5 Run With It clothing tips for novice runners and walkers

With spring just around the corner – Vancouverites are begging to retire their snow shovels – warmer temperatures can motivate some to take up running for the first time or inspire those determined souls who are trying to come back after a nagging injury.

Before starting a running program, it’s wise to invest in a good pair of running shoes. Your feet are essential to your well being and they deserve the very best that you can provide. If you’ve ever run in soaking wet, heavy, skin-chafing cotton, you’ll know the importance of choosing fabrics that are sweat wicking to help keep you dry and enhance performance while training.

Courtesy of Skechers Canada

Looking for something you can wear straight from a run to the office? Try Firma Energy active wear. Their stylish leggings are great for walking and the office. “Firma energy wear absorbs infrared waves that our bodies omit & re-emits them with far infrared waves , which penetrate the human body, increase blood circulation and stimulate muscle tissue to a depth of 5cm,” says owner Yvonne Hogenes.

Firma athletic-business wear. Photo Credit: Jeanette Brown

Here are the Top 5 Run With It clothing tips for participating in this year’s Vancouver Sun Run 10k, which annually attracts about 50,000 runners, mostly non-competitive; or any other event that may stoke your competitive spirit.

  1. Dress in layers. It is generally cool at the start of the run, so…. wear some clothes you can either throw away or give to someone to hold for awhile.
  2. Bring extra clothes for after the race to change into.
  3. Wear what you normally train in and are comfortable in for the race. New garments, especially socks, can sometimes chafe your skin. For best results, test run a pair of sweat wicking socks so you’ll know what to expect.
  4. Avoid cotton – wear lightweight, breathable sweat wicking fabrics to keep you dry and comfortable.
  5. Wear a runner’s cap to keep you dry and protect you from the sun.

Overall, these clothing tips will help keep you warm, comfortable and help you to perform at your best.

Courtesy of Skechers Canada

Twitter: @christineruns
Run With It on YouTube – runwithitcb1

What to look for before signing away your life to a gym

At the beginning of November, I made the decision to get a gym membership. This wasn’t a decision I took lightly. It’s a big commitment! Not only to my health, but also to my pocketbook.

To be more fit, to take your health into your own hands, is a daunting decision. A lot of the time, people say its not worth the price. And, it may be true. A gym membership often costs an arm and a leg, and maybe a few organs. But, it doesn’t have to be so painful, not as long as you do your research and think about your choices.

It took me a few weeks of hard work to decide which gym fit my needs. Here’s what to look for before you sign the papers:

Do your research: Don’t just consider the big guns — GoodLife, YMCA, LA Fitness. Take a look at your community centres, specialized studios, and smaller gyms in your neighbourhood. Is there a gym conveniently located near your home or your work? Convenience is a bit factor. If you need to go out of your way to get to the gym, you may not go as often as you intend. Don’t rule anything out until you’ve thoroughly researched all options. You may just be surprised at what you find.

Decide what kind of workout you want: Do you want to just use a treadmill, attend classes, or get some training? If you, like me, are just looking for somewhere to do a morning run and maybe do some weights, try looking at a cheaper gym. Places like GoodLife are great if you want to take part in group fitness classes or want personal training. If you are a yoga fiend or love kickboxing, maybe look at a few specialized studios. You don’t want to waste money on a gym if you won’t enjoy going, so make sure it works for you.

Get a tour: There is a lot about a gym you can’t tell from their website. The first, and ultimately the most important, is cleanliness. Sure, a gym may be cheap, but if the machines are gross and the lighting terrible, it can be a safety hazard. You also want to make sure there is enough space to do floor work and weights, and that the staff is knowledgeable as well.

Ask about terms: Most gyms will try to lock you in to a one-year contract, but always ask about alternatives. It is sometimes a better deal to purchase a year-long contract — the gym may waive certain fees in exchange for the commitment — but be sure you are ready for it. If you cancel before the year is up, you may be subject to cancellation fees. Also know that a gym, unless the province, city, or a non-profit runs it, must give you an option of paying your membership in monthly instalments. Make sure to ask what’s included in the membership as well, because often there are often different levels that will allow access to certain locations or classes.

Cost compare: This isn’t entirely about cost. Make sure to compare multiple factors. Is the more expensive gym worth the extra money? Will you use it enough to warrant the value? How does it fit into your budget on a monthly and a yearly basis?


Do you have a gym membership? What were your factors in your decision?


Why it’s important to challenge yourself

Every once in a while I get this sinking feeling — like I’m not doing enough with my life. I go to work, I come home, and then I lie on the couch for a few hours before I go to bed. The next day, I wake up and it starts all over. It makes me think: is this all there is? Shouldn’t I be doing more with my life? Where can I go from here?

This downward spiral can lead to self doubt, anxiety, and fatigue. It prevents you from actually accomplishing your goals, and makes you feel as if the few things you’ve accomplished aren’t good enough. It’s also incredibly hard to switch off those negative thoughts.

The thing is, it’s completely natural to feel like you’re in a rut. A number of things can cause it: a stale relationship, a ho-hum work environment, or it could be things in your personal life that send you over the edge. Everyone experiences it — but it’s what we do after we realize we’re in a rut that matters.

Peg Streep, author of Mastering the Art of Quitting says the human brain is hardwired to work hard and push through despite what’s happening with your life, which may sabotage your happiness and create a cycle of negative energy. This negative energy is what causes the rut. Overthinking, overworking, not taking time for yourself — all of these things make us tired of the lives we’ve worked so hard to create.

So, what to do about it?

When I start to get into this rut, I decide to challenge myself.  I try something different each time. The first time was 30 days of yoga (I suggest You-tubing Yoga with Adriene, who is an absolutely marvellous instructor, especially for beginners). The second was a video challenge, where I had to film myself every day for a month. The third was training to run a 5k. And this time, it’s trying my hand at poetry.

For me, it’s all about setting, and completing attainable goals — it makes you feel accomplished. It’s like creating a to-do list and then crossing items off. Except, instead of “send email to boss” or “do laundry”, these are life goals. At the same time, they are doable. These goals are tough, but are easy enough to complete within a month or so.  A lot of people will try to set a number of goals to accomplish at the same time (eat right, go to gym three times a week, learn a foreign language, etc ). The problem is that a full body and mind transformation takes a lot of time and patience, and if you aren’t ready for that type of commitment, you’ll just end up overwhelmed and discouraged. Go one challenge at a time and you’ll get to that end-goal, I promise you!

It’s also about pushing yourself slightly outside your comfort zone. Now, I’m not suggesting you leap out of a plane to conquer your fear of heights, but rather take small steps to push yourself in creative and impassioned ways. Understanding what keeps you within your comfort zone is equally as important as pushing yourself outside of it.

For me, running a 5k, doing yoga, writing poetry, all of these are things that are small, simple, and personalized to my specific goals — to be healthy and to develop my creativity. I’m not running a marathon. I’m not becoming a published novelist. I’m not establishing a completely zen mentality. I’m changing, slowly and at the right pace for me. At the same time, I’m challenging myself! I’m not an athletic person, nor a particularly creative one, so these goals really do force me to work hard and carve out time for myself.

At the end of the day, I enjoy these ruts. Sure, they are terrible for the first few weeks while you figure out your feelings, but they inspire creativity and give me an opportunity to re-evaluate my life. And with that creativity comes a new mentality.

Suddenly, anything is possible!

How do you deal with your rut? What are the goals you’ve set for yourself? Let us know in the comments below!

How to get out of that fitness slump

Two months ago, I participated in the Color Run – my first real 5k race. I wrote about the experience on Women’s Post and included some tips for first time runners.

What I didn’t talk about was how to keep yourself motivated once that initial race was over.

I originally signed up for the Color Run because I needed a change. My life was at a bit of a standstill and I needed to do something that would encourage a more positive outlook on

So without much planning and preparation, I signed up for the Color Run — and it proved to be exactly what I needed. I was running four times a week, eating better than usual, and I was much happier at work and at home. It was a struggle, but my friends and family supported me through it. On race day, I was incredibly excited and proud of my progress.

And then I took a week off to celebrate. And then another week to deal with medical issues. And then another week … well just because I didn’t want to get up at 5:30 a.m. to run. After about month of delays, I went from being able to run 15-20 minutes to being able to kind of jog/walk 10 minutes.

This is what inevitably happens during any health-related journey. You start off with the best intentions. You plan all your meals and you get up early to work out. You go on the Internet and print out as many inspirational memes as you can find. You do more activities with your friends instead of just heading to the pub for a drink.

But after a while, it becomes harder. You start to crave chocolate and a good sleep-in. You give yourself a weekend to celebrate your friend’s birthday and because you’ve been so diligent, you don’t bother thinking about the week ahead. Then, you become busy and tired, decide to order pizza three days in a row and end up eating a bag of marshmallows because you had a rough meeting at work and you deserve it.

Next thing you know, two months have gone by and your bad habits are back.

Or, is that just me?

So, what do you do? Do you try a new diet or a new fad? Do you give up entirely? I’m here to say: don’t do it!

Instead, take a weekend to re-evaluate your lifestyle. Take a look through some cookbooks and find some new recipes to try. Make a spreadsheet on your computer to help plan meals and then go grocery shopping. Don’t go overboard — just get what you need for the week. Then, add at least three workouts to that schedule. Reach out to your old support network and let them know that you will be back to your old routine.

On Monday, get up early for that run. That will be your new start. It’s okay if you aren’t as fast or as strong as you were a couple of months ago. Remember, there was a reason why you were so successful, and you can absolutely do it again. Take your time and start a new challenge. Then, you can work your way back up to where you are and surpass it! Also, don’t forget that it’s okay to allow yourself to eat a piece of chocolate cake — it’s all about balance, okay?

At the end of the day, it’s about making sure that you are feeling good about yourself. Everyone deserves to be happy and confident. In this day and age, where both work life and home life can get a bit hectic and stressful, it’s important to take time for yourself. For me, that means getting back in the game and going on morning runs. Who knows, maybe I’ll also get into yoga! What I do know for sure is that I’m not going to let this slump get me down. Are you?

What are you going to do to get out of that slump? Let us know in the comments below!

I ran my first 5k and it was colourful

Last weekend, I ran my first 5k race! Well, I ran most of it — but that’s not the point.

A month and a half ago I made the spontaneous decision to start training for the Color Run, a non-competitive course dubbed the “Happiest Race On Earth!” Every kilometre or so there is a “colour zone”, where volunteers pelt you with coloured powder until you can hardly see and breath. I figured it would be a fun way to get fit and challenge myself during a time in my life where everything seemed to stand still.

However, I didn’t realize how much of a challenge it would be. When I first started running I could go for about 30 seconds at a time before collapsing into a puddle of sweat and tears. After my first week I thought it would be impossible. I’m what society would consider a larger girl, and therefore I was experiencing a lot of shin splints and pressure on my ankles when I ran. I found the movement itself difficult and exhausting. There was no way that I would be able to run for 30-40 minutes straight!

But, I vowed I would at least try.

I trained using the app “Couch to 5k”, which uses intervals to slowly increase endurance — or in my case simply get my body used to the movement! It was great the first week because it started with one minute of running and then moved up in intervals of 30 seconds. However, by the third week, it seemed as if every two days the app was telling me to run two minutes longer than I had before.

The interval training was working! Soon, I could run five minutes at a time, then eight, then 10! By the time my race day had come around, I could run about 18 minutes straight. I have to say I am immensely proud of my progress and I really don’t care that I couldn’t run the whole 5 kilometres. This was a success in my eyes!

The key to this type of training was to move at my own speed. Sure, the app says I should be running eight-minute intervals, but if I couldn’t do the six-minute interval the day before, then what’s the point of moving on. Nothing is more discouraging than stopping before the darn app tells you to. At that point I would ignore the app and redo that workout until I felt comfortable pushing myself to go to the next level.

It’s also important to keep yourself accountable. I started a (mostly) weekly video diary about my progress and the challenges I was facing. These videos helped me connect with friends who were runners for advice and motivation. It’s especially useful when your progress has stagnated and you need a little bit of extra encouragement.

Race day came up quickly and that morning I couldn’t contain my excitement. The Color Run itself is non-competitive, so it was the perfect race to start with. No one was timing me and most of the participants walked anyway. I went with a friend (who coincidentally runs at the same speed as I do, which was perfect) and had an absolute blast. I’m proud to say that we ran most of the way, only stopping to walk through the colour zones because there was so much traffic and we wanted to make sure we got lots of splashes of powder. It also provided me with the perfect excuse to catch my breath. The only problem was that the powder would get in our eyes and mouth. I now understand why some people sported goggles and bandanas.


But, that’s it! The race is over and I’m left wondering: what now?

I’ve decided to keep running. I still want to be able to run a full 5k, and I think that after two more months of training it may be possible. My next race will be sometime in September or early October.

Wish me luck!

If you are thinking of getting into the race-game, here are five things I learned about running: 

Get good shoes: I had to switch my shoes out half way through my training because they weren’t supportive enough. If you are going to start running, make sure you invest in top-notch athletic shoes.

Run outside: If you have a gym membership, it may seem easier to do your running training on a treadmill. But running indoors is very different to the rough and unpredictable terrain you will be faced with on race day. It’s important to get your body used to the feel of pavement and grass under your feet, not to mention the curves of the road.

Stretching is important: I soon learned that I needed a good 10 minutes of stretches before I ran to avoid shin splints and sore muscles. Do more than just stretch our your calf muscles. Everything in your body is connected, so stretching your hips, your back, your neck, and your arms can be just as important as your legs. Don’t run the day before your race — instead, just do some relaxing yoga and make sure your body is nice and rested.

Don’t run with people who are more fit than you: This is a personal preference. Others may enjoy the extra pressure and push they may get from running with a really fit friend, but if you are overweight and just starting out, focus on your own journey. It’s already hard enough to watch an old man run four laps to your one. Who needs a friend to do it too?

It’s hard: It’s not like getting together with friends to play a sport — running is very solitary and if you don’t have some good music to listen to, it’s really easy to get stuck in your head. It’s also easy to stop even if your body can be pushed a little further. Running is all about you and for some people (myself included) that can be quite an adjustment.


Have you run a race this summer? If so, let us know your tips and tricks in the comments below!

What to know before signing up to run a 5k

I’ve decided to register for a 5k race.

This is a big deal. I’m not a very fit person, and I’ve never been able to run for more than a minute without collapsing into a pile of sweat and exhaustion. But, I’ve been in a funk lately and I’ve decided to do something big — I am going to commit to running a 5k in June.

Don’t ask me why I chose this specific goal as my catharsis. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. However, after doing some research, I’m beginning to feel a tad overwhelmed.

Since announcing this decision, I’ve received lots of advice from friends. They all say it’s possible to run a 5k in nine weeks (although I’m not sure if I believe them) and that I’ll have no problem finishing (this is possibly a lie). I’ve also done a lot of research on my own on how best to train and prepare my body for such a gruelling exercise. Luckily for you, dear readers, I’ve decided to share this knowledge with you.

Here are five things you should know preferably BEFORE signing up for a 5k:


The date of the race: This may seem obvious, but it becomes incredibly important if you haven’t run a day in your life. Race day has to be far enough away to give you time to train, but not too far that you are lax in your commitment. My race is in nine weeks and, to me, that seems a bit soon. At the same time, if I had registered for a race four months away, my procrastination habits would probably hinder my success rate. I would suggest keeping it between 10-15 weeks.

Do you have the equipment you need: Running shoes, leggings, and a sports bra. Before you commit to a race, make sure you have what you need to train.  You don’t need a fancy fitbit or a gym membership, but you do need the basics. Also make sure that you have the money for a) the race and b) the food you need to refuel your body. As a side note: if you (like me) are doing one of those races with coloured powders or lots of mud, think about your eyewear. I’ll be visiting the optometrist very shortly for some contact lenses.

Training is important: Running once a week isn’t going to cut it, and there is no way to magically make yourself appear at the finish line. Most websites suggest running at least three times a week and then scheduling a cross-training workout in the middle. This can be an activity like boxing, cycling, or skipping. The idea is to keep your workout fresh and strengthen the rest of your body. If you are just starting to run, don’t worry about the cross-training. Just focus on running three times a week. If you are insistent, do something low-key like yoga. This will help stretch out your sore muscles and increase your core strength. You can always step it up half way through your training.

You have to give up junk food: It’s not all about the training. You also have to eat properly. If you start to exercise on a regular basis, but you pair that exercise with high-sugar and high-fat foods, your stomach will start to really hate you. Eat lots of low-fat, high-protein, carb-rich meals and snack regularly. It’s also important that you don’t overeat or starve yourself during this process. High-salt foods may also impact your hydration. If you decide to run a 5k, make sure that you are prepared to change your eating habits as well. Goodbye Cadbury mini eggs and hello apples and peanut butter.

Make sure you are surrounded by people who motivate you: It’s going to be tough. There will be mornings you won’t want to run, where you’ll feel like staying in bed with a full bag of marshmallows watching reruns of Gilmore Girls. There will be days where it’s cold outside, where your alarm goes off at 6 a.m. and your entire body says “NO”. This is where it’s important to have a friend, family member, or fellow 5k-er to text or call for motivation. Have them remind you why you are doing this race in the first place and that you’ll feel better once you get your legs moving. Create a wall of inspirational quotes and place your gym bag right beside it. You’ve got this!


Do you have any tips to share with this 5k newbie? Place them in the comments below!

How NOT to hate running: Hill Training 101

I used to avoid hills like the plague. My legs turned to rubber while gasping like a fish out of water to the summit of what could only be described as Mount Everest II. It was far from an enjoyable experience but as I got used to running hills I began to appreciate what they were doing for my body. I developed stronger legs and became a stronger runner. Now, I run for the hills and enjoy it. Everest II, it turned out, was just about 600 meters long and not really that steep.

In a recent email interview with Dr. Jack Scaff, the Honolulu resident known as “The Father of Running” in Hawaii, he shared his expertise on hill training. In his book, Your First Marathon, the Last Chapter in Long Distance Running, hill training is covered extensively.

“Hill running is good strength training; however, it tends to be anaerobic,” Dr. Scaff said, “When one approaches a hill, run perpendicular to the horizon, shorten their stride and come off the backside of the hill or downhill using the same type of stride ―short steps going up the hill, the same short steps coming down, longer strides on the flat and no pounding at any time. While going up hill also remain upright and lean as little as possible into a hill. Swing your arms parallel to your body and not cross.”

He further comments, “Running downhill is a paradox since all the muscle can do is contract. As you run downhill, the muscle must relax at the same time while it is trying to contract. And of course this decreases recruitment as well as subjects the muscle to a greater potential for injury. There is another style of downhill running known as out-of-control or windmill running (which is what the arms look like) in which the individual runs downhill with terribly long strides, simply following through with longer and longer strides while going faster and faster. It’s effective but difficult to stop, dangerous and road rash is a certainty.”

More Tips:

1. How to run a hill: head up, pump your arms, lean slightly forward and run about 80% effort and jog or walk on the way down. Repeat six to 10 times.

2. Pick a hill suitable for your training. For average runners choose a hill that is about 90 seconds long.

Follow Christine on Twitter at @christineruns.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Marathon runner beats the odds to survive car crash and run again

In the blink of an eye Leaha MacDonald’s running days were over. Instead of training for her next marathon she was lying in a hospital bed fighting for her life.

On September 16, 20ll, MacDonald was walking her bike across the street and was struck by an SUV. What came next for MacDonald was an incredible journey to not only beat the odds in surviving the collision, which threw her 50 feet, but to walk and, amazingly, run again.

On August 25 the Calgary resident will be lacing up her shoes with two friends to run the Edmonton marathon – just two years after that fateful day.  MacDonald started running again four months ago and is looking forward to participating in the marathon on Sunday. Her goal is to run it in seven hours – to complete the distance. Her best time is 4:11.

In a recent phone interview from her family home in Ontario, MacDonald and her mother, Mariann, shared with me details of her miraculous recovery and her passion for running. “I was on my way home after a work event – a team building session, and it was 4:30 pm. I was walking my bike across the street. If I didn’t wear a helmet I would have been dead. The helmet saved me,” MacDonald, with a positive, confident delivery, says. “Also, the doctors said I was in good shape, which helped.”

MacDonald was in a coma for two months. She sustained a severe brain injury and hip fractures. After three weeks in a coma doctors informed her family there was little hope of recovery and were recommending palliative care. MacDonald says: “They told my family there was only a two per cent chance of recovery and they thought I would live in a (care) home the rest of my life.”

Her mother adds, “She still has a long, long way to go yet, she is struggling with memory and problems with balance. She was paralyzed in the right leg and right arm and only started running recently. She is seeing a speech therapist and a physiotherapist. The doctors are surprised of her recovery.”

MacDonald explains, “I had to learn to breathe, eat, swallow, talk and sit again.” She spent three months in hospital in Calgary and then went home to Toronto to spend six weeks in rehab for brain injuries, which followed another six weeks at the brain injury rehab clinic. She then began to learn to walk.

She says, “Oh my God, as soon as I walked I told my physiotherapist I wanted to run.”

With six marathons and three half irons under her belt, this marathoner was determined to run again. She says, “I am a hugely stubborn person and almost two years after the accident, here I am running in my first official full marathon.”

In yesterday’s Edmonton Marathon MacDonald completed the distance in eight hours. She says via e-mail, “I thought I’d let you know that I finished today! I was super slow, 8 hours and I am very tired. But I did it!!”

Leaha MacDonald learned again to breathe, swallow, walk and will now run.  She is a symbol of perseverance and in my opinion is a true Canadian hero.


Change up your cardio with interval training

I saw this on a card from a gag shop: two hamsters standing in front of wheel. One hamster is saying, “First I do one hour of cardio then I do two hours of cardio then I do one hour of cardio…”. Funny, isn’t it? There’s truth to it. So many people put in time at the gym working up a sweat, eyes glued to the calorie counter, desperately hoping that their hour of cardio is over sooner rather than later.

In the first column I wrote for Women’s Post, I put forth the idea that doing more weight training and less cardio would help women reach their typical goals (fat loss) quicker and reduce stress on their bodies comparatively. Despite favouring weight training, I still think that it’s important to train your heart. However, I think that you can do it in far less time than the typical hour of low-intensity cardio and you can do in a way that gives you a hormonal boost which will trigger fat loss.

What I’m hinting at here is interval or “burst” training. It takes no time at all to do but it sure is ugly. If you’re unfamiliar with it, interval training is alternating short bursts of intense cardio (one minute or less typically) with recovery periods of approximately equal length. Interval training is short on time and high on intensity. For example, after an adequate warm-up, you might sprint for one minute and walk for one minute (local tracks are a perfect spot for this) and repeat five times or so. An interval workout can be as short as 10 minutes. It tends to be less popular among gym-going people because the effort level is decidedly uncomfortable. Most people would rather cruise on an elliptical for an hour than endure 10 minutes of all-out effort. That’s a shame because the effects are totally different.

Firstly, interval training conditions the cardiovascular system much more effectively because it presents a legitimate challenge to the heart and lungs that requires them to adapt. When you’re cruising on the elliptical, you’re not demanding much of your body so none of your tissues are required to change for the better. Secondly, interval training prompts a cascade of hormones that give you a metabolic edge. Among them is growth hormone which is known to help the body burn fat and build muscle. Moreover, because interval workouts are so short they don’t let the body get to the point of releasing cortisol, the major stress (and fat-packing) hormone, which can happen during longer bouts of cardio.

I suggest that you give interval training a go, provided you slowly build up your intensity level so that your body can handle maximum effort. You’ll see better results in a shorter period of time. But don’t expect to look pretty doing it.

Run With It: proper footwear, goal setting, and the Vancouver Sun Run

New to running, but don’t know where to start? To begin, shoes are the most important equipment for a runner. Not wearing the right shoes could lead to injury. It’s best to go to a specialty running store to get the right fit for you. Also, clothing and socks are important to stay dry and warm while running in the natural elements. Don’t have a goal? Having a goal will help you make the right decision to find the proper program to suits your needs and lifestyle.

In our first episode of Run With It, a contemporary show on running/fitness and health, we speak with expert shoe fitter Andrew David and former owner of Rackets and Runners. He talks about proper footwear for beginner runners as well as socks, which are as important as the shoes you choose.

David also covers clothing tips on what you should wear in rain vs. colder temperatures. Current owner of Rackets and Runners, Vanda Borean, talks about her passion for fitness. Borean shares her knowledge of cross training and gives us some running gear tips.

Ever been to the Vancouver Sun Run? It’s the largest 10 km event in Canada. The Sun Run attracts thousands of runners and walkers each year to test their fitness level. It’s a cultural happening where the streets of Vancouver are shut down as a sea of runners make their way to the finish line.

Stay tuned for the second episode of Run With It!

Follow Christine on Twitter at @christineruns.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.