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Dave
Posted on: 2017/12/6 10:55
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Joined: 2004/6/16
From: Runner's Life!
Posts: 54
Athlete of the Month - December
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Congratulations to Runner's Life Athlete of the Month - David Luinstra!

Sport Section:


How was your 2017 season?

In a word, outstanding. I ran 5 races in 2017: Run for Mental Health (10km), Sporting Life (10km), Ajax Waterfront (15km), the Ragnar Relay, and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront (Marathon). Both 10km races were seconds away from a PB (39:05 and 39:07, respectively). I ran the 15km race in 1:00:27 after running a 15km warmup. I capped the season off with a 3:09 marathon, which represents a PB and a squeaker BQ. The Ragnar was a singular experience that deserves its own document.

Especially in the months leading up to the marathon, I trained with a dedication, discipline, and intensity that eclipsed all my previous efforts. I averaged about 110kms per week, peaking at about 130km. I used a plan from Pete Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning. This plan emphasized the importance of midweek long runs and simulating race conditions as much as possible. Because of family and work obligations, I was only able to run very early in the morning, which meant that unfortunately I was only able to train with the group very occasionally.

I only ran one race in 2016 and took almost all of 2015 off because of a fairly severe bout of plantar fasciitis that onset in 2014 immediately following another successful season. I considered 2017 to be my comeback year where I would return to function, move beyond the injury, and with a little bit of luck get my elusive BQ. All things considered, I think I was successful.

What are your goals for the 2018 season?

My first goal is to fully recover from my Fall marathon. My “reward” for a PB half marathon in 2014 was an 18 month injury, so I plan to take some time away from serious running to ensure that I am fully healthy. Also, like in 2014, I feel a bit burnt out from the level of training I was doing, so I’m looking forward to some time away from hard training, racing, and general competitiveness.

During the colder months of Fall/Winter 2017-2018, I plan to pursue other facets of fitness beyond endurance sports. Currently, I am at peak levels of fitness, but only in one very limit sphere. I would like to focus on building strength through a combination of lifting weights and conditioning in order to make myself a more complete athlete.

I plan to resume endurance activities in the Spring, with a focus on cycling for the first several months. I don’t anticipate dedicating much time or effort into running until later in the summer 2018, with a target of a Fall half-marathon or a fast 10km.

Oh, and I want to try Cyclocross.

How do you manage to balance your various pursuits, training, family, work, etc?

When I first looked at Pfitzinger’s training plan, I was completely mystified as to how anybody with a family and full-time job would be able to commit to this level of training. There just didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, unless I was planning on sacrificing all my leisure time or never seeing my kids. After some head-scratching, I had an “aha” moment that seems obvious in retrospect. There were some secret “bonus” hours in every day from 5:00-8:00am. This is time where I wouldn’t be “missed” and that I had been “wasting” with sleep until this point. This is phenomenon has been described as the 5:00am miracle. There is even a podcast about establishing this habit.

This routine was far and away the most important factor that allowed me to get all the miles in while remaining available to my family and meeting my commitments at work. I can’t say that the heavy training schedule did not put a strain on my home life, and I know that there is a sense of relief now that it is over, but I think I was able to find “hacks” that prevented my running from having too much of an adverse effect on the other aspects of my life.


What's your favourite workout?

I’m not a strong sprinter and I also don’t have any great love for the long run. My favourite workouts tend to be tempo runs with 8-12 kilometers of intense, fast running. In my marathon build, these fast tempo pieces were never done in isolation, but “nested” within runs of 15-25 kms. The total exhaustion to the point of oblivion in these workouts allowed me to achieve that sense of peace that I crave when running.

What's your favourite race?

I’m a 10km and half-marathon guy. Even though I was successful in the marathon this year, I can’t say I enjoyed the experience. The first half felt great, but I had this sense of doom the whole way knowing how much pain the second half would bring. In a 10km and half-marathon you still get the challenge of running a long distance, but you get to run fast the whole way and don’t get the same negative thoughts that often crop up when you run the full 42.2.

Favourite piece of gear?

This is an easy one: the buff. It’s a hat, it’s a scarf, it’s a hood, it’s a headband, it’s an ear warmer, etc. And when it warms up, you can easily strip it off and wrap it around your wrist.

Bucket List of Races?

Obviously, I would like to run Boston someday. I BQed this year but I know that this is not a guarantee. I would also like to run the New York Marathon someday. I’ve always toyed with running ultras. 100 miles seems a bit nuts, but I could see myself doing 50 miles or 50 kms someday, perhaps when I start losing my speed.
Other than that, I just hope to keep my mobility and remain injury free and open to whatever presents itself.

Favourite Pre-Race Meal?

Before every single run of any significant length, I would eat a bagel with peanut butter and sliced bananas, washed down with super strong coffee. Let’s just say that this combination really seemed to get things moving.

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Life Section:


If you weren’t doing what you’re doing what would you be?

These questions are getting hard. I’m a curious person by nature and love acquiring knowledge and the process of acquiring knowledge. Because of this I’m attracted to academia, but I don’t have the passion and tenacity to be a true academic. As a librarian I’m part of this world but one step removed, which makes it an ideal job for me.
If I was independently wealthy and working was not a necessity, I would probably divide my time between my cottage on a lake someplace and travelling to exotic places.

What are some of your favourite motto’s?

Not really a motto guy. Inspirational quotes, pithy sayings, and jokes tend to leave my brain as fast as they enter. I have very poor retention for such things. There are a few bits of Eastern philosophy that I hear and tell myself to remember, but when it comes time to recall the wisdom I learn, I rarely can come up with it.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

I like puttering. I.e., I like to be busy without being busy. I’m not a person who tackles major projects around the house or takes satisfaction in a big job well done. I enjoy a lazy Sunday with a loose framework of a plan that usually involves going for breakfast, some form of exercise, unstructured play time with my kids, maybe a bit of light housework, a Netflix binge of some sort with a drink or two.

Sweet or salty?

Salty. I could take or leave candy but I can demolish a bag of potato chips.

What’s on your iPod?

I never listen to music when I run and rarely at home, either. However, I am a podcast junkie and usually have an enormous backlog of episodes I try to work through with in every spare second of the day, usually while cooking, cleaning, or taking public transit. Podcasting for me represents free continuing education, delivered right to your brain, on any conceivable topic, for free. My obsession as reached a point where I feel guilty in the rare moment when I’m not listening to a pod because these are precious minutes where I’m not taking in information.

Favourite Cocktail?

Spring/Summer: Gin and Tonic.
Winter: Scotch, or rum/rye and coke/ginger ale.

If you could have dinner with any 3 people living or dead whom would they be?

Josh Clark or Charles W. “Chuck” Bryant, the hosts of Stuff You Should Know. I’ve listened to their podcast so much that I already consider them to be good friends of mine.

I would also add Sam Harris, famous public philosopher, neuroscientist, and “new” atheist. I know a lot of people despise him, but when I listen to his podcast and read his books, he comes across (to me, at least) as a perfectly pleasant person who happens to be extremely inquisitive and intellectually honest.

And to keep the dinner party lively, I would also include one of Harris’ arch enemies and ideological/intellectual opposites, Noam Chomsky. I loved his writing when I was a university student and was deeply attracted to his ultra-lefty politics. I have gravitated more to the center now, so it would be like listening to a much, much smarter version of my 23 year old self do battle with a much, much smarter version of my current self.

What else should we know about you?

I am almost a fully plant-based runner and yet somehow I haven’t died from protein deficiency. The vegan movement is gathering momentum, and there are many extreme athletes like Rich Roll, Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek, to name a few. There are also professional bodybuilders, NFL and NBA athletes, and boxers and MMA fighters who thrive without animal products.

It’s a great time to be plant-based, with a huge amount of variety of products out there that act as very convincing meat substitutes as well as a wide range of cook books (I would recommend Oh She Glows as an introduction, but also would have a look at Minimalist Baker, The Plantpower Way, and Isa Does it).

We’re living in an age where it’s easy to be healthy, strong, and achieve your athletic goals while also minimizing the damage to your health, the environment, and other sentiment beings. Take advantage!
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