Wednesday, May 31, 2017
I was asked to write this post by Eventbrite, a company that I have used in the past that allowed me to plan, promote and sell tickets to one of my Fund Raising events for Cancer Research. They were interested to know "What inspires me to lace up and hit the pavement?" Then other questions came up. Do I participate in road races? If so, why, what kind and what motivates me to choose one race over another?
These are great questions to ask a run enthusiast such as myself. I had to take a few days to think about it because running has been and is such a big part of my life that I feel as though I have been running forever. But, I've only been running 15 years (without disclosing my age, that is a short time for me) So I had to take time to reflect about my why, how and when did I start my journey of running.
In the very beginning, I only ran if I had to. I played several sports back in high school and University. Two of which required lots of running, ie softball and basketball. However, I only ran for short periods of time so I didn't mind running. But if you were to ask me then to run a 3 mile road race or run a short 1/2 mile, I would give you a hard no. Not to mention, track and field was my least favourite gym class.
Then something happened. My career path led me to a Sales Manager's position at the Boston Athletic Club for almost 7 years. During that time, I often heard and listened to triathletes talking about their races, especially ones that were more challenging and longer. ie, The Nantucket race where the swim portion entailed pulling someone else while on a paddle board and then running on a beach with a sand bag on your back, both for several miles. Really???
Slowly, I started to visualize myself doing a triathlon. I loved swimming and biking and I was good at both of them. I just had to tackle the run portion. So I started to run without thinking about form or technique. I also had no idea, nor did I care, what type of shoes or clothing to wear or what to eat or drink for the best source of energy. I just threw on a pair of sneakers, comfortable clothes and ran.
I still remember my first run. I felt as if my lungs were going to pop out of my chest and my legs felt heavy and very slow, even though my brain was telling me I was super fast. But as I continued to run regularly, my cardio endurance improved. I also started to track my distances and duration. I did not care about speed back then. I just wanted to be able to run the distance of a sprint triathlon (5km/3 miles) without dying during the race or at the end.
I also remember not wanting to join run groups or run with friends or colleagues. I was a bit of a "run" loner because I enjoyed the time being alone. So I did my own research, as many of us do, and implemented techniques that I thought would work for me. Once I felt confident I could run 3 miles straight and without dying, I registered for several sprint triathlons. Shortly after, my interest turned to completing Half IRONMANS.
After my 2nd Half IRONMAN, I knew it was time to seek more help on my form, technique, and pace if I wanted improve my time running. But I also found swimming, biking and running on my own was becoming more and more lonely. So I joined other triathletes and started to bike with them. I chose biking rather than running in a group setting because biking is the longer portion of triathlons. However, it was not long after that I joined a run group as well.
Well, it did not take long for me to get hooked on running with a group. I found it easier to chat, depending on my pace but more so because it's easier to run side by side then bike side by side. Therefore, I was able to listen to stories of other runner's experiences and learn about road races.
At first I thought, road races? Who wants to just run? Where's the challenge in that? But I started to think to myself that it can't be that bad. I don't have to swim and I don't have to worry about transitioning from bike to running. I can just run which would allow me to focus on running faster. Curiosity finally got the better of me and I registered for my first 10km/6mile race.
Sold! I found myself hooked on road races and as all runners know, once you've been hit with the run bug, you start to search and register for more races. It did not take long before I was registered for my first half marathon and then my first full marathon. Ultimately, I registered for my first Full IRONMAN.
Becoming part of the running community changed me. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed running and training for events on my own, and still do. However, once I started running in groups, ie, the Running Room in Toronto, I started to look forward to running with other enthusiasts and sharing our experiences, stories, aches, pains, personal bests, etc. They were becoming part of my family and road races became our family get togethers, but without all the arguments.
The more I ran, the more passionate I became about running and the more I appreciated its benefits, ie, improved cardiovascular endurance, increased energy, weight loss, and reduced levels of stress. As a way to say thank you to the run community for it's impact on me, I wanted to make an impact on them. So I started to register for events with a cause. ie. MS, Achilles, March of Dimes, and Breast Cancer. In addition, I started coaching the Running Room's Learn to Run program for Women, then the 5k Run program and shortly after, I became one of their Walking Coaches as well.
When asked about how I choose road races, my answer was this. I love to travel so if there is an event in a city/country that I have not been to and would like to visit, (ie, my first Marathon in Athens, Greece for the 2500th Anniversary of the Marathon) I will register. Also, if a race is new, different and adventurous, sign me up! But most importantly, I choose races that support causes that are dear to me, ie, Cancer, Heart and Stroke, Veterans and children.
If you are just starting to run or participate in any fitness activity, I feel there is no better way to experience your first event than by registering for one that supports a good cause. The motivation, the support, the gratification of knowing that you are making a difference while reaching a personal goal is indescribable. But most importantly, the impact you are making for that cause is "priceless." I know from experience because my last 2 Full IRONMAN'S have been to raise awareness and money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation in honour of my father. If you would like to know more about the organization, my personal experience and/or donate, please visit my page at
For the rest of you fitness enthusiasts, if you have a good cause and would like to reach the community to raise funds for your event, please visit Eventbrites non for profit fund raising page. We can all work together to change the world through events that get us moving, sharing, and coming together as one.
Stay active and anything is possible!
Monday, November 28, 2016
“Hi Everyone! As some of you may know I am proudly competing in the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid event next September as part of the MMRF Team for Cures! This will be my third event with them after competing in 2 Full IRONMAN's in Lake Placid (this year and last year) in honour of my father who passed away from blood cancer in 1999. This organization has done some of the most ground-breaking work in oncology in the last 20 years that has led to 10 new cancer fighting drugs coming to market for patients in need. They’ve tripled the life expectancy of patients with this blood cancer and they won’t stop until there’s a cure! They also happen to run one of the Top 5 Endurance Events Programs – offering tons of logistical, training, and race week support for you AND your family. Right now anyone who signs up through me gets $100 off the already reduced race entry fee of $150 – so you can pay ONLY $50 and race in IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid. Just use code REFERREDTOCURE when you sign up. I hope you join me. www.themmrf.org/2017IMLP PS! The top highest fundraiser win a 2018 70.3 World Champion BIB!!” Stay active and anything is possible! Donna
Monday, November 7, 2016
Hello my fellow fitness enthusiasts. I know it may seem like a long time since I've written a blog. But you can also follow me on my Facebook Page called Positively Active, on Twitter as Fitnesscrazed and on Instagram as dfosterlarocque. However, for all you wonderful blog readers, I am making it my mission to blog every month on a variety of health and fitness topics.
This month's topic is stretching, which next to breathing and nutrition, is the third most important aspect of training. Here is a great article by Claudia Wood, a freelance writer and health enthusiasts, on the many benefits of stretching.
Wow! Who would have thought that by taking a few minutes, or longer, to stretch before or after exercising, or stretching without training, would be so beneficial. I hope that one of the reasons listed above will help inspire and motivate you to incorporate stretching into your daily routine. Your body and mind will be grateful.
Stay active and anything is possible!
Monday, April 18, 2016
Today I'd like to share a new concept of training, Low Intensity Steady State. (LISS) For those of you who know me, this concept might sound strange coming from me. Yes, I love HIIT and pushing myself to the max. But I also enjoy long endurance training that does not entail high intensity.
For example, as part of my IRONMAN training this weekend, rather than run, bike or swim, I walked at a nice steady pace for 14km on Saturday and 17km on Sunday. So why did I choose to walk and why for so long?
Last week, my training schedule included several 10-24km runs, 1-5 hours on the bike 3 times, and a few hours in the pool In order to allow my body a chance to recover while still moving, (aka active recovery) I walked to loosen up the lactic acid that had built up throughout the week. But I also wanted to incorporate endurance training so I walked more than 10km consecutively but at a slower pace.
There are many benefits to training at LISS and walking, both of which I will write more about over the next few weeks. But one benefit that I would like to leave you with is that by walking, you have more of an opportunity to explore your own or other neighborhoods and really "see" what they have to offer. We are often in such a rush that we miss those elements that make each neighborhood so special, ie. mom and pop coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries, etc.
So next time you are debating whether or not you should get outside and train, don't forget that walking is a form of exercise. For the body, mind and soul.
Stay active and anything is possible!
Thursday, April 14, 2016
I love when I read an article that comes just at the right time, especially if I am having an "off" day either mentally, physically or sometimes both. Today was one of those days where I felt "off" physically. Then I read this article called "My Body Apology." It made me realize just how critical I've been about my own body's appearance lately. Rather than appreciating the fact that I am healthy, strong and fit, I still find myself criticizing my body for some reason or another. So today, I am going to treat my body with more love and be grateful that I have the ability to train for my 3rd IRONMAN.
Featured Blog Post on Sparkpeople.com by Linda.
Most of us are here because we want to lose weight. One of the hardest things you have to get past to make that happen is taming that monkey mind. That is the self-criticism we all have. We don't like this or that about our bodies and we put ourselves down for any number of reasons. We cut ourselves down more than our worst enemy.
We have to learn to love and accept ourselves as we are before we can allow the healing and weight loss begin. If you hate your body there is no motivation to treat it well. You would be unwilling to do the hard work to make weight loss happen. Treat your body as a sick friend who you want to get well.
I have always had a love/hate relationship with my body because of my RA. I am furious that my body keeps falling apart, giving me pain and taking away my favorite activities. But I am amazed at the resilience and the never say die fight it always has, to give back as much as it can. I haven't always treated my body well, filling it with garbage instead of fuel, punishing it with too much exercise, wearing shapeless, ugly clothing because it didn't deserve better, just cursing its malfunctioning and shortcomings. Its high time I gave it an apology.
I am sorry for ignoring your hunger signals for so many years.
I am sorry for making you drink disgusting diet shakes and eat tasteless diet foods.
I am sorry for comparing you to healthy people when that is unfair.
I am sorry I thought of you as broken down wreck rather than the amazing miracle that you are.
I am sorry I ate countless salty snacks because I didn't yet know how to handle stress or pauses in the day.
I am sorry I spent so much time criticizing you that I forgot to say thank you and acknowledge your amazing senses, systems, limbs and organs.
Oh, and I am sorry about those bell bottoms and shoulder pads in the 70's!
You really are incredible and I thank you for taking me through this long, hard journey without complaint.
Monday, March 28, 2016
This week's nutrition tip is about the various protein options and their benefits. Some of them you may already know but there may be some that you are not aware of and that you might like! Give some of them a try to add a little variety into your diet.
Protein is more than about building muscle. Each and every body part requires protein to function, from red and white blood cells to hair and skin (all made of protein.) Eating protein at every meal stabilizes our blood sugar levels, helping with everything from mood to weight management to nervous system health.
1. Ground Flaxseeds
Health Benefits: On top of being high in protein, flaxseeds are also a good source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. Their fiber content and mucilaginous nature also make them great for gut health.
How To Use: Sprinkle ground flaxseeds onto oatmeal or cooked veggies for a nutty flavour. You can also add ground flaxseeds to homemade baked goods. Recent studies have found that cooking flaxseeds leaves the omega-3 content intact.
2. Chia Seeds
Health Benefits: Like flaxseeds, chia seeds are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Because they can absorb so much liquid (becoming a chia "gel"), they can also help prevent dehydration.
How To Use: Chia seeds can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on porridge, used to make puddings, or even as a grain-free "breading" for chicken or fish (if you eat it!).
3. Sunflower Seeds
Health Benefits: High in protein, sunflower seeds are also anti-inflammatory, which can help with symptoms of conditions like asthma and arthritis.
How To Use: Sunflower seeds can be sprinkled on salads and porridge. Ground sunflower seeds can also be used in place of flour to dust meats or added to grain-free baking recipes.
4. Nut Butters
Health Benefits: High in healthy fats and protein, nuts are wonderful for balancing your blood sugar levels, and using all-natural nut butters is a great way to get them in your diet.
How To Use: Add a scoop of almond butter to your green smoothies, spread some cashew butter on a homemade gluten-free muffin or replace the maple syrup on your oatmeal with a spoonful of your favourite nut butter variety.
Health Benefits: While "green" isn't normally the color you'd think of when it comes to protein, this algae is actually a 65% highly-digestible protein. It's also incredibly high in calcium, making it great for bone health.
How To Use: Spirulina makes for awesome addition to a green smoothie. It can be strong-tasting, so start slow!
6. Hemp Seeds
Health Benefits: Hemps seeds are packed with protein. They also contain the ideal balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
How To Use: Hemp seeds can be added to smoothies or sprinkled on top of salads. They are soft and don't need straining, so they're great for making dairy-free seed milk, too.
7. Alfalfa Sprouts
Health Benefits: Sprouts are rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, and alfalfa sprouts are made up of as much as 35% highly-digestible protein.
How To Use: Sprouts are an awesome salad-topper or great addition to any green smoothie. These are an easy one to grow yourself.
8. Chickpea Flour
Health Benefits: Baked goods aren't exactly the first thing protein source you'd think of, but swapping your usual flour for a high-protein, gluten-free one is a great way to add a protein boost to your day. Since chickpea flour is made of dried, ground chickpeas, it contains all the health benefits of these nutrient-packed beans, including antioxdiants, digestive support and blood sugar regulation.
How To Use: Chickpea flour works best in gluten-free baking recipes when it makes up no more than 25% of the total flour content, so mix and match it with other flours for best results.
9. Pumpkin Seeds
Health Benefits: Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, which key to nervous system health and is necessary for more than 300 chemical reactions in the human body. They're also high in, you guessed it, protein!
How To Use: Pumpkin seeds can be added to your morning smoothie (use pumpkin seed butter if you don't have a high-speed blender), used in baked goods or sprinkled on porridge. Lightly toasted pumpkin seeds also make an awesome salad topper!10. Protein Powders: This is an option but I recommend choosing the more natural alternatives instead.
(This information is from www.mindbodygreen.com)
Stay active and anything is possible!
Friday, March 18, 2016
Hello peanut butter enthusiasts! I wanted to share this article from Oxygen magazine that I came across several years ago. It changed my life or I should say, it changed my digestive system. I had no idea why I suffered from cramps, stomach pains and the infamous "bloatedness" every time I ate peanut butter. Then I read this article and immediately switched to organic peanut butter. But more importantly, I started reading lables for that awful ingredient "hydrogenated" and stayed clear of eating it. Here's why:
Hydrogenated peanut butter is vastly different from natural peanut butter. Hydrogenation means the fat molecules have been chemically altered in the manufacturing process and not for the better. Your digestive system doesn't have the ability to digest hydrogenated fats because they rarely exist in nature. These fats TRAVEL AIMLESSLY AROUND YOUR BODY, FINALLY STORING THEMSELVES AROUND YOUR ORGANS AND ON THE INSIDE OF YOUR ARTERIES.
That last sentence sold me. By no means do I want fat travelling through my body and attaching itself to my organs. So my decision to buy organic peanut butter (even if it is more expensive) was not difficult. Once I did make the switch, I started to try other nut butters such as almond butter, cashew butter, macadamia butter, tahini butter and my new favourite Mamba's organic spicy peanut butter! I had no idea the other options would be so tasty, especially Mamba's. They mix organically grown peanuts from Haiti with hot spicies. A combination I would never have thought of. If you live in Montreal, you have to stop by Atwater market and look for the Mamba table. You can choose mild, medium or hot. Your taste buds will not be disappointed!
So for anyone who might experience negative symptoms after eating a particlar food, check the label for its ingredients. If you see the word "hydrogenated", it may be the cause or one of many causes for your discomfort. Try eliminating that food for a week or two and then add it back into your diet. If you experience any discomfort, it might be time to try other alternatives.
Stay active and anything is possible!