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

Couch to Marathon: Training Schedule for a Spring Half Marathon

December 18th, 2014


It’s an exciting time of year, and not just because the kids are about to finish with school and people all over the world are about to take their vacation—the third in our four part series of the Couch to the Marathon begins tonight. Since the beginning, we’ve had a core group of people run with us, moving from the 5K to the 10K, step by step, increasing their endurance and speed. Each session ends with a race and our new finish line is the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, which takes place March 1. So, how does someone train for a half marathon and might you be up for the fun? For starters, here’s an overview of the course I’ve outlined for my gang. If you think this workout is in your wheelhouse, or if you’re in Toronto and want to give it a shot, meet us tonight, 6:15 p.m. at Black Toe and throw your shoes in the ring. Otherwise, to our friends across the country, here’s our course outline: There are no bystanders in running, please, run along, and let us know about each of your runs.

The Couch to Marathon Half Marathon Training Guide

Thursday, December 18: 10K, a shakeout run, to get the feet moving again. 

Sunday, December 21: first long run, 13K. Remember: walking is fine. (Note: the long runs are key! Long runs are the ticket to building endurance. So don’t skip your long runs! Each week, the long run goes up a bit, easy way to lick the half marathon: Don’t Fall Behind.)

Thursday, December 25: Merry Christmas Day Spectacular, speed work and relay races. (This Christmas run will probably be cancelled. No one wants to get kicked out of their family before our half marathon.)

Sunday, December 28: 14K.

Thursday, January 1: Hill work at Christie Pitts. (Note: our schedule works on a system with maintenance runs, speed work and hills cycled alongside the weekly long run. Each exercise has its own selling points: speed work to run faster; hill work to build strength, long runs for building endurance. Since endurance is the name of the game right now, that’s our area of emphasis. For you following at home, decide for yourself: what are your goals this year? Also: perhaps you’d like to print your goal in the National Post? You can do that right here).

Sunday, January 4: Resolution Day Long Run: 15K

Thursday, January 8: 10K from Black Toe

Sunday, January 11: Long Run, 16K

Thursday, January 15: speed work and relay races from Black Toe (Remember: everyone who complains that they run slowly; there’s only one way to run faster—run faster! So speed work, which is also fun and a good way to surprise yourself, is a great thing to incorporate into your week. Bonus mental health point: It’s a good way to work out negative feelings.)

Sunday, January 18: Long run 17K

Thursday, January 22: something fun, surprising: perhaps a beer mile? perhaps a hipster run? (When planning a schedule, it’s important to mix things up. The main thing we’re fighting against is apathy. Schedules won’t work if people quit. So roughly midway during your training, try something funky. Perhaps this is a good time to sign up for another, shorter race.

Sunday, January 25: 18K

Thursday, January 29: hill work at Christie Pitts

Sunday, Feb 1: One month from race day: 19K

Thursday, February 5: 10K

Sunday, February 8: 19K, long run repeat. (Build confidence!!!!)

Thursday, February 12: pre-Valentine’s Day speed work and relays from Black Toe.

Sunday, February 15: 21K, wow, wow, wow! (You don’t actually need to run a half marathon in practice to run a half marathon race, but. . .  for confidence sake . . . to prove to yourself that you can do it . . . I think it’s generally a nice idea. However, conventional wisdom says that if you can run, say, 17K in practice, you’ll also be able to do 21K on race day. The choice, as always, lies with you.)

Thursday, February 19: hill work at Christie Pitts (Around now it will also be a good idea to examine the half marathon course you’ll be racing. Is it hilly? Flat? Any chance you’ll be able to run part of it during practice? The best way to run a good race is with good preparation so, if you’re training for, say, Around the Bay in Hamilton, which has killer late K hills, best to practice your hill runs. Also: hill runs are goofy fun.)

Sunday, February 22: 10K

Thursday, February 26: 7K, slowly (During race week, there’s only one goal: no injuries! Also: if you’re buying new things for the race, wear them once first in practice. Everyone knows this and everyone breaks this, look at what happened to me in Boston.)

Sunday, March 1: Chilly Half, Godspeed.

So thanks for reading everyone and wish us luck for tonight! I, for one, can not wait for the new session to begin. If you’re running along, drop me a line at and please, let me know!

Lunchtime Fitness

December 13th, 2014

Runners running in winter city
There’s no better way to crush a mid-day slump than with a noon-hour training session. In fact, research has shown that squeezing in a solid 20 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity can clear your mind and get you back on your A-game when you need it most.“The endorphin release you feel after relatively high intensity workouts is difficult to stifle,” says Art McDonald, an Ontario-based certified exercise physiologist. “You’ll generally be feeling pretty good for the next few hours after your workout, which definitely helps with productivity.” Can’t quite seem to fit in a session every day? Relax, you don’t have to, but you do need to be consistent to achieve results. Aim for three out of five days, and try to stick it out for three weeks, and you’ll notice you’ve got a hankering for more. Here are four ways to make that mid- day fitness break count:

While there are many variables involved in high-intensity interval training (HIIT), the added calorie burn plus added cardiovascular benefits can’t be denied. HIIT involves exercises that require maximum intensity for a short duration (usually five to 30 seconds) followed by a lengthier period of moderate- intensity exercise. Depending on the duration of the high- intensity period, McDonald says that runners may also find they benefit directly from an increase in speed, and although he recommends people give it a try, you’ll need to watch the frequency, as rest between HIIT sessions is equally important.

20 seconds jumping squats.
10 second second rest. Repeat 4x. 1 minute rest.
20 seconds mountain climbers.
10 second second rest. Repeat 4x. 1 minute rest.
20 seconds push-ups.
10 second second rest. Repeat 4x. 1 minute rest.
50 seconds side plank.
10 second second rest. Repeat 4x. 1 minute rest.
Repeat other side (plank).
Increase time and repeats as you get stronger.

While it may not be likely, if you’ve got running trails with a variety of hills near your place of work then you’re in business. According to McDonald, finding a hill that’s 200 metres or more in distance is perfect for interval training. “Going up and down the same hill is not always the most enjoyable, but it can be effective,” says McDonald, especially when you have limited time. Can’t find a hill? McDonald says a staircase will do the trick, especially if you use it for a 15-minute interval. “Depending on your fitness level, I suggest a lower intensity level and trying to fit in as much time as possible in one direction,” says McDonald, adding that that this approach is the best way to simulate road conditions.

Let’s face it, you want to feel refreshed post-workout, which means that making time for stretching is key. “Five- second stretches for comfort are likely all you’ll need,” says McDonald, adding that focusing on hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves is key. In addition, stepping away from your desk every 15 minutes to rehydrate with water can make a big difference.

Whether you’re running or strength-training, making your lunch hour your extra fitness time means you may be able
to convince a colleague to join you—and that can be motivating for both of you. That being said, McDonald recommends finding someone who has the same goals and fitness priorities as you do, so you can ensure you’ll be consistent.

How to pick the perfect winter running jacket

December 12th, 2014


We check. Sometimes by the hour. And on the worst days, by the minute. We’re checking for sub-zero temperatures, for chilly winds, and for icy conditions. We’re also checking our commitment, our fortitude, and our sanity as we decide to head out for a wintry run.

But take heart – for every degree of cold and dreariness out there we can layer up to meet the elements with a protective winter running jacket. This is the layer that keeps us warm, makes us seen, and turns us into “that runner” who gets out there when others are cozily indoors. My current winter running jacket, the Nike Shield Max, has helped me to discover some key features that you should consider in finding your own perfect winter running jacket.

Bright colours improve visibility and a windproof frontal layer keeps you warm.

Nike Shield Max Running Jacket

Break the Wind

With winter running, the most strenuous condition to deal with isn’t so much the cold, but the wind. Layers can combat the cold, but we need wind-proofing to deal with the wind. Look for jackets where the front layer is at least wind-resistant while the back layer should be a more breathable fabric or provide ventiliaton.

Rear ventilation and reflective details keep you cool and seen.

Rear ventilation and reflective details keep you cool and seen.

Fifty Shades of Bright

Most wintry days are just shades of grey and everything and everyone can end up looking flat and muted. Bright colours like orange and yellow aren’t just good for crossing guards – they’re also good for runners who want to make sure that they’re seen.

Shine Bright Like a Diamond

Shorter winter days mean we’re more likely to be running in the dark. And when it’s dark, we want to be reflective so that our motor vehicle friends can clearly see us. Reflective details around our torso are at the right height for vehicle headlights while reflective arms help to draw greater attention through motion.

An adjustable, detachable hood provides a lot of versatility.

An adjustable, detachable hood provides a lot of versatility.

Get in the Right Hood

Hoods are great when you need them, but are a flopping pain when you don’t. Having a detachable hood gives you the option of extra protection when you want it. Cinch chords around the back and the face provide a customized fit and having a bill at the top prevents the hood from squishing down to your face (not pretty).

Transformer Cuffs

With a little bit of ingenuity, the cuffs of a jacket can serve multiple purposes. Thumbholes integrated into the cuffs means that they’re not visibly part of the sleeve that can elegantly hide the fact that you’re wearing a running jacket (unless it’s bright orange of course). Cuffs with an integrated fold over enable them to be used as mitts when needed.

Multi-purpose cuffs provide fit and warmth.

Multi-purpose cuffs provide fit and warmth.

Zip It Up

When we’re winter running, many of us are out in tights. And if we’re in tights, we’re definitely out of pockets. For me, having zippered pockets in my jacket is essential for me to stow away my gloves, keys, emergency ID and money.

Excuse-Prevention Therapy

So when the running forecast just doesn’t look too appealing, having a great winter running jacket can at least make a bright and reflective statement to those around you. Knowing that your jacket will help you to fight the cold and wind will also help you to fight the most difficult winter obstacle: our own excuses.

Keep the winter running going,


Browse all articles from Obsessive Runner

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

Couch to Marathon: At the Tannenbaum 10K

December 8th, 2014

In June, we started the Couch to Marathon program, in which a group of non-runners would train for a year in pursuit of the marathon. On Sunday, we finished our 10K race, the Tannenbaum, which places us exactly halfway through the process. And what a process it’s been! I’ll begin with an examination of race day, then digress from there.

Sunday morning was beautiful in Toronto, sunny, a bit cold, and nary a whiff of wind. The elements were on the runner’s side. One of the things we’ve been stressing in practice are the mechanics: know what you’re wearing, what to eat, show up on time, give yourself a chance to succeed. I’m happy to report that everyone in the clinic got that simple stuff right. (And I don’t mean to belittle the race day heebie-jeebies; at the Boston Marathon, I wore a new shirt and it was too hot, and before leaving for the Jerusalem Marathon, while a cab sat in front of my house, I couldn’t find my race shoes). Stuff happens when we’re nervous, which is why planning everything the day before an event is key.

We all had a decent idea of when we wanted to finish and I’d say most everyone came in within their range. There was some disappointment. Erica, our class speed demon, finished first and had a PB by six minutes, but was looking to PB by something closer to nine. I personally watched her sprint to come in under 50 minutes and found the finish heroic, but such is the mentality of an athlete: high expectations are a blessing and a curse. Angela, spending a rare Sunday away from her sons’ ice rinks, ran strong, though she suspects she has more in her tank. She didn’t sleep the night before the run, which is common, and plays unfortunate mind games with herself. Relentlessly positive, dedicated and smart, Angela is the quiet grace of our gang. It’s her power, as we progress, I’m perhaps most anxious to see. We’re building speed and endurance but lots of other stuff, too.

Regan and Amanda are the newest members of our group, and 26. Upbeat and energetic, both women had excellent runs, completed the race without stopping, and battled the cold and surprised themselves, I think, with their work. They’re in for an unusual voyage as we continue, because our half marathon falls a day after their vacation to the beach. They’ve caught the running bug—both of them want running stuff for Christmas—and I suspect they’ll be running in the British Virgin Isles, as well as enjoying the fun and the sun. Running a race in December isn’t for the faint of heart.

Peter, 63, coming back from a hernia operation this month, was questioned by his daughter about his sanity. He gave himself 80 minutes to finish and ended up finishing closer to 63. I was worried about him, but when I saw him turn the corner and extend a high five to Black Toe’s Mike Anderson, I knew all of our concern was for naught. He knew what he was doing, despite what everyone thought. This leads me to Emily, who had battled shin splints all week and was a big question mark coming into the race. She ran Wednesday and Thursday while injured, and arrived at the race concerned. There are things in life that I’ll remember, and seeing her finish will register as one. Where she picked up this habit of sprinting her finish I’m not sure. But it is remarkable. Running with her best friend, a speedy Longboat runner named Laura, she ate up the last 100 meters like Santa Clause gobbling cookies, and, as usual, brought the crowd to its blistered feet.

It was a beautiful day, an excellent race, with all the proceeds going to charity, and a wonderful, inspiring time. My friend Krista Duchene continued her extraordinary comeback taking first place and even yours truly was able to surprise himself, and come in well under my goal. It was a good day to be a runner. And, sitting with the gang, including Mike’s people afterwards at the pub, I had an all-too familiar feeling of the post-race jubilee. I was looking forward to our next training session to begin.

Coconut Basil Sweet Potato Fries

December 5th, 2014

Photo By: Allen Owens for Limoncello Productions LLC

Making one of your fast food favourites into a healthy dish is easier than you think. Offering a good source of vitamin C, swapping sweet potatoes for white spuds, makes this dish a healthy indulgence that may also help boost you immunity during the winter running season.

Total time: 20 minutes | Serves 4

1/3 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into the shape
of French fries
1/2 cup fresh basil (or dried basil)
1/2 cup dried, shredded coconut

1. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan.
2. When pan is sizzling add the sweet potato
fries, stirring until each is coated with oil.
3. Let cook, flipping periodically, until they
are golden brown (after 3–5 minutes).
4. After the fries have browned, gradually
add basil and shredded coconut. Continue
cooking until desired crunchiness (or
softness) is achieved.

1. To get closer to nature, shred your own
coconut from the meat of a fresh coconut.
2. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over cooked fries.
3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon curry powder over
cooked fries.

Calories: 484, Total Fat: 45g, Carbohydrate: 22g, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Protein: 3g

From: The Earth Diet by Liana Werner-Grey Copyright, 2014. Reprinted by permission of Hay House.

7 ways to shop for your next race

December 3rd, 2014


It’s late fall and many of us have completed our goal race and we’re enjoying a bit of rest and relaxation before we start building that base again. Although our legs may be resting, our minds are still running after that next great experience through a favourite pastime – race shopping.

Throughout my running endeavours, I’ve discovered seven ways that I go out about shopping for my next race. If my body didn’t need this thing called “recovery,” I’d go about registering for every race that gave me an ounce of a reason to sign up. But alas, we do need to be choosy and it’s important that we look at our race season in totality to see which races we should register for versus those that we should sit out on or cheer.

How to Shop for Your Next Race

The PB (Personal Best) Chaser

The goal with this type of race is simple: speed. Aside from your fitness, the other primary contributor to your race time will be the course itself. A point-to-point downhill course (where the start and finish aren’t in the same area) will likely be your best bet. Flat courses can also work well as they’ll enable you to keep an even pace throughout to help you chase down that PB.

The Ultimate Distance

Conquering a new, longer distance is always a scary thrill as you’ve either never gone the distance before or perhaps you’ve never raced it. This is about you stretching your limits and the one thing you really want to help get you across that finish line is this: screaming cheerers. Whether it’s a longstanding race with great community support or one in which your running supporters can readily come out and scream for you at, you’ll want your adoring fans out there to give you that cheering push towards the finish.

The Training Run

Not all races are to be raced. There have been times where I’ve used a race as a “hard training run”. I find that being in the company of runners on any race day helps to motivate me to push harder than I would otherwise do on a solo-nobody’s-watching-me-unless-I-tweet-it run. Small, local races work really well for this and if I need a longer distance, I’ll do a pre-race run that I’ll finish into the start line and aim for negative split workout.

The Charitable Cause

For any of us who have been runners for a while now, we’ve likely come to the realization that running is so much more than running. It’s about giving, it’s about sharing, and it’s about running for those who need a helping hand. Some charitable causes partner with specific races and even offer training groups and programs leading up to a race event in exchange for raising a target sum of donations. Running a race with a charity team is a guaranteed way to get lots of cheers and experience a new kind of personal best.

The Uber Experience

There are some races where you’re so enthralled by the whole experience where you’ll even forget that you’re racing. Some races have rock and roll music entertainment before, during, and after. Others incorporate themed cheering sections and put flowers in their portapotties. Whatever it is, there’s so much surrounding the race that it makes for a complete experience beyond the race itself.

The Schwagarrific Race

I like free stuff that I’m really paying for through my registration fee. It just makes me feel good, OK? And, even more, I love good quality free stuff where I get a t-shirt, goody bag, and medal that I would have been willing to pay for on their own. And even though I have more race shirts than I could ever more and keep storing my medals in a box, I am still drawn to cool shirt designs and shiny medals. There’s nothing wrong with having a “Will run for schwag” bumper sticker on your car. Really.

The Destination Race

And finally, we have the destination race where we’re willing to travel to that new exciting locale, go for a run, and make a vacation out of it. This is where you’re just as drawn to the destination as to the race in of itself. For these races, I like to arrive just in time for the start of the expo, then run the race, and then do my exploring afterwards unless there are time zone changes that you need some days to facilitate adjustment. But as you travel abroad, make sure that you have what you need to keep to your regular race routine so that you don’t do anything new on race day.

Good luck with your race shopping and I’ll probably see you at all of the races anyway,


Browse all articles from Obsessive Runner

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

Inspiration in the East End

December 2nd, 2014


They may not post, tweet or hashtag, but this east end Durham Running Room crew has a lot to share. I had a chance to go for a run with this group and I was inspired by each of their individual stories and what running has done for them in their lives. I hope that their stories get you out for a run as much as they’ve done for me.

Durham  Running Room Half Marathon Run Crew

Durham Running Room Half Marathon Run Crew

John Miller: the rookie in his 70s

John Miller

John started his running journey at the ripe old age of 70. When his wife was diagnosed with colon cancer, he saw that she was enduring a challenge so he decided to take up running to go through a challenge in solidarity with her. John’s gadget of choice is a heart-rate monitor that his wife insisted on to ensure that he is always running at a safe pace. John paces based on feel and impressively, that often means that he’s the one setting the pace for the rest of the run crew.

Ardith Neve: drawing strength from her mom

Ardith Neve

Ardith Neve

Ardith had the scare of her life when she thought she was having a heart attack but thankfully, it wasn’t one. After that episode, Ardith decided to take up running and has never looked back. She has gone from “I hate running” to “Why haven’t I been running?!” just two years later. When Ardith runs, she thinks of her mom who is living with rheumatoid arthritis, and it helps to keep her going. Whenever she is training, she just has one goal in mind: “finish strong!”

Lucy Malarkey: stress-relief running

Lucy Malarkey

Lucy Malarkey

Lucy has lost a couple of family members due to mental health issues. In dealing with these losses, Lucy has found running to be a great stress reliever in her life. Running provides her with a mental break and she always feels better after her run. No matter how bad her day is, she knows that she will feel 10x better after getting her run in.

Bryan Oliver: inspired by others

Bryan Oliver

Bryan Oliver

One year, Bryan had the opportunity to be the emcee during an overnight Relay for Life event. He was inspired by people running straight through the night in honour of loved ones. When his son was born, Bryan decided to take up running himself and went from 5Ks all the way up to full marathons. He continues to be inspired by others he sees at races where “you just meet good people, people who care about life” and “there’s a positive vibe that you just can’t quantify.”

Lori Wilson: dressed to run

Lori Wilson

Lori Wilson

A little while after having her first son, Lori recognized that she hadn’t lost as much weight as she would have expected. She began with treadmill running and quickly realized that should have to venture outdoors in preparation for the race that she had signed up for. Since then, Lori has joined a running group to keep her motivated to get out for a run. She also has another little trick she uses to get herself out: she’ll sleep in her running clothes just so that she can get right out the door in record time.

Joanna Drinkwater: food, friends and stress relief

Joanna Drinkwater

Joanna Drinkwater

When Joanna first came to Canada, running offered her a great opportunity to connect with others and make friends. She too has found running to be a great stress reliever. Joanna also loves to eat and running has provided her with a way to feel a little less guilty about what she enjoys. Running has also kept Joanna looking young, as she is older than what many would guess her age to be.

Josie Wajda: the leader of the pack

Josie Wajda

Josie Wajda

When you meet Josie, you cannot help but be motivated. She is always smiling, cheerful and ready to take a runfie. Having only been a runner for over a year, it’s incredible that she is already a running group leader and a good one at that. You can just sense Josie’s passion for running and it shows through her ambitious accomplishment of running 14 races in 2014. There are many kilometers ahead for Josie and it’ll be fun to continue following her on her journey.

Always inspired by other runners,


Browse all articles from Obsessive Runner

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

“Mommy, please don’t break your leg.”

December 2nd, 2014

Many of you know while racing to defend my title on April 27, 2014 at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Montreal, I fractured my femur due to an undiagnosed stress fracture. I had emergency surgery that evening, which included the placement of 1 plate and 3 screws. Nearly a week later, I headed home to start my rehabilitation.

Photos By Julie at RunWaterloo

As a carded athlete with Athletics Canada, Coach Rick and I were required to submit various documents after my injury. In confirming my intention to return to full high performance training and competition, many health professionals were involved in assessing my situation and creating a safe rehabilitation and training plan. I remember the excitement I felt when seeing, “November 1, 2014″ as the earliest possible return date to competing.

I couldn’t wait yet knew patience was a must.

And we waited, carefully and steadily doing a bit more each and every day: walk/jog to running, cross training, weekly physio and massage treatments, orthopaedic appointments, and daily at-home routines. My rehab plan slowly but surely grew and transitioned back to my full-time training plan.

On November 8, my plan included competing again, just over six months from my femur fracture.

Rick and I wanted to pick a shorter distance, low-key and local race that I could run without any pressure or high expectations. I am normally calm and relaxed before and during most high profile races so this would be even more laid-back. RunWaterloo’s 8K Remember Run in Cambridge was the perfect fit. I had been steadily progressing in my tempo and speed sessions on the treadmill as it was a safe and predictable surface for recovering. But by mid-October, we knew it was time to hit the track again. The plan was falling perfectly into place; we were moving another step forward.

For a few years, I have been using the North Park High School track next to the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre as it has been ideal when my children are in child care. Being a mom of three (ages 8, 6, and 3) with an amazing husband is incredible. Our 2 boys and 1 girl are active in hockey, swimming and piano lessons, my husband works in sales, I train full-time and work a few hours per week as a dietitian. It’s busy but we wouldn’t have it any other way.  The track I use is not the greatest surface, but it’s what I know and it works. It gets the job done and we can reliably compare numbers. Next year when all of the kids are in school full-time I will be able to travel across town to use a rubber track on a consistent basis.

As I was getting ready to leave for the race, in all sincerity and honesty, my 3-year-old daughter said, “Mommy, please don’t break your leg.” I think that is when I realized that my injury likely affected her the most. She went with me to my appointments, helped me do laundry with a walker, assisted with other chores around the house, made the big trip with me to the mailbox every day, and saw me rely on a raised toilet seat, crutches and a cane. A lot from the eyes of a sensitive preschooler with a big heart. When I returned home, she said, “Mommy, you didn’t break your leg!”

What a moment.

Race morning, I enjoyed the short and quiet drive to Cambridge, thinking about the past six months. It was a grey and cool day, fairly similar to the weather we had on April 27. Warm-up went well and a moment of silence was very meaningful before the start gun went off. I felt very relaxed and strong, not like what one might expect after not racing for so long. During the race I was a bit distracted by the trail sections as it took me back to my cross-country racing days as a Petrolia LCCVI Lancer, 20+ years ago. The goal for this 8K race was the same as any other race, after a major injury or having a baby. Marathon pace. So once finishing, knowing it wasn’t a fast course, I was very pleased to cross the line at exactly 28:01. Mission accomplished. I did my cool down with Olympian Alex Genest, who was also using this race as a low-key return after some time off. We got to know each other when we raced with Team Canada in Japan in 2012. He too is a parent and University of Guelph Nutrition grad. We both returned home that day feeling positive, ready for more.

Training since has continued to go well. Since racing I’ve completed 110, 120, and 120K weeks with yesterday’s long run of 30K being my longest. My fitness continues to improve (RHR is 37), my energy is good, and I am ready to keep implementing the training and competition plan. I look forward to running the December 7 Tannenbaum 10K race, for the first time. Again, another shorter distance, low-key and local race without any pressure or high expectations. 

Mentally I’m feeling exactly where I want to be. This trial has been another season, which has passed and once again made me stronger and more passionate than ever before. I look forward to the goals for 2015, mainly going after that standard to represent Canada in the Marathon at the 2016 Olympic Games.


Going for the burn with Hannah Georgas

December 2nd, 2014

2014 RS Hannah Georgas for iRun-3By Andrew Vincent
Photos By Robert Shaer
Close your eyes and imagine a tour bus parked outside a downtown music venue. It’s early in the morning.
The concert the night before wrapped up late. now, behind the dark paint and tinted windows of the bus, a couple of the musicians have woken up and are chatting sleepily. One turns to the other and asks, “Want to go for a burn?” Following that old rock ‘n’ roll stereotype, one might expect the musicians who emerge from that bus to be holding something to smoke, with maybe a beer for a chaser.
But then you wouldn’t be
 on Hannah Georgas’s tour bus, where “going for a burn”—a term coined by Georgas’s drummer Flavio, a runner—means hitting the road for a few kilometres of good old-fashioned cardio.

Indeed, for the 31-year old singer, songwriter, band leader, pop-song lover, multiple Juno Award nominee, and runner,
the best remedy for a late night on tour is a strong cup of coffee and putting 10 kilometres on her trusty running shoes. And those running shoes have been seeing some serious international mileage, as Georgas’s compelling voice, love of a well-crafted pop song (you’ve likely had her songs stuck in your head without knowing it), and determination to get out there and perform to new audiences, has been winning her a growing legion of fans across Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Georgas grew up in Newmarket, Ontario in a large family that was as passionate about sports as it was about music.“My dad was an amazing piano player and played professionally. I could tell that was the thing that made him the most inspired and happy. That definitely rubbed off on me,” says Georgas. “My mom put me in piano lessons. And I started writing songs at a young age.”But Georgas’s father also taught swimming lessons as a job, and her parents enrolled their four competitive daughters in a wide range of athletic pursuits including swimming, figure skating and basketball. “I’m a fish,” says Georgas, who has a triathlon on her to-do list.

Self-described as “more of
 a sprinter” in her school days, Georgas’s distance running habit formed a few years ago while the now Vancouver-based artist was on a four-month tour supporting the well-known Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards. “When I was out on tour with Kathleen, Jim Bryson [another songwriter who was playing in Edward’s band] and I made a pact to run 10K every other day. We’d wake up and grab coffee and then go for a run. It was a great way to refresh. Going for a burn.” She laughs, “I was in better shape on the road than at home.” Home in Vancouver isn’t something Georgas has been seeing a lot of lately. In 2014 alone, Georgas has opened for City 
and Colour across the U.S. and Europe, played the Great Escape in Brighton, Europe’s leading festival for new music, and has just returned from a five-week U.S. amphitheater tour supporting
 the million-album selling Sara Bareilles.
It’s all part of a plan to push hard and take opportunities as they come, even if that means putting off writing a new record for a few months. Says Georgas, “gaining traction in the U.S. is a hard shell to crack” but it’s an important step to forward her career.

Her most recent album, the self-titled “Hannah Georgas”, was released in 2012 and was nominated for the 2013 Juno for Alternative Album of the Year (Georgas was also nominated for Songwriter of the Year). With the recent placement of the song “Millions” in the hit television show Girls, it’s an album that continues to be heard by new audiences, especially in the U.S. The tour with Bareilles, who hand-picked Georgas as
 an opener, felt like a particular milestone for the artist. It “opened my eyes a bit,” said Georgas of what an accomplishment it is to be able play for up to 10,000 people a night at “gorgeous venues” like the Greek Theatre in Berkeley.

When asked about long-term goals, Georgas says that playing rooms like the Greek as a headliner would be a big one. “To have that accomplishment in the States is a goal. The dream
 is to continue what I’m doing, to keep putting out records, to keep having opportunities.” Asked whether she listens to music when she runs, Georgas admits to not being firmly in one camp or the other. “It’s a mixture of both. I find that it’s really fun to listen to music while running. And then sometimes it’s nice
to run without it and clean out the brain.” Most importantly, Georgas says that running has evolved into more than just a great way to stay happy and healthy while on the road; it has also become a key part of her songwriting toolkit.

“Running for me is also a writing tool. It’s another form of inspiration. I get a lot of ideas when I run. It’s a meditative process. Sometimes I have to stop and pull out my phone and jot down lyrics and ideas.” The other time Georgas stops mid-run is when a slow song comes on when climbing a hill—something many runners will identify with. It’s at those times the artist searches for some hip-hop on her iPod, with Kanye West’s “Power” being a particular favourite.

Now, as Georgas sits down (and laces up) to write her next album over the coming months, we can look forward to what new sounds this potent combination of international touring experience, wide range of artistic influences (check out Hannah’s running playlist for some favourites), and yes, love of running, will produce. Ready to go for a burn down by the Seawall?

Warm Up to Winter Races

November 27th, 2014

news lk santa shuffle December 7 2013 Saskatoon

From supporting local charities to scoring superior finish line rewards, these eight events offer runners unique goal races to keep everyone’s motivation on the uptake even when the temperatures plummet.
By Anna Lee Boschetto

Santa Shuffle
Supporting families and individuals in communities across the country, the Salvation Army’s Santa Shuffle Fun Run (December 6, 2014) is a runner’s way to spread the joy of the holiday season. With fundraising incentives, including Running Room gift cards, it’s the perfect time of year to give as you receive. Find a race in your area or pledge a runner online, after all, ’tis the season for giving.

Winter Solstice Westwood
 Lake Marathon
In its sixth year, the Westwood Lake Marathon takes place on December 21, 2014 in Nanaimo, BC and includes full, half and 6K distances. This low-key event asks runners to donate canned goods for the local food bank and will be rewarded with chili after crossing the finish line. Learn more about this fun run celebration of the start of the winter season through regular blog updates.

Resolution Run
For anyone who has wanted to start running, why not make the commitment early in the New Year? Start off on the right foot with the Resolution Run, December
31 and January 1, 2015. With fundraising efforts in this 5K event supporting local charities in cities from British Columbia
to Prince Edward Island, runners will
also receive a limited-edition race jacket commemorating the 30th anniversary of this event.

Ice Donkey
 Winter Adventure
You can’t take winter that seriously in Winnipeg, but you can have some serious running fun, with the Ice Donkey Winter Adventure (February 7, 2015). Combining frosty obstacles with winter-inspired challenges, this 5K event also winds through a challenging trail course, that’s anything but expected during the cold winter months.

Winterman Marathon
Whether you’re running the full or 
half marathon, gathering a team for the marathon relay or gearing up for a 10K, 5K or 3K distance, the 2015 Winterman Marathon (February 15) has a race for
you. Held in Ottawa during the nation’s winter festival, Winterlude, this event is
a qualifier for both the Boston and New York City Marathons, and offers a stunning view of the city’s skyline on your return loop.

Peterborough YMCA Half Marathon
Balsillie Family Branch has organized the Peterborough YMCA Half Marathon (February 22, 2015) that supports the organization’s Strong Kids Campaign. Designed to challenge runners, the course is well suited for serious and recreational runners, offering a scenic tour of Peterborough, including Little Lake and the Otonabee River. As Peterborough’s largest community event, it raises more than $25,000 each year and also includes a 5K Run/Walk and a Kids’ 1K Fun Run..

Chilly Half Marathon and Frosty
Held on March 1, 2015 in Burlington ON, the race route for the Chilly Half Marathon and Frosty 5K weaves through the city’s picturesque downtown and along the waterfront. While it may be tough to overlook the sub-zero temperatures during the race, the promise of free chili and beer will get you across the finish line. Find out more about participating local restaurants and register soon to snag an original race jacket.

Hypothermic Half Marathon
From late January until the end of February, runners across the nation can cozy up at the start line with their fellow runners at the Hypothermic Half Marathon. As part of the race kit, runners will receive polyester/ spandex gloves featuring a fleece nose wipe and a convertible headband to protect you from the elements. In addition, the uniquely detailed finisher’s medal and complimentary brunch make it well worth the sub-zero temperatures. Register now and start fundraising for your local charity!

Next issue: March 4, 2015
Subscribe to iRun magazine
- or pick it up at a newsstand near you -
Login or Register
Register for our site and newsletteriRun on FacebookFollow Us on TwitteriRun Videos on YouTubeRSS Feed of our Issue ArchivesPintrestOur Google+ Page
Play the latest iRun Podcast now!