A 5'3 Perspective


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Running Remorse

As most of you know, this weekend I will be racing in my second half marathon (ever) of the year. I still remember the feeling of relief that came across me when I finally made it to the finish line of the Ottawa Race Weekend half – yes I said relief, not accomplishment. At that moment I had absolutely no intentions of signing up for the Army Run, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like i should sign up for a second half. I had already built up my endurance and maintaining it would be much easier (not true). After wavering on whether or not to race again, I finally decided to do it – having something to train for would force me to be accountable with my running throughout the summer.

I don’t want to sound like a negative Nancy, there are more than a handful of reasons why racing and training is great – which I’ve shared with you here, here, and here – but I am starting to realize that running for yourself and for pleasure is much more enjoyable. Running your first race (of a particular distance) is exciting, the main goal is to finish strong. I am noticing that a second race is different – I always have that nagging voice in my head telling me that I have to beat my last time. As competitive as I am, the pressure to PR is driving me insane – it has been detrimental to my training and my well being. I cannot think of a single run since the race where I have finished feeling satisfied. I am always disappointed with my time, my pace, my walk breaks, the list goes on – there is always something I could have done better.

Now that I have had some time to reflect on my training, I know I am being too hard on myself. I stuck to my schedule and ran each run to the best of my ability, despite negative thoughts. I really do love to run – and I love being a part of the running community, but after this Sunday I need to change my training up to remind myself why I started in the first place. No more forced 16km (or longer) Sunday runs. If I want to do a long run I will, if I am not feeling it – that is okay too. This isn’t an excuse to stop exercising, it is merely a reminder that I need to be a little more conscious of how my body feels. I still plan to run three days a week, two short and one long, but on a much less rigorous schedule – running is supposed to be fun, and I have every intention to return to a place where I look forward to doing it.

As for this race, of course I hope to PR, but I have to remember that completing a half marathon (no matter the time) is an accomplishment. My plan is to be positive – no more self doubt. I know I can run the distance as I have done it many times before.

I am done running with my head – this Sunday is all about running with my heart.

xo Lauren


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A Week of Workouts in the Life of Ellepottsie

Since I started my half marathon training, many of you have asked me what a typical workout week looks like. Before I share the details – remember, everyone is different and every body requires a different amount of rest and intensity. This is a workout schedule that fits my lifestyle and leaves me feeling energized and positive. I must admit, it has taken me quite a while to find the perfect exercise/rest balance. Use my schedule as a guideline [if you wish] but listen to your body and do what feels right for yourself. And don’t forget to push yourself out of your comfort zone, that is when you achieve the best results!

Monday – 5.5km run followed by a CXWORX class.

TuesdayBody Shred class.

Wednesday – Active rest day: baseball.

Thursday – 55 minutes road drills spin class.

Friday – 5km run [before work].

Saturday – Rest!

Sunday – Long run, ranging from 10km – 21km depending on upcoming races.

Since I have completed my half marathon training, I now plan to add some more weight training back into my routine. I found it difficult to get “good” runs in when I was lifting heavy weights. Now my focus is to bring more balance into my workouts. I will probably add some weights after my spin class on Thursday or after work on Friday. I’ll just have to test both out and see how I feel.

In addition to the above workouts, I bike to and from work (6km both ways) on weekdays and I also complete the following quick exercises daily:

10 tricep pushups

10 pushups

1 minute of plank

1 minute wall sit [squatting against a wall with your thighs parallel to the ground.

Now a question for you, what does a typical workout week look like in your life?

xo Lauren


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My Half Marathon Experience: What Training for a 21km Race Has Taught Me

Pre Race Picture Time

Pre Race Picture Time

As many of you [probably all of you actually] know, I ran my very first half marathon this past weekend. I have never been a runner or even enjoyed running, but completing this 21km race was something that had been on my bucket list for years. After watching my dad finish his 8th marathon last year, I felt the urge to work towards accomplishing my goal. When registration opened up for the Ottawa Race Weekend many months later, I knew this was my chance, I hadn’t stopped toying with the idea of racing since the year before and I knew if I really wanted to cross a half marathon off my bucket list, this was the time to commit.

Over the past year I have put a lot of focus on improving my health and fitness. I have changed my diet drastically to help improve my quality of life, completely omitting all foods containing lactose and gluten as they were making me feel terribly ill and I have taught myself to eat less sugar and processed foods. I must admit, I still have some stomach issues, but I am definitely feeling better than I was this time last year. I am learning to be more intuitive with my eating and focus on nutrients rather than cravings. But what does this have to do with running a half marathon – nothing really, but the focus on my healthy eating gave me the drive to push myself harder with my workouts. Just another reason to amp up my training and commit to a race.

Now the logical next step for a first time runner would be to join a running group and train with like-minded people. Unfortunately for me, the thought of group running gives me more knots in my stomach than running the race itself, so I set out to train on my own – in the dead of winter. Yes, Canadian winter. Luckily I had a seasoned vet to help me devise a training plan [thanks dad] which comprised of two short runs and one long run a week, along with a few group fitness classes and spinning as cross training.

As I mentioned before, I was not an avid runner before signing up for the race. I had run a total of two 10k distances in my life (one race when I was about 10 years old and one training run after watching the events at the Ottawa Race Weekend last year). To me running was boring and tedious. I would also get tired and breathless after a few minutes and I never felt like I was improving so I often gave up. I would go through phases of off and on running (5km max) and then eventually replace the workout with something I enjoyed more. Now that I had committed to a race, I knew the option to give up was completely out of the question. I had to do this, I had to prove to myself that I could follow through on my promises.

I had signed up for the 2:15 – 2:30 time corral, figuring that with enough training I could do 21km in 2 and a half hours. After talking to my dad about my decision, he surprised me by signing up to run the race with me, at my pace. However, he told me I should opt for a quicker time and that he believed I could finished between 2:00 – 2:15, so following his lead I changed my corral. I must admit, I was nervous. 21km is a long way to run and in less than 2 hours and 15 minutes – that seemed impossible, but my dad believed in me and I wanted to make him [and myself] proud.

I won’t lie, training is tough. Sticking to a schedule when there is a snowstorm really ups the ante. My first major lesson about running is that the sport requires as much physical stamina as it does mental. If you don’t believe in yourself, you will not make it through those tough runs. Some days are harder than other and a short run can feel like it is taking an eternity. During those runs I often found myself thinking negative thoughts – “you’re too tired for this” or “just turn around early and call it a day, you’re not running fast enough to make it worthwhile” but I pushed through it and eventually forced myself to think positively. No matter how bad I felt I would tell myself “you’re strong and healthy” or “look at how far you’ve come from this time last year” and it really helped me to stay motivated.

The second lesson learned from training for this race was that I love winter running. I like bundling up and being the only one out on the paths and so what if my feet get wet, I can always take a hot shower when I get home, or even better, run faster to keep myself warm. As I mentioned before, running in groups isn’t something that I enjoy, perhaps the solitude of winter running made it more appealing to me. Training during the colder months was also a great excuse to pick up a few new pieces of running gear, which satisfied my inner shopaholic!

Training for any race, especially a longer distance one is about enjoying the good runs and gutting it out through the bad ones. Some days I just didn’t feel like running, but I geared up and went anyways, I always felt such a great sense of accomplishment after pounding the pavement. As the half marathon approached I started to get more and more nervous. Would I be able to finish in time, would I be able to finish at all, how will I fit all my training runs in? During my 5 months of training, I had convinced myself that I wanted to finish my first 21km race in less than 2 hours. This was a long way from my initial goal of under 2:30 but I had been bitten by the sub 2 hour bug and I couldn’t let it go. This is where my third running lesson arose – set your goals high. This goal gave me something to work towards, but it also sent my nerves through the roof. I didn’t want to let myself down and I didn’t know if I would be proud of myself if I finished in anything more than 2 hours. Either way I pushed myself harder than ever in my last month of training because of this goal – and I chose not to share it with many people, just in case I couldn’t accomplish it [which was extremely silly of me]. Which brings me to my fourth lesson, stop comparing yourself to others. Running is an individual sport, you can only beat your own person best. A little healthy competition among friends is okay, but in the end you are competing against yourself.

A few weeks ago I was worried about fitting a long run into my schedule and Neil told me not to worry, it is just a run (referring to the half marathon race day) – which is totally understandable, because I had been saying that since the day I signed up. That’s when it hit me, the truth is that it wasn’t just a run – I had been devoting five months of my life to prepare for this one race and hearing him say what I had told him out loud made me realize how badly I wanted to succeed. Unfortunately, realizing this was probably more detrimental than it was helpful – it added a whole new level of pressure. What if my race day run was weaker than my training ones? What if I failed? I spent a lot of time thinking about these things during my last few training runs. In the end I realized that no matter what happened on race day, I had accomplished something big – I had stuck to running for 5 months and had even started to enjoy it. I knew deep down that finishing the race in itself was an amazing achievement and that unfortunately some runs are better than others and if you have a bad run on race day, at least you got out and pushed through it.

So here we are, five months of sticking to my training schedule and getting my runs in no matter what and I am proud to say I ran my first half marathon in 1:58. I have never felt so accomplished in my life. Yes it was tough – the last few kms were definitely character building for me. I wanted to stop and walk many times but my drive to finish with a sub 2 hour time pushed me forward. Were there moments of doubt during the race? Of course. The second half of the course was hilly and windy which made it much more difficult than the first. Seeing a few familiar faces [and great signs] right near my house helped take my mind off the race, but unfortunately that didn’t last long. Just after the 18km mark I didn’t think I could do it – the negative self talk came back, and that that point I was almost out of extra energy to push it aside. Luckily the crowds of people lining the finishing stretch carried me on – telling me I looked strong and that I was doing amazing, also running with my dad who was encouraging me the whole way through was a life saver. Without him I am not sure I would have made it to the finish line so quickly – during that last km all I could think about was proving to myself that I could do it, my dad had already told me it I had it in the bag. The excitement of the finish line gave me the final push I needed and I managed to kick it up a notch and run in strong. I have never felt so proud of myself before.

Showing off our hardware and feeling pretty great!

Showing off our hardware and feeling pretty great!

Will I run another half marathon? My initial thought was no. As I crossed the finish line I thought to myself, thank goodness this is over. Now two days later the running high has set in and I am starting to consider another race – I guess we will just have to wait and see!

Thanks again to everyone who made this weekend possible, from the organizers to the volunteers, to the runners, the security, the medics, the spectators, and especially my family and friends who believed in me the whole time. This is an experience I will never forget and as cheesy as it sounds, I truly believe training for this half marathon and running in the race has changed me as a person. I’ll be the first to admit that I hated running – now I can’t imagine a week without it… I guess that makes me a runner?!

Our own person cheering section!

Our own personal cheering section!

xo Lauren


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Manicure Monday: My Half-Marathon Nail Art Manicure

I promise I’ll post about the race later this week. I just need a day or two to really let the whole experience settle in. Until then I’ll say this, running the half marathon [with my dad] was an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change a single second of it. I am so lucky to have so many people in my life who support everything I do – and it really showed this weekend! To all of you who sent me well wishes and cheered me on along the way, I can’t thank you enough – it meant the world to me.

Shifting gears now – here is my race day manicure – I think it is a lot of fun and I hope you do too!

Running Race Day ManicureCongrats to anyone who got out and ran this weekend and to those that cheered us on from the sidelines – Ottawa Race Weekend was another huge success for the nation’s capital!

xo Lauren


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Fabulous Finds Friday

I had every intention to post about the upcoming Ottawa Race Weekend and my first half marathon training experiences, but then I came across this beautiful Dolce Vita peplum blouse and it tugged on my heart strings so much that I couldn’t resist sharing it with you right now. I promise I will write at least one post about my half marathon experience [and it will be complete since I’ll write it after race day] – I do have lots to talk about when it comes to running but today is Friday, and I definitely have a few fabulous items on my wishlist.

Fab Friday

This is my uniform for the next few months – a beautiful, lightweight tank top [how great is this Dolce Vita Eyelet Peplum Blouse?!], a pair of denim cut offs [Citizens of Humanity Ava Cutoffs], printed sandals [Loeffler Randal], a small shoulder bag to hold my summer essentials [Pour La Victoire] and a pair of half-frame sunnies [Ray-Ban]. If only the weather would cooperate.

What is your summer outfit of choice?

Have a wonderful weekend!

xo Lauren


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Workout Inspiration

Just a few days ago my city was filled with over 40,000 runners, joggers, and walkers – all participating in the Ottawa Race Weekend. With a wide range of race lengths, there really is something for everyone, from a kids 2km race to a full marathon.

Many of my friends participated in the events but something about running with such a large number of people makes me anxious – so I chose to cheer from the sidelines. The energy in the city is incredible during the event and I quickly became disappointed in myself that I let my nerves get the best of me.

On Sunday evening, I was feeling beyond inspired and set out to run a 5km route – which turned into a 10km in a personal best time of 55:38. This was only my second run of that length ever – needless to say I was kicking myself for not entering the Ottawa Race Weekend event.

But, let me give you a bit of background. My father is a runner, has been for more than half of his life. He just finished his 8th marathon this weekend – and his first marathon at age 60 [sorry for outing you dad!] placing 10th in his age category and qualifying once again for the Boston Marathon. Now I know he is my dad which makes me a little biased but you must admit – it is pretty amazing. He has always been my inspiration to run, but running does not come easy to me. One day I will run a half marathon – mark my words – I just don’t know when yet.

Over the past few years I have run distances of 5km fairly consistently but it isn’t often that I push the envelope much farther. I had not been progressing much in my training, and to be honest, I had pretty much given up on running. As many of you know I have recently turned to weight lifting and HIIT for my workouts. I cannot stress how much this type of exercise has helped me. I am in the best shape of my life, I am stronger than ever and I feel great. But what really impressed me was that I could go out, with no “training” and run 10km in quite a respectable time. This just goes to show that my new workout routines are really paying off. So I’d like to share a few ideas with you, in case you were thinking of switching things up at the gym.

My Workouts

I lift weights and do cardio 4 times a week, usually on the same days [that way I get 3 active rest days each week]. My schedule looks something like this:

Monday – TABATA cardio session and upper body weights (routine A).

Tuesday – HIIT run and lower body weights (routine A).

Wednesday – Active rest day [I usually bike to and from work every day and go for walks at night].

Thursday – TABATA cardio session and upper body weights (routine B).

Friday – HIIT run and lower body weights (routine B).

Saturday and Sunday are active rest days.

Sounds easy right? It is. I follow a workout from bodybuiling.com which can be found here. I do not emulate it completely because I try to do what feels best for my body, but at the beginning it is great framework. Make sure you lift heavy weights to see the best results – and NO, you will not look like a body builder just from following this plan so don’t bother worrying about “bulking”. For my TABATA workouts I do 20 seconds of work 10 seconds of rest for a total of 20 minutes. I know it doesn’t sound like much but I dare you to try it.

My go to TABATA work out. Cycle through 1 – 10 four times to complete a 20 minute session.

My advice, start slow and listen to your body. If you miss a day, don’t worry about it, make it up the next day. Once you find a routine that works for you you’ll catch your stride. I am by no means a personal trainer so take my advice with a grain of salt – but I hope you enjoy it!