wild and dynamic force that is ever changing.
  4. Eat, drink and be merry.  There are some key endurance  fueling 'rules' to help you get started- ask your coach about these. Once you are in the thick of it, however, you need to fine tune your own personal fueling plan.  Every body is unique and we all have slightly different nutrition requirements,  tolerances and taste preferences.  What works for your training buddy could be disastrous for you.  Listen to your 'gut' so to speak.  Ensure you are getting sufficient calories, fluid and electrolytes in each hour of your training, but experiment with the way you get these.  Learn what gives you energy, makes you happy and satisfies your cravings in various conditions on the trail.  Take the 'rules' with a grain of salt if you find something different that works for you.  Eat things that make you feel happy:)
  5. Take care of your body.  This really trumps all.  The hardest part of ultra racing is getting to the start line healthy.  The volume of training that goes into preparing for one event is a massive undertaking for your body.  The race is really just the cherry on top.  If you can get to the start line with a solid training plan under your sneakers, then you have succeeded already.  Training plans are meant to be changed.  Very few people will actually fit into the little rows and columns of their training plan week after week and month after month.  Consider your training plan the 'dream plan' but be prepared to modify and adapt when ever your body asks you to.  Not necessarily when your mind aks lol- refer to point 2 and 3 for that one.  But if your body says WOAH- this is too much, you best listen.  Watch for early 'slow' signs and address your training volume/intensity/recovery before they turn into 'stop' signs.  There are almost always signs- your mild aches, little pains, extra fatigue, illness, stress, low energy, craving or poor sleep, loss of appetite and funky moods are all warning signs that you are reaching the edge of your threshold.  Change tactics and allow your body to regenerate and adapt before breaking it down further.  Let it catch up before it gets too far behind.
  6. Get your team on board.  Your friends and family will miss you (unless they are your training partners).  Take the time to share your motivations with your family before you run out the door.  Having their support can make or break your training experience.  It IS just running.  But it IS also a big part of who you are once you find yourself giving up entire days with your family to spend them running.  Your family needs to know why you want to do this and how they can support you.  Then, once your race is over, you will likely need to find plenty of ways to give all of that support back! 
  7. Just run.  There is a beauty in the actual rhythm of running.  There is a primal flow found in moving your body the way it has evolved to do so.  You truly were born to run AND to be in the wild.  Ultra running combines the two and provides us with a glimpse into who we were... who we really are...and who we could one day be.  Spending hours moving your body through nature is truly a gift that very few seem to experience today.  You will find some deep thoughts out on those trails:).  Enjoy them.
That's it for now!  Any other advice?  Share it in the comments!
Happy Trails,

SS

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sweet & Salty, Chewy Granola Bars



Mmmmmmm...let me just try another one to make sure they are really THAT good...

Yup.  Best granola bars ever! 

Stop buying packaged crap to fuel your body and start whipping up batches of these golden chewy bites of goodness.  It will quite literally take you 5 minutes to make these.  Time yourself...and let me know what you think!  I am pretty sure you will never waste your money and compromise your health on processed granola bars that come in shiney packages and are loaded with refined sugars, nasty oils and things you can't even pronounce.  If you are ready to start making your own NRG - check out my little cookbook for more ideas!

Ready?  Go granola bars go!

Sweet & Salty Chewy Granola Bars
Get a big bowl and a wooden spoon to mix the stuff.
Get a little pot on the stove to warm up your sweet/sticky liquids.
Get an 11*7 pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper to put the mix in.
Grab these ingredients (and don't be afraid to substitute for what you like/have!  Almonds for pecans, dried dates/figs for mixed fruit, peanut butter for almond butter)...
  • .5 cup chopped pecans
  • 1.5 cups whole rolled oats 
  • 1 cup dried, non sweetened coconut
  • .5 cup dried fruit (Colstco has an awesome organic mixed dried fruit bag right now that I used- cherries, blueberries oh my!)
  • .5 cup dark chocolate chips- if you like chocolate:)
  • .5 cup almond butter
  •  .5 to .75cup maple syrup 
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or .5 tsp almond extract for a different flavour!)
  • .5 to 1tsp salt.  I use the whole teaspoon to get the extra sodium I need for endurance training- up to you how much you need!  Makes them sweet and salty tho...
  1. Combine all dry ingredients in the big bowl with the wooden spoon;).
  2. Mix the almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in the pot until smooth (low heat).
  3. Add wet to dry and mix until combined well. Not sticky enough?  Add more nut butter and maple syrup if needed.
  4. Press into the lined pan - wet hands and press firmly to ensure they stick together!
  5. Freeze or refridgerate until solid...then cut into 24 bars.
  6. Store in the freezer.
Great for breakfast on the run, a healthy snack or fuel during your endurance activities!

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Endure


E N D U R E
Some days you have to dig way down into your bag of tricks.

I see beauty in a grey, dripping sky.  I feel life in an ice fed river.  I let out giggles while slipping and falling on wet, slushy snow. 

For me, there will always be a deep gratitude and comfort in the the discomfort.  The pain in my lungs and burn in my legs are sensations that I will be forever grateful for.  The chance to move my body over mountains, through rivers and alongside nature is truely a gift.  When the conditions spiral downward I dig my hands deep into my pockets and hold on to what I know is true.  I know not suffering, but life at its fullest.

������
Ok...ok...except when it's reeeeeeeally cold and I can't feel my hands or my feet...and then I just stop thinking and start dreaming of hot showers and salted hot chocolate and curling up under warm blankets in front of the wood stove at home.  I am flesh and blood after all✌️��.

Happy Trails!
SS

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

ELM 14th Annual 10K Training Clinic!


 ELM 14th Annual 10K Training Clinic!

10K training forms the foundation of all-around fitness, because it includes ample amounts of the three core components of running- strength, stamina, speed. When you race a 10-K, you immerse yourself in near-mythical tradition.” Runners World

Equilibrium Lifestyle Management (ELM) is kicking off their 14th annual 10K Clinic beginning Thursday, Feb 19th.

Led by Kinesiologist and Coach, Sarah Seads, this 10-week CO-ED running clinic takes place on Thursday nights from 5:30-7:00pm and offers programs for beginner, novice, and experienced 10K runners. Brand new runners with no running experience can train to safely complete their first 10K following the Beginner program. Novice runners will start by run:walking 3kms and work towards completing (and enjoying!) their first 10K. Intermediate and Advanced 10K runners will complete a challenging 10-week program that includes hill training, speed work, and pacing with personalized programs to reach a personal best.


This popular running clinic includes weekly discussions on efficient running form & biomechanics, nutrition, stretching, injury prevention, motivation, goal setting, race day preparation and much more. All participants receive a day by day training plan, ELM Running Clinic e-Manual and weekly coaching emails.

 

This clinic wraps up with the option of racing the Victoria Times Colonist 10K race on April 26th. Racing provides opportunities to set and meet goals, stay committed to a running program, boost motivation, and challenge ones self physically and mentally. Some people race to win and others race against themselves and the clock to see what they are capable of. Once you cross the finish line of your first race, however, you are destined to be a runner for life!

For more information and to register before the February 12th Early Bird deadline, go to www.elmhealth.com.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reflections

Is it already January 22nd?  Wowza...2015 is off like a rocket!  

 Flower Ridge, July 2014

Looking back...
2014 was a doozy for me.  I started the year with some health issues that rocked my world and left me with some new perspectives.  I spent the year focused on rebuilding my body and working towards a healthier balance of work, life and training.  It was a tough year for me but it was also a beautiful year...that always seems to be the way. 

The deepest valleys are surrounded by the highest peaks and I experienced some spectacular views from the top as well.  Without spending time in the trenches we would never actually appreciate the magic of clear skies... and I am grateful for every experience that life allows me to take.  Challenges, I believe, are what make life interesting, meaningful and allow us to stretch and grow. 

The highlights of my year were many:)  Feeling strong and inspired again...exploring new landscapes...adventuring solo and with good friends...listening to my body and mind. 

Sun Mountain 50k was an awesome experience with my trail buddy Kim:).  So fun to travel and explore new terrain- sunflowers and rolling hills for miles and miles...

Kusam was a bonus for me- first time returning to this awesome race in 3 years (post ankle fracture) and I managed to take a few more minutes off of my own PR for the course.  Can't complain about that!  

Feeling good, I decided to build on that distance and tackle the Squamish 50mile - all of my athletes were heading over so I figured I should go for it while I had the miles under my belt.  It was a challenge I am grateful for.  I learned to race with my heart- no heart, no happy:). 

MOMAR didn't happen for me this year- falling through a bridge and messing my back caught up with me and it was a no go come race week unfortunately.  I loved following along with all of my friends and athletes as much as I enjoy the race itself so I got my fill;). PS: Have you signed up for the 2015 race yet?  60% sold out!!  Get on it!

Perseverance was a HUGE highlight as I experienced what impact a small community can have when we work together.  For our 10th anniversary this year, we managed to raise $175, 000 as part of a massive fundraising campaign for the CCFS.  Wowza.  Humans can be amazing.

My true highlights were found in the mountains, without race bibs, however.  
 
Although I enjoy racing, my heart is filled up by exploring in the woods, over the peaks and in the valleys... I spent more time in Strathcona Park this summer then I have in my entire life.  I hiked new trails every weekend and finished with a mind bending solo walk about to the highest point on Vancouver Island- the Golden Hinde.  
 
I fell head over heels in love with the mountains again.  And I developed a new appreciation for long solo days in the alpine.  Big mountain space breathes new life, restores energy and boosts my spirit.  So grateful...
Augerpoint...
Elk River...
Flower Ridge...

Spending time in the Chilcotin mountains in September was another dream weekend with amazing friends, unforgettable views and magic in the moments.  Perfect weekend to top last year and I am planning to do it all again this year.

Hawaii...oh Hawaii...you have stolen my heart...in my dreams I live in Hawaii surfing every day of the winter and in the mountains hiking, running and biking every day of the summer...it's good to have dreams and goals:).  One day...

2015...
My mission is to do less...but do it better.  Create space to allow room to grow, nourish and experience this life more fully.  More time exploring, reading, reflecting, playing, laughing and loving:) 

There is one big event I accidentally got into the lottery for... looks like Kim and I are headed to San Fran the first weekend of May...for the Miwok 100k...yikes.  Looking forward to exploring new views, wine country and gaining new perspectives this spring!

The rest of the year is open to adventures as they come...one thing is for sure...I will be in the mountains as many days as possible in the summer...and heading back to Hawaii for as many days as possible come winter:)

What's your vision for 2015?  It IS your life, after all...
Happy Trails,
SS


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Clearing

This is it.  The final hours of 2014.  How do you feel about it?  Just another day?  Or a symbolic moment in time?  Or perhaps both, depending on the time of day��

We humans love rituals and a chance for celebration.  And New Years is no exception.  In our world the New Year marks an end and a beginning... An old life fading and a new one emerging.  

Perspective is a wild superpower.  If nothing else, New Years Eve gives us the gift of honing this skill.  The last day of the year is the perfect time to do some clearing and make space for...?

Look back...what moments stand apart for you?  Not likely getting a new car.  More likely it is the magic that you remember... That night you drove to the beach for sushi and a sunset.  That time you hiked to the top of a mountain with no one but your heart beside you.  That day you laughed until you cried with your sister.  That sweet moment sitting on your surfboard with your legs dangling in the warm sea.  That moment when you reached your goal of...xyz.

But it's not all roses.  There may be something less than magic looking back at you as well.  Life is hard.  There ain't no way of getting around it.  Life can be unfair, unforgiving and brutally hard.  Actually, it is guaranteed to be...at times.  This is life.  I hope that you can look back on these moments for what they were...part of your journey.  

Now is a great time to take a moment and reflect on your year, savour the magic and release the shadows.  Letting go of the "should haves" and "if onlys" is a heavenly feeling.  The space that comes from clearing our hearts is wide open, full of boundless potential and tastes of sweet anticipation...the best has yet to come.  Make space for more magic cuz it's coming your way in 2015����✌️!

Cheers to a healthy and happy New Year filled with adventure!
Sarah