Why Sole Girls is Sole Awesome

Growing up, I always on the lookout for other like-minded girls and groups to join. I would have been thrilled to have been a part of a group like Sole Girls as a pre-teen and teenager.

Sole Girls is an amazing organization that via creative running games empowers girls ages 6 through 12. They provide them with tools to develop healthy ideas about body image, media, healthy living, peers and self-esteem. They offer weekly sessions, camps as well as workshops for these girls. They also organize events such as Sunday’s Sole Awesome 5K for the entire family, with funds directly going to some of their scholarship programs.

Sunday, I had the chance to partake in their Sole Awesome 5K thanks to MEC and got to meet some of the most incredible young girls. It was a fun morning filled with both running and also super fun activities like 3-Legged Races, on-course obstacles, dance parties, and more! Every kilometre of the run highlighted one of the Sole Programs’ core values, which are: Support, Open-Mindedness, Listening and Enthusiasm.

In addition to Sunday’s events, Sole Girls have lots of programs and initiatives planned for the summer including their Summer Camps, which start in July in and around Vancouver, North Vancouver, South Surrey, Langley and Calgary.

There is no doubt in my mind that if I would have been able to join a group like Sole Girls, when I was younger, that it would have been such a huge help for me after my parents’ divorce. It would have been such a great support system and would have without a doubt helped me with my self-esteem and maybe even help counter the eating disorder I had during my teens.

I was really inspired by all of the positivity that radiated from all the girls present at Sunday’s Sole Girls that I’ve decided to become a Soleteer, a volunteer with Sole Girls! If this is something that might interest you or to find out more about Sole Girls, go here.

A big thank you to MEC and Sole Girls for allowing me to be a part of Sunday’s Sole Awesome 5K, it was a truly memorable experience!

Photos by Scott & Pam McFarlane

5 Best Running Trails in Vancouver

There are so many incredible trails located in and around Vancouver. With that said, it was hard to pick only five but here are some of my go-to’s in the area.

1) North Shore Spirit Trail (North Vancouver) – If you’re looking for a multipurpose trail for road running with minimal elevation and that is not nearly as busy as all the trails in Vancouver, you must go for a run on the Spirit Trail. Created in collaboration with the City of North Vancouver and the local Squamish Nation First Nations community, this trail offers up a mix of city, park, mountain and ocean views. You can run from Lower Lonsdale all the way past Ambleside Park and well into West Vancouver.

2) Lynn Loop (North Vancouver) – Is the perfect terrain for someone who is just getting into trail running. There’s very minimal elevation and the packed gravel make it easy on your feet. You also get the most gorgeous views of the forest and feeling completely immersed in nature. Plus if you’re feeling good after the loop, the trail connects to a handful of other trails, so there’s always the option of extending your run if you’d like.

3) Buntzen Lake (Port Moody) – Located just 30 mins from Vancouver, this lakeside trail offers something a little bit more challenging with uneven terrain, roots, rocks and some elevation. This trail is always super quiet and easy to access through their parking lot or even through Sasmat Lake and the Belcarra Regional Park (you can prolong your run really easily and add a ton more elevation to it if you follow the Sasmat Lake Loop, the Diez Vistas or Buntzen Ridge Trail).

4) Baden Powell Trail (North Vancouver) – Though a very popular trail, I’ve often found myself completely alone for most of my runs on the Baden Powell Trail. The Baden Powell Trail can take you either all the way up to Grouse Mountain or down to Deep Cove. There are definitely some more advanced portions like the switchbacks that make up the Pipeline Crossing but all the trails are clearly marked and beautiful.

5) Lighthouse Park (West Vancouver) – A shorter trail than most in the area as the longest distance you can run is a 6k loop. However, the views from Eagle Point or Shore Shine Point are magnificent. On a clear day you can see the Washington Mountains, the islands, Howe Sound, etc. plus you’re running around in a lush forest. The park tends to get crowded on the weekends or during the summer so plan accordingly if you don’t want to be surrounded by people the entire time.

Looking for more trail ideas? I love checking out the Vancouver Trails website or even just going on Strava and looking up popular routes in the area.

Celebrating the release of Tomb Raider with a Lara Croft-Inspired Trail Run

To celebrate the release of Tomb Raider movie this Friday, I recently went on a Lara Croft-inspired run with some friends out on the trails in Vancouver.

Trail running requires determination, strength and a sense of adventure, which are all characteristics that Lara Croft embodies. As I’ve seen with my running group RUN DISTRIKT these past couple of months, group runs are all about togetherness and support from the other runners out with you. When you hit elevation or difficult terrain, having others running by your side can be immensely helpful to keep you going. And that was the case when we met up on the North Shore to go on this cold and rainy run early in the morning last week. Together, we were able to reach the viewpoint just in time for sunrise. We documented our badass Tomb Raider-inspired run with the video below, which I hope you’ll enjoy!

Video shot by: @theoffners

I’m stoked to be giving away 3 pairs of passes for the new Tomb Raider movie on my Instagram – @melsays. The contest is open to residents of Canada (excluding Qc) and is open to anyone 19+. To enter, comment on my Instagram video by letting me know what inspires you! Winners will be announced on March 15th 2018 and contacted via DM on Instagram. #TombRaider #LaraCroft

For complete contest rules and please click here: bit.ly/2FtwnDY

Thank you to Michelle Moon and Sydney Prevost for being a part of the shoot.

This post was written in collaboration with Warner Brothers Canada but all opinions are my own.

Making Gut Health a Priority this Spring

With spring in the air, now is as good of a time as any to do a little health check. The gut is often referred to as the engine of the human body, so taking care of one’s gut can have a big impact on your overall health. Did you know that taking probiotics like Renew Lifes Ultimate Flora Critical Care 50 Billion can positively impact your digestion and gut health? It wasn’t until recently that I realized the importance of maintaining a healthy gut.

With my health being my top priority, I wanted to get more information on what a probiotic actually is and its overall benefits. So, I got in touch with an expert on the subject who explained the following.

The state of a person’s gut can influence health in many ways. With optimal digestive health, vitamin and nutrient absorption increases, which can result in more energy, reduced signs of aging and better health overall,” explains Naturopathic Doctor and Renew Life Canada Spokesperson, Dr. Sara Celik, ND. “Few are aware that the digestive system affects immunity, inflammation, and other critical functions in the body. From food allergies to headaches and skin problems to anxiety, the gut is a key player in leading a healthy lifestyle. A body without a healthy gut is like a car without a working engine.”

Although everyone responds differently to probiotics, she states that she’s seen the following five benefits in over a decade of using probiotics in her practice:

  1. Improved digestion and a reduction in IBS symptoms such as gas, bloating and constipation.
  2. Reduced cold and flu as a result of a stronger immune system.
  3. Better skin – probiotics may help with occasional break outs in some cases.
  4. Fewer food sensitivities as a result of improved gastrointestinal health.
  5. Less fatigue since improved digestion results in better absorption of vitamins from food.

The use of probiotics can be especially beneficial to women, as we are more prone to occasional constipation and digestive health issues than men are. It can also help women with chronic yeast infections and urinary tract infections better balance their good and bad bacteria. Renew Life’s line of probiotic supplements offers a variety of potency, multi-strain probiotic formulations to choose from and Renew Life has been focused on digestive health for over two decades. Dr. Sara says, “The potency or culture count refers to the total amount of live, ‘friendly’ bacterial cultures per dose. Since each person has unique needs, it’s important to select a probiotic supplement that best suits the individual. Since probiotics are alive, a delivery system such as enteric coating will ensure the bacteria arrive alive in the intestines where they are mostly needed,” adds Dr. Sara.

In addition to taking supplements, adding gut-friendly foods to your diet can also help deliver health benefits. Foods such as yogurt, fermented vegetables, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic, and bananas are all great for your gut.

So, with that new knowledge, I’ll be doing a different kind of “cleaning” this Spring, focusing on my gut and making sure my digestive health is at the top of its game.

For more information on probiotic supplements or Renew Life, visit Renew Life Canada on Facebook here. Renew Life products can be found at your local grocery, drug and health food store.

This post was written in collaboration with Renew Life, but all opinions are my own.

What’s worth seeing at the VIMFF

Photo: Chris Christie

The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) kicks-off this Friday February 9th in Vancouver and will showcase some of the best mountain and adventure films as well as athletes, speakers and content creators. During the 9-day program, festivalgoers will be able to screen films, watch live multimedia presentations, photography exhibits, take part in workshops, seminars and more! The festival will be taking place in a variety of theatres around the city and will bring together the Canadian and international community of mountain and outdoor enthusiasts.

Some of this year’s speakers include David Suzuki, Jim Herrington, Parvaneh Kazemi, Cory Richards, Darcy Hennessey Turenne and more!

Can’t make it to all the screenings? Here are a few recommendations to help you plan your week.

In Constant Motion – Director: Cameron Sylvester

Saturday February 10th – 7:30pm at Centennial Theatre – Trail Running
An evening filled with presentations and films from trails around the world.
Speakers: Susan Hui, Rick Arikado & Suzanne Johnson, Laddie Hannam & Ann Taylor, Adam Campbell
Films: In Constant Motion (Canadian Premiere), Driven (World Premiere), Why I Run, Feel The Burn.

Surf the Line – Director: Jeremy Frey

Sunday February 11th – 2:30pm at Rio Theatre – Best of: Mountain Sports & Adventure
An afternoon showcasing international films on different sports and adventures.
Films: The Ario Dream (North American Premiere), Moment (World Premiere), The Worlds Highest Marathon, Freedom (World Premiere), This Way Up (North American Premiere), Surf The Line.

Directly Affected – Director: Zack Embree

Sunday February 11th – 7:30pm at Centennial Theatre – Uniting the Salish Sea
Moving beyond extreme energy and protecting our communities.
Speakers: David Suzuki, My Sea To Sky
Films: Directly Affected (World Premiere).

Where the Wild Things Play – Director: Krystle Wright

Thursday February 15th – 7:30pm at The Cinematheque – Women in Adventure
An evening where women from around the world will be sharing their stories about being in the outdoors.
Speakers: Kat Young, Natasha Drozdzenska & Ania Markiewicz
Films: Where the Wild Things Play, My Big White Thighs and Me (North American Premiere), Army (BC Premiere), Waters of the Greenstone.

Escape – Director: Anjali Nayar

Friday February 16th – 7:30pm at Rio Theatre – MEC Canadian Adventure Show 
An evening dedicated to pushing self-propelled adventure and exploration by Canadians.
Speakers: Steve Tersmette & Shawn Emmett, Lorraine Blancher & Robin Munshaw
Films: Escape, Strong The Wind Blows.

For more information on the VIMFF or for tickets, visit https://vimff.org/.

Vans Releases its First Ever Snowboard Film LANDLINE

On January 26th 2018, Vans will be releasing their first ever snowboard film called LANDLINE. Directed by Tanner Pendleton and shot almost entirely on Kodak 16mm film, the flick documents the Vans snowboard team as they travel around the world exploring new terrain and doing some of the best snowboarding tricks out there.

The film features Vans’ eclectic team roster including seasoned pros, new stars as well as pioneers of the sport. Everyone from Pat Moore to Arthur Longo to Jake Kuzyk all appear in the film. It not only showcases great snowboarding but also everything related to the snowboard culture.

One of the film’s star, Minnesota native Dan Liedahl shares his thoughts on being a part of Vans’ first ever snowboard film. “Team videos do happen but not all that often so I think that sets it apart a little, but more so I think the fact that it’s Vans first video they’ve ever done is what’s really doing it. It’s crazy to think that Vans has been around supporting snowboarding for so long and has never made a full length video so that’s a really exciting thing,” explains Dan.

As for his favourite part about being in this film, he says “my favourite part about all of it is that I got to hang with the crew the whole time. I love these guys and I love that I got to be there and see most of the tricks that were in the video happen. I like that I was there to help my friends set up the spots, get tricks, and then eat food afterward haha, that’s my favourite part about being in the video.”

The film has been premiering in a handful of cities around the globe and most recently in Vancouver. The official launch takes place on January 25th in Denver, Colorado and will feature some musical guests from the film’s soundtrack Dinosaur Jr. and a DJ set by Sonic Youth’s very own Thurston Moore.

While you await its release, you can get stoked by watching the trailer below!

The film will be available January 26th 2018 on iTunes and also on Vimeo on Demand.

Everything You Need to Know About the OTR Program

The Own the Run (OTR) program is back and better than ever. Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned vet, whether you’re planning to run your first half-marathon in 2018 or a 50k Ultra trail race, the program’s objective is to help local Vancouver runners attain their running goals.

By bringing together the city’s best health and wellness partners and practitioners, the program helps runners work on injury prevention, running efficiency and optimal performance all needed to crush this year’s running goals.

If you’ve been following my running journey these past 2 or so years, you know that I’ve unfortunately been plagued by a few injuries. At first it was my lower back, followed by a stress fracture in my right foot and my latest injury was spraining my left ankle while trail running six weeks ago. But I’m feeling more determined than ever to conquer new distances and set even bigger running goals for myself in 2018. Therefore, I’m extremely excited that an innovative program like OTR is available for runners like myself. My goal is to learn more ways on how to stay injury-free throughout the year and also push myself more than ever before.

This year’s program is a partnership between Myodetox and Vancouver Running Company, Mile 2 Marathon, MOVR plus Kokomo, who are all leaders in their respective wellness communities.

For those interested in partaking in OTR, the program is designed to begin at least 12-14 weeks prior to an upcoming race. The program includes the following:

  • Running Specific Therapy Screen (Duration 60 minutes)*
  • Individualized Exercise Program Development (Duration 60 minutes)*
  • Post Race Massage Therapy Session (Duration 45 minutes)*
  • Exercise Module developed by MOVR app
  • Training Program customized by Mile 2 Marathon (value $100-$200)
  • Full Access to M2M track workouts, and social runs at Vancouver Running Company
  • Membership to Flight Crew Premier 2018 (value $70-100)
  • Option of Nutrition consult at Kokomo
  • Exclusive Technical Running Shirt
  • Ciele Running Cap

All items indicated with an * are actually covered by extended health benefits, so a major plus.

Having access to such quality coaching and support is key to training properly and attaining the running goals that I’ve set out for myself. Furthermore, it’s incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by people who keep pushing the envelop in the health and running community. Excited to see what I can achieve this year!

For more info or to register for Own the Run program, go here.

Riding Through Winter

Though winter hasn’t officially begun, I’ve been feeling major wintery vibes since I landed during a snowstorm in Quebec last week.

My winter season started extra early last month in BC when I took my board and skis to two local mountains on their respective opening day. Since moving to BC, one of my winter goals has been to ride more and get better at snowboarding, especially in powder. Growing up out east, I never got to ski or ride in powder so this has become an important objective of mine.

Having access to world-class skiing and snowboarding resorts and conditions just make me that much more excited about getting out there and doing it as much as possible for the next couple of months. I’m also hoping to do my first ever AVI course later this winter so that I can have the most knowledge and be the safest when riding on this new terrain.

Skiing and riding in BC has lots of advantages compared to the east. Not only is the terrain a lot bigger, the fresh powder is unreal and the weather is always a little warmer. That said, having the right gear for playing in the snow is so key! With the help of Sport Chek, I was able to pick a bunch of accessories that will make my skiing and riding season that much more enjoyable. From a warm Helly Hansen base layer, to new Burton gloves and Spy Optics goggles, they have all of the winter essentials you may need.

Leaving Quebec tomorrow and headed to Europe and the Alps for some epic riding. Can’t wait to bring these accessories along with me for the ride!

This post was written in collaboration with Sport Chek, but all opinions are my own. 

Running Through Winter in BC

Running through winter means you need to be prepared for all the elements, especially in BC. There are three key things that I look for when choosing my running gear for winter. All of my running gear needs to be:

1 – Waterproof – because rain is definitely often in the forecast during the winter in BC so you don’t want to be running and feeling completely drenched.

2 – Reflective – because the sun goes down so early every night, reflective stripes or designs on your gear are so crucial so that cars and other pedestrians or cyclists can see you when you’re running.

3 – Warm – because even if the weather doesn’t get to be that cold in BC, it’s still important to pick pieces that will keep you warm especially during your longer runs.

I like shopping for my running gear at Sport Chek because they always have such a great variety of products. I’ve definitely been a big Nike Running fan for the last couple of years. They’ve got great technical pieces that not only fit really nicely but that work well. My latest running finds include the Nike Air Zoom Pegagus 34 Shield Running Shoes, Nike Women Power Epic Lux Flash Running Tights and Nike Women’s Essential Flash Running Jacket. These items will be perfect to keep me dry, visible and warm for the next couple of months training in BC for upcoming races!

Photos by: @Offner

This post was written in collaboration with Sport Chek, but all opinions are my own. 

My 2018 Running Goals

Taking some time to reflect on this past year and some of the running goals that I’ve accomplished.

It wasn’t a perfect year health-wise but was pretty good all-in-all. I was taken out of training for just two months and have been battling a little injury for the last couple of weeks but otherwise, I’m pretty happy with this past year and what I’ve been able to do. I ran my first ever half-marathon in the spring, started trail running, started a run club called RUNDISTRIKT, then PB’ed on my second half-marathon and recently started doing some trail races as well. The last one was just this past weekend in North Vancouver and let me tell you, it’s a whole other ball game. Trail races are no joke! The 13k race I did last weekend was hands down the hardest race I’ve ever done.

So as 2017 draws to an end and I start planning my goals for 2018, I know that trail running and even alpine running are going to be quite high on my list of running goals. Call me crazy but I’ve already started a list of races I’m interested in participating in, a lot of them being out here on the west coast. I love adding some travels to the mix, so whenever possible I make it a destination run as well.

In addition to doing some more trail and alpine races in 2018, I want to compete in my first ever SWIMRUN event. I’ve never been a big cycling enthusiast so having the opportunity to skip that discipline altogether, sounds right up my alley. The first one in British Columbia is happening next August in Victoria. I also hope to have the run club partake in more events and represent them at the races I’ll be doing in the new year.

My one hope for this upcoming year is that I’m as healthy as can be! Injuries are the worst, especially when you have races lined up so I’m putting all the chances on my side to have a successful 2018. Lots of yoga, swimming, cross-training, healthy eats and self-care!

What are your running goals for next year? Will I be seeing you at a race?

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Windproof Jacket (get it here), Hyba Printed Mesh Leggings (get it here), Hyba Colourblock Training T-Shirt (get it here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.