iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey, New Brunswick

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley, Stittsville, ON

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello, Ontario

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams, Ontario

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris, Winnipeg, MB

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer, Quebec

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp, Ontario

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby, Saskatchewan

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle, New Brunswick

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher, Alberta

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott, Ontario

iRun because itís a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney, British Columbia

iRun because Iíve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly, Ontario

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie, Ontario

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin, Manitoba

iRun because somebody once told me I couldnít Heidi Abbey-Der, Saskatchewan

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter, Alberta

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra, Ontario

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire, Nova Scotia

iRun because itís like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson, Ontario

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

iRun because itís fun when itís done Sue Matte, Ontario

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx, Ontario

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas, Ontario

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire, Nova Scotia

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy, Ontario

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling, Ottawa , ON

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie, Yukon

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey, Ontario

iRun to my happy place and some days itís very Doreen May, Alberta

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell, Quebec

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu, Ontario

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell, Nova Scotia

iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk, Vancouver, BC

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson, British Columbia

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava, Calgary, AB

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell, Quebec

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde, Alberta

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua, Caledon, ON

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith, Manitoba

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan, Ottawa, ON

iRun because I canít dance Mario Javier, Ontario

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 because I liveGeorges Schneller, Laval, QC

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre, Ottawa, ON

iRun so I donít say never ever again Linda Klaric, Manitoba

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes, Ontario

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza, British Columbia

iRun because itís cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der, Saskatchewan

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve, Ottawa, ON

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston, Alberta

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar, Saskatchewan

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter, Clearwater , BC

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts, Ontario

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor, Saskatchewan

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon, British Columbia

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird, Ontario

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall, Alberta

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung, British Columbia

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh, Nottingham, UK

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou, British Columbia

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey, British Columbia

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick, New Brunswick

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil, Lombardy, ON

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan, Brampton, ON

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott, Quťbec

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins, Alberta

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury, Newfoundland

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur, British Columbia

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch, Ottawa, ON

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop, Yukon

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas, New York

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan, Ontario

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker, Etobicoke, ON

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel, Calgary, AB

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail, Ontario

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean, Ontario

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan, Brampton, ON

iRun for me! Judi Wearing, Saskatchewan

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette, Carp, ON

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier, Gatineau, QC

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent, Quťbec

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo, Ontario

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie, St-Antoine, NB

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen, Manitoba

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier, New Brunswick

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour, Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldnít Peter Cicalo, Ontario

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston, Nunavut

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw, New Westminister, BC

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard, Alberta

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham, Avonmore, ON

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua, Ontario

iRun because otherwise Iím grumpy Alexandre Charest, Quebec

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury, Newfoundland

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur, Quebec

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton, British Columbia

iRun because itís better than almost everything else Nathan Carey, Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan, Alberta

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka, Alberta

iRun for meKiza Francis, Ottawa,ON

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase, Nova Scotia

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang, Alberta

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville, Ontario

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis, Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou, British Columbia

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt, Halifax, NS

Cover photo from the current issue of iRun Magazine
Calgary 2017 Flagbearer

Workout Wednesday

My Best Running Race

February 2011

Back to Table of Contents

Taking it to the next level

So many of us runners get the calling; our inner voice tells us to stop thinking about it and do it already! Register for that 5k or 10k you’re considering; or the marathon or ultra you’ve been dreaming of.

For me it happened while staring at a picture of a silhouetted runner plodding through an imposing desert landscape. And when my calling came—which, I’ll swear was voice of Yoda accompanied by the most majestic version of the Star Wars theme song ever—it simply said; “Jim, it’s time to take your running to the next level.”

Thank you… Yoda

The photo I’d been looking at was the book cover for ultra running legend Ray Zahab’s Running For My Life. The words resonated deeply with me because I was beginning a battle with cancer at the time. This was the guy who ran through the entire Sahara desert! So naturally I did what any confused runner-slash-cancer patient, seeking answers, bumbling through the seven steps of grief, and hearing Yoda in his head would do: I called up the dude who wrote the book. Ray was happy to talk to me so I decided to get in touch with top Canadian ultra runners, Stephanie Case and Ferg Hawk, and get even more advice. Since storming onto the ultra scene in 2008 by finishing as the top female in Racing the Planet Vietnam (a 250km stage race), Case has gone onto a multitude of other victories and top finishes at some very tough and prestigious races. Hawke, who is the subject of the running documentary Distance of truth, is a two-time runner up at the Badwater Ultramarathon (often deemed the hardest race on earth) and holds the second fastest time for a North American at the Marathon de Sables—at 243 km race in the Sahara desert.

What did I learn from Zahab, Case, and Hawke?

None of the three were running prodigies when they started. Until the late 90’s, Ray was a pack-a-day smoker, but since he’s quit and started running, he’s never looked back. Stephanie didn’t run her first marathon until 2005, “Back then I wasn’t really a ‘runner’. I dreaded almost every training run I went on and I couldn’t wait for the race to be over! If I hadn’t been running for charity, I don’t know if I would have made it to the finish line.” And Ferg only started running after a doctor’s visit. “I was overweight—too much beer and wings after slowpitch— the doctor told me my blood pressure was high, and I’d have to start taking medication. So I started running.”

My inner Yoda voice satisfied, I registered to run the 250km Gobi March through China’s Gobi Desert this summer. *gulp*.

Believe in yourself and spread the word

Although they came from humble running backgrounds, each has persevered and gone on to accomplish amazing things. Ray advised me to; “believe in yourself—no matter what. Selfdoubt will be there, but learn to push it aside.” Okay, I’m starting to believe, Ray. I’ve followed Stephanie’s advice, too. “Find a race that you think is out of your league and sign up before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it. Next, tell all your friends and family about it to make sure you won’t back out!” Check. I just told iRunNation, Stephanie!

Make like a Scout — be prepared!

These three individuals have had so much running success because they believe training is crucial. I regularly think about Ferg’s words: “We all have the ability to do these amazing things, but too often people aren’t willing to put in the hard work and sacrifice it takes to get there. For me it’s all about preparation.”

Add to that Stephanie’s advice; “Give yourself the time to train and everything is possible. And get advice. Building a support network around you is the best way to achieve your goals.”

Use the Force

While recently talking to Ray, he was firing off advice faster than I could process; “What is your ideal outcome? What is your secret goal; what do you really want out of this race?” Later, when I messaged him a thanks, I told him he was a running Jedi Knight. He coolly replied; “Learn to use the force, Jim. It’s strong in you.” And what is “the force,” really, but an internal strength and heightened mind-body connection? Maybe I do have it; maybe we all do. Maybe we can all use the force to take ourour running to the next level.

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