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

Why do you run Canada Army Run? 2014 contest winner!

September 20th, 2014

Once again this year, we asked you to tell us, Why do you run Canada Army Run? We received several inspiring stories, and are pleased to announce this year’s winner, Pierre Guindon from Ile Perrot, QC. Guindon will be running the Canada Army Run with Sergeant Audrey Gravelle on Sunday, September 21, 2014.


PierreGuidonThis is story, a personal story that I hope will entertain, motivate and sensitize you to some important actions you should consider.

This story has many starting points, and the ending has not yet been written yet.

First, a bit of personal background. I started running in my late teens, early 20s. I completed many triathlons and 10K events. Like most, all stopped when I started a family. It wasn’t until many years later, when the boys were finishing grade school that I returned to an active lifestyle, in the process dropping a sizeable amount of weight.

I ran, swam and lifted. Then I caught the bug and the thought came: “If I train smart I could complete my first marathon, and who knows…maybe more.”

Over a one year period, using a proper plan, I clocked over 1859km with the 2013 Ottawa Marathon six weeks away.

On the morning of March 27th, my wife walked into our bedroom to find me laying on the floor clinically dead, no pulse, no breathing. She administered CPR while my youngest son dealt with 911. Presumably, it took the first responders many long minutes to get to me and paddle me — and once would not be enough. My body apparently, took a few swings at these men and collapsed. After the 2nd paddle session they thought it would be wise to restrain me for transport.

At the hospital they dumped my body in a bag filled with ice, this is meant to slow down oxygen depletion and cell decay and administered some anti-convulsion treatment. They prepared my wife for the worst. The fear was that too much damage had been done to the brain due to the lack of oxygen.

What doctors needed while I laid there in a bed of ice, was a sign of a working brain. I was still in restraints, with my wife, Sandra, holding my free hand. She pointed out to the doctor that I had a repetitive hand gesture, as if I was trying to spell with my fingers. It was presumed to be some autonomous twitch. Sandra placed the doctor’s pen in my hand and held his clip board. I scribbled like a two year old H2O. “He’s thirsty”! And suddenly I was en route to a second hospital for surgery.

Days later, following a quadruple by-pass, when the induced coma was was lifted I woke to the sound of my wife’s voice telling me everything was going to be OK. My first words to her where “will I run again?” Recovery was off to a quick start: relearning to walk over a few days. Putting on distance meant two laps of the hallway. The test allowing for me to go home was completing one flight of stairs. All was going very well very quickly.

One day, after a sizeable hospital lunch, I was getting comfortable, ready for a nap when a team of medical staff barged into my room with the crash cart.

“Are you OK”?, the staff asked. “Yes, try next door…I’m fine.” They moved me to a different room, closer to the nursing station. It was later explained to me that I had started fibrillating and was a prime candidate for sudden cardiac arrest. That night the nurse would sit outside my room facing in. The immediate goal had changed, I needed to be more stable for a second operation. I remember those long nights falling asleep staring at the monitor hoping for an event-free sleep. To this day, any day I wake up is a good day. A defibrillator was implanted in my chest and I was sent home after a few days later. I haven’t seen proper sleep in long, long time.

After I returned home, I started walking longer distances. Eventually walking and jogged on the treadmill. We’re not talking 10s and 1s but quite the reverse. After a few more months, I began to run more than I walked. Ottawa owed me a marathon, and I was fighting back. Less then a year later I completed my first half marathon, 2nd to last, the volunteers where gone and most of the setup was in the back of the trucks. Very humbling. Next up: Canada Army Run.

iRun the Canada Army Run, so we can all appreciate that whatever our challenges maybe we owe it to ourselves push forward.

iRun the Canada Army Run so others will say “I can too”.

iRun the Canada Army Run so I can say “I can too”.

iRun the Canada Army Run for my family for everything they have done for me.

I wake up, it’s a good day, I run it’s a great day. Completing the Canada Army Run will be an excellent day.

I read and googled a fair amount on my condition. Surprisingly, we are everywhere. Men, and surprisingly, so many women. There are a couple of things I would like to advocate if given the opportunity:

Better lifestyle choices:
Physical activity and proper nutrition can be a life saver. Those 1859 kilometres of training can help save your life, minimize the sequel and provide a better recovery. Off course we run, we are runners because we are compelled and somewhat addicted.

CPR training: it can make heroes and survivors. Given the amount of sudden cardiac arrest cases among children in organized sport, hands-on CPR training needs to be offered to secondary 4 and 5 students and staff at the municipal sport level.

I urge you to learn CPR, Hands only CPR it can save a life only takes minutes to learn might even help me finish my run some day.

iRun for youth mental health at Canada Army Run

September 20th, 2014

TerraceYouth-run group
Running for youth mental health, the young ladies from Terrace Youth Residential Services will be running Canada Army Run on Sunday, September 21. Photo and text by Lisa Georges.

After the first lap of the final training run, 13 year-old Alyssa stops and declares: “I’m not running on Sunday, I don’t want to go to the race.”

Alyssa is one of five young women from Terrace Youth Residential Services registered to run Canada Army Run on Sunday, along with three of the Centre’s assistants.

Every Wednesday, for the past 2 months, the group has been meeting at the Kanata Recreation Centre to run laps and take on the infamous ‘hill’. Alyssa has (possibly reluctantly) shown up for every training run. She’ll say she can’t run more lap, one more hill, and then…she charges at it. Her ‘I can’t’s and ‘don’t want to’s’ are believed to be a self-challenge of sorts. They allow her to prove to herself that she CAN — just like so many other runners on their journey to the finish line.

One of the largest treatment organizations in Ontario, Terrace Youth Residential Services (TYRS), was founded 16 years ago by Terri Storey, a leader in in the field of mental Health — and an avid runner herself. TYRS provides mental health and clinical services, education programs and respite care for children and youth and with complex mental health issues and their families.

“I always wanted to run a group home or be a teacher”, says Storey. “When I opened my first home, Taylor house, I was never nervous…it just seemed to be okay.”

“My parents were nervous because I had to sell my personal house to buy a house for the youth to live in. I just felt fearless” she laughs, “I have loved what I do since the first day I started working. I see no roadblocks in trying to get services for these youth.”

Storey takes this same dedicated approach when it comes to her own health. Running has been a constant in her life for the last 12 years. “Running is a way to get away from everything. It’s my mindfulness yoga for me. Everybody always says “I can’t run”, I always tell people: ‘Yes, you can’.”

Storey will be participating in the Canada Army Run Half Marathon on Sunday. “I picked the Army Run”, she says, “because it is a great race and it raises funds for direct services and I think military families require a lot of support and the awareness is lacking. Plus, I love this time of year! I love downtown! It feels awesome.”

iRun is fortunate to be a sponsor of Canada Army Run — an event that honours and pays deep respect to those that serve our great country. As such, iRun receives complimentary entries into the event. Last year, we trained and facilitated providing gear to a small group from Operation Come Home — an organization that works with at-risk and homeless youth. It was a rewarding initiative, and we decided to do it again this year. When we heard of Storey and her youth programs, we knew it was a great fit.

“I think running can help these youth build self-esteem, and feel like they can accomplish something. I like them to understand that by working at something you can get it done”, says Storey. “Running is not always easy but the reward at the end feels fantastic. I can never describe that feeling to anyone. They need to feel it. I know most of these youth have had difficult times and I want them to believe that with work and consistency they have the power to change their lives.”

And over the last few weeks, we’ve witnessed the positive attitudes and determination develop. Kelsey always runs with her insulin pack and she has consistently and steadily increased her mileage every week — in the final week running every lap without taking a walk break. “I did it,” she smiled breathlessly at the end.

“My parents are driving all the way from Toronto to see me run,” says Nicole with a proud smirk and her signature nod. Over the weeks, we’ve learned a little more about each participant — each has a unique story and a reason for showing up every week.

shoe fitting Active SportsOnce again this year, we reached out to Active Sports / Sports 4 owner, Jim Macfarlane for running shoes for the girls — who generously agreed to donate a pair of shoes to each participant. The helpful staff patiently took the time to evaluate and help the very excited young ladies select the right shoe, while they chirped about colours and comfort. “I’ve never owned a pair of REAL running shoes before!”, we overheard one of them reveal. A big thanks to Macfarlane and his staff for making these girls so happy — they all showed up at the next training session with renewed vigour.

Canada Army Run is an emotional and moving event — we’ve repeatedly reminded the girls that it’s a run, not a race. This Sunday, we’re expecting some nervousness and possibly some tears, maybe before and after, knowing that crossing the finish line to the cheering crowds in Ottawa will be an unforgettable and positive experience for this team of new runners.

As Avery gets in to the car at the end of that final training run, we tell her that we hope to see her on Sunday, “I’ll think about it,” she says with the tiniest, almost invisible smirk.

We’re pretty sure she’ll be there.

Couch to the Marathon, the Final Chapter: Rob Watson takes your questions head on

September 19th, 2014

Rob Watson

Photo by Robert Shaer

All week long we’ve been running Canadian marathon stars answers to your questions we received at EachCoach, the running page of the National Post. As mentioned, a celebrated American runner had promised to answer our reader’s questions but, when faced with the deluge, he pulled a DNF and left us in a bind. Enter the Canadian marathon heroes. Rather than see the questions go unanswered, we turned to our country’s greatest runners: Reid Coolsaet, Krista DuChene, Lanni Marchant, Rob Watson and Dylan Wykes. In fine form, and not afraid of hard work, each of the champion’s gave their response, and all this week, we’ve featured their expertise. It’s pretty cool how everyone came together to make sure that the elite runners of this country help out the middle of the pack folks who keep running popular. After all, without the masses, the sport, as a whole, declines (not to mention, winner’s purses, quality of races, etc.). So, with heavy heart, we bring this week’s series to a close. Yesterday, Krista DuChene, dietician, mother of three, iRun columnist, and second fastest female marathoner in Canadian history, took questions. Today, to close us out, Rob Watson, answers everything. His goal for 2014 is to run under 2:10 — the fastest marathon finish of a Canadian of all-time.

Akii asks: This past week I’ve been ill and unable to run, missing a planned 15k race last Saturday and leaving me very frustrated. How do you bounce back from a setback that interrupts your training? Do you go right back on schedule in terms of distance, intensity, etc., or do you ease back into it with some shorter, slower runs?

Rob replies: Hey. Unfortunately these things happen and there is nothing you can do to control it. Just stay positive, stay focused and realize that a few days off will have no long-term set backs. Just jog easy for a few days and get back on your training plan when the body feels 100% ready. You’ll be just fine!

Leona asks: I recently JUST qualified for the Boston Marathon by 1.5mins with a time of 3:33:33 in my first marathon. I realize that my time is SO close to the cut off that I might not be able to register for the Boston Marathon before it fills up. I am training for another qualifying race in October that I’m hoping to qualify by more than 1.5 minutes to secure a spot for next year. Do you have any pointers, or suggestions for a new runner that now has one marathon under her belt and is wondering what sort of strategy I should use for my second marathon?

Rob replies: Congrats! That is a great accomplishment. First and foremost take some time to breakdown your race. What things did you do well? What can you improve on? When you enter your next build keep these things in mind. Just finishing one marathon gives you so much valuable knowledge and experience. You know what to expect and you know how to approach things the 2nd time. I predict a big BQ next time out!

Marc asks: How far ahead do you plan your race calendar? Also, what is your next big goal race?

Rob replies: Race season is often planned a year in advance. That way you can structure training, periodization and peaking (and time off work). Next big race for Meb is the NYC Marathon.

Erika asks: I’m currently preparing for my first full marathon – my biggest concern right now is with nutrition. More specifically, I’m wondering how to properly fuel the week before, during the race, and afterwards to promote recovery. I want to ensure that my nutrition leading up to the race will help guarantee success.

Rob replies: That is an excellent question. Proper nutrition is very important! Everyone works differently. I suggest doing a lot of research online and using that to formulate a barebones outline. Then ya just gotta try it. Practice makes perfect. Practice what you are gonna eat before, during and after to make sure it works for you. Do not leave this until the last minute!
Basic notes; Carb load for 3 days leading up. 24hrs before keep it very simple. Carbs, carbs, carbs. During; Simple, easily absorbable carbs (gels, chews, find a flavour you can handle and stuck with it!) Body can handle about 60g/carbs an hour, any more than that you risk gut problems. Also make sure you are taking in fluids. After: Carbs to replenish, protein to rebuild, beer to celebrate.

Lori asks: I recently achieved my goal of qualifying for Boston :) Would it be a good idea to do more hill training than speed work for the Boston marathon, or train them equally?

Rob replies: Congrats! Hills, hills, hills. Both up and down! I found that it was not the uphill running that killed me. It was the pounding that my legs took on the long gradual downhill the 1st half. Do long intervals up & down! But at the same time you still have to work the speed. A proper training plan will have both these areas covered. But if I had to put more emphasis on one, I’d say hills/

Debbie asks: Due to recent travel and triathlon races of different distances I have not had a long run since mid-August in prep for my 21 km run taking place in two weeks. How should I balance training/tapering in order to be prepared?
Rob replies: Once you are 10 days out there is nothing you can really do to gain fitness. The hay is in the proverbial barn. Work on freshening up and being rested for the race. It may not be ideal, but hopefully you can pull from your reservoir of strength and aerobic fitness to get ya across that line. Good luck.

Karin asks: What are your three favourite exercises to do at the gym to improve your running efficiency and reduce the risk of injuries?

Rob replies: Planks. Love planks. Single leg squats & deadlifts. I don’t like to lift a lot. But these exercises engage the core and help with mobility, efficiency and injury prevention. Get swoll!

Claudia asks: What are your top three tips for recovery after long and/or hard runs ?

Rob replies: Nutrition: refuel and rebuild those muscles with real food! Carbs and protein in a 4/1 ratio post run is ideal. Also maintain adequate levels of hydration.
Rest: Get off your feet and relax, let all that work absorb. Sleep a lot! (as much as possible in this hectic life anyways)
Be smart: Listen to your body. Know when you may have to take an easy day or an off day. A fast race is the result of many, many days of work. Better to take one day and rest then to try and run through a wall and get hurt/burnt out.

Cate asks: What do you recommend to eat post run? I find that I get nauseated if I eat after running more than an hour but I also know the importance of re-fuelling after long runs. I am training for a half and now I am up to 18 km post runs are not any fun.

Rob replies: Everyone is different here. If you have a tough time handling solid food you can try a shake or smoothie? You want to try for a 4/1 carb to protein ratio. Find a delicious smoothie recipe that fits that criteria and give it a try.

Joseph asks: What distance should your last long run be before the Boston Marathon (presuming you are aiming for a 4:00 to 4:30 finish and your last long run is three week before the race)?

Rob replies: Three weeks out for my last long run I like to go 30km. focus on feeling smooth and relaxed, practice your race nutrition plan and enjoy. The hardest work is done, time to have fun!

Tim asks: Do you monitor your heart rate? I checked mine for the first time at my regular 3:45 pace and it was a steady 185. I’m 50 so 85% of max should be around 150. I would have to run at 6:00 k pace which is sooooo slow to me. What’s going on?

Rob replies: I think your heart rate monitor is broken.

How to prevent shin splints

September 18th, 2014


We have all had it. That tight, sharp pain in our lower legs that screams, “Just stop running. ” That pain that you think you can run through even though you know you’re probably dealing with tibial stress syndrome, a.k.a. the much dreaded shin splints.

What causes shin splints?
- Old or improperly fitted shoes.
- Over pronation (flat feet)
- Irritated muscles caused by over use including increasing your distances too fast too soon.

While you always want to consult your physician, once you’ve received medical clearance, follow these you recovery and prevention strategies that will keep you on track. After all, shin splints are no reason to give up on running.

Check your shoes with a footwear specialist. Now is not the time to look for budget shoes. Get fitted for shoes that best work with your gait. A specialist can analyze your stride and tell you exactly what shoe is best because yes, there really are differences.

When you have shin splints, ice is your best friend. Stretch, stretch, stretch…and then stretch again. Rest by changing up your routine. Active rest like swimming, biking or any low impact exercise will keep your fitness level up until you want to hit the roads again. You may want to try bandage/wrap/tape on your shins. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist for recommendations.

Once you have the right shoes and you’ve recovered, the goal is to never go back.
Stretching is a necessary component of running, although it really is a love hate with most runners. But here’s how a few simple exercises can put you back on track.

Heel drop
- Stand on the stairs drop one of your heels off the back of the stair – hold 30-60 seconds – switch legs.

Traditional calf stretch
– Pushing into a wall, one leg forward and bent, extend out the other leg and keep it straight. Push your weight into that front leg, hold 30-60 seconds, switch legs

Hamstring stretch
- Bending forward at the waist with your knees slightly bent reach for your toes. Once you’ve become good at that, then cross your feet, reach for your front toes and raise them up. Feel a double burn baby!

Calf raises
- Heels together, toes pointed out-raise up on your toes and then lower back down.
Repeat 15 to 20 times for two to three sets.

- Toes pointed in, raise up on your toes and lower back down.
Repeat 15 to 20 times for two to three sets

Strength training exercises will also help support lose lower leg muscles. Remember a strong runner is a better runner. Take care of your body. Prevention is the key to having a pain free running experience. Do the extras and your body will thank you.


About Carrie Burrows
Carrie turned her life from around from being obese to being fit. She studied Kinesiology at York University after she began a journey from being 225 pounds as a teenager and decided that she would dedicate her life to helping others realize the benefits of being fit and healthy. She is the CFO (Chief Fitness Officer) of Health and Fitness Systems Inc. where she has helped turn the lives of hundreds of women and men around through fitness, nutrition and training programs she designs. Carrie runs and designs several boot camp-style fitness programs along with corporate fitness/wellness programs, and still finds time to take on personal training clients while raising her three children to be fit and healthy. She is an avid mid-distance runner who loves to book “racecations” while still chasing a faster minute mile. Carrie knows firsthand the two worlds of being unhealthy and fit and believes that, “Anyone with a goal, dedication and support can become who they want to be.”

Visit her website and follow Carrie on Twitter and Instagram!

Questions about training? Email Carrie!

Couch to the Marathon: Your Questions Answered, Round IIII, Krista DuChene

September 18th, 2014

An odd thing happened to us last week at EachCoach, the running page of the National Post. A celebrated American runner had promised to answer our reader’s questions but, when faced with the deluge, he pulled a DNF and left us in a bind. Enter the Canadian marathon heroes. Rather than see the questions go unanswered, we turned to our country’s greatest runners: Reid Coolsaet, Krista DuChene, Lanni Marchant, Rob Watson and Dylan Wykes. In fine form, and not afraid of hard work, each of the champion’s gave their response, and all this week, we’ll feature their expertise. Yesterday, Reid Coolsaet, Olympian, rock star, and second fastest marathon runner in Canadian history, took the questions. Today, Krista DuChene, dietician, mother of three, iRun columnist, and second fastest female marathoner in Canadian history,  gets down. Krista is pretty amazing—she once ran a half marathon on a broken leg. Here’s what she had to say:

June asks: Do you think Boston will be able to accommodate all qualifying runners in 2015?

Krista responds: Yes, Boston has an excellent reputation and is a high-class event. I do believe they will find a way to accommodate the runners in a fair and equitable way.

Terrie asks: I am planning to run a half marathon on October 12. I have been training. I ran 18 today.  What should I be practicing my long runs at? How should I practice my tempo runs?  I would like to finish the half marathon at 1:50. This will be my 3rd half marathon. But I’ve never finished less than 1:52.

Krista responds: Typically, each week I do intervals (i.e. speed work), a long run that is slower than race pace, and a tempo run that is faster than race pace with a 12-16 week training block.

Dean asks: During a marathon, how much and what do you typically drink and how many gels do you eat?

Krista responds: I mix Eload and Eload “Fly” with water, which I consume in combination with gels during a marathon. The volume of fluids varies, depending on the weather, but the amount of carbohydrates remains the same. Aim for approximately 55-75 g carbohydrate/hr and 400-800 mL fluid/hr. Practise in advance to know what works best for you and your digestive system!

Khavita asks: How does your diet differ from the start of training to a few weeks prior to your big run? 

Krista responds: With about six weeks left to go before a marathon, I really tighten up my already balanced and healthy diet. Less snacking and smaller quantities help get me lean for race day. Of course, I consume more carbohydrates in the week leading up to the event so as to maximize my glycogen stores.

Vanessa asks: What is the beat piece of advice for getting to Boston? How did you tailor your training to get faster and stronger?

Krista responds: Consistency is key to getting faster and stronger for any marathon. Set goals with a coach or mentor and work your way backwards to determine what you must do now to succeed.

Wendy asks: My concern is a solid race nutrition and hydration plan. For my age and weight (130), I am having a hard time understanding the carb loading before a race, and what my plan should be during my race. I was told to try different things during my long runs. I have tried gels, fig newtons, dried fruit, nuun in my water bottles. Nothing has clicked. The last couple of weeks I have been using Hammer Perpetuem. I like the idea of just one item (and water). Is this enough?

Krista responds: While food is perhaps more appealing than gels as a way to consume carbohydrates, gels are more practical. Try various brands and flavours, and rather than gulp one all at once, sip it slowly. Consuming an electrolyte drink is also important during the race. Practice using the drink provided by the race, ahead of time.

Sylvain asks: Energy gels help me when I run long distances. Those with caffeine are particularly effective but may cause gastrointestinal hyperactivity (not a good timing…). How can I reduce this side effect?

Krista responds: Perhaps if the caffeine ones cause GI distress for you, they should be avoided. Otherwise, drink appropriate amounts of fluids prior to and after consuming the gel. And sip rather than gulp the gel.

Paul asks: I’m a runner who’s been running for 22 years.  In 2010 I switched to running barefoot do decrease the severity of chronic injuries.  What do think of barefoot running?

Krista responds: There are mixed reviews and the pendulum has gone both ways from the necessity of a “full support” shoe to “barefoot”. Carefully find what works for you, slowly easing your way into any new change. And of course, consult with your treatment team (e.g. physio, etc.).

Theresa asks: I’ve been running for a year now (I am 45), my biggest challenge is not listening to the voice in my head that tells me I should stop and I can’t do it. I’m running my first 10km this month and would like to work up to a half in the spring. Any advice on how to beat the voice in my head?

Krista responds: Practice in your training runs, to ignore and fight off that voice in your head, particularly at the end when you are hurting and vulnerable. Remember, “What will be your story when you are finished?”. No regrets!

Chantal asks: I am training for the Toronto waterfall  this upcoming October. I am doing a half. I also qualified for the boston marathon of 2015 and will know soon enough if I will be attending. Meanwhile I am trying to get myself a better runner and faster. I do speed work and hills. Any suggestion to pass from 3:37 to 3:30 for a full marathon? Nutrition what should I add. I eat very healthy fruits, vegetables and lean meat?

 Should I run the Boston to compete or have fun with the amount of runner attending?

Any suggestion would be greatly appreciate.

Krista responds: Weekly speed work (intervals), tempo, and long runs are part of my training plan. Consistency in a healthy diet and improved training by gradually increasing mileage with faster workouts, will allow you to succeed over time. As for Boston, have fun being the best you can be!

Sandra asks: I’m an older female runner (50+), but I just started running seriously in the last 2.5 years.  So the good thing is I think I still have young legs. LOL  But, the problem is that I’m not sure what I am really capable of running.  In Boston, I ran a 3:55 marathon.  I would like to run faster and have been reading the literature on how to improve my times. However, I find the philosophy is all over the place. It is clear, you have to run faster to get faster, but I’m wondering what type of speed work you would recommend in my case at my age? Is it best to concentrate on longer tempos and/or Marathon Pace runs, or 800 meter repeats, or longer repeats or should I be doing all of this?   I am currently trying to peak at approx 130 kms per week and am training for a Dec Marathon.  

Krista responds: I hate to do this but it’s the same advice as the earlier question—in a nutshell: typically, each week I do intervals (i.e. speed work), a long run that is slower than race pace, and a tempo run that is faster than race pace with a 12-16 week training block.

Akii asks: This past week I’ve been ill and unable to run, missing a planned 15k race last Saturday and leaving me very frustrated.  How do you bounce back from a setback that interrupts your training?  Do you go right back on schedule in terms of distance, intensity, etc., or do you ease back into it with some shorter, slower runs?

Krista responds: Sometimes we get sick/injured because we are over-training.  Look at the time off as a chance to rest and recover. Do not attempt to make up for the lost training. Ease your way back into it and you will soon find that you didn’t lose any or much fitness.

Couch to the Marathon: Your Questions Answered, Round III, Reid Coolsaet

September 17th, 2014

An odd thing happened to us last week at EachCoach, the running page of the National Post. A celebrated American runner had promised to answer our reader’s questions but, when faced with the deluge, he pulled a DNF and left us in a bind. Enter the Canadian marathon heroes. Rather than see the questions go unanswered, we turned to our country’s greatest runners: Reid Coolsaet, Krista Duchene, Lanni Marchant, Rob Watson and Dylan Wykes. In fine form, and not afraid of hard work, each of the champion’s gave their response, and all this week, we’ll feature their expertise. Yesterday, Lanni Marchant, the fastest all-time female marathon runner in Canadian history, took the questions. Today, Reid Coolsaet, Olympian and second all-time fastest Canadian, takes over. Love you Reid, here’s wishing you a speedy recovery, my friend.

Jill asks: I am training for the Toronto marathon In October. This will be my first full marathon and I hope to run at a pace of 4:45-5:00  min/km. I have always included some heavy strength training (squats, deadlifts, etc)for races of lesser distances but find it very difficult to incorporate it into marathon training because of the need for enough recovery. My question:  does heavy strength training have a place in marathon training?

Reid responds: Strength training has a place in marathon training. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly everyone’s definition of “heavy.” However, if strength training is going to take away from your recovery then cut back on the amount of weight and/or the frequency of sessions until you find it isn’t taking away from your main training, running.

Shannon asks: I’ve been battling a chronic high ankle sprain for almost a year now. I’ve tried physio, laser therapy and acupuncture and it’s still not healing. I’m so anxious to get back to running but I feel like tact might never happen. Any suggestions?


Reid responds: Seek out another medical opinion, perhaps some imaging and be patient. In the meantime stay fit with pool running or any exercise which doesn’t cause pain.

Claire asks: I have a question about recovery, because I’ve tried many different methods and not sure what works: What are some ways you recommend to recover from a long hard run? Do you suggest ice baths, leg elevation, stretching, massage, or just “taking it easy” for the rest of the day?

Reid responds: I’ve always incorporated many recovery methods. Start off with a proper cool-down after hard sessions. Eating protein and carbs right after a long hard run might be the most important piece of recovery. Massage, ice baths (or leg wraps), active isolated stretching, compression gear should all help a little bit too.

Yaron asks: I am running new York this year. I have been running for 8 years but never raced outside the GTA. What tips do you have for an “away” race and specifically for New York.

Reid responds: Book a hotel early for NYC and familiarize yourself with getting to the start line. There are 50,000 people trying to get to the start line, it will be hectic.  Seek out restaurants where you will be comfortable with the food and find a supermarket to have the things you’re used to. For NYC it would be wise to be used to hilly terrain towards the end of your long runs, Martin Goodman Trail will not suffice.

Raymond asks: Ran 32K after a week-long cruise today, avg 6:02 pace. Won’t qualify for Boston at this pace but at least I completed the distance though with negative thoughts creeping in at around 24K.  My question to REDACTED would be how he fights off the negative thoughts that get louder as the body tires.

Reid responds: First off, it’s good you know that everyone gets negative thoughts when they’re tiring. When that happens using a simple, positive, motto can get you back on the right track. “Keep It Moving” is one that I’ve used in the past to say in my head to override the negative thoughts. Some people find that picking short term goals along the way helps the distance seem more manageable.

Tony asks: Training for Scotia, an October marathon in Toronto, and I am a little ahead of schedule for the fall races… since February I have been training continuously.  Ran a few 30k, halfs and a full since March. As I focus on Scotia how do you prevent peaking in your taining too soon? I am almost ready now.

Reid responds: Taking a day off now and then and holding back on speed work until you’re closer to the race can push your peak back a little. After I ran a few marathons I got a better idea of when I need to train medium-hard and when to start implementing marathon specific sessions. If you feel as though you’re “holding on” now then start your marathon training a little later next build-up. But you might pleasantly surprise yourself because it’s better to be ready early than too late.

Charlotte asks: Do you remember your first race (what race) and what you were feeling as you finished?  My race finishes have been all over the place, just curious! 

Reid responds: My first race was a XC race in grade 6 and I finished second to a good friend. I was surprised that I was ahead of that many people and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Chris asks: I know your lower legs take a pounding in the lightweight racing shoes.  How do you prevent late race cramps?

Reid responds: I prevent late race cramps by practising in my race shoes (NB1400) so my muscles are used to the mechanics of that shoe. I also make sure I’m getting in plenty of electrolytes (as well as carbs) in my drinks.

Simon asks:  I am preparing for my first full marathon later this year (I have done 10ks, halfs). How best can I train to keep my pace same or even increase at the end for the duration of a marathon. What is the best training to increase running strength for throughout a long run? Also, are there any key pre-run stretches to do, to avoid injury and to run better?

Reid responds: I really like doing one or two specific long sessions where I increase my pace throughout the run. For me that is a 5km warm-up, 29km progression where I start slower than race pace and finish faster than race pace, and then a 3-5km cool down.  Doing a long run once a week in training will help help your speed in the later stages of a marathon. I use Active Isolated Stretching (Flexibility) to help avoid injuries.

Fernando asks: My question is around recovery, as an older runner (39 I think) has his recovery plan changed over the last decade? If so, how? For the recreational runner in his early 40′s logging 60 or so miles per week over a 5 or 6 day a week schedule-any key pieces of recovery advice for me?

Reid responds: I find that I have to run slower on some of my runs in between my hard sessions to make sure I’m recovered for the next one. I also do more recovery techniques in a week than when I was in my 20′s.

Brian asks: I have run 6 prior marathons. My best time is 3:20. I shooting for 3:15. What would you suggest my longest pre-marathon training be by distance?  Thank you for your consideration and inspiration.

Reid responds: I like to do at least one full distance run in my build-ups, sometimes even as long as 45km. Not everyone needs that but I would say that it’s helpful to run longer in time than anticipated finish time at least once in your build-up if you’re serious. So maybe that is a 3:25 run, where you won’t cover 42.2km.


Couch to the Marathon: Your Questions Answered, Round II, Lanni Marchant!

September 16th, 2014

Photo by Sandra Laurin

An odd thing happened to us last week at EachCoach, the running page of the National Post. A celebrated American runner had promised to answer our reader’s questions but, when faced with the deluge, he pulled a DNF and left us in a bind. Enter the Canadian marathon heroes. Rather than see the questions go unanswered, we turned to our country’s greatest runners: Reid Coolsaet, Krista Duchene, Lanni Marchant, Rob Watson and Dylan Wykes. In fine form, and not afraid of hard work, each of the champion’s gave their response, and all this week, we’ll feature their expertise. Yesterday, Dylan Wykes, Olympian, second fastest marathoner in Canadian history and Coach of, took the questions. Today, Lanni Marchant, fastest female Canadian marathoner in human history, is at the realm. Thanks Lanni, and here’s to you running evening faster at Scotiabank next month.

1. Donna asks: What do you take for fuel on your long runs and during the Marathon. 

Lanni responds: I use eload electrolyte mix and their carb powder “fly” in my bottles for a race.

2. Tim asks: I started running 2-times-a-day, 4-days-a-week. What are some good meals to help keep me going with full energy?

Lanni responds: When I’m in high mileage phases with doubles I tend to make sure my meals have a lot of protein to help me feel satisfied. Egg white omelets with a ton of veggies, chicken and quinoa, and of course a burger here and there.

3. Marie asks: Any tips for chronic posterior tibial tendonitis. My goal for fall running is to complete the Women’s Nike Half Marathon in 2.5 hours, raise $4000 for Team in Training at and to not let cold and wet weather deter me from further training for SeaWheeze 2015, I just have to layer up with the right layers!

Lanni responds: Try getting work done on your calf muscles to help them relax and not pull so much. Also, roll out your bottom of your foot with a frozen water bottle.

 4. Kathleen asks: What is the best advice anyone ever gave you about marathon training?My goal race for this fall is to run the Wineglass Marathon, in Corning NY on Oct. 5. Hope to get another PB!!

Lanni responds: Accept that you’re going to be tired, but know the difference between that fatigue you need to run through and that fatigue you need to listen to. Usually, I work one flex run into my training plan each week that I can skip or shorten and not feel guilty about. 9/10 I get the run in, but knowing I can take the afternoon off or cut back a few miles makes me feel better.

5. Katie asks: I am currently dealing with plantar fasciitis, and am training for a marathon on October 12th. Do you have any experience with plantar fasciitis? And if so, how can I best push through and heal up?

Lanni responds: I’ve not ever has to deal with plantar fasciitis, but from other runners I know that keeping the calf muscles released and sleeping in one of those special socks helps a lot. Good luck.

6.  Divine asks: What exercise can I do if I feel pain while running? My left hip is usually hurting after I run.

Lanni responds: Focus on rolling out your lower back, IT bands, gluts and quads. Those are also the areas you should focus on strengthening to help alleviate the amount of work your hips are doing. If it is serious pain, get it looked at.

7. Andrea asks: I am wondering if you have any advice about best strategies for recovering quickly from hard workouts and/or long workouts. Do compression socks make a difference? Is it all about nutrition? Does she roll? Stretch? Nap? Any and all advice would be much appreciated! 

Lanni responds: All of the above matter. Compression socks help and make me feel like my lower legs aren’t crazy heavy for my next run. Getting in the proper nutrition (balance of carbs and proteins) after a hard effort within 30 mins is very important. Stretching, rolling and resting are just as important as the actual workout.

8. Chris asks: You’ve come back from some major injuries. How do you manage motivation and attitude during the slow progress back to fitness?

Lanni responds: I call it the two-week hump. Two weeks of those first slow and short runs back before I don’t feel like I’m breathing like a beast. Two weeks of normal frequency and length of runs before I feel like my legs remember how to actually run. Etc… Depending on how long I was off of running, these two week humps can be as short as 3 cycles or as long as 6-8.

9. Emilia asks: I’m running my first half marathon on September 21 (the Island Girl run) and did 20K yesterday in my sixth week if training – the longest I’ve ever gone. I can’t wait to finish the half. What should my running program look like once I’ve completed my race?

Lanni responds: After your race take a week or so of downtime – no running to very little running. Then slowly get back into the same routine of your old plan (frequency of runs only – ie) I you were running 4 days a week, get back into that routine but keep the runs shorter and the pace easy). After another week or two you can start planning what you’d like to accomplish next and build back up your mileage.

 10. Cris asks: I’m running Portland Marathon during the fall and I’ve been training hard to BQ. 
I know that nutrition is an important fact to have a better performance during training and racing. What should I eat 3 days before the marathon and what should I have for breakfast before running? Can you give me some examples?

Lanni responds: Three days out you want to start carb loading. This isn’t a free for all where you can eat anything in sight, but you definitely want a very carb rich diet – pasta and rice as the main part of your lunches and dinners; toast, pretzels etc as snacks; oatmeal or toast at breakfast. You want to avoid anything that is high in fibre your last few meals before the race. On race day I usually go for toast and jam.

SEE ALSO: Dylan Wykes answers iRunNation’s questions.


From the Couch to the Marathon: Your Questions Answered by Canada’s Stars

September 15th, 2014

Dylan Wykes
Photo by JVLPhoto

An odd thing happened to us last week at EachCoach, the running page of the National Post. A celebrated American runner had promised to answer our reader’s questions but, when faced with the deluge, he pulled a DNF and left us in a bind. Enter the Canadian marathon heroes. Rather than see the questions go unanswered, we turned to our country’s greatest runners: Reid Coolsaet, Krista DuChene, Lanni Marchant, Rob Watson and Dylan Wykes. In fine form, each of the champion’s gave their response, and all this week, we’ll feature their expertise. First up, Dylan Wykes, Olympian, second fastest marathoner in Canadian history, and Coach of Thank you Dylan, and big thanks to all of the Canadian greats.

1. Carlos asks: I’d like to know how can you mentally prepare for a race and what advice you can give about The Wall that usually runners encounter during a marathon? 

Dylan responds: I do visualization as a mental exercise to prepare for the marathon. I picture myself at different points along the course, envision the time I want to hit, and the feeling I want to have physically at those points. I find that helps. Preparing for the “wall” is hard, regardless of whether you are a first timer or a seasoned pro. The best advice I can give is to embrace the pain at that point of the race.

2. Lindsay asks: I’m training for the Scotiabank half marathon in October. Developed this soreness in my left foot above my little toe. If I run, I can’t run for the next two days. Should I rest or run through the pain?

Dylan responds: I would rest. There is no sense in running 1 day on, 2 days off.  Instead you should see a doctor or other healthcare practitioners to have the injury assessed. An extended period of rest after which you can get back into running consistently, without pain will better serve your training for the half-marathon.

3. Giselle asks: I’m training for the NYC marathon and coming off terrible back injuries from 2 previous marathons, a hairline fracture in L2 and bulging discs L3L4L5 and SI joint. It’s been 2 years and I’ve gone thru physio, chiropractor, osteopath and, despite the pain, I have been running. I’m out to 26K. 

Some days my back irritates me so I bail on a run like today. It’s VERY upsetting and I get VERY emotional, but I tell myself it’s OK, try again tomorrow. 

QUESTION: How far do I need to go in training? And how many times do I need to reach that distance? To prepare for the November 2 marathon, 

I’d like to finish in a time I can be happy with and run injury free.

Dylan responds: I think you can have a lot of success of running 30-32K in preparing for a marathon. In my training I have gone as far as 45K. But, in most preparations I find I have the most success when I have solid runs of 30-32K. How many do you need? It’s hard to know. I would try to run that distance at least 3-4 times and have a portion of each run be at your goal marathon pace.

4. Olivia asks: I’ve always dreamed of running a fast marathon, but I’m scared and have a lot of fear inside me to push myself too hard over the edge. I am perfectly healthy (I think) and young (24), but when I have to run really fast I get worried I may have a heart attack during the marathon, or pass out if I go too fast/hard? SO, I always walk a bit or run slowly afraid to go fast. What should I do? 

Dylan responds: I’m not a trained medical professional, so I can’t comment on the likelihood of cardiac arrest during a marathon. I can tell you however that the body is a wonderful thing that can endure a great deal of abuse (in the form of running). The biggest limiting factor is usually muscular fatigue or lack of cardiovascular training. Knowing how hard you can push your body is trial and error. There have been times in training when I thought I reached my limit. But, then I worked past that barrier. Pain tolerance is usually limited by your mental toughness.

5. Sandra asks: What keeps you motivated to train on those “lazy days”? Because long distance running is such a mental game, what is your self-talk before/during a race?

Dylan responds: Having new and interesting goals are what keep me motivated. I usually tell myself that I “can do it” and to trust my training and go for it!

6. Sharon asks: 

Last April I registered for the 2015 Paris Marathon. It was, I thought, a perfect way to celebrate my 60th birthday (the race being the week before my birthday). Then I ran the Toronto Goodlife marathon and ran a Boston qualifying time. 2015 Boston is next year on my exact birthday. My thought – how could I not apply to run Boston on my birthday! So I am going to apply for Boston Monday. If I get the privilege of running, what would be the best way to train to run Paris and then Boston a week later? Paris as my last long training run, no taper, and Boston as my goal “marathon”? 

I am a recreational runner. I run just for the love of it.

Dylan responds: This sounds like a fun and awesome opportunity, go for it! I have never run two marathon races back to back in such a way. But, I know many people have done so. I’d approach Paris as a “training run” and then run Boston as a race. You might try rehearsing the timing of this in training; 6 weeks or so before the races do two long runs (32K +) 7 days apart. This might help your body adapt to running two marathons so close together. Good luck!

7. Paul asks: What is your preferred pre-race breakfast/meal?

Dylan responds: I usually eat a bowl of oatmeal with 2 tbsp of almond butter and 1 banana, 1 nutritional shake (like ensure) or 1.5 cups of sports drink (like Northstar Endurance) three hours before the race. Then 1 hour before the race I will have an energy bar (Clif Bar Peanut Butter Crunch is my favourite).

8. Mark asks: My question is what fuel should I consume during a marathon? I’m 193 cm tall and weight 85 kg. I tend to be haphazard during races grabbing what is available. In my first marathon I ran out of steam at about 34K in.

Dylan responds: Practice makes perfect in terms of fuelling during a marathon. Check what sports drink the race you are running will have on course. Go out and get some of that sport drink to consume during your training runs. On one to two training runs per week practice taking that sports drink. The minimum you should try to consume is 30 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Most sports drinks have 10-20gram of carbs per 250ml. The other option is to take gels or GU energy gels. I take a combination of sports drink and gels during a marathon. I have trained my body to handle up to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour.

9. Carolyn asks: My question is about fueling on the run. I can barely manage to open and eat a GU without getting most of it on my hand, and I’m a back-of-the-pack runner who can take time to walk and eat.  How do you not end up with more fuel outside than in when you don’t even break stride to eat\drink?

Dylan responds: It’s all about practice. During training I practice drinking from water bottles and taking in gels while running race pace. I’m lucky that I can drink the same drink from the same bottles in the race that I do in training (elites have special drink stations). It wasn’t easy to learn at first and often I ended up with more on my shirt than in my mouth. But, slowly but surely I got better at it, even when really tired!

10. Jim asks: How can we recognize and stay ahead of running burnout?  

Dylan responds: It’s important to monitor your training regularly. I keep a training log where I include descriptions of my mood and energy level. Usually from this I can tell if I’m starting to over do things in training. When I have more than 10 days of the same feeling of tiredness and being irritated I know that is a sign I need to back off a little bit.

Also see: Lanni Marchant takes 10 questions. To register your own questions at EachCoach, and see your goals printed in iRun and the National Post, please see

Envisioning the Bruce Trail

September 12th, 2014

iRun because running loves me back.–Rhonda-Marie Avery

For ultra-runners, running the Bruce Trail is a significant accomplishment. Spanning 885 km along the Niagara Escarpment, the Bruce Trail is “Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath,” and a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. This summer Rhonda-Marie Avery, a legally blind runner, took on the challenge of running the Bruce Trail, sharing her incredible story and why every runner should experience this stunning natural wonder.

By Katherine Stopa

Rhonda-Marie Avery (@envisions2014), a legally blind runner, successfully completed the Bruce Trail in support of Achilles Canada, a non-profit organization that provides people with various disabilities an opportunity to run. With the help of two running guides, and the support of a team of over 50 volunteers, she began her journey from the north end of the Bruce Trail on August 4th, 2014. During her quest she posted daily podcasts on her blog, and received unwavering support from the online community. She walked the final 5k with the general public, disabled or not, so that everyone could experience the Trail.

Training for the Trail

To prepare for the big run, Avery’s coach Steve Mertz (@beastmodecoach) created a plan that included four back-to-back long runs paired with a mix of biking and swimming, and core and strength training. Mertz worked with Avery on the equally important emotional elements as well, by recognizing exhaustion or frustration, and how to work through them during a tough run like the Bruce. When working with a coach it is important to “trust the plans you’re given,” says Avery.

To complete a successful trail run, a blind runner needs the proper equipment—Avery recommends Salomon gear—and a guide. Not just someone who can call-out for markers or debris, but someone who really understands you both as a runner, and as a person. As Avery explains, “I needed a guide who understood that my brain could only focus on rocks, roots, sticks, and mud for so long. I needed a guide who could keep me engaged and focused at the same time.”

Avery found an amazing team that would guide her and her spirit every day during the Bruce Trail run. The social media community also kept her going. “During the run, there were some pretty dark days,” recalls Avery, “I would log online during our lunch breaks to see all of these supportive messages that screamed KEEP GOING!!! [sic] This made a huge difference, and I can’t thank people enough for that.”

A meaningful mantra, for any runner, is also important. Rhonda would tell herself to “wait ten minutes.” As her friend once told her “feel whatever you feel right now, honour it, and then move on.” Just wait the ten minutes to see how you really feel before making any judgments.

Listening on the Trail

What should a runner listen for when running the Bruce Trail? Here’s how Avery vividly and beautifully describes the experience:

1) Listen for drums on top of the Lion’s Head. After hearing drums, she had asked her guides if they had heard them too, something that made them all move faster. She still hears the drum beats in her dreams.

2) Listen to the trees singing in the dead pine forests near Beaver Valley; they will tempt you to stay and take it all in.

3) Listen for slow motion dinosaur steps on the pebble beaches. “Call them hallucinations. I call them life-changing,” said Avery.

Runners should also take the time to stop at Tiffany Falls. “When we got there [to Tiffany Falls] I felt like the view was worth 1000km and I hadn’t earned it yet. It was just amazing,” depicts Avery.

Final Words

“I promised myself at the beginning that this would never be about me—it would never be about whether or not Rhonda could do this—it had to be about the message. If I enabled, inspire or changed one view of disabled people for on person, then my quest had meaning. I only hope it was enough. It doesn’t get easier, it get’s done.”

So next time you go for a run, take the time to listen; I know I will.

Could this be the Apple Watch Running App?

September 10th, 2014


Apple Watch Running Skew IconIt’s here. Well, sort of. It’s the Apple Watch and it looks like it’s going to be an exciting time to start staring at your wrist again. As runners, we can begin salivating at the thought of an amazing watch that will actually make us run further, faster and stronger – or at least help us to think that way.

As I began thinking dreaming obsessing over what the Apple Watch Running App could be like, I just kept getting more and more excited at what this gadget could mean for running. The Apple Watch is designed to work in conjunction with an iPhone which is both good and bad. The bad is that the watch doesn’t have a GPS within of itself so you have to lug your iPhone with you. The good is that the iPhone provides the Apple Watch with access to real-time data and extra computing power that wouldn’t be available to your wrist otherwise.

Although the Apple Watch was just announced, it won’t be available until early 2015. I’m an impatient sort of fellow so I can’t wait until then to see how the Running App will work. So with my user experience design background, I started sketching out my dream for what the Apple Watch Running App could be. I hope you like it.

Apple Watch Running App Screens

Training Mode: Simplified and Smart Integration

Integrated Training Plan

One of the first critical elements of the Running App that I would like to see is seamless integration with my calendaring. Once I’ve selected a training plan and a goal, I would like to have all of my runs scheduled into my calendar – that way I don’t ever have to think twice about what my workout is for a given day.

Once you’ve selected a workout, the Running App should factor in the context of your workout. Your iPhone knows what the current weather is and, more importantly, what the humidex temperature is. Recognizing this context, the Running App should then give you the option to adjust the target pace of your workout (not that any of us would ever do that). Integrated calendaring for workout routines

Get coached with each hill repeat

As you’re doing your workout, the Running App should give you feedback on your progress. For instance, on this screen there is a coaching tip to guide you on how to do the next part of your workout based on how you’ve done thus far.

Training can often be a lonely exercise. But with your Running App, your running buddies are always nearby. As your friends complete their workouts, they can push a notification to your screen where you can choose to match their workout or cheer them on. Challenge your running buddies

Race Mode: Just In Time Information

Pre-race goal setting and warmup

Imagine now that the Running App also has a “Race Mode.” You load up the race you’re participating in and the Running App synchronizes with data received back from the race like when you cross certain milestones in the course. The App allows you to enter in your goal time and the built-in heart rate monitor helps you to warm up to the right level for the distance.
As you’re running the race, you get your usual GPS watch information such as distance, pace and elapsed time. However, with the Apple Watch being connected to your iPhone and the actual race data, you also get real-time guidance on the next turn or aid station. Real-time run and course information
Getting a cheer from a friend And let’s not forget that we’re also connected to our friends as we run a race. It’d be great if the Running App could notify our friends that we’re racing (as if we didn’t already tell them ten times over already) and that they could cheer us on in real-time. The App should be intelligent enough to suggest some pre-defined cheers based on how well or not-so-well we’re doing during a race.
When the race is done, not only do we get a real-life medal, we also get a virtual one that we can share immediately with our friends on our favourite social networks. We’ll be able to choose which stats we want to share and which ones are better kept to ourselves. Pretty awesome. Finisher's medal

2015 Can’t Come Soon Enough

So I hope you’re excited, because as you can tell with the obsessive number of mockups, I can’t wait to take one of these watches for a run. Some are convinced that this will be great watch that will even help them to Boston Qualify. I’m just looking forward to have a cool watch that will make running a little more fun.

Excited to tell time again,


Browse all articles from Obsessive Runner

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

Next issue: November 18, 2014
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