Updates and a Concussion

It’s been a looong time since I’ve posted and I’m really, truly sorry about that! It just occurred to me that it’s already June and I hadn’t posted since… January.

What’s gotten me so busy? Is it work? Is it training? Did I get abducted and go off on a crazy, Taken-like adventure?

Mostly the first two, not so much the third.

Work

I work at a start-up beverage company and things have changed a LOT in the last 6 months, so I’ve had to start reevaluating what I’m doing and I’m still currently trying to find the right action to take. There’s been a lot of background conflicts that don’t personally involve me, but it’s definitely changed the way the company functions so it’s put me in a position where I need to stand back and consider my overall career path.

I can’t really give more details, but it’s a bit of a struggle!

Training – Running

I still run and rock climb! At least, I’m still into running and rock climbing…

I had signed up for the Toronto Women’s Half Marathon that took place on May 29th. I haven’t been really training as hard as I did for the Nike 15K last year since I knew I already have a pretty solid running base to finish a half marathon. It wouldn’t be a great finish time, but I would rather finish safely than go fast and injure myself.

Since I already convinced myself of that, I wasn’t really that motivated to really push! But, I did manage to run 19km a couple weekends before the race. Yay!

But, I got a mild concussion 2 weeks before the race, so I decided not to run the race to prevent further injury.

Training – Rock Climbing

I hadn’t signed up for any competitions (I’m so not ready to compete by any defintion), but I was climbing about once a week either top-roping with friends or bouldering on my own.

I can’t really remember which grading level I left off at, but I think I had completed a couple of 5.10b routes for top-rope and I believe I had finished a few V2s in bouldering.

Luckily, my physiotherapist just gave me the green light to resume rock climbing again, but she advised that I shouldn’t go beyond 5.8 to make sure my shoulder and neck won’t be damaged.

Concussion? Physiotherapist? What happened?!

I got into a car accident on May 15th! Here’s what happened to my poor car:

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RIP Lola the Corolla

Basically, I was rear-ended by a car which was smashed into by another car being driven by a VERY drunk driver. Since my car was fairly old, the poor thing was a total write-off by the insurance companies.

It was actually caught on a dash-camera by a lovely couple who stayed behind to help out, which you can see here. (WARNING: May be disturbing for some viewers.)

A few local news outlets reported the incident and a bunch of my friends were quick to show me the video.

As mentioned in the news, the drunk driver had left the scene on foot but what they didn’t mention was that he had tried to discard valuable documents and attempted to start his car shortly after the collision.

Insane? VERY. The accident happened at around 5:50pm on a Sunday and the guy blew over 80! Who does that?!

Anyway, I could go on and on about what happened that day, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Mom was in the passenger seat and she saw the paramedics about head and neck aches, so she got examined, but I was feeling pain-free and so I opted not to be examined. I was completely aware that I’d most likely feel some symptoms in the next few days, but I could recount many details to the officers, so I didn’t think too much about it.

I stayed home the day afterwards to monitor my mom and, at exactly 11:41am, my vision blurred and my focus and concentrate disappeared instantly.

I went to the doctor’s and they sent me away without a CT scan, but they told me that I probably suffered a very mild concussion.

The next few days were incredibly surreal and frustrating for me because I was told to rest without looking at a screen or reading, which means no tv, no video games, no books, no comic books and definitely no running or climbing.

I almost went insane! I’m so used to always being in motion and recovering from a concussion really made me take a step back and chill. (As best as I could while complaining to all of my friends, at least.)

Luckily, it’s been exactly a month since the accident and I’m doing much better. In fact, I’ve already resumed a very cautious comeback into running and I’m aiming to climb again on Sunday.

This month also seems to be a month of massive change, so hopefully I’ll be posting again soon with good news!

Yours always,

B.elle

2016 Fitness Goals – Part 2

2015 was a great starting year for my fitness and heath so I’m really looking forward to seeing how 2016 goes!

I’m already anticipating a few new topics now that I’ve sort of gotten past the initial beginner stage:

  • Injuries and rehab
  • Injury prevention
  • Learning new, more advanced/refined techniques
  • Mental health and preparedness
  • Healthy eating (yay, food!)

It’s pretty important to know what sort of injuries can happen in any sport or activity that you go into, especially when it’s endurance sports like long-distance running and rock climbing.

It’s pretty obvious that rock climbing and parkour can lead to some really serious injuries, but there’s less extreme but way more common injuries in all three sports like strained tendons, plantar fasciitis,  shin splints, tendonitis, micro-tears, sprains, etc.

These common injuries definitely won’t land me (and you) in the hospital right away, but it could very likely lead to more permanent health issues in the future.

In general, it’s better to know what’s the most likely injury to come from any particular activity and learn which techniques are needed to prevent or minimize the risk of injury. For example, there’s a bunch of stretching techniques that can prevent shin splints, like the ones outlined here in Runner’s World.

Since I’m going to be ramping up my mileage quite a bit, I’ll be studying a lot of injury prevention techniques and putting away some money for some physio and massage therapy!

Compared to rock climbing and parkour, running doesn’t have as many performance techniques to learn since it’s highly dependent on the runner’s individual gait and physiology.

But, I’d like to learn how to do more strength techniques for rock climbing since I’m shorter than the average rock climber and I need more power to go further up. I don’t think I’m not bad a traverses, though.

I’m also a woman, which apparently puts me at a disadvantage due to the way routes are set. (Seriously. I’ll discuss this in a later blog post.)

As the distances get longer, it’s harder to get out the door to go for a run!

So far, I’ve only had bad issues going out to run in super hot and humid weather, which is something Toronto is prone to getting in the dead of summer. It’s such a huge challenge to get out there because I really have to persuade myself that the dread is all in my mind. I don’t mind winter training too much because I have a track membership at a stadium that’s quite friendly!

I want to be more aware of how my mental state affects my physical activity, especially during climbing since it demands a good amount of problem solving skills.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to share more of my thoughts about food, nutrition and fitness with everyone!

These may be my most challenging posts since I’m very invested in the healthy food sector and I’m very passionate about presenting the most accurate, evidence-based science I can, especially since there’s so much pseudo-science in popular media.

I’m considering making a separate blog to post about food and nutrition issues and simply copying them to this blog soon after. If I do, I’ll make sure to post the name and link!

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t put any solid numbers into this part of my 2016 Fitness Goals.

I don’t want to HAVE to learn a new technique every week because I’d much rather focus on my progress than having to force a new technique so often. Besides, it’s better to learn a couple of techniques and master them (somewhat) before learning more, right?

Also, these aren’t resolutions just for the first half of 2016. I want to make this something that I’ll do for the whole year, next year and beyond!

Hope I’ll be able to look back on this and see that I’ve hit all of my goals!

Did you make any resolutions? How are they coming along?

xoxo,

B.elle

2016 Fitness Goals – Part 1

Happy New Year, everyone!

(I know, I’m more than a week late, but… shush.)

I know it’s been a while since December 22, which is the official start of winter, but I wanted to think about what sort of goals to aim for as my Winter Fitness Goals.

I quickly realized that I have a lot of fitness goals and related topics that I want to talk about upfront. So, I decided to extend my deadline to Summer and split my 2016 Fitness Goals post into two.

Running

We finally got some snow in this region of Canada, but Toronto’s still been so mild that it hasn’t really stuck around much. This means I can run both indoors and outdoors, yay!

I initially wanted to train for a half-marathon (HM) distance or race, but then I realized that it’s only 10 weeks until March 20, which is the first day of spring! I’ve started using Hal Higdon’s Half Marthon Novice 1 Training Program, which is 12 weeks long.

This was the main reason for extending my fitness goals to the first day of summer because I’d rather not risk a shorter training period just to end up seriously injuring myself.

… Okay, FINE. I also made a fitness wager with Chris over at The Other Side of The Box!

If I’m running at 32km/20mi distances as my long run by May 15th, she’ll get me a $50 gift card to a yet-to-be-decided store.

If she manages to lose at least 10lbs by May 15th with regular fitness training, I’ll get her a $50 gift card.

If we both manage to achieve our goals by May 15th, we’ll get each other something nice.

If we both don’t achieve our goals by May 15th, the first person to reach their goals will get their prize.

Basically, my running goal is to get up to 32km/20mi without dying.

It’s gonna be a huge challenge for me both physically and mentally because I’m going to have to overcome my anxiety of going back up to 15km.

I hurt my foot pretty badly last year at the Nike Women’s 15K Toronto. I haven’t gotten back up to that mileage yet so I’m kind of worried that it’s an issue with my feet’s physiology rather than environmental factors. The only way for me to find out for certain is to build it back up and hopefully go even further!

Rock Climbing

I’ll be on the search for a new belay buddy for a little while since the Monsieur has started his graduation proceedings and needs to focus on his PhD thesis. (Go, babe!)

Either way, here’s my goals…

Rock Climbing (at least 1X a week)

Top Rope: I want to be able to do 5.10a grades comfortably. At this point, I should be okay going halfway up 5.10b as well.

This might seem very conservative for a 6-month goal, but there’s a huge difficulty jump from 5.9 to 5.10b!

Bouldering: V1s should be comfortable and some V2s are challenging but doable.

To achieve both goals, I’ll need to learn new techniques and start doing more formal weighted and/or bodyweight exercises to build up core strength.

We’ll see if I need any new shoes by the end of this!

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My current rock climbing shoes

Parkour

I’m on the fence with this sport, to be honest. On one hand, I love flying around and the absolute boldness of parkour.

On the other hand, getting to the gym is such a pain!

At this point, because I’m such a data nerd, parkour has turned into a casual hobby sport rather than a main fitness focus.

So, my goal for parkour is to ho at least once a month!

Keep an eye out for the second part of my 2016 Fitness Goals!

Xoxo,

B.elle

Weekly Fitness Update #13 – Results!

It’s been a bit quiet over in this little corner of the blogging world because I went away to Québec City for about 2 weeks with the Monsieur! Even though I speak very, very little French, they were so friendly and hospitable, but I definitely ended up indulging in more than a few delicious Québecois delicacies. (Tarte au sucre, anyone?)

But, I managed to get some running in before and once during my vacation!

Dec 15 – 5km @ 5’42” avg pace, 28:39*
Dec 22 – 7km @6’19” avg pace, 44:28*
Dec 28 – 5km @6’08” avg pace, 31:13

The stars mean than I was running indoors and I’m still not 100% sure how accurate the Nike+ watch is indoors, so it could be a little faster than I’m actually running.

On December 28, I ran through the countryside in -15C weather and it was a bit hillier than I expected! I was surprised at how much I loved it!

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Running in the Quèbecois farmland in winter

BUT! Did I actually achieve my running goals for Fall 2015 even though it’s already Winter 2016 while I’m writing this?!

Fall 2015 Running Goals (3X a week)

  • Weekly mileage of 20-25km with a 5-7-10 pattern
  • Dream pace goal of 6’00″/km for 5K distance
    1. Realistic pace goal of 6’15″/km for 5K distance
  • Dream pace goal of 6’20″/km for 7-10K distances

Fall 2015 Running Results (mostly 3X a week)

  • I tried my best to stick to the 5-7-10 pattern, but quickly learned that the general weekly run distances were more effective than forcing myself to do 5-7-10 throughout the week.I dropped down to about 10-12km per week in December, which was really not good but I did a pretty terrible job at balancing all my hobbies with the holidays!Otherwise, I think I came up just a bit short on consistently reaching that 20-25kpw goal.
  • I’ve been running at less than 6’00″/km on 5K runs for about 3 weeks now, so I’ll say that’s in the bag!
    SUCCESS!
  • I run as many 7K routes, but it seems to be at around 6’05″/km to 6’10″/km so I’m really happy about this speed!
    SUCCESS!
  • I don’t have enough data on 10K runs because I really haven’t run 10K since the adidas race, where I cinched a PR at 6’16″/km, so I would highly doubt that I can do 6’20” for 10K comfortably.
    FAIL!

Rock Climbing – Dec 20th

We were both feeling sick! My belay buddy lost her voice and I was beginning to feel the beginnings of a cold so I knew our game wouldn’t be as strong as normal.

Top Rope – Not gonna lie… I did really badly. The 5.9s that were relatively easy felt almost impossible that day and I even struggled on a couple of new 5.8s!

But, we both knew that we’d be doing pretty terribly!

Bouldering – I tried out a couple of V0s that were okay but the V1s were pretty much a giant NOPE.

Dec 26th

Bouldering – The Monsieur and I went to a smaller rock climbing gym in Lévis and I was surprised to see that this particular gym had a different grading system. Instead of the traditional V-scale, they simply used ascending numbers to gauge the difficulty of the route.

For example, 7 would be easier than 12, but harder than a 4. I even saw one that was graded with 18 and even the Monsieur didn’t go near that one!

I managed to get up to about 9 on a traverse route, but I couldn’t really go past half of a 12 traverse. It was super fun, though!

So, did I manage to achieve my Fall 2015 Rock Climbing Goals?

Rock Climbing (1X every other week)

  • Work on 5.8 and 5.9 belay routes
  • Work on V.1 bouldering routes
  • Increase grip strength and more confident footwork

Rock Climbing Results (1X every week)

  • I’m comfortable with tackling most 5.9s, so I’d say that this is…
    SUCCESS!
  • I did work on the V1 bouldering routes and I still can’t usually complete a route… But, I didn’t say I’d try to complete one so…
    HALF SUCCESS!
  • Since I saved myself in parkour several times recently, I’d say that…
    SUCCESS!

I’m pretty sure I did horribly for my Fall 2015 Parkour Goals.

Parkour (1X every other week)

  • Work on climb-ups with vertical wall (at least 1 good climb-up per session)
  • Regain balance on rails

Parkour (Very rarely)

  • Didn’t even try climb-ups yet.
    FAIL!
  • At least my foot is completely healed and I’m able to balance and walk along a rail like normal again!
    SUCCESS!

I’ll be making a post of my Winter 2016 Fitness Goals soon, so keep an eye out for it!

xoxo,

B.elle

Weekly Fitness Update #10

It’s already my 10th fitness update! Woo hoo!

But, this just means that I’m getting closer to my end goal date and I’m not sure where exactly I stand anymore… I’ll take a look next week, probably.

Here’s my results from last week:

Nov 25 – 5km @ 5’56” avg pace, 29:44
Nov 27 – 6km @ 5’37” avg pace, 34:08*
Nov 28 – 10km

 

I ran 6km indoors at the track, so I’m still not sure if that’s the most accurate timing I have. It still seems a bit too fast for me, but it’s not as drastic as before!

I only did 6km because I realized earlier this week that I was starting to develop plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I’m guessing it’s due to the fact that I like to run in minimal shoes and I also like to go around everyday life in Keds, which have almost no support whatsoever.

It was getting a little annoying and risky to go further than 6km, so I cut it short and decided to wait until I got some shoes that have more of a support.

Like these that I got on Saturday!

They’re so comfortable and the pain has virtually disappeared! Yay!

Rock Climbing – Nov 29

I had 2 belay buddies this time, so it took a lot longer than usual since we had to take turns. Luckily, the auto belays were usually available!

Top Rope – Surprisingly, I didn’t touch any of the auto belays and did a LOT of 5.9 routes when I was there. It became really obvious that I still really suck at overhang routes because, as one of my belay buddies said, “it looked like [I was] walking up” a vertical 5.9 but barely got halfway up an overhanging 5.9.

I need more back and core strength!

Bouldering – Like last time, I was pretty tired once we headed into the bouldering section. It’s good to see that the new walls at the gym are well on their way!

My “new” belay buddy, who’s a friend I haven’t seen in a while, noticed that the ranking system is a LOT harder than the ones in a campus gym. It was really cool to see how he tackled the routes, though!

I’m not too busy and relatively pain-free this week, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to hit my mileage goal.

Dec 1 – 7km @ 6’05” avg pace, 42:35
Dec 3 – 10km @ 6’20” avg pace, 1:03:20
Dec 5 – 5km @ 5’55” avg pace, 29:35

Dec 6 – Rock Climbing?

I hope I’ll be sober enough…

Top Rope – I’ve already completed a bunch of the new 5.9 routes, but there were a couple that were really, REALLY challenging, so I’ll be doing my best to revisit them!

Depending on how I feel, I may want to challenge the 5.10a grade, too!

Bouldering – I noticed that Rock Oasis’ bouldering scale has v0’s as the equivalent to 5.8-5.10 on top rope, so that might be why I couldn’t really break the v1 barrier. Hopefully, I can get past that this time!

xoxo,

B.elle

Rock Climbing and Manicures

Working out is exactly as hard as it sounds. It even has the word “work” in there! That’s why it’s so important to treat yourself every now and then for all the hard work and effort that you put into your workouts!

A lot of people like to have “cheat meals” or “treats” where they indulge in a deliciously, sinfully unhealthy food like fried chicken, full fat ice cream and poutine.

I’m definitely not against that! Poutine is especially delicious with some bacon in it, so I’m totally guilty of indulging myself more often than most. But, at the same time, I’m usually the first to reach for the plate of veggies at dinner.

So instead of indulging in food, I like to pamper myself with some spa activities like manicures!

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I love sparkly red nails and they still look amazing when they’re as short as mine!

But, I was also curious to see how well (or how badly) a short, well done manicure would hold up against rock climbing.

I also got a pedicure, which does absolute wonders for refreshing tired running and climbing feet!

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If you’ve ever tried buying your own rock climbing shoes or talked to someone who’s bought rock climbing shoes, then you’ll know that certain materials that manufacturers use call for very, VERY snug fits. Mine are made of leather, so I had to go about a half size down when I bought them to make sure that they’d be snug against my foot after wearing them in.

Even though my shoes are nicely worn in, my toes still get squished against the edges and I figured it’d be a good test of how well a pedicure would hold up as well!

As I mentioned in this week’s fitness update, I spent quite a bit of time focusing on challenging my current skills in rock climbing. During all the 5.9s I was tackling, I was concentrating a lot on my hand and feet positions to scale up the routes in a more efficient way.

That also means that I really put my mani-pedi through a lot! My hands were completely covered in chalk and my feet were so gross afterwards.

But, how did the mani-pedi hold up?

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My nails were surprisingly still in good condition! My left hand was barely affected but my right hand suffered a casualty on my pinky.

I knew exactly when it happened because a hold I was reaching for was a lot closer to the wall than I thought!

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My big toes were a little smudged at the tip, so that’s probably a good sign that my shoes are super snug (but not painful!) against my forefoot. In this case, that’s a very good thing!

Other than that, the pedicure was almost untouched.

One other thing I noticed was that my skin was pretty much unharmed. In fact, the mani-pedi procedures scraped away a lot of dead skin and rejuvenated my fingers for a better tactile awareness!

Verdict – Short manicures and pedicures are fine for rock climbing, especially to get rid of built up dead skin. But, I’ll probably get a mani-pedi the day before I go climbing to really make sure the polish doesn’t get as damaged!

How do you treat yourself to a good string of workouts? Do you like to do “refereshers” like spas or massages?

xoxo,

B.elle

Weekly Fitness Update #9

It dropped a few degrees over the last week and I was so not prepared! I had to make some last minute adjustments to my schedule so my mileage really suffered.

Here’s my results from last week:

Nov 16 – 5km @ 6’08” avg pace, 30:53
Nov 20 – 5km @ 5’42” avg pace, 29:20
Nov 23 – 7km @ 6’01” avg pace, 42:21

Woo hoo, I’m getting faster! But, I seriously underestimated the temperatures and winds on that first run on Nov 16… I was stupidly thinking that I could still get away with shorts in 6C weather without gloves or a hat. That’s definitely tights weather here in Toronto!

I took a little break to make sure I wasn’t getting sick. I dressed up a bit warmer for the run on Nov 20, went back for 5km and absolutely CRUSHED IT. I also made sure that I had a large (but full of complex carbs and nutrients!) lunch to get enough fuel in me.

I wanted to squeeze in another run before I updated but I was running around getting things for a party on Nov 21 and then went rock climbing on Nov 22, so I ran yesterday.

It gave me plenty of inspiration for new posts, though!

Rock Climbing – Nov 22

My belay buddy developed a bad migraine during the day so I went solo this time.

Top Rope – I had to stick with the auto belay routes this time, but I was happy to see that there were a few new routes in the 5.8 to 5.10b range!

The 5.8s were definitely too comfortable so I forced myself to stick with the 5.9s and managed to complete 2 routes and ALMOST finish a few other ones.

I don’t have a huge reach, but I’ve seen kids and other people my size easily scale 5.9s so I’m going to have to figure out what kind of technique they use!

Bouldering – I was so tired by the time I got to the bouldering wall that I could only do V0s. I tried a couple of V1s, but I could barely get past the third hold before falling.

I had to stop since I could feel some muscles in both of my shoulders starting to get super strained.

What will my goals be this week? I’m still trying to figure out when to go running since Christmas is ominously creeping up on us and I still have to finish gift shopping and those cards before the rush.

Nov 25/26 – 5km @ 5’55” avg pace, 29:35
Nov 27 – 7km @ 6’05” avg pace, 42:35
Nov 28 – 10km @ 6’20” avg pace, 1:03:20

Nov 29 – Rock Climbing

I still haven’t really gotten comfortable with the 5.9 grade, so I’ll definitely be focusing on that. In turn, bouldering should naturally get easier, too!

Top Rope – Hopefully, I’ll be able to try some of the new 5.9s I saw in the top rope section if I can find a belay buddy in time.

Bouldering – I’d like to try more V1s, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to.

xoxo,

B.elle