Hello Spring! What Winter?!

I was going to call this post ‘The Winter That Never Was,’ and it is true for a variety of reasons, but those voices in my head remind me to be more positive.

It is the first day of spring and it was definitely one of my coldest shakeout runs this year. I’m not complaining, it is average spring weather. But doesn’t it feel a little colder than it really is when you’re just not used to it?

El Niño and Traditional Toronto Winters
This winter was frustrating for a few reasons. First it was never really winter, and my inner-alpine ski self loves the cold and the snow. You have to admit there is something magical and wondrous about the silent, blue bird days with a fresh blanket of snow. If you have ever stopped in a field that has recently been blanketed in snow, you’ll know what I mean.

IMG_9177I missed those days running for a multitude of reasons. They never really happened with the El Niño winter here in Ontario. And because I suffered from runners knee for much of the winter. So with my sore knee it was never strong or stable enough to be able to run through the fluffy white stuff. I missed heading out on long trail runs in Toronto all winter.

I highly recommend you embrace your inner winter in the future. Grab some small snow shoes and get ready to really love winter running. Yes you slow down, but run for time and effort and not for miles.

Injuries suck, but they are a reality of being an athlete. For much of the winter I looked to point fingers at my injury. Not point a finger at someone, but somewhere in my body that caused this. What caused it is running a lot of miles. And despite lots of therapy sessions, massage, eating well, resting and generally taking care of myself injuries still happen.

Last week I felt like I came out of a ‘fog.’ All winter I have felt really negative, when often I have a sunny, smiley exterior. And why? I don’t really have an answer. I don’t know where the real me went. I know that it contributed to the slow healing of my runners knee (as did continuing to try to run!).

What I did not do with this injury was to sit back and reflect to think what worked and what didn’t work. To listen to my body if it was really healing. I’m feeling much more positive and really thinking back on this injury. I will do what I can do to prevent injuries. But part of being a full-time athlete and pushing yourself to the limit often, is accepting that sometimes your body is going to push back.

WADA 2016
Maria Sharapova tested positive at the Aussie Open for the use of meldonium. Meldonium is essentially a designer steroid that helps you recover faster. Clinically it is said to treat ischemia* (a lack of blood flow to parts of the body, particularly in cases of angina or heart failure). It’s job is to improve blood flow, to increase the amount of oxygen carried to muscle tissue, which in turn can help with recovery after workouts

What’s so bothersome about it? It is manufactured in Latvia and only distributed in Baltic countries and Russia. It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States and is not authorized in the rest of Europe.* Moreover, I am not naive to think that this is the only drug like this out there. It is the only one that WADA is now aware of.

All I can do is be true to myself. I have certain ethical standards I am not willing to deviate from. I can train hard, train really, really hard. I can believe in myself. And I can set performance goals that are a stretch to achieve and really go after them.

I cannot tell anyone else what to do, nor can I control what they do. I can control what I do. I can choose to love what I do. I can choose to play fair. And at the end of the day I will not look back and regret any decisions I made.

* The Guardian. What is meldonium and why did Maria Sharapova take it? 8 March 2016.