Run More Efficiently… Run Faster & Injury-Free

Some of us have been participants or spectators in a running event or at least have seen people running down the street.  Have you noticed how some runners “make it look easy” and run so relaxed, while others make it look so taxing and difficult?  Running efficiently involves more than just putting one foot in front of the other – there is actually a lot that can be done for most of us to increase our efficiency, meaning we spend less energy working at a particular speed, and put less stress on muscles, tendons and joints.  Let’s spend some time now looking at what makes up the running stride and then go over a few key components of running mechanics that may help you get faster just by making a few changes to what your body is doing while you are running.

Cindy runningA complete running gait cycle includes both a stance phase and swing phase.  In walking there is part of the gait cycle called the double stance phase, where both feet are on the ground, but running should not include this.  For most of us who run we also have a double float period when both feet are off the ground – and this time period increases the faster we run.

The stance phase of running is that part of the gait cycle where the foot is touching the ground.  It is the first phase of the run gait cycle.  This is the time when your foot and leg is bearing your body weight – from foot contact to toe off.  It accounts for approximately 40 percent of the run gait cycle, as compared to 60 percent in the walking gait cycle.  The less time we have our foot on the ground, the more time we are moving forward, and the less time we have for poor body mechanics under weight bearing situations to happen and lead to overuse injuries.  The first part of the stance phase is called initial contact, and this is when your foot lands on the ground.  This is important because it is also the cushioning or shock absorbing phases, where your foot pronates at the subtalar joint, your knee is slightly bent and the lower leg goes through some internal rotation in order to reduce stress forces of impact.  The second part is called midstance.  Midstance is when your body weight is passing over the foot.  The other leg is in swing phase at this point and all the body weight now passes over a single leg.   At this point a normal foot should no longer be pronating – instead, the foot and lower leg should be strong and stable.  The third part of the stance phase is called propulsion.  This is from the time the heel lifts off the ground until the toes leave the ground.  A common mistake that beginner runners make is leaning too far forward during this toe off.  I do want you to have a slight forward lean, as we will discuss later on, but if you lean TOO far forward that isn’t good either.  Stay tall, chest proud, with a slight forward lean from the ankles.  

The swing phase of the running stride begins when the toe comes off the ground and ends just before your foot contacts the ground again.  This accounts for approximately sixty percent of the running stride, as compared to forty percent of the walking gait cycle.  There is no weight bearing through the joints and muscles at this point.  Therefore it is less relevant for injury prevention, however it is very relevant when it comes to efficiency.

Now, let’s review some key components of the running stride that can help you become a more efficient – and therefore faster – runner:Cindy and sophie running

  1. Whole body position – As mentioned previously, it is possible to lean too far forward during the propulsion phase, creating more work for the muscles in the back of the legs.  You should be running with a slight forward lean from the ankles, similar to a nice relaxed posture that if you weren’t moving anywhere and you stood in that posture, you would start to “fall forward”.  Be careful not to lean forward at the waist.  Maintain a strong core and proud chest.  Often I see people standing too straight, or even extended backwards somewhat.  That means they have to spend much more energy “dragging” their body forward, and they then have to “reach” forward with the leg and end up heel striking with more impact.
  2. Cadence/stride rate – A run cadence of 90 strides per minute should be our goal, regardless of how fast you are going.  It is harder to do this when you are going slow – and if you are REALLY do a very slow recovery run, if it’s a little below 90 strides per minute that is okay.  But for zone 2 aerobic runs and above, get your cadence up to 90 or a little high.  Just getting your stride rate up with set you up to achieve a good foot strike, less risk of injury (less time for your lower leg and foot to be going through a single stance phase means less time for over pronation, over rotations, and more).  It will also give you an overall significant increase in efficiency.
  3. Foot strike – There is a lot of information out there about heel strike, midfoot stride, toe running, and you could find some information to debate any of them as being good or bad.  Most runners do run with at least some heel strike even if they think they do not, especially as they fatigue.  What you want to avoid is really reaching forward and hammering the heel down into the ground, which should be solved by running with the slight forward lean and the high running cadence because there is neither time nor range of motion to reach too far forward with those two things happening.  “Midfoot” running should in theory end up with less impact force, however be careful that that doesn’t end up having you run on your toes, which is often ends up for many athletes trying to do this, which puts more pressure on the plantar fascia, calf muscles, and achilles tendon.  For many of us, a true midfoot strike will feel like a flat foot strike.

4. Arm position – Arms should be held high so that your hands are resting just under or beside your chest.  You might remember from high school physics that a shorter level takes less energy to move – which is what we are striving for here.  What is also important here is that arms should be moving forward and backwards rather than across the midline.  The elbows driving backward will help to drive the body forward.  In fact, later on in a run or a race when you feel your body fatigue and are having trouble keeping the stride rate up, try focussing on speeding up the arm swing instead and the legs will follow.

5. Leg position on swing phase – This follows along with what I mentioned above regarding arm position.   A shorter leaver takes less energy to move.  That means, the more knee flexion you have as you swing your leg forward and drive forward with the hip, the less energy it will take in the hips to accomplish this.  Generally, the lower leg should be parallel to the ground during swing phase.  Many runners do not do this and have their leg much too and too close to the ground at this point.

6. Vertical motion – Be careful not to start bouncing up and down as you start to adopt some of the things you have learned in this blog post.  This often happens at first when you start to increase your run cadence.  Be aware of it so it doesn’t happen.  Try thinking of yourself running under a low glass ceiling, so your head has to stay even so you do not break the glass!

7. General relaxation – Relax!  Extra tension means extra energy expenditure.  Think “make it look easy” during your runs, even they feel hard!  Relax the muscles in your upper back, shoulders, neck and face.  Relax your ankles and feet.  Relax anything that isn’t helping you run stronger or faster!

Efficient running is more than just putting one foot in front of the other.  Strides, specific running drills, as well as focussing on one element of your running stride at a time is worthwhile.  Remember, great efficiency means faster running at the same effort – and also reduces your risk of injury!  Happy running!



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Working from Home with a Headache or Back Pain?

Have you gone from working in your office with an ergonomic desk set up to working at home in a make-shift office during this COVID-19 pandemic?  Your workstation set-up may be at least partially to blame for the headache or back pain that you may have started experiencing.

Here are some things to consider to try and optimize your at-home workstation to minimize the stress on your body.. and thereby reduce your risks of getting headache or back pain.

desk set up

  1. Feet should be flat on the floor.  Use a stool under your feet if necessary in order to accomplish this.
  2. Knee’s bent 90 degrees and in a relaxed position
  3. Hips bent 90 degrees with thighs parallel to the ground
  4. Maintain contact between back and the seat and your back.  Adjust lumbar support so it supports the lower back.
  5. Arm support so the elbows can sit at 90 degrees and close to the body.  If this cannot be accomplished, remove or lower the arm rests from the chair.
  6. Wrists neutral and fingers relaxed
  7. Head in neutral position with chin parallel to the ground
  8. Relaxed shoulders
  9. Eyes should look straight forward to the top of the monitor (top of the monitor should be at eye level)
  10. Monitor should be at least an arms length away from your eyes (consider 18-24 inches)

Also consider glares on the screen.  You may opt to decrease the brightness of the screen and adjust any room lighting to minimize glare in order to further decrease physical stress.

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How to Deal With An Achilles Problem Without your Therapist!

These days, due to COVID-19, Chiropractic Clinics in Ontario are not seeing in-person patients unless it’s an acute/emergency situation.  That means that many of you who are out there experiencing pains that are upsetting your own life, activity and function are not able to get the treatment that you need to make it go away.  So let’s start with a lesson on Achilles Tendinitis and how you can work on it at home in order to help yourself while your therapist is unavailable.

What is your Achilles Tendon?
The achilles tendon is a very common injury in runners.  Most of the force generated from your toe off during your run stride is transmitted by the achilles.  This force can be up to 3 times your body weight and increases the faster you run.  

The achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body.  It is a thick fibrous band of tissue that attaches your calf muscles to your heel.
It is responsible for plantar flexion of the foot (i.e. pointing your toe towards the floor, standing up on tip-toes, toeing off during walking and running)

What is Achilles Tendinitis?

Achilles tendinitis is when the achilles tendon becomes inflamed and irritated (note that there is a difference between tendinitis and achilles rupture.  Rupture is a sudden and severe pain at the heel / achilles area and this requires immediate medical

attention).  It can become hard and thickened with a bone spur at its heel insertion if it becomes chronic.  Insertional achilles tendinitis is when the damage is at the point where the tendon attaches to the heel bone and non-insertional achilles tendinitis is when the damage is in the middle fibres of the tendon.  Insertional happens throughout all age categories and non-insertional is most common in young active people.

If you have Achilles Tendinitis you may feel pain when you’re walking and/or running during toe-off, pain at the achilles tendon when doing a heel raise, tenderness to touch the tendon, warmth or swelling in the tendon area, increased pain or stiffness in the morning.

Risk Factors:

For runners, the risk of achilles tendinitis goes up for those doing a lot of speed training, hill running or running with a forefoot stride type gait.

Cindy runningSome other things that can increase your chances of getting achilles tendinitis include:

  • Starting a new sport
  • Increasing duration and intensity of a sport too quickly
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Poor ankle range of motion
  • Improper footwear
  • Bone spur at the heel
  • Flat feet (pes planus)
  • Wearing high heel shoes

Self Care: 

There are some things you can do to help yourself deal with and get over Achilles Tendinitis.

When you first start to feel it, stop running (or whatever activity you have been doing that is that seems to be the aggravating activity) and REST it.  If you don’t rest this can become a chronic and recurring problem.

Then, follow RICE for the first few days:
REST for any activities that cause pain at the achilles tendon (consider cross                                  training activities such as swimming or cycling)
ICE 15-20 minutes several times per day
COMPRESSION around the ankle with a theraband (wearing compression socks                                               may also help)
ELEVATE the ankle at or above heart level when at rest

Then, you can get into some self treatment to continue decreasing your symptoms, such as:

  1. Cross friction massage at the sides of the tendon (where you feel restrictions) 5-15 mins/day – start lightly and gradually increase your firmness as the tenderness at the tendon decreases.  When a tendon gets damaged, some of it’s fibres are ruptured.  A strong tendon is made up of hundreds of fibres laid down in parallel and when a damaged tendon begins healing the body lays down new fibres to replace the damaged one’s, but in a more disorganized and erratic way.  The goal of the cross-friction is break up the fibres that are not aligned in order to help the body lay down parallel fibres that are smooth and aligned in a way that will re-create a healthy tendon over time.
  2. Stretch calves your calf muscles – gently, up to 30s.  Be careful not to stretch too aggressively as it can damage the tendon.

When pain has significantly decreased and you no longer feel pain with walking and other daily activities, you may add progressive strengthening of the achilles tendon to your self program of management.  You should also continue the cross friction and the stretching as well and make this an ongoing part of your body work in order to prevent your achilles problem from recurring.

  1. Start with heel raises off the floor, as high as you can without pain in the achilles. Start with 1 x 10 reps and build up to 3 x 10 reps over the course of time as the area gets stronger.
  2. You can progress do doing these off a step, allowing for bigger range of motion, again starting at 1 set of 10 reps and building to 3 x 10 reps over time.  You can also progress to doing these one leg at a time.
  3. Finally, progress to focussing on the lengthen, or the eccentric phase of the movement.  You can go up on the toes fairly quickly, to the top of the movement, and then very slowly let the heel drop back down (below the height of the step) to whatever your flexibility allows.  1 x 10 reps to start and building to 2-3 x 10 reps.  This exercise is designed to selectively break down those misaligned fibres mentioned above and by design will cause some discomfort.  This is one exercise where you can work through some mild to moderate discomfort as you work through your achilles tendon recovery.

These achilles strengthening exercises can be done 3 times per week, with a day of rest in between them.  At this time you can also initiate a gradual return to sport.  Sport activity can be initiated when it can be done pain free.  If you are a runner, start with a run/walk program and take your time building back up to constant running.  Build your weekly volume at a rate of 10-15% per week.  Be careful not to progress too quickly as you don’t want to set yourself back and have to go through these phases of treatment and recovery again.  Pain-free cross training can be done and is recommended to continue as you work your way through this recovery phase as well.  It will help keep you fit and balanced and you get back to your usual running program.



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How This Pro Triathlete and Coach Trained to Run a Marathon at 18 weeks Pregnant

Everyone has a different experience being pregnant.  For some, it’s not safe to exercise and they need bed rest.  Others have extreme morning sickness (or all day sickness!) and really can’t do much at all.  Others, me included, may be able to continue some version of their pre-pregnancy physical activity level.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I didn’t know until after the first trimester was over.  As a result, I was training as a professional triathlete, including spending a week in Florida with a group of other pro’s, training full time.  It’s true, I didn’t feel amazing at training camp – but I was still able to do it, and just figured I was getting older and my years as a pro were coming to an end as I was feeling a little more tired than I had in the past.

Cindy Tomoka 2Because of this experience, when I found out I was pregnant this time around (and I was pretty sure about 2-3 days after conception!) I decided to continue training for the marathon I was aiming for, with modifications to my training plan based on how I felt each day.  Worse case would be that as we approached it, if things weren’t going well, I would just step down to a shorter distance event on race day and do what I could – walk, run or a combination thereof – to get to the end.

Once I knew I was building a baby, I was following a training plan that had me running 70-85km per week.  It included two specific interval or tempo runs, and three other runs to build volume.  I also had two strength training days and two days of cross training, which I have to admit I often did not do – electing to rest instead.

For the most part I got in 70% of those weeks of volume, but the intensity days didn’t always happen. If I wasn’t feeling good one day, I would move it a day forward.  The other 30% of the weeks may have started out okay, but at some point during the week there was a hiccup where my body just didn’t want to run. Often I would be lightheaded or just so heavy and fatigued. In these cases, I would listen to my body and skip it or cut it short.

This winter was very cold and slippery; so many runs were on the treadmill. That worked out okay because if I started to feel weak or light headed I could tone it down or stop – and not have to call for a ride home!

I started to really feel like I was pregnant in the last three or so weeks before race day. I was at about 15 weeks at that time, and starting to look like it. I felt heavy and tired and just achy!  Those weeks were not great for building confidence that I could run a marathon.  But still, I did my best to stay positive and continued trucking along the best I could.  One day would go well and the next wouldn’t, but I stuck to my plan of doing what I could.

I would be 18 weeks at the time of the race and I thought,”let’s just see what happens”. I planned to go slow, not stress out my body too much, and make sure both the baby and I got to end healthy and happy.  If necessary, I was ready to call it quits at any point during the race if I felt like it wasn’t safe to continue.

Race day came.  Waking up that morning I thought “Oh man, am I really going to do this?? Yes, I am!”  We drove to the race venue and got ourselves organized.  It was pitch dark as the race started at 6:00am.  When it was time to go, I started conservatively and just worked on finding my way through the dark path where it started without tripping over something or someone!

When your body starts to grow as you build a baby, your centre of gravity changes and you can feel less balanced.  It’s like re-learning every few days how your new body works!

I ran comfortably until about 25km and then started to feel more tired than I felt I should, and that running was a bit more of an effort than it should be.  At about 30km my back and hips realized they were carrying 15lbs more than they were used to, and Cindy Tomoka 3the newfound laxity in my ligaments showed up as a very stiff back and hips that became pretty sore over the next couple of kilometers.


I have to admit that a short time after that I considered asking a stranger along the way if they could give me a ride to the finish line!  Instead, I just did a bit of a walk/run and took it one mile at a time, while maintaining a good headspace.  I was not out here to win a race; I was out here to take on a different kind of challenge!  I texted my husband and told him what time I thought I would be done so he wouldn’t be worried about me, and then relaxed and did what I set out to do – get to the end with some version of running and walking.

We did it!! It was the slowest marathon I have ever done, including Ironman marathons, by about 45 minutes, but it was my best ever (and only) marathon done at 18 weeks pregnant!  I was happy to be at the finish line and I was happy to have done what I set out to do. (And happy for my husband, who had a great race!)

As I said in the beginning, this is not something for everyone.  Every pregnant woman should listen to their medical doctor and get advice on what exercise is safe for them and their baby.

From what I have researched, most times you are safe to continue doing something that you did before you got pregnant, with modifications based on how you feel. Those might include some drop in intensity to make sure you have enough blood going to your baby, and watching that your core temperature doesn’t get too high.  But I am not an expert on this so please get your own medical advice.  My goal here is to share my experience and motivate other women who are pregnant to continue some form of physical activity and do what makes them happy – provided they are clear to do so.  Going into the birth process feeling strong and healthy typically makes everything smoother during and after delivery.  And getting your body back post-partum is typically easier if you maintain the habit of exercise.


What are we (this baby and I) doing now?  Well, now we are half way to having baby #2 arrive and it’s time to stay fit in a more casual way, doing a variety of things.  I have been running 30-40 minutes when I feel like it, cycling and swimming casually, and have been focussing on being in the gym maintaining strength through weight training.  After my first daughter was born I had some issues recovering from a C-section and the muscle imbalances that came along with that afterwards. This time I hope to be more strength balanced going in to be in a better place to hit the ground running again afterwards!

Editor’s Note: Notice that Cindy’s approach included ‘HOW to keep going – not IF she would keep going! These kids will have to work to keep up with their Mom, but at least they have a running start.

  •  Cindy Lewis-Caballero is the founder of CL Performance Training. She is an endurance coach, a Chiropractor, a personal trainer, a professional triathlete, and a mom. She works with athletes of all abilities and ages to help them stay motivated and able to go after their personal goals.
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How to Fit Training into Your Life

Finding the time to train for a triathlon, regardless of the distance, is challenging – especially when you’re trying to do it while succeeding at your full time job, raising a family and maintaining quality relationships with family and friends.   As a coach and an athlete myself, I understand that training is not the only thing on your plate and that every person is different with respect to how that “life balance” is created.

I have raced as a professional long distance triathlete for years, beginning in 2011, and throughout that time I also worked full time as a chiropractor, trainer and coach, met my husband, got married and had a baby who is now a very energetic two year old.   I also saw many of the athletes that I trained and raced alongside who had their own unique situations.  Some of them were able to pursue triathlon full-time.  Some were married, some were single, some had children; some didn’t.  Everyone had their own unique situations to figure out and balance.  None of them had it easy!

As age-group triathletes we tend to have even more things to balance and a different checklist of priorities.  I have coached many athletes of different levels, from those who want to lose weight to those who have qualified for the Boston Marathon and the Ironman World Championships.   In my opinion, every person’s goals are just as important as the other person’s; we are all in this to be the best we can be – regardless of our goals or abilities.

I have learned from my own experiences and from the many athletes I have worked with over the years some tricks on how to fit workouts into your calendar when you have a lot to juggle.  Here are some ideas which may sound like something for you to try:

  • – Have a shower at the office or a gym next door with a shower? Get a running backpack and run or ride your bike back and forth to work.
  • – Use your lunch break to slip in a short run or a strength/core workout.
  • – Get up early! Getting a workout out of the way early in the morning before the rest of your family wakes up means you don’t have to take time away from them later, and you don’t have to worry about that time being taken away and given to something else that has come up in the day.
  • – Bring snacks and stay hydrated so you have energy to get those workouts done instead of being derailed by working around a meal.
  • – If your work hours are flexible, plan a 90 minute break in the middle of the day to get out and get a workout in. You may feel rejuvenated and ready to take on more of the day once you’re finished.
  • – Have small children? Get a good running stroller and take them out with you! Fresh air is good for kids and often they love to be out there with you! Pushing a 30+lb kid in a stroller definitely equates to a faster run even though the watch doesn’t say so!
  • – Be willing to exchange some of the ‘shoulds’ (spotless house, styled hair, volunteering for every cause) for training time, and enjoy feeling great about your fitness instead of guilty about not being ‘perfect’.

Think about how you can get creative with your schedule, and build in some discipline.  Try a few things and see what works for you.  Just don’t give up.  Remember, if you really want to do something, most of the time there is a way!

Dr. Cindy Lewis-Caballero is the founder of CL Performance Training. She is an endurance coach, a Chiropractor, a personal trainer, a professional triathlete, and a mom.  She has an intimate understanding of the challenges of work/life/training balance, and enjoys helping other athletes find ways to achieve their goals.


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Triathlete Recipe for Staying Injury Free this Season

As both a Multisport Coach and a Chiropractor, I’m lucky to be able to coach my roster of athletes and also work with athletes in my clinic (Burlington and Toronto based).  I see two types of athlete injuries in my chiropractic practice – those incurred by trauma or accident, and those created over time by repetitive actions – such as endurance exercise like swimming, cycling and/or running.   The injuries created by repetitive activity are the most complicated to treat and often take more time to get better because it involves identifying and fixing imbalances that have been created by habitual overuse.

Management of overuse injuries requires a combination of passive treatment in my clinic and active exercises done by the athlete themselves in order to correct the imbalance situation that has been created by using the same muscle groups repetitively and ignoring others.  Habits are hard to break and I find that athletes suffering from more chronic conditions have more trouble maintaining the routine required to prevent return of their injuries rather than sliding back into old habits.  Often once the pain is gone it is easy to stop the stretches and strengthening that is required to keep it gone!

It takes work to stay balanced and injury free.  So many athletes ignore the work until they have a problem that interferes with their performance. Their foam roller sits in the corner day after day while they ignore the tightness and pain that creeps up slowly at first. Left unaddressed, it shows up after a hard run or race, or doing a make-up workout on a rest day.  The best way to keep injuries at bay is to work on preventing them in the first place.  This includes taking care of three things:  strength, mobility and stretching.  Make “prehab” exercises a part of your weekly training schedule in order to avoid having “rehab” exercise!  This will help make sure you continue training strong and don’t have interruptions due to aches and pains.

My recipe for staying injury free takes about 15 minutes every day – and includes a set of basic strength and mobility exercises. Add in 5-10 minutes of foam rolling and stretching, and proper rest, and you are ahead of the game.

To see a video demonstration of this program:

Do a 10 minute full body warm up before these…even if it means a brisk walk around the block or up and down some flights of stairs. Note: As you’ll see in the video, babies and dogs are not excuses for skipping this workout!

  1. Lateral Lunge (10 x on each side)
  2. Step Up (10 x each leg)
  3. Single Leg Squats (10 x each leg)
  4. Push Ups (on toes to failure, then 5 more on knees)
  5. Supermans (10 x)
  6. Plank & Side Planks (30 secs each position)
  7. Dead Bug (10 x each side)
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Guest Blog Post: The Joys of Running and Where it has Taken Me by Peter McCluskey

I like running.  I guess that’s as good a way as any to start off a column about running.  Maybe, I hate running, would be more of an eyeball catcher, but that wouldn’t be true.  I’ve always liked running it’s something free and natural – and these days I find it liberating, wonderful, transcendental.  I also like travelling – especially to out of the way places. Over the years I’ve met interesting people, made good friends and visited wonderful places, so Cindy asked me if I would write a guest column for her blog about my experiences running in different countries.  I said “Sure.”

Running is its own reward certainly but it is also a ticket to visit other places, people and cultures.  While training for my first half marathon I met a young woman from Switzerland who was doing a nursing degree in Toronto.  After finishing her courses she was going to work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and was also planning on running the Phnom Penh marathon.  She said she could always find a race wherever she went and that set off my curiosity and I wondered if I could incorporate runs into my travels as well.

Ottawa was my first destination race.  Just a few hours away but the race was going to take the runners through some parts of the capital I had never visited and across the river into Gatineau.  I went with a group of friends and I spent a few extra days there before and after the race, had lunch with friends, visited museums and reacquainted myself with the city.  It was great.

The next year I was heading to Berlin for a celebration of running that I think is unsurpassed.  The marathon has 40,000 runners and a million spectators.  Running down Yorckstrasse at 10 in the morning you’re serenaded by a full jazz orchestra while Berliners lean against chest-high tables on the street sipping their first (?) beer of the day.  I heard Latin drummers, a Turkish rock band, and a woman doing an impression of Edith Piaf.  In Buenos Aires they had tango dancers and ABBA impersonators – but both women were dressed like the blonde singer! They had water and fruit at the finish line but they also handed out tickets for a free choripan (chorizo sausage on a bun).  The friends I went with went back to plead for a second ticket.  Warsaw had the best tasting sports drink – so good that I took a fresh bottle at every station.  I’m sure my time reflected my oversaturated state.  Oh, and before I forget Berlin had a beer-tasting station (Yes, I stopped) and one nutrition station that served hot tea!

In Sofia, Bulgaria they handed out lemon wedges instead of orange slices.  And they were magnificent.  It was like getting a little boost of rocket fuel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then there are the people.  I ran about 10 kilometres in Berlin with a guy I had never met but who lived about two blocks away from me in Toronto.  In Buenos Aires I counted people from every country in South America – and discovered that one group from Brazil even brought their own photographer.  In Bucharest I finished alongside an Australian nurse who had landed in the country the night before.  In Warsaw I passed a young woman in the last 200 metres and then saw her coming for me on the giant screen in the National Stadium – the people in the stadium started screaming and she beat me by less than a metre.


In Bulgaria runners had to have a doctor’s certificate. If they didn’t they needed to pay the equivalent of about $1.50 to have a medical student take their blood pressure.  One young woman came to pick up her bib and forgot her purse at the office so I paid for her test.  The course was six laps of a seven kilometre course – Alexandra had already finished but ran an extra lap just to keep me company on the last lap.

This year the plan is to do two marathons: Krakow, Poland in April and Berlin for the fifth time at the end of September.  I try to get to the location three or four days in advance to give myself time to acclimatize and so I have something resembling a regular sleep pattern, but really it just gives me time to look around and make my final post-race travel plans.  From Buenos Aires I travelled by bus to the Andes Mountains in the north.  From Berlin and Warsaw I’ve travelled all through Central Europe.  From Sofia and Bucharest I’ve made my way to the Carpathians, slept in monasteries and seen some of the most under visited tourist sites in Europe.  In Odessa, Ukraine I found a market that was so large it had one building just for dairy products and another for smoked meats.  I also discovered that not speaking Ukrainian was no barrier to buying a new pair of trousers or getting a haircut.  And I found a trail in northern Poland, right beside the Baltic Sea that runs forever and connects three cities.


No matter where you go you’ll find kind, friendly people.  Some races have a homemade feel to them, some are so well organized it makes your head spin.  Wherever you happen to be you’ll have fun and come back with some interesting stories.  Like the one about the naked women …..


Copyright 2017 Peter McCluskey, all rights reserved



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Baby Triathlete (“Iron Baby”) is here! And more news.

Wow, it’s been a long time since I wrote a blog!!! But, hey, are you really surprised?? I think most of my blog posts start that way . I always have good intentions of getting on here more often! This time I have more big news to tell you! Al and I have a 7 week old daughter – Kaitlyn Caballero!! She was born September 10th and is a beautiful healthy little girl! And, get this – she is already working! She has been working alongside me in my home Chiropractic office and my home training studio since she was born.



Not only that, she has also been to her first 5km race!


She is bound to be a clever little girl and fit and fast! We are cheering her on already .

When I found out I was pregnant I had an open mind about it and how life would work. I really didn’t know. I knew I would do my best to be the best mom I could be with the resources I had. And that I would do my best to stay as fit as I could be and train when it made sense to be the best athlete I could be – while keeping my mom duties first. Al and I both decided we wanted to make Kaitlyn a part of our life when possible and not “stop” life because we had a baby. We have been pretty good about making all of that happen. In seven weeks she has been to a 5km race, a costume party, a weekend up north at a friend’s house, and more.  She has a BOB running stroller and a baby trailer ready to hook onto the back of our bicycles next spring!  Al and I have tried to get in the habit of getting on our bicycles or running in our basement studio when possible in the evenings once she goes to bed. For now, that is working for us! We will continue adapting to our new life as needed and go with the flow to see what works for the three of us.

This week brings new challenges… I return to work in my Oakville clinic – Lakeside Physiotherapy and Massage on Robinson Street – and she will come with me. Let’s hope she likes that clinic as well as our home office! Next week I return to Toronto on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – but she won’t be making the trek in there with me. And November 13th she will come in to Toronto with Al and I while we run CL Performance Training’s “Mega Day” – a big training day that will consist of a computrainer bike ride, a group run, run biomechanics lesson, strength and mobility session and a roadside bike maintenance hands on session. Want to join us? Email

And that’s life right now! Stay tuned, because I really will try and write soon about the real emotional and physical challenges that go with the transition from being a professional triathlete to professional mom… in the hopes that I can inspire and help some other ladies out there who are currently going through or planning to go through this adventure sometime soon!

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Baby Triathlete is On His/Her Way!

Those of you who have been reading my blog this past 8-12 months know that I went through some issues with overtraining, low iron and life issues that I blamed for feeling tired and not performing as I felt I should have been.  I felt like I was climbing out of that place through the fall and into the early part of the winter.  And then in January/February I started feeling a little tired again, had trouble doing more than two days of quality workouts in a row and finishing long workouts strong.  I thought, maybe it’s my lifestyle now, the fact that I now drive a lot and commute into Toronto and back and therefore have much less time in a day.  Maybe it’s the decrease in sleep that I’ve gotten since moving out to Burlington.  Maybe it’s still the stress that I went through related to business that I haven’t recovered from yet.  Maybe I’ve just been in this sport too long and it’s time to step down from racing at the elite level.  Well folks… none of that was it!! I came home from training camp at the end of February feeling strong and motivated to stay that way and I looked at myself and thought “Hmm, I’m not as lean as I should be…”  My stomach felt bloated all the time after camp and I said to my girlfriend, “I think I’m sensitive to wheat or something, Al and I have been eating a lot of bagels since we got back from Florida.”  She says “Could you be pregnant?”  I said No… and then I took a test.  And it was positive.


We are having a baby!  Parker will be getting a human brother or sister sometime in the middle of September 2016.



Wow.  In a snap of the finger I went from professional triathlete heading into a new season and feeling positive to a pregnant person wondering how to stay motivated to exercise for general health and fitness.


I want to be clear here – I’m happy about this baby.  It wasn’t planned and shouldn’t have been able to happen at all.  It’s a small miracle really.  We wanted it one day in the near future, it came a little early but that’s okay.  I expected it to be hard to get pregnant, at my age, Al’s age, and with my sport background.  So really we are lucky it happened as it did.  But I don’t want to pretend that the physical and emotional changes that come with it aren’t difficult to deal with.  I am a pretty calm person overall.  And in general I feel I am pretty good and dealing with the punches and whatever challenges life delivers.


The first day after I found this out was a Saturday.  Typically on Saturday’s I get up and get on a bicycle for a few to a lot of hours.  Instead I opened my eyes and just laid there.  What was I going to do?  Getting up and sitting on my bike in the basement for the 4-5 hours that were in my training schedule wasn’t at the top of my list.  There wasn’t a race goal anymore.  There was no specific goal to focus on.  So I stayed there for a while and then I got up and made pancakes.   I can’t remember what the rest of that day looked like but I know I didn’t exercise.  I didn’t exercise the day after either.  The first little while was about dealing with the changes, thinking about life and making some very different new goals – short term and long term.


Since then, I’ve gotten myself together and am happily going to the gym most days of the week for an hour or so to strength train, elliptical or spin.  If I’m tired, I don’t go or I cut it short.  Often I will show up with big plans and once I get going I just want to sit down.  I have to admit that a few times I have driven to the gym only to take a nap in my car before dragging myself in there, if I get in there at all.  I sometimes think back to that time when I was training and racing as a pro ironman athlete… and then I laugh and realize that was only 6 weeks ago and I have no idea how I was doing it.  Most of the time I have been feeling good and positive about what is happening and okay about the changes my body is going through, because I know it’s because a baby is growing inside me and the changes my body goes through are healthy for the baby.  But for someone who is used to constantly trying to get lean, constantly training to the extreme to perform at ironman racing, and someone with a history of nutrition and body image issues, it is difficult sometimes.  Aside from the physical changes it’s also hard emotionally.  Pregnancy brings with it lots of changes in hormones which can mess with your emotional stability!  Overall I feel that I have been fairly even keel, but there have definitely been times that I experience huge amounts of anxiety and a low mood and feel like I could start crying at any moment.  The good news now is that I know why and can just breathe and realize that there is a reason I feel this way and it will eventually pass.


So what’s happening with training and racing?  Well, I’m taking this year off of doing this for myself and putting it all into helping my own coached athletes at CL Performance Training ( train and perform at their best.  I may not race elite again in the sport but I’m okay with that and excited to make myself into the best mom possible and put even more energy into my business and being the best Chiropractor, Run and Triathlon Coach I can be.  This summer I will be around the races as a professional cheering squad!  I look forward to seeing you out on the race courses.


Stay connected with this site as well as to get updates on events that we have planned.  Coming soon is a training camp in Mt Tremblant, a big training weekend in Muskoka and a bike maintenance and swim clinic.  There is a link to sign up for CLPT newsletter on the website if you are interested.


Until next time…



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Guest Blog Post: My Growth Through Triathlon by Mike Boydell

The following is a guest blog post by my CL Performance Training Athlete Mike Boydell.  Take a read to learn about someone else’s entry into triathlon and how it played an important role in personal growth.

My Growth Through Triathlon

By Mike Boydell

It started simply enough. For a few years I’d been hearing tales of bravado and spirited trash-talk from a close circle of long-time friends in their early 40s who were using the KTown sprint triathlon to keep their competitive juices flowing. My curiosity to join the fray was overshadowed by the daunting prospect of finding time to train amidst busy career and family life. Also present (but less obvious) was an inner voice that was quietly happy to play it safe and avoid putting myself out there in not one, but three sports. Beyond recreational participation, I had little experience in swimming, biking or running, but that didn’t stop me from imagining all forms of spectacular ways to publically flop in them all!

Things changed for me in the summer of 2009. The year I turned 40 also marked the sad and tragic loss of a central member of our circle of friends. This giant-hearted, vastly talented and passionately unique individual was taken suddenly in a senseless, random act of gun violence. Love and camaraderie brought a new group of friends and families to the Ktown triathlon that year. We swam, biked, and ran. We shared fears, cheers, hugs, laughter and stores. Individually, collectively, we remembered how lucky we were.

That experience also sparked in me a new sense of possibility – a next chapter awakening at a whole-life level. I felt a strong pull toward longer distance triathlon as a metaphor and means to embrace personal growth. After building up a few more sprint and Olympic distance experiences, my first 70.3 in 2012 became an invitation to really approach my own self-limiting, anxiety-laden inventory of “what if” fears – what if I panic in the water; crash on the bike; bonk on the run; and so on. That list was as limitless as I was prepared to allow my inner critic to roam!

Committing to the more complex journey and mental chess-match of my first 140.6 helped me approach the bigger question, “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” The first answer – get comfortable asking for and accepting help! An important point easily overlooked by so many successful, driven, type A personalities.  Several triathletes and coaches in my circle introduced me to Dr. Cindy Lewis, professional triathlete and owner of CL Performance Training. Cindy took the time to know me, my aspirations, my life realities, and supported me through all aspects of the preparation journey.

By race day, a second, bigger answer had matured from within myself: I would be wise and focused in planning executing my own race plan; I would be resilient and resourceful when unplanned snafus presented themselves; I would bring courageous drive to every challenge presented; and, my heart would be full with compassion, love and gratitude for all the family, friends, coaches, trainers, volunteers, organizers, spectators and fellow-athletes who had come together to celebrate this day of possibility. Crossing the finish line forever reframed my perspective on fear. Going forward “Face Everything And Recover” became a mantra to embrace my fears, no longer as debilitating self-limiters, but as positive invitations to the deeper growth and broader possibility that lay just ahead.

I’m so grateful for the experience and metaphor of triathlon; for all those who gift us with their own unique spirit, courage, learning and compassion, helping us see our own possibilities with the sunrise and sunset of each day.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your race!

Ubuntu (I am because we are).


More About Mike

Mike is a CEO coach and president of Boydell Inc.

Since transitioning from corporate leadership roles in 2009 his professional life has been dedicated to understanding and serving the unique needs, challenges and opportunities of CEOs. This passion led him to create The Fearless Leader™, a powerful growth platform that helps leaders spark that deeper connection to their own brilliance as they strive for achievement, impact and fulfillment in their world.

Mike has served hundreds of leaders and executive teams from around the world. He is also certified resource, speaker and workshop facilitator for Young Presidents and World Presidents (YPO-WPO) Organization.

More About CL Performance Training

Cindy Lewis is a professional triathlete, chiropractor, personal trainer and multisport coach.

Her mission is to help everyday athletes achieve goals and dreams, and change their lives in the process. Her company CL Performance Training works with athletes from beginner to elite around the globe helping them reach their goals in endurance sports via online training plans and 1-on-1 training.

Visit: (soon to be active website!)



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