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

25 reasons to be part of Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

October 16th, 2014

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
is celebrating 25 years this weekend! Here are 25 reasons you need to be a part of the action that’s taking over Toronto on Sunday October 19, 2014.

1) With the home stretch updated this year, the marathon route offers nearly a clear straightaway towards the finish line.

2) As if running 21.1 kilometres isn’t enough, Michal Kapral is going for a world record in joggling—that’s running while juggling. If haven’t seen him in action, you need to.

3) NEW! From finding parking spots to avoiding road closures, Racepoint will provide support to runners, their cheering squads and non-runners by providing access to an interactive map that will keep everyone well-informed of those pesky race day details.

4) Every runner could all do with a little extra cheer, whether you’re running 5K or a marathon. With a dozen neighbourhood cheering zones at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, you’ll practically glide on the energy and excitement of the crowds.

5) Running your fifth STWM marathon? You’ll receive a commemorative beer mug as part of the STWM Stars Program. Complete ten marathons and you’ll be inducted into the new Platinum Club.

6) Whether you’re a local runner or traveling from around the world, your family and friends can watch the action unfold with a live stream via YouTube.

7) A group of torch relay runners will deliver the marathon flame to Councillor Mary Fragedakis, General Dimitris Azemopoulos, Race Director Alan Brookes and top athletes at the marathon flame ceremony.

8) Giving back to the community continues to grow as runners and non-runners alike offer support to a variety of local and national charitable organizations through the STWM Charity Challenge.

9) It’s almost Halloween, which makes running in a costume a fun way to participate, not to mention raise additional funds for charity with the Best Costume Contest.

10) Just when you think you can’t go on, you’ll probably spot a member of the STWM Dream Team. A group of 50 volunteers will be patrolling the final kilometres of the race and encouraging runners along the remainder of the course.

11) Hear the voices of experience and stories from the front lines in a panel that features runners and running experts including elite athletes, iRun’s very own Obsessive Runner, Andrew Chak and the STWM digital champions at the The Running, Health & Fitness Expo.

12) Each year the finisher’s medal features a Toronto landmark. This year, it’s Honest Ed’s, the city’s original bargain shopping destination.

13) It’s October and that alone makes it possible for perfect race day weather. Not too hot, not too cold and quite possibly this is also the last good weather weekend, before the rain-snow-sleet-rain mix kicks right in.

14) Engaging the running community, runners will unite on Saturday for the Running Room’s International Friendship Run with John Stanton.

15) After her gutsy completion of the half-marathon in the spring, Canadian marathoner and iRun’s Marathon Mom, Krista Duchene brings her running expertise to the commentator’s booth at this year’s marathon.

16) Breaking Silvia Ruegger’s nearly 30-year Women’s National Record last year, Lanni Marchant returns to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. A repeat performance could happen.

17) Who will be first to finish? Find out if Eric Gillis will best Jerome Drayton’s 39-year-old National Men’s Marathon Record of 21:10:08 and claim a sizeable $39,000 bonus prize.

18) Making his debut at the STWM, Kelly Wiebe will be gunning to claim the title of fastest Canadian marathon debut.

19) With the graphic designs of this year’s souvenir T-shirts, you’ll be proudly sporting one in style post-race day.

20) From minimizing carbon and water foot prints to contracting with locally-owned business, this year the STWM organizers are working closely with Oregon’s Council for Responsible Sport to achieve their Green Certifications.

21) There’s no shortage of restaurant fare geared to carb-loading in Toronto. But the STWM has made it super-simple offering three convenient pasta dinners at BnB Toronto, Trattoria Mercatto and Tundra.

22) Friendly, encouraging and down right righteous runners, the Pacer Program powered by Brooks, is committed to getting runners across the finish line in an amazing time.

23) Experience the Running, Health & Fitness Expo, whether you’re running in the STWM or not, this is a free health and fitness event for anyone that’s interested in running and active living.

24) Featuring live bands and stage performances from Canadian and multicultural entertainers, STWM is proud to offer the most on-course entertainment of any marathon in the nation.

25) A spectacular field of international elite runners from countries including Belarus, Ethiopia and Kenya, adds to the speed and excitement for spectators and runners from start to finish.

You can still register for the events at the new registration kiosk at the Running, Health & Fitness Expo on Friday October 17 between 11:00am and 8:00pm OR Saturday, October 18 between 10:00am and 6:00pm. The Running, Health & Fitness Expo is held in Hall D at the Direct Energy Centre (DEC), 100 Princes’ Blvd.

Canadian ultramarathoner set to run 14 marathons in 14 days

October 16th, 2014

14 Marathons in 14 days

Coach and endurance athlete Michael Stashin and Sophie Rosa, a facilitator and health promotion consultant at Public Health Ontario,  have worked together to create the Fun2Run  program — a school age program designed to get kids moving.

By Lisa Georges

“Efficiency is a very sophisticated word for lazy,” says Michael Stashin, ultra marathoner and coach at,  jokingly about his running technique.

Lazy is not the first word that comes to mind when you meet Stashin. Earlier this year, he completed—and placed 2nd—at the Yukon Arctic Ultra, a 100 mile race that has been hailed as one of the toughest in the world, one of three that Stashin has endured. And starting today, October 16, 2014, Stashin will be challenging himself by running 14 marathons in 14 days in an effort to raise awareness about the national epidemic of childhood inactivity.

Studies show only a small percentage of Canadian school-aged children meet the minimum Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. Working with the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) in Ottawa, Stashin has developed a non-competitive 6-week training program for kids called Fun2Run. The objective is to get kids active and build confidence in their abilities to run.

“The idea is to get kids running for fun and adventure”, says Stashin. The pilot program is currently running in grades 4-6, at St-Anthony’s school in Ottawa. The end goal is to complete the Ghost Run being held on the streets of Ottawa on October 30, a 5K adventure run that takes runners from one historically haunted checkpoint to another.

“Kids usually burst out of the starting gate at full speed and burn themselves out too quickly. Our focus is not on speed. We’re trying to teach the kids to take it easy, pace themselves and have fun along the way.”

So, how do you train for and pace yourself during 14 consecutive marathons?

“When I’m running long distances, I’m not thinking about getting somewhere. I’m only thinking of the next six feet in front of me.”

According to Stashin, you can only do so much training for multi-day events—you don’t build up to 12 or 13 consecutive marathons to run fourteen.

“When you run multi-day events, your body starts to adapt after a few days. The 1st and 2nd days are the hardest, but by the 3rd day your body starts to settle into it’s new job: running.”

Confidence in this thought is what keeps negative thoughts at bay and keeps Stashin going—and good technique, of course. Stashin’s runeffortlessly technique focuses on consciously relaxing the muscles in the legs and feet, using less energy and reducing impact. “Remember, I’m lazy,” he reiterates. “The easier I can make make it on myself, the better.”

Running in the moment is what Stashin will be doing from October 16-29, 2014. You can track his progress on the website, find out more about the Fun2Run program or donate to HALO through the CHEO foundation. Visit for more information.

Listen to Stashin as he talks about this latest adventure with Mark Sutcliffe on the iRun | The Running Show, Sunday, October 19 at 7am EST, on

MORE at Find out what other organizations are doing across Canada to get kids running!

Let the night move you

October 14th, 2014

Shorter days mean longer nights and that gives you all the more reason to check out these nine events that promise to have runners lighting up the night.

BY: Anna Lee Boschetto

Night Race
With a five- or ten- kilometre option, Night Race takes runners through city parks, including Vancouver’s Stanley Park (September 26). Here’s your chance to light it up with your fellow runners donning glow-in-the-dark gear. Sponsored by Energizer, each runner receives an Energizer LED Headlight and Brooks running shirt. Shine all night long with dates and city locations around the world.

Moonlight River Run
Held in the lovely village of Wakefield, QC (September 27) the 5K, 10K and 10 Mile courses take you along the scenic Gatineau River with live music at the finish. The Moonlight River Run raisesfunds for local and global charitable organizations like the Wakefield Emergency Fund and the Wakefield Grannies. An energizer headlamp is included with your registration.

Trek or Treat
This five-kilometre event held in Oakville (October 17) and Collingwood (October 18) Trek or Treat, Canada’s Original Nighttime Trail Race also includes a “Creepy Mile” that’s the perfect fit for Halloween. Although most of the course consists of crushed gravel and groomed trails, the Collingwood course does consist of some road sections. As expected with its Halloween-theme, costumes are encouraged.

Apocaypse 10K
Taking runners into a suspense-filled movie atmosphere in Montreal, The Apocalypse 10K (October 25) each year the event features a unique theme. For 2014, the race route will feature walking zombies and creatures of the night and event participants are encouraged to don costumes too.

Sight Night Run
Cue headlights for the Sight Night Run (September 13 in Edmonton, and November 15 in Calgary). As the sun goes down, sighted and visually impaired runners will hit the start in support of Alberta’s visually impaired. Featuring a five- and eight-kilometre fun run, race participants can further challenge themselves with a fundraising goal of $250 to score a free race entry.

Electric Run
Let the music move you and get your running groove on at the Electric Run. Bring your brightest neon running gear to this all-ages event which features a collective of light shows and pumped up tunes that creates a high-energy wonderland along a five kilometre route. With events in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal, you’re sure to find race routes in your neighbourhood.

Mayo Midnight Marathon
Run in the land of the midnight sun, at the 20th annual Mayo Midnight Marathon (June 21, 2015) in the Yukon. Runners can expect cool, crisp weather conditions ranging from 20C in the evening to 10C by midnight, and staggered start times allowing for participants in all events to finish at the same time.

A Midsummer Night’s Run
Weaving through Toronto’s east end trails and waterfront, A Midsummer Night’s Run (August 22, 2015) is a family-friendly event that includes 30-, 15- and 5-kilometre distances. While this nighttime trail run will challenge runners through the intertwining trail system, they’ll bask in the moonlight at the glistening waterfront finish line. In addition, the event and fundraising which supports the Department of Rheumatology, Toronto’s SickKids along with a post-secondary scholarship fund for students with arthritis.

ElectroDash (September) is a five-kilometre fun run featuring an incredible laser light show. Runners will weave through an unforgettable course that cranks up the tunes along the route with all the neon excitement you can handle. Toronto’s unique event toured Canada’s Wonderland on September 5; find out more about the events in Edmonton, Ottawa, Calgary, Quebec City and Montreal

First run: Nike Air Zoom Structure 18

October 13th, 2014


This past week, Nike launched the 18th edition of its Nike Air Zoom Structure shoe that is designed to provide stability for runners that pronate (rolling your legs inward as you run). I had the good fortune to receive a pair and take them out for a spin.

Nike Zoom Air Structure 18 - Side Stacked

A New Shoe With a Comfy Old Feeling

The best compliment that you can give a new pair of shoes (presuming that you choose to address them) is to tell them that they feel like a comfy old pair. As I stepped into these shoes for the first time, they immediately felt familiar and comfortable. As I laced up, the asymmetrical Nike Flywire cables worked well to lock down the shoes to my feet. The toe box was just the right size for some breathability and splay while still feeling secure and snug.

Nike Zoom Air Structure 18 - Side 3:4

Detailed Looks With a Purpose

I don’t usually stare at my running shoes up close, but the intricate details on this shoe warrant a closer look. The engineered mesh surrounding the shoe is lightweight, breathable and articulates the amount of attention poured into these shoes. While a hot pink swoosh may not be my first choice, the colour combination of the shoe works well to give it a very modern look.

Nike Zoom Air Structure 18 - Flywife Closeup

Dynamic Support When You Need It

The crux of this shoe is its Dynamic Support system that uses three wedges of foam of varying densities to help prevent pronation. The lateral or outside foot area has lower-density foam (white coloured) to provide more cushioning which transitions to medium-density (black coloured) foam towards the medial or inside foot area. Just under the arch on the medial side is the third and highest-density foam (pink coloured) to provide you with pronation support when you need it.

Nike Zoom Air Structure 18 - Heel Closeup

A Snappy Zoom-Filled Ride

As I started to pick up the pace in this shoe, I began to appreciate its primary characteristic – responsiveness. The midsole contains a pressurized Nike Air Zoom unit that has tensile fibers that compress on impact and then snap back up to give you a bit of a “pop” up as you run. The toe off is quick and responsive and also contributes to the satisfying snappy feel of the shoe. Although these aren’t heavy shoes by any stretch, I do wish that they were a touch lighter just so that I could run even faster in them. 

Nike Zoom Air Structure 18 - Side and Sole Stacked

Like a Good Steady Friend

The Nike Zoom Air Structure 18 is like a steady friend who provides you with support when you need it. This is a friend that is very detailed, has a modern look, and has all the latest technology you could ask for. The shoe doesn’t get in your way when you’re running neutrally, but it does provide the support you need to get over your pronating ways.

Responsively yours,


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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

Give kids a running start

October 10th, 2014


Fall is a great time to encourage your children to become more active. Whether kids get moving before, during or after school, this is the time to start building healthy habits that include an active lifestyle. There are a number 
of resources available to help parents and teachers initiate a running program in their schools and get kids running:

More than 18,000 young runners from nearly 270 schools and groups across Nova Scotia took part in the Kids Run Club program this year. Doctors Nova Scotia was the first medical association in Canada to offer a free running program to schools and sponsor events across the country, including the Youth Run at the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax.

Inspired by Doctors Nova Scotia, the Alberta Medical Association Youth Run Club offers free resources, incentives and support through a Run Club Coordinator.

A large number of events across Canada include 1K and 2K kids‘ and family fun runs and many of the large events include kids marathons, including the Ottawa Marathon and Calgary Marathon— both sponsored by Scotiabank. This is a unique format that allows young people to participate in their first marathon. Kids start running or walking their marathons one kilometre at a time, completing 41K by the event date. On race day, the kids complete the last 1.2 kilometres of their marathon to the sound of cheering parents and spectators.

Girls on the Run, an international program has independent councils in both Ontario and British Columbia. Their mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running. At the end
of each season, the girls and their coaches complete a 5K event.

25 reasons to be a thankful runner

October 9th, 2014


As a boy, I was always taught to “count my blessings” and becoming a runner has been a great blessing to my life. But I know that my journey as a runner has been built upon the work and effort of so many before me. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are some of my most grateful reasons to be a thankful runner.

25 Reasons Thankful Runner - 474


For sprawling, traffic-free paths that allow us to just keep going and going and going.


For other runners who go out even when it is cold, dark, wet or just plain crappy, and they post their workout to inspire us to lace up and get out.


For those who make the effort to keep our sidewalks, roads, and trails clean.


For running partners that always show up ready to push the pace even when they don’t really want to.


For run crews that never leave us behind.


For coaches who know us and believe in us more than we do ourselves.


For that person who is always amazed at us despite whatever outcome and never hesitates to tell us how awesome they think we are.


For brightly coloured wicking fabrics that make us feel as fast as we want to be.


For hourly local forecasts that help us to futz over exactly what we need to wear.


For race directors who truly care about running and every single little race detail so that we can do our absolute best.


For setup crews who get up in the middle of the night to make sure everything is perfect.


For having enough portapotties so that we can go instead of wait.


For staggered starts and runners who put themselves in the proper start corral so that everyone can run their race.


For aid station volunteers who call out “water” and “sports drink” and keep smiling and cheering despite being soaked over and over again.


For spectators who cheer our names at the top of their lungs even though it is the first time they’ve ever seen us in their life.


For race marshals who repeat the same instructions over and over and over again so that we don’t wander off and run more than we need to.


For those that hold up awesome race signs that bring a smile to our struggling faces.


For pacers who watch the clock, manage the splits, and get us to the finish line on time.


For those who stay to cheer until the very end.


For race medals that are made with the same effort and care that we put into our training.


For race shirts that are actually comfortable and sport designs that we would wear even when we’re not running.


For those who care enough to ask about how our race went even after we’ve been talking about it for months.


For races that are scheduled all throughout the year so that we’re never not running.


For other runners who never judge you on your distance, pace or time, but are just happy for you because you’re one of them.


For being called a “runner” instead of being a “jogger”
(thank goodness).

Thankful for being a runner,


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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

10 undeniable symptoms of taper madness

October 8th, 2014


Fall is here. With the cool, crisp autumn weather, comes another favourite time of the year – race season. As many of us transition from our final long runs into our pre-race taper, we can get a little, you know, nutty. So in order for you (or me) not to feel so alone in this insanity, here are ten undeniable symptoms of taper madness.

Trying not to get too crazy before the start line,


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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

The Most Runningest Rock Band in the Country: The Wooden Sky

October 8th, 2014


It was pouring last night in Toronto—cats and dogs—when the guys from The Wooden Sky laced up their shoes. The band, who make passionate folk music with an electric twist, are on the giddy aftermath of having just released their fourth album, Let’s Be Ready, an album that, perhaps, couldn’t have been made without running.

“We were at a crossroads, for sure, when we needed to decide what to do,” says singer Gavin Gardiner, who will play shows next weekend on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before competing in next Sunday’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. “Running definitely helped me get clear and find more energy, and what’s funny is that I always felt like I never had enough time. Then I started running, and found that time sort of magically appeared.”

Last night would’ve been a night anyone could’ve confidently cancelled a run. Especially new runners, new runners who don’t have the right gear and equipment. And yet, when the band got together at Get Well, a bar in Toronto on Dundas West, the group was all smiles. “It’s going to be fun to go out and run in the rain,” said Edwin Huizinga, who plays violin in the band. “I can honestly say it’s nothing I’ve ever tried before.”

Like all Canadian musicians, the band spends most of its time on the road. Last year, they toured for more than eight months and the attendant lifestyle, alcohol and junk food, did little to support the spirit of the group. When they came back home, it was time for a change. Gavin’s girlfriend’s a runner. First, the band hit the gym. Then they took to the streets. “What’s funny,” says Gavin, “is that when I’m running I never listen to music. I have music coming at me all the time, so when I go out on a run, I really enjoy the quiet.”


The band hit the road like a street gang, long-haired rockers plodding through puddles across a rainstorm. I caught drummer Andrew Kekewich’s eye and there was a twinkle the size of a race prize. Emily Tomisch, the heart and soul of my Couch to Marathon race group, came along for the run—she’s a big fan of the group, plus she’s always game to try anything. She said, “What else would I be doing tonight, watching TV?” As we followed Gavin’s lead west along Harbord Street, Emily said: “We’re not made of sugar.” That’s one of my favourite things about running: it helps us remember that we’re stronger than we think. And that’s something The Wooden Sky needed to remember, too. Gavin told me the group was tired of feeling like victims, and so for Let’s Be Ready, they started their own label. Now, whether they win or lose, succeed or fail, reach the masses or give up and quit, they know exactly where the blame falls. “I think we just got tired of talking about one day doing it and just all came together and said, ‘OK, now’s the time,’” Gavin explained. “It’s scary, and it’s a shitload of work, but the onus is on us and, really, no one’s going to care about our music as much as we do. We should be the ones who carry the load.”

Last night, the band carried the load and what’s more, they seemed to enjoy it. Far from burnt out, far from exhausted, far from bitter, they seemed energized, cohesive, strong. I keep listening to the new album and thinking about my new friends: this is how you win the race. By hanging in, by competing, and, most of all, by pleasing yourself.

The Wooden Sky plays Kingston tomorrow night. Then London, Hamilton and Guelph, before next weekend’s hometown Toronto shows. For complete listings, including shows in New Brunswick and Quebec, click here.

What 7 Seconds Taught Me About Running

October 5th, 2014


I did it. After all the early mornings, the hill repeats, and the long slow runs in the polar vortex, I had run a Boston Qualifier this past spring. I needed a 3:15:00 time or better for my gender and age group, and I had just run 3:14:05.

Fast forward to the fall when the registration windows for the Boston Marathon were opening up. I was part of the last wave as I had run a “squeaker” of a time that was just under the required standard. I had a 55 second buffer that I hoped would be enough.

So I submitted my registration and credit card information and I waited. The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) had to go through its process of verifying qualifying times from runners from around the world. During this waiting period, the BAA announced that there were more applicants than available spaces and thus there would be a number of qualified runners who would not be able to participate in the 2015 edition. Race spots are allocated based on those who run from fastest to slowest for a given gender and age category and there was a chance that I might not make the cut.

September 24th was the date in which the BAA would email all applicants as to whether or not they gained entry into the marathon. I was on pins and needles all day as I anxiously awaited an email that would determine my marathoning future. Would I get into my bucket list race? Would I be rewarded for all my effort and training?

And then I saw it. It was a Facebook posting by the BAA announcing what the cutoff time was for gaining entry. All participants who had beat the qualifying standard by 1 minute and 2 seconds would be registered and thus I tweeted this:

I. Was. Crushed.

7 seconds. 7 measly seconds. 7 FREAKIN’ seconds!

Although I knew it was quite possible for me not to get in, it was difficult to accept. But the responses I received from other runners reminded me as to how incredibly fortunate I am to be connected with them. Runners are some of my most favourite people in the world and here’s what I learned about them and myself on that fateful day.

It’s up to me to define my success

@amys406 reminded me that I should still be VERY proud of myself. I had trained hard and shaved off over ten minutes from my previous personal best. I had run a qualifying time and met the BAA’s stringent standards. Not getting into Boston didn’t make me any less of a runner or any less of a success.

Setbacks can help you either go backwards or forwards

@stephanieruns encouraged me to use this as fuel to push further during my next goal race, The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM). I could either use the setback as an excuse to sulk or I could use it as a mantra to keep pushing. Believe me, I will often be thinking about “7 seconds” as I run and push through each leg of my next marathon race.

It’s not just about getting there – it’s about going

When @PennyWalford saw my tweet, she responded by sharing with me her own blog post about her Boston dream and how it related to Terry Fox. She described how Fox’s unfinished Marathon of Hope is “…proof we don’t need to reach our dreams for them to be an accomplishment.” Fox’s dream wasn’t achieved through completion, it was achieved through him starting and going in the first place.

Unconditional support is the heart of the running community

@Mark_Sawh’s tweet brought a genuine smile to my face. Whether the BAA accepted me into a particular race or not had no bearing on my acceptance with my fellow runners. No matter where we are in our running journey, we all accept and celebrate each other’s progress. Getting off the couch? We cheer. First run? We cheer. 5K? 10K? Half? Full? We cheer. Boston or no Boston? We still cheer.

Never forget how far you’ve come

As I lamented missing the cut by 7 seconds, I was admittedly focused on how much I had fallen short rather than how far I had come. In my first marathon attempt, I was off the qualifying mark by1,523 seconds. In my qualifying marathon, I was better than the qualifying standard by 55 seconds. As @BTBogtrotters tweeted where he was at relative to qualifying, he gave me a good reminder as to how far I had already come.

From heartbreaking to resolve-making

So in the next couple of weeks, I’ll have the chance to go for it again. This will be my 8th full marathon and I’m looking forward to running in my hometown surrounded by some of the best running folks around. As encouraged by my many running friends like @Jodi_Lewchuk, I will use these 7 seconds as motivational fuel to keep going. I don’t know whether I’ll run another Boston qualifier or not, but I do know that I’ll celebrate how far I’ve come and that there will be many cheering alongside me. And, if you’re at STWM and happen to hear a runner muttering in a crazy voice, “7 seconds!”, give me a cheer, OK?

Resolved to keep going,


Browse all articles from Obsessive Runner

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

Lost and found

October 4th, 2014


So I have had an interesting year, to say the least. You might have noticed that I haven’t posted much – not because I haven’t been running, but because it was the same post over and over – like a song on repeat, I kept saying how, this time, I didn’t put the work in, but would bounce back soon!

And like a basketball thrown against the ground once, I bounced, then bounced a smaller bounce, then another, then eventually just started rolling along.

At first I thought I this was a bad thing. I kept thinking about which fall races I would sign up for, pushing myself to try and do workouts…but never signed up for anything. I would come in from what was supposed to be a tempo run that just turned into a regular run, and say to Steve, “I’ve lost my mojo!” I was feeling conflicted and a little distressed. I signed up for a yearly membership to my old Runner’s Boot Camp and was enjoying that weekly workout, but that was it – I just couldn’t push myself to do hills, intervals, tempo – not even fartlek runs or little pickups.

As the summer wore on I just sort of fell into a rhythm without thinking about it. I was still running 5 days a week, with most weeks between 50 and 55 kilometres, but they were all the same pace.

On the day I realized I hadn’t signed up for any fall races (besides the Zoo Run which I signed up for because we wanted to go to the zoo), I asked Steve if I was crazy for doing ridiculously long runs on Saturday mornings when I wasn’t training for anything.

He didn’t make his usual crack about all runners being crazy – he just looked at me a little bit sideways and said, “It’s better than when I spend the equivalent time playing video games. It’s something you enjoy.” Steve is a wise man.

A few weeks later when I was out running 25 kilometres, all alone in the rain, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I hadn’t actually felt conflicted about it in quite a while.

wanderI realized I hadn’t lost anything at all – if anything, I’d found something. The ability to carve out pieces of time that are just for me, without the need to have something to show for it. The joy of running just for the sake of running. I’d found peace, and calm, and the ability to chase the giddy euphoria of the runner’s high with no pressure to beat the clock. I found that I didn’t even need to push myself to improve if I didn’t feel like it.

I found my groove.

That’s not to say that I won’t get the itch again. It may even be inevitable that, sometime soon, I will feel that fire that drives runners to want to push themselves to extremes and chase PBs and improve in that numerical way.

The races and the clocks and the training plans will all still be there when I am ready.

But the meantime, I’m okay. I’m not lost anymore.

Next issue: November 18, 2014
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