iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk , Vancouver, BC

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava , Calgary, AB

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel , Calgary, AB

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk , Calgary, AB

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw , New Westminister, BC

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris , Winnipeg, MB

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan , Brampton, ON

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua , Caledon, ON

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh , Nottingham, UK

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller , Laval, QC

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter , Clearwater , BC

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt , Halifax, NS

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie , St-Antoine, NB

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette , Carp, ON

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling , Ottawa , ON

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley , Stittsville, ON

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve , Ottawa, ON

iRun for meKiza Francis , Ottawa,ON

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan , Brampton, ON

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker , Etobicoke, ON

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier , Gatineau, QC

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch , Ottawa, ON

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham , Avonmore, ON

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre , Ottawa, ON

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan , Ottawa, ON

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil , Lombardy, ON

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn’t Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it’s cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu , Ontario

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird , Ontario

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall , Alberta

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka , Alberta

iRun to my happy place and some days it’s very Doreen May , Alberta

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston , Alberta

iRun because I can’t dance Mario Javier , Ontario

iRun so I don’t say never ever again Linda Klaric , Manitoba

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur , Quebec

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde , Alberta

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard , Alberta

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy , Ontario

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur , British Columbia

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson , British Columbia

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop , Yukon

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter , Alberta

iRun because otherwise I’m grumpy Alexandre Charest , Quebec

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton , British Columbia

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang , Alberta

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey , New Brunswick

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx , Ontario

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis , Ontario

iRun because it’s like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson , Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan , Alberta

iRun because I’ve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly , Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour , Ontario

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick , New Brunswick

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie , Ontario

iRun because it’s a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney , British Columbia

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin , Manitoba

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith , Manitoba

iRun because it’s fun when it’s done Sue Matte , Ontario

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer , Quebec

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas , New York

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua , Ontario

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston , Nunavut

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan , Ontario

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean , Ontario

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung , British Columbia

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell , Nova Scotia

iRun because it’s better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn’t Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen , Manitoba

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins , Alberta

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott , Québec

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby , Saskatchewan

iRun for me! Judi Wearing , Saskatchewan

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie , Yukon

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello , Ontario

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts , Ontario

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher , Alberta

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott , Ontario

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas , Ontario

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent , Québec

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams , Ontario

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville , Ontario

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail , Ontario

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar , Saskatchewan

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle , New Brunswick

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra , Ontario

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor , Saskatchewan

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier , New Brunswick

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon , British Columbia

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase , Nova Scotia

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes , Ontario

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp , Ontario

How movies and real life heroes inspire your running

March 24th, 2015


With the buzz around Academy-award winning movies carrying on, I’ve been trying to watch some of the movies that have won awards. I recently watched the movie Whiplash which won for Best Supporting Actor, and I was blown away by its intensity. Centred around an aspiring musician, Andrew Neiman and a conductor, Fletcher, who is determined to produce one of the best musicians in the world, the film delves into the tension-filled studio environment. Complete with chairs thrown at Andrew’s head and emotional abuse, Fletcher believes that,”there are no two words in the english language more harmful than good job”.

There’s no question that I believe in striving for your best. By challenging yourself you’ll discover what your best really is, but this movie takes it to a whole other level. As runners, we are often notorious for being hard on ourselves, sloughing off compliments and making it a struggle to truly believe in our ability. Yet a major factor in your success is that self belief. It might sound simplistic, but scientific research tells us that self belief is a key factor that plays into our ability to accomplish our goals.

As it turns out, having a positive belief in our ability can influence our effort, persistence and mental state. Since the 80s, the field of sport psychology has been researching factors that influence an individuals belief in him or her self. Researchers have asked the question: when someone has a really strong belief in their ability to be successful, what factors are playing into that belief? Four factors including enactive mastery, vicarious experience, social persuasion and physiological factors.

Think about how many times you’ve decided how fast or how slow you were going to run, even before you laced up your shoes. So how can you move the needle on self-belief in a positive direction? Drawing inspiration from others, through vicarious experience, is one factor that can influence your belief. In fact, seeing another person achieve their goal is a great way to get a boost in your own confidence and can ultimately sky rocket your success.

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In the latest issue of iRun Magazine, Terry Fox was celebrated and he has undoubtably been one of the most inspirational figures in Canadian history. Thirty-five years after running over 5,000 kilometres in 143 days, in order to raise funds and awareness for cancer, Terry Fox’s admiration continues to run deep. He relentlessly pursued his goal and pushed himself to unbelievable lengths, he truly personified mental toughness. Terry’s legacy lives on and the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $650 million in Terry Fox’s name. Drawing on others’ successes, including Terry, will enhance your belief in yourself. The next time you are nearing the end of a run, think of Terry and his relentless determination; better yet, make the Terry Fox Run your goal and draw confidence from the strength and courage of an inspirational Canadian.

Over the course of the next month, I’ll tackle the other factors that will help you increase your belief in yourself and bring out your best running!

About Jennifer Perrault

Jennifer is a former gymnast turned sprinter turned middle distance runner. She recently completed a Master’s in Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa where she studied sport psychology. She holds a Bachelor Degree in psychology from the University of Western Ontario where she was captain of the Track and Field team. She continued her running career with the Gee Gees and is the 2012 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Champion in the 1000m. She is passionate about bringing athletes to a new level of performance through mental skills training. Jennifer believes that enhancing mental performance is about sharpening these mental skills to help athletes constantly challenge themselves to be better.

Connect with Jennifer on Twitter, @jen_perrault, or visit her website!

An unexpected race

March 18th, 2015


It was supposed to be another weekly group run with the Nike Run Club. When I registered online, it was advertised as a 5K run. The weekly routine was quite simple: a run leader would guide us through the streets, sidewalks, and parks of Toronto. We would run as a pack, stop at traffic lights, and generally try not to scare pedestrians as we swarmed past them. But when I arrived on run day, I had a bit of UH-OH flash before my eyes.

Excuse me, is that a bib?

There was a registration desk. In fact, there were multiple registration desks. When you checked in, you received a cool Nike Toronto Run Club Dri-fit t-shirt. But you also got a bib. A bib? With a chip on it? This wasn’t going to be a run – it was going to be a race.

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My UH-OH moment was fueled by two factors: I had just run a 20K time trial the day before (graciously hosted by The Night Terrors Run Crew and Enfield Timing), and I was running for the first time in a new pair of Nike Lunar Flyknit 3s that I was trialing. This was going to be interesting.

But a bib is a bib and whenever you receive one, your job is to bring it to the finish line as quickly as you can. I would be racing on this day despite my tired legs and new shoes because that’s just what you do when you know you’re being timed.

A Surprising Pre-Race

Before heading out to the race, Nike gathered us around for a couple of pre-race announcements.

The first announcement was that the 5K would be a predictor race. Your 5K time would be used to predict a goal finish time for a 15K which just happens to be the distance for the Nike Toronto Women’s race in June.

Photo 2015-03-08, 9 45 57 AM

The second announcement was a biggy: Canadian marathoning champ and running coach, Rejean Chiasson, would be leading the weekly Nike Run Club workouts. This is significant as it speaks to Nike’s commitment towards providing great quality running workouts to the Toronto running community. This would help to make the weekly runs much more structured and is a boon to all those who participate.

Love Thy Pacer

We trotted out to the race start and we sorted out ourselves to according bright, yellow-dressed pacers. There were pacers at 4:00/km, 4:30/km, 5:00/km, and so on. Having just run a 20K at 4:23/km pace the day before, I figured I was good for a 4:15/km pace or better for a 5K and I would do my best to “hang on” to the 4:00/km group at the front.

As the start horn blared, we took off and were ready to do our three loops around a closed-off Queen’s Park to make up our 5K. I had the good fortune to be paced a bit by Sam Hirons who dropped back from his 4:00/km pace duties to encourage me on. I explained to him that I had just done a time trial the day because I needed him to know that (right?). He shared with me that he had also done a long run of 30K the day before to which I could only blurt out “Good for you!” in between my gasping breaths (sorry Sam, I was having a pain-cave moment, OK?).

Photo 2015-03-09, 10 03 59 PM

Despite the short race, I really appreciated the value of having a good pacer. Pacers give up their own chance to race in order to help others have the best race that they can. Being the good pacer that he was, Sam offered to have me draft behind him as we went into a headwind. I took advantage of that generous offer for about 30 seconds until my tired legs started to give out.

As I headed around the final turn, however, my spirits were lifted as I saw the finish line and I made a concluding push. I ended up with a 20:46 that equaled a satisfying 4:09/km pace – not bad for a pair of tired legs.

Was It The Shoes?

One of the best parts of this race experience was the opportunity to try a new pair of shoes and enjoying love on first run. This was my first pair of Nike Flyknits and I really appreciated their sock-like fit and super-light demeanour. Surprisingly, one of my favourite parts of the shoe is the tongue – it is incredibly soft and stretchy which makes it a very comfortable shoe to slip on. Their performance was definitely a positive factor in me being able to race well during an unexpected race. I liked this shoe so much that it was the only pair of running shoes that I packed with me on a recent trip.

Photo 2015-03-08, 9 55 09 AM

The Next Race Is The Race

As we headed back to the pre-race area for refreshments, Nike had one last surprise for us. On the back of each of our bibs was a special code that would gain us advance entry into the Nike Toronto Women’s 15K (men are welcome to participate too) on the Toronto Island in June. This would give each participant a guaranteed entry that would bypass the lottery registration starting the next day. If it is like any of the other Nike Women’s Races around the world, the race event will certainly sell out.

Visit Nike Women Toronto to learn more about the race before the lottery registration deadline of March 29th.

Hope to see you on the Toronto Island in June,


School Ties

March 15th, 2015

Andrew Chak goes back to school to see how today’s students respond to Terry’s memory. Hint: Through their dedication, he learns something about himself.
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When it comes to the annual Terry Fox Run at Millwood Junior School in Etobicoke, Ontario, they’re all in. They run and they get the whole community involved in a spirited, demonstrative manner to raise money for cancer research. Their enthusiasm and commitment has helped them to raise more than $5,000 over each of the past two years.
I had a chance to chat with a group of Grade 5 students at Millwood to gain an understanding as to what Terry Fox meant to them. I started the conversation by going through a brief recap as to who Terry was, the struggles he faced and what he accomplished during his lifetime. As the students reflected on Terry’s life, I was struck by the impact his story had in inspiring them to be able to overcome challenges.

What words would you use to describe Terry Fox?
The first question I asked the students was to share what words they would use to describe Terry.
“Courageous. He went out and did something no one else had done before.”
“Selfless. He thought of those who were suffering with cancer with no hope and wanted to help them.”
“Eager. He was eager to finish the marathon. He was eager to raise money for cancer research.”
“Persevering. He kept on going even if it hurt him.”
I was impressed with how the students picked up on Terry’s selflessness in what he did and I was glad that this was something that stood out to them.

What is important for other kids to know about Terry Fox?
As the students heard more about what Terry did and how he did it, I asked them what they thought was important for other kids to know about him.
“That he ran to raise money for cancer research and not to be famous.”
“That he set a good example for others to follow.”
“That he proved that something really difficult could be done.”
“That giving can help you and others no matter how hard it is.”
“To never give up.”
As the students shared their answers, I could see their minds processing new possibilities within their own lives as they realized that challenging goals could be accomplished even if they are hard to do.

How does Terry Fox inspire you?
The final question I asked these students was for them to share how Terry has inspired them.
“To never give up on your dream.”
“To persevere – even if you don’t want to keep on going.”
“To always keep going no matter what.”
“If you work hard, anything is possible.”
“To believe in yourself.”
Listening to these students’ answers was an important reminder for me to believe in myself. Committing to a goal takes constant re-commitment and it always helpful to hear and re-hear the stories of those who kept on going.

A persevering story
As the students shared their answers, I couldn’t help but be moved. When I heard how inspired they were from Terry’s story, they inspired me. As the students from Millwood Junior School have shown, the response to Terry’s story is one of persevering inspiration, and the way in which we must respond is to persevere in sharing it with others.

Andrew Chak is a father of three boys and author of The Obsessive Runner blog. He’s a Canada Running Series and Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend digital ambassador and part of the Rock ‘n’ Blog team for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series.

What winning a gold medal can’t teach

March 15th, 2015

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By Adam van Koeverden

In sixth grade I joined something called the “Fitness Club” at my elementary school. There was a cute girl involved, as I recall, and that provided enough of a reason as any to get involved at age 11. One of our first projects was to promote the annual Terry Fox Run in our neighbourhood. That was my first introduction to Canada’s most beloved runner and cancer advocate. With a little research I was quickly fascinated by his tenacity and stubbornness. Canada was so big! (It still is…) And he was going to run all the way across it? On an artificial leg? It just seemed too incredible to be real. I wasn’t born when Terry Fox ran his Marathon of Hope. But he represents something so significant in Canada’s sporting history, that young kids today still know his name and recognize his accomplishments. He left such an inspirational legacy, for cancer patients and survivors, for runners, for every Canadian. He was a pioneer in a way; one of the very first true athlete ambassadors – now almost every pro athlete has a foundation or a charity they work with.

When I think back to when I first became excited about sports, I’m reminded that I was a bit of a late-bloomer. I wasn’t a competitive athlete as a kid, I didn’t really watch sports on TV. My dad would bring my brother and I to an Argos game, but I recall being more interested in the SkyDome’s retractable roof and how many more litres of water went down all the toilets with one flush than over the Niagara Falls in two minutes. A few years later I wandered into the Burloak Canoe Club in Oakville, expecting to try a new sport. I wanted to be the best at something, and since there weren’t any other kayakers in my class, I suppose I was taking the easy route to accomplishing that goal. It didn’t take long before I found further inspiration among the ranks of the Oldershaw clan and Olympic Gold medalist, Larry Cain on the 16 Mile Creek, and started to set some long-term goals.

After competing at the Olympics in 2004 I went back to school full-time at McMaster University. I was 22 and anxious to get back to school after taking a year to concentrate solely on my preparation for the Olympics. A day before my first final exam in December, I got a phone call from my coach. He told me I’d won the Lou Marsh Award, as Canada’s athlete of the year for 2004, for winning gold and bronze in Athens. I was expected to do some TV and radio the next day, which was exciting, but what about my exams?

Thankfully my professors appreciated my situation and let me write my exams after my interviews. But amidst all that studying, I had some other research to take care of. As I said, I wasn’t a huge sports fan. I recalled that Mike Weir won the Lou Marsh the year before and I knew that Wayne Gretzky certainly had as well. But I didn’t know who Lou Marsh was, or what an amazing honour it was at the time.

As I read the other names of the Lou Marsh Award recipients I saw a lot of very familiar ones; The Great One was on there four times, fellow kayaker Caroline Brunet won in 1999 and I remembered that Donovan Bailey and Mark Tewksbury had also won the prestigious prize.

But one name stood out among all the others. 1980 — Terry Fox. I was so struck by emotion at the idea of having my name on a trophy alongside Terry Fox’s that I couldn’t do anything except cry. It was too surreal. He wasn’t like me, he was a legend. He didn’t try to paddle a little boat or score goals, he tried to change the world. He was so much more than just an athlete, way more than a winner. Terry lost his fight with cancer, but he won a much greater battle. The Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $600 million for cancer research in Canada, creating a legacy or giving that will live on in perpetuity.
If Terry’s story can teach us anything, it’s that sport, and the people who do it, can truly create positive change. Sport isn’t just about medals and records and victory. It highlights real human stories, creates awareness, inspires us to dream and believe in ourselves and those around us. Terry was maybe the first athlete who advocated for a cause greater than his own campaign to win. Terry paved the way for people who do sports to be more than just athletes.

Terry challenged the notion of disability, he wanted people to hear his message, so he set out to do something that nobody thought was possible. He said: “I just wish people would realize that anything is possible if you try. Dreams are made if people try.” I hope that as Canadians we continue to have the guts to dream as hard as Terry did. I hope kids hear about who Terry was and why he did what he did, and I hope that inspires them to set goals of their own and to be champions at whatever inspires them. Not just the kind of champion that crosses the finish line first or scores the winning goal – but the kind that Terry was, and continues to be, for us all.

Adam van Koeverden is a four-time Olympic medalist, including gold at the 2004 summer games. The current kayak world champion in the K-1000 metre sprint, Koeverden is a contributor to iRun.

Go Ahead…Bite Me!

March 15th, 2015

When I see little dogs headed in my direction while I run, I’m now immune to all diseases and viruses that dogs may carry. Although I laugh about it now, at the time I was really bitter.


By Susan Finkelstein

After months of recovering from an injury and slowly building up my mileage, I finally got the OK to do a long run. I even bought a Garmin for my big comeback. It was a beautiful Sunday morning, a little chilly, but I was equipped for the weather with my new tights and gloves.

At a little over 3K, I spotted two dog owners with their little, fluffy white dogs on a leash. They were on the edge of the sidewalk, and as I got closer, I noticed that one of the dogs started to get aggressive. In my experience, it’s the little ones that seem to be threatened by runners. So, I veered off onto the road with my head held high, not even glancing at the dog. I did not want my fear to be evident to the dog. Apparently when they sense fear dogs get scared.

However, the barking continued and before I even knew what was happening, I felt pressure on my right thigh. Did that dog actually jump up and make contact with me? Apparently, so. With my eyes still looking straight ahead, I checked my Garmin to make sure I was on-pace and continued my run like nothing happened. I just chalked this up to a weird running experience. But about five minutes later, my leg started to throb. Did that little dog really bite me? I couldn’t stop on the road and pull down my tights to check, so I just ignored it until I got home. Runners are good at ignoring pain. When I got home, to my amazement, there were bite marks. That canine actually bit through my running tights! Even more bizarre? If my memory serves me correct, the dog was on a leash!

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I took some pictures of my war wounds and sent them off to some friends. In my mins, irwas more like a badge of honour. The adventures of a road runner: who knew that running could be so dangerous? Even still, one friend was particularly concerned and suggested that I look into getting rabies shots. When the bruising around the bite marks started to set in, I phoned public health. Because I have no information about the dog or the owner, I cannot follow-up to check the vaccine status of the dog. Public health suggests I see a doctor and ask to be vaccinated against rabies.

The doctor then confirmed that, indeed, I needed a rabies vaccination because it is 100% fatal. Even if there is only a slight chance of getting the disease, it is imperative that humans get vaccinated. So, there I was receiving four shots of the immunoglobin in the wound site and starting the protocol of four intra-muscular vaccine injections in my arm, spread over the next two weeks. All of this hampered my push-up regimen and interfered with my new shoulder extension technique that I was trying to master in swimming. I also felt slightly feverish and nauseated after each shot.

Now, when I run and a small, excitable dog, I insist that the animal be on a tight leash. Instead of looking straight ahead and ignoring the dog, I stare right into the owner’s eyes and command that they have control of their pet. And then a little voice in my head says “Go ahead, little fluffy… bite me!” And I keep on running.

Competitive Field to Race Modo Spring Run-Off 8k

March 11th, 2015


Kelly Wiebe on his way to victory in the 2014 Modo Spring Run-Off 8k race in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Photo Credit: Inge Johnson, Canada Running Series.

By Paul Gains

Just eleven months ago Kelly Wiebe lay deathly ill in a Vancouver hospital bed, a blood clot embedded in his groin. In an astonishing display of resilience the 25 year old from Saskatchewan recovered and went on to claim the silver medal at the 2014 Canadian Cross Country Championships just four seconds behind Chris Winter.

On March 22nd Wiebe will defend his Modo Spring Run-Off 8k title in Vancouver’s picturesque Stanley Park against a field which includes Winter. The race, which kicks off the 2015 Canada Running Series, will also open the 2015 racing season for the majority of competitors. In general, it’s an event that’s not to be taken too seriously. But with pride on the line, runners of this calibre will have a difficult time curbing their competitive nature.

Wiebe recently spent a month training in Australia, brining his fitness is at a new level. “The Modo 8k is intended to get me sharp and race ready,” he explains, treading the politically correct line. “I have only raced once since the National Cross Country Championships back in November, so I am looking for that race stimulus that you can’t really get in training. I expect there to be some good competition from Chris Winter and Lucas Bruchet, but at the same time I think all three of us are really just looking for something to break up training, and not really something to smash. The main goal is to walk away from the day feeling healthy, and ready to tackle 12km at the world cross country championships the following week.”

Neither Bruchet or Winter the 2013 and 2014 National Cross Country Champions respectively, will be joining Wiebe at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China on March 28th. Despite their best intentions to use the Modo 8k as a fitness run it is more likely they will not want to lose in front of the hometown crowd. All three are living in Vancouver these days. Winter spent five years at the University of Oregon before joining Speed River Track Club in Guelph, Ontario. After three years in “The Royal City” he and his fiancee, Rachel Cliff, have moved back to B.C. but he continues to receive his training program from Speed River coach, Dave Scott-Thomas. “Dave and I continue to work together,” he says. “It was a bit of gamble to move away from the great program Guelph has built but the relationship works great. We correspond mostly via email, but if something pressing comes up Dave’s always available to chat. It’s definitely not the “ideal” scenario, but I am a senior athlete and both Dave and I know very well what I need to get me where I want to be – and it appears to be working. My (track) racing schedule has been such that I haven’t been able to do too many road races in the past couple of years so I am excited that the Modo 8km fell at a great time. I love racing on the roads and training has been going really well. I am looking forward to what promises to be a great, fun event on a beautiful course here in Vancouver.”

Wiebe, Bruchet, Winter and Canadian Olympic marathoner Dylan Wykes, who is also planning to run easy, all live within five blocks and occasionally see each other training. Winter represented Canada at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2013 IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Moscow and trains alone except on easier days when he and Cliff run together. “I fully expect that I should be able to mix it up with those guys,” Winter says. “Kelly is a little more experienced on the roads and over the longer distances but Luc also ran a great road 5km (at the International Ekiden) in China late last year. It’ll be fun to see how it plays out. “I really just want to put myself in the mix early and try to be the first guy across the line at the end of it. I am not putting a lot of pressure on myself for this race. The important races are coming up later in the spring but I do want to run hard and give my legs a good test. It should be fun.”


Natasha Wodak (bib 33) battling the field en route to victory in the 2014 Modo Spring Run-Off 8k. Photo Credit: Inge Johnson, Canada Running Series.

The men’s event record was set in 2008 by Ryan McKenzie at 23:40. With the field being strong, there is every chance that record could be challenged. The women’s race will pit Cliff, who will marry Winter on September 11th of this year, against defending Modo 8k champion, Natasha Wodak. A year ago Wodak set a women’s event record with a brilliant 26:37. But it’s 24 year old Andrea Seccafien who could provide an upset if the other two think they can wait and kick. A member of Athletics Toronto she is a training partner of Commonwealth 1,500m bronze medalist, Kate Van Buskirk and surprised many with her consistency over 5000m on the track. Her personal best of 15:52.06 ranks her 6th in Canada. But it is a very fit Wodak who will command the most attention. “I am racing Modo 8k the weekend after the United NYC half marathon, and the weekend before the world cross country championships, so I’m not going to be hammering it,” Wodak declares. “I really love the Canada Running Series events, so I didn’t want to miss Modo 8k, even though it’s not an ideal weekend for me. I’m treating this race as a hard workout, in preparation for World Cross Country Champs the following weekend which is also 8km.”

At the same San Diego training camp where Wiebe became ill, Wodak developed a case of plantar fasciitis which curtailed training for most of 2014. Like Wiebe she had a good result at the Canadian cross country championships to salvage the season. Her bronze medal performance was just nine seconds behind Cliff. “I don’t feel any pressure (to defend the Modo title). I just want to have some fun and enjoy the race,” says Wodak. “It’ll be great to have Rachel Cliff there again this year- we always have great battles. I’m feeling fit and ready to roll.” Wodak volunteers every Friday morning at the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association and continues to wait tables at the Boathouse Restaurant on Kits Beach two or three nights a week to help with her living expenses. “I have been serving for over 10 years now, all the while training every day. I’m pretty much used to it now. When I used to work five nights a week, it would be pretty exhausting. But now that I’m only working two or three nights a week, it’s not too bad,” she reveals. “Also, my employers are pretty awesome and they allow me to wear Asics running shoes at work. That has been very helpful, especially this year while I was suffering with plantar fasciitis.” With one of the deepest fields ever assembled in both the men’s and women’s races there is no doubt it will be a battle to get on the podium and an incredible beginning for the 2015 Canada Running Series!

Three different ways to cross train

March 10th, 2015

We know that you would rather be running than anything else. But whether you’re dealing with ice covered sidewalks, or slushy puddles of melting snow, maybe you’ve lost that running feeling. Don’t worry you’ll find love on your run again. In the meantime channel some of that negative energy into cross training and make the preseason work for you.


“When you’re training for something, like a marathon, you can physically and mentally stagnate,” explains Pam Mazzuca-Prebeg a Toronto-based personal trainer and Lole ambassador, “Being able to switch it up gives you a fresh perspective so that when you come back to your sport, you have a new found love for it again.” But what’s a runner to do? Here are three cross-training options and why each one will keep you fit in a different way.

Indoor Rock Climbing

“Runners don’t use their upper body as much as other athletes, so indoor rock climbing is a great option for building strength,” says Prebeg adding that the upper body focus, balances a runner’s body, which is important for staying strong at any age.

WHO: Runners who enjoy group treks will enjoy the social atmosphere found at many climbing gyms. Plus you’ll also need to partner up because the sport requires you to belay one another.

SESSION: While sessions usually last a hour, depeding on your climbing skill level, you’ll each get about a 30 minute climb.

Hot yoga

Stripping down to minimal clothing while being in a hot environment, that’s practically a dose of sunshine right there. “Going into a hot yoga studio, is a good way to force yourself to stretch,” explains Prebeg. “Runners will lengthen their muscles, increase flexibility and release any muscle tension.

WHO: This is for any runner who wants to channel that warm weather feeling, but still get in a solid sweat session. Plus, you’ll not only improve your flexibility but you’ll decrease your risk of injury for lower back, hips and knees.

SESSION: Prebeg recommends runners aim for a once a week session, which varies from 30 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the class.

Ice Skating

Lacing up your skates can make you feel like a kid again, which means that you’re likely going to have fun. With the sport’s side-to-side movement, ice skating engages different muscle groups including your gluteus medius which isn’t as active when you’re running.

WHO: While all runners can gain the cross training benefits of ice skating, Prebeg says that women runners in particular benefit. According to Prebeg, a stronger gluteus medius will help stabilize your pelvis, and lower back two areas which women runners often incur injury.

SESSION: With thousands of community arenas nationwide, plus even more outdoor rinks, there’s no shortage of options and after about an hour, you’ll probably find you’re body feeling the difference.



Nike+ Run Club creating community and inspiring runners

March 9th, 2015

This past weekend I received my very first DNF in my (short) racing career and I am happy about it. The event was the Nike+ Run Club local run. It was a 5K run to kick off training for the Nike Woman’s 15K in Toronto.

When I first arrived at MaRS on College Street I wasn’t sure of what to expect but I was told was there would be a 5k run and some information about the Nike+ apps. When I got there I saw about 250 eager runners stretching and preparing for their run. Some were running on a treadmill to determine what shoes were best for them while others were drinking coconut water and eating bananas.

11042155_10152619044997540_2024280955_nSoon after arriving, I was in a room surrounded by images of Toronto, and mingling with other runners who were a part of the media. We were greeted by three Nike coaches, Chris Bennett from New York and Eva Redpath and Rejean Chiasson, both from Toronto, each one speaking of the importance of coaching. According to Bennett, a coach is always there to “believe in you, even if you don’t believe in yourself” and will help you become the athlete you always want to be. Along with the Nike coaches, Canadian Olympic track and field athlete Phylicia George, spoke about the strength aspect of running. Wow, as a new runner, it was an inspiring moment to be sitting less than 20 feet from one of the best.

Needless to say, I was feeling really inspired and ready to get out there for a quick 5K run with my peers. But after about 200m, that all changed. I had started running beside an older woman when I noticed that she seemed to be limping. The one thing that running has taught me is sportsmanship and I decided to stop and walk the rest of the race with her.

10951936_10152619045142540_254691856_nWhenever I am out on a run and struggling, there is always another runner who is eager to cheer me on and offer a high-five, and in this moment, I wanted to return the favour. She told me all about her training and how excited she was to run the Nike Women’s 15k. If I had continued running past her I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of meeting this lovely woman. She inspired me. Even though she struggled to walk the race, she was still out there. And that’s what I love about this sport, you can find inspiration from anyone at anytime.

As soon as I got home I had downloaded the free Nike apps, the coaches had spoken about and scrolled through the different training programs they offer. Each app is designed for all levels, keeps you focused on building distance, speed and strength, all together helping you achieve your running goals. As a new runner, it’s great knowing that once I’m done this crazy journey to a marathon with Ben Kaplan, there’s a such a strong running community where I will always have support. As Phylicia George expressed, new runners should be using all the resources they have available to them and that’s just what I plan on doing.

Beyond girls: Running like a mom

March 8th, 2015


In my previous blog post, we found out what it means to run like a girl. But these ladies have taken it to the next level because not only are they girl runners, they’re all moms. Some of these moms have raised upwards of five and seven children and they show us how it’s done. I was especially touched with the last story, which is an unforgettable and inspiring childhood memory. Enjoy.

Pure determination


IG: @missmay_29

To run like a girl means to push myself to my limits both physically and mentally, to run as hard and strong as possible. For me, it’s a sense of freedom and opportunity, there are no boundaries or barriers, just pure determination.

Nodding at the boys


IG: @josienwajda

It means to sweat without caring, to continue when your body says stop, and to nod at the boys as you run along side them!

A strong example


IG: @jennycrick

For me running like a girl means running hard, strong, and having fun. My kids know I run (boy age 6 and girl age 3) And I feel like it’s a good example to them to see me healthy, active, and having a hobby I love.

Redefining impossible


IG: @torontofitmom

It means strength, focus and determination with each step. It means making those boys look over their shoulders. Most importantly it means, “I’m busy redefining my impossible.”

Strength on parade


IG: @allygilly

For me, ‘run like a girl’ means freedom to call myself an athlete! I was tiny and not athletic growing up, often made fun of in sports. But this body has served me well, carried 5 children, and remained strong for 50 years. I’ve been running for several years now, and when I ‘run like a girl’ I feel like my true strength is on parade! I’m sweaty, tired, and flushed…and I’ve never felt more strong and beautiful! I feel empowered!”

An unforgettable race


IG: @kristin5747

“You want to race?”… I can still hear the mischievous smile in my mom’s voice when she asked me that question. I was thirteen years old and pretty confident in myself. We were about two hundred yards on foot away from our driveway and I remember looking up at her in disbelief and thinking, “Are you kidding me? There is no way you are going to beat me!” But she did. My skinny mom who carried seven children and who I thought had very little athletic capabilities passed me up like you wouldn’t believe. Her laughs and giggles were still lingering in the cloud of dust she left trailing behind her “girlish” run. When I finally caught up with her we were both still laughing and trying to catch our breath. I won’t ever forget looking up at her in that moment and thinking I had the coolest mom ever and genuinely being proud that she was my mom.

Fifteen years later and two kids of my own are what comes to mind when asked what it means to me to “run like a girl” is that memory of me and my mom, racing down our street. After all this time, I am still flooded with overwhelming gratitude I have for her. I am proud of who she is. I am proud of the person she has helped me to be. Those feelings are what drives me to be that same type of mother. As I go about my life and start to compete more in my running. I can only hope that when my kids look at me, they can be as proud of me as I am of my mom. But that’s just my opinion of what it means to “run like a girl.”

Hoping to run as strong as these moms do,


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What does it mean to run like a girl?

March 8th, 2015


In honour of International Women’s Day, I took to Instagram and sought after some of the strongest runners I could find and asked them, “What does it mean to run like a girl?” From elite athletes, to medal chasers, to the first woman who ran the Boston Marathon, these women are defining what it means to run like a girl.

Fierce, courageous, strong and passionate


IG: @k8vbeast

All of the women and girl runners I know are fierce, courageous, strong, and passionate; this is true of the athletes I coach, of my competitors on the track, and of my 3 year-old niece. When my athletes push through a tough workout or squeeze in a run between getting home from work and putting their kids to bed, they #RunLikeAGirl. When my competitors push their bodies and minds beyond what they thought was possible in the name of being amongst the best in the world, they #RunLikeAGirl. When my niece yells “watch me run!” and then sprints as fast as she can, with a look of determination and a giant smile across her face, she is #RunningLikeAGirl. These girls and women inspire me everyday to #RunLikeAGirl!!

No limits, boundaries, or other people’s expectations


IG: @run_rhandi_run

To #runlikeagirl means to run without limitations or boundaries. In other words, to run for ourselves in our own way without trying to meet other people’s expectations. As women we are strong, fierce, independent beings; each unique, none like another.

No place for hate


IG: @lyndsayyoder

#RunLikeAGirl means to celebrate the strength that women have and how we all are stronger when we empower one another. There is no place in this world for hate of any kind and it is amazing to see beautiful people encourage each other to be a better version of themselves from the day before. We are all amazingly unique and should be competing only with ourselves!

Because I am a girl, not despite


IG: @christina_ier

Running like a girl for me means running proudly and running wholeheartedly, not despite being a girl, but because I am a girl. Running is a time where I can put my troubles aside for a moment, where I can stop worrying about the future or dwell of the past and where I can start living in the present. It’s where I can get in touch with my playful side and where I can enjoy things in its rawest, simplest form. It teaches me to persevere and embrace the difficulties that come along my journey, and reassures me every single time that I can accomplish so much more then I would have ever imagined possible. Because I am a girl, not despite.

Giving it all even despite the cold


IG: @laurasue44

To me, to run like a girl, just means to be a girl who runs! I run like I do everything else, I put my whole self into it, body, mind, and spirit, and give it my all (even when it’s so cold out I can’t feel my hands or feet!).

Strength and style combined


IG: @aenova

When I run like a girl, I embrace what my body can achieve, not what it looks like. When I run like a girl, I don’t sweat, I sparkle. When I run like a girl, I am strength and style combined. When I run like a girl, hear me roar! #runlikeagirl #runningcheetah #strongisthenewsexy



IG: @crantina

To me ‘runlikeagirl’ means that I run with determination and perseverance to challenge myself always. To go places or to do things I never thought possible. I love how I am inspired by my girlfriends – in all parts of life. Being inspired by them helps keep me on the move! When I feel inspired I feel unstoppable.

No matter your experience, height, weight, looks, or personality


IG: @jlkmarathon

What run like a girl means to me is: to enjoy running as a woman no matter your experience, height, weight, looks, or personality. You get out there and run to have fun and be healthy!

It’s what you want


IG: @runsoulcycle

It means: power, strength, control, grace. It means running when you want, where you want, with who you want, wearing what you want because that’s your choice. It means setting your own goals and whether it’s smiling and the finishing line, or rocking a PB, it’s your choice. It’s having control over your mind and body to perform how you want, when you want, and not caring about what others think, but also choosing love of self when you don’t rock a goal and love of others in the run community who might need a cheer or high five. It’s being the best badass version of yourself while flying in a way we are so blessed to do.

It all started with being fearless


IG: @kathrineswitzer

To run like a girl is to know running will make you fearless enough to do anything. When I was 20, they tried to stop me because I was a girl. Here’s me at 64 after running the Berlin Marathon!

Dedicated to fearless girl runners everywhere,


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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

Next issue: April 23, 2015
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