iRun.ca

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

Sticking with my routine

January 29th, 2015

Recently, I read an interview with Kelly Taylor who debuted with a sizzling 2:28:40 at the 2015 Chevron Houston Marathon. When asked about how she juggles life as an elite athlete, mom, and training to become a firefighter, she said, “You learn to prioritize or else you miss out on things. Being an elite runner requires you to be selfish and being a mother requires you to be completely unselfish, so they clash in that sense.” She couldn’t have said it any better.

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Friends and marathon moms Mary Davies and Krista DuChene, finishing first and fourth respectively, at the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Photo Credit: Todd Duncan, CNW

As a dietitian, I’ve seen many overweight, middle-aged women with elevated blood cholesterol and/or glucose. They’ve spent much of their life looking after everyone else, except themselves. You see, they needed to be a bit more selfish. For me, now is that time to put myself first. I’ve said before, I’ve got a window and the time is now. With just over 10 weeks until my big spring marathon, perhaps the biggest marathon of my life, everything is starting to come together.  The next eight weeks will be a solid block, averaging 155 to 170 km each week with the usual weekly intervals, tempo and long runs. I’m sticking to the basics and doing what has worked in the past like I know how.  

Keeping it simple
With three kids and a husband who spends considerable time and energy travelling for work and serving at our church, routines are essential. In order for me to be at my best, sleep, diet, rest, treatment and training are high priorities. And balancing my energy is very, very important. Weekday mornings include training at the gym and mid-week groceries and my daughter’s playgroup. Afternoons and evenings can range from laundry and house cleaning to shuttling the kids to swim and skate lessons, while evenings are filled with hockey, massages and family time. Weekends are also routine, with Saturday mornings for my long run, and early training on Sundays, followed by going to church and afternoons are filled with the kids’ hockey games.

Of course there’s also the other regular daily tasks, having my afternoon quiet time, assisting with homework and piano practise, and doing my evening homework, a 30-minute core, stretch, breathing and physio routine. After last Sunday’s Robbie Burns 8K race in Burlington, I was chatting with fellow dietitian and runner Rachel Hannah about our evening homework routine. We both do it because we have to. But certainly neither of us loves it. While I reward myself with putting on my pyjamas after completion, Rachel’s reward is eating dinner. Whatever it takes.

Sunday’s race fit well into my schedule, it was close to home and once again I kept it simple. After running in 27:48, which in 2012, I finished in 27:43, the body felt healthy and fit and I finished strong. But I couldn’t help look forward to doing a longer cool down, which is a typical sign of a marathoner, more mileage. It’s not that I didn’t give my all, but in heading out I felt like I could do a tempo run. Instead I enjoyed an easy 10 km with my friend, Mitch Free who finished in 26:55.

Going to the south side
For years I have battled and braved the fierce Canadian winter. I’ve always believed that it has made me stronger. Running 20 km with 2 kids in a Chariot running stroller in frigid temperatures will toughen anyone up. But last winter was brutal, and  I wasn’t willing to put myself through it again. So, before winter took hold, Coach Rick, Jonathan and I discussed my escape and how I could find high-quality warm weather training while not abandoning my family for too long. In March, I am thrilled to be heading to Houston, Texas, training with my great friend and fellow marathon mom, Mary Davies. Returning from having her second baby, Mary generously offered not only to train but also host me at her home. What an honour and how generous, Mary’s a wonderful person. Then, after spending ten days with her, I’ll meet my family in Florida for a week long vacation. As you can imagine, we are very excited about this excellent opportunity.

So what’s up next? 
There’s only one more race for me between now and my marathon and I’m back to Burlington on March 1st, for the Chilly Half Marathon. Up until now, we have been fairly relaxed about goal race times but this one will matter. With five weeks until then, the plan is to train to run sub 73 minutes, feeling strong and spent. As I’ve said, now is the time. I’m prepared to do what it takes to race a solid marathon to make that Olympic standard. I am ready to be selfish. This is my time.

Thai this vegetarian rice bowl instead of takeout

January 26th, 2015

Loaded with vegetables, this classically flavoured, nutrient-packed curry is sure to satisfy. It takes a little time to prepare, but the lively flavours and complementary textures of the vegetables absolutely make it worthwhile.

PeanutRiceBowl-2

Yellow Peanut Curry Rice Bowl

Serves 4
Prep Time: 30 to 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
2 cups finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 tbsp pounded and thinly sliced lemongrass
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
2 to 3 tbsp yellow curry paste, or to taste
6 to 8 fresh or frozen lime leaves
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
1 large sweet green pepper, diced
2 cups quartered baby bok choy, washed twice
1 1/2 cups drained canned baby corn
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1 cup vegetable stock
4 cans coconut milk, preferably higher in fat
8 to 10 fresh Thai basil leaves, torn
1 cup toasted peanuts, chopped
2 tbsp cane sugar
1 cup whole grain brown rice, cooked
1 cup bean sprouts
4 small handfuls of pea shoots, for garnish
4 small lime wedges, for garnish

Directions:
ONE: In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt coconut oil. Add onions, carrots, celery, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger; cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.

TWO: Add curry paste. Cook, stirring, until the curry paste has melted and mixed with the vegetables, about 5 minutes. Add lime leaves, red and green peppers, bok choy, and baby corn. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add peanut butter and cook, stirring, until melted and mixed in.

THREE: Reduce heat to medium and add about three-quaters of basil. Stir in stock, coconut milk and cane sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring to blend in the coconut milk, about 15 minutes. Do not let boil or the coconut milk may split.

FOUR: Serve in large bowls over brown rice with bean sprouts layered on top. Garnish with pea shoots, toasted peanuts, and lime wedges.

Love this recipe? Try the Strawberry Goji Berry Dark Chocolate Cheesecake also from: The Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier. Copyright Brendan Brazier, 2014. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Canada Books Inc.
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High-Tech Revolution: Adidas Ultra Boost

January 24th, 2015

Traveling to New York City on behalf of iRun, Christa Davidson gets the rundown on the science and tech behind, the latest innovation from Adidas. Even better? Davidson got a taste of the celebrity treatment, including running swag and a professional photo shoot to #boost!
By Christa Davidson

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With the running shoe design trend of blinding, high-voltage colours, the Ultra Boost’s navy blue and black, is deceptively understated. I know better than to judge a shoe by its cover and the look is perhaps fundamentalist if not refreshing. Packaging is good, but I wanted to know more about what makes this the greatest running shoe ever.

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While waiting for the presentations and group interviews to begin, I had my Adidas photo shoot. With models, a stylist, makeup artist and photographer, who had a real camera and not an iPhone I wondered how this was really my life.

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There’s a whole lot of science behind the design of running shoes and Adidas are truly committed to making the best shoe possible for runners. Adidas has performed test after test on how the human foot–and all its bones–react to the impact of the footfall. This research has lead the company to design an upper that moves with the foot which reduces friction and minimizes blisters. Stretching as the foot hits the ground producing a softer landing that helps to diffuse impact, the shoe’s outsole offers a flexible elasticity.

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Using thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), a material exclusive to Adidas, gives the shoes its boost. Other shoes use ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) which according to Adidas, is not as resilient as the TPU they use and doesn’t offer runners the boost, or energy return.

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Trying out my new shoes at an Adidas hosted run through Central Park!

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Adidas athlete Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (2014 Virgin Money London Marathon Winner, among other accolades) participated in one of the shoe demonstrations.

The Force is Strong with the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

January 24th, 2015

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The Registration Awakens

There was an awakening on that day. I was huddled in my land vehicle feverishly typing away on my touch screen communications device. I needed the force to be with me as the registration for the runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon weekend had just opened up and I was determined to register myself and my family for this inaugural event.

I was mostly successful in being able to gain entry for the Rebel Challenge which would be a 10K on the Saturday followed by a 21.1K half-marathon on the Sunday along with the 5K fun run for my wife and two older kids. Surprisingly, the kids races for my youngest sold out first which is definitely a lesson learned for this rookie rebel.

Tip: When registering for a runDisney event weekend, sign up for the kids races first as they are often the quickest to sell out.

The Expo: A Hope for Official Merchandise

Expo day had arrived and we were incredibly excited (OK, I was incredibly excited) to discover what the weekend had in store for us. Packet pickup was quick and those wise enough to have pre-ordered official merchandise had their gear readily available. There were lots of fun Star Wars themed items such as Rebel Alliance medal holders and ornaments and cheeky shirts featuring phrases such as “I find your lack of sparkle disturbing” and “In a corral far far away.”

These are the shirts you're looking for.

These are the shirts you’re looking for.

Race packets included long-sleeve technical t-shirts for the 10K, 21.1K half-marathon, and the Rebel Challenge while there was short-sleeve cotton t-shirts for the 5K fun run. The quality the t-shirts and their design were really well done although some might take exception with the amount of ink on the front that would make them less breathable. I did appreciate, however, that there was an immediate shirt size exchange for those who needed it.

The official race shirts featured some great artwork.

The official race shirts featured some great artwork.

As we headed out of the main expo, however, there was another distinct area to purchase additional official merchandise. I was surprised that we needed to head over to another area to pickup a wristband and that it would be a 2-hour wait to gain entry into the merchandise shop area. According to some social media rumblings, there may have been some opportunistic expo attendees who focused on securing the coveted official merchandise as items were appearing on eBay quite early on. As we did not have enough Jedi patience within us, we opted to forgo the Star Wars shopping spree and focused on getting excited for the races before us.

Tip: If youre interested in purchasing additional official merchandise, head to that area first before the wait becomes too long. Better yet, pre-order the items you want and avoid the lineups altogether.

5K: The Return of the Fun Run

The 5K fun run is exactly that: fun. It’s an untimed event and as the race announcer quipped, “You can tell everybody whatever time you want.” Without the pressure of a chip-time and with the shorter distance, there appeared to be more costumed runners in this run than any of the others.

Tip: With an early morning start time, the run is essentially held while it is still cool and dark. If youre stopping to take pictures, dress a little warmer and make sure that you turn on your flash.

Droids and starships oh my!

Droids and starships oh my!

With a themed runDisney run such as this one, there are two major draws to the event: photo opportunities with your favourite characters, and the amazingly creative costumes of the running participants. Official characters photos included Chewbacca, Darth Vader and the Star Wars Rebels but if you were running near the back of the pack your wait could be upwards of half an hour per character.

Tip: Dressing up as a unique character or ship will guarantee you feeling like a movie star when everyone asks to take a picture with you.

But the stars of the show for this run were the participants themselves. Runners were dressed up as Jedis, Rebel Fighters, At-At Walkers, Tauntauns, Jabba the Hutt and there was even a carbonite Han Solo. It was as if we were transported to Mos Eisley Cantina and everyone loved every moment of it.

10K: Attack of the Photo Opps

The day of the 10K arrived and now it was my turn. The toughest decision was determining how to run this race. Would I race hard in pursuit of a personal best? Or would I stop and take as many characters photos as possible?

Time to channel your inner Jedi.

Time to channel your inner Jedi.

When I ran the Goofy Challenge, the character photos were the unique highlight for me. I made the decision to run “photo intervals” where I would run hard but I would pause my GPS for character-photo rest breaks. I would love it if runDisney could figure out a way to factor in photo stops as part of the results – for me, my photo breaks amounted to about 3 minutes according to my self-timing.

Tip: Some characters were tucked away in a corner so make sure to look around both sides of the course as you run.

As we settled into our start corrals, famous Star Wars movie clips were played and the race had its own “start crawl” similar to the opening text that would scroll up at the beginning of each of the movies. C3-PO and R2-D2 made an appearance and provided some pre-race humour before we were sent off.

The 10K course weaves through both the Disneyland and Disney California theme parks and it was very flat with the exception of a couple of connecting overpasses and underpasses. Cheer stations, light shows, and Star Wars themed music dotted the course to keep us entertained. Given the longer distance, it felt like the 10K had more character photo opportunities than the 5K and I was able to get some good runfies with Chewbacca, some Jedi Knights, as well as Ezra and Sabine from Star Wars Rebels.

There was a whole fleet of these tie fighters!

There was a whole fleet of these tie fighters!

Runner costumes still abounded and I enjoyed seeing Tie-fighters, X-Wing fighters and even a Death Star. At the finish, we were given a metallic Stormtrooper medal which was one of best medals of the weekend.

Tip: If you can only do one of the races over the course of the weekend, the 10K would be my choice. The race is kept mainly on Disney property, is chip-timed, still has lots of costumed runners, includes a long-sleeve technical shirt and has a great medal design.

21.1K: The Road Race Strikes Back

It was the third day of the event and my third day of getting up at 3:30am but I was still excited – a little spaced out (quite literally) – but still excited. My race day routine was set: get up, get dressed, eat a little, park in the same parking lot and get to the start about an hour before gun time. The great thing about a 5:30am start was that there was hardly any traffic so getting to the race was stress-free.

Tip: The Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART) system provides cheap transportation from nearby area hotels to the Disneyland entrance. If you decide to drive and park, however, you can come back to the park later in the day by showing your purchased parking pass.

As I made my way to the start area, I could sense that this race was a little more serious. Given the longer distance, there was relatively speaking, slightly less costumes to be found. Running a 5K or 10K in costume is one thing, but doing a half-marathon in an elaborate costume takes even more commitment. But I was still delighted to see some awesome Tie-Fighter and Speeder-Bike costumes that amazed me in their craftsmanship and detail.

The first half of the race is goes through the Disneyland and Disney California theme parks and this is where again you can take your character photos. I continued with my photo-interval running scheme and was glad to get some pictures with Luke and Leia, Darth Vader and Boba Fett.

All the bling you could ask for.

All the bling you could ask for.

As we progressed outside of the theme parks onto the streets of Anaheim, the event felt much more like a traditional road race but with a Star Wars twist. Cheerleading squads and marching bands helped to encourage us on with the surprise being large groups of Star Wars cosplayers dressed up as every other remaining character that you could ever imagine. Having Stormtroopers, bounty hunters and Sith Lords cheer me on gave me a definite boost towards the finish.

The race concluded with the pickup of my half-marathon Rebel Alliance medal and then, followed by a brief verification check, the pickup of my Rebel Challenge spinner medal featuring Darth Vader and Yoda. The spinner medal is definitely a keeper and was a worthwhile motivation for doing the Rebel Challenge.

The Force is Strong with this One

Although this was the inaugural Star Wars race weekend, it already felt like a long-standing race with a great tradition of enthusiastic, costumed runners. Aside from a minor merchandise shopping hiccup, the race weekend was flawlessly executed where all runners and Star Wars fans could simply enjoy the event. The force is strong with this one and I’d suggest that you consider making it a part of your tradition.

May the course be with you,

Andrew

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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

Seven Reasons Winter Running Rocks

January 22nd, 2015

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Sign up for a winter race like, Ottawa’s Winterman Marathon which takes place during Winterlude in mid-Feburary.

Winter’s here in full force. In Canada, winter’s unrelenting wrath is for real but it doesn’t have to kick your winter running to the curb. What’s the best way to put the boots to all the cold-weather complaining? Make a list of all the reasons why winter running is pretty darn cool. Trust us it is! Here are seven to get you started.

1) Build your core strength. Navigating the icy sidewalks and plowing through snowy streets is a killer core workout. Think of it like running on a beach and on a bright and sunny winter’s day you just might feel the sand between your toes; well, alright, maybe not.

2) Chocolate milk is an excellent post-run beverage. But hot chocolate? Even better! Pass the marshmallows please.

3) It toughens you up. Not only do you look like a bad-ass rocking the roads when most people are couch surfing (or sleeping) but winter running will make those spring races feel like a breeze. Who knows, you might even score a PB.

4) Sweat-free running. Okay, that’s not entirely true, or at all true really. But it will take you a whole lot longer to feel the effects of your hard-core running, making you more inclined to run a little farther, a little faster even.

5) You’ll feel happier. Taking your running outside, especially on chilly but sunny days gives you a daily dose of vitamin D, a vital nutrient that’s in short supply during this time of year.

6) Enjoy the scenery. Whether you’re in the country or the city, winter running offers a completely different land and cityscape. From the icicles hanging from a barn roof to the frost crystallizing on storefront windows, there is a certain beauty that can be found, unexpectedly, even on your regular route.

7) Winter races. You don’t have to wait until warmer weather hits, registering for a winter event is a great way to keep motivated to hit the road on those cold, dark and early mornings. Plus, most events typically have a mid-morning start time, which means you don’t have to be an early weekend riser to make it to the start line.

 

Taking Adventure Across the Nation

January 22nd, 2015

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Rediscover your sense of adventure, right in the heart of your hometown. For more than a decade, City Chase has been Canada’s largest urban adventure race. Now, the event that kick-started the urban adventure movement recently announced GoodLife Fitness as its title sponsor. For GoodLife Fitness Founder and CEO, David “Patch” Patchell-Evans, this day-long event is as much about the merits of physical fitness, as it is about forging new friendships and making memories. We couldn’t agree more.

TheChaseIsOn_2015[1]

Featuring a series of challenges, including repelling down buildings, pull a bus or handling creepy creatures, participants aka “chasers” pair up and push past their mental and physical limits as they navigate (and run) around the city course. The GoodLife Fitness City Chase series gets underway in June and takes place in five cities including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto. For more specifics about the race in your area, check out goodLifefitnesscitychase.ca.

The incredible sights of the #StarWars5K

January 16th, 2015

BLOG-HEADERS-ANDREW-CHAK

The inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend kicked off today with the Star Wars 5K Fun Run. It was an incredible event with many amazing costumes to get your force on. Here are some glimpses of the inspiring sights that will make you want to run you will.

Strong in the force is he.

Strong in the force is he.

Boba Fett never looked so good.

Boba Fett never looked so good.

Rogue Squadron is ready for action.

Rogue Squadron is ready for action.

Queen Amidala is ready to run.

Queen Amidala is ready to run.

This Imperial AT-ST is good to go.

This Imperial AT-ST is good to go.

Some incredibly inspired costumes.

Some incredibly inspired costumes.

Use the force.

Use the force.

Bas kah! (Come on!)

Bas kah! (Come on!)

This hobbit (Sean Astin) was spotted at the finish.

This hobbit (Sean Astin) was spotted at the finish.

Even Greedo likes to run.

Even Greedo likes to run.

Man-Leia.

Man-Leia.

This trooper and C3-PO have their bling on.

This trooper and C3-PO have their bling on.

A runner and her tauntaun are never to be parted.

A runner and her tauntaun are never to be parted.

This carbonite Han Solo was one of the most creative costumes.

This carbonite Han Solo was one of the most creative costumes.

Jawa!

Jawa!

First place male.

Oh yeah, this was a run too! First place male.

First place female.

First place female.

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Finish area stage.

This AT-AT Walker was so awesome!

This AT-AT Walker was so awesome!

An AT-AT with attitude.

An AT-AT with attitude.

This queen reigns supreme.

This queen reigns supreme.

Awesome finishers with their bling!

Awesome finishers with their bling!

May the course be with you,

Andrew

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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

 

 

Five Winter Running Tips

January 15th, 2015

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By Anna Lee Boschetto

Between the snow squalls, gale force winds, and sub-zero temperatures winter is definitely here. While the warm temperatures are a distant memory, you don’t have to hunker down in at the gym or tied to the treadmill until the roads thaw out this spring. Gear up right and you might even find yourself addicted to winter running. Here are five ways to kick it straight through the next polar vortex—without freezing your butt off.

Head Gear
Invest in a well fitting hat and your run will rock on the coldest winter’s day. For maximum warmth and comfort, look for hats made with a weather resistant fabric shell and moisture wicking fabric lining. If you listen to music while you run, look for hats or a headband that will accommodate ear buds. And while the wind shouldn’t hurt your face, if you’re not wearing some type of face mask or balaclava it will.

Multi Layer Dressing
Less is more, even in winter. You need layers, but you’ll warm up as you run, so dress for temperatures about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the current conditions. Opt for a technical fabric, which will keep you dry throughout your run. For your second layer, fleece adds a layer of insulation by retaining heat, and some weather resistant fleece jackets may be all you need. But whether it’s windy, snowing or raining, a weather resistant jacket will keep your body protected from the elements.

Show of Hands
Cold hands are as bad as cold feet and if you can’t change your playlist on your smartphone, that’s even more frustrating. There’s no reason to suffer, a pair of touchscreen running gloves will keep your hands dry and let you operate your smartphone. Warm up your hands during your run by clenching your fists which will help circulation.

Feet First
Although the kicks you were sporting in the fall will work for the winter weather resistant shoes or at least ones with limited amounts of mesh are more likely to keep your feet warm and dry. For added stability on icy roads and sidewalks, products including Yak Traks can be a good investment, especially for anyone new to winter running.

Be Seen
Whether you’re running in the early morning or evening, you’re probably not running in daylight at this time of the year. Choosing jackets and pants made with reflective fabrics and in neon colours will ensure you’re safe and easy to see wherever your run takes you. In addition, many jackets and hats are outfitted with LED lights.

Keep your running motivation on high-gear by signing up for one of these winter races.

The Shake-Down on Sodium

January 8th, 2015

SaltBy Patience Lister

Dietary sodium is critical for muscle contractions, nerve impulses and keeping the body hydrated during exercise, but eating too much can promote high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney problems. Although society is programmed to weigh the risks of high dietary sodium, low sodium can also be a concern
for athletes – recreational and competitive. Weight, and how acclimatized a runner is to the conditions. The more fit a person is, the more active their sweat glands become. A study in the 2014 issue of PLOS found that the sweat rates of experienced runners were 34 to 46 percent higher than that of non-runners. The amount of sodium
in sweat varies from 484 to 1,937 mg per litre, or about 1 to 5 gm of table salt per litre. Runners do not need to calculate the exact concentration of sodium in their sweat, but can make a good estimate of how much they are losing by looking for streaks
 of salt on their running clothes and skin. Thirst
 is also a good indicator, because it is controlled by blood sodium levels.

Sodium Highs and Lows
“Everything in nutrition is and will always be about BALANCE. Too much salt is bad, so is too little,” says BC-based dietitian, aka The People’s Dietitian, Patricia Chuey. Because a high-sodium diet is considered unhealthy, it is easy to assume that a low-sodium diet is healthy. But this is not always true. Limiting sodium can interfere with many physical processes. A study published in the 2012 issue of Medical Hypotheses found that when people followed a low sodium diet during times of heavy physical training they suffered from sleeping problems, thirst, excessive urination, and increased blood pressure. When blood sodium levels fall below 135 moles per litre, hyponatremia sets in. This life-threatening condition is caused by the swelling of 
brain cells due to
an excess volume of water within their membranes. The result can be deadly or have severe effects on the brain.

Whole Food Approach to Balancing Sodium
As with all nutrients, finding the right balance is key. “My best advice is for runners to stay tuned into their natural appetite cues. Be sure to be eating enough total volume of wholesome food in the first place,” says Chuey. Most people, whether they are active or not, get enough sodium in their diets from processed foods. It is during times of intense training or increasing endurance when runners may need to up their sodium intake a little. When searching for pre- and post- run nourishment, consider the total nutritional value of food. “Snacks that contain salt while also offering meaningful nutrients, whether protein or vitamins and minerals include: peanuts and almonds (or trail mix)—do not buy unsalted versions, cheese, quality deli meats like turkey or ham slices, tortilla chips with salsa, smoked oysters or herring, or make popcorn and sprinkle with butter and salt,” says Chuey.

“To whole, real foods, feel free to salt to taste—foods like eggs, tomato slices in a sandwich, mashed potatoes, etc., are logical places to use salt,” says Chuey. It is easy to feel conflicted about sodium, but the risks and benefits
all hinge on how you use it. With 
the right balance, runners can improve their hydration and take one 
more step towards optimal health and performance.

Need a little recipe inspiration to kick-start your healthy eating plan? Try this homemade granola for your morning meal or this sweet potato soup for lunch or dinner.

Looking forward to a big year ahead

January 5th, 2015

Krista-D-tannenbaum10k-2014-on-course
Photo Credit: Bob Baldwin

Keeping on course during the Tannenbaum 10K along with Dan Way, who breezed by me a few kilometres later.

It’s my last post for 2014 and I hardly know where to start. You could read Kerry Gillespie’s, “Memorable moments for Canada’s Female Athletes in 2014.” from The Star.

And I could simply recap the year with:
1. Decent start with 7 races from a 3,000 m on the track to a 30 km on the road.
2. Fractured femur.
3. Decent finish with 3 road races of 8, 10 and 16 km distances.

It will certainly be a year to remember, particularly with my recovery and return to full-time training and racing. In November I had my first rust buster race, just over 6 months after my major injury. And in December I raced the Toronto Tannenbaum 10K and Hamilton Boxing Day 10 miler road races to continue increasing my comfort with competing. With each race, I knew my fitness was that much better and I was equally more confident to test the depth of my base. My final 2014 race would be a good indicator of my physical and mental status, going into 2015, which would mark the start of official marathon training. If I said that all three races were perfect, I’d be lying.

I recapped the Remember Run 8 km race in, “Mommy, please don’t break your leg.” As for the Tannenbaum 10K, it was pretty straight-forward. The air was cool and crisp with a sunny sky and there were a few guys near me, which helped keep me moving. I don’t love the 10 km distance as it seems like you are working hard, never getting a steady rhythm. Regardless, I kept the desired pace of 3:30/k or faster and was pleased with a solid finish. I believe my last km was my quickest. Always a good sign.

But the more recent, Boxing Day 10 miler in Hamilton was something else. I completed a few good speed and tempo workouts in the weeks prior, and was able to enjoy a reasonable amount of Christmas food without overdoing it. It was a special treat to do an easy run the day before on Christmas Day no less, in shorts! I did a few pickups and felt great. I sent Jonathan and the kids ahead to his parents’ and got to bed at a decent time as not only would I be racing the next day but I’d also be driving 2.5 hrs immediately after for a family Christmas event. Warmup went well and I was glad to see last year’s winner, Leslie Sexton, line up to defend her title. Once again, there was a good group of guys nearby to keep pace. I, however, started with the wrong group of guys, doing too many quick kilometres, too soon. It’s normal to have the first few be a bit fast. But running the first 4 km at an average of 3:21/km was too much. It was my first time running this race, which was apparently hillier than other years, and with my aggressive start it ended up being one of those races that seemed to get longer and longer. At 8 km, it felt like it was 10 km. I ended up running a good part with Kevin Smith and Alec Braithwaite, which was helpful. But they had a more appropriate start and by 12 km, I was done. Done. Done. It was survival mode at that point.

With one mile left I was not surprised to be practically standing still, chewing Leslie’s dust when she flew past me. It reminded me of this year’s Toronto Yonge Street 10K where I led the entire race, only to be passed in similar fashion by Rachel Hannah. I still had gas in the tank then but when you are passed late in a race, you either go. Or you do not. Because you cannot! So I did not. Live and learn. Nine times out of ten I am a conservative steady eddie pacer but not this time. Sometimes you gamble and it works like I did in the 2013 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon where I ran 70:52. Other times you pay. That being said, I will never let any race get me down. There is always something to be gained. The mental battle I conquered by finishing that race standing is something I will be sure to draw on in future races. Honestly the Boxing Day 10 miler was one of the toughest races I’ve ever run, mentally and physically. It is crazy to say but it was almost like a marathon. I wanted to quit because my mind and body had been through enough. But I did not. I won my own battle. My quads were sore for a good few days after but a couple of easy runs, stretching and rolling, and time in the pool allowed me to get back to my first workout, four days later. I know I was fit enough to run my goal time of 56-57, and likely would have, had I started out right. So we will continue to proceed with the scheduled training and racing plan. When the kids are back in school and we are in our normal routine, it will really feel like this is it. Time to get to work. The best part about that race was that I did not think about my leg even once, until the next day. A sure sign of healing.

Over the last couple of months I have been looking at numbers from previous years, leading up to a marathon. I’ve completed 10 marathons (from a 3:28 to 2:28) and there are a lot of factors to consider – pregnant/breastfeeding, injuries, time of year, and weather, etc. Every build has been unique but quite similar. In summary, my current numbers are very comparable and I am mentally more prepared than ever. This will be the year of saying “no” more than “yes”, if it deters me from my ultimate goal. I have a window. And it is now. One factor I knew I needed this year was a decent winter. And so far it has been amazing. Last year at this time we had snow and ice and -30 temperatures for weeks. Every. Single. Day. I could deal with the frigid temperatures but like many, struggled with the difficult footing. This year we have only had one bout of snow that hardly stayed on the ground and temperatures have averaged around 0 C. My 2012 breakthrough spring came after a winter comparable to the beginning of this one. So, onward I go to get this big goal started, 2015 will definitely be a big year. BIG!

Next issue: March 4, 2015
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