If you're looking to increase your distance, your biggest hurdle is not having a plan, says Lucy Smith, a 19-time Canadian champion in distance running and multisport. "Winging it and making it up as you go based on how you feel leads to inconsistent training," says Smith, who works as a coach with LifeSport Coaching in Victoria. Consider, after all, the fact that you have a life – a job, children or other commitments – to fit in with your training.
Cross-train. If you want to improve as a runner, you have to do other types of exercise too. "What limits runners is mechanical breakdown, not their aerobic capacities," says Nathan Mellalieu, owner of Studeo55, a health club in Vancouver. "Their knees or hips start to hurt, for example, and it's because that structure is not stable or well conditioned enough to sustain the demands running puts on them." Mellalieu recommends dynamic training in three dimensions ("Running is just linear," he explains), such as strength training (he suggests squats, lunges, deadlifts, pull-ups and step-ups), agility training (think of running, hopping and jumping drills using an agility ladder, for example) and core conditioning.
Think positively when it comes to your training. "You have to learn how to cope with the sensation of ‘running hard,' rather than thinking of it as pain, and how to stay strong in terms of mental endurance. Let's not call it boredom; that has a negative connotation," says Smith.
Break long runs into chunks to help you focus. Say you have a run that will take an hour and 15 minutes. Smith suggests thinking of it as three components: "In the first 15 minutes, your purpose is to warm up. The next two chunks are half an hour each. Think of the last part as 15 minutes at a sustained pace with a loose, easy run to the end." On long-distance runs, fuelling and hydrating can help break your run into chunks too.
Hill train to build strength. Rather than choosing a killer hill, Smith suggests running up a hill with a five to six percent grade and completing 90-second to two-minute repeats (running up and down), including a recovering interval, ideally on asoft surface such as grass to lessen the impact on your body.
Half-marathon (21K) training plan (16 weeks)
Week 1 of 16
Monday: 7K easy run
Wednesday: Strength training
Thursday: 7K easy run
Saturday: 9K easy run
For your variable run,* complete speed work, a tempo run or hill training. "Increase it to 60 minutes after 8 weeks of training," says Lea Amaral, cofounder of Energia Athletics in Toronto. Increase Thursday's run to 9K after Week 8. For your long run on Saturdays, add 1K each week up until Week 13. Cut your run down to 15K in Week 14, and 12K in Week 15. Your Monday runs should also get longer, says Amaral. Add 1K every other week, but taper to 9K and 7K in weeks 14 and 15 respectively.
Yuki Hayashi, age 38 (ran the Cincinnati Flying Pig 42K Marathon)
"I've tried to run many times in the past few years, but it never stuck. But something caught within me last year, and now I go nuts if I can't get out for at least two runs per week. I might never be a five-day-a-week runner or a ‘fast' marathoner, but the sense of accomplishment I got from completing the marathon is unmatched. It was one of the best days of my life, even if I couldn't walk for the rest of the afternoon."
XLTL high-efficiency top-loading washer and dryer, GE Image courtesy of GE Appliances
Image by: XLTL high-efficiency top-loading washer and dryer, GE<br>Image courtesy of GE Appliances
Author: Canadian Living
There's more to laundry these days than just sorting colours. Here's the latest buzz in fabric care.
1. Fabric softener can save you money
Under a microscope, cotton fibres aren't all that dissimilar from strands of human hair. What's more, they're both at their most vulnerable when wet, which is why we use conditioner on our hair after shampooing. In the laundry cycle, that conditioning role is fulfilled by fabric softener. More than just perfuming your clothes and making them softer to the touch, fabric softener lubricates fabrics at the fibre level, reducing the damaging effects of friction in both the washer and the dryer, ultimately extending the life of your go-to garments.
2. "High-efficiency" washers aren't a fad
If you've still got a traditional agitator-method washer, you're officially in the minority. According to Jennifer Schoenegge, a clothes-care product manager at GE, high-efficiency (HE) washing machines now outnumber conventional washers in North American households. This is great news from an environmental standpoint, as not only can HE washers do up to four basket loads in a single wash but they also use half the water of standard models.
3. Not all high-efficiency detergents are equal
High-efficiency washing machines use cooler water than traditional washing machines; as a result, they require different detergents than agitator-method washers. Unfortunately, Schoenegge says some detergents that market themselves as being suitable for use in HE machines are simply repackaged versions of original formulas and can result in degradation of garment fibres over time. Look for detergents branded "HE Turbo," which offer protection against damage caused by cold-water washes, and collapsible suds that break down over the course of the wash and rinse clean in a single cycle. It's also important to avoid under- or overdosing detergent by measuring it according to the manufacturer's guidelines.
4. Dirty laundry doesn't always look dirty
In fact, "70 percent of the soil on your clothes is invisible—but it's there," says Margarita Bahrikeeton, global research and development leader for P&G Fabric Care. The tricky thing with these invisible stains (which are largely caused by oils from your body) is they attract even more dirt from the filthy water sloshing around inside your washing machine. Over time, Bahrikeeton says this dirt can degrade the contrast in your clothes, casting a "grey veil" over the entire garment that affects our perception of the colours. Although there are new detergents on the market containing polymers that claim to stop dirt from redepositing during the wash cycle (Tide Pods, for instance), you can take matters into your own hands by regularly washing your washing machine itself.
Warm up in style this winter with this super soft—and luxurious—alpaca yarn wrap.
Cuddle up with the Banff Wrap – an extra soft wrap knit in a luxurious alpaca yarn. The wrap is knit with two strands of Eco Alpaca DK yarn held together, and the ombre effect is created simply by alternating the colours of the strands – a lot simpler than it sounds! The large finished wrap is the perfect size to keep you warm from indoors to outdoors, fall to winter.
The Banff Wrap is knit in three sections – each one with a different colour combination. When you run out of yarn for one colour combination, you switch to the next. The instructions clearly explain how to switch between colour sections, so you can smoothly transition and avoid mistakes. If you desire a smaller or larger wrap, simply subtract or add stitches when you cast on, but it is important to remember that your cast on must remain an odd number.
Materials: - 7 Skeins of Americo Eco Alpaca DK (100% Superfine Alpaca) 100g / 262 yards (240 m) - 7 mm (US10.75) 24-inch (60 cm) circular needles - Yarn needle
Contrast Colour AA Eco Alpaca DK in a dark colour 3 Skeins
Contrast Colour AB Eco Alpaca DK, one strand of colour A and one of B
Contrast Colour BB Eco Alpaca DK in a light colour 4 Skeins
Note about the yarn:Eco Alpaca DK is available through Americo Original online and at select yarn stores. You can substitute for other DK weight yarns in your stash. Remember that you will need 3 skeins of one colour, and 4 skeins of a second colour.
Measurements: One Size – 67 inches (170 cm) in length and 23.5 inches (60 cm) in width
Gauge: 13 stitches and 17 rows = 4 inches (10 cm) in garter stitch using 7 mm (US10.75) size needles or size needed to achieve gauge
K, k: knit
P, p: purl
CC: contrast colour
This pattern is knit using 2 strands of yarn at the same time.
Section 1: Colour AA
Using 2 strands of colour A held together, cast on 79 stitches
Purl 2 rows
Begin Seed Stitch Pattern:
R1: K2 *(p1, k1), repeat from * to last 3 stitches, p1, k2
Repeat row 1 until you have used up 2 full skeins of colour A.
*Note: As new colours are added, make sure that they are joined on the same side of the work in order for the stitches to look consistent on both sides.
Section 2: Colour AB
Add colour B to the 3rd skein of colour A and with 2 strands held together continue knitting until you have used up colour AB.
Section 3: Colour BB
Using two strands of colour B held together continue knitting in seed stitch pattern until you have enough yarn to complete the following:
Repeat row 1 once more
Knit 2 rows.
Cast off and weave in ends…and enjoy your beautiful new wrap!
Americo Original is a Canadian yarn company and online knitting shop that features a high-end selection of yarns, textiles, custom knitwear patterns and accessories. Only natural fibers, produced especially for us in the Andean highlands of South America are offered, including luxurious wools, llama, alpaca, organic and premium cottons, linen, silk and cashmere. Americo's one-of-a kind runway pieces and classic styles for the hand knitter are created in our design lab. Americo is based in Toronto, Canada and ships internationally from their online store: americo.ca/shop.
Empty shopping bags, broken chairs, stacks and stacks of magazines—when writer Christina Gonzales realized her mom might be a hoarder, she went to the experts to find out how she could help, and repaired their relationship in the process.
At my mother's apartment, there are a lot of unspoken rules. "Don't open the kitchen cabinets" is one of them. I've only ever used one cupboard, which is right above the sink and houses the sieve, a few large ceramic bowls and the few packs of ramen noodles that haven't yet gone bad. I try not to ask my mom what's in the rest of those cupboards, or why our pots and pans are piled beside the stove and our dishes never leave the drying rack. I brought up the subject once in aggravation when I moved back home two years ago to save money. "You're too much, Christina," she responded angrily. It instantly brought me back to my childhood.
When it all began
As a kid, I was close with my mother, despite her inability to let anything go. From the outside, our family looked normal, but when you opened the front door of our two-bedroom apartment, it was obvious something was different. There were rooms filled to the ceiling with souvenirs of our past: my first mattress from a twin-size bed I had outgrown years before, reusable shopping bags, pillows, suitcases, books, a lime-green swivel chair. My mom's dresser overflowed with so many accessories, half-used bottles of body lotion, old blush compacts and loose coins that you couldn't even see the wooden surface. A layer of dust covered everything, which meant she didn't use—or even touch—the stuff. I was humiliated that our home was so disorderly.
The clutter really began to accumulate when I was about 11 years old. My mom stopped inviting people to our home, and I stopped, too. My best friends in high school asked me why we'd never hang out at my place, and I did my best to dodge their questions. My frustration stemmed from jealousy (why couldn't my mom entertain the way other moms did?) and a fundamental difference in what we thought "home" should mean (I longed to live in a house filled with family and friends; she thought home should be a private retreat). I would cry, yell and plead with her to throw things away, until my teen years, when I started to distance myself emotionally from her. I knew that no matter what I said or did, I couldn't control my mother's hoarding, and it was easier to avoid her—and the subject of home—altogether.
When I moved back home at 28—I'd quit my day job to pursue a full-time freelance writing career, and my mom offered up my childhood bedroom as a way to save money—it didn't take long before we had our confrontation about the kitchen cupboards. But this time, I realized I didn't want the cycle to continue; the bitterness I'd carried with me for years had to cease in order for us to have a healthy relationship.
Understanding the problem
What I'd always found most challenging was that she couldn't see where I was coming from—she truly doesn't realize her belongings are piling up around her. Yet, she's unlike the people I've seen on the TLC show Hoarding: Buried Alive; she's physically healthy, she's about to retire from a successful career and she has an active social life. She's also been a giving, supportive and loving mother. So what's the deal? I approached several specialists to help give me insight into my mother's hoarding issue.
Dr. Peggy Richter, a psychiatrist and the director of the Frederick W. Thompson Anxiety Disorders Centre's Clinic for OCD and Related Disorders at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, says that, while their houses might not look like the ones on TV, an estimated two to five percent of Canadians suffer from compulsive hoarding disorder. Dr. Richter explains that hoarding is more than the inability to throw things out. "Rather, to be considered a clinical condition, it results in a significant accumulation that impacts the ability to use the space the way you would like or the way most people would," she says. "And people may try to minimize the impact. For example, maybe their kitchen is quite cluttered; they can still make breakfast, but they have piles in front of the oven, so they never use it anymore, though they claim they never did. Similarly, someone whose bed is too cluttered may claim that she prefers, and is more comfortable, sleeping on the couch."
Elaine Birchall, a social worker and hoarding behaviour and intervention specialist with clients in Ottawa and Toronto, says hoarders tend to save things for one of three main reasons: sentimental (this item represents my life and is part of me), intrinsic (this item is amazing and offers so many possibilities) or instrumental (I might need this someday). I think my mom is a sentimental hoarder. She once mentioned that her own mother discarded her childhood trophies and awards and that she wished she still had those things to help her reminisce. There's a certain glee she gets from pulling out an item that someone else would've thrown away long ago, like the cheerleading catalogue my now-40-year-old cousin was featured in when she was in high school in the '90s. "It's so nice. Maria was so pretty," she'd say.
Dr. Sheila Woody, a professor of psychology and psychology researcher at the University of British Columbia's Centre for Collaborative Research on Hoarding in Vancouver, shed some light on how to approach my mom's hoarding disorder respectfully and without judgment. "Making your mom's apartment a place you want to live is not an appropriate goal," says Dr. Woody, noting that people with hoarding disorders don't realize the impact of their mountains of possessions. I first needed to accept that this apartment would never become what I'd always perceived as the ideal home. There was one thing that I could change, though, and that was the usability of the space. "If you're trying to make it so that [your mom isn't] at risk of falling over when she's trying to reach something, or not at risk of setting the house on fire when she turns the stove on, that's a very reasonable goal," says Dr. Woody, who adds that it's also important for there to be adequate room to get out of the apartment in case of an emergency.
Finding common ground
To ensure that my mom's apartment was no longer a hazardous zone, I began to help her discard what Birchall calls the "easy wins": For some, these are nostalgia-free items (such as old toothbrushes and grimy shoes) and those that are unsanitary (like expired food); for others, they're items the person feels no extreme need to save. Birchall recommended I calmly ask my mom if we could relocate old things to make room for new items we'd actually use. I did it for the first time a few months ago, when I called her from the grocery store to ask if we had soy sauce. When my mom went and retrieved it, she told me that it was expired. "OK, I'll buy a new bottle, and you can ditch the old one," I responded. When I arrived home, it was sitting on the kitchen counter ready for disposal.
In my childhood, I would've taken the bottle down to the garbage chute that instant, a nonverbal signal that there was absolutely no reason to keep expired condiments. Now, I understand that getting rid of things causes her real distress. Instead of feeling exasperated and ashamed, all I felt this time was guilt. I realized that I'd been acting like a punishing drill sergeant, pushing my agenda onto my mother by barking at her to see things my way. And, according to Birchall, that's exactly the wrong approach. "Even when my patients want to hold on to genuine garbage, unless it's contaminated, I have to do my level best to make them see the reality of this," she says. "And even then, I don't just try to get someone to agree to let go of something; I try to understand what the importance of that item is to them."
So I didn't ask my mom when she planned on discarding the soy sauce; I knew it wasn't a sentimental item and that she was practical enough to understand it wasn't safe to consume. There was no fight, no power struggle, no "I'm right, and you're wrong." Rather, I gave her the space to decide when it was the right time—if there was a right time—to throw out the bottle. I tried my best to be patient, to have a stress-free conversation and to respect the value of my mom's belongings while holding firm to my boundaries within our shared space. It's a slow process, but it's effective. Showing compassion for my mom's feelings about her stuff makes it easier for her to let things go. When I push too much, we backtrack on any progress we've made. The day after our conversation, I walked into the kitchen and that old bottle of soy sauce was gone. It was a small step, but for me—and my mom—it was a breakthrough.
Social worker and hoarding specialist Elaine Birchall gives her best advice for helping a hoarder.
1. Complete a safety audit. Find the heat sources, such as electrical panels, fireplaces, hot water tanks, furnaces and stoves, and make sure there is a clearance of at least four feet around them, if space allows. The paths to those heat sources must also be free and clear in case of fire and should be at least 33 inches wide.
2. Create boundaries and limits, especially if you live in the same home as the hoarder. Build a positive co-tenant dynamic by defining who "owns" each room and what is allowed in each space. Common areas must be clear so that all tenants can use the space and have a social life.
3. Decide on permanent spaces. A permanent place is a storage area that makes sense for an item. For example, you'd never store canned goods under the bed—you'd put them in a kitchen cupboard or pantry. When choosing a permanent place, hold the item and close your eyes. Ask yourself, "Where is the first place I'd look for this?" That is where it should be.
4. Do your research. Rather than insisting that you know why the hoarder should part with an item, find an appropriate expert source. For example, if a hoarder wants to keep expired foods, go to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; the organization's website will explain why it's unsafe to keep around.
5. Show respect. Don't apply pressure. Work at the hoarder's pace and don't diminish his or her feelings. Try to put yourself in that person's shoes by doing a mental tally of 20 possessions you love and imagining how you might feel if a family member made you throw them away.
These supposedly healthy exercises could be hindering your fitness goals. Here's why you should ditch three common culprits for more helpful exercise habits.
You put in a lot of effort at the gym and want your hard work to pay off. But some exercise practices could actually be sabotaging your fitness goals. We spoke to fitness expert Brent Bishop about three common things people do to get fit, how they can backfire and what to do instead.
1. Sit-ups Many people who want flat stomachs and strong abs turn to sit-ups, but Bishop says most of us should eschew this abdominal exercise. "It's an exercise that puts you in excessive flexion, which most of us are already in all day while sitting at work," says Bishop. "Your hip flexors are already tight and short, so why tighten them and shorten them more? It puts a lot of strain on the discs over time."
And since the sit-up mainly engages the rectus abdominis (the top layer of abdominal muscles) and hip flexors, it doesn't help tighten or strengthen your core the way other exercises might.
Instead: Try planks. Variations of the plank activate your entire core, including your transversus abdominis (the innermost abdominal muscles), obliques and lower back. Not only will they help you chisel your waist, Bishop says planks promote proper posture, help alleviate back discomfort and minimize risk of injury down the line.
2. Boot camps Not all boot camps are bad, says Bishop, but there's a troubling trend in which these exercise programs urge large groups of people to do as many burpees, pushups or squats as they can, as fast as they can. "It's very competitive. If you can do them fast and do them correctly, that's great. But if you can't do them properly, you need to back off on the reps and tailor your form," says Bishop.
A more-is-better mentality makes injuries more likely because there is little focus on performing the exercises well, and the lack of emphasis on engaging muscles properly makes the moves less effective.
Instead: Focus on doing exercises slowly and properly. Once you can complete them through the full range of motion with perfect form, feel free to speed it up or add weights while maintaining effective posture throughout.
3. Monotonous cardio Many people who are focused on losing weight spend hours running each week or use the elliptical nearly every day because they think cardio is the best way to burn calories. "People who are putting in a lot of mileage are probably putting more stress on their joints than they need to," says Bishop. "If they're not doing strength training, not only are they not going to lose weight as effectively, but they're losing lean mass, too."
Instead: Replace about half of your cardio with strength training. "You're going to increase muscle a bit, so your metabolism is going to elevate and, over the long term, you're going to end up burning more calories," explains Bishop. "Not only that, but if you do high-intensity strength training, there's an after-effect in which your metabolism is elevated eight to 12 hours afterward, so you burn more calories after that workout."