Run Barbados Marathon Weekend 2017

By | General | No Comments

 Come for the run, stay for the fun! 

Join Lanni Marchant and Natasha Wodak on our Canada Running Series road trip to Run Barbados Marathon Weekend, December 1st – 3rd 2017. Join “Betty and Veronica” in the 10K, on the beach, for a few easy runs, and out on the town! It’s the ultimate CRS year-end reward!

2017 pricing coming soon, [2016 rates $1,600 per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplements available on request]. But we strongly recommend calling today to put your name on the waiting list, as space is limited and will sell out at the group hotel. Trip includes:

  • Round trip airfare from Toronto or Montreal
  • 7 nights (November 30th – December 7th) at the fabulous 4-star Bougainvillea Beach Resort on Maxwell Coast Road, including breakfasts
  • Transfers between airport-hotel in Barbados; plus buses from hotel to races and back

There’s a race for everyone: 1 Mile, 5K, 10K, Half-marathon, and Marathon, spread through Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Race details:

Then it’s time for the beach! Don’t miss our photo gallery from last year’s tour!

Win a Trip for Two to Run Barbados Marathon Weekend!

Register for any of our CRS East races (listed below) before June 10th and you will automatically be entered into our draw to win a trip for two! Enter 5 races, get 5 chances! Winner will be announced at the Toronto Waterfront 10k on Saturday, June 17th!

The more races you register for, the greater your chance to win. Good luck!


To inquire about bookings, call Marge Folkes at Marville Travel 905-891-0111 or email

For inquiries regarding the races email with “Run Barbados” as the subject.

Race details:

Tips to Improve your Running Form

By | Training Tips | No Comments

There are many ways to improve as a runner.  If you’re a beginner, getting out the door and having consistent training will make you a better runner by just going through the motions.  As you become more involved in the sport, you begin to make changes to training like incorporating speed work into your schedule, and maybe even seeking out a running coach to help you achieve your goals.  As time goes on, you begin to nitpick the details.  These details are typically part of one’s running form.  Don’t try and fix every issue at once; focus on one change at a time to create better running habits.  From head to toe, here are some things to consider:

Posture – Run with a slight lean forward that comes from the ankles, not the waist.  Bending from the waist, hunching your shoulders, or a slumped position of any part of the body can restrict circulation and reduce the oxygen supply your muscles crave.  You want to maintain a straight line from head to toe; try to maintain a forward lean of about 10 degrees.  To practice, lean forward until you feel like you’re going to fall, then go up onto your toes.  This posture will help gravity drive you forward while you’re running.

Head – Let your gaze guide you. Keep your head looking straight ahead at the horizon, and try not to lean your head back or jutted forward as this can put excess tension/stress on your neck.  Your head position is the starting point of your entire body’s positioning.

Shoulders – Keep your shoulders low and loose.  A lot of runners have a tendency to let their shoulders creep up towards their ears, especially as they get tired.  If your neck gets sore and you feel there’s tension in your shoulders/neck, it’s probably due to keeping your shoulders in a shrugged position.  Shake your arms outs when this happens to remind your upper body to relax.  Tension anywhere in the body will make you less efficient.

Arms – Running is a lower body dominant activity, but your arms move in conjunction with your legs and are a critical part of proper running form.  Keep your arms and hands relaxed, and don’t clench your fists.  Pretend you’re running with a raw egg in each hand that you don’t want to crush.  Keep your arms bent at a 90 degree angle and swing your arms forward and back between your waist and lower chest.  Avoid too much cross-body movement.

Torso – As mentioned, it’s important to keep your back straight, without any exaggerated curvature in your spine.  Keeping your shoulders relaxed and your head looking straight ahead will help maintain an upright position.  Think of it as “running tall”; stretch yourself up to keep your whole body in alignment.  It’ll also help keep your lung capacity at it’s maximum.

Hips – Your hips are your centre of gravity.  While in a slight forward lean, it’s important to remember not to lean forward by bending from your hips.  Doing so will restrict your leg movement/knee drive.  Hunching over, or leaning too far forward will throw your body out of alignment and can put additional pressure on your lower back.  If you finish long runs with a sore lower back, this is a key posture component to work on first.

Legs/stride – Following the rest of your body, your legs are your driving force.  Keeping a slight forward lean will allow for optimal knee drive, and consequently more leg power. Over-striding occurs when you run too upright, reach your legs out ahead of your body, or land with a straight leg rather than a slightly bent knee. Instead, aim to keep your feet under you, not in front of you; and land with your knee slightly bent to absorb the impact of hitting the ground.  Overstriding can put your hamstrings and knees at risk of injury, or cause shin splits.  Try to increase your cadence in order to shorten your stride enough to have your feet underneath you.

Ankles/feet – While running, try to step quietly without slapping your feet onto the ground.  Aim to land in the area between your heel and mid-foot, then roll forward to toe off and into your next step.  You’ll be able to feel your calf muscles working at each push-off.  The ankle will be slightly flexed to provide more force to each toe-off.  Two words to describe good running form are springy and quiet.

There are many video resources on the internet that have great drills for improving your running form.

Running for Team Colleen at the Race Roster Spring Run-Off

By | Charity, Race Roster Spring Run-Off | No Comments

By: Amy Friel 

For Jordan Milchman, signing up for the Race Roster Spring Run-Off was supposed to signify a long-awaited return to running after a year beset by injury.

Milchman, who completed his first-ever half-marathon two years ago at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, spent the better part of 2016 dealing with a persistent back injury. By January of this year, a newly-recovered Milchman started looking at goal races for 2017.

With its notoriously challenging course winding through the hills of High Park, the Race Roster Spring Run-Off looked to him like the perfect tune-up on the road to a spring return to the half-marathon distance.

“I’ve never done an 8K before,” Milchman explains. “So I thought, I’m automatically gonna set a personal best.” Excited by the prospect of racing again, he signed up.

Two days later, things changed, when Milchman’s colleague and longtime friend Colleen Liao was diagnosed with cancer.

Liao, who Milchman describes as “my coworker, my buddy, and one of the best people I know”, is no stranger to the disease. Four years earlier, shortly after Colleen and her husband Len learned that they were expecting their first child, Liao was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.

“Colleen is a certified badass,” Milchman says of his friend, who underwent a lumpectomy at 12 weeks pregnant, followed by chemotherapy at 22 weeks.

Her body responded well to the treatment, with Liao receiving the much hoped-for “all clear” from her doctors shortly before the birth of her son, Chase. Newly cancer-free and relishing life as a new mom, Liao returned to work, where she and Milchman became fast friends, bonding over a shared irreverent sense of humour.

“We always found each other funny,” he recalls of their early days working together. “We laughed a lot.”

So when his friend learned early this year that her cancer had returned, Milchman decided to enter the Race Roster Spring Run-Off to support Liao.

Along with a few friends, Milchman switched his individual registration to a charity entry and began fundraising as the captain of “Team Colleen”. And though the team’s goals were modest at first, the response to their cause has been anything but.

“When we started out, our team goal was $3,000,” he recalls. “I think we hit that on the first day. A lot of people have been quite generous.”

Donations to Team Colleen benefit the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, a global leader in cancer research, and one of the largest comprehensive cancer treatment facilities in the world.

With less than two weeks until race day on Saturday, April 8th, Team Colleen has now raised more than $8,000 and counting towards their revised $10,000 goal. Looking over the list of individual donations, Milchman notes that much of it has come from fellow friends and colleagues who, like him, have been touched by Liao’s enduring tenacity and indomitable spirit in the face of what appear to be increasingly long odds.

For her part, Liao has chosen to focus on spending time with her husband and three-year-old son since her rediagnosis, prioritizing her health, family, and happiness as much as possible.

“Colleen is a very strong person,” Milchman says. “She’s very positive, very upbeat. She knows what’s coming, but she just stays very positive.”

Her outlook has had a ripple effect. With friends, colleagues, and strangers alike throwing their support behind Team Colleen, donations in support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre continue to pour in. It’s a momentum that Milchman hopes will continue right up to race day, and beyond.

“We have all been connected to cancer in one way or another,” he says. “We’re doing what we can to ensure we never have to encounter it again.”

To support Team Colleen and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, or to get involved with fundraising, visit their fundraising page.

Support Team Colleen: 

Make a general donation to the event: 

We thank participants for raising money for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and look forward to seeing you at the Race Roster Spring Run-Off on April 8th.

Registration is still open at

#ScotiaHalf 2017 Charity Profiles

By | Charity, Scotiabank Vancouver Half | No Comments

Over the next few months we’ll be profiling some of the amazing charities involved with this year’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k along with some of the great work they do. This week, we spoke to the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation.

Want to get involved? Find out more about the Scotiabank Charity Challenge here!

Royal Columbian Hospital FoundationRoyal Columbian Hospital Foundation

Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation is Pounding the Pavement for Preemies!

We are working together with friends and family to fundraise for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This year our goal is to raise $88,000 to fund the remaining balance of our Infant Transport Incubator. An Infant Transport Incubator is a self-contained, mobile, intensive care unit for sick or premature babies to be transported to a neonatal intensive-care unit for specialized treatment.

The Van Marrewyk family experienced first-hand the exceptional care from the RCH Hospital after the birth of their triplet daughters in 2010. Wanting to give back, they organized an annual 5km walk for family and friends that also acted as a fundraiser for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Royal Columbian Hospital. Those Christmastime walkathons raised $110,000. As the family and the Foundation discussed future fundraising efforts, we all saw an advantage in joining the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. We caught up with the Van Marrewyk’s about their involvement, their goals and their story:

How/why did you decide to use the Scotiabank Charity Challenge as a big fundraiser instead of continuing with the walk you’ve put on in the past?  Do you still put the walk on as an annual event? 
This option was brought forward to us by the RCH Foundation.  The biggest reason that we joined forces with both the RCH foundation and Scotiabank Charity Challenge was for ease and exposure.  This fundraiser was never about our family it has always been about the NICU.  When we did the walk it was located in Ladner and it was difficult to bring the entire NICU community to us so it was always more of a family and friends event.  Now the event has been able to reach more of just the NICU community and that was ultimately what our family wanted.  Our dream was to raise awareness about the NICU and give the NICU families a place to come together and celebrate our miracles that have come through the NICU. 
We do not still do the walk, like everyone these days we are a busy family and the walk consumed roughly 6-8 months of our year trying to plan, execute the walk, and then finally send out all of the thank you’s.  We know how much goes into an event like this and for the foundation to take this work off of our plate has been amazing for us.  The RCH Foundation is truly the backbone of why this fundraiser has continued.

Royal Columbian Hospital FoundationWhat made you become so involved with the RCH Foundation?  I’m sure many families have been helped through their care, but what made you decide to give back over the years? 
Without the NICU we would not have our family of 6.  Our children were very sick when they came under the care of Dr. Al-Mudaffer of the NICU.  He and his team (doctors and nurses) made sure that they would find the answers of why the kids were so sick and he did.  The RCH Foundation was our avenue to ensure that our money made it back into the RCH NICU’s system.  They have been absolutely amazing in their tireless work and continue to exceed all of our expectations.  They always make things happen and always looking our for not only the hospitals best interests but also the families of the patients.  They make things happen!

Where does the money that’s fundraised go to every year? Is it based on the needs of the neonatal unit? 
Queenie (NICU Manager) still allows us to choose where this money goes.  Every time we start a new year we are given a few choices and the monetary amount of the items that we are discussing.  The current focus is an Infant Transport Incubator. Before this, we raised money to purchase a jet ventilator, which provides a gentle and effective mode of ventilation to help the most fragile premature babies breathe, since their lungs are not developed enough for them to breathe on their own. We’ve also purchased infusion pumps that deliver fluids and medications as well as a couple of isolette incubators.
The Incubator stretcher that we are currently still working on has been a special piece of equipment because we have an agreement with the hospital that we will continue to raise funds for this piece of equipment (forecasted 3 years) but the piece of equipment has already been purchased.  The hospital is paying for this piece of equipment and we are paying them back, what an amazing relationship!

When you sign up for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon or 5k, you can choose to run for the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. Already registered to run? You can join their fundraising team today or make a donation to their team.

Dr. Peter AIDS FoundationDr. Peter AIDS Foundation

The Dr. Peter Centre is a leader in providing HIV care for individuals who face complex social and health issues, including mental illness, addictions, poverty, homelessness and social isolation.

Located in Vancouver’s West End, the Dr. Peter Centre provides three programs – day health, 24-hour specialized nursing care residence, and enhanced supportive housing, which together form a campus of care with integrative HIV services supporting personal autonomy and effective use of health care resources.

Now in our 8th year, staff and volunteers of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation form the “Red Ribbon Roadrunners” and run in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge to fundraise. Our team runs not only for fitness, but also to support compassionate care for people living with HIV.

We chose the Scotiabank Charity Challenge as one of our yearly fundraisers because it is a world-class race that provides a seamless platform that allows us to focus our efforts and resources on fundraising. It is also a great way to meet new people, get in shape, and have fun!

The Red Ribbon Roadrunners participate annually in the Scotiabank Half-Marathon and 5k in support of the life-changing work of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation. Every contribution makes a difference. When you run, walk or pledge on behalf of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation, you help provide vital care for people living with HIV.

Our food and nutrition program is the cornerstone of our model of care. Every day in the day health program, nutritious breakfasts and lunches are served, providing the high level of nutrition needed for a person to fully benefit from HIV treatment and to bolster the immune system.

In our day health program, a meal is so much more than a meal – it’s THE draw for engagement in HIV treatment and other HIV care.

Our goal is to raise $5000, enough to fund 1000 meals at the Dr. Peter Centre!

Dr. Peter AIDS FoundationWhen you sign up for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon or 5k, you can choose to run for The Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. Already registered to run? You can join their fundraising team today or make a donation to their team.

lipstick-projectThe Lipstick Project

The Lipstick Project is a small, Vancouver-based non-profit that provides free, professional spa services to men, women and children who are facing significant health challenges. Through partnerships with organizations like Ronald McDonald House, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and the Vancouver Hospice Society, our volunteers deliver comfort, dignity and compassionate care to those in need. We’ve never participated in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge before and are really looking forward to engaging our community in this new way this year!

lipstick-projectWe chose to participate in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge because it is an event that such a diverse group of our community can participate in. Because volunteering with our organization requires a very specific skill set, there are lots of supporters and fans in our community who can’t volunteer with us. This event is a great way to engage our entire community and rally them around a specific cause.

People can run for our charity by signing up here and joining our team. We’re very excited to make this a community-building event that is much more than just on race-day. That’s why we have partnered up with Rackets & Runners’ run club for training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. We also have an active Facebook community where we’re posting training tips, gear info, stretching videos, and different tidbits to help people make the most of this experience.

The funds raised will help us continue our programs and services in the coming year. We’re also always hopeful to expand the reach of our organization to serve more people, and success in this fundraising endeavour would help us to bring those expansions to life.

When you sign up for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon or 5k, you can choose to run for The Lipstick Project in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. Already registered to run? You can join their fundraising team today or make a donation to their team.

Check back next week – we’ll be talking to another one of our great charities! You can find the full list of our partner charities here.

Balancing Life & Training

By | Elite Athletes | No Comments
by Rachel Cliff (@Dangerous_Cliff)

Many people struggle to perfect a healthy balance between work and life; this can become even more challenging when you add an athletic goal to the mixture. Five years ago I decided to push for the impossible: to qualify for the Olympic games. With a personal best over 50 seconds off the standard I knew this was a serious long shot, and if I was going to pursue it, it was critical that I keep my professional development in mind as well.

Since then, I have moved to being an elite Canadian runner while completing my MSc in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene and have been working as a research assistant since October 2016. This journey hasn’t been easy, and there have been times when my running may have suffered from inadequate sleep and academic stress, and other times when my academics may have fallen behind (i.e. taking a bit longer to complete my thesis). Through trial and error I have learned to balance having both athletic and career goals and to be thankful to have both avenues in my life. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

Find a flexible employer and earn their trust: It’s best to find a manager who not only supports your athletic goals but offers some flexibility in scheduling and, ideally, is more focused on deliverables than whether you are sitting at your desk from 9-5pm (within reason). Runs and workouts often need to be completed during these hours, especially in the winter months so having someone who’s okay with you taking a longer lunch break to do your run, arrive a bit later or leave early is very helpful. All that said, flexibility of hours does not mean flexibility of deadlines, and it’s critical to demonstrate that you can complete assignments when asked. If your job is shift work by nature then try to be flexible in when you exercise and not sweat the small stuff: such as running or biking to work or wearing reflective safety gear and finding a safe running route for after dark are all options. Transparency is always key. There should be open communication about your goals and the needs of your employer.

Be organized: My most productive weeks happen when I plan in advance. On Sunday I’ll sit down and write out how to fit training goals around my work schedule and vice-versa. First, identify critical meetings and workouts that need to occur at certain times and then secondly write out all other weekly goals and put the puzzle together. Once your schedule is made it can be helpful to re-visit this to-do list before going to bed each night. Use your weekends to cook and prepare breakfasts, salads and snacks for the upcoming week.

Focus on quality: While it’s typically okay to brainstorm work ideas on your easy runs, there are times when one task requires absolute focus. Ideally, I aim find 15 minutes to unwind before a workout and go over the training goals. If there’s no time for this I try to use my warm-up to focus and avoid talking or thinking about anything other than running. The more focused you can be for your workout, the better quality it will be. Execute a similar strategy at work; limit procrastination and aim to produce high quality work as efficiently as possible.

Prioritize goals: If you’re at a critical stage of your career, your athletics may have to go on the back burner for a bit. Alternatively, if there’s a once in a life-time race or goal on your radar, you may need to decrease the hours you work. Adjust your goals accordingly and be aware that one may need to take priority over the other. For example, I did not work last summer while I was chasing my Olympic dream, but when I started up at my new job this fall I only ran once a day while I got used to a 37.5hr work week. I try to think of it as crop rotation.

Take care of yourself: No matter how big your goals are, your sleep, nutrition and mental health should always come first. Aim to eat good food, and get enough sleep so that you’re not wrecked at the end of the week (8-10 hours depending on the person). Also, take a few nights off to see your friends, watch a movie or do something else that makes you happy. Extreme stress is manageable for only a short amount of time, and just like over-training, prevention is the best policy when it comes to burn out (trust me, I’ve done it!!). Pay close attention to the symptoms of burnout and remember, there’s only 24 hours in a day and you’re only human.

Whether your fitness goal is to complete your first half marathon, or qualify for a Canadian national team, I feel these tips can apply to everyone looking to balance their career with any athletic goal. I realize not all jobs allow for flexibility in your work schedule, so keep your athletic goals in check with how much time you can realistically devote to them. The most important part is to have fun and be inspired by your running goals.

Preparing for your First Race

By | Race Roster Spring Run-Off, Racing Strategy, Training Tips | No Comments

With race day approaching fast, it can be daunting if it’s your first one.  There are so many tips and to-do lists all over the internet, but which ones are actually useful?  Sometimes the lists are so long, the race prep becomes scarier than the race itself!  Here are a few of our key preparation tips:

The week before the race:

Stop stressing. Races are meant to be fun. They’re great community events with an incredibly positive atmosphere for both runners and spectators.  Locals line the course and cheer you on; volunteers take time to ensure your race experience is top-notch; and you get to celebrate accomplishing your own goals amongst other like-minded people. Race day is an exciting time!  Even if it doesn’t pan out exactly as you had planned, soak in the experience and take what you’ve learned into the next race.

Cover the route beforehand. Course tours are a great way of familiarizing yourself with what to expect on race day.  Knowing what hills or tight turns there may be, will better prepare you and alleviate any unnecessary stress.  If nothing else, it’ll prevent you from getting lost!

Get off your feet. In the days before you race, try to stay off your feet as much as possible.  Doing additional training in the week before a race won’t make you more fit, in fact it can just make you more tired.  Relax, enjoy the taper knowing that the hard work is done!

Don’t carb load in one sitting.  The key to the carb-loading phenomenon is to gradually increase your carbohydrate intake in the few days before the race.  Lower training volumes and higher carb consumption allows the muscles to store more fuel to be utilized on race day.  Eating one massive bowl of pasta the night before a race won’t help your energy stores and can leave you feeling heavy and bloated.

Eat what works for you. If you have a particular meal that you eat the night before long runs, or big workouts, that’s the meal you should have the night before the race.  Trying anything new can put you at risk for GI distress during the race.

Pickup your bib the day before.  Your bib is one of your essentials for race day.  Head to the race expo/package pickup as soon as you can to make sure you have everything you need.  Pin it on whatever top you’ve decided on to be ready for race day morning.

Get ready the night before & stick to what you know. Lay out your gear and know where your necessities are.  Plan on wearing an outfit that you know doesn’t cause any irritation; prepare a race-day breakfast that you’ve had success with before; and don’t try out new shoes or race fuel on race day.  Stick to what you know!

Catch those zzz’s.  Pre-race nerves can leave people feeling anxious and can interrupt their sleep.  Rest east knowing that it’s actually the sleep you have two nights before a race that is the important one!

Race day:

Limit your fluid consumption. The days leading up to the race are when you should be hydrating, but race morning isn’t the time to be chugging back fluids.  Sip at water or electrolytes in the morning, but don’t go overboard.

Arrive early. Having picked up your race bib the day of two before the race means that all you have left to do is warmup, use the washroom, and gear check anything you need to.  There can be lines of people at the port-o-potties or gear check tents, so arrive with enough time to factor that in.  You don’t need to start your race with a sprint to the start line.

Carry the essentials.  Don’t forget to carry a piece of ID, write your information on the back of your bib, and bring your credit card or cash in case something goes wrong.  There are always plenty of volunteers and spectators along the race that will be able to help you, but you want to be overly prepared.  Just in case.

Bring a garbage bag. If it’s going to be a rainy day, garbage bags make for excellent throw away rain jackets.  They’ll keep your running attire dry and warm, and can be thrown to the side once the race begins.  Just make sure to go to the side of the road to toss your bag so you don’t hit anyone running behind/beside you.

Set a few goals.  Not every race is going to be spectacular, and it’s good to be prepared for that.  After the months of training, it’s great to set a few goals: an A goal that could be achieved on a perfect day; a B goal that is reasonable is the conditions or your body is feeling sub-par; and a C goal that has nothing to do with your finishing time.  That way, no matter what the day brings, there will be something positive to take away from it.

Start slow, and stay even. It’s easy to go off the start line like a bat out of hell, but it’s important to keep your adrenaline in check and start conservatively.  The first part of the race usually feels easy as your muscles are fresh and ready to go.  If you start too fast, the time you’ve “banked” can come back to bite you in the butt later in the race when the fatigue sets in.  Try and maintain an even pace, and if you’re feeling good, expend that remaining energy in the final stretch to the finish line.

Isn’t all that running bad for your knees?

By | Training Tips | No Comments

The Centre for Sport and Recreation Medicine has been a proud medical sponsor of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for 15 years. We’ve had the privilege of helping many runners make it to the start line and watch thousands of runners cross the finish line every year. New this year, we’re partnering with Canada Running Series to provide a monthly blog to support runners preparing for the race. Whether this is your first 5K or your 50th marathon, we wish you well in reaching your goal!

By: Alison Pinto, PT, FCAMPT, CAT(C)
Physiotherapist, Athletic Therapist

Good-intentioned people (typically non-runners) often advise runners to be wary of running so much because of the harm it will do to one’s knees.  While it’s assumed that pounding the pavement also results in pounding the cartilage of the knees, eventually leading to arthritis, this is not the case. In a recent study comparing runners and non-runners, Lo et al. determined there was no increased risk of symptomatic arthritis in runners and that running does not appear to be detrimental to the knees. Similarly, Chakravarty et al. looked at x-rays for a group of long distance runners and non-runners over almost twenty years and determined that runners did not develop arthritis at an accelerated rate compared to non-runners. It’s believed that running could even be protective against arthritis since running assists in maintaining a healthy weight and keeps muscles strong, thereby decreasing load on the joints.

Strong Glut Medius – Proper alignment

That being said, knee pain in runners must be common enough to coin the term “runner’s knee”. This type of injury (also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PFPS) is characterized by pain in the front of the knee around the knee cap. Pain usually occurs while bending the knee, such as squatting, going down stairs, or running. While the pain can be sharp and hinder day to day activities, this type of injury is usually the result of a muscle imbalance and not structural damage to the knee. Since running is a forward motion, runners tend to develop tightness in the muscles that move the hip in that direction, namely the iliopsoas (hip flexor) and tensor fascia lata. Conversely, muscles that control the lateral mobility of the hip (gluteus medius and mimimus) are underused and become weaker. However, those lateral muscles are important to stabilize the pelvis and knee while running.

Weak Glut Medius- Leads to hip drop and knee collapse.

To test how strong your lateral muscles are, stand in front a mirror with your hands on the top of your hip bones. Now bend your right knee to lift the right foot off the ground. Ideally your hips should remain level and your knee should remain over the ankle

If your right hip dropped it indicates weakness in your left hip stabilizers. Hip drop leads to the knee collapsing inwards when all the weight is on that leg. As a result, the knee cap (patella) rubs against the ridges of the thigh bone (femur) instead of gliding smoothly in the groove. This leads to the sharp pain that is felt when bending the knee.

If you found that you were weak on one (or both) side, try this strengthening exercise:

  • Lie on your side with hips and knees bent slightly. Ensure shoulders, hips and heels are all in a straight line.
  • Keeping the feet together, lift the top knee as high as possible without rotating backwards through the pelvis. Ensure you feel the muscles of the buttocks and not the front of the hip working.

Repeat 3 sets of 10-15 reps, or as many as you can do with good form.

Don’t let runner’s knee hold you back. See one of our highly-trained therapists who can determine if you have any muscle imbalances which may be impacting your running. Visit our website at to book your appointment today.


Chakravarty, E. (August 2008). Long Distance Running and Knee Osteoarthritis: A prospective Study. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 35(2), 133-138.

Lo, G. (February 2017). Is There an Association Between a History of Running and Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis? A Cross-Sectional Study From the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Arthritis Care & Research, 69(2), 183-191.

Scotiabank Charity Challenge helps Charities take Giant Steps in Fundraising

By | Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | No Comments

By: Amy Friel

When Giant Steps Toronto took to the streets more than ten years ago as part of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, the prospect of raising more than a million dollars towards their cause was little more than a pipe dream.

Founded in 1995, the York Region-based school and therapy centre offers an integrated program of academics along with speech, behavioural, and occupational therapies for elementary school students with autism. Amidst the hundreds of official charities who participate in the Charity Challenge each year, they’re a comparatively modest operation – but their more than ten years of participation in the event has had a decidedly significant impact.

“In the beginning, it was just kind of a group of parents of kids with autism,” recalls Joanne Scott-Jackson, the Director of Development for Giant Steps Toronto. “But we got really enthusiastic, and we raised $20,000 that first year.”

Since their Charity Challenge debut in 2004, Giant Steps Toronto has raised more than $1.1 million in funding for their programs. They’re the smallest charity by far to make it into the Charity Challenge’s “Million Dollar Fundraising Club”. For a local organization with limited resources, it’s a fundraising opportunity that could never have been possible without the marathon’s help.

“Events are kind of risky prospects for many charities, particularly small ones who have limited resources,” Scott-Jackson explains. “You have to have a lot of skill to pull these events together; they’re risky, they’re time-consuming, and they can be costly as well. So for a small charity like us to be able to piggyback onto such an established, world-renowned fundraising and athletic event, the opportunity is very unique.”

For more than 550 official charities who participate annually in six community road races across Canada, the Scotiabank Charity Challenge offers the opportunity for a large-scale fundraising event that’s both low-cost and low-risk, allowing organizations to invest their resources into fundraising rather than logistics. For Giant Steps Toronto, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has become their largest annual fundraising event, accounting for about 20% of their yearly fundraising dollars.

And while impressive, their success story is far from unique.

“Since we launched the Scotiabank Charity Challenge in 2003, runners in six community races across the country have collectively raised more than $50 million for community charities,” says Kyle McNamara, Scotiabank’s Executive Vice-President, Global Retail Banking Technology.

To help charities maximize their dollars raised, Scotiabank covers the cost of transaction fees, and offers additional team awards and incentives, complete with cash prizes, to those participating in the Charity Challenge.

“Scotiabank believes in giving back to the communities where we live and work,” says McNamara, an avid runner himself. “The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is more than a great running event – through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, the race raises money for local charities that help to create a stronger future for young people and build vibrant communities.”

For Joanne Scott-Jackson, the event has become a true community celebration, drawing together a diverse collection of individuals who have a deep personal connection to her organization and its work.

“A lot of people who run or walk with us are parents of kids with autism, or family members, or friends, or staff,” she says. “A lot of them have very intimate connections with our charity, and very direct connections with the kids who are benefiting from our program.”

Ever the enthusiastic bunch, Giant Steps Toronto fielded a team of 139 participants in last year’s race – the charity with the largest amount of fundraising participants in the 2016 Charity Challenge, for which they were awarded an additional $6,000 towards their fundraising campaign. The award was the latest in what has become a strong tradition of excellence for the Giant Steps Toronto team, which has now taken home fundraising  prizes nine times over their twelve years participating.

For Race Director Alan Brookes, the Scotiabank Charity Challenge is a particular point of pride, one that embodies the spirit of Toronto’s marquee marathon weekend. At once a celebration of individual endeavour and community engagement, it allows athletes of all abilities to unite in support of the causes closest to their hearts.

“This is always an exciting time – the beginning of training and fundraising for Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and the Charity Challenge,” says Brookes. “We all share so many hopes and dreams. Very best wishes to everyone on our road to October 22nd. There, we will come together, with one goal: to make our community a better place, and celebrate your achievements. Let’s do this together!”

Runners interested in making their steps (both giant and otherwise) count this fall are invited to register for the race and sign up for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge:

Remembering Ed Whitlock. By Kate Van Buskirk

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By Kate Van Buskirk

I don’t remember when I first learned who Ed Whitlock was, but I do know that for most of my growing up he held almost mythical status in my mind. As a young runner, hearing my dad—an avid marathoner himself—talk about Ed with great reverence forged an image of part-man, part-wing-footed spirit, gliding tirelessly for hours each day along serene cemetery roads, breaking this monotonous habit only to go off and capture world records. My interactions with other members of the Canadian running community over the years have lead me to believe that I was not alone in this impression.

When I finally met Ed in person and heard him speak at the 2016 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) elite athlete press conference, my perception of the man only grew more complicated. First off, he arrived in a suit and tie to contrast starkly with the jeans and athletic gear donned by every other runner.

At first glance he appeared almost stoic, standing expressionless off to one side of the room, not seeming particularly comfortable or pleased with the media buzz. But if his initial appearance was somewhat severe, everything changed when he obligingly engaged with the journalists and race organizers, his face softening into a kind smile whenever someone approached him. He was soft-spoken and deliberate, answering questions openly and without a hint of self-importance. When asked about his preparation for the marathon last fall, he mentioned an injury that had set him back, saying that that it was very frustrating not to have been able to put in as many 3-hour training runs as he would have liked, but that he supposed “this sort of thing happens as you get older.” He said that last part with a chuckle.

This juxtaposition of a publicly venerated legend with an almost comically dry and understated persona seemed consistent with Ed’s approach to being a runner more generally. By all accounts, he was austere and disciplined in his training, often saying that he didn’t particularly enjoy the rigours of hard running but was rather compelled to regiment by the desire to draw the best out of himself come race day. But he also strongly downplayed, or even flat-out dismissed, any reference to heroism or inspiration. This, despite countless world masters and age group records, including perhaps his most newsworthy accomplishments: Ed was the first, and remains the only septuagenarian to run under 3 hours for the marathon. He did this three times. 2:59:10 at STWM 2003; 2:54:49 at STWM 2004; and 2:58:40 at Rotterdam 2005.

My role as social media lead for the 2016 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon included conducting post-race interviews for the live broadcast, granting me an all-access media pass to the finish line area. The top elites crossed the line to tremendous fanfare, cheered on my throngs of excited fans, media and agents. They conducted their interviews before being whisked away to Nathan Phillips Square for the awards presentation, the cameras and excitement following close behind.

With my on-camera responsibilities completed, I wandered back to the finish line to cheer on the masses and ride out the incredible energy of the morning. I approached the line just in time to hear the announcement that Ed Whitlock was less 1 kilometre away, and was on pace to annihilate the 85+ world record. Annihilate was a good word for it.

Ed bettered the previous record by over 30 minutes, dipping well under 4 hours in the process. Unlike the professional runners whose finish line experiences had been rife with pomp and ceremony, Ed sauntered into the chute accompanied by three fellow competitors (at least 40 years his junior) to the applause of a handful of dedicated fans. He stopped his watch, posed graciously for a few official photos, then asked if he could please have a cup of water. He demanded no attention, his signature grin acting as his only expression of celebration. But amongst those of us who were fortunate enough to bear witness to his feat, the atmosphere was palpable and the feeling was communal: deep respect. It is a memory that I am grateful for and will carry with me throughout my own running career.

Photo Credit: Kate Van Buskirk

Ed may not have seen himself as an inspiration, but he has been exactly that to me for as long as I’ve been a runner. His fortitude, his refusal to acknowledge age as a limiting factor, and his sheer love of running–whether based on compulsion or otherwise–all speak to me deeply and will continue to inspire me as long as I’m a runner (hopefully until I’m 86!)

A few moments later and with all signs of exertion eradicated, Ed spoke on camera with Canadian Running Magazine. He rested casually against the fence as if he were having an impromptu mid-day chat with a friend rather than having just completed a marathon faster than most people can dream of in their lifetimes. He spoke about having to be mentally tough and push through the hardest kilometres of the race when he wasn’t sure that he would be able to finish, something that runners of every level can relate to. And in my mind, that was the quiet heroism of Ed Whitlock: his humanity, his relateability, and his desire to be better at every age.

Tell-tale signs that you need a day off

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It’s often believed that “more is more” when it comes to training.  Runners get stuck in a mindset that the more they do, the better they become.  This is true to a certain extent, but oftentimes the value of a rest day gets forgotten.  If you have put your body through the wringer with workouts, long runs, and cross training without a day off, chances are you aren’t going to recover enough to reap the benefits of your efforts.  Instead, a cumulative fatigue can set in and leave you overtrained or burnt out.

Here are some tell-tale signs you might be due for a day off:

Altered heart rate:
This is noticeable particularly with individuals who train with a heart rate monitor.  Many of us have an idea of what our resting heart rate is, and if you don’t it’s worth figuring out.  When your resting heart rate is altered, it’s a sign that your metabolic rate is elevated to meet the demands of training.  A lower-than-normal heart rate can also be an indication that you’re overtraining.  When you’re feeling off, take a heart rate check and see if it’s trying to tell you to rest!

Increased irritability:
Overtraining can not only affect your physical state, but your emotional state too.  When you’re starting to burn out, moodiness, depression, and general irritability are common.  While we all know exercise is supposed to make us happier due to the blissful endorphin rush, these stress-fighting chemicals are released alongside cortisol which is a stress hormone.  If cortisol levels remain elevated for an extended period of time, it can negatively affect one’s mental health.  It can get to the point that running/exercising is no longer enjoyable, and anyone/anything can send you spiraling into a bad mood, especially if they ask about how training is going!  If that’s the case, take a day or two to reset and allow your body to relax.  Pop into a low key yoga class to really let your mind settle – just make sure it’s easy.

Extended muscle soreness:
When you’re training hard, it’s common to have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for one or two days after a workout.  The issue is when that muscle soreness is prolonged, or just doesn’t go away.   If you’re still sore after 72 hours, it’s worth scheduling a day off.  Working out on sore muscle can hinder any muscle building efforts.  Instead of trying to hammer out another workout session, or even pounding the pavement on an easy run, take that time to roll, stretch, refuel, and hydrate to allow your muscles to rebuild without being broken down again.

When we’re tired from intense training, it’s usually easy to fall asleep.  However, when we’re extremely fatigued, insomnia can set in.  This is due to an overload on the body’s nervous system and hormonal system.  It’s crucial to sleep during the 10pm to 2am period as your body builds and grows during rest, not during training.  The stress of overtraining can lead to anxiety, impair our judgements, decrease cognitive function, and lower our immunity.  Anyone who has suffered from insomnia knows that it’s a negative cycle: the less you sleep, the more you worry about not sleeping, and the harder it is to sleep.  Taking a few days off and focusing on allowing the body to properly shut down at night could be the winning solution to one’s insomnia.

Unquenchable thirst:
Dehydration can play a huge role in overtraining.  Our body sweats during exercise, and the more you exercise, the more you sweat.  A good indicator of your hydration level is to look at the colour of your urine.  The darker the colour, the more your body is struggling to retain fluids because there isn’t enough circulating the body to properly hydrate you.  The dark urine indicates that the body is retaining as much water as it can while still excreting waste.  Therefore, the more hydrated we are, the more water we have in our urine making it more diluted.  Dehydration can also cause headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps, and irritability.  If these symptoms are present, be sure to add in some electrolytes into your water too.