My favorite running motivation: Running Frenemies

hands crop

Finishing a full marathon with my running Frenemy


I didn’t have a name for them until recently. Those friends. The long time running buddies, the ones that have been close friends even longer … and the ones who make me lose my mind during training.

I read an article this past year in Canadian Running magazine about why you need running rivals, and I finally had a term for them. Frenemies.

I have a couple of these friends. We don’t live too far from one another, but far enough away that training together isn’t usually possible. So we often “virtually train” together through Strava. I have often logged on to Strava and uploaded the run I’ve just completed, only to find that my frenemies have also completed their training run, but…only a little faster, or a little longer or with a lot more elevation.

And I lose my mind, just a little bit. 🙂

I always feel guilty about my reaction. After all, they are my friends, and I am genuinely happy when they meet their goals, get faster and get new PBs. I often race with them and I am never disappointed to come in behind one or both of them. I can’t wait to get to the finish line to see if they killed their time or not. (of course, being the first of the group in is fun too…)

I finally realized that I am losing it, not because I’m unhappy that they are doing well, but because I’m irritated at my own lack of discipline. My firefighter friend is disciplined at speedwork, and does his crosstraining regularly (ugh – I hate speedwork… and crosstraining). And my other frenemy is a dedicated gym goer (gym, weights.. also yuck) and is much more conscious of being a healthy eater. For instance, not long ago she posted in Instagram picture of her dinner: steamed veggies, because she was too busy/tired to cook that night. I too was unable to cook that evening, however my dinner consisted of pita chips and hummus, followed by half a bag of ruffled chips with Hellavagood onion dip.

No word of a lie.

But, I am happy that I have frenemies. The friends, that whether they know it or not, (well, they do now) are pushing me to push myself harder. My best races and fastest times have either been run with them, or because of them. And my favorite race memories have been made with them.


Pre-race compression sock selfie with the firefighter frenemy.



Now, I’ve got to get out and do my speedwork. I just checked my Strava and my friends already did theirs… 😉


20140330-DSC_8043 (2)

Walking to the starting line of the Around the Bay 30k with two amazing running frenemies.






Gearing up for a new STRAVA challenge – the Dipsea Climbing Challenge


Run up 6,600 feet in three weeks! is the site that I use to upload my runs off my Garmin. I love analyzing my runs, seeing my pace and elevation and giving “kudos” to my fellow Strava runners. I find it really keeps me on track with my training.

I also find Strava’s monthly challenges very motivating, and this month is no exception. The Dipsea challenge for runners, that started this past Saturday, is named in honor of one of the oldest and wildest races in the US, the Dipsea. The challenge is to run up 6,000 feet of elevation during your runs over a three week period.

I figure I’ll be lucky to run half that, but the calf muscles I get attempting this challenge will be well worth the effort. The Dipsea sounded interesting, so I decided to do a little research. It is the oldest cross country trail running even and one of the oldest foot races of any kind in the US. Located in Marin County, California, it is 7.5 miles (12k) long and has about 2200 feet of elevation gain. It has been held almost every year since 1905, and June 14th will mark the 105th edition of the race.


The unique handicap system allows the oldest and the youngest racers to get up to a 25 minute advantage over the fastest competitors. That couples with the permissible secret shortcuts, make it possible for the winner to come from any age group. Previous winners include children as young as 8 and women as old as 72.


The first of several sets of stairs.

The first of several sets of stairs.

As of this morning, I have 642 of the 6600ft covered and 20 days left… We’ll see how close I get to the goal, but already I’ve been seeking out the hills in my neighborhood that I usually avoid. Win/win.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

What challenges are you doing? Would you ever consider a race like the Dipsea?





I really, really like I may even be a little obsessed with it. If you haven’t checked out Strava, please give it a try. It is a great resource for runners and cyclists – it’s a very useful and easy to use tool for breaking down and improving your runs and it keeps you focused and motivated. I encourage all my running friends, from novice to seasoned athletes, to get on this site.

When you upload your run, you see your route mapped out, you get your elevation, pace, calories burned as well as “awards” for any personal bests or course records you may have set. When you analyze your run, you see it broken down into 1km splits and you can see your elevation loss and gain per km as well as your grade adjusted pace. Being able to see your improvement over the short and long terms helps prevent discouragement.

The social aspect of this site is very encouraging too. It’s like Facebook for runners. I have 9 friends plus a few other local runners that I follow. You have the option of keeping any or all of your runs private if you want.  However, I recommend that you have your runs visible to your friends. Followers can give you “kudos” on each run and you have the option of commenting on your run and discussing how it went.

This site also enables me to “virtually” train with a few of my out of town friends. Even though we live an hour away from each other, we’ve managed to train for a half and full marathon together. When I come in from running and post my run, I often find that they were running at the same time as me and we can chat about our run. It’s also encouraging for me when I don’t have the motivation to get myself out the door. I’ll log into my Strava account and find that my friends have been out running and I feel compelled to get my butt out and run.

Strava is compatible with a number of GPS watches and phone programs and has its own program you can download to your smart phone making it available to almost everyone.

There are a number of other features that help you mix it up a bit. You can set “segments” up – I usually set up my hills as segments – and it keeps track of your best times as well as the best times of any other Strava runners that happen to run through your segment. I find it helps me to push that extra bit on hills that I might either normally avoid or take it easy on, to see if I can get that new personal best.

Strava also offers a number of monthly challenges that you can join. There is usually one challenging you to see how many kilometers you can log in one month, and there are usually other challenges like running a 10k, half or full marathon, or seeing how much elevation you can log. You then can see where you rank against runners all over the world.  We just completed a 10 day elevation challenge this past month that I will write about in the near future.

These challenges have helped me to log more distance than I ever thought I could in a month – they also make me go a little nuts sometimes – but that’s another blog…

If you are looking for a free, easy to use, social place to analyze, share and improve your running and cycling activities, definitely check this site out.


Hindering Hibernation

The end of October is a strange time to start a running blog.  The days are getting shorter, winter is coming, and the racing season has come to an end. The urge to hibernate on the couch for the next six months keeps getting stronger.

On the other hand, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the past year and to get motivated for what’s coming next.  Mixed in with the bad weather, there are so many perfect running days where the air is crisp, the sun is warm, and the leaves are gleaming.  If you can get the motivation to get out there, the rewards are worth it.

These are my tips that are helping me to keep going:

1. Join a social running site such as Encourage your friends to join too! Seeing their awesome runs will encourage you to get out. (And shame you when you don’t!)

2. Sign up for an online running challenge. When you don’t have a race to train for, these can give you a goal to focus on.  Strava has regular mileage, elevation, and time challenges. 

Today is the last day of the HOKA ONE ONE Demand More Vertical Challenge.  For the last 10 day, instead of thinking about my pace or mileage, I’ve been distracted by finding the biggest hills in my neighborhood, and have found some new favourite routes and trails.  Instead of avoiding hills, we were looking for them online.  On Sunday morning,  Jackie and I were rewarded with this beautiful scenery, along with a beastly, muddy hill.


3. Get some new gear. If you buy something new, you’ll want to use it! In fact, I feel guilty if I don’t. It doesn’t have to be big…new socks, hat, or gloves…just something that makes running a little more enjoyable.  My new Saucony running socks makes me smile every time I look at my feet!


4. Plan out each week. I don’t like to run in the dark.  It just feels cold, lonely and scary to me.  If I walk in my front door after work, I know that I’m not going to leave again until the sun comes up.  So, I try to plan out my week ahead of time. I take advantage of the times when I can run during the day.  When I can’t, I bring my duffel bag to work, and get it over with before I head home.

5. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished during the last few months, and think about what races you want to do in the spring.  Set your goals now, so you are motivated to keep up your fitness until training begins again.  It’s also a good time to try some different forms of exercise, like a boot camp class or strength training.