Wednesday 13 January 2016

Oh My Goodness Its 2016!

Happy New Year everyone!

Since my last post, time has both crawled and moved so fast that I've caught myself several times forgetting to breath!

When I got hurt in June, people told me that I'd learn something from my injury and come back stronger than ever. While appreciating their good intentions, most of the time I found myself resisting the urge to roll my eyes while cracking a half-hearted smile. No one will argue with the fact that injuries are NOT ideal, and I was feeling especially lost given that I drew so much of my confidence from the consistent training I'd strung together.

Rocking out with Spartan racing extraordinaire Faye Stenning
Well. I did learn something. A few things actually! The first two take-aways came pretty quickly: First, that I really really really enjoy running and second, that I'm a tummy weight gainer.

As foreshadowed, some slightly deeper lessons eventually surfaced.

I learned that the passionate energy can be transferred - I poured myself into my Master's work and successfully defended my thesis, which kept my mind off my inability to do what I love. I also learned that balance takes discipline - at first I didn't know how to relax without the structure of training for a specific race, so I took the opportunity to visit friends and complete a once-in-a-lifetime academic course in Toronto.

I learned that some days I'm going to feel defeated, but that's normal. No one training session was going to make or break me - the accumulation of work over time is what matters. Our physiologist Trent Stellingwerf referred me to a study showing that, in simple terms, you don't need that many hard sessions to maintain VO2max (a marker of aerobic fitness), which was nice to remember on the grind days. ( see

Jess Squared hits the pool in Vancouver
I learned to keep perspective and draw strength from others -having a five month injury the year before the Olympics is TERRIFYING, but other athletes have come off similar injury timelines and gone on to do great things. It gives me comfort to think that there is no reason I should be different - it's just running after all! If you need a daily dose of inspiration, google Melissa Bishop or Emily Infeld - two rockstars who dealt with some heavy injuries this year and ended up having fairy tale seasons.

I learned that people are kind. They say that you are only as good as your last race, and my last race wasn't very impressive, but I learned that we aren't defined  by the length of time it takes to run a 5km. I was was humbled and flattered by the thoughts and support I received from friends new and old through messages, rides to appointments, company cross training, or just being an ear while I vented. Thank you!

VO2 testing at PISE
Lastly, I learned that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Months of cross training had kept me fit, but when I finally returned to running, I felt like a fish out of water! Actually, after all my water running, that's essentially what I'd become. I was awkward, flailing, and gasping for air running paces that used to be reserved for cooldown jogs. I basically felt like a slug.

But you know what? I'm also stronger than I've ever been. I did fitness testing in December, and somehow my VO2max has never been higher, even without much running. I've clawed my way back into shape and my times during interval sessions are the same as they were this time last year. That means....maybe...just's all going to be ok!

I'm not in the clear yet - I've had a bunch of niggles during my comeback, reminding me that I'm anything but invincible and that I better stick to my physio exercise regime for goodness sake! Still, I'm moving forward and even have a race planned - a 3000m in New York on Feb 6th. Not a clue how it will go, but it sure beats sweating up a storm on the stationary bike or floundering in the pool, and for that I am grateful!

Thanks for reading, cheers!