The Marquis de Sade Half Marathon

It’s a “fun” run, they say.

The annual Marquis de Sade goes tomorrow (Sunday, November 29, 2015) starting from the High Park Running Room at 8:30 A.M.

This unofficial half marathon takes on some of the biggest and baddest hills that Toronto has to offer. We’re talking 18 significant hills over the 21.1km of the route.

Runners who complete this monster get a little red button as their reward. No medal. No chiptime or Sportstats listing. Just a small red pin-on button that says you finished whipped the Marquis de Sade.

And you get the personal satisfaction of knowing that you took on one of the toughest half marathons around.

Bring a map!

It’s a bit of an orienteering exercise in addition to being a race. The course isn’t really marked, and you can be sure that none of it is closed to traffic. Did I mention there are no aid stations along the route? You are on your own, armed only with a map, and whatever else you bring along to sustain you.

I’ll be running my second Marquis de Sade tomorrow and I’m gunning for a respectable time well under two hours. We’ll see what happens.

Join the fun

If you want to get in on the fun, be at the High Park Running Room before the start at 8:30 A.M. to sign in. Study the route, make a few maps and bring them along with you so you don’t get lost. There aren’t any bibs, and the race is not chip-timed. It’s up to you to sign in when you start and finish to record your time. Most of the run is on sidewalks and paved trail, but there is an off-road, trail section in High Park near the start.

While the course looks a bit ridiculous, don’t let that scare you off. It’s a fun, festive event that provides a late season test of what you’re made of.

What to do while you wait for training to start

Who else is getting antsy waiting for marathon training to start? Spring marathon training really doesn’t get started until early January, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do right now.

The training plan I follow kicks off training for the Ottawa Marathon sometime around mid-January. That’s about seven or eight weeks away. Between now and then the goal should be to get ready to take on the hard work of training.

Maintain routines and stay healthy

My goals include maintaining and further strengthening the routines I’ve established over the past few months. That means putting together a fairly light schedule of running and sticking to it.

I’m also focused on staying healthy. Now is not the time to experiment with a Crossfit or to attempt to break a weekly mileage record. It’s time to keep things reasonable, and avoid injury.

Figure things out

There are also a few things you can and should do now before training gets started to make sure you don’t run into any surprises come winter. This is especially important for first-time marathoners who are heading up the training ladder for the first time.

Find a good pair of shoes that will take you through the training without causing issues. Better to find out the latest version of your shoe causes blisters now than in the midst of a 50km week later on. If you have a favourite brand, consider buying a couple of pairs now to take you through the 1,000km or more of running you’ll be doing.

You can also play around with different nutrition options to find out what works (and what doesn’t work) for you. Always wondered about chia seeds but worried about it causing stomach upset on the run? Try it some Sunday when there’s nothing on the line so if it goes badly, you haven’t lost an important training run.

Get your ducks in a row

One last thing you can do is to ensure that you’ve got all your ducks in a row before things get real: Sign up for your race; find a few tune-up races to run in between (like the Chilly Half, or Around the Bay); book your hotel if your race is a destination race.

Then get yourself mentally and physically ready to train. Two months might seem like a long time, but before you know it, you’ll hit day one of your training schedule and you’ll wonder where the last two months went.

Bad Habits that Reduce the Effectiveness of Treadmill Workouts

When you spend as much time on the treadmill as I do, you end up seeing runners doing all kinds of things to sabotage their treadmill runs.


The treadmill can be a great alternative to outdoor runs as long as you make the effort to emulate real-world conditions.

Here’s four things to steer clear of when running on the treadmill. Avoid these bad habits and the quality of your treadmill workouts will improve.

  1. Running flat. Keeping the treadmill incline at zero is fine for tempo runs, but the real world isn’t perfectly flat. To get the most out of your treadmill runs, play with incline. You don’t need to do much, but going to 1.0% or 1.5% for a bit now and then approximates outdoor running better.
  2. Single speeding. Everyone has a comfortable pace, but set-it-and-forget it runs on the treadmill aren’t always the best. You don’t need to go super fast or super slow; even varying your pace by a few tenths of a mile/hr will get you out of the comfort zone.
  3. Leaning back and hanging on. This is more of a walking thing, but if you do crank up the incline and walk now and then, hanging on to the panel and leaning back defeats the purpose of the incline.
  4. Standing on the rails. If you need to take a breather or stop to towel off or adjust your headphones, press pause or lower the speed to walking pace. Standing on the rails is cheating on the distance. If you aren’t on the belt, you shouldn’t be counting the time or the distance.

The treadmill is a great option if you don’t enjoy running outside during our cold, dark Canadian winters. Just make sure you are making the effort to simulate outdoor running as best as you can in order to get the most out of your indoor runs.

Review: Running by Gyroscope

Running by Gyroscope lets you take your GPS run data and combine it with a photo to create stunning images to share on your favourite social media service.

Terrain layout

The “Terrain” layout lets you overlay your stats over a map of your run.

GPS data from your runs is automatically loaded into the app via integrations with both Strava and Runkeeper. Once a new activity is detected, the app alerts you with a push notification to let you know that you can create a new image.

Multiple Templates

There are a number of templates including map views (terrain, satellite and a dark street map) along with overlays that you can put over a photo taken on your run.

Each of the templates is really slick looking. Some, like the bar template, put the key metrics from your run along the bottom of the photo. The route template adds a small map of your run.

There are also a pair of fun images including the Donuts template (how many donuts you burned on your run) and the Elevation template that provides a visual on how much climbing you did on your run.

Post to Social Media

Once you’ve created your image, you can either save it to the camera roll for sharing to Twitter, Facebook or Dailymile, or use the built-in “share to Instagram” feature that makes it easy to post to the popular photo sharing service. You can also share and view it on Gyroscope’s own service, alongside other runners’ pics.

Why I Like It

I’ve used a few other apps to make these kinds of photos including Fitframe, and FitSnap. The images that Running by Gyroscope creates are more visually pleasing to me, and the integration with Strava makes it easy to choose a run to visualize. The addition of a route overlay also set it apart from competitors.

As mentioned, Running by Gyroscope is a free app, available on the App Store for iOS. Learn more at Gyroscope’s website.

Here’s some sample images to give you an idea of what you can create with the app: