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

Road Runners vs. Trail Runners

July 31st, 2014


Some of us like the road. Some of us like the trail. Here are some snippets between what road runners versus trail runners might say so that you can tell the difference.

On the road to the trails,


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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

Bring on the trails!

July 30th, 2014


By George Sarson, Race Director, Run for the Toad
Make your next run on trails perfect with savvy trail know-how.

Why I like to run on trails:
For me, trail running is like stepping into a different time, another world with breathtaking imagery. The diversity of trails is astounding. Trails can be natural settings or remote locations through lush forest settings. The question is often asked, “Can you get quality workouts when running trails?” The answer is a resounding yes! Trail training acceleration strengthens the legs better than any training mode I know.

In fact, one quality trail workout per week will result in improved muscle contraction (speed) as well as muscular endurance. Trail running can also improve your range of motion as well as your form. Since you’re running on tall grass, loose surfaces, hills or, pebbled surfaces runners are forced to push off with powerful strides, lift knees, and work their arms vigorously.

But keep in mind you’ll need to modify the intensity over time.

Here are some helpful tips and tricks for your first trail race.

1. KNOW THE COURSE. For first timers running trails, the biggest difference from road running is the surface. Depending on the level of technical difficulty, there may be single-track areas (no passing here!), roots, rocks, steep hills and sharp turns. That ever-varying surface of trails should not be brand new on race day – check it out in advance.

2. ATTEND THE BRIEFING. Sometimes trail races will have a pre-race briefing – a short meeting to bring runners up to speed on the course, trail conditions, unexpected changes, etc. If they do, don’t miss it.

3. FLAG IT! Unlike street races, which typically benefit from having navigational organization like straight lines, marked intersections, and often, course marshals, trail events occur in natural settings where the course may not be as obvious. For this
reason most experienced race directors provide a reliable and standardized means, called flagging, to get runners from the start to the finish line. When it comes to racing, no one wants to go off course, so watch for the flags to make sure you’re on the right

4. MIX IT UP. Taking to the trails can refresh your enthusiasm. Experiment with different distances and surfaces. Many runners get stuck in one distance, but the possibilities are endless! Breaking the mould, consider looking into the Ontario Ultra Series (OUS) races. You’ll find a bunch of good people that can help you prepare a proper foundation.

5. ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. Seek out the advice of the best people you can. Don’t be afraid to talk to the trail champions; trail runners like helping people. A good race director will know how to guide you and be available to answer any questions you
may have.

6. BE A SPONGE. Don’t try the first time to see how far and fast you can race on a trail. This type of running can wreak havoc on one’s confidence. Setting time goals in a trail distance that correlate to the road will end up disappointing the best of runners.
Instead, use your first event to soak up the atmosphere and experience what trail running is all about!

George says: DON’T BE SHY! Some people are intimidated by trails only because they don’t know where the good trails are or what to expect. Ask around! Most first timers will start with a friend or group; experienced runners will know the area you’re running. They will also know the best trails in the area. And a trip to your local running stores will also offer you plenty of information.

Stacie Carrigan, iRun’s July 31 (Issue 05 2104) cover-runner is the 2013 Female Canadian 50K Trail Champion — Carrigan will be defending her title at the 2014 championships taking place at Run for the Toad,  October 4, 2014 in Paris, ON.

6 things I wish I had figured out sooner as a runner

July 30th, 2014


The Obsessive Runner tries to figure out his GPS watch

I thought I was quick, but in fact I was slow, really slow. I thought I had figured out all I needed to know about running. I got faster, but then I got slower. And then I started losing motivation. Turns out I wasn’t so quick after all.

After three years of running, I’m still learning, but there are a few lessons learned that I wish I had figured out sooner. Here’s hoping that you’re a little quicker than I am.

Get yourself a running genius (aka coach)

When I first began running, I did it all by myself. I would set my own goals, find a training plan online, and then say to myself that I was doing a good job. There were also days when I would tell myself that I couldn’t do it, that it was too hard, to take it easy. Aside from the social awkwardness of talking out loud to myself during a workout, I had no idea if I was right or wrong because I only had myself to compare to.

We all need to find ourselves a running genius – someone who is smarter at running than we are. Someone who will listen to you blather on about your last race, your stomach issues, and your lost toenails. Someone who wants to get to know you and your running and who can create an exact training plan that is just for you. Someone who can tell us like it is but also believes in us more than we might believe in ourselves. For me, having a coach helps me to be a smarter and more confident runner than I would be by myself.

Nailing your workout today makes your life suck less later

Training plans are designed to build your strength, speed and endurance a little bit at a time; in other words, your workouts will only get harder. The easiest workout you have is the one right before you – you want to nail that workout today so that the next time you do that similar-but-little-harder version of that workout, it’ll suck less. Knowing that today’s workout is a small but necessary step towards the goals of tomorrow will help you to stay on track.

Know your GPS like it knows you

Your GPS watch knows you very well. It knows what time you like to run at. It knows how long you run. It knows if you’re running uphill, downhill or on no hills at all. It knows when you’re speeding up, slowing down or altogether bonking. The problem, however, is that we often don’t know our GPS at all. We usually just ask the GPS to start and stop when it could do so much more for us if we just spent some quality time getting to know it. We need to RTFM (“read the forgotten manual”).

Reading my GPS watch’s manual was like getting to re-know an old friend. All the “fancy” features that sold me about the watch in the first place were actually useful. I found out that its display could be customized to help me focus on my current pace. I also found out that it could time my speed and recovery intervals for fartlek workouts. It could also gently alert me when I had reached the correct distance for my hill repeats. I never knew I could love my watch more until I RTFM.

Be picky, be choosy, but find the right running buddies

Good running buddies make you run better. They keep the pace and push you on your tempo runs. They make you go all out on those hill repeats when you don’t want to. They prevent you from wimping out of your long run. But what you need is to find the right running buddies.

Finding a running buddy or two is like finding a mate – you have to find out if you’re compatible. You’ll have to gently probe as to what their running goals are; whether they share the same race distance and time goals as you do and what their fitness level is. Perhaps you need to do a “background check” and casually scan for any GPS watch selfies or recent race times online – just sayin’. It isn’t much fun or any good for either of you to be at wildly different paces, but when you find someone with the same pace and commitment as you do, it’s gold.

Test and train with shorter distance races

When your goal race is of a longer distance like a half or full marathon, signing up for a shorter distance race beforehand can be really helpful. You don’t only get another race shirt and more race bling, you get to fine tune your race day routine and give yourself a real test of fitness.

Shorter distance races will help you to evaluate where your fitness is at so that you can fine tune what your goal race time should be. I also use these “pre” races as hard training runs and you can adjust them to suit your schedule. I once was signed up for a half marathon that was quite late in my fall marathon training schedule. I did a 15K warmup beforehand leading up to the start corral and ran the half marathon race at my full marathon race pace. This pre-race was a great confidence booster and trial run in preparation for my goal race.

Twitter is a runner’s best friend

I must admit that I was a little slow to the Twitter game. I was reluctant to “follow” people I didn’t know and comment on their running. But I got over that when I found that runners were just as genuine and helpful online as they are in real life.

Connecting with runners on Twitter is amazing because it’s a social network that is “open” for all to see. For example, go to Twitter and check out all the tweets with the hashtag “#STWM” and you’ll see all the inspirations, struggles and runs of those training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. You can connect with other runners who are training for the same race and be inspired by the workouts that they’re doing which in turn will help you to drag your butt out there.

Got it all figured out?

So I hope that you’ll at least try one of these six things because they really have been helpful for me. Here’s to hoping that you figure things out a little faster than I have.

Still trying to get smarter,


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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak

The Chapstick Challenge: 7 days, 7 lip balms

July 30th, 2014


CONTEST ALERT! How do you protect your lips? Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift card to Shopper’s Drugmart! See details below.

By iRun Gear Test Team member, Sarah Macfadyen

Runners these days have all sorts of high tech gadgets. But sometimes, it’s the simplest things that get forgotten when you head out for a run—like lip balm.

Training outdoors in the sun and wind can wreak havoc on lips. Because they don’t have oil glands to keep them nourished, lips dry easily and can become chapped. They also don’t produce much melanin, the pigment in our skin that protects us from the sun, which means they can burn. Lip balm with SPF helps seal in moisture and prevents lips from burning. The next time you lace up your running shoes and dash out the door, grab some lip balm. Your lips deserve the attention.

Choosing a lip balm can be as difficult as picking out the perfect pair of running shoes. You can spend anywhere from a couple of dollars to as much as $30. To help wade through the plethora of products on the market, we put seven lip balms to the test. Here’s how they stacked up.

Day One
Nivea Sun SPF 30
, $2.99
★ ★
If you like to actually feel that you are wearing lip balm, this is the one for you. It goes on very thick and has a slightly waxy texture. Wearing this lip balm will give you an idea of how a car feels after a wax job—water just beads off your lips (wax is one of its ingredients, so it’s no surprise). Once the waxy texture disappears, lips are left smooth, but a little tight. It has an SPF of 30, which is a selling point. But be warned, if you have long hair, you might find your ponytail sticking to your lips on a windy day.

Day Two
RoC Soleil Protexion
, $11
★ ★ ★ ★ .5
Leave it to the French to make a lip moisturizer that feels more like an expensive lipstick than a
lip balm. It goes on silky, with almost no smell, and finishes semi-matte. After a few minutes it is almost like it’s not there at all. Lips felt moist after a tough workout on a hot and humid day. It also has SPF 30, but it protects lips from the sun’s harmful rays without feeling like you are smearing sunscreen all over them.

Day Three
Arbonne Lipsaver Sunscreen SPF 30
, $10
★ ★ ★ .5
This lip balm goes on silky and is very light, but it has a definite menthol smell to it and makes your lips tingle a few seconds after it is applied. The tingling sensation disappears fairly quickly, but if you’re not a fan of feeling like you have Rub A535 on your lips, this may not be the lip balm for you. It does contain SPF 30, which is a definite plus. It also contains safflower seed oil, chamomile extract and vitamin E, which leave lips smooth and moisturized for a long time. It doesn’t hold up to heat well, though, so make sure you don’t leave the tube in the sun on a hot day.

Day Four
Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Moisturizing Stick
, $9.00
★ ★ ★
Nuxe has ditched the traditional cylinder shape lip balm and made this one actually look like a tube of clear lipstick. It glides on light and creamy, leaving lips feeling soft and moist. It contains natural products such as sunflower and macadamia nut oils, argan oil, Shea
butter, honey, and a Vitamin E-derivative. The company claims to have tested this lip balm in “extremely cold conditions in Canada,” and found that it protects “against external aggression (88%*).” The major drawback is that it has no sun protection.

Day Five
Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm
, $5.79
★ .5
This lip balm is like butter on you lips and despite its name, it doesn’t have the waxy feel of some other lip balms. It contains kokum, shea and cocoa butters to hydrate lips and it claims to offer four hours of long-lasting moisturization. Maybe it should say 40 minutes? Instead of making lips moist, it leaves lips feeling quite dry. It also seems necessary to keep reapplying. After a day of using this product, lips felt more chapped than they did before. It also loses points because it doesn’t contain sunscreen.

Day Six
Blistex Five Star
, $4.99
★ ★ ★ ★
Blistex claims that its main five ingredients are the perfect combination for dry lips. It contains glycerin to hold in moisture, candelilla (wax) to protect lips from the wind, wheat germ to moisturize, calendula oil to soothe chapped lips, and SPF 30 to protect them from the sun. Blistex might have come up with the perfect combination. This lip balm goes on a little thicker than some of the others tested, but it is barely noticeable after a few minutes. It also has a pleasant cocoa butter scent. Dry lips felt much smoother after wearing this lip balm. And even after a long run, it didn’t feel like it was necessary to reapply it. Who says something has to be expensive to be good? But be warned, I wouldn’t forget it in the car on a hot day. Even after a few minutes in the heat, this lip balm was a gooey mess.

Day Seven
Chapstick Active SPF 30
, $2.99

Made specifically for athletes, this lip balm goes on smooth, albeit a little waxy. It has a slight odour, which you can actually taste in your mouth. So unless you want the aftertaste of lip balm lingering in your mouth, best to leave this one on the rack. It also contains parabens, a preservative used in cosmetics that has raised some health concerns. This lip balm does have SPF 30, so in a pinch, slathering a little of this on before your run might be a better option than having nothing at all.

The Final Word on Dry Lips
If your lips are constantly chapped, drink more water. While it won’t heal dry lips, it will help keep them from getting worse. When all else fails, you might want to turn to a product many long distance runners often have on hand: Vaseline. Slathering on petroleum jelly at night, and throughout the day, will lock the moisture in your lips. But you will still want to have a lip balm with sunscreen on hand for running outdoors to give your lips the protection they deserve.

CONTEST ALERT! How do you protect your lips? Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift card to Shopper’s Drugmart! Contest closes at midnight on Monday, August 4th, 2014. Winner will be contacted by email, and will be announced on Facebook on Tuesday, August 5th. Contest open to Canadian residents only.

How one runner discovered running at fifty

July 29th, 2014

Keeping her running obsession on course, Kathy Carter was all smiles at the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon.

It started almost two years ago, when I was approaching the dreaded age of 50. I had always been able to run a slow 5km, but had met a woman close to my age who was enthusiastically telling me about her training and how she had run a marathon; that news changed everything. For my 50th birthday, I asked for, and received, a Nike sports watch and my goal became completing a 10km run before I turned 51. With the help of my Nike motivator, I was awestruck as my mileage changed from 9.99km to 10km; I had done it!

As the days went by and I became accustomed to my new 10km distance so I decided to push further. I started reading about running and discovered that the long run I was pushing for each week was actually a key component of long distance running. Then I found out about a 16km run that our town was hosting, but I debated whether I should give this a go. I didn’t even tell my husband until early the morning of the run when I got up at 6am to eat my high carb breakfast! My fear was finishing last and embarrassing myself. For a beginner, the run went well and I learned a few things like always carry water because the aid stations can be spread far apart.

After my hometown race experience, I registered for my first half marathon with my niece that October for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. I finally did the full distance on a long, hot run in August and was rewarded by my Nike watch recognizing my half marathon achievement of two hours and 20 minutes! But when the big day finally arrived my niece had injured herself so I was running on my own. Arriving late in Toronto, I told my husband I’d see him in over two hours and raced off to my corral while they were playing our anthem. With tens of thousands of runners participating, it was organized chaos but one of the most exciting moments of my life to be running in my first half marathon. The route was flat, the weather was cool, and the crowds were amazingly supportive. I was drinking and eating chocolate every few kilometers and watching my pace. With the full marathon winners completing at the same time that many half marathoners were, the finish line was amazing as the crowds were going wild. They greeted each runner by name and we received a finisher’s medal. I expected two hours and 20 minutes but managed to knock six minutes off my expected time, and I realized that you can usually beat your personal best in an organized race due to your adrenalin and keeping pace with other runners.

After a winter of treadmill training, by spring my obsession started with the Toronto Yonge Street 10km in April; I was stoked! I followed this by the Uxbridge Half Marathon a week later, a challenging course with numerous hills, trail running and ending on a 7km route through a hilly golf course. After running a 5km event in support of our local food bank, I ran the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon in May and I gave myself two weeks off until another 10km charity run. Having run the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon in June, and the Barrie Waterfront Half Marathon later that month, you can say that I’m becoming obsessed with races. Needless to say, I am anxiously awaiting the fall races to compete again, and am especially looking forward to beating my personal best in my next half marathon this fall!

Crossing your first finish line: “This is a life-changing experience for me”

July 29th, 2014


On Saturday, July 26, more than 150 runners participated at Track & Roll, a race put on by Lululemon and sanctioned by Athletics Ontario. The event, in its second year and held in Toronto, consists of the 100 meter dash, mile races and relay events, 4x400meters, for both men and women. One of the relay racers was Emily Tomisch, 25, who had never participated in a race before. In May, she’ll take on the marathon. This is her recollection of the event.


Q) What were you feeling as you turned the last leg of the race, finish line in site?
A) I was really excited. I couldn’t feel my legs, my whole body went numb, but everyone cheering me on … it felt exhilarating.

Q) It looked like you actually sped up.
A) I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to give it my all.

Q) As a new runner, what’s been your take on the running community?
A) I have a lot of friends who do marathons, and after my practice, every Thursday, I call them and tell them what I did. They’re all so proud of me. After the meet on Saturday, I called and said, ‘I did it.’ They know what it’s like to start, how hard it is, and I feel like they want to encourage me to keep up with the sport.

Q) Is it very hard?
A) It sucks, to be honest.

Q) So why keep on?
A) I’ve only been through about six weeks of training and that running high is just starting to kick in and now, when I have a bad day at work, I want to go home and run. Even on my lunch breaks I do a quick five minute run around the block. It’s something I look forward to all the time. I do still get a sore a bit the day after, but it’s a good sore.

Q) Any other injuries?
A) No. Just sore. I stretch more now throughout the day. I don’t sit at my desk, I stand, and focus more on my body. I also drink more water throughout the day now than I normally would.

Q) Any other changes?
A) On Thursday, around 4 p.m., I start thinking: I should go eat an apple. I’m not going to go to McDonalds and get a Big Mac because I know then I’ll feel terrible when I’m running.

Q) What was your goal for Saturday’s race?
A) To finish and not have to walk at all.

Q) You did that and more so. What was the key?
A) Just seeing everybody and hearing them cheer. Even though I don’t know them, I didn’t want to let them down. I was talking to other people at the meet and telling them it was my first race and everyone was giving me high fives and hugging me. I’ll probably never see them again, but they helped me, a lot.

Q) How did you feel before your race?
A) I was nervous, but I tried to calm myself down. Before I got to the meet, I sat outside, drank coffee, and read. But as I was walking up to the stadium and saw it was an actual meet and how professional the track looked — I’m from small town Northern Ontario and I’ve never seen a professional track before. It was intimidating, but now I can say I competed at the same event with all these professional athletes, that’s cool. For a first run, it’s inspiring.

Q) In our group you aren’t the fastest or most experienced runner, but you were the first to sign up for this race.
A) I know if I didn’t sign up I probably wouldn’t go out and do anything. I feel like I have to set all these little goals to prove to myself that I can do it. I’ve never been an athletic person and it feels great doing something that I’ve never done before. I’m surprising myself.

Q) You had some health concerns at the start. What were they?
A) I’ve always had heart palpitations and I recently found out my father, his mother, and her mother — three generations on my dad’s side — all have heart disease, and my condition is a precursor for heart disease. I went to my doctor and asked what I could do and he said don’t eat meat, don’t smoke, and exercise. I don’t smoke and don’t eat meat, now I’m trying to do cardio.

Q) Has it helped?
A) Since I’ve started running, my symptoms have decreased exponentially and my doctor is considering halving my medicine dose. It’s only been five weeks. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when I’m running my marathon. This is a life-changing experience for me. I’m doing it for my health.

The average 5K finish time, according to Running USA, is 34:53 for a woman and 28:46 for a man. Granted, this includes speed racers and folks who’ve been doing this for years. Still, keep that in mind as a ballpark for how long the 5K might take. My group is attempting their 5K on August 16, so the goal is to keep building endurance. Run three times this week, and women, aim to stay out there for 35 minutes, men, 29, and gradually decrease the amount of walking you do. Next week we’re going to work in a hill session, but, for now, just make sure you get out there three times. And, like Brooks’ says, run happy. This is essential: more important than running for an extra minute per ten minute interval is that you make it out three times per week. By enjoying your run, you’re more likely to stick with it. More likely to build consistency, which is the most important thing a runner needs.

Who knows, it may just end up saving your life.


Describing the indescribable – have you been here?

July 26th, 2014

I realize there has been a lengthy break here on my Endorphin Junkie blog. There is a story, but it’s for another day.

So I got up early for my long run today. My cat decided that it would be fun to attack my other cat’s tail on the bed at six o’clock and cut a precious 30 minutes off my night. I was moving slowly but I eventually managed to drag my carcass out the door.

My legs were heavy and achy from a workout earlier in the week and it looked like this whole run was going to be a slog. I resigned myself to it and settled in at a slow pace. I distracted myself with a game of wildlife-Bingo, mentally daubing an imaginary card with chipmunks, rabbits, and various other critters.

falling-up-514669-mI wasn’t quite halfway through my planned distance when something magical happened. While it actually came about gradually, the realization hit me all at once: at 9.84K it was like a button had been pressed. That was the moment I realized I was high.

I must confess, it isn’t unusual for me to get the Runner’s High on a long run, so I know I am fortunate that way. I know some people run for decades without ever experiencing it and are sure it’s a myth. It happened unusually early today, but I am not complaining.

At the risk of sounding a little unbalanced, I am going to try to describe it for those of you who haven’t experienced it – my brain is a scary place, so consider yourself warned.

So 9.84K. The fatigue in my legs was gone, and the ache was slowly draining away. My back was straight and my shoulders were back and my breath was deep and controlled – I felt great. Euphoric, even.

  • I saw something on the path ahead but I couldn’t tell what it was. When I got to it and realized it wasn’t a bit of spilled straw, but rather a dappling of sunlight, I became rather giddy and ran through like it was a sprinkler full of pixie dust.
  • I ran a half-kilometre past my turnaround point (adding another kilometre to my total distance) – but managed to convince myself that any further was likely a bad idea.
  • I actually called BINGO! when I got my full line of chipmunks.
  • I mentally signed myself up for three races, and added a half marathon for a new runner-friend of mine for good measure.
  • As I passed a lady walking in the same direction as I was, I wanted to tell her I liked her shirt, but what I actually said was, “Good morning. I LOOooove the HELL out of your SHIRT.” I think I may have scared her a little.
  • I slowly picked up my pace for a fast finish, and honestly felt like I could run forever.

When I look at that all spelled out, it looks absurd and a little crazy – but keep in mind that, with the exception of all of the imaginary race sign-ups (which were more like a half-hour planning session), they were all just fleeting moments – but they were very vivid and enjoyable.

Two hours later I still feel good – happy, optimistic…I don’t really know what else to say, besides maybe wheeeeeeee!!

Oh, and I LOOooove the HELL out of your SHIRT.

Six joint-strengthening foods for runners

July 23rd, 2014


By Patience Lister
Originally published in Issue 04, June 2014

With each stride, a runner’s knees buffer the impact of a force that can be up to eight times her body weight. Without healthy joints, running would be a painful and jarring experience.

Unfortunately, everyone’s joints degenerate and lose flexibility with age. By 30, most people have tears in their cartilage, and after 45, many people begin to experience signs of degenerative conditions, such as osteoarthritis.

In addition to genetics, recovery time and running form, nutrition plays a significant role in joint health. Broccoli, turmeric, blueberries, sardines, walnuts and pineapple contain nutrients shown to reduce joint damage and regulate inflammation related to degenerative joint conditions and injuries—ultimately keeping runners running longer.

Broccoli’s bitter flavour comes from the elite joint-strengthening nutrient sulforaphane. Loading up on sulforaphane throughout the training season can help reduce inflammation in stressed joints and slow the breakdown of cartilage to offset the risk of osteoarthritis. One cup of broccoli supplies over 100 per cent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin K and 90 per cent RDA of vitamin C, ensuring effective bone mineralization and healthy shock-absorbing cartilage in the knees and hips.

Smart Tip: For an anti-inflammatory boost, substitute broccoli sprouts for regular sandwich lettuce.

The next time a sprain interrupts your training, eat some curry. Known for making curry yellow, turmeric also supplies joints with a good dose of anti-inflammatory and painkilling agents that may help runners rebound from injuries faster. A study published this year in Clinical Interventions in Aging found that curcumin, the key nutrient in turmeric, reduces joint inflammation and pain as effectively as ibuprofen. Curcumin also protects joints by stimulating the growth of new collagen in connective tissue and deactivating enzymes that break down cartilage. For runners dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, turmeric can help reduce joint stiffness and swelling to make running more comfortable.

Smart Tip: Piperine in black pepper makes curcumin more absorbable by the body. Eat turmeric and black pepper together for an enhanced effect.

When it comes to antioxidants, these Canadian berries are top contenders. The immense density of antioxidant polyphenols in their skin, seeds, juice and pulp protects the synovial membranes of joints from harmful oxidation by free radicals. This, along with the high water content of blueberries, helps maintain the fluid level within joint cavities for proper lubrication and a smooth, well-cushioned stride. Scientists at the University of North Carolina recently discovered that periods of intense running revs up the absorption of blueberry polyphenols, offering heightened protection when joints need it most.

Smart Tip: Buy fresh local berries during the summer to freeze for a year-round supply of antioxidants.

These little fish pack a first-class nutritional punch. A 106g can of sardines contains almost three times the recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Omega-3s strengthen the cartilage within joints by boosting collagen levels. They help manage the pain, inflammation and stiffness of joints to speed up recovery after intense runs or injury. They also equip runners with 110 per cent RDA of vitamin D and 25 per cent RDA of calcium to synergistically fortify bones and fight osteoarthritis of the knees. To top it off, sardines are one of the most sustainable seafoods available, they are low in marine contaminants, and they are very inexpensive.

Smart Tip: Choose sardines packed in water or rinse those packed in oil under cool water to remove unnecessary fat.

Walnuts are not your typical nut—they are high in the omega-3 fatty acid ALA which is converted within the body to EPA and DHA. This means that runners can eat walnuts regularly to increase bone stability and muscle strength, reduce joint injuries from overuse, and lower their risk of inflammation from arthritis. One cup of walnuts also fulfills 46 per cent RDA of the magnesium runners need for maintaining strong bones and cartilage within their joints.

Smart Tip: Drizzle walnut oil on green salads in place of commercial dressings.

pineapple Pineapple
Pineapple contains an excellent antiinflammatory and painkilling enzyme called bromelain. It is a medically recognized treatment for arthritis and tendinitis that also reduces the swelling and recovery time from sprains. One cup of pineapple delivers over 100% RDA of vitamin C to help repair damaged cartilage and build strong connective tissue in tendons and ligaments. The powerful antioxidant behaviour of vitamin C also blocks free radical damage to slow the progression of arthritis. Because bromelain increases the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, pineapple and turmeric make a superb combination.

Smart Tip: Eat pineapple at its peak ripeness to receive the greatest concentration of bromelain. With no pharmaceutical cure for joint disorders, diet is one of the most practical routes towards optimized joint health. By focusing on foods that are naturally rich in joint strengthening nutrients, runners are ultimately rewarded with fewer injuries, a lower risk of arthritis, and a longer, more enjoyable running career.


Blueberry walnut granola

July 23rd, 2014

By Patience Lister
Originally published in Issue 04, June 2014

Homemade granola is a satisfying way for runners to boost their intake of vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup hulled raw
sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried blueberries

Heat oven to 250 degrees. In a saucepan, heat canola oil and honey on low until melted. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla. Pour over oats and mix until evenly coated. Spread oats onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring at 15 minutes.

Allow oats to cool then mix in the remaining ingredients. Store in a sealed container.
Makes approximately 5 servings.

Read Six joint-strengthening foods for runners

The dynamic duo

July 23rd, 2014


By Krista DuChene
Originally published in Issue 04, June 2014

Playing a dual role of parent and professional athlete is incredibly rewarding, but it also requires alot of self-sacrifice—so it helps to have a partner to share the load. Here’s how Krista DuChene’s husband, Jonathan, helps his wife navigate the ups and downs of her running life:

Since running my first marathon at 3:28 in 2002 to my tenth at 2:28 in 2013, not to mention having three children added to the mix, I’ve gradually shifted sacrifices as I pursued my multifaceted career as a runner, dietitian and mom. Needless to say, while my husband Jonathan has enjoyed the journey with me, having children has certainly made the course a little more challenging.

For the first few years we were married, Jonathan loved golfing on Saturdays as I headed out for a run. But shortly after our first child was born, that all changed. Being an early riser, I could often get a run in and be home for the baby before Jonathan headed out to tee off. But it made for a long day for me before he returned and we were able to spend time together as a family. It also became increasingly difficult to get work done in and around the house with a growing baby. And so, like many other times in his life, Jonathan sacrificed one of his desires for someone else’s, expecting nothing in return.

During our 13 years of marriage, we have aimed to maintain a steady balance of our individual needs and wants without keeping score. He does not see his actions as sacrifices, which has been incredible for our children, who are learning that putting others ahead of themselves is always a better way. Like me, Jonathan certainly feels pleased and blessed with a successful career and three amazing kids. I’m grateful for his devotion and commitment to Team Duchene, which has enabled me to succeed. Here are five ways that Jonathan has helped me transition from a recreational runner to a professional athlete.

Hot weekend breakfasts
Sometimes it’s the little things that are most important. Every Saturday and Sunday, Jonathan makes fresh waffles or crepes as the kids watch cartoons in their pyjamas and await my return from a long run. Without question, there are very few things I adore more than coming home for a hot shower, cup of coffee and waffles with my family.

Sleeping in on the weekends
Now that the kids are older, while I’m out running they can manage on their own before breakfast. But I’m sure there are more times than not that Jonathan is woken to noise, requests or the need to referee before he is able to make up for lost sleep from earlier in the week.

Holding down the fort
Parenting is a juggling act. While I’m away competing for a weekend, Jonathan has absolutely no problem parenting on his own, successfully getting kids to birthday parties, swim and hockey practices. There may be a few more trips out for treats while I am away, but that is part of the healthy balance.

Cheering on Team Duchene
Once in a while, we are able to go to races where more than one of us competes. The logistics of parking, warm-ups, expected start and finish times, and cool downs while safely weaving the chariot stroller and kids through masses of people is something he has mastered quite well over the years.

Navigating the road to recovery
More recently, after I sustained a leg fracture while defending my title at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Montreal, Jonathan once again rose to the occasion. From catching the earliest flight possible after my surgery to doing the jobs I am unable to complete at home on crutches, he continues to display exemplary care for his loved ones.

Jonathan and the many other dads who continue to selflessly love their children and spouses should know that we couldn’t pursue our careers and enjoyment of life without them. Of course there are many more examples of how Jonathan has been an integral part of my success as a runner, but it is no surprise that when asked, he can’t seem to think of anything.

Read more from Marathon Mom, Krista DuChene
Follow @KristaDuChene on Twitter

Next issue: September 18, 2014
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