Itsnotaboutrunning By Dr. Steve Connor

As Connor’s Runners, We Believe That:

No one runner is more important than any other. We support each other, always.
When we train together, we ALL benefit. Sometimes other runners push us from behind, other times runners pull us from out front; but ALL of the time other runners will make us accountable for our actions and get us to put our shoes on.

We ALL need help staying motivated to train for endurance events. The knowledge and support that we need will come from many avenues within the group, including speakers, emails, other runners and the best teacher of all – Experience.

PERFECT PRACTICE makes PERFECT. We train in ways that simulate the demands that our bodies and minds will endure on race day so that we know what to expect, how to react or to control ourselves, and what we need for fuel and support to be successful.

Success is more than a number on a watch or those letters beside the number – like PB, PW, BQ and DNF. Success in running is found in achieving a goal; that goal can be a time, a distance, a pace, a medal, feeling strong, helping others to achieve their success, learning from mistakes or even starting back to running after an injury. It ALL matters, and it forms the basis of the success of this group. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Our success will come when we commit to developing our weaknesses but not at the expense of our strengths.

Watch-free runs in training really do make us better runners. Too many runners are tied to what their GPS watch tells them. Your watch is a great tool, but listening to your body while running has become a lost art; Connor’s Runners train to get that back. More often than not, your GPS Watch is slowing you down and holding you back from testing your true limits. Trust the process.

The 2K Push. The feeling in your legs near the end of your long run, when your legs are at their most fatigued, is really, really hard to recreate at any other time in training, so we take advantage of it. We increase our effort for the last 2K of the run so that we can draw upon that physical and mental strength on race day.

Mental strength is NOT an overstated commodity in endurance events. Mental strength can come from being in control of the factors you have the ability to control, and being confident in your abilities despite the factors that are beyond your control. This is a skill that is acquired in training – BEFORE race day.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) really works to get us in better fitness for meeting our race day goals. This is cutting edge training that is being used in many endurance sport disciplines to decrease training volume without negatively impacting performance, and with a positive side effect of reducing exposure to overuse injuries. We rarely schedule 6 runs per week. We choose quality runs followed by adequate recovery rather than quantity of miles.

Opportunities are everywhere. Hills are opportunities to get stronger. Intervals are opportunities to get faster. In-season races are opportunities to get smarter. 16K Specials are opportunities to build your mental toughness and build camaraderie. Downhill running is an opportunity to gain on your competitors. Cross training is an opportunity to reduce injuries. Bonking in a race is an opportunity to see where your limits are and an opportunity to learn from your miscalculations.

Running with Mario is an opportunity to run with Greatness.

We challenge each other to push harder, to get stronger, and to be better racers. We support each other when we are having a tough run, and celebrate each other when we are having a good one. We are all part of the same team. At races, we make people ask about Connor’s Runners by having fun, running hard, and always, always, always, running with an Attitude of Gratitude.

We wear a common colour for others, not for ourselves. We are members of a larger community and as ambassadors of our sport, we are respectful of others on the roads including runners, bikers and drivers. We wear Orange on race day so that others can cheer for us and give us their energy to finish strong.

No matter how much good we do, we can always do more. We celebrate our achievements, our experiences, our stories as ‘Moments of Awesomeness’. These moments warrant sharing them with others in the group and others in our greater community. This is how the ‘Jar of Awesomeness’ was born. The Jar represents us sharing our Moments of Awesomeness with others who could use some of it in their own lives.

We are runners, even when we are not running. Not all of us can run ultras, marathons or half marathons. Not all of us will run faster than we ever have before. We are not guaranteed ideal race conditions, and we may not be able to avoid injury this season. What we can ALWAYS do, is BE AWESOME.
Dr.Steve - Connors Runners

Getting in and getting out...

One of the more interesting things about this journey is how different Loren, Mark and Madhu each handle the entry and the exit. We took some short video to give you an idea of how it goes.

Mark - enters the water strong and steady, and fast post-swim recovery (he even breaks the tent down afterwards!)

Loren - head down, big sigh, and a big rush forward into the water - pushing the pain aside. Post swim is self sufficient dressing, but has a much longer recovery time to stop the shakes.

Madhu - tentative entry but has never once looked back longingly at the shore except to encourage others to get in!). Post swim needs help drying and dressing, but recovers well after that.

Does this make any one of them potentially more capable of completing the challenge? I say no, it is simply a contrast of style, and how each person individually handles such extreme conditions.


Madhu, Loren and Mark enter 2C water for a training swim on December 13, 2014 for the Straits of Magellan crossing.


Madhu and Loren as they exit after a training swim in 2C - watch how the team springs into action to help them get out of their wet bathing suits and into dry clothes quickly.

December 13 Training Report - the word is COMMITMENT

As the weather outside gets colder, it gets harder and harder to train. Water temperature is one thing, but mentally, wind and cold air temperature can make it seem so much colder. On Saturday, Madhu and Mark were in the 7 minute range, Loren in the 9 minute. Below is an email exchange from Madhu to the team regarding a proposal from Loren to push the barrier - this gives you deep insight as to how these guys handle things. Following that is a report from Madhu as to just how it went.

Leave your messages of support for these guys below - they are pushing the limits of their capabilities every day, and it would be great to hear back from those of you reading this out there!


Tomorrow's jumptime: 7:45 am @ Coronation park (all are welcome).
Water temp: 2 C (35.6F)

Today's swim report
Did we really push the barrier? Not really, but today was a great test run and got a check on all systems test (I was surprised that I recovered faster and I had better control of my hands, legs etc. I know, the land crew was a tiny bit disappointed that we got out after "7:00 - Mark", "7:23 - Madhu" and "9:00 - Loren". But, I loved todays swim for all the crowd and post swim coffee at Bretts. This is awesome

Alex/Cousin Al/Darren had completed their 90 min run and were all ready to help us out. Darren got in his dry suit and was in the water manning Loren's new gadget which has recorded some nice swimming. Darren in the water was a massive mental boost for me. Just the thought of him being there to reach us faster is a great comfort - I guess, I need operate outside this comfort (I think Loren has figured me out and sent me this  email on commitment for tomorrow's swim- you'll like this).

Darren, Great footage!! Do we get to see you tomorrow morning? 

Rob/Kirsty/Joanne did a loop run to Coronation park to support us. Loved seeing you all (you should do it again). Rob this was almost a LOST swim (you could make it a LOST by getting in the water and helping us in reading the water temperature)

Steve/Marty/Mike, Thanks for your patience and support. We would not be able to do any of this without your help. Love the fact that you are there for us and know exactly how to react when we get out of the water. you guys are one heck of a team. This is an incredible feeling. With this kind of team - we can keep pushing the barriers and get across any body of water. Thank you guys and I just love the energy you bring to this adventure.

Thanks Mike for a great cup of coffee at Brett's LOCT. 

Brett, Thanks for hosting us!!


So, in climbing, there are various rating systems that try to capture both the difficulty of the route, and also it's objective risk with respect to protection. 

Thus, for instance, a moderate route might have a rating in North America (the British and French systems differ somewhat) of 5.7R, where the 7 (the decimal isn't mathematically meaningful) indicates the technical difficulty (usually of the crux, or most difficult move), and the "R" stands for "runout", meaning that there are long stretches on the climb where protection is difficult or marginal at best. An  "X" rating would basically mean "don't fall ..."

That Dan Osman video I posted last week? That's by default a 5.7X, since he's free-soloing sans rope, and thus is placing no protection whatsoever!

In alpine and mixed climbing, there is a further, usually less formal designation, which attempts to convey the degree of commitment required for the route.

This is the rough sense that, even on an easy, well-protected route, you may simply find yourself in situations where there is realistically only one way to proceed, with retreat or rerouting being difficult, often more dangerous than simply continuing the line, or outright impossible. (Routes far in the backcountry typically involve commitment in the related sense of demanding considerable preparation, planning, and a long, sometimes complicated and dangerous approach, before anyone even gets to do any technical climbing.)

Commitment is a funny thing, because even when you're on an easy line that you've climbed many, many times before, you notice even slight differences in degrees of commitment. It's often a subtle thing, but it's there: there's a different kind of focus and resolve that you adopt, or you simply don't do the route, even if it's technically very easy and intimately familiar.

So, Coronation.

This is basically your beach. You logged countless laps of this segment of shoreline, training for your Lake O crossing. It is, by any measure, an intimately familiar piece of water for you.

Tomorrow I propose (conditions permitting, as always): that we walk in up to chest depth, make a southerly line for the first rock breakwall, and then we don't stop until we get there. 

Then, we turn around and swim our haggard butts back to the other, northern breakwall, and see how we feel.

Maybe we get out after this, maybe we swim a bit more.

This shouldn't take more than ten minutes, maybe twelve at the outside. It should bag us between 400m and 500m of solid swimming in 2C water.

It will, however, involve a very modest, but still significant degree of commitment.

We can try to stick together in formation, or split up a bit, but that's less important than committing to the line. The shore team can walk along the beach with us if we want, but I'd almost prefer they didn't, at least for this particular exercise (because: commitment).


Wow, We had a nice swim this morning. COMMITMENT is the word of the year for me. I followed Loren's plan, Loren and Brian on the kayak to the first break wall. On Mike's thumb's up(reassurance) we turned back. Although, I struggled a bit on my swim to the break wall. Return trip was a tiny bit easier, but I ended up in the shallower and rocky part of the lake (this reminded of my encounter with the coral during Maui swim) - I immediately stopped kicking and swam a few meters and then I had to reposition and swim back. We did a 400mts swim in about 9min30sec but got out of the water at 10:30. I needed help in getting dressed and not sure how Loren does it? he's all independent and gets ready before I do (I guess it is the alpinist in his genes/blood). We had a pretty decent swim this morning. Thanks Steve, Mark (and Mark's tent), Brian on the kayak for guiding us through the water and getting some valuable footage. Brett brought his LOCT spirit to the lake.

Thanks everybody for supporting us. I know this is a bit crazy and I hope you are not getting tired of it (we only have 5 more weeks of training) - I promise, you'll never see me swim in the lake again.... (EDITORS NOTE: pay no attention to this promise - all open water swimmers promise this - and yet shortly thereafter they are right back in the water ;))

Fundraising Fun!

On December 6 friends and supports of the swim came out to help raise money for this crazy adventure, and everyone had a great time!

We had live music courtesy of a local group of VERY talented musicians, food, drinks, a raffle and silent auction.  All this combined to raise just over $2000 towards the swim - a portion of which will also be donated directly to our charity partner, the Courage Brothers Polar Bear Dip for World Vision (see what they are about here)

Thanks go out to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules on a Saturday night to show up and support the team, as well as those who were not able to make it, but bought tickets anyhow!  The support that Madhu has is overwhelming, and we are happy that everyone wants to share in this experience - that is our goal!

Special thanks to: Lucy (our star organizer and fundraising expert!), Kim, Harvinder, Suman and Melanie for their help in making this happen, and to Sarah for helping behind the bar - you are all fantastic people!

You can still donate using the link at the top of the page, or from the Donations page on this website, or if you would like to take a stronger role and sponsor the swim, visit the Sponsors page for more details.

A Quick Swim...

By: Loren King

A quick swim this morning with Madhu Nagaraja, as we do most weekends this season, often with Mark Bintley and with plenty of help from some extraordinary area athletes and enthusiasts such as Steve Ellison, Mike Morton, Alan Swankie, Rob Kent, Alex McMillin, David Bee, Lynn De Lathouwer-Rodgers, Miguel Vadillo, Lisa Neidrauer Brett Titus, Claudia Sofia Policarpo, and many, many others who are passionate about open water swimming.

Madhu is training for the Magellan Strait in late-January 2015: (I won't be along on this trip, alas). We had Steve Ellison and Titi Postma keeping things in order on shore patrol this morning (thanks!!).

Today was 4-5C in the water, but moderate air temperatures for late November. The conditions were mixed and, while you wouldn't want to be drinking too much of the stuff (thanks Canada Geese ... aren't you supposed to migrating south?), definitely swimmable.

The Great Lakes continue to face many challenges, but things have been improving, even in some of the most stressed parts of the ecosystem. With small steps from several levels of government in Canada and the US, and especially thanks to the tireless advocacy of groups like Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, the lakes continue to be sites of beauty and wonder and fun, and crazy cold swims, past our typical swimming season up here (

If you find yourself in the greater Toronto region, bring your kit and come on out!

Photography: Titi Postma

November 16 Training Report

by: Madhu Nagaraja


Madhu, Mark and Loren discussion the days swim plan

Madhu, Mark and Loren discussion the days swim plan

We survived a really cold swim this morning: Distance - 650 mts, water temperature 3C and Air temperature -6C. We were all strong this morning and were pushing each other to swim further. Made a wise call to stop the swim at 650mts, although we could've pushed it. Walking out to the beach it felt like I was wearing 200lb clogs! With -6C air temperature, I was loosing control of my fingers within minutes. Thanks to Mark for bringing a tent that sheltered us from the cold wind. 

Loren and Mark were quickly able to get dressed and I was the one who was struggling to get back to normal. Mike and Steve took control of the situation and got me dressed. A great swim. A great confidence booster. We would not have survived this swim without Steve and Mike's help on the beach.

We all loved the swim this morning. We got in and immidiately started to swim. I'm beginning to like the cold water!!! It is a nice feeling to stay in the water as the air temperature is colder than the water temp. It is nice to feel all the muscles working hard to pull the water. It is magical that we are able to do this. Last year we were all struggling to swim in below 10C. Now we are pushing to swim below 5C. We could do this only because of the support on the beach - Thanks Mike and Steve for always being there and jumping into action right away.

Thanks for all the support. We need a lot of help to get through this training. Thanks for all the emails, comments etc.

You can see a few of the images from this weekends training below, or the full photoset on our Flickr page at:

We leave you today with this poem from Brian Findlay, written for Madhu on his birthday:

There's one more ring on a tree
There's less bone there for me
As we age with a smile
To swim just one more mile.

But our dreams they remain
For we soon forget pain
So the next swim for my mate
Is Magellan's fair Strait.

Enjoy your BIRTHDAY Old Pal 

We know GREAT people!

Anyone who has met Madhu knows what a great guy he is - but that does not stop us from marvelling at the support that we are seeing for this swim!


On November 14, Harvinder Dev opened up her beautiful home to a group of more than 30 ladies for a fundraising event for Madhu.  It involved a painting class, wine, a raffle, wine, friends, and did I mention wine? Great fun was had by all, some great art was produced, and Madhu took a moment to thank everyone and speak briefly about the crossing attempt. The question again and again by the women was "Why?"

This is not a question with one single answer, or an easy one to pin down, but we tried, and you can read about it here: Why The Straits of Magellan?

Our deepest thanks to the fundraising committee of Lucy Rasmussen, Kim Czender, Harvinder Dev and Suman Joseph for the hard work in putting this event together, to the businesses that donated products and gift certificates, and of course, to everyone that came to this event and had a great time!

There are still a few tickets left for our next event on December 6th - go here for more details

Training for the Straits

Training for the Straits

Training for a swim like the Straits of Magellan is, as you might imagine, difficult. For most marathon type-swims there is a standard set of "rules" to follow - put in distance and training in the pool, swim distance in an open-water environment, eat this, don't eat that, improve your cardio like this, practice feeding like that, and so on. For a demanding cold-water swim there is not a lot of rules to follow, because there are not a lot of people doing it...