Training Tips

The Importance of Running Communities

By | Community Leaders, Eastside 10k, General, Newsletter, Scotiabank Vancouver Half, Training Tips, Uncategorised | No Comments

By Kara Leinweber, Ultra Runner

We are road runners, trail runners, elite and amateur runners. Some of us are 5k runners and others are  100 mile finishers. Whether you run fast or slow or in-between, we are all runners; we all chase post run glow, runners high and celebrations with new friends at the finish line. We are part of incredible run communities and crave connection with like minded individuals.

I love crushing both road and trail miles and compete in several road and ultra trail events each season. I am also the Race Director for The Lewiston Ultra (; a new event to celebrate community, connection and adventure. I am wild about run community and want to create opportunity to connect to something bigger, experience the power of community, float on gorgeous trails and take in an incredible finish line celebration. When we allow ourselves to be supported and support others, we have incredibly clear moments to push further and reach a higher level of focus in run.

Training on road and trail can be daunting and the mental toughness, commitment and accountability can be isolating. While I do complete many training runs solo in the pain cave, many of my training miles will be shared with running partners and run clubs. This has given opportunities to connect with runners that share the same pace, training ideas, gather the latest & greatest on run gear and create forever friendships. When you’re spending hours on the road or trails with a run buddy, you’re bound to chat about anything and everything. When I race ultras and run alongside a new friend for hours, we start sharing things that I wouldn’t even share with my closest of friends. You fight through the challenges together and there is nothing sweeter than rising up to be part of each other’s race success. I swear it is better than therapy. For all these reasons, I included an option in The Lewiston Ultra for relay runners to complete as many legs as they fancy with their relay team or with a soloist. I want to encourage the incredible bonds that are formed over the miles.

Stop by your local run store to connect with local run clubs and find out about race events. I have joined more run clubs that I can count and most will post the distance, route and pace prior so you know what your running into.  There are several types of run clubs: recreational, trail, triathlon, marathon, ultra marathon, track, stroller, etc. Run clubs are welcoming, encouraging to new members and ready to share stories and the runventure journey. Get out there and find your run community.



What can proper coaching do for you?

By | Eastside 10k, Edmonton 10k, Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Vancouver Half, Training Tips | No Comments

In a world where everything is available right at your fingertips, it seems normal to consult the internet for a training plan to prepare for an upcoming race.  However, these programs are cookie cutter methods based on norms that don’t take into consideration the uniqueness of the individuals that use them.  So what does proper coaching offer that a run-of-the-mill program doesn’t?

“With proper coaching, an athlete just might discover the best version of themselves, or they might start to let go of all those heavy expectations that they carry around. And through this process they will learn more about themselves. Proper coaching allows an athlete to make clear choices and carve out a path to where they want to go. Proper coaching builds the bridge between who the athlete is today, and who they will be. Proper coaching filters and flows into every area of an athlete’s life so that all of the practicing, resting, recovering, training, racing, and dreaming is purposeful. With proper coaching, we grow and get better.” – Kate Gustafson, Mile2Marathon Coaching.

Not only do coaches provide one-on-one coaching, they usually form a group of athletes that can train together.  This not only ensures that the athletes are provided guidance, but they’re also supplied with a team that gives a team-like dynamic in a very solo sport.  This community supports, pushes, and enhances those who are involved.

The words of Coach Kate from Mile2Marathon in Vancouver eloquently explains the benefit of having a coach that can guide an athlete on their running journey.  Having someone understand the ebbs and flows of the athlete’s life, commitments, vices, and dreams is crucial.  Accountability to a coach, to one’s own goals, and to the betterment of one’s skills, is something that a generalized program from the internet won’t offer.  A coach can help make the solitude of training become a camaraderie, through the rapport a coach-athlete relationship cultivates.

Rob Watson’s Favourite Places To Run in Vancouver

By | General, Scotiabank Vancouver Half, Training Tips | No Comments

There is no denying that Vancouver is a fantastic running city. I would actually argue that it is the best running city in the world. But I don’t have a lot of time to gush about how much I love running in this fine city, so let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about some of my favourite places to put in work.

People love lists, let’s do that. I present to you Rob’s 5 favourite running spots in Vancouver.

The Top 5

Jericho/Locarno/Spanish Banks

jericho beachOut and back from Jericho to Spanish Banks has been my go to 10km route for a few years now, I have literally put over 5000km on this route, and you know what? It never gets old. On the way out you get a breathtaking view of the coastal mountains, on the way back there is a nice view of our downtown and mighty Stanley park. As a bonus, there are often bald eagles flying around out at Spanish Banks. Bald eagles are majestic as hell.

The path is flat and the trail is soft gravel. You can also easily add on loops in Jericho park or head up the hill to UBC & Pacific spirit park to make for a longer run. This is a very solid place to run.

Point Grey High School Track

west point grey trackOne thing Vancouver lacks is decent tracks. I’m not sure what the deal is there. Maybe something to with the fact that the land needed for a track would be worth like $100 million. Anyways, if you are looking for a place to put in some speed work, this is the place to do it. The track is blue, which is cool, and it has a nice soft surface. It is well lit with flood lights, super convenient for working out in the evening. Just don’t go on a Tuesday night, Tuesdays are bonkers.


University of British Columbia (UBC)

When it is time to get some serious training done for road races, I head up to UBC. The roads up there are generally quieter than the city routes, and there are many different options to make different routes. There are many different Strava segments up there you can follow along. Also, bonus points for warm-ups and cool-downs in Pacific Spirit Park. When you want to roll, head up here.

Stanley Park Trails

People tend to lose their heads over the seawall that goes around Stanley Park. I get it, but the trails within the park is where the real magic is. There are dozens of kilometres of trails in there. You can roll tempos, interval work, hill sessions or just go for an easy stroll. Whatever you are doing in there, your legs will love the soft trails, and it is easy to just shut off your brain and run while you take in the beautiful forest full of ancient cedars and massive Douglas firs.

My favourite route is to enter the park at 2nd beach and to make my way up Bridle trail to Prospect Point. Stop briefly to take in the view of the north shore mountains and Lions Gate Bridge, before making your way down Rawlings back to where you started (That is also a great loop for Boston Marathon training).

Pacific Spirit Park

One of the first times I came to Vancouver, I was visiting the family of a girl I was dating. I managed to find my way up to Pacific Spirit Park on a long run. I have no idea what that girl is doing these days, but I will always be thankful to her for allowing me the opportunity to discover this park. Just go run up there. It is unbelievable.


The Runners-Up

I feel as though I should give a couple honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the list …I guess this is technically kinda like a top 7 list then?

The Seawall

stanley park seawall Is it blasphemous that I neglected to include our most famous, and well-used route in my top 5? It is flat, scenic and super convenient, there is no denying that this is a great place to run. I do run on it a fair bit, but man does it get busy! I get frustrated weaving in and out around people, therefore it does not make the top 5.

The Arbutus Corridor

This is a new option for runners/commuters in Vancouver. It is totally a game changer a very solid North/South connector, but I have not run on it enough for it to squeak into the top 5.


Finally, always keep your personal safety in mind when hitting the trails or roads. Run with appropriate safety gear for your route, and take the necessary precautions for the area of the city you’ll be running in.

The End.

The importance of sleep

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Article by Kim Doerksen

In today’s society the value of sleep is often discounted.  Saying such as: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”; or “sleep is for the weak”, results in a negative connotation towards sleeping.  Athletes of any caliber can benefit from the simplicity of a good night’s sleep.  Between 7 to 9 hours is seen as the optimal duration to allow for psychological, physiological and physical recovery benefits.

Psychological Benefits

  • Reaction times: in running this may not seem relevant, but there are many situations where if one is in a sleep-deprived state, the consequence could be a risk of injury. For example: jumping out of the way of a distracted driver or cyclist; navigating one’s footing in the trails; or dodging out the way of other pedestrians.
  • Focus: trying to navigate your way through a workout, especially complex ones, can be difficult while in a fog.  Attention and focus on the task at hand can fly out the window if one is too tired.
  • Motivation: runners are usually self-motivated individuals, so if cumulative fatigue creeps into one’s routine, the temptation of staying in bed or doing a less strenuous task will become too much to overcome, that it will result in decreased motivation and ultimately a break in routine.


  • The human body is an incredibly intelligent being. Many of the fundamental functions our body has in order to keep us alive, occur on a sub-conscious level.  The fine-tuned processes, like hormonal release, keep us in a balanced state and help in our sleep cycles.  Without too much detail, the body has various stages of sleep, and the hormonal release that occurs during each stage helps in one’s every day functioning.  Ignoring natural signals and forcing ourselves to stay up late; or having too much artificial light (from lamps, TV, cell phones etc.) all effect the natural release of these hormones and therefore disrupts our circadian rhythms.


  • Injury risk: many studies have shown the difference in injury risk in athletes who experience sleep-deprivation, and those who have a good sleeping routine.  Well rested?  Less injuries.  Simple as that.
  • Illness frequency: sleep allows the body to rest and rebuild after a day of training, working, and living life.  If those precious hours of rest are cut short, the body’s ability to maintain its health becomes an increasing difficult task, and can make one susceptible to getting sick.

Want a more in-depth look at the importance of sleep?  Check out this article from the National Strength & Conditioning Association.



The Art of New Years Resolutions

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New Years Day is when many people are nursing their hangovers by sitting down with a pen and paper to jot down their New Years resolutions.  However, no matter how good one’s intentions are, the enthusiasm for a resolution deteriorates by about February.  Unfortunate as this is, it could just be a matter of poor resolution planning.  While the goals may vary between individuals, here are some tips for making and keeping your 2018 resolutions.

Make the one goal specific

Focus on one main goal.  While there may be other goals that contribute to the success of the main goal, choose one thing that you really want to achieve.  Then make it specific.  Having a generic goal like “I’m going to get faster” is great, but leaves out a lot of details.  How much faster?  Over what distance?  By when?  Have a goal that is SMART: specific, measureable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Share your goals

It’s a scary thing to tell someone about your goals, but it’s also a beneficial thing to do.  Having your family, partner, or close friends know about your goal will help you be successful in achieving it.  It also keeps you accountable.  If someone else has similar goals, or is looking for a helping hand, working together will increase the likelihood of being successful.

Be patient

A lot of New Year resolutions are goals that encompass lifestyle changes.  These require habits to change, and take more effort and time than people realize.  Measure your success but don’t be discouraged if you don’t see any results in the first few weeks.  Goals revolving around weight-loss, eating habits, or fitness can take over six weeks to see results.  If it’s a goal of doing all the dishes before bed every night, then hopefully the results are immediate!  Be patient, and understand that long-lasting changes take time.

Make time

There is no way to create more time in a day, but adjusting schedules and becoming better at time management will free up more time.  Make your goals a priority, and schedule them into your calendar like you would for any other important appointment.  Thirty minutes everyday can be enough to do a quick run, do some core work, prep a meal, or clean up.  Spending a little bit of time on a goal everyday is better than an “all-or-nothing” approach.

Anticipate slip-ups

Nobody is perfect.  Understand that it’s likely that a slip-up will happen, and your goals could get off track.  However, instead of losing hope and giving up, acknowledge the mistake and create a plan that will decrease the chances of it happening again.

Plan rewards

Rewards don’t have to be big, but they can be enough to keep up your motivation levels.  Treat yourself to a new pair of technical socks if you hit a benchmark training time; or go grab a latte instead of a black coffee if you’ve hit that month’s weight goal.  A reward doesn’t have to be every week, but if that’s the frequency that they need to occur to keep you on track, then do what’s best for you!

How to Up your Running Game in 2018!

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

By Heather Gardner, founder of Tribe Fitness.

The start of a new year is a great time to set goals and try something new. So whether you are starting to run for fun, or are fired up as a goal crusher. Here are 5 tips to help you up your running game in 2018!

5 Tips to Run for Fun!

1. Track progress. Whether it’s on your favourite app (there are so many out there) or on an old fashioned calendar on your fridge, tracking your workouts, recording how you feel, or even checking something off your monthly workout plan will give you that extra feeling of progress and accomplishment.

2. Create the perfect playlist or find the perfect podcast. Music or podcasts can be a great motivator to help you get to into the running mood! Make a new playlist filled with high-tempo tracks or save a new podcast for each workout to inspire you to keep moving while on route.

3. Sign up for a race/fun run. Committing to an event gives you a good reason to create a training plan and stick to it. Start planning ahead now, the Race Roster Spring Run Off is just around the corner.

4. Fuel up. Running on an empty stomach can keep you from having the right amount of energy, but eating too much can lead to cramping. Look for a small snack containing carbs and protein for sustained energy.

5. Join a run Tribe. Whether it’s a friend or family member, community run crew, or virtual group of online friends, having people with a similar interest to connect with and learn from will help keep you accountable and having fun.

5 Tips for the Goal Crushers!

1. Get into proper form. It may seem like the simplest way to work out, but running does take knowledge and skill to make sure you don’t end up on the injured list. Get reading, listening, or meeting with professionals in your community to make sure you’re running to the best of your ability.

2. Get out of town! Taking your runs to new roads is a great way to combine travel and your favourite sport. Destination races within Canada or abroad will leave you with a new sense of adventure and motivation to move.

3. Cross train. Don’t limit yourself to improving your pace only out on the road. There are many things you can do when you aren’t running that can help: Take a yoga class to improve your flexibility; strength train regularly to build speed and prevent injuries; meditate to find focus and calm those pre-race jitters.

4. Roll out. Massage your muscles with a roller to increase flexibility and range of movement in the knees while breaking down scar tissue and adhesions.

5. Give back. Whether you volunteer to help a new group of runners get their start, support your local school’s track and friend day, or give your time stuffing kits at a race expo, giving your time back to the sport you love will leave you filled with gratitude and pride for your local run community.

healthy winter

Healthy options for winter

By | Nutrition, Training Tips | No Comments

When the weather gets colder, meals typically get warmer. People go into hibernation mode in the winter, and crave heartier meals.  Suddenly creamy soups, pastas, and stews become far more appetizing than they did in the summer. Unfortunately, some of these meals may make your pants fit a little tighter if you opt for a decadent dish at every chance you get. However, there are so many ways to make healthy and delicious meals that are just as satisfying as their heftier counterparts.

Eat seasonal produce

The summer has fresh berries and summer vegetables, whereas the winter is laden with winter squash, apples, pears, cauliflower, potatoes, and other root vegetables that are staples for any winter meal.  Plus, they taste exponentially better than they did in the summer as they’re actually in season. They don’t cost a fortune as they’re in abundance, so you can eat well without putting a dent in your wallet.

Bulk up your salads

Salads seem to be deemed a summer meal, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Top off your usual greens with roasted potatoes or yams, toasted nuts, crispy chickpeas, or grilled meat/tofu to enhance the meal. Even adding grains like quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice or barley will up the ante and ensure you’re incorporating healthy whole grains. Finish it off with fresh fruit, or crumbly cheese and you’ll be rethinking your views on winter salads.

Fill up on soup, stew, and chilli

Restaurant versions of these options can be loaded with cream, butter, and other delicious, but no-so-healthy ingredients. However, if made at home they can be a healthy and time-saving option for dinner.  They usually make lots of leftovers that are fantastic for lunch at work. It’s easy to throw in a lot of vegetables into these meals to not only bulk up the dish, but to increase the nutritional value too.

Be creative with healthy alternatives

Some of the classic comfort meals like mac & cheese, fettuccine alfredo, or creamy soups are loaded with heavy cream and butter. There are lots of ways to make healthy versions of these meals with seasonal ingredients that won’t break the bank.  Whip up cauli-fredo sauce, instead of the classic alfredo. Or use pureed squash and chicken stock instead of cream in your mac & cheese sauce. There are many ways to create nutritious options. Unsure of how to substitute? Just ask Google and a multitude of options will appear.

Don’t skip dessert

When produce is fresh, it’s sweet enough to make dessert without requiring large amounts of sugar. Simple options like baked apple crumble, or sweet potato brownies, are healthier options that incorporate the natural sweetness from fruits and vegetables while adding a nutritious punch.

race ends

What to do when the race ends

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When training for an “A” race, it’s easy to get used to the hustle and bustle of a structured workout routine. For some, their social life may take a hit when training is at it’s highest. For others there may be some sacrifices in their diet. Whatever the lifestyle changes are, they become a choice, not a sacrifice after a while.

Post-marathon (or any other distance), the post-race blues are not an imaginary thing. It happens to many runners, and may feel like a strange emotion to have after a big accomplishment. Having a good cry, or thorough debriefing time after a race, is healthy. It allows you to feel all of the emotions that come with achieving a goal that may not have surfaced on the day.

Big races and goals require incredible focus and dedication.  That’s what makes the culmination of efforts so sweet on race day, or so bitter if it goes sideways.  Whatever the result is, accomplishing a big goal can leave people feeling a little lost once it’s all said and done. So what do you do once the race ends? If you’re feeling a little lost, keep these things in mind to help you get back on track.

Bask in the rest

Your body needs a rest after a big effort not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too.  It’s incredibly draining to work so hard for so long, so let all of your systems recover. Physically you might feel good to get back on the training horse after a few days, but your body will need at least week or two to fully recover.

Mentally, you need a break from structured training as it took a lot of mental focus to make it through an entire training block.  Emotionally, you’ve challenged yourself to do something outside of your comfort zone. By either trying a new distance, or aiming to set a new personal best, you became vulnerable in doing so and letting those who are nearest and dearest to you what you wanted to do.  All those things take energy, and combined can be exhausting.  After the race, let all of those elements recover and rebuild for the next thing.

Enjoy the break in routine

Regimented training is great, and allows for consistency. It’s not until the end of a build, when the race is done, that you realize just how much time all that training took. While recovering and determining what your next challenge will be, enjoy the time away from structure. If you would rather nap instead of running, you can do so without guilt.  If you want to hike with friends, or go skiing, or just try something new, now’s the time! Go out, have fun, and spend quality time with the people who supported you on your journey.

Start to plan

After a certain amount of time, most runners become antsy. It’s at that time that you start to scheme and plan the next race for the race calendar. When the fire has ignited again to start back into training, you’ll know it’s the right time.  It’s worth taking a few days to ease back into things, and not go too crazy right off the bat. Use the previous race’s experience to devise a plan that will put you in an even better position for the next build. Think about adding in other workouts, or cross-training, or strength/core work.  All these elements will add diversity to a program and keep things feeling fresh.

Ease into it

After a few weeks off after a race season, it’s important to remember you won’t be starting off exactly where you left off. Some fitness will be lost, and your strength may have decreased. With that in mind, ease back into training with a few shorter runs to start, then add in some strides after runs, then get into workouts. There’s no sense in hammering out a workout on the first day back as it could result in injury, or in muscle soreness that requires a few days off to alleviate it. Take your time getting back into a routine, add in some cross-training to avoid intense DOMS, and remember to have fun.

Like anything, there are ebbs and flows with training cycles. While it may feel hard to take a break after a great race, it’s necessary.  Your body will thank you for the time off, and will be ready to take on whatever is thrown at it next.  So, enjoy the down time and you’ll be ready to rock for any subsequent races!

cold weather essentials

Cold weather essentials

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As the days get colder, the need for proper winter attire becomes more essential.  On the west coast we’re fortunate to have fairly mild winters compared to the typically snow-ridden eastern compatriots. However, if this year’s winter is anything like last year, we’ll all be pulling out our Yak Traks and coziest winter apparel as some point this season.

Our bodies generally require a longer warmup for workouts when running in colder temperatures. However, they also cool down exponentially faster after workouts. Take this into consideration when dressing for the elements.  Starting a run off looking like the Michelin Man may initially feel like a good idea, but when you start to overheat and have to lug all of your kit for your run, it’s not ideal. On the other hand, if you wear too little, you may warm up eventually but you’ll be freezing as soon as you stop moving. So here are some things to keep in mind:

Dress in layers.

Ideally have a thin, moisture wicking shirt against your skin. Top that with a light-weight jacket or vest depending on the temperatures. Keeping your core warm is crucial, so when it’s really cold out, opting for a vest and jacket isn’t a bad option.

Opt for tights.

Whether they’re half tights, or full tights, wearing an extra layer on your legs will help keep the muscles warm while they work. Cold muscles put you at risk of injury as they won’t be able to warmup enough to feel fluid in their movements.  Wearing a pair of tights, or looser fitting pants for more bashful folks, will keep your body heat from escaping too fast and will consequently keep your legs warmer.

Don’t forget your head.

Most of our body heat is lost through our heads. Some people find hats too warm even on the coldest of days, so will opt for headbands/ear warmers instead. Both options will keep your ears, and head warm.

Maintain your dexterity.

Even in above freezing temperatures, it’s wise to wear a thin pair of gloves.  Depending on the weather, thin, wind-resistant gloves are great in above freezing temperatures, whereas heavier water-proof mitts are ideal for below freezing chills. Frozen hands are incredibly uncomfortable, and make it difficult to do anything after your run.  Have a pair of gloves on hand to avoid battling with your keys to turn on your car, or fighting to change into warm clothes.

Dry feet are happy feet.

The duration of your run will help determine the need for waterproof shoes. If you plan on being out for a long run, it might be worth wearing waterproof shoes that will delay any discomfort that occurs from cold and wet feet. If you’re out for a short run, wet feet won’t matter as much if you’re heading straight home. Just make sure to stuff your shoes with newspaper, and place them by a heater in order to dry faster.

Protect your eyes and skin.

If snow has fallen, and it’s still bright out, protect your skin and eyes.  The sun’s harmful UV rays can still pass through clouds. In addition to hitting your skin, the reflection from snow can make the intensity that much stronger. Use sunscreen on bright days, and use sunglasses to protect your eyes.

It’ll take a few runs to figure out how hot you run, or how cold you stay while outside training. Just remember that as long as the footing is okay, and you’ve dressed properly, any weather is runnable!

Proper sports bra fitting

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Running can be unreasonably uncomfortable without proper sports bra fitting. Without the proper support, sensitive breast tissue can tear and cause irreversible damage. The materials in a sports bra will wear out with use, just like with a pair of shoes. When your bra celebrates a birthday, it might be time to retire it to low impact activities.

Good breast health requires proper support for your unique size and shape. What works for Mary in a size 34B will surely be a disaster for Ellie who wears a 40DD. Here are some quick tips and considerations for your next sports bra!

  • First off, don’t be shy to ask a sales associate for help. They will be more familiar with the products and make your fitting process more efficient.
  • Having a clear idea of what you are looking for in a bra and what type of physical activity it will be used for is critical.
  • When shopping, make sure you give yourself enough time. Rushing through a bra fit will leave you frustrated and walking away with the wrong fit!
  • When trying on bras, don’t be afraid to try different cup sizes. Most brands fit differently depending on their style and your individual body type.
  • If the bra chafes, allows excessive movement, rides up, or gapes under the arm, keep trying!
  • A proper fitting sports bra should fit more snug than a regular lingerie bra.
  • Breasts should be contained completely within the bra cups, with no overflow.
  • Underwire bras should sit next to the rib cage, directly below the breast tissue.
  • Wider straps provide comfort by distributing weight more evenly, thus helping to prevent back or shoulder discomfort.
  • With a properly fitted sports bra, you should be able to slip two fingers snugly between the band and the skin, as well as under the strap at the top of the shoulders.
Bra Tops and Shelf Bras

Both bra tops and shelf bras are designed for low impact activity. A bra top is a basic shelf bra that is sewn into a tank. Although sizing varies from extra small to extra-large, they will not provide maximum support for a cup size larger than B.

Support & Shape Bras

Support and shape bras are designed for medium to high impact. A wide range of supportive features includes; thicker straps, underwire, adjustable clasps, and racer back design. These types of bras range from A to DD, and sometimes E.

Compression and Full Motion Control Bras

Compression Bras are designed to firmly hold the breasts against the body and are ideal for high impact activities.

Some bras with full encapsulation and compression have underwire and are higher cut in the neckline to provide maximum support. These types of bras are best suited for women with cup sizes larger than a B.

Thanks to Rackets & Runners for this valuable information. Be sure to visit them if you have any questions or need help with proper fitting.