February 5th, 2016
The Super Bowl is traditionally a day for people to let loose, eat the fattiest, greasiest food and drink all the beer. In previous years I would gladly jump on that bandwagon (along with the bandwagon of the team with the best colour combination) but a few months ago I knew I needed a change.
By Alexa Lilius
After years of low energy due to poor diet I have finally committed to taking a real look at what I am eating and how it is affecting my body and mind. I now find that my meals mainly revolve around fueling my body with what it needs for my next run or workout rather than what I crave. Gone are the days of deep fried. That being said i’m still a super fan when it comes to flavour.If I were to have the Food runners ( #crewlove) over for a Superbowl party there would definitely have to be a balance between healthy eating and delicious food. And yes there will be wings!
Super Bowl Snacks ReDone
Crudite: Who doesn’t love fresh veggies? Ranch dressing is out and hummus is in.
Runners Cobb Salad: Because you can make friends with salad! This one is my favorite to refuel with after a run.
Base: Arugula and some ripped green leafy lettuce
Raw Vegetables: Cucumbers, grated carrot, tomatoes
Protein: Hard boiled eggs, chicken, avocado and some roasted sweet potato.
Topping: My favorite thing to end a salad with is a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds which are a great antioxidant and high in vitamin E.
Dressing: Salad dressing is one of my favorite things to make. My favourite? A basic vinaigrette: Blend up balsamic, olive oil, mustard ,a tiny bit of maple syrup and squeeze half a lemon or lime.
Vegetarian Chili: Super Bowl just isn’t without chili. Beans have protein, and minced mushrooms can be a great meat alternative.
Pineapple Pulled Pork: I don’t eat a lot of bread these days but when I do I dream of this pulled pork on it. This slow cooker pork uses the natural sweetness of the pureed pineapple which is a great alternative to the overly sugary bbq sauce you would normally find with this dish.
Lemon Herb Grilled Wings: A twist on a classic Super Bowl staple. These wings are delicious simply seasoned, grilled and tossed in lemon zest and fresh herbs. If you are lucky enough to have a husband who makes cheese at home, brine these wings in whey.
Brownie Sundae: Don’t worry, you won’t find any chocolate in this dish. We would use Ipanema Valley compressed banana brownies and greek vanilla yogurt for topping!
February 3rd, 2016
The International Association of Athletics Federations, for the second consecutive year, has awarded the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with the IAAF Gold Label.
Meeting the very strictest criteria, not once but twice, puts the race in the elite category of city marathons around the world, a fact not lost on Race Director Alan Brookes.
“We’re thrilled to receive the Gold Label for the second year in a row,” Brookes declared after receiving the news from the IAAF head office in Monaco. “It’s the Michelin 3-stars of running.
“To be placed in the same category as Boston, Chicago, London, Tokyo and the great city marathons of the world is an enormous honour. It really testifies to the prestige of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and our commitment to being a leader in road running in Canada.”
For IAAF Competitions Director, Paul Hardy, the awarding of the Gold Label was especially pleasing. He hails from nearby London, Ontario.
“The IAAF Label programme recognizes the best road races in the world,” he declares. “To achieve Gold Label status takes hard work, commitment and a passion to want to be the best. I congratulate the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on receiving the IAAF Gold Label. Having grown up just down the highway from Toronto, I know what a great city it is and what a great place it is to run. Keep running Toronto.”
Eric Gillis, one of the Waterfront Marathon’s greatest personalities, who ran 2:11:31 in Toronto last October to beat the 2016 Olympic qualifying standard (if he is named to the Canadian team it would be his third Olympic games), shared his support:
“I thought Alan was a gold label race director since the first year I ran STWM back in 2010,” Gillis says. “He has just been phenomenal for Canadian athletes. He is passionate about every athlete he has running in Toronto. This (Gold Label Award) is just a really nice thing to have happen. I am very happy for Alan and his crew at the Canada Running Series.”
Lanni Marchant, who famously broke a 28 year old Canadian women’s record in 2013 with 2:28:00. Marchant also achieved the Olympic qualifying standard with 2:28:09 in Toronto on the same day.
“I just think it speaks volumes for Canadian running in general,” says Marchant who is presently in the midst of high altitude training in Kenya. “You used to have to go elsewhere to get Gold Label events and to get the best competition, and having it in our backyard now kind of shows where we are as a country in athletics.
“It shows the kind of events that Alan Brookes has been putting on. It just makes it exciting as a Canadian runner that I can line up in my home country and have one of the best fields to line up against.”
Over the years the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has attracted some of the world’s greatest marathoners.
Ethiopia’s Derissa Chimsa set a course record of 2:07:05 in 2013. Sharon Cherop of Kenya set a course record of 2:22:42 in 2010 then went on to earn a bronze medal at the 2011 IAAF World Championships and a victory in the 2012 Boston Marathon. In 2011 Mare Dibaba finished 2nd in Toronto behind her Ethiopian compatriot, Koren Jal. Last August, Dibaba was crowned World Marathon Champion with an impressive victory in Beijing.
But along with the many elite athletes who compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money are thousands of runners racing on an accurately measured, well managed course to challenge themselves or to raise money for local charities. Last year another $3.5 million was raised by Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon runners for 173 charities.
“It puts Toronto on the world stage,” Alan Brookes says summing up the value of the Gold Label, “and it is recognition for our amazing Canada Running Series organizing crew, the thousands of volunteers, charities, City of Toronto staff, runners and spectators alike, who have built something very special for the sport and the city we love.”
Entries are now being accepted for the 2016 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon which is set for Sunday October 16th. To register for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, visit:
February 2nd, 2016
I’ve been thinking about running the marathon again, but I’ve been half in and half out because I want to make sure the other facets of my life are running as smoothly as possible before I commit to another time goal. However, after working on the other areas of my life, I remembered what I always remember around now: having the time goal actually helps me with the other stuff, not the other way around. Of course, there’s no magic bullet. And whether you train or not, life will still have its ups and downs. Knowing that, might as well equip yourself for the downs and get in tip-top shape and stop eating candy and drinking bourborn because if the inevitable pain and suffering is coming—better to be physically well prepared.
Today I took the first step on a new program, which was prepared for me by Michelle Clarke, who recently won the Canadian masters world record and is a nutso runner. I’m trying to break three hours at the Toronto Marathon on May 1 and to prepare, I’ll run the Chilly Half on March 1 and Around the Bay on April 3. Today I ran 15K and did seven repeats for two minutes at something like 3:55. The two-minute bursts are fun and a little bit easy. I can run fast for a short period of time pretty well, even though by the seventh set I had to work. It did require a lot of clock watching at first. But gradually I settled into my pace and used road markers to break up the time and laid off my watch.
As far as gear goes, I’m not monogamous. I wore Mizuno shoes and Adidas pants, Nike socks and a Brooks coat over an Adidas long-sleeved shirt over an STWM race shirt. I have Asics gloves and a MEC hat. Most runners probably dress like that—a mishmash of whatever we have. All of the gear I’ve come across has done me well and I don’t really recommend one brand over the other. I have a good winter Nike coat and ran most of my marathons in Saucony and haven’t had any problems. My problems come around 29K, especially if I go out to fast and don’t properly train.
I’m going again for the three hour marathon, even though my last marathon left me feeling like every muscle in my body was slowly being drained of blood. I felt achy even in my fingers and my arms felt impossible to life. I remember crying out for my wife and muttering something like: “It’s too much.” I was hobbling east on Queen Street saying such odd stuff out loud. Tomorrow the workout is 12K and Thursday I’ll do 13K with five hills at the effort level of a 5K race. I have a long way to go to get to my target. I need a 1:26 half marathon in a month and to stop eating a large popcorn at Star Wars by myself. But it’s good to focus on something and try hard and break everything down and rebuild it again and it’s good to have a plan for three months. I tried the other way. Frankly, I felt a bit lost.
February 2nd, 2016
In our new music feature, we invite members of iRun nation to submit their running playlists to our music celebrity, who will then select which one they like best. In our first installment, Jann Arden selected the following list by Noelle Gallant, saying: “Noelle’s playlist has that great combination of fierceness and fun! I think it keeps a great pace and will make the time go past in a jiffy!” To hear Noelle’s songs, check out iRun.ca.
Spotify Playlist: Jann Arden’s Favourite Running Playlist
The playlist includes the following songs:
Rolling in the deep – Adele
Ray of Light- Madonna
Marry the night- Lady Gaga
Steve McQueen – Sheryl Crow
Are you gonna go my way- Lenny Kravitz
Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz
I wanna break free – Queen
I never loved you anyway – The Corrs
Use Somebody – King of Leon
Does your mother know? – Abba
The Look – Roxette
New Sensation – Inxs
Closer – Tegan & Sara
A Million Miles Away – Jann ArdeC
Come To My window – Melissa Etheridge
You Love Me Back – Jann Arden
Mary Go Round – Serena Ryder
Gimme Sympathy – Metric
Set Fire to the Rain – Adele
February 1st, 2016
By Karen Kwan
After racing the Cayman half-marathon in early December 2015 (I’ll be reporting on that later this year in iRun), I took most of the rest of the year off, and started 2016 with some short runs. I haven’t yet decided what distance and goal race I’ll tackle this spring, and as such wasn’t very committed to training when the new year arrived. But then with 10 days notice, I received an invite to run the Bahamas Marathon. And how could I say no? I’d never been to the Bahamas, the warm temperatures would be a nice break from Toronto’s winter, and I’d get a chance to race another tropical destination race. So on January 15th I flew down to Nassau to take on the Bahamas Half.
I arrived midday Friday, and the schedule leading up to the race was low key. It largely involved much eating, which as you know isn’t how one should prep for a race (yes, you should fuel, but on whole grains and healthy, wholesome foods while hydrating well, and certainly not on heavy macaroni pie and drinking Bahama Mamas!). But I didn’t stress about it as I was planning on treating the race as a training run given I hadn’t been intensely training in the past month.
The expo for the race took place outdoors and with soca and reggae blaring, there was a fun vibe and a handful of booths promoting causes and selling running apparel. It was far smaller than your typical expo that takes place in a convention centre, but definitely more cheerful.
The race start time was 6 a.m. on Sunday, January 17th, and our driver picked us up at the RIU Palace in Paradise Island (where they have 24-room service, so I was able to order some toast and peanut butter for my pre-race breakfast) and dropped us off at the start by 5:40 a.m. My usual routine is to use a portapotty one last time before getting into the starting chute, but there wasn’t a single one in sight in the starting area. One business establishment was allowing runners to use their washroom but the line was at least 50 people long, so I decided to skip going to the washroom.
With five minutes to the start, it started to rain. Not just sprinkle or drizzle but rain quite heavily. And I thought how miserable this would make the race. After the Bahamas anthem was sung, the race started right on time. And I, along with about 1,000 runners, started our half and full marathons. About 10 minutes into the race, the rain subsided although it would rain lightly sporadically through the first half of the race. And ironically, given I had been dreading the rain, I was quickly wishing it would rain harder because it would cool me off from the humidity and 24C temp.
As I’d been told, the route is mostly flat, except for crossing the bridge into Paradise Island, and taking the bridge beside it back over to Nassau. You encounter the first bridge at about the 3k mark. These bridges call for some seriously strong hill training (and hills have never been my strength). I ran most of the first bridge, and for the second bridge, since I wasn’t aiming to PB, I walked most of the uphill portion.
The route is mostly pleasant, through neighbourhoods at first, and the last 9k or so going out and back along the beach. Since it was cloudy, we weren’t blessed with a beautiful sunrise during the race, but it was still lovely to run with a view of the ocean. Water stations seemed to be at every 2 to 3k and they were manned with a handful of volunteers who were super helpful but with so few of them, they often had to go grab another cup once a runner grabbed the one they offered, so I often ran up directly to the table to take the cup myself.
I must admit that there is little local cheering support along the route. When the lovely Anita from the Ministry of Tourism spotted me at the 10k mark and cheered for me, it was just the boost I needed, and I just wish more of the locals had come out early to cheer on us runners. Entertainment-wise, that, too, was meager; I believe there were maybe three spots where music was being blasted on speakers. That said, what was being played made my day: I didn’t realize it at first listen, but when I paid attention, I noticed that the reggae song being played was about the marathon! It has lyrics about the distance being long, and to keep going; it’s actually a great song, and I give major kudos to the Bahamas race organizers for it. (I need to get a copy!)
Given the heat and my lack of training and zero intention of PBing, I actually stopped to drink water every kilometre because I was just taking it as easy as possible. And so it ended up being one of my slowest halfs ever (in fact, it’s slower than my typical pace for a training run). But my focus was truly just to take in the race comfortably. It is such a nice and relaxing change to not be pressuring yourself for a PB. Crossing the finish line felt great and there was a fantastic marching band playing there.
Making up for the quiet course in this race, though? The race finished at Arawak Cay and they had a handful of beach chairs and all of the runners pulled off their shoes and socks and went to walk in the refreshing water. I actually ran right into the water and it felt incredible given the hot weather.
My first race of the year is in the books, now to continue training for spring races!
February 1st, 2016
When I was little, like every tomboy, I wanted to go to the Olympics. I was competing at a very high level at an age when I should’ve been playing hide ‘n’ seek with my friends. Life has a funny way of working itself out though. As an adult, I can make better decisions for myself. Determination and focus are just part of the training I put myself through every single day.
When I finally found my latest coach Timo, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard rumours he was pretty awesome. I was looking for something specific. I was looking for a coach who was going to be adaptable. I’m not an easy subject to coach and I needed the perfect fit. We bonded instantly and then things started to change dramatically for me.
I hadn’t spent much time on a track in my adult years, except to train for my marathon. My coach said this broken marathoner had nothing left in my legs and began to rebuild me. He sent me to the track twice a week every week for the last year. This time last year was my first time back competing on the track in over 20 years. I was scared and felt way out of my element. I was the marathoner, not a trackie.
I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a world master track and field event. Coach Timo insisted I sign up. In August I went to my first international meet in Lyon, France. A dream I didn’t know I actually didn’t know I wanted. Turns out, I did want to compete for Canada, even if it was as a master runner.
My first season as a master on the track was amazing, so many first moments; so many best moments. It was again a surprise to me that I suddenly thought; hey let’s try for a Canadian master record. With very little time to prep for this, I had to turn my 1500M training around and switch gears to the 5000M. I had two weeks to tune my training. It’s not a lot of time, but I had faith my coach would get me there safely.
Sunday at York during the OMA mini meet #2 is a day I will never forget. 25 times around a 200M track is tough. It takes a very strong mental game to push through the pain. My race played out exactly as my coach and I thought it would. I would be fine to 3000M, but the next 2000M would be the darkest place I’ve been in a while.
With six laps to go and my body overheating, I was happy to accept failure and try again on another day. But it was my coach’s face, his words and my teammates who wouldn’t let me quit. I owe my Canadian record to them as much as to my training and myself. With two laps to go, I managed to find the strength deep down to save the day and grab the record with 8 seconds to spare. (19:31:50 was the old record, I now hold the new record of 19:23)
I didn’t think a Canadian record was achievable at this age, so for the last 10 years, I’ve not thought much of it. Athletics Canada and the Ontario Masters Association really have given all athletes a first chance and a second chance to achieve great things.
January 29th, 2016
Adidas has launched a PureBOOST X, a running shoe created by women for women. After years of testing and research, adidas has created a “…sleek, form-fitting running show built to meet the relentless energy of their active lifestyle.”
PureBOOST X runs for $130 and unlike many women running shoes – that are merely adaptations of the male shoe – the new BOOST show was cultivated with only the female athlete in mind. As a result, Adidas proudly boasts this uniqueness of this product, “…high performance meets high fashion running shoe for women.”
Senior Director of Global Brands in Running, Jennifer Thomas, says, “The most common feedback we received during our years of working with female athletes was the desire for a running shoe with looks to keep up with the energy of its performance.” Moreover, she adds, PureBOOST X is a product of innovation and style working in perfect harmony to meet the demands of today’s versatile female athlete.”
Here are some specs on the shoe:
- New floating arch provides completely fresh look and feel
- Adaptive arch wraps underneath the midfoot, making the foot look smaller with more support
- The stretch mesh upper, floating arch and lock down lacing system provides a personalized fit
- Mesh hugs foot from heel to toe
- Stretch web outsole allows for flex at any point enabling the foot to maintain its natural motion
For more news on Adidas’ latest running gear: http://news.adidas.com/CA
Adidas is a global designer, developer and marketer of athletic footwear, apparel and accessories with the mission to be the leading sports brand in the world. Brand adidas is part of the adidas Group, a corporation that includes brands such as Reebok and TaylorMade.
January 27th, 2016
By Alex Flint
Depression isn’t always as obvious as you might think, and it will affect each person differently. However, we spoke with Lauren Berger, a counsellor at Integrative Health Institute in Toronto, to learn what signs may help in spotting depression early. Especially be aware of any drastic change in these areas of your life, or if you start to feel multiple of these signs.
1. Loss of motivation, or pleasure. It may be hard to get out of bed, or motivate yourself to get out for a run. The things you usually enjoy may not bring you the usual level of pleasure.
2. Feeling withdrawn from the people around you. Family and friends may notice that you’re not being as social as usual, or you’re sending calls to voicemail more often.
3. Changes in your sleep habits. Some people will experience insomnia, busy minds and light sleep. Others may start sleeping more, and have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Either change can be a tell tale sign.
4. General feelings of sadness, for no obvious reason. It’s expected to feel sad after a great loss, or tramatic event. However, anything extending beyond 6 months can be a signal to seek help.
5. Being irritable or short tempered. Snapping at your boss, or finding everything your husband does is annoying you? If this isn’t your usual self, it could be caused by depression.
If you’ve noticed a change in these areas of your life, seek help. You can reach the Canadian Mental Health Hotline at 1-866-531-2600.
January 27th, 2016
By Megan Black
Earlier this year Men’s Journal featured a piece about rapper Eminem and his battle with alcoholism and prescription drug addiction. Interestingly, the Grammy-winning rapper credits running to aiding in his recovery. Eminem was logging two daily running sessions, totaling 17 miles a day to lose weight, increase endorphins and ease his chronic insomnia.
In 2007, Eminem overdosed on pills and was admitted to the hospital, tipping the scales at nearly 230 pounds. He had gained weight after years of alcohol abuse and taking Vicodin as well as Valium, leaving a hole in his stomach. To avoid severe stomachaches, he was constantly gorging on unhealthy food. Since leaving rehab and taking up running, his weight has dropped down to 149 – a whopping 80-pound weight loss!
The rapper claims, “it’s easy to understand how people replace addiction with exercise. One addiction for another but one that’s good for them. I got an addict’s brain, and when it came to running, I think I got a little carried away.” Admittedly, it was too much on his body – specifically, his hip flexors – at the beginning and he has since taken a more moderate approach by combining both cardio and strength training.
What’s so interesting about Eminem’s story is the frequency with which former addicts turn to running during rehabilitation. Upon leaving rehab, the rapper claimed that he was in desperate need to lose weight and figure out how to function soberly. This common theme has been explored in many publications and journals, all of which have found a unique aptitude that former addicts have for exercise – specifically, running. They have developed the perfect toolbox: from tolerance for mental and physical distress, stamina to single-minded focus. Former addicts have all the tools to channel their former dependence into a new and healthy lifestyle.
Men’s Journal sheds much-needed light on the mind-body connection and emotional benefits that running poses. All too often the health and fitness industry focuses solely on the aesthetic rewards that running offers (read: “How Running Will Help You Shed the Last Ten Pounds in Just One Week” or “How Running Can Get YOU a Victoria Secret Angel’s Body”). There’s no denying that the health and physical advantages that come along with running warrant attention. But just as important (if not more so) are the mental benefits of lacing up your kicks and heading out the door. While many of us may not be recovering addicts, running offers an exceptional outlet for managing mental health, and for that, Eminem’s story is extremely refreshing.
As a runner, music helps to create a mind-body connection, one that will keep you motivated enough to kick it when you’re feeling kicked. Check out the latest iRun playlist on RDIO, inspired by Eminem and tell us what tunes are you running to.
January 26th, 2016
By Alex Flint
Running has been touted as a cure for depression, anxiety, addiction and more.Anyone who surrounds themselves with runners has no doubt heard this, or maybe experienced it themselves. To find out why running has such a profound affect on people’s mental health, we spoke to people on both sides of the story.
Bell Let’s Talk Day is here. Today, you can talk, text, tweet and share using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk to help raise awareness and funds for mental health issues, like anxiety and depression. CMHA reports that 1-in-5 Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime; and only half of those suffering will seek professional help. The stigma around mental health is the likely reason for that disparity, and it’s exactly what Let’s Talk Day is working to overcome.
In the spirit of talking, I spoke with Jenna Pettinato. She’s a 31-year-old communications professional in Toronto, and has her own experience with anxiety and depression. Jenna describes it as “the worst year of my life,” but her story has a happy ending.
The changes for Jenna began in 2005. She was attending Waterloo University and living away from home for the first time. It was overwhelming, and she started to have crippling panic attacks in class. It led to her putting school on hold, and moving back home so she could seek help and learn more about what she was experiencing.
What causes the sudden appearance of anxiety like this? “It’s hard to say,” says Lauren Berger, RSW, “because there’s no 100% conclusive research.” Lauren is a counsellor at Integrative Health Institute in Toronto, and she helps people better cope with anxiety and depression. “Like an illness,” Lauren continues, “it’s almost latent in the brain, and something can trigger it.” It could be a traumatic event, sudden loss, or a big life change, like going away to school.
Once home, Jenna’s anxiety was so overwhelming she rarely went outside. She gained weight and lost touch with her friends, and then the depression began. At the advice of her family doctor, Jenna began weekly therapy sessions. When Jenna’s doctor told her that she needed to lose weight, or risk long-term health problems, her journey to recovery began. It started with short walks, then mixing 1 minute runs into her walks, and going a little further each week. Jenna just wanted to be happy and healthy, she never intended to become a runner.
Jenna found this solution organically, but it has some precedent. Lauren recommends you “start small – show yourself you can do it,” and the simple act of achieving those goals can be a powerful tool to manage both depression and anxiety. As you become physically stronger, you may start to notice your mental state improving too. “Perhaps a month into it, you’ll notice you can run a bit faster, or a bit farther,” said Lauren. “This can result in you feeling strong and powerful.”
Of course, running wasn’t the only tool for Jenna. Talking about how she’s feeling has been helpful too, though she admits, “I could talk about it more.” Her regular therapy sessions continued, and she felt noticeably better. She continued to walk and run, and signed up for the Toronto Women’s 8km race in 2010. With this goal set, she started to take running more seriously.
Running has several biological benefits, but with some practical tips you can gain even more of an emotional boost from it. She says, “If you can make the commitment to running, even just for 10 minutes a day, it can be a great sense of accomplishment.” That sense of accomplishment can help with depression. She also recommends practicing mindfulness while exercising. “Start taking note of all the things around you. The sunset, the buildings, the trees.” Pay attention to how your body is reacting, too. “Just by running you’ve created great change in yourself,” explains Lauren. “Therefore you can affect change in other areas of your life too.”
There are also many social aspects of the sport that can help those suffering from depression or anxiety. “We regard running and exercise as a very healthy behaviour, so it can have a domino effect,” Lauren said. “Once you go running and get your endorphin high off running, maybe you’ll want to go out with friends and get out more.” Many runners have taken to joining running crews too, including Jenna; she runs with Tribe Fitness. Having a crew can offer motivation, accountability, and helps to surround you with positive people.
Jenna’s a different person now, even though anxiety and depression will always be a factor in her life. She has continued running, and completed her first triathlon and full marathon in 2014. She continues to set new personal bests every year, and has even found a career in the industry, working for Canadian Race Series. She lost 80 pounds, and gained at least that many friends. Jenna’s story is incredible, but it doesn’t have to be rare.
As of 2015, Bell has donated over $73 million to Canadian mental health programs. Today, every text message, wireless and long distance call made by Bell customers, every tweet using #BellLetsTalk, and every Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk Day image from their Facebook Page, will result in a 5 cent donation from Bell, at no cost to you.
Other than participating in Let’s Talk Day, you can help more than you know, by simply being aware of these issues, and being a friend to those in need. If you, or someone you know, need to talk, contact the Canadian Mental Health Hotline at 1-866-531-2600 today.