Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Favourite Winter Gear

I just got home from a long, chilly, hard, sweaty, steep, snowy ultra training run and dropped my kit on the floor in the foyer.  Thump.  'I wonder how much my pack weighs?', I think.  I can't wait until I am running free of the load and the layers and all of the gadgets in my upcoming race in the desert.  But, I sure am grateful for all of the gear I have that keeps me happy and comfortable during winter training!

I take all sorts of gadgets and layers and devices with me on my long solo adventures to keep me safe, happy and performing as best as possible.  What's in my winter pack?  And how much does it weigh?  Read on to find out what gear gets me there during the cold days of winter.  PS: Yes, we DO get winter on Vancouver Island.  In fact, we just woke up to another 15cm of fresh snow-eeeek!

My Favourite Winter Training Gear

Pack- Salomon Skin 5 Vest- still my fave.  

I will never go back to a regular pack.  Once you feel the fit of these vests you will be converted (and convinced to invest in the $$$).  I carry my water in the soft flask bottles in the chest pockets all the time now (even though I hated them at first- odd to get used to!).  Distributing the weight front to back keeps my neck and shoulders happy and relaxed during ultra long runs.  I can't carry all of the weight on my back, otherwise I suffer (post whiplash).

Shoes- Salomon Speedcross - my winter fave because of: 

The tread (monster tread!), the surface area (wide), the material (warm/durable), extra support (slippery conditions).  I don't like a couple of things about them, however: narrow toe box (buy a half or full size larger), high heel (I don't like a big heel toe drop- compromise for the other features).

Waterproof Gortex Socks - Rocky (MEC about $70) - my winter life savers!  

Seriously- best $$ spent ever.  My feet tend to get crazy cold and these socks keep my feet warm and cozy regardless of the temperature of how many puddles/river crossings I encounter.  I bought them originally for mountain biking (my feet turn into iceblocks winter riding - extra heat loss of heat through the clip less pedals) but they work really well for snowshoeing and running on the coldest, wettest, snowiest days.  They fit very oddd, however, with zero stretch.  Get the smallest size you can squeeze over your feet to get on, so that you aren't having to cram too much extra material into your shoes.  And pull them tight (from the heel) to prevent any wrinkles / creases under your feet.  A must have if you get cold feet or hate wet feet!  Warning: if you tuck your tights in the water will run down your legs and IN to the socks!  And if you go through water deeper than the socks- they will fill up like water balloons!

Heated Gloves: Motion Heat ($239) - my winter sanity!  

I have Reynauds syndrome which makes winter training a painful experience- and in the past, made my winter adventures quite limited.  It's not 'cold hands''s a level of pain that is hard to describe... And you can't just 'warm them back up'...that is another, higher level of pain that I wouldn't wish on anyone.  The best treatment is prevention but no matter how many types of gloves I tried or numbers of layers I added (or number of 'hot packs), I could not keep my hands warm enough to bike on cold winter days.  I would lose the use of my hands and then the situation would go from bad to worse as I was unable to safely control my bike (no hands + mountain biking = bad).  The last straw was on a multi-day bike trip in the Chilcotins (Tyax) on September long weekend a couple of years ago, when winter came early.  At the bottom of a long snowy mountain descent, that should have had me grinning ear to ear, I was in tears and my friends decided to pitch in to buy me these dream gloves!  Thanks guys!

These gloves use a rechargeable lithium battery to heat the hands and every individual finger, instantly.  Within 2 seconds of pressing the power button, my hands are warm and I can relax and enjoy my adventure.  They have 3 settings so you can adjust the temperature and battery use on the go as your temperature changes.  The low setting lasts for 8 hours!  Add a light windproof layer glove over top for wet or sub zero days (protects the gloves as well) and you will never have cold hands again!  The battery pack sits in the wrist or you can attached a wire extension and carry it in your pack/pocket etc.  Brilliant.  This Calgary based, Canadian company has stellar customer service to boot!  If your adventures are limited by Reynauds (or if you know someone that is) please do not hesitate to invest in these gloves. I didn't realize how much stress cold hands were causing me in the past, until I no longer had to worry!  Get them- you won't regret this purchase!

Yak Tracks ($33 MEC)- my winter freedom!

(Not pictured).  I finally picked up a pair of these, this month and now I wonder how I ever ran through winter without them??  If you live somewhere where you get snow in winter, then you MUST invest in a pair of these!  No more cancelled runs, dangerous runs, terrible choppy strides, tentative steps or risky will be like spiderman/spiderwoman!  Unbelievable - so simple, yet so effective.  Pull them over the sole of any shoe and the metal coils will give you the traction you need to run strong, safe and happy all winter long.  Love them!

inReach Satellite Device ($539+)- my peace of mind!

If you know me, you know that I am a huge supporter of the inReach communication devices.  I love them so much that I became a brand ambassador for this company!  I pack this device with me on a year round basis, so that I always have a away to communicate regardless of cell service.  Even on local trail networks, there are big holes in the grid and I have heard too many stories of emergencies turning from bad to worse because of limited or non existent cell coverage, even in the 'front country'.  But in winter, my inReach is even more important because the cold often kills my cell phone battery making communication impossible, even on the grid.  Investing in an inReach device is a no brainer if you like to explore - communication, peace of mind for family, GPS model option and can double as a texting plan while you are travelling anywhere in the world!  See my review here... then, go get one, and then be sure to sign up for my 15% Friends and Family subscription fee discount while it is available!

Rechargeable Battery Pack (various types)  

The cold is a battery killer, so I always carry an extra battery pack to keep my phone charged and my music playing:).  They are so tiny and can add a tonne of life to your devices on the go.  Charge it up the night before (along with heated gloves, go pro, Garmin and iPhone OMG!) and connect it to any of your USB devices to keep charged over the long haul.

Other items you will find in my pack:  

Lole women toque (best toque ever!), Salomon fast wing hoodie (the best outer layer invented), ELM Buff, bear spray/big knife/space blanket/firestarter/whistle, Hornby Island Energy Bars (I never get tired of these whole food bars), GoPro Hero Black 4 (best miniature photographer ever), Garmin 920XT Forerunner (the mother of all GPS watches), Black Diamond 'Storm' headlamp and my iPhone for the tunes of course!

And so how much did my pack weigh yesterday??  8 pounds.  Not too bad a price to pay for comfort and peace of mind;)

Happy Trails!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Weight Management: How to Create Your Nutrition Budget

Imagine for a moment, the feeling of running with a 20 pound backpack.  Then imagine, you slip the pack off and run free from the extra load.  Can you feel the lightness?  The ease and freedom of movement?  I'll bet you can.

This is the same sensation of running with or without an extra 10, 20, 30 or more pounds of body weight to carry with you.  Increased body mass, specifically fat, as it is 'non-functional weight',  increases the workload of locomotion.  It is harder for the muscles to propel you forward, harder for the blood to circulate to greater areas and harder for the body to thermoregulate during exercise when you are carrying a significant amount of extra weight.  All of this increased effort, results in a higher energy and oxygen requirement and the result is a feeling of greater fatigue at any given pace (movement is harder).  This is most evident during running, as there are no toys to assist in forward motion (skii's, boat, bike etc) but is still noticible in all activities.  Those extra 20 pounds above a healthy body weight increase your effort while decreasing your pace...but...I'm sure you already knew that;) 

So how to lose those 20 pounds?  More on that in a moment.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Training Principles: Maintenance

"You can do anything, but not everything." 
- David Allen

You know I believe you can do anything. I really do. Dream big! Shoot for the stars! Rock your goals and claim your vision!

You just can't do everything, at once. My friend, athlete and Journey Coach, Sarah Erikkson says this ALL the time. And I love it!

Enter the Maintenance Principle.

There are many different areas that we want to improve through conditioning: endurance, strength, speed, power and everything in between. But, we cannot improve them all at once. If we try and fill our weeks with everything, then we will not allow for adequate time/volume, to create optimal improvement in any of the areas. A professional, periodized training plan follows the principle of Periodization, which includes different phases of training that allow the athlete to focus on specific components of fitness, while maintaining others and not losing gains in the process.
How? Read on!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Training Principles: Overtraining

You have been rocking your workouts and adding extra training sessions to your week, just because you are feeling so damn great!  You almost feel invincible!  Now is the time to find out what you are capable of and push even further, harder and faster, right?

You have been doing all of your training sessions but you felt slower on your last couple of runs/rides.  Easy pace didn't feel easy and your heart rate is too high.  You couldn't get your speed up to target pace during your last couple of interval sessions.  You are training so hard but your performance is stale or getting worse.  Now is the time to push further, harder and faster, right?

You are beyond stressed out at work and home life is just as crazy right now.  You can't get to bed before midnight but you still have to get up early and do it all again tomorrow. You feel like you are burning the candle at both ends and man, now your throat is a bit sore. You missed your key workouts last week because of 'life' and exhaustion.  Now is the time to make up those workouts and push yourself to squeeze even more in, right?


Friday, January 13, 2017

Training Principles: Overload

 Are you following the same program in the gym and lifting the same weights that you were last year, or the year before last (or not doing any strength training at all??) and wondering why you don't seem to get any stronger?  Or, have you been running the same pace, the same route and following the same running schedule all year, or for many years and wonder why you aren't getting any faster?  Well, folks, I'm here to give you a friendly reminder that the same old just ain't gonna work;).  Results take focus, effort and overload balanced with optimal recovery (and nutrition) and you need a progressive training plan for that.

If you aren't progressing, you are maintaining or regressing.  It's as simple as that. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Minds Eye: 2016 Reflections

9 amazing moments from my 2016.  L-R from top left:  Castlecraig Loop, Comox Lake Bluffs, Brianna at Run BC on the Iceline Trail,  Comox Lake bluffs, again the bluffs (one of my sanctuaries),  Mt. Cokely summit, Landslide Lake, My back 40, Summit of the Golden Hinde, highest point on Vancouver Island.  The worlds most beautiful playground right in my backyard :)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Holiday Fit Gift Guide!

Need some ideas for under the tree this year?  We've got you covered!  Give the gift of health and an experience that will change the lives of your loved ones in a positive way(or yourself!).  Cheers to less stuff and more experiences!  Here are some ideas to get your inner Clause inspired:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

MOMAR Cumberland 2016 Race Report

Image: Dave Silver  - or is that a Bryan Tasaka selfie?

Can I do a short race report?  Let's find out!

Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race 2016
50kms of paddling, trail running, mountain biking and orienteering in the best place on earth- my backyard, Cumberland.  Read on for a little background, my race report and my top reasons why I love MOMAR (and why I think you should do one if you haven't already)...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Story: Magic in the Mountains

Magic in the Mountains

Originally printed in Comox Valley Collective, Spring 2016 issue 

An endless coastline, mild climate, and constant ocean breeze are all part of life on Vancouver Island. Most visitors come to Canada’s lush West Coast isle to stroll the beaches, play in the surf, and get a taste of Island time.

But Vancouver Island hides a wild secret far away from its sandy shores.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Gear Review: 66 Audio BTS Wireless Headphones

How do these things even stay on?  Cool design!

This summer, 66 Audio asked it I would like to test drive their BTS wireless head phones.  Of course I would!  I love testing new gear and was excited to see how these wireless headphones would perform on my various adventures.  I have always been an ear bud person, so I will admit I was a bit skeptical about how I would enjoy the external style headphones.  Here is how my test drive went down...

Summitting The Golden Hinde in a Single Day

I had been there before...but had never reached the summit.  My last trip to the Golden Hinde was a 3 day, solo walk-about at a pace designed to clear my mind.  This time, the pace was set to try and get to the summit and back in a single day.  Of course, it had been done before by many adventurous (and impatient) fastpackers.  But, I hadn't ever heard of a woman's single day time...

"Hey!  Wanna go for the Hinde on August 27th?"  

...And so...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Two Weeks in Iceland

This pretty much sums it up.  If you like the nature, you should just go.
Look how at peace Ms Nicole is here at Skogafoss.

Iceland is a raw land that is full of history, bold contrasts and mind blowing supernatural sights.  I recently had the chance to explore Iceland on a two week adventure and we saw a surprising amount of the country in this short time.  This post highlights our itinerary and my favourite images from our trip to the land of the Vikings.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Beat the Heat



The temperatures have climbed sky high and we are getting a real blast of summer heat – and a quick lesson in acclimating!   Some people thrive in the heat (me) and others wilt.  There are many factors that determine our ability to tolerate heat and cold including the temperature that we grew up in, how much time we spend in the heat/cold on a daily basis, body composition, stress, health conditions, genetics and more.   The great news is, our bodies do adapt through exposure and there are also many ways to prevent overheating.  Here are some tips to help you beat the heat!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Perseverance Trail Run: 2 Months to Go!

Image Dave Prothero

Registration is filling up for the 12th annual Perseverance Trail Run, taking place on Sunday, October 23rd in the Village of Cumberland! This years race will once again feature two classic trail run courses: A 3k Cross Country Romp and an 11k Mountain Run. The 3k XC Romp showcases the protected Cumberland Community Forest trails including a few ups and downs, twists and turns and maybe even a little water. This course is perfect for those looking to sample cross country running, including walkers and the little ones. The 11k Mountain Run is for those looking for a running challenge complete with steep climbs, flowing descents, technical single-track and breathtaking vistas. If you are ready to challenge your trail running stamina, this course will surely take you to new 'heights'.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Team ELM Canada rocks the 55km Iceland Laugavegur Ultra Marathon!


Eight local trail runners have just returned to the Comox Valley after completing the 55km Laugavegur Ultra Marathon in the wild Highlands of Iceland. ‘Team ELM Iceland’ trained for 5 months to prepare for the event and traveled to Iceland along with their Coach, Sarah Seads (owner of Equilibrium Lifestyle Management) for a week long adventure leading up to and including the race. Their results were impressive, considering all but two were attempting their first ultra marathon. Many of the runners, began their training at 8kms and with just 3-4 days of running per week, their race specific training plan helped them prepare effectively for the challenging 55km ultra.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Run BC Project 2016 Day 5: Nakusp Hot Springs Trail

Day 1: Keystone Standard Basin Trail: Revelstoke
Nakusp Hot Springs trail is 50 shades of green.

Run BC Project Day 5: Nakusp Hot springs Trail

Distance: Entire trail from parking to Nakusp Hot springs is 8.5kms one way.  We ran out and back for time, but you could run one way, out to the Hot springs ($ required to enter this facility fyi) and set up a shuttle scenario, or run out have a soak and then run back.  Would be an awesome bike ride as well.
Elevation: Map says 100m gain (hahah!) we ran 5.2kms each way and racked up 300m on our out and back. 
Terrain: Undulating forest path.  No major climbs or technical terrain.  Shaded forest all the way.
Map: Nakusp Trails
Bring: Bear spray (grizzly country!), camera, bathing suit and $ for the hot springs and emergency communication device such as the Delorme inReach (no cell service).

Run BC Project 2016 Day 4: Abbott Ridge

Day 1: Keystone Standard Basin Trail: Revelstoke
Yup.  Money.

Run BC Project Day 4: Abbott Ridge Trail, Glacier National Park

The best day of all?  Oooooooh it is so hard to pick a favourite!  But Abbott Ridge really did knock my socks was spec-freakin-tacular!

Distance: 13.6kms round trip
Elevation: 820m gain (it's a good steady up)
Terrain: Moderately steep dirt switchbacks to start with a good solid climb to the subalpine, then a rocky, uneven path up top. 
Map: Parks Canada
Trailhead: Illecillewaet Campground
Bring: Sunscreen, bear spray (grizzly country!), camera (and spare cards!) and emergency communication device such as the Delorme inReach (no cell service).

Run BC Project 2016 Day 3: Iceline Trail

 Day 1: Keystone Standard Basin Trail: Revelstoke

Woah Nelly!  Now this is a trail to write home about;).  Billed as the 'most beautiful trail in the Rockies' by many who have visited the area, we had to go and see for ourselves...

Taking in the awesome view of Takakkaw falls.

Run BC Project Day 3:  Iceline Trail, Yoho National Park

Day 3 of the Run BC Project saw us driving to Yoho National Park from our accomodation at  Kicking Horse mountain in Golden. There are some beautiful homes to rent on the mountain as well as an awesome restaurant to enjoy in town - 1122 (how is this fantastic gem in this wee town?).  You MUST go for post a post adventure stub and grub if you are in the area.

Distance: 20kms - loop (many options for out and backs, view points or shorter loops as well)
Elevation: 900m approximately
Terrain: Steep forested switchbacks (if you go clockwise) at the start, rocky traverse in the middle (exposed/no shade), sweet flowy singletrack along a river at the end of the loop (back in the shade).
Water: Many rivers flow across the trail from the Emerald glacier on the traverse.
Bring: Sunscreen (exposed up top!), bear spray (grizzly country!), camera (and spare cards!) and emergency communication device such as the Delorme inReach (no cell service).
Trailhead: Whiskey Jack Hostel, park at the Takakkaw Falls parking lot and walk back down the main road about .5kms to the Hostel to find the trailhead.  No parking allowed at the hostel fyi.

Run BC Project 2016 Day 2: Asulkan Valley Trail

The valley feels enchanted. There is magic in the atmosphere."
- Cartographer and explorer, Arthur O. Wheeler, 1905.
Run BC Crew running the rocky spines of Glacier National Park

Run BC Project Day 2: Asulkan Valley Trail, Glacier National Park

Distance 14kms round trip, 7kms one way to the Asulkan Cabin lookout
Elevation: start at 1245m-top out at 2114m, with about 900m of climbing/descending
Terrain: Non technical, with a section of ridge spine travel that will knock your socks off.  Light to moderate incline for the first 4kms with a good 'stiff' climb and the majority of elevation crammed into the final 3kms to the cabin.
Pack: Bear spray (Grizzly central and the park rangers had an up to date sighting/trail closure map at the entrance the week we were there), camera, sunscreen (exposed), communication device (Delorme inReach) trekking poles if you need them for a short section on steep, loose terrain.
Map: Parks Canada