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Environmentally friendly and tasty

“Little things done repeatedly add up and can have a big effect.”

Hello again running friends! Typing away now about a bar that a friend of mine created for runners, those who are active and those who want something environmentally-friendly (packaging), gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. I am writing a review for a Canadian bar called EKOBAR – that I recently had the chance to try.

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The creator and founder of EKOBAR (Allison) is a fellow running parent and former military officer I met when I was on the Canadian Armed Forces Running team. She is a good person with a snort when she laughs and I like her bars. I had the chance to ask her a bit about the story behind the bar etc – these are her words.

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Background

“A few years ago when my fate in the Canadian Armed Forces was sealed with a medical release message, I decided that I would complete a Masters Degree in Technology Management to make myself more competitive in the Kingston job market. One of the electives that I chose was Sustainability, which interestingly enough coincided with a family trip to Finland (Finland, along with some of the other Nordic countries, including Denmark are innovators in the realm of sustainability). It was at that point that I started becoming more cognizant of my own impact on the planet and realized that there were things I could do to reduce the carbon footprint of myself as an individual and for my family. My son was also six months old at the time and I was being introduced to the realm of baby food and baby snacks that come in non-recyclable packages.”

“As a family, we decided to reduce the amount of non-recyclables that come into our house, however, we are by no means perfect. But, doing better has a greater impact than doing nothing. We try not to purchase snacks that don’t have a recyclable or compostable package and instead snack on fresh fruit, home-baked goods and frequent Bulk Barn with our own containers. In this journey of reducing garbage, I realized that there was a missing piece. As an athlete, I have been a long-time consumer of energy bars and gels and there are the times when traveling when having snacks in wrappers can be handy. For our last vacation I actually baked two healthy(ish) batches of cookies and brought them in my suitcase along with fresh fruit – but then I had food storages containers in my luggage taking up space. And fruit doesn’t always hold up well in a backpack or suitcase, especially in the heat of the summer. That’s when the idea of Ekobar was born. Why can’t an energy bar/snack bar come in a compostable wrapper?”

“I did some research on compostable wrappers and very quickly found some stock solutions that I thought would be viable and ordered samples so I could test them out.”

“I began creating recipes and then sealing them in the wrappers and then conducting quality analysis to determine how the product would hold up. I started with a formula with similar ingredients to what one would normally find in a typical bar, however, I quickly realized why compostable packages are not readily used. Because of the nature of the package, (the film is plant-based), the wrapper itself absorbs moisture from the product which left many of my initial tests looking like rocks one might find on the moon. Working with readily available compostable packages, I knew I couldn’t just put any recipe in the packages, but had to create my recipe to stay fresh in the package. I won’t give away too much information about the actual recipes because of trade secrets!

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About the Product Itself

As noted above, Ekobar differs slightly than traditional energy bars, so please be open-minded when trying them They are dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan and are made with as few ingredients as possible and using nothing that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
Because of the packaging and lack of preservatives, the shelf life isn’t as long as other products on the market.

I currently have 3 SKUs available, which I have called Explorer, Adventurer and Weekend Warrior. More recipes to come in the future. Bars are made in small batches and currently made to order. Bars will be sold by the box as compostable labels are pricey for a start-up company so ordering labels for each SKU was unreasonable until established. I will, however, sell individually at local races.

Pricing/Ordering

Prices will be as follows:
$12/box of 6
$23.00/box of 12
+HST & Shipping (Canada Post Rates).

Free delivery in Kingston (Ontario) on a once a week basis (using bicycle + trailer where possible). Currently looking at partnering with some local Kingston business with the possibility of expanding in the future. Additionally, will be selling at local races, mostly in the Kingston, Belleville, Brockville area for the time being – targeting the first one to be Beat Beethoven but this has not been confirmed yet.

Haven’t yet set up e-commerce (baby steps), for the time being, orders can be placed by contacting me at ekobarcanada@gmail.com with order quantity and shipping address, I will send an invoice and it can be made payable by e-transfer or PayPal.

What I thought

I have a box of EKOBAR at home and a few in my drawer at work for snacks. I tried all the flavours and like them all but the peanut butter-based one is my favourite. The bars are solid and packed full of real food and fill the tummy. The packaging is simple, easy to open and you can compost or recycle. The packaging won’t hold up to really getting too wet so put in plastic bag if taking on long run, ultra or camping but works well.

I love the fact the bar has an environmentally-friendly package, it tastes good, is made with real food and is Canadian. This is a well-thought-out product made by a Canadian runner and mom that is worth trying!

Find Allison and EKOBAR on her website and on social media (Instagram)(Facebook). Tell her Noel sent you!

Lace up and see you out there running friends!

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A book about running and depression

A Runningdad book review!

Hey running readers – its Runningdad back again. Been busy training and adjusting to a few life changes that have kept me busy – but still writing! So how about a book review!

I used to read voraciously (like a hungry dog) but in the last few years—especially with the new phones I find myself watching videos more. But I still love a good book. I have lots of running books and a decent library now. I recently added one more book to that library. My friend Nita Sweeney wrote a book about running and her battle with depression. I was honoured to have her send me a copy to read and review.

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NITA SWEENEY

 Nita Sweeney’s articles, essays, and poems have appeared in Buddhist America, Dog World, Dog Fancy, Writer’s Journal, Country Living, Pitkin Review, Spring Street, WNBA-SF blog, and in several newspapers and newsletters. She writes the blog, BumGlue and publishes the monthly email, Write Now Newsletter. Her memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, was short-listed for the 2018 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award. Nita earned a journalism degree from The E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, a law degree from The Ohio State University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College. For ten years, she studied with and assisted best-selling author Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) at weeklong writing workshops teaching the “rules of writing practice” and leading participants in sitting and walking meditation. Goldberg authorized Nita to teach “writing practice” and Nita has taught for nearly twenty years. When she’s not writing and teaching, Nita runs. She has completed three full marathons, twenty-six half marathons (in eighteen states), and more than sixty shorter races. Nita lives in central Ohio with her husband and biggest fan, Ed, and her yellow Labrador running partner, Scarlet (aka #ninetyninepercentgooddog).

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THE BOOK

 Depression Hates a Moving Target

How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink – By Nita Sweeney

Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Mango (May 15, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1642500135
ISBN-13: 978-1642500134

Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, recounts Nita Sweeney’s transformation from a 49-year-old, chronically depressed, sometimes manic central Ohio woman who could barely jog for sixty seconds into a somewhat less depressed, somewhat more sane runner who completed the full Columbus Marathon. Witty and poignant by turns, the story will not only have you cheering on a perfect stranger as she faces emotional and physical challenges, but will leave you knowing it’s never too late to chase your dreams.

WHAT I THOUGHT

The book is very readable and flows easily. It is a book about Nita’s personal journey and how running and of course her dog help her through a tough time. A time – I refer to mental health. Like myself who struggled with depression for a period, she uses lacing to help her get to a good place. I finished the book and liked what I read – I was able to relate, like dreading about her struggles with running, life, weight etc. The story is real, human and written with heart.

This is a book I think any runner will like and especially those beginner runners and those who run and who have or currently battle for positive mental health. Well written Nita!

Find Nita’s book on Amazon, her website or via Mango Publishing.

Connect with Nita on Twitter at @NitaSweeney.

Mental Health

Running is not the cure for mental health issues but lacing up has helped many of us get through chronic or short-term periods of darkness in our lives. Keep putting those running shoes on and keep smiling my running friends – I am out there with you.

Nita

My podcast chat with Nita – listen here (sorry about the bad audio).

Run on!

 

Coached by a Kenyan

Hey friends – another updater and blog from the skinny Canadian runningdad! It has been a few years since I have really raced and a good number of years since I have had a coach. 2019 is time to get things back on track for running. I am happy, healthy (body and mind). Its time to train hard and see what this body can do at the age of 43!

After starting to get more consistent running in (just getting back into shape) – I knew I needed a plan. I have so many running books its not funny and have over 30-years of experience – but I needed help. Life has gotten busy and its often hard to be accountable to myself….an plan workouts etc. When I heard that my friend, my Kenyan brother Justin Lagat was starting to coach – it seemed like perfect timing.

I am currently on week 6 of training and building my fitness up slowly as I aim towards a fall marathon. I plan to work as hard as I can towards what I hope will be a marathon PB.

I recently sent Justin some questions about his coaching so I could write about him and encourage others to enlist a coach.

A conversation with my friend and coach Justin Lagat:

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As a Kenyan elite runner – working and living where you do – what runners and coaches do you have access to – to learn from?

“In every part of the world, one of the things competitive runners check to gauge the competitiveness of a long distance race is the number of Kenyans on the start list.

Well, I live in the center where all these great athletes are born and bred. Whenever one breaks a world record, or win a major race, my reaction would often be, “I saw that while we did track intervals with him last week!”

In Kenya, different circumstances make most athletes end up working with different coaches even within a span of one year. The need to join a larger group to help give one company in their long runs and speed workouts, moving from a different training destination, etc. I have had to work under a very long list of coaches myself since I started running competitively starting with Coach Erick Kimaiyo who currently coaches the reigning London women Marathon champion Brigid Kosgei, and coincidentally I currently work occasionally and seek advice from the reigning men’s reigning London marathon champion and world record holder Eliud KIpchoge’s coach, Patrick Sang. It is tricky to try and name all the coaches in between my first and current one for fear of leaving others off the list, being the important people they have been in my life and so I will leave it there.”

I have heard you have started coaching your wife, how has her running improved?

“Three years ago, my wife would occasionally accompany me to some local competitions to hold my bags while I run. She surprised me one time when she asked if she could accompany me on an easy jog and that is how she began running.

I would do my 1hr morning run by 6 am, then come back and take her for some 30 minutes jog later in the mid-morning. She would jog at a pace of almost 12 minutes per kilometer for about 700m and slow down to a walk before trying again. With time she started making it a continuous 30 – 40 minutes easy run, and within a year did a 10K race in 40 minutes. She was doing that for fun but noticed she was already running so close to some “elite” runners. That is when she decided to train like a real competitor.

Her progress has been so amazing! I advised her not to run a marathon yet, but she would not listen. Told me she just loves running and wanted to just test the distance last year at the Eldoret City Marathon. Amazingly, she did finish the 42km in around 3hrs exactly! I could hardly believe it myself. It is in the public domain that it takes about ten years for a lady to be able to finish a marathon in a good time. She was doing that with just two years of training! I can’t wait to see what she will do in the near future, under my coaching.”

Is there a Kenyan secret to running success?

“No. Everything is open. It is in how we balance different types of runs to reap the best results out of them; easy runs, jogging, fartlek, intervals, hill workouts, long runs, tempo runs, etc. If these are arranged well, it will bring the best results and this is where a coach is very crucial.”

Can anyone benefit from your help?

“Absolutely. I have trained alongside the best runners in the world for a period of almost 15 years now. I have observed that it is not all about putting in hard runs daily that bring out the best results, but in knowing how to go about a training program that takes a lot of things into consideration.

With the latest technology in communication, uploading workouts to Strava and Garmin Connect, among others, anyone can work closely with a coach anywhere in the world online.”

Are there Kenyan running drills or techniques that you can pass on?

“I cannot tell for sure which ones are the Kenyan drills, and which ones are Canadian drills, but I know the training routine of the best runners in the world. I know which workouts should be given maximum attention every week.”

What is the benefit of having a coach?

“Besides the obvious i.e. getting a balanced training program that takes into consideration your fitness level at the moment and your goals, a coach is also important in motivating and offering other advice on everything running related.”

What made you want to start coaching?

“I guess it happened automatically out of my passion for running and a desire to help others achieve their goals in life. So far, I am so happy with the feedback and results I am getting from runners I have coached. One runner wanted to break 1hr 40 minutes for half marathon and he did surprise himself after training for about two months with me and ran 1:29 and confided in me that he would have run much faster had he not been focusing on 1:37 schedule in the initial stage of the race and only realized that he still had so much more energy left in him as the race drew closer to the finish.

After training my wife for a short time and other athletes around saw the results, I have had a few others who have approached me to help, even voluntarily. I have a young lady who wanted to meet some qualifying times to get a sports scholarship to study in the USA. She made it and is now already in the US pursuing her dreams.

All these make me a happy coach and whets my appetite to see more runners meeting their running goals.”

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A coach can hold you accountable, can step back to look at your running and workouts and see things that you cannot. If you spend money on shoes, gear, food etc. to try and go after a personal best or to simply improve – why not a few dollars a month for a coach.

To get hold of Justin:

Justin Lagat
Runner, Online Coach, freelance journalist and columnist at RunBlogRun.
Contributing writer to iRun Magazine
Website: Kenyan Athlete
Twitter: @kenyanathlete
Facebook: Justin Lagat

Keep lacing up my running friends and see you out there!

Battling ourselves

“Its like a self-defence mechanism that backfires and actually causes us harm.” 

Time to grab the chicken by the neck and move forward friend! Ok – mainly used that because I have a rubber chicken at the desk…and its good for a cover blog image—but shut up and keep reading.

Straight forward, brutally honest stuff from this runningdad today. Its a quick blog spewing about mental health, depression and anxiety. It comes from someone who has always found the mental aspect of running the hardest (made me stop or drop out of races) and from someone who went down to the very dark bottom of the barrel mentally after a divorce, the transition of becoming a dad and just a hard time in my life – I dealt with anxiety, stress, depression (maybe some male post-partum)(still researching) – and I nearly killed myself. So I have been there. So listen up.

I took on my mental health and negative outlook on myself and life and attacked it like a project, a battle – something I needed to win. I was tired of being tired, tired of feeling worthless, negative, pessimistic and without direction.

Take a moment form feeling sorry for yourself and keep reading – admit it, that is what anxiety and depression make us do.

You are battling you

Its like a self-defence mechanism that clicks on when we are stressed and overwhelmed. It is trying to protect us from potential harm, embarrassment, risk—perceived, not necessarily true. It is like our brain is trying to shelter us from the dangers our worry has created for us. Worry because anxiety and when we spiral into a pattern of negative thought that freezes us from action —stuff builds up. We then get more overwhelmed and burrow further into self-pity, inaction and negative thought. We also look for any small tidbit of proof that validates our position. Not moving feels easier and safer than the risk of doing something to crack the thin cage of fear that traps us.

  • We are our worst enemies
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low self-confidence
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of not getting it right
  • Doubt
  • Stress

All these things can freeze us. Depression and anxiety stop us from moving. It is our brain overthinking, trying to protect us from failure and harm – that in the end causes more damage.

Battling back

One thing you have to realize that for change to happen, you need to change, You need to do something. One step at a time. Start by simply getting out of bed, or sending a message to a friend. Try going for a run to clear your head. DO, don’t think about things people have suggested will help. DO, don’t try. Battle back, You are worth it.

  • Realize what depression and anxiety is
  • Reach out and talk
  • Start a journal
  • Get counselling
  • Talk to a life coach
  • Practice positive thought (it takes practice)
  • Meditate
  • Exercise (it helps)

Remember also that when we think we are worthless, a disappointment to others – it is seldom true. We are the ones who are the hardest on ourselves. We see the weaknesses, the failures or failures to come. Question your perceptions. Has anyone actually said anything to you? Are you simply full of shit and reinforcing your depression’s alibi to keep you hostage?

I have been there friends. I still have low days – but I battle on, I run on and I share here.

Hugs from afar, keep lacing up and reach out anytime.

 

Noel

 

Greetings from Watopia

“Treadmill running can be  a mind-numbing boring training session – something to make it more interesting is welcome.” – Noel Paine

Guest blog review by Jeremy Whalen (On Instagram: sixrunfeast). Jeremy is an avid runner, home cook and sports fanatic. His new blog highlights a hungry runners life spent balancing kilometers and cravings.

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A ZWIFT?

Its called a Zwift Run Pod.

The Zwift website describes it as: “Are you ready to run? Just grab the Zwift RunPod and you’re halfway there. Our new RunPod connects to your device so you can train at home or on a gym treadmill. Experience running with a community and you’ll see treadmill workouts in a new way! And you’ll even get to experience new routes in worlds like New York that are for runners only.”

  • Easily pairs with Zwift via Bluetooth
  • Calibrates within Zwift and is always ready to go
  • Measures and broadcasts speed, cadence and distance
  • Includes a standard CR2032 battery that’s easy to replace
  • Product weight: 13g

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WHAT YOU NEED TO START ZWIFT RUNNING

  • A treadmill
    A footpod or connected shoe
    Note: The Zwift RunPod is one of the easiest ways to get up and running on Zwift.
  • A device to run Zwift

Zwift also has a Youtube video to help you get setup.

 

A ZWIFT REVIEW

I’d planned to run 30 minutes and give Zwift one last chance to shape my opinion. The time on the screen has just hit 44 minutes, the treadmill under my feet is finally crawling, my Twitter has stopped. Any doubt in my mind about the power of Zwift was gone.

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Just over a month ago when I picked up the Zwift pod from Noel, I was a bit taken aback. The orange box was surprisingly small, sleek and a bit underwhelming. I immediately wonder what was missing. Inside there was a battery, a Zwift RunPod and some setup instructions. I inserted the battery into the pod, ignored the instructions and went looking for a pair of shoes to jump on my treadmill.

ZWIFT RUNNING AND WATOPIA

After a quick account setup process, I was calibrating the pod and discovering Watopia, Zwift’s private island. As someone who grew up a gamer, the graphics are impressive. My runner is kitted up, and he stands by the road stretching while he waits for me to finish my prep. As I start the treadmill he starts walking, then trotting along with me as we take our first run. The first run is slow, as recommended, while I get used to the user experience and the incredible amount of data being displayed.

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As I’m running along, the app pings at me. I’m startled. I almost bite it. I grab the hand rails, gather myself and carry on. My Zwifter hasn’t missed a stride, he’s in mid-turn, another experience I’ll need to quickly adjust to. As we move into the next turn, I look away from the screen, so my brain doesn’t think I need to lean into it, we both carry on without falling.

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Another chime from the system, I’ve gained points. This is exciting! Like so many hours spent in front of the TV in my youth, my Zwifter is levelling up. The only difference now is that I’ve earned it with some serious cardio.

A few runs into my Zwift experience I start to push the software doing workouts, joining in on group runs and trying using the built-in workouts to keep up with my training. Then frustration strikes. A couple runs in a row my runner simply stops. I’m running along at a healthy pace, but my screen reads 0.0mph. I’m ready to give up on Zwift.

I head upstairs frustrated and I’m quickly humbled. I still haven’t read the simple one page instructions and now, blaming Zwift for my problems, I learn that I never set up my pod properly. It’s been tied too low!

I vow to start always reading all the instructions. At least when it comes to new running gear!

After a month of testing Zwift through evening and weekend runs, challenging it on a long run here and a workout there, I can honestly say I’m thrilled. Whether you’re like me and already believe in the power of the treadmill or you need a serious boost to beat that basement run dread, the app really does offer something for everyone.

I love the fact that the points allow you to unlock more outfits, paths and content. Pushing you to reach the next level so you can match your runner to your own personal style or explore a new regions of Watopia. The pursuit of these points has even helped me extend my cooldowns an extra quarter or half kilometre a time or two, something I usually cheat on while running outdoors.

The experience is nice. The bigger the screen you use, the better. An iPad, MacBook or Apple TV are perfect, while the smaller screen of my iPhone had its limitations. Swiping away those mid-run Twitter notifications, setting down my phone a bit too hard and locking your screen and all together closing the app a mile in caused me some early frustrations.

Overall, as this Ontario winter looks like it might never end, running around a volcano in the sun is a great change of pace from Netflix and miles. The guest worlds like New York and London let your mind wander while putting dreams of future marathon pursuits in your head.

THE CONCLUSION

Maybe someday I’ll be able to escape these late March snowstorms to run my intervals along a beach or through these international cities. Until then, Zwift has won me over.

The Zwift Run pod retails for $29.99

Connect with Zwift!

Zwift website: https://zwift.com/en/run/

Instagram: GoZwift

Twitter: @GoZwift

Thanks to Jeremy for the amazing guest blog! Run on my running friends!

Being Brutally honest

“Like can be like any long trail run, there are usually ups and downs. That brutal climb usually is followed by a downhill, you may groan, stumble but you swear and carry on. Sometimes you question it all and almost stop.”

The day is dark – its mid-April and its snowing and freezing rain outside and my mood is grey too – seems a good day to reflect on another dark (much darker day).

A tale of my darkest days

“When you are in the darkest hole and the blackness closes in, when depression has its claws in you, you have one choice. To break the hold, to see the light, to clear your mind you have to make a move. You need to raise a foot to kick a hole in the darkness till it bleeds daylight.”

Its me. The Canadian runningdad. Runner, dad and Depression survivor and advocate for healthy, active living and for mental health. I have talked before about my journey in life as a dad and my tough time dealing with a period where I battled depression. I, however, was never brutally honest or detailed about my darkest days. I am not sure why it has taken me so long to share. I am fairly open about my story. It has been quite a while now and I feel so far away from that dark point in my life. Maybe by sharing more it will help others, perhaps by opening up more it may help me.

So here it is.

My marriage had broken up. I was having difficulty transitioning to being a dad (I learned later that maybe this could be called male post-partum depression – but not sure), was now dealing with living in an apartment alone, seeing my daughter every second weekend and working at a job that stressed me out and I had no interest in.

I was becoming more and more depressed. I went through the motions at work and home and tried to keep busy and positive. My joking around at work became more sarcastic and negative – even my running was providing me little joy.

At my apartment, I felt alone and isolated. I had no family nearby (or even in the province) and have no real close friends I live close to or did things with. I would get home from work and it would be quiet and lonely. I felt no sense of purpose or direction, no reason for going from one day to the next. Paying child support, having to move into an apartment and buy a car to pick up my daughter from daycare pushed me financially and stressed me out. Netflix stopped keeping me distracted and conversations on the phone were not enough. Food lost its appeal. Social media kept me connected with people but was not enough.

I knew things were going downhill but did not know what to grab on to, to stop the slide.

After our initial separation, my ex and I got along well enough to sit in a friendly manner and work out a divorce but that was still stressful, tiring and tough.

It just kept getting darker in my mind. I looked for reasons to get up. I took a few mental health days from work.

I loved my daughter but found being a dad hard, tiring and ate into what little time I had to relax/enjoy. Now when I had my daughter I had to do everything by myself, could not find a babysitter even to go to the store…it was tough. People have it tougher – I am simply telling you how I felt.

The darkest day

The memory is blurry – you would think it would be crystal clear as a pivotal point in my life but its not. It was a weekday – I can’t remember if I had taken some time off from work or if I had been in to work the day before. Getting up in the morning had become a battle. The distraction of work and routine no longer —distracted my mind enough.

I can’t remember if the really dark thoughts crept in during the night or early morning. I just know they did. Things went from feeling shitty about life to really questioning why I was around. My mind told me that the world and my daughter were better off without me – that I had no direction, purpose or anything to look forward to. All I could see was a lonely, monotonous, dreary existence where I constantly struggled and got nowhere – working at a job I cared little about and living somewhere I did not want to be – far from friends and family.

I reached a point. I went from thinking about how pointless things were to really thinking about how to end my suffering. I had friends and family but no one close. I rarely saw my parents (once a year if lucky) and most friends were at a distance and seldom met in person. I had made some poor choices, not been honest with myself and although generally tried to be a good person, had my faults, mistakes and regrets. I could see no reason for being around, living. I started thinking about how to end my life. Not just the topic, but how I was going to do it.

I was being a coward. I was running away from my life and problems. I know that and I knew that then – but I wanted out. I thought about all the ways, — sorry this gets dark– hanging myself, jumping off something, carbon monoxide etc. I did not just allow a quick thought to go by – I was really considering the options and weighing out what was possible and what I had the guts to do. I stayed in bed. I did not go to work. It was a very, dark horrible place of self-pity, thoughts of killing myself, despair, listlessness.

Because I am anal retentive and was still just unselfish enough to not want my manager to worry – I emailed and said I needed the day. I had moved. I was up. I was not safe but it had made me think. I did not have a history of mental illness, I did not have anxiety or deal with depression before this – but like in running, the mental aspect was always toughest for me.

I knew I needed help. Besides the likelihood of me being successful with a suicide attempt were slim – which as also depressing at the time. The only thing that saved me was reaching out. It was a simple action – but it was enough. The responses and tiny or big gestures from friends and family and from the social media community —-people will never know how much they did for me.

Reflection and Recovery

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You can read on my blog about how I recovered and used friends, family, counselling, meditation, a life coach and everything I could find to fight my way out of my dark place. I got out. I battled hard, really hard and spent time looking at why I had gotten there, who I was and wanted to be and the reality of my life.

Where I am now

I am in a much better place now and have tools to fight off any depression and am so much stronger. For me the dark grip of depression and a mental health battle was a short-lived one. It is not something I struggle with daily. I am lucky.

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This blog is not one where I offer tips – check out some other very personal blogs from this skinny runningdad for tips and how I battled. This is simply more detail on a very dark day. Perhaps it will help others realize they are not alone, that talking and taking little steps away from the abyss is all they need to do to keep going.

Keep reaching out friends, defeating depression is about doing something, breaking free of its grasp, moving forward and finding a positive purpose in life. You are never alone.

Find the positive in yourself and life.

Live, love, laugh and carry on.

Run on friends!

The amazing Amazfit

“I love running and love when something simple on my wrist can add to the fun.” 

A Runningdad review of the Amazfit Stratos muli-sport GPS watch

It has been a while since I received this cool watch from Amazfit to test out. Well, I have worn it, have tested it out and now its time for its review. I had not heard of this brand until stumbling across them online and on social media. This is how the watch faired in runningdad testing.

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This was the first really new style of GPS watch I have worn. I had the first Garmin watches and then I have worn, owned and tested a number of Polar watches. All the watches have been decent and Polar is extremely reliable and I really like the VO2max test it uses on the M430. But the watches even though colourful had dull screens and fairly simple readouts. This is the first watch that is flashy, has all the tech and includes a wrist-read heart rate. I was excited to test out.

THE WATCH

The Amazfit Stratos watch is one cool looking piece of wrist-wear. It comes in a very nice, solid box and the watch feels just as sturdy. Its all black (solid strap) with large but not enormous watch face and watch case has carbon-fibre look. It has 3 buttons on the hand-facing side and a HR-sensor on the bottom (along with 3 charging anodes). The watch face changes as you have the choice of a number of pretty cool options.

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Cost: $229 US

SPECS AND GEEKY STUFF

  • Water resistance
  • Alarm
  • Notifications from your phone
  • Amazfit App for phone
  • Measures steps
  • Can play music from your watch to bluetooth earbuds
  • VO2max fitness level analysis
  • Heart rate sensor
  • Transflective always-on color touch display
  • Pretty cool graphs of activity, HR etc on watch and app
  • Scratch-resistant tempered glass
  • Durable silicone watch strap
  • GPS tracking for: running, walking, cycling, swimming, elliptical machine, mountaineering, trail running, triathlon, tennis, soccer and skiing.
  • Through a partnership with Firstbeat this watch also measures maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max), exercise load (TD) and recovery time. All data can be synced and made available in Strava.

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WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO WEAR AND USE

The watch is comfortable and strap sturdy and I had no issues with comfort. I wore for running, walking, snowshoeing, at the gym and for everyday life. I liked the sporty, yet classy look. The watch survived all my sweatiness, the cold up here in Canada (some -30 days) and the sticky fingers of my 3-year old. I liked the ability to change the watch face – you can also even upload your own image if you want!

WHAT I THOUGHT

The watch looks nice, is comfortable and like the wrist HR option. The watch has more colour and I like the readouts and info displays better than other watches I have had. Here are the pros and cons from my perspective:

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Great info from your runs on watch and app
  • Love the ability to play music from watch
  • Super quick to get GPS signal
  • Accurate wrist heart rate
  • Fun with multiple watch faces
  • Uploads automatically to Strava
  • Can get texts, notifications etc from phone

CONS

  • Low battery life (with notifications)
  • Charger can be a bit difficult to set watch in

Honestly – had a lot of fun with my watch. For me this was like going from a Blackberry phone to m,y first Android – I did not realize what I was missing! Watch has a super competitive price for what it does, has LOTS of bells and whistles and love playing with. Only downside for me was how quickly all the whizgigs, updates etc. sucked the juice from the battery. You can turn off notifications but still be nice to have a battery where I could get updates and be able to go for really long runs or ultra runs and have battery last.

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Great watch for runners, marathoners or fit folk but not for ultra runners and just be aware you will need to charge regularly if using all options and running with GPS every day.

*They also make simple watches and fitness trackers that are worth looking at.

Amazfit website: https://us.amazfit.com/

Social media:  Twitter @Amazfit FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/amazfit/

 

World Litter Run

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” –  Mahatma Gandhi

WHAT IS #WorldLitterRun?

Stop, drop, dunk and make a difference! Shout out about it after with #WorldLitterRun!

The world is filled with litter and there are more and more people roaming our planet with every second that goes by. One Canadian runner decided to make a change and is now spreading his message around the globe; about his World Litter Run.
Runners are often those who spend more time than others on the roads and sidewalks dodging and running through litter strewn by others. One Canadian runner decided to stop, bend down and make a difference while out on a run.

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Luke MacDonald, a runner, dad and part owner of the running store, Aerobics First in Halifax, Nova Scotia had an idea. It was an idea that sprung from the panic and anxiety he felt one day after running by so much litter on his run, usually something he did for stress-relief. The idea was to pick up the garbage along your regular running route. The first run was on Luke’s birthday with friend and they collected 19 bags of garbage on a 5k run! Others found out, liked the idea and before long, a National Litter Run was organized. The idea caught fire and kept burning and spreading.

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Luke is a runner, dad and part owner of the running store, Aerobics First in Halifax, Nova Scotia had an idea. It was an idea that sprung from the panic and anxiety he felt one day after running by so much litter on his run, usually something he did for stress-relief. The idea was to pick up the garbage along your regular running route. The first run was on Luke’s birthday with friend and they collected 19 bags of garbage on a 5k run! Others found out, liked the idea and before long, a National Litter Run was organized. The idea caught fire and kept burning and spreading.

Through word of mouth and social media, a Canadian Litter Run has spread and is now a #WorldLitterRun with people in many countries participating and make their streets and world a bit cleaner with every run. The little litter run in Halifax took on a more global vision.

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In addition to World Litter  Run, Luke has been involved with or started other projects such as, Fit-It-Forward, raising money and finding businesses donate shoes for the homeless, Sparks Fly, raising money to place stationary bikes in classrooms to help kids get active and help them learn, helping the local Gambian Association raise money for schools and  community centres and has raised money and awareness about making water barrels that can be pushed available to countries where water is often carried in buckets on their heads.

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One small action can often create a chain-reaction. Luke is an example of this. While out running, stop to grab a piece of litter and realize you are helping create change.

WHEN IS IT?

#WorldLitterRun is April 30th this year (2019) – but Luke says every day is #WorldLitterRun and that it can be celebrated on every run.

In 2019 – why not help out with the Tim Horton’s sponsored Pitch in Week (April 22-29) where Canadians are encouraged to make a difference and make their world a little greener and cleaner.

WHAT DO I DO?

Run, pick up litter, take a picture of the difference you are making and use the hashtag #WorldLitterRun.

HOW DO I CONTACT LUKE?

Luke on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lukeshoefitter

Luke on Twitter: @LukeShoeFitter

About World Litter Run: Here!

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Listen to Luke on my runningdad podcast where we chatted about #WorldLitterRun!

*Luke is a very humble runner who at age 54 is chasing a 20-minute 5k time. He insisted I not mention he is a former 32-minute 10k runner, so I have not. He is an active member of the Nova Scotia running community and an inspiration to many in his community.

 

Sharing stories I have stumbled across

“Every runner has a story and a reason they reach down to tie up their running shoes.”

Over 200 pages of stories and profiles of runners from around the globe. That’s what my book is. Between the stories, there are thoughts and inspirational quotes. The stories are from well-known runners, Olympians, record holders but also just ordinary runners as well with reasons to run, a story to tell or something to share. I have interviewed them, asked them questions and learned more about them and myself with every word.

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I have written for Canadian Running magazine, iRun magazine and also have this blog where I have profiled, chatted with and been honoured to share others stories of running. I decided it was time to compile and share with others. Some of the runners inside include my friend Melinda, Olympian Suzy Favor-Hamilton and the amazing Dean Karnazes…..to find out the others you will have to grab a copy!

Order the book on Amazon here! (or simply search for my name)

Writers never make money – my goal is to share this book and hope others enjoy. If you want to do a review, want to profile me or the book – get in touch!

Foreword

Written by Canadian runner, writer and broadcaster and founder of iRun magazine, Mark Sutcliffe. Mark and I share some common passions and he knows how talking running is often just an excuse to hear someone’s real story.

Back cover recommendation

Kind words on the back of my book from Kenyan elite and writer Justin Lagat. Justin has published as few of his own books and consider him my Kenyan brother.

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Connect with me

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My first book

I also have another book that is published on Amazon that is a short collection of my thoughts, poems and musings on life, being a runningdad and running – if you are interested here is the link!

There is another book project on the way – I am always looking for runners to connect with, people who are interested in the book!

Order the book on Amazon here! (or simply search for my name)

Depression is not always forever

“Everyone is different and the path back to mental health is a different journey for everyone.” – Noel Paine

Have I had a history of mental health issues or illness? No. Did I suffer a period of depression at a low point in my life and consider calling it quits. Yep. My story, like every piece of sand on the beach and every person in the world, is different.

I am back to my active, happy self now and still meditate, run and occasionally talk to my therapist but for maintenance – not because the dark dog of depression is nipping at my heels.

Here is a bit more of my story – someone questioning my depression and my story – made me want to share.

My story

I struggled after the birth of my daughter with the new dad life combined with stress and unhappiness at work. Overload which led to the breakdown of my marriage. I got to a point where I was going to call it quits – but I pulled back and reached out. I took that one step and realized I needed time off work to work on myself. I have always been a happy, active person and I wanted that person back. I also had the added pressure that I needed to be there for my daughter.

My wife at the time was always supportive and although there were some arguments it was a pretty mild breakup from what I have seen. We now work together with the goal of co-parenting our daughter. I even spend time at my ex’s place to make supper and put my daughter to bed – all so my daughter has one stable home and she visits Poppa ever second weekend. It’s not perfect – but you make it work. I have always paid child support and we work together, we may never be friends, but we are not adversaries. We sat down together and worked out our divorce without issue or argument and I will still shovel the driveway or help move something if I am there – why wouldn’t someone?

I have moved on and the problems and focus on the positive and still continue to reflect and learn about myself.

Life is about living and you choose how you live it.

How I made it back

  • Doing something
  • Talking to friends, family and a therapist
  • Writing a journal
  • Taking time to meditate and continue to run
  • Focusing on the positive
  • Hard work and self-reflection

I was never officially diagnosed with depression but took some time off work to get to a more positive place and focus on myself and so that I could also be a focused dad.

My advice

  • Realize you have a mental health issue to tackle – small or big
  • Make any move to get out of bed or get moving
  • Talk to someone – share
  • Find a counselor or therapist – it can’t hurt
  • Focus on the positive in your life
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Do more than read about things to do – do them
  • Think about the past, focus on the now and move towards the future
  • Learn from mistakes and look at your strengths
  • Take medication if you need it (I did not)

Why I share

I share my story here and on social media so others know it is okay to talk about any kind of mental illness or mental health issues and to get help. Whether an isolated incident or a long-term battle, it is important to know you are not alone.

Know you are never alone and that you need to reach out for help. You need to take one step at a time, be honest with yourself, self-reflect and not only read about ways to get better or to improve your mental health – but do them.

Oh – and keep running friends!