Category Archives: Running

70 Down 20 To Go

Bundled up before my run.
Bundled up before my run.

Holy cow, I can’t believe 10 weeks of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge are now a part of history, and less than 3 weeks remain.

Last week was a huge improvement over the two weeks that preceded it. While it wasn’t my strongest week ever, it did see me get in three solid runs, plus a lot of stretching which I desperately needed. More than that, I actually managed to end the week with a really strong run on the treadmill. Specifically, I logged 6.49km in 30 minutes – or in other words – I managed an average pace of 4:37 per kilometre. Not too shabby at all.

At this stage in the challenge I’ve managed to complete 25% of the distance required on my quest to 1000km. Note – my quest to 1000km was not the goal for the 90 Day Fitness Challenge. I’m crazy, but I’m not that crazy.

Anyway, at the rate I’m going and if I manage to keep to my training schedule (translation – no injuries), I should hit my goal of running 1000km sometime in May or June. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now I have the remaining days of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge to focus on.

I’ve got this.

63 Down 27 To Go

No more excuses.
No more excuses.

My life over the past few weeks has been rather stupid busy, so I didn’t get to post my regular update (which would have been aptly entitled 56 Down 34 To Go). But, given my lack of running it wouldn’t have been much of an update anyway. In fact, the last few weeks has been a rather black mark on my otherwise great start to the year.

I’m opting to look on the positive side of things and realize that sometimes one needs to allow for these breaks. Still, I feel like kicking myself in the ass for not getting out for even a few short runs.

Fortunately I did manage to get out for a run today. And there is hope for the future: the remainder of the semester – while it will be busy – shouldn’t be as stupid busy as the last two weeks.

What does this mean? Well, it means I have zero excuse to get back on track. And so that is what I intend to do. We’re in the final few weeks of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge, and I plan to embrace each day of it with as much kick-ass-ery as I can.


49 Down 41 To Go

Hard to believe that I'm going to be tackling the Toronto GoodLife Marathon in a little less than 10 weeks.
Hard to believe that I’m going to be tackling the Toronto GoodLife Marathon in a little less than 10 weeks.

I can’t believe the 90 Day Fitness Challenge is more than half over already. 

Despite missing my running goal by slightly more than 3km, I’m actually really happy with how this week went. The week was super busy, beginning with a presentation with my students on Tuesday, and ending with a 24 hour hackathon on campus. The hackathon – known as the Open Data Day Hackathon – officially started at 10am on Saturday, and finished by 10am Sunday. While the hours were long, the event was well worth the effort – and I even managed to sneak away to get in a 13.42km run.

By the end of week 7 I managed to log another 38.94 km, bringing my cumulative total since January 1st to 225.50km. I also managed to put in 140 minutes of yoga, and 225 minutes of mobility/strength training. All told – a rather productive and active week.

But I can’t rest on my laurels as week 8 is going to be an even bigger challenge: my running goals are taking a leap forward, and I also have to manage a rather hectic schedule at the office. Here’s hoping I stay on track, and that I manage to find some time to relax and rest. If I want to crush the Toronto GoodLife Marathon in May, I’m going to need to.





42 Down 48 To Go

Another wintry week of running.
Another wintry week of running.

Last week got away from me a little bit. I probably spent far too much time in meetings, and probably far too much time running around between meetings. Fortunately I didn’t allow this to interfere with my training schedule, and from my point of view that’s a huge win.

My goal this week was to add another 42km to my cumulative running total, spend 150 minutes doing yoga, and hit the gym for 90 minutes.

How’d I do?

Well, despite having too many meetings, presentations, and other academically related activities, I managed to log 46.58km, 130 minutes of yoga, and 120 minutes at the gym. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Definitely an improvement over the previous two weeks.

After 6 weeks of training I’m happy to say that I’m pretty much on track for where I want to be at this point. I’ve logged 186.56km of running, 965 minutes of yoga, and 665 minutes at the gym. These values are 92.36%, 100.52%, and 116.67% of my cumulative goals respectively. W00t!

As for week 7, I’ve purposely set my goals to be the same as week 6: 42km of running, 150 minutes of yoga, and 120 minutes at the gym. Here’s hoping this week is just as strong as last.

35 Down 55 To Go

Another chilly run.
Another chilly run.

And just like that week 5 of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge is over. While I’m not quite back to where I should be in terms of my goals, week 5 was a huge improvement over week 4.

For week 5 of the challenge I had aimed to run 5 times, covering 37km and bringing my cumulative distance to 160km for the year. Since my foot1 and knee were feeling a bit wobbly on Friday I opted to forgo my run; instead using the time to rest and stretch at home. Because of that I managed 4 runs, covering 28.69km. My cumulative total is now sitting at 139.98km, which is shy of my overall goal for this time by slightly more than 20km. Week 6 is going to be all about making up some of that missing distance.

Other than running, I managed to get in a session of mobility training with Dr. Mark, while continuing to stretch at home. All told, not a bad week.

It’s hard to believe the challenge is almost half over.

1 Not to worry – this wasn’t my related to my previously injured ankle. It was my other foot that felt wobbly – but I can attribute that to trying to run through the snow on Tuesday during/after the storm. Deep snow and ice do not make for an easy run.

28 Down 62 To Go

Snuggles - very much needed this week.
Snuggles – very much-needed this week.

Week four of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge was trying; very trying. It started off filled with good intentions and kick-ass energy, but then life decided to get in the way and that all changed.

Initially I was worried that work was going to be the main challenge – what with three major events this week. But then Thursday’s mail arrived and everything changed. I’m not going to dwell on that, but needless to say the wind was knocked from my sails and I found myself needing to spend more time at home thinking with the wee fuzzball safely snuggled up next to me.

There’s a part of me that is annoyed that I didn’t make my weekly goals (only 1 run, instead of 5), but I know that I also needed to take the time to begin to deal with everything. And because I find safety and comfort in numbers, I also know that I can easily catch up. In fact, the only goal where I’ve fallen short is running. My schedule indicates that I should have run a total of 123km by tomorrow, and I currently have 111.29km under my belt. I should be able to get back on track with one longer (and much-needed) run tomorrow.

So yes – this week sucked more than it should have. Yes – life got in the way. But I’m not going to stay down for long. Tomorrow begins week 5 and I’m ready to crush it.



21 Down 69 To Go

It's just a wee chilly outside.
It’s just a wee chilly outside.

Week three of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge has officially come to an end, and I’m happy to say that things are still going strong.

It was a tough week, however. Temperatures dipped into the realm of ridiculousness again, and then Mother Nature decided we needed more snow. Because running in frigid temperatures and knee-deep snow drifts is always a party. Fortunately the gym is only ~2km from my house, so on the colder days I was able to spend part of my time in the climate controlled goodness that is the GoodLife Fitness Centre.

By the end of the week I had managed to put in another 34.55km on my Quest To 1000km. That brings my grand total to 106.16km. Not too shabby. If I were to maintain this rate (i.e. averaging slightly more than 4km per day), I’d hit 1000km some time in early September. However, my training schedule for the 50km Ultra is far more demanding than what I’m currently putting my body through. This means that if all goes well – read, my ankle doesn’t explode - I expect to hit 1000km sometime in May.

But I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself – there are still 893.84km between me and my prize. A lot of life is going to happen between now and then; a lot of time running in all sorts of weather (because, let’s be honest, this winter isn’t even close to being over yet), a lot of competing work and social activities, and a lot of days where I’m just not going to want to run. I have to remember to stay focused on the prize, but also allow myself the flexibility to accept that external forces are going to interfere with all of my best laid plans. And that’s okay, because they’ll all be part of my crazy adventure to run 1000km.

Week four starts tomorrow. You’ve got this Gillis.


14 Down 76 To Go

Stretching with the wee fuzzball
Stretching with the wee fuzzball

And just like that the 90 Day Fitness Challenge is 2 weeks old. They grow up so fast.

I won’t lie – this week was tough. Work and life kept trying to get in the way of my goals. Stupid work and life – why you gotta be like that?

My first hurdle came on Tuesday. I arrived home exhausted and debating internally about whether or not I should run. Fortunately I embraced the suck and hammered out slightly more than 5km of running goodness.

Wednesday, however, was a different story. I spent the day with Tim Bray – he was on campus to give a talk on security and privacy. Since I was part of the group that organized his visit, it meant that I didn’t get home until quite late and I was completely knackered. I toyed with the idea of running but decided that it wasn’t in my best interest.

The decision not to run on Wednesday meant that I had to rejig my training schedule. Basically that meant moving my Wednesday run to Friday; setting up 4 consecutive days of running. While this wasn’t the first time I’d run 4 consecutive days, it was the first time I’d done so in a long while.

And after today’s run – my body is definitely feeling it. Nothing hurts beyond the typical pain one might feel after exercise, but I am completely spent. Tonight I’m sure to sleep like a king.

Regardless, week two is complete and I’m happy to say that I’ve met my goal and then some. I had planned to run 27km, but actually ran 31.28km. This means my cumulative distance for the year now sits at a very respectable 71.61km – which is slightly more than 7% of the required kilometres on my Quest to 1000. I also managed some quality gym time with Dr. Mark, and some much-needed yoga time. All told, not a bad week.

Take that work and life trying to get in the way.

But truth be told, I’m going to enjoy my rest day tomorrow.

The Re-Schtubbed-Ubbening

Ma sinuses are schtubbed ubb, again.
Ma sinuses are schtubbed ubb, again.

I’ve been randomly looking back at some old posts – seeing if there were any shenanigans of significance that I might have found myself a part of a year ago1. Part of the reason for my walk down memory lane is known as procrastination; I know I have to run 7km today on my Quest To 1000 Kilometres, but I’m feeling a little lazy at the moment.

Beyond a case of the lazies, my sinuses haven’t forgiven me since yesterday’s run and gym adventure. I’ve been sneezing up a storm. I had originally blamed it on the dust that’s been generated at the gym on account of some remodelling that’s going on, but then I started my walk down memory lane. Now I’m not so sure.

You see, one year ago yesterday – yesterday being when the sinus stuff started – I wrote Schtubbed Ubb. My sinuses were b0rked then too. Last year I blamed travel, however, I’m not so sure that I’m buying that excuse anymore. Perhaps my sinuses contain a deeper, darker secret. Perhaps they’re plotting against me. Perhaps they don’t want me to run.

Or perhaps I’m just finding any reason to avoid lacing up and doing the work I know I have to do if I ever want to crush my goal.

We may never know for sure.

1 Sometimes I look back to see if there is an excuse to celebrate some milestone’s anniversary. Because anniversaries mean scotch. That’s a rule.

Bonbons And Regret

RunKeeper - better than bonbons and regret.
RunKeeper – better than bonbons and regret.

Last night when I was walking home after what seemed a long day of work, I spent the bulk of my time having an internal discussion with myself.

I’m too tired to run.

No, you aren’t. You’re just being a big bag of suck.

Am I?

Yes, you are. I think.

See, maybe I’m not being a big bag of suck. I am rather tired.

But are you really that tired?

Well, I’m definitely tired, but maybe I’m not that tired…

See, I knew it!

And it went on like this for the 22 minutes or so that it took to saunter home. As I was closing in on my destination I had the following thought:

How about when you get home you at least put on your running gear, then decide if you’re going to run or wuss out.

My logic was simple – the act of getting dressed, as trivial as it was, might prove to be the extra boost I needed to actually get off my lazy butt and run. Worst case scenario – I would have wasted my time getting dressed up only to spend the eve on the couch eating bonbons and regret.

And so immediately on entering my condo I dropped my work bag, and headed upstairs to change. Before long I was in my running gear with my hat and gloves on, laces tied, and RunKeeper set and primed to go. And not too long after that I found myself back home having knocked out 5 more kilometres on my quest to 1000.

They say the clothes make the man. I think in this case the clothes made the runner. They were just the catalyst I needed to realize that I wasn’t really that tired – I was just being a big bag of suck.

Sometimes being tired is just an excuse; a way to avoid doing something I know I should do because the alternative seems far simpler. Sometimes being tired is truly that; a signal that my body is truly exhausted and needs rest. Knowing the difference isn’t always easy. I just hope that the next time I’m feeling tired, I’m able to distinguish which kind of tired I am.

Now if you don’t mind, I have a box of bonbons that aren’t going to eat themselves.

7 Down 83 To Go

Bundled up for my run in the ridiculously cold weather.
Bundled up for my run in the ridiculously cold weather.

The 90 Day Fitness Challenge that began in the old time-y days of 1 week ago is now 1 week old. Amazing. Okay, maybe a challenge that started a week ago being a week old isn’t really all that amazing. Whatever.

Point is, I’m 1 week into a challenge that will last approximately 13 weeks. For those who like percentages1, that’s almost 8% of the entire adventure.

As with most challenges, the first week has gone pretty well. I’m full of adrenaline and kick-assery, so I’ve found getting out to do my runs and stretches not too challenging. Don’t get me wrong, convincing myself to run in the types of weather we’ve had this week hasn’t been easy. But because this week was the beginning of the semester, it was easy to not have work related excuses. Things were busy, but they weren’t busy enough to make me think that sitting in front of the computer was a valid alternative to running.

Here’s hoping I can keep up this momentum; 7 days down, 83 to go. You’ve got this Gillis.

Note to self: get off your butt and go for a run.

1 Oh lord, who am I kidding. We all love percentages.

Happy Goofiversary

63.3 km later, enjoying our shiny new bling.
63.3 km later, enjoying our shiny new bling.

It’s amazing to think that this weekend, last year, I would have found myself in the Sunshine State of Florida running 63.3 km over a roughly 29 hour period.

Honestly, it seems like a lifetime ago that I laced up with Mark to run the first of two epic runs through the parks of Disney World. The first being the Donald Duck Half Marathon, the second being the Mickey Mouse Full Marathon. It was an amazing adventure, and one that I don’t think I could have done without Mark by my side. He kept me focused and motivated, and encouraged me when I needed it the most.

Now a year later, I find myself looking back and thinking to myself How the hell did I manage to do that? I’m not asking this because I don’t think I could do it again – I know I could, and I will. I mainly ask because I’m back at the starting gate: learning to run long distances, conditioning my body in the way that it needs to be to accomplish such feats of craziness, and building my strength to take on new challenges (in this case, the Toronto GoodLife Marathon, and the Niagara 50km Ultra Marathon).

Some days, looking back and seeing where I was compared to where I am now is a bit daunting. After my ankle injury and the running break that it required, my current challenges seem so out of my realm of reality. They represent long arduous kilometres into the future. They’re the peak of a mountain that I’ve only just begun to climb.

But I will climb that mountain. It’s not going to be easy, and I know there will be days where I will curse myself for deciding to take on crazy new adventures, but those will pale in comparison to the feeling of reaching the summit, breathing in the accomplishments, and reflecting on those moments that brought me to my goal.

If the Goofy Challenge taught me anything, it’s that I can do whatever it is I set my mind to. I know this because through all of my training, all of my moments of doubt, and even during the race, I had so many amazing people cheering me on, pushing me forward, and leading me to the finish line. And more than that, I had an amazing friend to experience the thrill, exhilaration, and feelings of holy eff we just ran 63.3 km with.

So thank you to everyone who has supported me on my silly little adventures. But most importantly, thank you to Mark – for running by my side for 63.3km, for encouraging me, and for being the amazing man you are. The world needs more crazy people like you.



90-Day Fitness & Accountability Challenge

It's on. 90-Day Fitness & Accountability Challenge. January 6-April 5.
It’s on. 90-Day Fitness & Accountability Challenge. January 6-April 5.

Because I love challenges, and because my list of things to do is apparently not long enough, I decided to begin a 90 day fitness challenge on January 6th. I blame this entirely on my friend Rick, because he’s the one who first introduced the idea to me (click here to view his post describing the challenge in detail).

The concept is simple: set a fitness challenge that works for you, and stick to it for 90 days. The challenge can be anything, so long as it is exactly that – a challenge. For example, if you are someone who already has a history of working out 3 times per week, a challenge might be to up that to 4 times per week. If on the other hand you don’t work out at all, setting a goal of two 30 minute sessions of activity per week might be challenge enough. Point is – you have to pick something that makes sense for you, and pushes you beyond your current routine.

For those of you who don’t know, Rick goes by the handle of @InspirationRick on the Twitter. Having seen the number of people he’s just inspired to take part in this 90 day challenge, I can tell you he’s earning that moniker. Well done sir. My hat is off to you1.

So what have I decided to do for my challenge? I have committed to 6 days of activity per week3. If I follow my training program for the upcoming Toronto GoodLife Marathon and the 50k Niagara Ultra Marathon, 6 days shouldn’t be a problem – although it’ll definitely be a challenge.

For the sake of my 90 day challenge, all of the training runs, yoga/stretching sessions, and visits to the gym will qualify as acceptable forms of activity. My walks to and from the office will not qualify as they are part of my regular routine.

From a nutritional/healthy eating point of view, I’m going to also strive to drink more water (1 big glass before bed and as soon as I wake up), and eat out less. To accomplish the latter goal, I’m going to focus on short-term objectives first; making lunches instead of buying them on campus every day during the month of January. If that works well, then I’ll see what other changes I can make.

Here’s to a kick ass 90 days.

1 Mainly because you’ve done an awesome job, and deserve the nod. But also because I want to hand you a hat so that you can cover up your face. Cuz it’s ugly2. ZING!

2 For those who are new to this blog, Rick is not actually ugly. I guess.

3 Which I will be tracking weekly with the rest of my Quest to 1000 km statistics.

Take That Cold Weather

Baby it's cold outside. And yes, that is ice on my hat.
Baby it’s cold outside. And yes, that is ice on my hat.

I woke up yesterday morning to the news that it was -23C outside but that it felt like -29C with the windchill. Seriously, who decides that these temperatures are okay?

As I huddled under my covers shivering from the thought of -29C, I began to wonder whether or not heading outside for a run was a good idea or a demonstration of insanity. I’m pretty sure it’s more the latter than the former. As I blinked my vision into focus, I grabbed my trusty iPad and opened up my training schedule.


Not really a terribly long run, but my mind was immediately imagining every single one of the 5000 metres required to complete that distance. Back and forth my mind went with messages of it’s too cold and suck it up buttercup. I may have pulled the wee fuzzball a little closer in an attempt to siphon some heat.

Eventually I made it out of the warmth and security of my blankets. Eventually I made it downstairs for a piping hot coffee and some oatmeal. Eventually I started convincing myself that running had to happen. Surely I couldn’t mess up my training this early in my schedule.

I’m not exactly sure when but at some point I opened up my blog. I immediately noticed that my training gauge was indicating 41.13%1. What the hell? It took me half a second to understand why the reading was so low. It also was the proverbial kick in the pants I needed to get off my butt and get out running.

And so early yesterday afternoon, after the temperature had warmed up to a balmy -24C with windchill, I laced up, bundled up, and headed out. Despite the cold it was another beautiful day for running, and I found that I was quite distracted by the crunching of the snow with every footfall. It wasn’t an easy run, but it also wasn’t a terribly difficult run either. The temperature forced me to slow my pace and remember to control my breathing. And before long I was finished. Interestingly, I ran 5.71km bringing my cumulative total so far this year to a nice round 9.00km. I wish I could say I planned that, but I didn’t.

It’s amazing how easy it is for numbers to motivate me. I guess this really shouldn’t be much of a surprise given my love of mathematics and statistics.

Anyway, I’m proud to say that my training gauge has settled at 112.50%. Here’s hoping I can keep it at or above 100% for the next 24 weeks2.

1 The training gauge indicates the up to date percentage of kilometres I’ve completed compared to cumulative total I should have completed according to my training schedule. In total I had planned 8km between January 1 and January 3. As of the morning of the 3rd I hadn’t put in my run, so only had 3.29km from January 1 to add to my total. And since 3.29/8.00*100% = 41.125%, we see where the 41.13% came from.

2 Actually, I’ll be quite content to keep it above 90% for the next 24 weeks. While I ultimately want to run the entire schedule I’ve set for myself, I also have to realize that life will probably get in the way at some point.

And So It Begins

Day 1: 3.29km under my belt, only 996.71 to go.
Day 1: 3.29km under my belt, only 996.71 to go.

On January 1st I took my first steps back into the world of running after a long hiatus1. It was rather cold2 and I was feeling some of the effects of the New Year’s Eve festivities from the night before. Regardless I laced up, bundled up, took a deep breath, and started my first of hopefully many runs this year.

I was fully expecting the run to be awful. I fully expected to curse everyone and everything with each painfully cold inhalation. I thought for sure I’d want to punch myself in the face for 1) having slacked off for so long, and 2) deciding that today had to be the day that I opted to start my training program. I mean, between boozy indulgences from the night before, not having run in quite some time, and frigid temperatures, it seemed the only possible outcome was a miserable run.

But before I started running something clicked in my head. The voices telling me that this was going to suck quieted. I looked around, took a deep breath, and realized just how beautiful it was outside. The air was crisp and clear; there were people out walking their dogs. It was a perfect day for a run.

And so I started running. I kept a careful eye on my pace and the ground. I didn’t want to burn out too quickly or run too slowly, and I also didn’t want to slip on the ice and sideline myself with another injury. I settled into a comfortable pace, ignored the internal voice that suggested I run faster, and enjoyed my time outside.

Before long my first run was complete. I had only planned for 3km – a sort of welcome back to the land of the moving kind of run. I overshot slightly, considered turning it into a 5km run, but opted to stick to my training plan. No sense in being a hero, right?

The good news – the run felt great, and so did my ankle. Here’s hoping that this is the sign of many good runs to come.

To keep myself motivated I’ve created a little widget up there in the corner of the blog. It’s a simple pie chart that identifies the proportion of running I’ve done towards my Run 1000km In A Year goal3. Right now I’ve completed only a tiny sliver of my goal – 0.329% to be exact – but that should soon change.

For now I am going to focus on the fact that I’ve made the first steps towards my goal; 3.29km down, 996.71km to go. Wish me luck.

1 Well, I ran some during the hiatus, but it wasn’t consistent in any way.

2 -11C, with a wind chill that made it feel like -19C.

3 Assuming I follow my training schedule, and assuming I don’t injure myself, I should hit 1000km on May 11th. If that happens, I’ll update the widget to 1412.50km, the distance I need to run to train for the 50km Niagara Ultra Marathon in June.