Race Roster Spring Run-Off

Conquer Hill Training with these Four Workouts

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Hill training is one of the pillars of any runner’s workout program.  Through the course of a season, the type of hill training can vary from short, explosive hills, to longer hill repeats, to runs on a hilly course depending on the purpose of the workout.

There are many benefits of including hill training into your running program, with the most obvious being added strength and power.  Running uphill requires increased muscle recruitment from our main movers which improves their muscle endurance and neuromuscular responsiveness.  Not only do hills benefit runners from a physiological standpoint, but they can help to improve form, posture, cadence and efficiency.  It’s difficult to run with poor form on hills as the uphill propulsion requires a runner to be on their toes, with a slight forward lean from the ankles, and a higher cadence to drive you up the hill.  The less time you spend on the ground, the quicker your feet move, and the faster you get up the hill!  Hills provide similar speed and strength benefits as track workouts without too much impact on the body.  This is essentially why a lot of programs have hills as an integral part of any off-season and start-of-season training.  It helps get the body into shape, increases speed and power, without the risk of injury.

So what types of workouts are there and what’s the best way to execute them?

1. Short, explosive sprints:

As these workouts are short and powerful, they are not a primary fitness-building workout, but are a great tool for working on form and efficiency.  There are two main purposes to these workouts.  They work on activating and improving neuromuscular system function which is the main communication between the brain and the muscles. By improving this system, the speed of signaling from the brain to the muscles increase and you’re able to recruit more muscle fibers to create more powerful movements.  Second, these hills enhance the heart’s maximal stroke volume, which is the amount of blood pumped out with every heartbeat.  The more blood pumped out in a single beat will decrease one’s heart rate, resulting in a more efficient heart.

During a workouts, the hills are a maximum of 30 seconds long, with a gradient of 5-15%. Using one’s anaerobic system, the athlete can focus on an efficient running technique with vigorous arm movements, high knee lift, with the hips kept high and forward to utilize our big muscles groups like the glutes, quads and hamstrings.

How to do it: Start with four or five reps of 50–100m (10–30 seconds) up a steep hill, then build up over a few sessions to eight to 12 reps. For recovery, walk back down the hill and wait until 2–3 minutes have passed.

2. Medium hills

Starting to get into hill repeats, medium hills take between 30-90 secs to run up.  They combine the benefits of the short, explosive hills as listed above, as well as stressing one’s muscular endurance and tolerance of lactic acid. Combining the anaerobic system of the short, steep hills, and the aerobic component of a longer duration interval will build up your blood lactate as you go up the hill; aka your legs start to burn and you have to keep going.

How to do it: Choose a grade of hill that still allows you to run near race pace, about 6-10%.  Similar to the short hills, form is key: a good knee drive; hips pushed forward; and the back is upright. Aim to increase the number of reps about 1-2 every time a medium hill workout is on the training schedule.  Using a slow jog to get to the bottom of the hill again is a big part of your recovery between intervals.  When you’re just starting out do about 8-10 repeats, and increase gradually each time you do the workout.

3. Long hills

The longest hill intervals are between 90 sec to 3 minutes long.  These sessions are best for people wanting to improve their hill running skills and improve their aerobic fitness and muscle strength.  Compared to strength training in the gym, hills are a functional way to increase the muscles capacity to withstand intensity while working the muscles necessary for running fast: muscles surround the hips, glutes and quads.  Most of your energy comes from aerobic sources, but there will still be a bit of lactic acid buildup in the legs, but it’ll feel more like muscle fatigue compared to the burning muscles the shorter intervals provide!

How to do it: Due to the broad spectrum of duration for these longer intervals, note that the further you’re going, the less intensity you can apply.  When starting out aim for 6-8 hill repeats lasting over 1 minute each, and build in a few more reps every time you repeat this workout.  It’s a great simulation of longer track intervals without the pounding.

4. Rolling hills

While hill intervals won’t necessarily make you a better runner on a hilly course, incorporating a hilly route for long runs/tempos will be useful.  Knowing what kind of course your goal race is going to be on will help you determine just how hilly your runs needs to be.  Doing longer efforts on a rolling course will allow you to maintain your pace while going up and down hills, as well as on a flat surface.  If you attack a hill too hard early into the race, you could tax your legs and suffer during the race before you expected.

How to do it: Try to maintain the same effort going up and down hills; you’ll naturally go faster on the downhill without increasing your effort. Not only that, but running downhill at a decent effort is great practice too. Hilly routes will work your muscles in both concentric and eccentric contractions and will prepare the body for the pounding of running downhill.

Robert Winslow and Rachel Hannah win 38th annual Race Roster Spring Run-Off 8k

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TORONTO. April 9th. Robert Winslow and Rachel Hannah cruised to comfortable victories at today’s 38th Annual Race Roster Spring Run-Off 8K in High Park, in 24:42 and 27:51, respectively. It was race # 2 in the 2016 Canada Running Series, the country’s premier running circuit. Steeped in tradition as Toronto’s oldest continuously-held road race, the Spring Run Off is famous for its scenery, its challenging hills and weather, and its “Opening Day” position in the city’s running calendar. Today did not disappoint, with bright blue skies and a crisp -4 degrees for the almost 3,500 runners in the 8K, and the 5K and 800m Kids Run that followed.

This year’s main bill was a re-match between U of T Track Club’s Rachel Hannah and Vancouver’s Dayna Pidhoresky in the 8k. Hannah, who won the bronze medal in the Pan Am Games marathon in Toronto last July, and Pidhoresky raced together at the Houston Marathon in January, chasing the Canadian marathon standard for the Rio Olympics (2:29:50). They went through 25k with Dayna slightly ahead, 1:29:24 to 1:29:32, before she was forced to drop out with stomach problems. Rachel went onto set a new PB of 2:32:09, just shy of the standard. Today they again started out together, with Hannah just a step or two ahead:

Pan Am Games Bronze medallist Rachel Hannah, women's champion in 27:51.

Pan Am Games Bronze medallist Rachel Hannah, women’s champion in 27:51.

“I felt quite good, and comfortable throughout the race. It was really good to be out racing again,” said Rachel. “I tried to be pretty conservative the first kilometre or two. Felt really smooth. Then I started to pick it up a little bit. I felt good on the first hill (at 3k) and that gave me good confidence. I really got away from Dayna around 5k, 6k. I was feeling really strong and I didn’t want to save it ‘til that last hill!” By the time they crossed the line at the top of Spring Road hill the gap was 14 seconds. The ageless Lioudmila Kortchaguina was third in 28:35. The 44 year-old from Markham also claimed first Master’s honours. Part of the tradition of the Spring Run Off, Lioudmila was overall Women’s Champion in 2002 and 2003.

Although it was his first time racing Spring Run Off, Robert Winslow continued the strong Speed River Track Club tradition at the Spring Run Off. With teammate and defending champion Eric Gillis racing the Berlin Half-marathon last weekend as “proof of fitness” for Rio, the challenge fell to Winslow to uphold the Guelph club’s reputation – and he did so convincingly. It was the 27 year-old Winslow’s first podium finish with Canada Running Series and he couldn’t have been happier.

Robert Winslow

Robert Winslow upholds Speed River winning tradition, 24:42.

“I cruised through the first couple of K, then hit the first hill around 3k, and that’s when things started to open up. I opened the gap more on the big downhill at 5k, then just tried to maintain ‘til I got to the last hill as I knew it was going to be a tough one. I just tried to work that last hill hard – it’s easier to do when you know the Finish is right there. I’ve been getting some good workouts in with Eric and Reid [Coolsaet] and the rest of the Speed River gang. I was hungry to get going today and get some good racing in.”

A new, up and coming CRS star, 19 year-old Ehab El-Sandali of Toronto West Athletics, took second in 25:12, holding off Paris’ Josh Bolton (25:20). Ehab is the current Canadian Junior Cross Country Champion, and represented Canada at the Pan Am XC Championships in Caracas, Venezuela last month.

Canadian Running and Runner’s World magazine sport-science columnist Alex Hutchinson took the Men’s Master’s title in 27:22.

The accompanying 5K was won by Miles Avalos in 16:20 and Jenni Dwyer in 20:09.

The Kings and Queens of The Hill.

The Kings and Queens of The Hill.

One of the highlights of the morning was a new “Kill The Hill Challenge” (#killthehill) that timed all participants up the final 365 metres of the infamous Spring Road hill. Invited, elite athletes were timed but not eligible for “King and Queen of The Hill” awards. The titles, complete with cloaks, crowns and tiaras, PowerBar and maple syrup prizing, went to Luka Senk (79.7 seconds) and Pascale Gendron (1:34.9) in the 8k; to Avalos (79.0) and Dwyer (1:40.2) in the 5k. Interestingly, both runners-up in the 8k posted the best elite times, with Ehab El-Sandali “killing the hill” in 73.0 and Dayna Pidhoresky in 1:34.

Despite the chilly temperatures there was a festive, “Opening Day” atmosphere. It was a day of family fitness, fundraising and fun in Toronto’s grandest park. More than $55,000 was raised for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. Councillor Sarah Doucette flipped pancakes in support of High Park Nature Centre. And she was joined by MP Arif Virani and MPP Cheri DiNovo to help hand out awards. Councillor Mike Layton let his feet do the talking, running the 8k and “killing the hill” in 2:36.

Complete results for the 8k and 5k, including the Kill The Hill Challenge at

Next races in the Canada Running Series are Banque Scotia 21k et 5k de Montréal, April 24th; and Toronto Waterfront 10k, June 25th.

A Running Start: Why Your First Race Matters. By Amy Friel

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A Running Start: Why Your First Race Matters. 

Here’s something nobody told me when I was younger: the moments that change your life don’t happen all at once. They happen in stages, in bits and pieces, in tiny shifts so imperceptible that often you never know the significance of these moments until they’ve long passed.

On September 22nd 2012, at the behest of an enthusiastic runner friend of mine, I ran the Oasis ZooRun 10K. I didn’t know it at the time, but that first race four years ago would change my life forever.

As races go, it’s a far cry from my most impressive time. But even after running my Boston Qualifier last fall, this first race remains my proudest. I struggled just to finish – but finish I did, thanks, in no small part, to the help and support of my friend and pacer, Chris.

That first race, tough as it was, gave me the confidence to push towards increasingly ambitious goals, both on and off the roads. It taught me about my own ability to persevere through the tough stuff. More than that, it taught me about the tremendous value of friendship and camaraderie in times of struggle. Without Chris, I would never have made it to the finish line. Without Chris, I doubt I would have had the guts to start.

Running might appear to be a straightforward pastime, but from the outside looking in, the sport can be daunting. Taking on your first road race takes dedication, perseverance, and above all, courage – qualities that are difficult to call upon in the best of times, and even more so when you’re going it alone.

So when Toronto-based runner, cyclist, and yogi Heather Gardner founded Tribe Fitness in 2013, she aimed to make the process just a little bit easier. Pairing novice runners up with seasoned running mentors, Tribe established a popular and highly successful Learn To Run program. This year, the Tribe newbies have their sights set on the upcoming Race Roster Spring Run-Off in High Park – for most of them, their first-ever road race.

Lisa O'Donoghue Tribe

“It is a compete anomaly for me,” says Lisa O’Donoghue, who began running with the group in January of this year. “I generally hate exercise, and I’ve never done any sport consistently.”

A newcomer to the city, Lisa moved to Toronto in August of last year from County Kerry, Ireland. She had been toying with the idea of beginning to run when the Tribe group whizzed past her one evening last December. Drawn in by their cheerful, social vibe, she decided to give it a try, and quickly found herself in the heart of the city’s tight-knit running scene.

“It gives a completely different sense of community than any place that I’ve lived previously,” she says. “All the people that I’ve met, I’ve really, really liked. I think it’s such a nice, salt-of-the-earth, genuine group of people.”

This warm sense of community is also what drew Violeta Hernandez to Tribe’s Learn To Run program this winter. Violeta was a track runner in high school, but had since stopped competing. Now a busy mother of two young children, she felt the need to make a change.

“The last couple years have been hectic,” she explains. “I needed an escape. It was a pretty dark time in my life. So I sat down with my Dad and was like, something has to change.”

JP and VioletaVioleta is close with her father, JP Hernandez, perhaps best known as the Dark Knight Runner – the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon’s resident Batman. JP has been deeply involved in the Toronto running community for some time now. So when he introduced his daughter to the Learn To Run group, Violeta immediately felt like one of the tribe.

“It feels like a family,” she says. “One week I was sick, I wasn’t able to make it to Tribe, and I had just met this lady, literally two weeks ago. She noticed that I wasn’t there that day, and she gave my dad soup to bring to me and the kids. It was just really touching, that someone thought about me.”

For Lisa, too, the Learn To Run group has offered so much more than just a training regimen. “It’s that accountability thing,” she explains. “Because if I don’t show up, people will miss me.”

Confident in their training, and eager for the challenge, both Violeta and Lisa have opted for the longer 8K Spring Run-Off course. “I know that I’ve done the training, so I’m not that worried about my ability,” Lisa explains. “I have minor trepidation about the hill at the end, but apart from that, I’m actually quite excited.”

For my part, “minor trepidation” feels like a bit of an understatement. Perhaps I’ve spent a little too much time swapping war stories with my fellow Torontonian runners, but that final climb up Spring Hill Road has been growing steadily steeper in my mind’s eye as race day draws nearer. Can I do this? Am I ready? Whose idea was this, anyway?

(Oh right. Mine.)

In the face of any new challenge, it’s easy to count yourself out. It takes courage to bet on yourself, on your own strength and ability, especially in the face of an uncertain outcome. Which is precisely why groups like Tribe are so important. Because sometimes we need a little help from those around us before we can see just how strong and capable we truly are.

I wasn’t prepared to bet on myself in my first race four years ago. But my friend Chris was. He helped me to believe that I belonged there, and that despite all my doubts, I was, in fact, a runner.

It may not have been my fastest race, but it’s the race that changed my life forever. Even if I didn’t know it at the time.

Join Amy, Lisa and Violeta at the Race Roster Spring Run-Off this Saturday April 9th! Walk-up registrations are still available. Click here for more info. 

All photo credits: Tribe Fitness.

Amy Friel (@AmyFrii) is a Toronto-based freelance writer, two-time marathoner, and unabashed running geek. As a Digital Champion for the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Amy had a taste of the city’s vibrant running community – and hasn’t been able to stop writing about it since. Her work has been featured in iRun magazine, the Globe and Mail, as well as on her blog

Hill Seeker: How Struggle Makes You Strong. By Amy Friel

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Hill Seeker: How Struggle Makes You Strong. 

If you ever run along Avenue Road, you’re probably familiar with that steep climb going northbound through Summerhill, just before you hit St. Clair. The rest of the route is a gentle rise, but here, the grade grows markedly steeper, towering over you like this impossible task. Even on my best days, this hill challenges me.

In my now four years living in Toronto, this hill has been a fixture in my training for countless races, in blistering hot summers, and polar vortex winters, and everything in between. Regardless of distance or pace, it invariably represents the most difficult portion of my run, and in the four years that I’ve been dragging myself to the top, it’s come to represent a good many other things as well.

It’s been dead-end jobs, and fights with friends, student stress, and impossible goals. It’s been breakups, breakdowns, injuries, and illnesses. It’s been, by turns, both a glaring reminder of my own limitations, and a triumphant means of redefining them.

Conquering this hill time and again has emboldened me, teaching me to be unafraid in the face of challenge. It’s turned me into a hill-seeker.

Conventional wisdom holds that favourable circumstances foster favourable outcomes. As a runner, I can’t count the number of times I’ve found myself praying to the racing gods for flat courses, low winds, or mild weather. And while it’s true that circumstance plays a pivotal role in determining performance – whether we’re talking about athletics, academics, or professional success – it’s also worth noting that, counter intuitive though it might seem, there is also tremendous value to be found in the experience of struggle.

We’re accustomed to thinking of adversity as something to be avoided, something that inevitably leaves us worse off than we might otherwise have been. But a growing body of psychological research into the phenomenon of desirable difficulty suggests that, in certain circumstances, setbacks can trigger a valuable process called compensation learning.

Unlike capitalization learning, which is focused on improving upon our strengths and talents, compensation learning requires that we confront our weaknesses and shortcomings. Not every athlete is able to adapt this way – it is, after all, a difficult and often disheartening process. But those who can often wind up better off than they would have otherwise been, because the skills they hone out of necessity are inevitably more powerful than those that come easily.

FB_IMG_1438740166517For distance runner Josh Bolton, the concept of learning through struggle is anything but abstract. A relative newcomer to the road racing scene, Bolton has quickly built an impressive running resume, racing to a breakthrough fifth-place finish in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon last October, as well as back-to-back wins on the road this spring at the Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8-miler and Bay City Music Hall 5K. And with his sights set on the notoriously hilly Race Roster Spring Run-Off this April, Bolton looks poised for yet another powerhouse performance.

But it hasn’t always been smooth-sailing for the Paris, Ontario native. A runner for the University of Windsor, Bolton’s collegiate career was dogged by a painful condition known as Haglund’s deformity. The injury derailed his first two years of competition almost entirely, finally resolving after surgery to his Achilles tendon. Bolton was advised against any racing or speed work for the better part of a year following the surgery. So instead, he ran long.

“I focused a lot more on the mileage aspect of running,” Bolton recalls. “When I spent like eight months doing that, I came back a stronger runner than I ever was.”

Adversity, whether it’s a steep uphill climb or a near-catastrophic injury, has a curious and profound effect on those who manage to struggle through it. They slow down, and take their time with the process. They try new tactics. They address their blind-spots, and invest more resources on the task at hand.

In the face of his long recovery, Bolton was no exception.

“In essence, I actually think it was almost like a good thing,” he says. “It kind of made me reflect and get back to the basics of running, instead of always trying to push and work on the speed.”

For the best of us, an uphill battle can be demoralizing. But for a rare few, like Bolton, struggle and adversity even their darkest forms can be galvanizing. The conventional negative view of setbacks rests, in part, on the assumption that there’s only one response to adversity. But there isn’t – there are two.

IMG_5724For Lauren Simmons, shrinking from a challenge in the face of hardship has never been her style. Simmons is the daughter of an accomplished marathoner; her father competed in both the Boston and New York City Marathons. She took to running in college while living in Montreal, as a means to keep fit and explore the city’s nearby mountain trails. For her, distance running seemed a natural fit.

Even as a newcomer to the sport, Simmons never shied away from tackling more challenging routes. “Hills have kind of always been a part of my running,” she explains. So when she moved back to Toronto after college, the annual Spring Run-Off course, with its infamously tough climbs through the hills of High Park, was a welcome challenge.

“It’s hilly, that’s the first thing anyone will tell you,” Simmons, now a veteran of the course, explains when I ask what to expect. “And because it’s a little earlier – it’s not in May, it’s the beginning of April – you have to have been running at least a little bit in winter. So it’s not just your fair-weather runners – it’s people who’ve committed to doing some training in winter. It’s a little bit of a different breed of runner.”

The challenging course took on a deeper personal meaning for her in 2007, when Simmons’ father was diagnosed with prostate and bladder cancer; he later passed away. Ever resilient in the face of adversity, she resolved to turn her running into a fundraising endeavour to benefit the Princess Margaret Hospital, where her father received treatment.

Since then, Simmons has completed the Spring Run-Off course more than a half-dozen times, along with events like the Ride to Conquer Cancer, each time fundraising in her father’s memory.

In the face of personal tragedy, Simmons made a rather striking choice. She chose not to shrink from the challenge before her, and more to that, she chose to embrace an even greater challenge in the process. The choice to continue to run, and to fundraise in her father’s memory, speaks to an unconquerable spirit, to a bold celebration of human tenacity. It speaks to the heart of a distance runner.

Running is, at its core, about finding meaning in life’s uphill battles. Sometimes it allows us to overcome obstacles. Sometimes it simply allows us to cope with what we cannot overcome.

There’s a hill in High Park that’s been waiting, all winter, for Josh Bolton, for Lauren Simmons, for thousands of other runners… and for me. The toughest and most unforgiving part of the race, it will doubtless represent something different to each and every runner. But for all of us, our drive to “kill the hill” is more than just a physical challenge. It’s an affirmation of what this sport continues to teach me, in big and small ways, every day:

The things that make you struggle are the things that make you strong.

Join us April 9th in High Park for the Race Roster Spring Run-Off. To register visit: 

Amy Friel (@AmyFrii) is a Toronto-based freelance writer, two-time marathoner, and unabashed running geek. As a Digital Champion for the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Amy had a taste of the city’s vibrant running community – and hasn’t been able to stop writing about it since. Her work has been featured in iRun magazine, the Globe and Mail, as well as on her blog

Dayna Pidhoresky Returns To Race Roster Spring Run-Off 8k by Paul Gains

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TORONTO March 15th 2016 Dayna Pidhoresky returns to Toronto’s High Park April 9th for the Race Roster Spring Run-Off 8k confident and feeling stronger than the start of any previous season.

This is a race she won in 2011, the same year she was crowned the overall Canada Running Series champion, and one in which she placed third in both 2012 and 2013. Those races seem a long time ago.


Photo Credit: Rob Shaer

The 29 year old native of Tecumseh, Ontario is now living in Vancouver and like many athletes has her sights set on achieving the Olympic marathon qualifying standard this spring in Ottawa.

Earlier this year, after a superb buildup, she started the Houston Marathon with confidence only to succumb to stomach problems during the race. Several times she had to stop and finally abandoned at 25km. Despite the stops she had been on Olympic standard pace.

Confident that the buildup to Houston left her in her best aerobic condition ever, she looks ahead to the Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k as a suitable test of her training which she confirms is continuing to go well.

“This will be my fourth time running this 8k race, presuming it’s the same course,” she declares. “I just remember it being hilly and that last hill….. I feel now I am living in Vancouver, which is much hillier than Windsor, maybe I am going to feel more prepared for this race. In the past I have just not been the best hill runner.”

In November 2013 she and her boyfriend/coach Josh Seifarth left their home in Windsor, Ontario and moved to Vancouver in search of more fitting training climate. Upon arrival she joined Richard Lee’s BC Endurance Project and earned the bronze medal at the Canadian Cross Country Championships.  But after six months she decided the change in training programs wasn’t suitable.

“I just found it wasn’t working for me,” Pidhoresky reveals. “I am working with Josh who is now my husband. That had worked for me in the past.  The workouts that he gave me, I thought, were a better fit for me.  So I went back with him. Obviously, I knew he would take me back.”

She laughs at her last statement. But working with a spouse can test a relationship no matter the chosen field. There have been occasions, she admits, where they have had a conflict over training.

“It happens if I am very frustrated,” she says. “He is very easy going which is necessary I think, and I am not. Sometimes I will panic if something is not going well, and maybe sort of go on and on about it. Sometimes he can sort of put me in my place (laughs). There have definitely been moments of tension during workouts but it’s not something that carries over into our life outside of running.”

After her move out west she encountered several injuries including a fracture of her sacrum. And she developed an ongoing problem with her shins.

“I have only had two fractures in my life but I have been really prone to shin inflammation which hurts, I think, just as much as a stress fracture,” she explains.  “It is a little more frustrating because it can sort of linger longer than if it was an actual stress fracture.

“So that is something I really have to stay on top of. It’s sort of a muscle – tendon issue I have been getting a lot of physio and massage. I have two guys that I work with on that, which seems to be helping and keeping me running.”

Josh works full time at Forerunners, the Vancouver running store owned and operated by former Canadian international Peter Butler.  She works the occasional shift but, since their recent move to a new apartment, she has been busy painting and decorating between her two a day training sessions. She is also an avid reader of books based on true stories.  Adrift the biographical story of Steven Callahan’s 76 days lost at sea is her current read.

And, when her husband comes home in the evening he is treated to a fine meal, cooking being another of her passions.

“I am (an enthusiastic chef). But sometimes I don’t feel like I have enough energy. I really do like to cook I try out new things,” she admits. “We experiment.”

“My ‘go to’ dinner, if we had company, would be Vietnamese rice paper rolls with veggies, shrimp, tofu, avocado, and nori paired with a peanut or Sriracha dipping sauce.”

Pidhoresky was delighted to hear about the Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k’s ‘Kill the Hill Challenge’ where runners can compare the time it takes them to crest the final hill with those achieved by the elite runners.

“We actually live on top of a hill so every run I do down on the beaches and Spanish Banks I am always running up hill,” she explains. “So I feel I am naturally incorporating more hills. I probably won’t do anything specific as far as workouts for hills just rely on the strength I have gained by running them.

“In the past I have done a lot of hill workouts so (I’d advise others) to include hill sprints in your workouts or even tacking them on at the end of an easy run. I found that was helpful for me just to help with turnover, sort of working on your form running up hills. So I would usually find a steep hill and maybe do 6-8 hill repeats, a 100m hill repeat at a decent grade.

“Also I do a longer hill, maybe 300-500 metres, sort of a sprint up, then an easy jog down, and repeat. That definitely helps with strength. That I have done in the past,   usually at the beginning of the buildup, when I haven’t started doing any timed intervals yet.”

Pidhoresky is unclear as to who will be her major competition since many athletes are holding their cards close to their chests. But she will want to ensure her Olympic dream is on schedule. And that augurs well for a good race.


For more information and to register:

Tribe’s ‘Learn to Run’ Program Can Help You Rock the Race Roster Spring Run-Off!

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TORONTO February 7th 2016.

Tribe’s ‘Learn to Run’ Program Can Help You Rock the Race Roster Spring Run-Off! By Heather Gardner. 

Through the Tribe “My First Race: Learn to Run” mentoring program I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and running with over a hundred new or returning runners. Folks who literally got off the couch to run, those returning after having a baby, and those looking to connect with family through fitness.

As we begin our third “My First Race: Learn to Run” program I wanted to share the story of an amazing and inspirational woman, Ljiljana Stanojevic, a fierce mother who not only met her goal of racing Spring Run-Off as part of our training program, but went on, with the motivation of her daughter, to race a 15km road race and a half marathon during 2015. Ljiljana has a drive and energy that is truly contagious and you can’t help but be inspired when you sweat with this gal. Please enjoy this “My First Race: Learn to Run” story as told by Ljiljana.

When I joined the ‘My First Race: Learn to Run’ program I couldn’t run. I thought it would be easy to start running, but all my previous attempts had failed and I ended up with sore muscles and an injury. During a weekly yoga class held by Tribe Fitness at MEC Toronto, I heard about the “Learn to Run” program with Canada Running Series and signed up without too much hope that I would ever be able to run – was I ever wrong!

IMG_2043My first day of training was interesting. I was nervous and I thought that all the other participants would run with ease while I fell behind. Thankfully, all of the Tribe mentors were so encouraging, patient and supportive, explaining what to expect and the difficulties that everyone faces when beginning to run. We were all given a training schedule provided by Tribe. During this first session we ran for 1 minute, walked for 2 minutes, and repeated that for a specified amount of time. During the week we were told to run two times on our own as part of the program and once a week we would meet and run with Tribe. The running time would increase and the walking time would decrease every week.

A draw to this free program is that we were teamed up with experienced run mentors from Tribe. We would connect through email and in person at the weekly runs. My mentor, Jenna, was amazing. She helped me by providing valuable advice and sharing her own experiences. She understood the difficulties that I had and followed up with my training through emails. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be running today.

IMG_2042What I loved most about the ‘Learn to Run’ program is that Tribe is like a family. They care and help each other and always welcome new members. I felt very comfortable during my training and later on during the runs with Tribe. Tribe’s founder Heather Gardner invited various experts to come during the training sessions to talk to us about proper clothing, running shoes, nutrition, etc. which was very helpful. We learned more than just running, we became part of a community.

The goal race was the Canada Running Series Spring Run-Off. Everyone knows it finishes with a giant hill in the final 500m before the finish line. During the Spring Run-Off, killing that hill would have been impossible without the Tribe cheer squad standing at the bottom cheering everyone on. You get an energy boost when you see a bunch of people yelling words of encouragement, holding signs, dancing, and telling you that you can conquer the hill.

One thing I would tell a new runner would be that you can do it! It’s an amazing program. Your mentor and all the Tribe members will be there to help you all the way. You will not regret it. Trust me, you are going to Kill that Hill!

The 2016 Tribe Fitness “Learn to Run” Program in preparation for the Race Roster Spring Run-Off 8k begins this Tuesday February 9th and there are still spots available! If you’d like more information or to sign up, you can find all the details here. Be sure to connect with Tribe Fitness and Canada Running Series on Twitter if you have any questions. 

CRS Community Leader Heather Gardner is a marathon runner, indoor cycling coach, yoga teacher, and triathlete. Running highlights for Heather include racing her first marathon in NYC in 2010, racing her first 70.3 Ironman in Muskoka in 2014, and the Canada Running Series ZooRun every year because it’s such a fun race! Heather is the founder of Tribe Fitness, a Toronto fitness community sweating for social good, and enjoys supporting runners, yogis and cyclists of every level set and rock their fitness goals. Connect with Heather on Twitter, Instagram, and on her blog.

Announcing the Race Roster Spring Run-Off and Toronto Waterfront 10k!

By | Alan's Journal, Race Roster Spring Run-Off | No Comments
TORONTO December 3rd 2015.
A Message from Canada Running Series Race Director Alan Brookes:

I hope you are enjoying some nice, easy running in this down season, giving yourself the time to recover physically as well as mentally after the race season. In the planning department at Canada Running Series, we are all systems GO! The 2016 Canada Running Series season will be our 27th year and it’s shaping up to be a thriller! Most of you know our shared mission of “building community through running”, based on the twin pillars of organization and innovation. 2016 will be no exception with some exciting new changes and growth.

We have two big news items to share!

Announcing the Race Roster Spring Run-Off 8k & 5k! The Spring Run-Off is Toronto’s oldest, continuously-held road race, going into it’s 38th edition, with the killer Spring Road Hill, piper McGonigal, fresh maple syrup, Councillor Doucette flipping pancakes, and hopefully some blossoms in Toronto’s most magnificent park! Race Roster has signed on as new title sponsor and we’ll be working with them on state-of-the-art, customer-friendly online registration and referral incentives for you and your friends! And don’t forget Tribe Fitness’ free “Couch to 8k” training program, designed to get you to the start line on Saturday April 9th. Use hashtag #SpringRunOff to connect with others also training for this race. Registration opens this Monday December 7th at 12 noon!

Perhaps the biggest news of the day is that the Toronto Yonge Street 10k is evolving into the Toronto Waterfront 10k! We are working on an exciting new course with a tentative date of either Saturday June 25th or Sunday June 26th. We have submitted our application based on recommended dates and a fabulous new course which starts on University Avenue, runs down the Lakeshore, out and back past the CNE, and then returning from the West to finish at Coronation Park. Pending final approval from the City, we are planning to open registration in the new year. Stay tuned and feel free to connect with us on Twitter @alnbrookes and @RunCRS using hashtag #Waterfront10k to chat and ask us questions about this exciting new development

Are you ready?

Let’s get our CRS 2016 on! View our full race calendar at  

Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram and let’s keep the conversation going!