An Ode to my Kahtoola Microspikes

Nearing the top of the BCMC a few weeks ago when we had our big dump...

Nearing the top of the BCMC a few weeks ago when we had our big dump…
Annd winter is no longer coming.
Annd winter is no longer coming.

So as I hiked up the BCMC (the awesome and much less famous sister to the Grouse Grind) this past week, I composed an ode to my Kahtoola MICROspikes… my latest winter trail gear acquisition. I freaking love them.

With this being such a ridiculously warm winter and all, I’ve been consistently hiking up the bcmc at least 2-3 times a week, and I’ve been impressed to no end with their versatility and reliability (both key considerations for me with every new piece of trail gear I buy). I’m happy to say that my research paid off (thank you, MEC user reviews), and spending the extra $20 on these versus other comparable products was money well spent.

Knowing that I don’t hit the snowline until three quarters of the way up the BCMC, I just throw my spikes in my running pack and off I go. When I finally hit the beginning of the icy sections I pull over and slap them on top of my trail runners, and instantly become invincible. Seriously. 4×4 for the feet. These things may not be the best option for you if you spend your time navigating slippery concrete city sidewalks, but get them onto snowy or icy trails and slopes and they are the best thing ever. My love for them has been cemented in recent weeks by the fact that when I get to the top of the BCMC, I can carry straight on to the Snowshoe Grind and they perform better than any snowshoes I’ve seen slipping around there recently. I think the fact that the snow has been so hard packed – yay West Coast winter- makes a big difference (you kind of need to have snow for snowshoes), but all I know is that I’ve been able to go tearing up to the top of the snowshoe grind in them, and then run back down at breakneck speed, with complete confidence in these babies’ ability to stop on a dime. Annnnd I don’t have to haul snowshoes up the BCMC to play in the snow.

Dam mountain- ahh.
Dam mountain- ahh.

Anything that means I can get outside and do a little bit more, and be a little bit faster than I was before, makes me pretty darn happy.
I’m always looking for new ideas… Do you have any favourite pieces of gear that make your seasonal running easier?

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Measuring Training by the Hour(s)

So this being the inaugural post of my new blog, I feel like I should share one of my resolutions for this year.

As I mentioned in my little “about me” section, I have only taken up running seriously in the past year, and trail running in the last 8 months. I’m a total rookie in this world still! However, It is highly addictive. With 3 50km races and 1 50 miler on the calendar for this year, I’d say there’s no hope for me now. 😉

Seek the peak, 2013  My very first trail race series and a fav course!
Seek the peak, 2013
My very first trail race series and a fav course!

I have found myself thinking recently: “Well if I can go this far with the training I’m doing now, what happens if I take it up a notch or two??” So. This is my goal for 2014. Take it up a notch or two. And maybe keep track of my progress along the way… both as an accountability measure, and as a means of determining what is working for me and what isn’t.

I started January with this intention, and have been faithfully tracking my kilometers on a paper calendar that I hang above my desk at work. However, I ran into a couple of problems pretty quickly. First off, it is hard to accurately track km’s when you don’t own anything more sophisticated than a Nike app on an iphone. Pretty sure the GPS on my city-slicker sidekick is constantly “lost” whenever I go anywhere near a trail.

Secondly, I’ve been doing more hiking than running in the past few weeks, trying to get lots of low impact cardio in and rehab some lingering knee pain that refuses to go away. This is all fine and dandy… except that writing 3.5km down as my mileage for the day, despite doing a solid hour’s worth of exertion up the side of Grouse Mountain, doesn’t quite feel like it captures my training fully.

As I thought about it more, tracking my kilometers really didn’t seem to make the most sense. After all, anyone who has run trails knows that 8km on trails is a wayyy different story (and can take twice as long and be twice as painful!) as running that same distance on the road (plus any elevation gain/loss, slippery single track routes and potential creek crossings one might easily encounter during that distance).

I know that everyone has a different method of tracking their training, and if I had the budget capacity to get an accurate read on my mileage (hello, $700 unattainable Suunto watches!), I might just stick with tracking my km’s. However, since I made the switch to logging hours several weeks ago (although I still like to make a note of my mileage if I have that data available), I feel that this is a better reflection of where I am at with my fitness levels. My goal right now is endurance running, which essentially boils down to how much time I spend on my feet preparing for the 6-10+ hours it might take me to finish a race course. The km’s will naturally happen as the hours logged on the trails increase. At least that’s the plan, stan!