Montreal Runner Mom

Mommy. Runner. Blogger. Writer


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Race to find TIME

Okay parents, let’s be real. Many of us feel like we can’t take the time we need for ourselves because of our spouses, children, parents, home, work, business and 5 million other commitments. I have had this mentality my whole life but it became much more prominent once I became a mom.

I did try to make it all work but more often than not I failed. I would make a plan for my day or my week that included special scheduled “me time”. For me that meant, exercise, meditation, reading, writing and occasionally when the kids were babies…sometimes it even meant a nap (!) More often than not though, despite my good intentions I would cancel “me time” because I felt I had other bigger more pressing commitments to attend to. Then after I didn’t follow my own plans, I would berate myself and become more and more frustrated with the lack of TIME.

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I always blamed TIME. There was never enough time to work out for an hour, then shower AND wash my hair! That meant at least 1.5 to 2 hrs of TIME! Read for fun? Yes this used to be one of my favorite things to do when I was younger but now? There was definitely not enough time for that unless I was on vacation maybe and even then! Now I had to get the kids ready and off to school, clean the house, do the laundry, visit extended family, put in hours and hours a week on managing our family business, prepare for and teach multiple classes a week, maintain friendships, attend school plays and shows, do homework with my oldest, play with my youngest, the list goes on. Not to mention feeling guilty about not making scrapbooks and scouring Pinterest for hours designing little mementos that will document each moment of my precious little ones lives. Hmmm…and what about spending some quality time with the husband?

Then I realized this needed to stop. One of the first times that it dawned on me that my priorities needed to change was when I realized that my day was being spent dictated to me by other people. I would make a plan for my day and it would all go to waste when I would open my email. I have multiple email accounts: the main company email, my personal business email and my personal/family email. Each one would be filled with anywhere from 10-50 emails and at least 80% were marked URGENT by the sender. Everyone wanted an answer and a solution to their questions and problems. Then there were the phone calls and voicemails…..

Needless to say I never got anything done for myself and I would always cross everything that I had planned to do off my list because of other people’s priorities. Now this doesn’t mean that I condone not maintaining or following up on your responsibilities. However I have finally after much trial and error come up with methods that works for me and hopefully can help out those of you who feel like you are also struggling to manage it all.

I did a lot of research, read a lot about self-development and drew from the teachings of people like Tony Robbins, Tim Feriss and Jim Rohn. I say I drew from their teaching because the reality is that they give lots of great advice but they are not living their daily lives as a busy working mom of young kids. So I had to adapt and try out different techniques to see what worked and what didn’t.

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Here are some of the concepts that I have applied to my daily life

PERSONAL

I no longer come last. Yes I said it. I come first. That’s hard to say as a mom, I know. Reason being is that if I do not have my “me time” I am just not the best mother and wife that I can be. I must spend time outside. I must run. I must write. I must read. Notice that these are not SHOULD’S but MUST’S.

However I’ve also learned that I can’t do it all each day. So now I made a schedule and I alternate. Running & stretching one day, yoga & meditation the next. Some days I nix both and just read or write. In a perfect world I could spend the first 4 hours of my morning doing all these activities but that’s not reality. So I pick one of my MUSTS each day and do just one BUT I make sure to be deeply grateful for it.

  • Choose 5 minutes a day to turn off all distractions and be grateful
  • Find at least 30 minutes a day to do one of your MUSTS -maybe that 30 minutes is in the morning before everyone else gets up or maybe it’s late at night. Find your time, it’s there waiting for you if you look. Make YOU a priority. I guarantee no one will self-combust because of it 😉

FAMILY

I used to be distracted all the time and never really focused on being in the moment. I have learned that putting my phone on silent and focusing on finger painting with my little one, or encouraging the kids to talk about their day at the dinner table has changed everything. Sometimes putting a hold on the rushing around and letting the kids play outside just a little longer or stay up just a little later is not just okay but amazing and beautiful. Making the effort to get a babysitter and go out with my hubby or meet up with friends even when I am tired and would rather just go to sleep is so very worth it. You can change your state of mind or state of being in an instant.

  • Instead of asking myself “Do I really want to go/do etc…?” I ask myself “What if I couldn’t?” What if I was incapable of even considering these options due to sickness, old age or worse? After pondering that thought, the answer is always YES! Let’s GO!

WORK

I no longer work harder and longer but I do work smarter. I prioritize according to MY description of what is urgent not other people’s. The reality is that some issues are time sensitive but many other are not. Turns out that people can wait and will not explode if they fail to receive an answer in 2 hours or less! In fact as long as you are clear about your response time turn around, most people can wait up to 48 hours or more.

I no longer check my email first thing in the morning, late at night or constantly throughout the day. Email is a fabulous tool but it can also be a nightmare that sucks up all your time without you even realizing until it’s too late. I schedule specific times and I limit the time spent answering. If I can make a phone call instead of email, I will. It’s faster and provides a much better source for communication.

What have been some the consequences of these new additions in my life? 

  • I no longer let high maintenance people, social media and tv waste my valuable time.
  • I go to sleep earlier
  • I am actively pursuing my MUSTS each day
  • I feel calm, relaxed and more appreciative of each moment of my day
  • I have less stress and less feelings of not being “enough”
  • I have more self-confidence and happiness and enjoy sharing it with others
  • I feel like I am in a constant state or learning and growth
  • I have discovered a sense of wonder in everyday moments

My self development journey has many facets to it. Running and writing are some of the bigger ones for sure but by far the most important one is the realization was that TIME didn’t need to be found. It was always there waiting for me. I just needed to know where to look. 

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#GoRunnerGo  🙂


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Something To Think About…

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For those who have been following this blog for a while now, you will know that I am about to embark upon a massive long weekend. Not only am I leaving the kiddies behind for 5 days but the hubby and I are traveling to NY for a Tony Robbins conference called Unleash the Power Within. We attended a previous Tony Robbins seminar about 10 years ago, we’ve read his books and followed his teachings for some time now. To say we are big fans would be an understatement! His influence on our lives is huge and we hope that by attending this weekend’s seminar we will gain even more drive, motivation and clarity towards reaching our goals.

So as I finish up all the details before heading out tomorrow, part of my “homework” is to answer the below questions. I thought it would be fun to share them with you as I think they are thought provoking and helpful to everyone. Answer them for yourself and see what happens!

What are the top 3 goals you have right now?

  • Run a marathon by the fall of 2015
  • Write and publish a book by the end of 2015
  • Own my new identity as a runner and author NOW

What has kept you from achieving these goals and what have you missed out on? Write down everything it has cost you (think about those you love, friends, colleagues-what are some missed opportunities?)

What has kept me from achieving these goals is the limiting belief system I held about who I was (or who I thought others believed I was). For a long time I felt that my life and my path was set and it couldn’t be changed. That it was too late to find myself. I had wasted too many years and couldn’t change the course of my life at this point. This has cost me time, happiness and self-confidence.

Envision now your life free of fear. Free from the fear that has held you back from the living the life you deserve- How does that make you feel?

  • Invigorated
  • Empowered
  • Grateful

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Go back to your top 3 goals and write down what your life looks life achieving these goals! Celebrate NOW, knowing anything is possible!

After achieving my top 3 goals, my life will change because it will be the beginning of carving out a new path for myself and give me the ability to show others they can do the same.

Why is this event going to be a huge event for you? Or why is this the perfect time for you to attend this event?

It is the perfect time to attend this event because I finally have clarity as to what my goals are. It has taken me many years to find myself and find my passions. Now that I know which direction I want my life to go in, attending this event will help me to work through the challenges I will encounter along the way.

Or to put it a simpler way….

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What’s great in my life right now, and how can I make it even better?

  • Relationships with family and friends are great but I would like to make more quality time with them without distractions. Managing all aspects of life often makes me distracted and I have difficulty living in the moment.
  • Our family business is great and I want to see it remain successful. I finally have the clarity to appreciate it and all it provides us with. I want this to continue and expand.
  • I have improved upon my ability to manage stress and not let the stress and negativity from others affect me but I still feel like I have a long way to go in this area.

What would I like to learn, improve &/or change in my life?

Be more organized, focused and be able to maintain operating at a high level of productivity for longer periods of time

Who will benefit from my growth & learning from this seminar?

Myself, my husband and my children

How can I contribute to others even more?

By writing about my journey and being able to teach others to harness their own potential in the same way. I also want to raise funds through running and book sales for children’s causes world wide.

What’s one thing I can do at this event to stretch outside of my comfort zone?

Be more comfortable networking with my new identity and sharing it with those in my immediate community.

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Finally just a note about posting…this seminar generally runs from 9am-midnight most days so it’s possible that I will skip my usual Friday post. However it’s also possible that I won’t be able to contain my excitement until next Tuesday and you will get a mid seminar, crazy post!! So stay tuned 😉

#GoRunnerGo  🙂


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Surprise 15km Success!

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I did not expect to have a great run today…I woke up with a headache and a very annoying recurring hip pain, the temperature outside was minus 25 (!), I knew I had a very packed schedule of things to do today and everything got off to a really late start because my car wouldn’t start and hubby had to come back to boost it after dropping the kids at school. So by the time I got to the gym, I was super cranky. In fact I almost didn’t go. It was one of those times when you are in major conflict with that inner voice- I don’t want to go to the gym. You have to go to the gym. Don’t want to, have to…..

However, I am so glad I did because…..I broke 15km of continuous running this morning! Wow! I did not expect things to turn around like that! This makes me feel confident that the half marathon is well within reach. I managed to get into The Zone despite my cranky morning and stay there until I reached success 🙂 Of course now, I am dead tired, super stiff, sore and seriously in need of a nap but it feels AWESOME!!!

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Perhaps I owe some of today’s success to the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods products that I have been sampling the past few days? Not sure but maybe, just maybe! As a #Sweat Pink Ambassador, I have been fortunate enough to be able to sample some of these fabulous products and will be providing feedback at the end of this week after I try out a few more recipes!

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Blog review and FB giveaway coming up this Friday! So stay tuned!

#GoRunnerGo  🙂


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Kids and Competitive Sports

A topic that comes up a lot in my life is kids and competition. There seems to be two camps and I see both within my job as a dance studio owner and also as a mom. There are the ultra competitive families who are in it to win at all costs and there are those who just want their kids to have fun. That second group often wants to compete as well but they want to do it for fun…sometimes I even wonder if it’s just for the prestige of saying they or their children are competitive athletes….

Competition just for fun? Sure it’s fun but I believe there has to be more to it than that.

When I started running, I knew instantly that I would race. It wasn’t even a question in my mind. The major reason I enter races is because I need to feel that I am in a constant competitive state with myself in order to improve. Every race has as a goal to beat a previous race time. Nothing else. Yes it’s fun, yes it’s exciting but there is a purpose. The purpose is become a better runner with every step I take. Running is a competition against myself but without the competitive environment of a racing, I believe it would be so much harder for me to improve.

In terms of my dance students I believe it should be the same. If you are going to be in any competitive sport, dance or otherwise, it should be because you have as a goal to achieve your absolute best. And that takes WORK. Serious hard core work. Work means sacrifice and sacrifice is not always fun. However the results are 🙂

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I once had a client who told me that when her children were young she felt that they weren’t naturally competitive enough. They didn’t seem to strive to be the best they could be in anything. Knowing the best way to lead is by example, she took matters into her own hands. She signed up for a triathlon. Just like that. A triathlon. She had been athletic in high school but now she was a regular mom with a job and 3 kids. She began the training and had her kids watch as much as possible as she ran around her neighborhood, swam laps in her pool and biked everywhere. She even found the previous year’s winner online and showed her kids the winning time to beat.The kids timed her, encouraged her and were there at the finish line cheering her on. She was so determined that she even made the podium at the race. She wanted to show her kids that as much as anything is possible, it also takes a serious amount of hard work to achieve something big.

My client told me this story backstage at a dance competition moments before her daughter was to go onstage. Her daughter was by far one of the most naturally competitive kids I have ever taught. This lovely little girl also had a brother who was a competitive hockey player and a sister who was a competitive swimmer. All three kids were academically competitive and successful as well. It was amazing to see how the experience of watching their mom train and compete in a triathlon years before had really shaped their outlook on life.

This is what it comes down to….hoping and wishing for good luck do not bring success. Incredibly hard work and pushing yourself to your limits do. Competition is a good thing for everyone because it pushes you to be the best you can be. I really believe that if children learn to be competitive in sports at an early age, they will carry that through into their adult lives and careers. However they also need to be taught that being competitive is not always going to be fun and games and actually that is the most important part of the lesson.

I found my client’s story to be incredibly inspirational. It is the reason I want my kids to see me run and be there at every finish line that I cross. I want them to know that it takes hard work but that the rewards of being competitive in sports or anything else are what give you the results and ultimately the life you want. When my children are a little older and they find something they love to do, I will wholeheartedly encourage them to pursue it competitively in order for them to learn what I believe to be are some very valuable life lessons.

What’s your take on kids and competition? 

#GoRunnerGo  🙂


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Get Into The Zone

The Zone….I feel like it’s eluded me for most of my life but now….now…I’ve finally seen it, experienced it and it feels like the fog has lifted! It’s happened enough times that I now feel confident trying to harness at will rather than stumble across it by accident. It’s a curious thing The Zone, I’ve certainly heard of it hundreds of times before but I don’t think I ever really understood it until now.

A little while ago I came to the realization that there’s a point in my run where I literally zone out of all conscious thoughts and enter essentially the Twilight Zone. It’s a bit unnerving and amazing all at the same time!

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When this happens, I no longer notice things or people around me, I tend to focus in and stare at something in particular like the road in front of me or the numbers flashing on the treadmill. It tends to come on slowly and builds quietly until I am full on in it. Then, I no longer even notice that I’m running, it becomes more like gliding or flying!  It is effortless and beautiful and it is in this space that I can feel my body growing stronger and faster.

The Zone tends to come on after a particularly difficult section of the run, usually after I get passed the voices telling me to quit. Then the most irritating thing occurs. Often, as soon I realize I’m there, I lose it and fall back into the incessant noise and conversations in my head.

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After experiencing The Zone during a run, I can see that there is a method and secret to this madness. I just need to harness it.

Similarly, I have been aiming to lengthen the focus periods that I have in other areas of my life. Whether it’s when I’m writing, learning a new skill, working on tedious administrative work or even creating routines for my dance students, I have been timing my focus periods with a stopwatch. Sounds a little crazy I know….

I defined a focus period as the amount of time I spent on the chosen activity without any interruption. Interruptions included the obvious like breaking for snacks, social media, answering the phone etc…to the obscure and much more difficult to measure, deviation in thought process on the assigned task.

When I first began timing my focus periods, I was at an embarrassing 5-10 minutes limit. No wonder it was sometimes taking me forever to complete a task from start to finish! I was constantly thinking of other things and doing other things at the same time. Slowly by slowly and literally minute by minute on the stopwatch, I have been able to extend these focus periods. The results have been amazing. I have been able to cut in half the time it takes me to do almost everything. Tasks I naturally enjoy literally take no time at all and tasks that are more tedious to me take half the time they used to and don’t seem so bad any more. Now I actually enjoy trying to complete a task and beat previous time records. This doesn’t mean I am rushing thought my work but rather I consciously block out all distractions and force my mind to only think about what I am doing. Much easier said than done for sure! Each time it require great mental effort. However I must credit yoga for being a great help in this area too. Yoga has taught me how to quiet the constant chatter in my head and really focus in on the thoughts that are central to what’s necessary.

All to say that The Zone during a run is very similar. It’s all mental. Training myself to get to The Zone and stay there longer all while knowing I’m in it, is the magical key to running further, faster and longer. Not to mention it feels amazing!!!

Even though I already ran this morning, just writing this makes me want to go out again and find The ZONE!!

How do you get to The Zone? Have any secrets to share?

#GoRunnerGo  🙂


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5 tips to beat the Winter Fitness Blues

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It’s officially the dead of winter. If you’re not careful, February in Montreal can freeze you from the inside out. With temperatures ranging from minus 20 to minus 30 degrees Celsius, it can be hard to stay focused on your fitness goals. When most forms of life are hibernating, the idea of waking up early and heading out in the dark to workout can be overwhelming. February is also notorious for seasonal depression and the abandoning of well meaning New Years resolutions.

So how does one beat the winter blues and stay on track during this difficult time of year?

1. Get more SLEEP!

As parents we are keen to put our kids to bed early but we rarely follow our own advice. Children are living proof that getting enough sleep is the key to waking up happy and perky. Yet adults will stay up late watching hours of mind numbing television or surfing the net for no good reason. We tend to say that we are relaxing but this type of “relaxing” actually make us feel worse the next day. We have all heard of the recommended 8 hours a night but it is slightly different for each person. Find out what your body needs and follow it’s lead. Waking up refreshed makes it easier to stick with your workout plans.

2. Plan to FUEL correctly!

During the long, cold months we have a natural tendency to gravitate towards comfort foods. Hot, melt in your mouth, heavy, greasy, savory comfort foods. Let’s be honest here -whatever your comfort food is, chances are it’s not a salad! So planning and preparing in advance is the key to consuming healthy, warm comfort foods that work with your fitness goals instead of against them. There are millions of recipes floating around cyberspace that can fuel your nutritional and fitness needs without resorting to carb loading like an ultra runner each day. Make the effort in advance so that you won’t reach for an old unhealthy standby when you are cold and hungry.

3. Find the SUNSHINE!

Here’s a tricky one. Montreal often has clear skies and beautiful sunshine even when it’s minus 25. This is a great bonus but it doesn’t happen every day nor does this hold true for all cold weather cities. So what to do when you need a little vitamin D to get you going? Well if it is a nice day, spend some time soaking in the sunshine from indoors, like a cat on a windowsill. Find the rays of sunlight that are filtering through the window and take a moment to stop, close your eyes and feel the warmth. When the days are long and dark, feel the warmth of the tropics at your nearest hot yoga studio. Yoga is a fabulous compliment to running as well as many other sports and fitness activities. Hot yoga and a little imagination will make your savasana feel like a beautiful day on the beach in Cancun.

4. DRESS for success!

Again this is a case against us parents of “Do as I say not as I do”. The reality is that most kids love winter and love playing in the snow. They never seem to be cold and they’re always happy to be outside. Meanwhile their parents are huddled nearby complaining about the weather. What’s their secret you ask? WINTER CLOTHES. When was the last time us grownups wore snow pants, hats, neck warmers and proper gloves? Too many of us are preoccupied with our children and making sure they don’t get frostbite but we run out of the house in jeans, no hat and a jacket that we would only let our kids wear in the fall. No wonder it’s hard to follow through with our fitness goals, many of us are too frozen to even think of working out!

5. Connect to NATURE!

If you can follow the above advice then this one is easy. Nothing says childhood nostalgia more than indulging in ice skating, fort building, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and general outdoor winter fun. In the winter our first instinct is stay indoors but if we are well rested, well fueled and properly dressed, we CAN be active throughout the winter. If you can be active in nature no matter the weather, then you will be more inclined to stick to your goals instead of hibernating the winter away.

And when all else fails remember…. 

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Are you still on track with your fitness goals from January or has winter got you down? If so how do you fight back?

#GoRunnerGo   🙂


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7 steps that helped me to run 11km without stopping

When I first started running, I ran too fast and couldn’t keep it up for very long. As time passed, I read more, learned more and tried to understand the concept of pacing. I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so this concept didn’t come easily to me. I’m also a dancer. Dancers are great as sprinters but in general we do not excel at anything long distance. We can give it our all in a 4 minute routine to the point where we need to crawl offstage but ask us to maintain high intensity for longer than that and most of us will need bring in our understudy!

I ran my first 10km in November and truth be told I wasn’t really ready to do so. At that point I was not able to run a solid 10km without taking walking breaks. However I completed the race in an hour, walked at certain points when I had to and still loved every minute.

I also have zero patience for anything math related. So counting, calculating blah, blah, it all just puts me to sleep zzzzzz…. What I needed in order to properly understand pacing was to very simply learn to listen to my body. Not listen and ignore like I usually do but actually hear, listen, understand and comply.

Now that I am officially training for my first half and full marathon, I am taking this concept much more seriously. One of my short term goals this month was to figure out how to pace myself properly in order to run without stopping. I am happy to report that I have finally made significant progress! Today I ran 11km without stopping and progressively ran faster as I went. I was not out of breath and it wasn’t even that difficult. In fact at one point I realized my mouth was closed and I was still breathing through my nose! Yay!!! 🙂

As I approached my target distance, the feeling was exhilarating! By the end I was grinning like a Cheshire cat and people at the gym were staring at me wondering if I had run so much that I had officially lost my mind.

Finally! Finally, I have listened to my body and followed its lead.

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Here are the 7 steps that helped me to run 11km without stopping:

  1. Start already warmed up (walk, stretch etc…be active and break a sweat for 10 minutes prior to starting the run)
  2. Start running but keep it slower than what feels comfortable 0-1km
  3. Maintain a slow to medium pace until it is no longer awkward but actually feels comfortable 1-3km
  4. Step it up a few notches but only enough to feel it slightly 3-6km
  5. Put on some motivating tunes, get competitive with myself and push into some serious running 6-8km
  6. Run as fast as I possibly can 8-10km
  7. Push to run even faster than I ever thought I could 10-11km

  Step 4 is by far the hardest step mentally for me. This is the part when the little devil on my shoulder eating the bag of chips starts talking to me. Today wasn’t too bad though, I knew he was there but I didn’t give him too much attention. Every time my thoughts wandered over to that corner of my mind, I consciously changed the subject -new song, new focus etc…

After a couple of weeks of testing this method, I feel comfortable finally saying that I have achieved this month’s goal and I am ready to move on to start working on February’s goal of running 15km or more without stopping. I need to get to 21.1km for the half marathon and today I finally feel like it’s within reach! My body has shared a special secret with me and my mind has finally listened….it’s all about the pacing baby!

Happy running friends 🙂

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