Category Archives: Running

Sleep, stress, and injuries: is it all connected?

The last few months have been tough. Getting injured for the third time this year made me feel like a failure and it was difficult for me to get through. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, though, and this injury forced me to take a serious look at what was going on in my life and how it may have contributed to my injury.

A few major themes have been constantly coming up in my life over the last year and a half – constant stress, unrelenting eczema flare ups, and insomnia/disrupted sleep.

The lack of sleep and eczema flare ups stress me out, and stress, in turn affects my sleep and exacerbates my eczema. SUPER.

Stress is an ongoing theme in my life that I’ve got to learn to manage. In the meantime, I’m trying to tackle the smaller things and that is mainly my eczema and my sleep problems.

I’ve been seeing a naturopath to help me manage my eczema which I’ll probably write another post about in the future depending on how things go.

When Mike and I spent time in Switzerland last year, we unintentionally revolved our training schedule around sleep. If we had trouble sleeping the night before, we would sleep in and run whenever. Luckily it was during their winter as well, which meant that we didn’t have to worry about starting our run too late when it was the hottest part of the day. In fact, the later, the better as far as I was concerned.

Over the last year, I thought that it was unfortunate that I had trouble sleeping, but I never thought it could contribute to me getting a stress fracture. Trying to keep up with a certain level of training when I was barely sleeping was a pretty dumb thing for me to do. I should have known better.

So working on getting a better quality sleep is one of my top priorities right now. I feel like it will contribute to lowering my stress levels which will hopefully improve my ability to manage my eczema and stay uninjured. I really like this infographic below, from Casper, which is actually a mattress start up that I came across when I was doing usability research at work. A few customers I was interviewing for the company I work at actually cited Casper as having a very aesthetically pleasing website and a great business model.


The top takeaways for me from their infographic were:

Average pro-athletes get 10-12 hours of sleep, and the average amount of sleep adults need is 7-9.
I was averaging 5-6 most days and the majority of that was broken up into chunks.

A sleep environment that promotes restorative sleep includes a dark room, supportive mattress, and a cool temperature.
My insomnia started when we moved here last June. We were in the middle of a heat wave and none of the apartments seemed to have air conditioning. Air conditioning is a given in the majority of the apartments in Toronto, so I took having the ability to control a room’s temperature for granted. We DID buy a portable A/C this year, but it was too small and it didn’t always reach our bedroom. I spent so many nights tossing and turning with my thoughts and lying in a pool of sweat.

Quick naps are important.
I’m always hesitant to take naps. They feel so luxurious in the moment, but I’m always afraid they’ll impact my ability to sleep later that night. But maybe it’s worth taking a few naps here and there, especially on weekends, when I’m eventually running longer again.

A few other things I’m doing now to help promote sleep:

Taking magnesium.
I started seeing a naturopath to help me with my skin, but she’s also helping me address my insomnia. Every night, I’m taking some magnesium to help me fall asleep and stay asleep. In all honesty, it’s not working as well as I had hoped and I’m still waking up in the middle of the night.

Working on my anxiety/stress.
I think one of the biggest things I need to address is the amount of anxiety and stress I carry around. I’m trying to meditate, take a few breaths every hour on the hour (that has also been difficult, but it’s a work in progress), and choosing more relaxing and energizing exercise like yoga over high intensity / high impact exercise like running.

Ever since I started taking magnesium and the weather has been cooling down for the fall, I’ve been having an easier time falling asleep. Staying asleep is still a work in progress, but one step at a time.

To 8-10 hours of sleep and staying injury free for 2017!



Europe 2015 Diary Entry VII – Bristol, England

One year later, I’m finally finding the time to document my memories of our trip. I’m calling them diary entries, because they’re mostly thought dumps to recall as many details as possible – mostly for memory sake. I’m already forgetting little details about our trip, which is sad as it was really a once in a lifetime experience that I want to remember for the rest of my life. So these posts will be long and full of pictures. Consider yourself warned. 🙂

If I had to sum up my main memories of Bristol, it would be as follows: Clifton Suspension Bridge, jacket potatoes, polenta cake slices, and Wetherspoons.

First sighting of the iconic red telephone booth. Had to snap a photo, obviously.

Bristol is another city that I would have never thought to visit if it hadn’t been for Mike. Back in 2005/2006, he lived and worked in Bristol for about a year (basically living my dream, NBD) and wanted to show me around. Throughout the years, he had told me a few stories of his “Bristol days” and I was looking forward to putting pictures to memories.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge is a bit of a landmark in Bristol.

Unfortunately, the AirBnb that we stayed at was one of our least favourites of our trip. The room itself was actually quite cosy, and the bathroom was really modern and clean, but the host controlled the temperature and during the day, opted to turn it completely off. Keep in mind that we were here in the middle of the winter. While not as cold as Canada, the buildings are not insulated at all. At night, they turned on the heat so we were warm and content, but during the day, when it was turned off, it was colder to be indoors than outdoors. This was problematic because Mike was sick with a cold at the time. Obviously not planned, but we would have preferred to have the option to stay inside and take it easy until he was feeling better. In hindsight, it was probably a blessing because it forced us to wander around.

Cute and cosy Airbnb room – at night.

We spent 3 nights and four days in Bristol.

There’s that Clifton Suspension Bridge again. Photo quality not great, but it was so pretty at night when lit up.

Not surprisingly, the first thing we did after we checked into our AirBnb was go for a run. Mike booked our accommodation in Clifton because that was the area he used to live in. The first place he took me to was the Clifton Suspension Bridge because he knew I’d like it. I do love bridges!

After our run, we went in search of food and wound up at a pub. Since it was a Sunday, I saw that the bar was advertising a roast as one of their meal options. Now keep in mind, that I had no idea what a “roast” was. I know what a roast chicken is, but using a “roast” as a noun to include multiple items was confusing to me. Naturally, I began to quiz the bartender there about what a roast dinner was. I didn’t really get a satisfactory answer, so it took me a while to really grasp the concept of a “Sunday Roast”. I THINK a Sunday Roast is equivalent to a Sunday Dinner. Items on the menu can change but it’s a meal eaten at dinner time on a Sunday. Does that make sense?

In any case, after all that quizzing, I glanced at the menu and something else caught my eye – jacket potatoes. I mean, really? A baked potato served as a main, rather than as a side dish?!? Was I in heaven?

I realize this picture is not the greatest quality, but I had to include it because this meal was pivotal in creating a long lasting obsession with jacket potatoes. This baked potato was topped with a delicious, mild vegetable curry.

I just LOVE baked potatoes, but in Canada, they’re typically topped with sour cream, loads of cheese, and other things I’m not into like bacon bits. And if you order them as a meal, they will not be satisfying enough on its own. I had mine with a lovely vegetable curry and a side salad. I tend to be obsessive about things I like, and I began searching for jacket potatoes at every restaurant in every British city we visited after that. #adulting

At times, I felt like I was walking around my old uni campus.

Bristol reminded me a lot of Guelph, the city I lived in during my university days. It was small, cosy, and full of students. We spent most of our days trying out new cafes so that we could get work done during the day.

Earl grey tea with hazelnut milk? The best.

One of my favourite cafes, Mockingbird, was a block away from our AirBnb. They had ginger shots (which we would order to try to fight the cold germs), great coffee and great tea. One day I ordered Earl Grey tea and had it served with hazelnut milk. It was amazing! I’m always looking for trends in cafes when I go to new cities, and a big one here were polenta cake slices. I’m obsessed with cornbread, so I was quite inspired to try as many different versions as possible. You know, for research purposes…

Polenta cake slices! A reminder to myself that I must recreate these at home.

Two last major items on our agenda were to walk by Mike’s old apartment and to have a cheap Tuesday evening meal at Wetherspoon’s for nostalgic reasons.

It’s crazy to imagine what his life was like back then. Fun fact: we were both in the UK around the same time, but obviously didn’t know each other then. And I was travelling and playing tourist, while he was a resident. And I was in London and he was in Bristol, but you get the point!!!

Current (well, early 2015) photo of his old residence.

Apparently his building used to be pink on the outside. I’ll try to get him to send me a photo some day to compare.

Old photo of his residence (dark pink building), taken around 2005-2006.

Mike dug up this photo of the same place from back when he lived there. Loved the dark pink. 😉 And all the cars parking in whichever direction they feel like.

Regarding Wetherspoon’s, Mike warned me that the food was far from gourmet, but he had so many memories of eating there on a semi-regular basis because they had a “Tuesday Steak Club” meal that included steak, chips, peas and a beer for relatively little money. He was pretty excited to share this experience with me so of course we went. 🙂

Wetherspoons Tuesday Steak Club: Steak, chips, peas and one mushroom with a pint of beer for less than £8.
I quite liked the meal!

We also visited his old work area and had drinks at a nearby pub that he used to frequent often.

Near the Bristol harbour, where Mike used to work. Pretty snazzy looking if you ask me!

Overall, I really enjoyed Bristol. Probably because I had my own personal tour guide and it was really fun to imagine what life was like for Mike.

img_0104It felt very liveable with a nice, low key atmosphere. My kind of place! I love any city that is built around or near a body of water as well. I imagine it would have been even more lively in the summer, so I’d love to go back and experience it then some day.


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