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A runner's diary: My watch is my coach on cottage-country runs

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Dave Emilio is documenting his training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct.16.

This week, I'm on vacation in cottage country. It's been fantastic, but the bucolic setting poses a small problem as far as training goes. In the city, my running friends motivate me through the hard workouts. In cottage country, I must bear down and concentrate on pushing myself.

Most of the routes I run along are beautiful tree-lined dirt roads, which are so calming and picturesque that my hard tempo runs can quickly turn into pleasant, easy ones. In an attempt to ward off this leisurely pace, this year I brought along my GPS-enabled watch and have let it be my coach. On the easy days, I leave the watch at the cottage, but on my tempo run and speed-intervals session I have made sure to abide by what "Coach" says. It's the easiest way I found to keep my training on track.

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Needless to say, on these "coach-directed" runs, I must forgo taking in the sweet smells and fine vistas and focus on the rhythm and effort required to successfully complete these workouts. The beauty of this is, after getting through the run, I make my way back to the cottage and plop down on a beach chair or cool off in the lake and move on with my day.

(One day I was called on to help out with some yard work. I guess the gruelling yard work I did can count as my strength workout right?)

I still have a few more days here, which will entail a couple of easy runs and another long run of 32 kilometres. The long runs up here are lonely, but there's something to be said about spending a few hours alone with your thoughts and the cool country air. And the best part – the reward of arriving back to the cottage to an awaiting lumberjack's breakfast. (No second helpings of bacon for me, of course.)

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