A Running Start

Month One Of Track & Field Training (Sep ’16)

Shit just got real serious, real fast. Of course training for the Nationals would demand more of me. I expected that. But with a ten month lead time, I didn’t expect an immediate burst into full-fledged athlete mode. Ready or not (mostly ready), here I am preparing for the 2017 Ontario Masters Athletics season. Make no mistake: I’m no longer working out to stay fit. I’m training to win.


A few weeks ago, I was in a very different place. I didn’t see it then, but a medley of personal motivations was pointing me back to track. Summer vacation would soon wind down along with the best summer bromance ever. Bolt and De Grasse had won my heart and I was savouring the final days of Rio 2016 track and field coverage.

Photo: thestar.ca

For days, my Olympic fever ran high. Whenever that starter pistol blared, my inner Jamaican burst out. It was the same with every sprint. By the 50m mark, I’d risen up from the couch. And at 80 metres, with one knee pumping and one hand stabbing the air, I’d shout “Yes, Elaine!”, “Go, De Grasse!”, and “G’wan Usain!” Heck, even the men’s hammer throw got me cheering. Okay, so clearly, I still have a thing for the sport.

female-olympiansWatching the Olympics did more than inspire me to compete. It cemented the already shifting perception of my own body image. Heptathlete, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, swimmer, Simone Manuel and the teams of other female athletes – collectively they reminded me of what “fit” meant and looked like to me, long before I learned about bodybuilding lat spreads and side poses.

At the same time, the long summer days with my lovable six year old daughter, enjoyable as they were, were starting to wear on me. Of course I loved fishing in High Park (well, trying to anyway) and sharing chocolate sundaes. I even enjoyed the break from lifting and classes, but by the end of August, I was done with full-time mom life. I was ready for something to dig my achievement-driven heels into. Then, just as the new school year begun, I stumbled upon news that the 2017 Canadian Outdoor Masters Athletics Championships would be held in Toronto, and it was on.


I suspected that my colleague, Andrew, a personal trainer and former national-level basketball player, might be the perfect person to train me. I approached him, knowing his background was not in track and field, and asked if he could train me for the sprint events and shot put. (Not so far-fetched considering it was a trainer/ex-football player who led me to my figure pro card win.)

I could see it in Andrew’s folded lips and downward gaze. He wasn’t contemplating yes or no to training. His highly analytical wheels were already processing how he could apply his understanding of physiology and performance to this new sport as he worked with me over the next few months. Yes!

I knew it was something he had the time and inclination to dive into. And as a Gen-X’er like me, I knew he got it when I expressed upfront, “I’m an athlete. I want to train like an athlete. But I’m also a 40 year-old mom on a budget who’s not going to the Olympics”.
“I get it, we’re not twenty anymore.” He got it. At least, I think he did.


During our first two training sessions, we worked methodically through a functional movement assessment, one rep max, and aerobic testing. Then it was on.

supafitmam-track-trainingBy day three we were focused on correcting mechanics, building strength and increasing speed and velocity. What does that mean exactly? It means I was groaning through the discomfort of a 30-minute mobility warm up and panting through the sixty minutes of max strength lifts and treadmill sprints that followed!

Andrew was right there, coaching me through the final reps of a 140lb bench press, with a voice that boomed and turned every head in the gym. “C’mon Deb! Do it! I’m not touching the bar”, he thundered. I finished the rep, racked the bar, sprung up from the bench and met his palm in mine. I’d found my trainer!

Our weekly training schedule is fierce. By the end of our sessions I can barely think, let alone speak, but my sweat stains and smeared mascara say it all. I’m training like an athlete and I love it. And sometimes fear it. But mostly I love it. (That’s me loving it in the video post below).

But here’s the thing. I’m not an athlete; not, at least, in the sponsored, paid to play kind of way. I’m a wife and mother with a part-time job, new blog and a tight budget. I’ve spent $180 on my first three weeks of training and wonder how I can sustain this. My nutrition and supplementation will need to be on point to survive these workouts, and I wonder if I can be that disciplined again. I wonder if I can fully pursue training without sacrificing family priorities or a healthy frame of mind. And on top of all that, I’ve gotta deal with the increase in laundry and hair care that comes with a four-day training schedule (#thestruggleisreal).

But here’s the other thing. I am an athlete. I have a solid foundation, vision, drive, and talent. I have a trainer who believes in me and is ready to go the distance. I impress myself with every workout and am eager to see how far I can go. I’m ready to do this. I will finish with personal bests in the 100m, 200m and shot put events at the Canadian Masters Athletics Outdoor Championships in August 2017.

Andrew and I


What happens next? Continue to month two of training.

Ontario Masters Athletics is awesome! If you’re 30 years or older, you qualify. Learn more at OntarioMasters.ca

In awe of Olympians like I am? Read about the time I competed alongside Team Canada athletes in Living The (Canadian) Dream.


7 thoughts on “A Running Start

  1. Ardean Peters

    I feel inspired to start training again, even if only teach another killer aerobics class. Having a fitness background you never forget what it feels like to be at the top of your fitness gain, when you feel like you can do anything :)


  2. Lara

    I’m a big fan of both you and Andrew for a lot of the same reasons: Your drive, motivation, and willingness to embrace the pain for something greater.


  3. Gari

    I like what you’re doing and representing here… I hope it inspires many to either gain or regain the feel to improve and strengthen themselves both physically and emotionally! Gwan #Supafitmama


  4. Pingback: The First Hurdle – Supafitmama Toronto

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