Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Should I Exercise In This Wildfire Smoke??



Are you wondering if it is safe to exercise with so much smoke in the air from forest fires around British Columbia?  You are not alone!

Note: I have not personally reviewed the literature in depth in this area, but I am happy to provide my opinion and share some resources with you on this topic, to help you come to your own personal conclusion on the risk/reward/consequence equation for exercise in smoke.

At bit of background on my experience:  I worked for five years as a forest fire fighter with the BC Forest Service Rapattack crew where we quite literally ate smoke and ash while exercising at moderate to high intensities day in and day out for months on end.   At this level of exposure I did experience some short term negative effects including occasional coughing and black snot (and it took at least 4 tries to wash the smoke out of my hair after every fire lol;) But that was the extent of it for me and I did not experience any lasting negative effects. I do not, however, have any pre-existing pulmonary medical conditions and I am only an experiment of one. I am not aware of any long term studies on the effects of smoke/ash exposure for wild fire fighters so I cannot speak for the longer term effects. I like to think my lungs are pretty good, however;)

I describe my personal situation just to give you the extreme end of exposure for a healthy set of lungs. I do believe that the risks of exercise in the level of smoke we are experiencing on the Coast is very very low for individuals without any pre-existing conditions (asthma, pulmonary disease, pregnancy etc). There is, however, risk in everything. Some research that I have seen does support the benefits of exercise, outweighing the risks of air polution for low levels of particulate/polution (I have pasted a link to this Smithsonianmag article below). However, this risk/reward calculation is very individual and you must make the best decision for yourself based on the conditions and your assessment.

The particulate matter in the air we are exposed to in BC at the moment ranges, depending on how close you live to the big fires, the direction of the wind and other factors. There are two main scales used here to determine the 'air quality' and 'risk' of exposure here in BC.

1. Air Quality Health Index 1-10: see the bccdc PDF link below for recommendations at various air quality levels for 'at risk' vs 'health' individuals and then check this link online to see how your community rates to help you decide.

2. Particulate Matter Score PM 2.5 0-100 with targets for BC pollution less than 25
**From WorkSafeBC:
What are the riks of smoke exposure?
Breathing in smoke can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.It can also cause headaches and worsening of allergies. In healthy workers exposed to smoke for short periods of time, symptoms are likely to be temporary and will resolve when the smoke clears.

Who is at greatest risk?
Individuals with lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — as well as workers with other chronic diseases, pregnant women, and older adults — are likely to experience more serious or acute symptoms. These symptoms can include shortness of breath, persistent coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and increased mucous production.

Again, there are risk in all that we do and it is up to each individual to assess and determine their own level of exposure to risks. I hope this information helps you with your decisions! Safey first, then have fun!
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/…/you-can-exercise-outdoors-…/
http://www.bccdc.ca/…/BC%20Health%20Wildfire%20Smoke%20Resp…
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/…/read…/find-stations-map-PM25.html

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Solo Camping Safety Tips

Hi friends!  Please read entire post and share with your friends who solo adventure!

✨S O L O✨
There is magic in solo adventure.   Peace, presence and free flowing introspection.  I have solved nearly all of my life problems on a long solo walk or jog about in the wild.  Peace lives on these solo journeys, for me.  Sometimes we want to be in solitude and other times we just cant find a buddy to join us, but either way, solo adventure is a big part of life for many of us.  As you read in my recent post, last week I had a close call with violence while camping in the Hampton campground in Manning Park and although it was a terrifying experience, I also see it as a gift.  This close call is a chance to prevent something worse from happening to us and others in the future and an opportunity to learn and share.  I am a very safety conscious adventurer and as a rule I go above and beyond managing risk and putting 'safety first!'.  But I was caught off guard by the sense of security I felt camping in a well established Provincial Park.  I got a serious reminder to keep personal safety at the top of the list in all scenarios.  I want to share the solo camping safety tips that I usually take and a few more that I have since added to my toolbox.  Please feel free to add any that I have missed or that you use as we can all learn from each other.  These apply for all solo adventurers but also small groups in certain situations as we were targeted even in a pair.  There are risks in all walks of life and we can only do our best to manage them.  Put your safety first and then you can relax and have fun!  
🌲🌲🌲
•Carry personal protective equipment with you: Bear spray, knife, whistle and communication in an easy to reach spot.  Carry an inReach or other satellite communication device where there is no cell coverage. Keep your car key/panic alarm on your person when near your car and others are in the area.  Carry a personal alarm (screamer) on your person when away from your car.
•Camp in areas with other campers wherever possible.  Get to know your neighbours. Sleep in your car if you are even remotely uncomfortable.  Do not ever wear earplugs while sleeping when camping.
•Contact the campground in advance to find out if there is an onsite attendant, security or others camping in the facility.  Do not assume.
•Never assist a stranger in the night or in a secluded area (a call for help, broken down vehicle, hitchhiker etc).  Protect yourself first, go for help and send it back.
•Make a scene/noise if you are even remotely concerned about your safety- to alert others that may be in the area.  Panic alarm on your car key, screaming, whistle, loud crazy voice, bright light etc. Resist the urge to freeze!  
I also believe learning self defence is an important and very empowering tool to add to your toolbox if you don't already know how to fight.  
Always let someone know your plans and update them if you change them, and set up a regular check in (once a day if possible) if you can.
🦄🦄🦄
Remember...

Believe in the goodness of humans, live free, run wild, do not live in fear...but always put your safety first.  Hugs and happy trails, friends!  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Canada's Toughest Mudder 2017: My First OCR Experience

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling
I did it!  Post 8 hour, 50k TM, after being awake for 28 hours lol

Last weekend I got a little dirty.  And wet.  And cold.  And scared.  And tired.  And invigorated.  And  giddy.  And humbled.  And...maybe even hooked on a new sport?  Oh boy.  Why oh why do I have to love crazy?  At least I know I'm not the only one.  I may have just found my tribe;)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Top 3 Reasons Endurance Racers Fail to Cross the Finish Line and How to Avoid Them!



The more mistakes we make in a race, the more we learn...but that is a hard way to learn!  It is much more enjoyable to learn from the mistakes of others;).  After two decades of endurance racing, I have seen (and made) nearly every mistake in the book.  And through all of them, the same 3 issues float to the top year after year in all disciplines of endurance racing.  

The human body is an amazing machine.  With a strong driver at the wheel (mental strength-another topic!), it will literally keep moving forward for an infinite length of time so long as we support it optimally.  So, what do we need to do to achieve relentless forward progress?  Read on to learn the top 3 reasons racers fail to cross the finish line in endurance events and my tips to help you avoid them!  *Note: These tips apply to any endurance event- not just races- such as big day hikes, paddling adventures or any other event lasting more than 2 hours.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Kiss Your Fears Goodbye


Ohhhhh Myyyyy Gaaaaaawd!  Along for the ride with Jump Master, Daryl of Pacific AirSports in Campbell River.


This weekend, I kissed one of my biggest fears goodbye.  Skydiving.  It was one of the scariest and most amazing kisses of my life;).   Watch my video at the end of this post!

"Nope. Never, ever, ever.  Not even going to consider it.  Don't even ask me.  I. Will. Never. Skydive."

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Cumby 23k Race Report

This is going to be a quick and dirty race report (for real!)- because the sun is shining and there are more adventures to be had!
And we're off!  Great shot of the 23k race start from Kathy Campbell

The Cumby 23k Trail Run

http://thecumby.ca

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Dream Cookies


Finally...after years of licking spoons and testing cookies I have created the ultimate...the perfect...the most amazing...the 'Dream Cookie'.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Zion 50K 2017 Race Report


"She believed she could.  So she did."

It is hard to believe that a year has passed since I was last in the desert, to run 50k. And yet, so much has happened this past year that the Grand Canyon Ultra feels like an eternity away. A year ago, I was just beginning to recover from my crash and whiplash and the timing just wasn’t right for a 50k run. I spontaneously combusted and dropped at the first aid station after running only 5kms and then limping on one leg another 15kms, to get myself out. First time for everything, including a DNF.

Friday, March 17, 2017

How To Become An Efficient (and fast) Runner




Whether it is your first 10k, faster 21k or an ultra adventure, the key to your success in endurance training and racing is not simply adding more miles.  Nope.  The key, to moving faster and further without as much fatigue is training your body to become:

ef·fi·cient
əˈfiSHənt/
adjective
adjective: efficient
(especially of a system or machine) achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.

Friday, March 3, 2017

How To Transform Your Body



Are you ready to roll?
You have body composition goals.  I am here to help.  Step 1: Education.  Step 2: Action.  Step 3: Patience.  Let's get to work on Step 1...
 

Gaining Muscle

Gaining muscle takes work. In order to build muscle, the body needs an overload stimulus, sufficient calories, optimal protein and carbohydrate macro ratios, nutrient timing and adequate recovery. Gaining muscle not only increases muscle tone and strength, but also improves metabolism so that we are burning a higher amount of calories every minute of the day. Strength training itself also burns a great amount of calories and results in a significant ‘after burn’ of increased metabolism for the hours following a training session. This combined increase in metabolic rate results in an improved body composition (as more fat is lost). If you want to lose fat- don’t underestimate the power of pushing hard in the gym- cardio alone is NOT the best way to do it. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Favourite Winter Gear


I just got home from a long, chilly, hard, sweaty, steep, snowy ultra training run and dropped my kit on the floor in the foyer.  Thump.  'I wonder how much my pack weighs?', I think.  I can't wait until I am running free of the load and the layers and all of the gadgets in my upcoming race in the desert.  But, I sure am grateful for all of the gear I have that keeps me happy and comfortable during winter training!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Weight Management: How to Create Your Nutrition Budget




Imagine for a moment, the feeling of running with a 20 pound backpack.  Then imagine, you slip the pack off and run free from the extra load.  Can you feel the lightness?  The ease and freedom of movement?  I'll bet you can.

This is the same sensation of running with or without an extra 10, 20, 30 or more pounds of body weight to carry with you.  Increased body mass, specifically fat, as it is 'non-functional weight',  increases the workload of locomotion.  It is harder for the muscles to propel you forward, harder for the blood to circulate to greater areas and harder for the body to thermoregulate during exercise when you are carrying a significant amount of extra weight.  All of this increased effort, results in a higher energy and oxygen requirement and the result is a feeling of greater fatigue at any given pace (movement is harder).  This is most evident during running, as there are no toys to assist in forward motion (skii's, boat, bike etc) but is still noticible in all activities.  Those extra 20 pounds above a healthy body weight increase your effort while decreasing your pace...but...I'm sure you already knew that;) 

So how to lose those 20 pounds?  More on that in a moment.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Training Principles: Maintenance


"You can do anything, but not everything." 
- David Allen
 

You know I believe you can do anything. I really do. Dream big! Shoot for the stars! Rock your goals and claim your vision!


You just can't do everything, at once. My friend, athlete and Journey Coach, Sarah Erikkson says this ALL the time. And I love it!


Enter the Maintenance Principle.

There are many different areas that we want to improve through conditioning: endurance, strength, speed, power and everything in between. But, we cannot improve them all at once. If we try and fill our weeks with everything, then we will not allow for adequate time/volume, to create optimal improvement in any of the areas. A professional, periodized training plan follows the principle of Periodization, which includes different phases of training that allow the athlete to focus on specific components of fitness, while maintaining others and not losing gains in the process.
How? Read on!



Friday, January 27, 2017

Training Principles: Overtraining



You have been rocking your workouts and adding extra training sessions to your week, just because you are feeling so damn great!  You almost feel invincible!  Now is the time to find out what you are capable of and push even further, harder and faster, right?

You have been doing all of your training sessions but you felt slower on your last couple of runs/rides.  Easy pace didn't feel easy and your heart rate is too high.  You couldn't get your speed up to target pace during your last couple of interval sessions.  You are training so hard but your performance is stale or getting worse.  Now is the time to push further, harder and faster, right?

You are beyond stressed out at work and home life is just as crazy right now.  You can't get to bed before midnight but you still have to get up early and do it all again tomorrow. You feel like you are burning the candle at both ends and man, now your throat is a bit sore. You missed your key workouts last week because of 'life' and exhaustion.  Now is the time to make up those workouts and push yourself to squeeze even more in, right?

WRONG!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Training Principles: Overload




 Are you following the same program in the gym and lifting the same weights that you were last year, or the year before last (or not doing any strength training at all??) and wondering why you don't seem to get any stronger?  Or, have you been running the same pace, the same route and following the same running schedule all year, or for many years and wonder why you aren't getting any faster?  Well, folks, I'm here to give you a friendly reminder that the same old just ain't gonna work;).  Results take focus, effort and overload balanced with optimal recovery (and nutrition) and you need a progressive training plan for that.

If you aren't progressing, you are maintaining or regressing.  It's as simple as that. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Minds Eye: 2016 Reflections

9 amazing moments from my 2016.  L-R from top left:  Castlecraig Loop, Comox Lake Bluffs, Brianna at Run BC on the Iceline Trail,  Comox Lake bluffs, again the bluffs (one of my sanctuaries),  Mt. Cokely summit, Landslide Lake, My back 40, Summit of the Golden Hinde, highest point on Vancouver Island.  The worlds most beautiful playground right in my backyard :)