Occasionally it Happens

There is no question in my mind that running can be an up-and-down thing. And I’m not just talking about the hills.

We are nine weeks into training for the Dumbo Double Dare in California. The training schedule is pretty reasonable. Most weeks involve two 45-minute runs through the week, then a longer run on the weekend. At this point in the training, we run back to back runs every other weekend to prepare us to run the back to back 10K and Half.

This weekend, I happened to be in Atlanta for a conference. So I ran my 45-minute run on Friday, then my 6K early on Sunday morning, with plans to run 15K with Barb on Monday night. We chose the evening to avoid the worst of the heat and humidity.

I proceeded to have one of my Worst. Runs. Ever. But sometimes that happens. I had been dreading that run, hadn’t hydrated properly, hadn’t slept much (flight delays from Atlanta), etc. When I finished (after bathroom stops and walking almost all the last 2K), my calves started seizing in the shower, I had a fever, and my stomach was a complete mess. I downed a bottle of PowerAde and went to bed. I slept for 7 hours straight (which is not normal for me).

But I finished the distance. It didn’t kill me. I feel fine today. I’m chalking it up to a perfect storm of a virus, the humidity and dehydration. Bad runs happen. And I don’t have to do it again for two weeks.

And my 45 minute run on Wednesday is going to feel like a cake walk.

Keep running (even when it completely rots!)


And There it Was – Gone!

On our run yesterday, Barb and I plotted and schemed about how we could sign ourselves up for the Run Disney Glass Slipper Challenge (10K + Half) in February without turning it into a family vacation. We will have just gotten back from the big bad Disney Marathon in January. Besides being fiscally irresponsible, all but one of the kids (in the two families) will be in Junior High, so missing more school is a bit of an issue as well.

So we schemed. If Barb signed me up as a birthday present, I couldn’t very well decline, and of course I would need my running partner with me. The two of us could go together, sans family.

OK, it was a bit of a pipe dream. Going to Disney without Mark would be impossible, Disneyphile that he is.

Last night, however, the whole point became moot. The Glass Slipper Challenge sold out hours after registration opened. (If you’re contemplating the Princess Half or Enchanted 10K, those are at 55% and 84% full. If you’re planning to sign up, better hurry!)

Our original plan was to run the Princess Half for the first time with Madison, Margaret and Madeline. At least two of them are pretty keen to run a Half as soon as they are old enough, which is 14. So maybe we’ll wait until 2016 to run that one. By that point, Madison and Margaret will be mopping the course with the rest of us.

Yours in Running,


Oh No, They’ve Done It Again!

Hello runners! The fine folks at Run Disney have done it again. I just received an email that registration opens today for the Princess Half Marathon in Walt Disney World. To make things worse (or better), they are now offering a 10K race AND…


Similar to the Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland, participants in the Glass Slipper Challenge will run the Enchanted 10K one day, followed by the Princess Half Marathon the next. That’s 3 race shirts and 3 awesome medals (for those who love to collect the hardware!)

But wait, there’s more… For the girlie girls among us (yes, I’ve run a Disney race in a very fluffy tutu), there’s a brand new Coast to Coast medal for runners who complete both the Princess Half in Florida and the Tinkerbell Half in California in 2014. And girls – it’s PINK! 😮

So it’s now all I can do to restrain myself from clicking a few keys on this keyboard and registering for that puppy. Alas, if only it were just about the entry fee… Barb might talk me into it yet.

Speaking of the Dumbo Double Dare, Barb and I are into the 8th week of our training plan. We ran a 5K and a 13K on the weekend. This weekend it’s 6K and 15K. Wish us luck!

Cheers, and go run!!


Personal Goal

We would like to discuss goal-setting in the future, but an impromptu conversation while running with my daughter last week led me to briefly offer my suggestions on this matter.

Setting goals is very important in everything we do, but it is very individual. Like most sports, activities or even school, we often find ourselves comparing our performance to others. This can be a recipe for disaster and can quickly deflate our desire to run (or do other activities). I often tell my family to set two personal goals. Your first goal should be easily achievable, but a little out of immediate reach. Your second goal should be a little harder, but with a little training/work, also achievable. Remember though, ALWAYS measure your performance against yourself.

I had the opportunity this past week to run once with both my daughters.

The other night Madison and I went out for a run. Madison is still very new to running, but doing extremely well. Like most people she often compares herself to her friends. We had a great conversation as we ran, which by the way often inspires children to run a little farther. We talked about a short and long-term goal that would challenge her, but not discourage her. I reminded her that running should be fun and although you may run with people, it is an individual activity with individual goals and expectations. My frequent running partner and I are fortunate that we run with similar goals for our half marathon races, but he does not run marathons, so I set my own goals for those races. I like to push myself, but I know I’ll never run a 2 hour marathon, so I don’t set that as my goal. I challenge myself so that I can improve and only measure my performance against myself.

We are fortunate to live near a large park, with lots of trails that run along the ocean, past old turrets and batteries of a century-old defence fortification. Madison and I had a great run, enjoying the views and the conversation, as we discussed goal-setting.  She now has set her own goals for her next 10k, at the end of August.

My run with Gabrielle was quite different. The only goals we discuss is where she wants to run and how far. We want the girls to enjoy running and at Gabrielle’s age (8) my wife and I believe this should be her only goals. She is interested in her times when she goes in an event, but with us she just wants to run and talk. We ran a shorter run through the park and even stopped at a high point to look out over the water and all the sail boats. Running with your children gives you a great chance to talk, or should I say listen. Gabrielle talked about school, dancing, running and music. Before I knew it our 5k run was done.

I am proud of my wife and daughters’ progress and I’m happy we can all get outside and run. As I look out the window at the clear sky and warm sunny day I challenge every family to put on your sneakers and head outside. Run around the block, run a kilometer or run longer, but just get out and run. Set a goal for yourself, no matter how small. You’ll be glad you did.

Yours in running,


Heart to Heart in the Park

My schedule got a little out of control on Tuesday, and Barb and I couldn’t connect for our 45-minute training run. We agreed (promised) that we would run separately. Barb managed to knock her run off early in the day, but I was in and out of meetings, and resigned myself to running in the evening (following a volunteer Board meeting). Mark suggested that I run with Madison, and that he would run with Gabrielle, and the whole family could get a run in. That sounded like a great idea.

Needless to say, by the time I got home from my meeting at 7:45, I didn’t feel much like running. And despite my promise to Barb that I absolutely, positively was going to do that Tuesday run, I was pretty much ready to call it a day. But when I walked into the house, Madison and Gabrielle were already in running gear, raring to go. I had no choice – no “out”. They were my little motivators.

Madi and I had a great run. She was feeling conflicted about having to choose between performing in her school musical and performing in the year end show at Atlantic Cirque. (Thankfully her dance recital is a week earlier – that was a huge issue last year…) So we talked about it. For 45 minutes we ran, and we talked. About her decision. About the impending end of elementary school. About “stuff”. The thing about talking while running is that there’s no eye contact. Madison was able to just talk, without the awkwardness of having to sit across the table, or the living room, and look at me. I really think I’ve just stumbled upon the best way to have a conversation with your pre-teen.

(As an aside, I also find it amusing that when you run with children, they have to stop and pet every cute puppy in the park.)

So if there are big things happening in your son’s or daughter’s life (or even if all is well) take him/her out for a little run, and find out what’s on his/her mind. I’m glad I did.

Yours in Running,


Training Week 5 – Lisa

The gang is now in full swing, training for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in California. Six adults (Lisa, Mark, Barb, Dave, Jen & Paul) are training for the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare. We will run a 10K on Saturday, followed by a half marathon on Sunday. That’s a total of 31.1K in two days. (19.3 miles for our friends in the US.) The kids are running as well. Gabi, Jon and Emily will run the 5K Disneyland Family Fun Run; and Madison, Margaret and Madeline will run the Disneyland 10K.

Barb and I are just wrapping up week 5 of our training plan. It’s pretty simple, really. We run two 45-minute runs through the week (usually around 6.5K at our current pace), with our “long runs” on weekends. This is a big weekend for us because it marks the first of our “double runs”. That is, we run a short run on Saturday, followed by a longer run on Sunday. We will do this every other weekend, increasing our distance until we can run 10K on Saturday, followed by 21.1K on Sunday. At that point, we’re off to California to challenge Dumbo.

The good news is that we haven’t missed a single training run yet. Today was the first day it’s rained, and we ran anyway. Now if we can keep this up until August 31st, we’re all set. Then we just have the full marathon training to conquer. Baby steps…

Now it’s your turn – go lace up your trainers and go for a run. I Dumbo Double Dare you!!

Yours in running,


Bluenose Marathon Weekend 2013

We have emerged from Bluenose Marathon Weekend, smiling and happy! It began on Saturday morning with the Doctors Nova Scotia Youth Run, a 4.2 K kids’ race. Mark planned to run it with Gabrielle…
Gabi & Mark

So they met up with the other Sacred Heart School of Halifax runners for a rally…

Sacred Heart Runners

Got their noses painted blue…

Gabi w Blue Nose

…and no finish line pictures because Gabrielle took off and her father spent 45 minutes searching for her. She ran with a friend, completed the race in just over 20 minutes, and managed to get herself to the pre-determined meeting place inside the Metro Center, but scared the pants off Mark in the process. Needless to say, a safety lecture followed!

And then it was Sunday. It was 2 degrees Celsius when we got up, but it warmed up and turned into a beautiful day for a run. Mark, Kurt and David started out first, running the Half Marathon. They were followed by Lisa, Barb, Madison, Margaret and Madeline in the 10K. We’re proud of the girls – they were three of the 40 Under-15 Females to take on the 10K. We all crossed the finish line within our goal. Hooray!!!

Post 10K

We’re super-proud of all the runners who took part in the Bluenose. And we love running family style!!


Madi and Lisa

Yours in running,

Lisa & Mark

Get Your Kids Running Part IV

Last night Lisa took Gabrielle, and Mark took Madison, for their final training runs before the Scotiabank Bluenose Marathon Weekend (http://bluenosemarathon.com/). As usual, Gabi (aptly named) chatted the whole 4.5K. Lisa got all caught up on what she’s learning in school, and all the third grade politics and shenanigans. Madison and Mark ran 7K, incorporating some hill strategies that she’s going to need on Sunday! We picked up our race kits today, and we’re getting ready to “Just Giv’er”.

So while we’re anxiously awaiting the Bluenose, here’s the last of the Top 10 List of strategies to get your family on the road to running. (The list has been spread out over a few posts.)

7.     Keep distances reasonable for the age of the child. There is a lot of controversy about how much distance children should be running, and at what ages. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, overuse, overtraining and burnout are increasing issues among children as their participation in sports increases*. There is no single guideline regarding the distances that are appropriate at specific ages. That means that as parents, we are responsible to work with our children to determine how much is too much.

Start off slowly, with short distances, then increase speed and distance as you go, but not by more than 10% per week*. Listen to your child. If he or she is experiencing any pain, it could signal injury to muscle, bone or tendon. We follow training plans that allow at least one “rest” day between runs, so that muscles have a chance to recover. Our 8-year-old daughter can run 5K without too much strain, but we wouldn’t let her do much more at her age. Our 11-year-old daughter – we’ll call her the gazelle – has no problem running 10K. With the right training plan and lots of monitoring, we would allow her to start training for a half marathon.

8.      Set goals and help your child build a plan to achieve them. When you decide to start running, be sure to set a goal. It might be a specific race (a Family 5K Fun Run is an excellent place to start) or a distance or duration that you would like to work up to over time. Make sure your goal is SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Set a plan to achieve your goal. Follow the plan. Make a chart that your child can update – it’s a visual reminder of his or her achievement. Build your plan to increase your distance and speed over a period of time, with milestones along the way. Training without a plan is like trying to put together a Lego set without the instructions.

9.      Run while on vacation – it’s a great way to see the sights. When you plan your next vacation, have your kids plan a couple of runs. Discover the local parks and gardens, or incorporate some of the major sites. Last year, Mark ran the Grand Prix circuit in Monaco (amongst other ports on a Mediterranean cruise). Remember: safety first, of course. Stick to the beaten path, be aware and alert, and be sure to learn about the area before you hit the road.

10.   Make it fun. Children love to run. If they start looking at running as something they have to do versus something they love to do, you’re sunk. (They love the idea of helping with housework, too, until you add it to their chore list.) Vary the route, set goals, make it family time, get them talking, sign up for running events, involve them in planning, and incorporate running into your routine. Don’t underestimate the power of a race goal to motivate your little runner. Ours are pretty fired up about the Bluenose.

No more excuses. Just get out there and run – Family Style! You’ll be glad you did.

*Brenner, Joel S. (2007). Overuse Injuries, Overtraining and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes. Pediatrics, Vol. 119, No. 6, June 1, 2007 (pp. 1242 – 1245)

Get Your Kids Running Part III

If you’re following along, we at Running Family Style have dedicated a couple of posts to strategies for getting your kids, and yourselves, dear Parents, on the road to running. This is the third instalment, so if you’re just joining, you might want to hop back a few posts and check out the Top 10 List…

4.      Change up the route so it doesn’t become boring. The best thing about running is that you can do it anywhere. (Use common sense regarding safety, of course. Running on busy streets without sidewalks is not the best option.) Take your little runner to a park, on a wooded trail, through the city, or even reverse the direction of the route to keep it from getting stale. Even if you have a favorite running route, it is worthwhile making some changes to keep it interesting. My favorite tool for mapping running routes, around Halifax or wherever we happen to be traveling, is GMap Pedometer (http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/). This tool allows you to map routes; calculate distance, pace, and calorie burn; and track your runs on a workout log. Madison loves to use the application to plan runs and check distances for the Running Club at school.

5.      Encourage your child to join a running club at school or in the community. If your school doesn’t have a running club, get a group of parents and school administrators involved in starting one. Begin with the Phys. Ed. teacher. He or she will usually be your biggest ally in getting kids fit and active. Some communities also have running groups for kids outside of school, with regular sponsored events. At our daughters’ school, the Running Club has become quite popular. Some of the kids are more focused and competitive than others, but they’re all running. They meet once a week after school and run around the perimeter of a historic Halifax cemetery. They run at their own pace, and the Principal and Phys. Ed. teacher track the total laps (conveniently 1 km). The goal this school year was to collectively run enough laps to “climb Mount Everest”.

6.      Participate in running activities and events as a family. Many larger races also have kids’ events. These are usually shorter distance “fun runs” – from a couple hundred meters to 5K. Set training goals with your child to ensure that he or she is well prepared. Encourage participation versus competition. Some kids are competitive by nature, but others are not. Encourage children to pursue personal bests, not to beat their friends. At this early stage of their running careers, children need to know that participation and fitness are the most important things, and that it feels great to have completed a race, especially if there is a medal at the end! If you’re new to running, there’s nothing like a Family 5K to get the family on track. Most even welcome strollers.

If you happen to be a “destination runner”, look for races with kids’ events when planning your next “runcation”. When we started running, our first race was the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Madison and Gabrielle asked to run the Mickey Mile kids’ race. They loved all the hype, the medal, the T-Shirt and the experience. When we run, they always want to participate. Madison will run her first 10K on Sunday at the Bluenose Marathon with Lisa. Gabrielle will run the Doctors Nova Scotia Kids’ Race with her school.

Stay tuned for the 4th and final instalment of Get Your Kids Running and all the Bluenose Highlights!

Mark & Lisa

Mark’s Weekly Update (May 5th – 11th)

It’s only a week until the Bluenose and it was a tough week of training. I started off the week by getting up early Sunday morning and heading out with a few friends to do a dry run of the half marathon route. It wasn’t planned, but we showed up at one guy’s house to start our run and we were all dressed in blue. We looked like a senior’s version of the Blue Man Group. The weather was perfect and we just ran at a pace 30 seconds a kilometer off our race day pace. There was not a lot of traffic and when we reached the park I was surprised that so few people were out on this beautiful Sunday morning. We finished up the run refreshed and confident we would have a good run in two weeks.

The run sounds great, so you are probably wondering why I said this was a tough week. Well, as great a day as Sunday was, Monday was just the opposite. I woke up Monday morning with a pain in my lower back. I am not a person that has back issues, so I was quite surprised and quite upset. It is never nice to have an injury, but less than two weeks to a run can be devastating. I took some ibuprofen and contacted my running partner. He is a pharmacist and recommended a back pain medication. For the next few days I was in pain sitting, standing, or sleeping. Finally Friday morning I got up and the pain was less intense. I figured this was D-day. With just over a week until the run I needed to try and run.

Venturing out, I chose a shorter 7.0km run. I started out slow, but as I got going the lower back felt pretty good, so I increased my speed to normal. I finished the run without incident and without much pain. I still couldn’t sit or stand for too long without discomfort, but I was able to run. The next two days I got up still in a little pain, but I was able to run short training runs without aggravating my injury.

I am not fully healed yet, but I am confident that next Sunday I will be out on the road, running through the city, on my way to finishing the Bluenose Half Marathon.

Keep Running!