Ambassador Susan says “Injuries Suck…Learn from my training errors!”

August 16, 2014

It’s always easier (and less painful) to learn from other runner’s mistakes. When I started training for my first marathon in 2008 I joined a running group and was running more consistently than I ever had before as well as including speed workouts in my training routine. I saw my running improve in a short period of time. A month before my marathon I ran Around the Bay for the first time. One of my running buddies at the time had warned me saying “Run it easy and save it for the marathon.” But I was feeling good on race day and ran Around the Bay hard. I was happy with my time and thought I was on track for a great marathon … little did I know that a series of training errors would leave me limping in a few short weeks.

Training Eraround the bayror #1: I ran Around the Bay on a Sunday and then did a workout on the Tuesday with the running group. The run was at a much faster pace than it should have been. My muscles and tissues were not recovered yet from Around the Bay. The result Mechanical Stress Overload!

Training Error #2: Being proud of myself for running well at Around the Bay I went out and bought myself a pair of new running shoes J There was a pair of really pretty Mizunos that I liked. Unfortunately what I didn’t realize was that they were racing flats and had a significant heel drop from the shoes I was wearing previously. Transitioning too quickly to a shoe with a larger heel drop puts a lot of additional stress on your calf muscles. The result Mechanical Stress Overload!

Training Error #3: By the end of the week following Around the Bay I had done 2 workouts at a faster pace in my new running shoes and my right calf was hurting. It wasn’t that normal muscle ache from a hard workout … it was pain. Unfortunately I received some pretty bad advice on how to manage the pain, which was to take ibuprofen and Tylenol and keep running. If you need to take medication to run, that’s probably a good sign you need to stop running and see a health care professional. Taking medications like Tylenol mask the pain you may be feeling allowing for more Mechanical Stress Overload! The ibuprofen when taken before a workout acts to block the inflammatory process before it even gets started. You need inflammation to heal! Inflammation is your friend if you want your muscles to heal after a workout!

Training Error #4: I kept running through the pain thinking that if I missed a workout I would be missing out on valuable training for my marathon. The pain in my calf got worse with every run and I didn’t listen to my body. I went from a little pain at the start of my runs, to a lot of pain throughout the whole run, to finally leaving me limping when I walked. Listen to your body! Pain is usually a signal of protection from your brain and for an acute injury it is your best friend telling you that you are in danger and you need to listen!

So did I get to the marathon finish line???

Well I limped into Fowler Kennedy got told I probably had a partial calf tear and some nice shin splints to go with it because I kept running on the injured calf. I had to stay off the calf for the entire time leading up to the marathon. Still being stubborn and downright stupid and not having learned my lesson, I ran the marathon (after taking a few Tylenol first … it really didn’t seem that stupid at the time!). I ended up running terribly in the marathon and it took me about 2 months following it to recover and be able to walk properly again. Just over a year later I was out in Vancouver training with Forerunners and my calf started to hurt again. I talked to my coach and got the best advice of my life … stop running and get in the pool. One week later my calf was better and I was back to running. We talked about what probably caused the calf pain and the answer was Mechanical Stress Overload!!! Too much stress on the calf, with not enough time to recover. I have now learned and haven’t had any issues with my calf in the last 4 years.

Sometimes you have to make big mistakes to learn from them. Pain and injuries suck, plain and simple! But one week off from running is much better than one month! Listen to your body, don’t take medications to “help” you run, be careful when transitioning to new shoes and most importantly give your body time to adapt and don’t let Mechanical Stress Overload stop you from running!

Have a great Rock the Road and recover well!!!!


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Ambassador Leanne Talks about Race Day Prep!

August 16, 2014

Race day is fast approaching. The nerves are setting in. I always have big goals on race day. Mostly I hope to have a new PR to add to my PR page at home. I have plateaued in the 5 km distance and have switched my focus to the 10 km distance where I hope to take 1 to 2 more minutes off my time. Sometimes just running more is all a person needs to run faster on race day. But sometimes I can arrive at the race start with the best preparation behind me only to fail miserably at my goal because of the race day conditions.

Race day determines whether I can hit my goal. The weather could be too hot, too cold, or extremely windy. Maybe I slept badly which is every night when I am traveling with my kids where we are all sleeping in the same bedroom with 3 of us on the bed and one of us on the floor (I get the floor tonight!) or in a tent with no sleeping pad like last weekend because I gave it to my dad to use, maybe I feel sick or didn’t eat well. I embrace rain on race day because it keeps me cool. I despise the wind. The wind was my enemy during the Mississauga Marathon (as well as the brand new shoes I wore on race day!). There is nothing worse than turning a corner and being smacked in the face with wind that makes you feel like you are barely moving forward.

 Screenshot 2014-08-16 20.13.33I used to be a nervous racer. I thought if I was not nervous that I would not care. If I did not care then I would walk if I got tired or just give up. In fact the 10 km distance used to be the race distance I avoided. Give me a 5k, half marathon or full marathon any day and keep the 10 k race for yourself thank you very much!

A 5 km race is perfect for speed. Short enough to make speed possible and just long enough to survive that speed. When I start hating the race I only have 1 more km to go! A half-marathon race is perfect for endurance. My strategy is to line up in front of a pace bunny whom I hope I never see in front of me! I settle into a good pace for the long haul and speed up for the last 5 kms. A marathon is the party at the end of a long training cycle. I focus on each 10 km section until I get to 30 kms and then at 32 kms I count down the final 10 kms telling myself that I have run 10 kms hundreds of times. But a 10 km race presents a challenge for me. I want to push hard but it hurts to push hard for 10 solid kilometres. I dread it, I despise it, yet I keep signing up for 10 kilometre races. I got a PR last week in Fergus by a big 9 seconds. This week I hope to take off even more. None of the pain and agony matter once I cross that finish line. PR or no PR, good race or bad race, race day is always a magical experience for me. I can be happy just being out there, alive in the world, and then I change my focus to my 3 kids who steal my medals and then play race day at home.

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Ambassador Brayden (Age 6) Offers Running Tips for Kids!

August 16, 2014

It’s not too often that I see other kid’s running, but often I am stopped by other adults, who always give me a high five for my runs and ask for tips.

1. Start by running as far and as fast as YOU can. Each day, work a little harder to run a little further or make your time a little faster. If you need to slow down and do walking/running intervals, go for it!

2. Find new places to run. Even though, I do most of my runs on a school track or on the treadmill, it is always a treat to run in new places. Just this past week, I have done my runs on the boardwalk in New Jersey and along a beautiful lake in Iowa. I enjoy switching it up every once in a while.


3. Stretch before you run. Even kids need to stretch. Not only does stretching help loosen up muscles before a run, but it can also help you have a longer stride and sprint faster.

4. Register in some crazy and fun runs and races in your city! Registering for fun runs like the Rock the Road races are good motivators to keep training.

5. Have FUN and remember the goal is to make yourself proud!

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Ambassador Susan taps into the expert nutritional advice of her friend and answers runners most difficult nutrition-based questions!!

August 10, 2014

In my last blog post I wrote about meeting some pretty awesome people when I joined the Forerunners running group in Vancouver. Well, Sarah Cuff was one of those awesome friends I was lucky enough to meet. If you need a training partner to inspire you to get out and there and train hard, then send Sarah a friend request. Sarah has run 15 marathons with a PB of 3:31, which keeps getting faster. She is a Nutritionist (registered holistic nutritionist), personal trainer (CanFitPro) and has started up her own business called Eat2Run ( (Don’t worry – whether you Eat2Run or Run2Eat it will work for you)

Sarah Cuff photo

Sarah and her husband Jeremy recently completed the Eugene marathon in Eugene, Oregon. Awesome marathon if you are looking for a destination race!

I’ve learned a lot from Sarah over the years and one of those things is a respect for my nutrition. When I first started running, if I had a bad workout/race I usually didn’t give too much thought to my nutrition and instead looked more at my training log thinking I didn’t give myself enough recovery or was just tired from work. What I didn’t realize was how much I was setting myself back when I didn’t refuel after a hard workout or didn’t fuel well leading up to workout.

I messaged with Sarah recently and got her advice on some nutrition questions I received from local runners.

Sue: Hi Sarah! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! So lets get started by talking about pre workout nutrition. What do you like to eat before a speed workout?

Sarah: Personally, I like to ensure I’ve eating about 3 hours before the speed workout (either a full meal or a complete snack) and then have one serving of Vega pre-workout energizer with 1 tsp of matcha mixed into water and ice. It gives me a quick carb boost plus some caffeine to enhance performance for that workout.

In general I recommend only simple and carb-rich foods immediately before a speed workout (like a banana). Fibre, protein and fat all have the potential of causing GI distress – not fun in the middle of a hard run!!

Sue: How about before a longer run?

Sarah: I’ll have a bowl of thick cut rolled oats cooked in water (or instant oatmeal if I’m in a hotel before an out of town race) with a few walnuts, hemp hearts and a sliced banana, with a mug of matcha tea with almond milk (lately I’ve been making iced matchas!). I’ll have this 1.5 to 2 hours before running (3 hours if it’s prerace). Immediately before I go out (within 10 minutes of starting to run), I’ll have some vega pre-workout energizer (it contains 100mg caffeine) with 1 tsp matcha powder (~70mg caffeine), and/or a few Clif shot bloks with caffeine or a Honey Stinger gel. You can tell I’m a fan of caffeine pre-run now! It’s the only time I consume caffeine – I avoid it at any other time.

Sue: I’m pretty sure I never saw you with a bottle of Gatorade or PowerAde, do you drink electrolyte drinks?

Sarah: I don’t drink Gatorade or Powerade personally, because I try to use only natural products as much as possible. Anything that has glucose-fructose or high fructose corn syrup, or artificial colourings/flavourings/preservatives I totally avoid because there are so many more natural alternatives.

While we don’t have much of a choice when racing (I mouth rinsed with Gatorade in my last marathon for lack of any other option), when I’m training I’ll drink only water and take gels (which contain adequate amounts of electrolytes).

Not everyone wants to get their carbs and electrolytes from gels though – in that case I’d use a sports drink such as Honey Maxx – or as natural as you can get that still works with your GI system. There are so many options out there! The most important one is to find fuel that works for you. Eating to run is about laying down a strong foundation of foods that are natural and plant-strong, and then ensuring you find a strategy that works best for you on the run – whether that ends up being Gatorade or your own homemade gel or sports drink. Coconut water is a great source of naturally occurring electrolytes and works great for post-run hydration (I use coconut water as a base for my recovery shake).

Sue: What sort of time frame do you recommend for athletes to eat after their workout?

Sarah: It’s ideal to have a recovery shake within 20-30 minutes of completing your long or hard run (or gym workout). You want to refill your depleted glycogen stores asap – consuming carbs within this timeframe is when your body is most receptive to using them properly (to refill your glycogen stores so you’ll have adequate energy for your next workout and you won’t feel so sore the next day).

You want your recovery shake to be about 4:1 in carbs to protein ratio (and little to no fat, which inhibits absorption). Protein actually helps to push the carbs into your glycogen stores more quickly. Here is my go-to recovery shake recipe (as in, this is what I drink daily):

Within 2 hours post-workout you’ll want to have a complete meal with a good source of protein to ensure adequate supplies of amino acids to help rebuild your muscles.

Sue: There are a lot of different yogurt brands out there now and particularly a lot of hype lately about Greek yogurt. Do you recommend Greek yogurt over other yogurts to your clients?

Sarah: It’s true – Greek yogurt is all the rage these days! It generally has a higher protein content than regular yogurts, and can be found in varieties anywhere from no fat to regular fat.

Before I ever recommend yogurt to a client, I first test to see if they have any dairy sensitivities (it continues to amaze me how many do).

If they are okay with dairy, I’ll ask them to try only plain, organic yogurt and hard cheese (and kefir if they choose) – being that these items contain beneficial bacteria (only beneficial if no dairy sensitivity exists). Keep in mind all dairy is high in naturally occurring hormones – this may not be for someone dealing with hormonal issues such as acne.

As long as the yogurt is organic and plain with nothing added (like carrageenan or milk protein concentrate or sugars/sweeteners), then it’s a good choice. Often Greek yogurt are the varieties that don’t have anything added, so can be a good option!

I recommend choosing full fat organic yogurts and cheeses if you’re comfortable doing so. Otherwise go with low fat. Organic helps to ensure the type of fat found in animal products is healthier for us than non-organic (and if the cows are grass fed, will actually contain omega-3 fatty acids).

Sue: Well I know I could use some help with my nutrition, what are some of the benefits for a competitive/recreational athlete in working with a nutritionist like yourself?

Sarah: I received tremendously positive feedback from clients who’ve worked with me – they tell me they are so busy that having me put it all together for them in an individualized manner and just telling them what to do is exactly what they need. You can read about their experiences here –

In general I find many people are confused over exactly how they need to be eating due to a lot of conflicting information and advertising we come across at every turn. I’ve had many clients come to me saying they are pretty sure they are eating healthfully, but are still frustrated for lack of energy / continuous injuries / can’t reach their racing weight / sick all the time / and so on. To finally make progress towards their goals (and reach them) is exhilarating – and for some, something they weren’t sure was even possible.

However, I’ve also had people email me, telling me that they simply began following the advice I give on my blog and put together their own plans, or they’ve purchased my 5-Day KickStart Cleanse and have found great success even without the personal attention. I think it comes down to how much time someone has.

Huge thanks to Sarah Cuff for all the great advice!! Sarah has a newsletter you can sign up for and receive regular tips on how to “eat 2 run” and you can find more information and great recipes at

Eat2Run logo-1

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Brayden (Age 6) Tells us Why He Loves Running!!

August 9, 2014

I am a 6-year old that loves running. It may sound strange to some people that a kid so young loves to run distance runs, but I love it. I love that running is all about the challenge. It’s not about the challenge of who wins and who loses, like all of the other sports that I play. It’s about the challenge of doing my best and feeling proud of what I can do. I love the way I feel when I beat my best time and when I complete a longer run without stopping. I love that people of all different ages and all different sizes can participate in races and that everyone cheers each other on.

BraydenI am a 6-year old that loves running and I love that I can do it anywhere. Whether I am running the track at the high school by my house, running the boardwalk at the shore in New Jersey or running in one of the races at home, I love the feeling that running gives me.

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