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. 

Spring Running Essentials

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Photo: Chris Thorn (christhornphotography.com)

With race season already underway, I thought I would share some of my latest go-to running essentials for spring. I’m eagerly awaiting my half-marathon debut and clocking a lot of miles, so these essentials have been keeping me on track (no pun intended!).

1) Stance Run Fuel Crew Socks – These lightweight reflective socks are perfect for running with a reinforced toe and heel, engineered arch support and also breathable mesh. These Stance socks stay on your feet without moving around, they will never slide off and also look super fly. The entire Stance Run collection is so fun! My new favorite thing is to run races in these wild performance socks.

 

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2) Nike Free RN Distance 2 – The latest edition of the RN Distance shoe is a great new addition to my running gear. I have been using them for my 8-10 km runs because they are very lightweight and also very flexible. The shoe’s outsole has hexagonal flex grooves that allow for greater flexibility of the foot while you run. Additionally, the Lunarlon cushioning supports my feet during these longer distances and so do the Flywire cables that are integrated with the laces, in order to wrap my arch and provide an even more supportive fit.

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3) Ciele FSTCap – With spring comes warmer temperatures and higher chances of running in the sun (hopefully!). I always cover my head when running during the warmer months because it could potentially prevent heatstrokes and at the same time, keeps my hair in place. This Ciele cap is super lightweight, UPF +40 protection, easy to bring travel with and machine washable.

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4) Spibelt With Waterproof Accessory – This Spibelt is an absolute must for my runs, races and also all of the obstacle courses I’ve been doing. Not only does it keep my belongings dry and clean but it’s also sturdy while not being bothersome when I run. I use the larger belt to stash anything like keys, ID card, money, phone and also gels while I run.

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5) Strava Run App – Whether you’re training for a half-marathon like myself, a trail race, a triathlon, a cycling race or just want to keep tabs on your fitness activities every week, the Strava App is a super handy tool! Not only is it a great activity tracker but also a fun and encouraging social platform.

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6) Clif Shot Energy Gel – Longer runs often require a little boost of energy so I have been trying out some gels these past couple of weeks as I’ve been clocking more miles to see how my body reacted. Thus far, the Clif energy shot has been my favorite in terms of flavour and also ingredients.

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7) Urbanears Humlan headphones – These have been my go-to for running for the past two years. This particular Urbanears model is machine washable, has a tangle-free cord as well as built-in mic that allows you to also be able to chat on the phone if you so desire.

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8) Consonant Sunscreen – With the temperatures on the rise, it’s important to wear sunscreen especially when going out for a longer run. The Consonant sunscreen is one of my favorites because it is clean and 100% natural. The cream uses uniquely micronized (non-nano particle) Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide minerals to block the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. The cream is also water and sweat resistant!

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Get Race Ready

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This year, I’m holding myself accountable for the goals I’ve set for myself and the things I want to accomplish. In order to be successful, there are lots of things I need to take into consideration and take care of. Though some goals are harder to achieve, when you have all the tools necessary and have the right mindset, you can accomplish just about anything. Proper preparation is absolutely key to get race ready.

My main running goal this year is to run my first half marathon, so I’m taking the necessary steps to make sure I can achieve this goal injury-free. Here are some tips and things I’ve learned that could also potentially help you along the way to achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself.

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1) Train properly.  The one thing I’ve learned from last year’s injury is to make sure you train the right way for the goal you’ve set for yourself. That means, if you’re planning on doing a run, make sure you also cross-train, do some weight-lifting, incorporate yoga or swimming into your weekly practice or other activities that will complement your training and will strengthen other parts of your body. Additionally, it’s important to have a running plan that increases distance, changes pace, terrain, etc. the proper way. Increasing distance more than 10% a week can have a negative effect on your body, so take a calendar and plan the weeks/months leading up to your sporting event. Also, pre and post-workout stretching and foam rolling are just as important as the workout itself.

2) Eat right. This may be obvious but it’s easy to get off track. Make sure you have some carbs and protein 30-60 mins post-workout in order to facilitate the replenishment of muscle glycogen and muscle repair. Making sure you eat clean as much as possible is also key. Being a vegetarian (borderline vegan), I have to watch my protein intake and make sure I don’t develop any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. If you don’t have time to make your own meals, look into getting a meal prep service, there are so many great ones available today.

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3) Go for tune-ups. The one thing I omitted to do last year was going for tune-ups when I started training heavily. Whether it’s visiting a physiotherapist, acupuncturist, RMT, chiropractor or even nutritionist, these people will have a positive impact on your training and can also help prevent injuries or further injuries in the future. These professionals will be able to give you some stretching tips, make sure you’re training properly, getting the right nutrition, etc.

4) Get into the right mindset. You can’t achieve what you set out to do if you’re not in the right mindset. If that means downloading the Headspace app, or signing up for meditation classes, going to see a therapist, whatever you have to do, do it! You need to feel confident, comfortable and in tune with your body and mind in order to accomplish your goals. There’s no shame in taking care of your mind as it is just important as your body.

Now go ahead and crush those goals!

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Nike Run Tear Women’s Tank (get it here), Nike Power Legend Brush Women’s All Over Print Capri Tight (get it here), New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 Women’s Running Shoes (get them here).

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

My Fitness Goals for 2017

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I’m thrilled to have been asked by Sport Chek to be one of their ambassadors for this coming year. It is an honour to be a part of their ultra inspiring #ChekSquad and to be able to share with you all some of my fitness goals for this upcoming year.

1) Run a half-marathon. This first goal is unfinished business from 2016. My one and only fitness goal in 2016 was to run my 1st half-marathon and due to my back injury this past summer, the goal of running a half in the fall was thrown out the window. I’ve never been so excited to have a second shot at something. I have already started training and cannot wait to finally accomplish this goal.

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2) Participate in a sprint triathlon. One of my earliest fitness and sport-related memories from childhood is the only triathlon that I did when I was a kid. I grew up being on the swimming team so the swim part was a breeze but never really ran or biked much so I remember those two latter parts being quite challenging. Fast-forward 20 years later, with all the inspiring athletes I’ve been following on social media as of late, I’ve been itching to give it another shot!

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3) Finish a Spartan Race Trifecta. I’m a big fan of obstacle races and mud races and Spartan Race is hands down one of my favorite ones to do. I have partaken in Spartan Races for two summers and have become obsessed. What I like about them is that they have 3 different races with 3 levels of difficulty – Sprint (3-5 miles, 20-23 obstacles), Super (-10 miles, 24-29 obstacles) and Beast (2-14 miles, 30-35 obstacles). I have never tried a Super or let alone a Beast but if I’m 100% back to health in 2017, this will be one of my goals.

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4) Try new sports. Since I will be spending part of the winter in British Columbia so I want to spend time hiking and also cross-country skiing. I think the BC mountains will be the perfect setting to practice these sports. I am also open to trying a bunch of different workouts, I just want to be outdoors and as active as possible.

5) Get stronger. This last goal is more of a general goal but after this year’s injury, my goal is to correct all of my body imbalances and strengthen my weak areas in order to prevent any future injuries. The stronger I get, the less chance of injury.

What are your 2017 fitness goals?

What I’m wearing: Nike Pro Warm Notebook Allover Print Women’s Tights (get them here), Nike LunarGlide 8 Shield Women’s Running Shoes (get them here), Nike Pro Classic Padded GRX Women’s Bra (get it here).

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

Fall Goals

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Fall is a great time to re-asses a lot of things in life including your health. Because fall is synonymous with change, it’s a great time to make a few adjustments or improvements in your life. It’s also a great time of year to set new goals.

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My main fitness goal this year was to run a half-marathon but unfortunately that goal will not become a realization due to some unforeseen circumstances. That said, I am not giving up on my goal. Instead, I am using these next few weeks to come up with a plan of action regarding how I can make this a reality in the next couple of months.

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Cross-training and building slowly will be key, so will doing some proper core strengthening exercises and making sure I eat right. Since I will be traveling for the next couple of months, these are all things that need to be implemented in my daily and weekly routine so that I can keep on track without having a regular schedule. Making my health and training my priority will be the only way that I can achieve this goal or any goal for that matter.

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I’ve found it incredibly inspiring these past couple of months to follow athletes on social media, read articles about goal-setting and also surrounding myself with positive people. All of these can aid with achieving a specific goal.

There’s no better time than now to look into new goals and start planning on how you’re going to make them happen. What goals are you setting for yourself this fall?

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Fast Track Geometric Legging (get them here), Hyba Space Dye Low-Impact Sports Bra (get it here), Hyba Fitness Belt (similar one here).

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

How to Return to Running

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Because injuries while training or competing are quite common I wanted to get some tips from the super inspiring Coach Inge from the Nike+ Run Club in Toronto. She always has a super positive outlook on things and is a great motivator and excellent runner so I figured she would be a great person to get advice from on how to get back into running after being injured.

Coach Inge’s 3 things to remember:

  • Listen to your doctor. Listen to your chiropractor and follow what their recommendations.
  • Be patient after an injury. Since you haven’t been running, your mobility and those muscles have decreased. Cross-training is so important to do. If you can swim, swimming is great for cardio. That said, your body is pumping the blood horizontally whereas when you’re running the blood is pumping vertically. Swimmers and runners are both great endurance athletes but we need to make sure that the blood knows how to pump up so pool jogging is great because it’s lightweight.
  • Go back to basics. Come to sessions like Ready, Set, Go., where we’ll be watching your gait, because injuries can often cause muscle imbalances. Sessions like Ready, Set, Go, will allow us to watch you a little more carefully to make sure that you’re keeping everything equal on both sides.

Coach Inge’s goal setting post-injury:

  • Pick a race. Make sure that it’s at least 16 weeks away and get back to basics to build a base. The Nike+ Running app is great for getting you back into running. It has coaching levels that you can go through and pick where you are. Even if you don’t feel like a beginner it’s best to start back at the beginning so that it’s just not too much, too soon because you could risk getting injured again. Don’t increase distance more than 10-15% a week. Don’t compare yourself to others but focus on yourself because everyone has a different story. Use the community as fuel to rebuild.
  • Use the Nike+ Training app, look for some flexibility or mobility training workouts. Also, H.I.T. & Run workouts are great when you’re 100% better.
  • Be smart. Running is a lifelong thing, the races will always be there. So you can keep the same goals but just make sure that you ease back into it.

Thanks Coach Inge! I can’t wait to get cleared to hit the pavement again!

Training after Injury

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Up until 2 months ago, I have always had an injury-free training and running career. Last time I got injured, I was in high school and I remember it really having a huge impact on the life choices that I made from that point onwards.

At the time, I was a semi-professional dancer, dancing 15+ hrs a week, teaching dancing, dancing at events, etc. I was planning on attending York University in Toronto to study Broadway singing/dancing and pursue that as a career but when I got injured, it made me re-evaluate my career altogether. I decided to abandon that dream and opt for plan b, which was to become a television host and keep dancing as a side job instead of my primary career.

Last year, when I started training heavily and racing, I saw a lot of people around me have to take time off due to injury. I felt a lot of empathy towards them but it’s not until you get injured yourself that you really understand the impact that an injury can have on your life.

At the end of July this summer, I got injured. Whether it was overtraining, improper form, new footwear or a combination of several things, no one can really know. The first doctor I went to see told me it was probably only a nerve issue so I could continue training. Little did I know, that this would actually make my condition worsen. So when I got back from my travels to Hawaii, with the recommendation of my trainer, Nike Master Trainer Eva Redpath, I went to seek a second opinion. Turns out, it wasn’t a nerve issue but most likely a protruding disc in my back.

Since the new diagnosis, I have stopped all physical activity, stopped running, biking, training and basically have had to be inactive. I’ve had to cancel a dozen events including several races, etc. September has been a very difficult month not only physically but also psychologically. When being active is your every day life, being told you can’t do anything for a long time and to stay put, is the worst feeling in the world.

Instead of being down on myself, I’ve been trying to see this as a learning opportunity to not only help myself get better but prevent further injury and put all the chances on my side so that this does not happen again in the future.

The always lovely Eva Redpath and I sat down for a chat the other day, to discuss training post-injury and what I can do once I get the clearance from my doctor to start being active again… And let me tell you, I’m awaiting that day like a kid awaits Christmas!

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Eva’s 5 steps for recovering from an injury: 

  • Listen to your body – When you feel discomfort during certain exercises, don’t ignore it. Slow down or stop your workout depending on what you’re feeling. Let your body rest, use ice and heat as needed and allow your body time to recover.
  • Consult a Professional – For any injury, big or small, it is crucial to see a doctor. Let them diagnose the injury and recovery plan. It is critical to listen to what they say and follow their road to recovery.
  • Rest and Recover – Take time to let your body repair itself. If your doctor says no physical activity, then listen to them. If you don’t need to stop completely, make sure you’re following their advice and not pushing yourself. Doing too much too quickly can cause you to be out longer.
  • Stay Active – Take advantage of alternative ways to train, depending on the injury, and look for ways to stay active during your recovery period. For example, walking and swimming are low-impact ways to keep active.
  • Eat Clean – It’s easy to get unmotivated when you’re injured, resulting in a broken diet and fitness routine. It is important to eat healthy foods for the nutritious value they bring the body.

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Eva’s tips on getting back into your workout routine after an injury:

Once your doctor has given you the okay, take it slow. It’s important to ease yourself back into your fitness routine so you can reintroduce your muscles to the movements. As you begin to build your strength back, you’ll start to feel when you can push yourself a little more. Also, it’s important to decrease reps and weight, allowing your body to work its way back up again. Bodyweight exercises are great for getting back into the swing of things. It’s important to pay closer attention to delicate areas of your body to prevent further injury. Depending on the type of injury, different workouts might work better than others. For instance, mobility workouts are great for certain recovery periods because they focus on maintaining flexibility and range of motion, as opposed to weighted workouts that can add stress to your injury.

Eva’s tips on where to find motivation when you are injured:

I find motivation from my fitness community, family and friends. They play a large role in the recovery process; keeping you thinking positively and eager to get back at it. I also look to the NTC app feed, it keeps me updated with the workouts my friends are crushing, along with helpful fitness tips from global Nike Master Trainers. Additionally, I like to check out my favourite fitness blogs and accounts for motivating content that will help keep me focused on returning from my injury better and stronger than ever before.

A big thank you to Eva for her always-inspiring chats!

Photos: Tyler – @tilore

Being Active During Ragweed Season

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Ragweed season is here but there are still lots of great ways to stay active during this sensitive time of year.

Unfortunately ragweed is a plant that can produce a million grains of pollen each day. Ragweed season usually begins in late summer, i.e. now and can continue up until September or even October depending on the year. Southern Ontario is particularly affected by ragweed and though one might think that living in an urban area like Toronto would help, ragweed can grow just about anywhere and therefore is also present in the air in big cities. Due to global warming, ragweed season has been getting longer as a result of trees and plants getting a longer growing time. However, this shouldn’t stop anyone from remaining active as there are many ways to fight against or reduce ragweed allergy symptoms.

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If being outdoors is too much to handle, there are lots of great free fitness classes that are available around the city every week. These full body conditioning-type workouts will keep you active even if you have to stay indoors. Also, Toronto being a very fit city, there are a ton of drop-in classes being offered across town at all times during the day and evening. Anything from boxing, barre classes, yoga, boot camps, etc. You name it, Toronto’s got it.

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If you can still manage working out outdoors, there are a handful of tips that can help you stay active even if your allergies flare up. The first recommendation is to be able to identify what ragweed looks like and to stay away from it. Second, if you have a home, make sure to remove (or get someone to remove it for you) ragweed from your property. A third tip that is essential if working out outdoors is to shower and wash your hair immediately after coming in from a workout. Also make sure to leave the clothes you wore working out, outdoors and wash them right away. If you do plan to exercise outdoors, be sure to use REACTINE® before going outside, as it can start to work in 20 minutes and lasts 24 hours. For extra help when your nose is also dry, REACTINE(R) NaturEase Nasal Spray will help reduce symptoms of dry, irritated nose.

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Workout locations are also key. Opt for working out in sand, or on gravel or even asphalt. Things like outdoor green gyms or alternatively riding your bike, rollerblading or running on a multi-purpose trail are great options. Also, doing yoga, a HIT or fitness class in the sand can help. Additionally, if you like watersports, it’s a great way to stay active without having to suffer from these allergy symptoms. Swimming, , kayaking, canoeing are all great activities you can do far away from ragweed.

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If you want to know when the best time is for your outdoor workouts, you can keep track of daily pollen forecast by following @ReactineCA on Twitter. The times to avoid are usually mid-morning until afternoon. So early morning and evening workouts are usually best!

For more information on REACTINE, please consult www.reactine.ca and follow @ReactineCA on Twitter for the daily pollen forecasts.

This post was sponsored by the makers of REACTINE®.  All opinions are true and are my own.

Photos by: @Offner

Top 3 Summer Workouts – Big Hit Studios

PAM_0036If you’re looking for a great way to get your daily frustrations out while also getting a full-body workout in, make sure you take a class at Big Hit Studios. Their Sudbury St. studio in Toronto has been one of my favorites since the beginning of the new year.

PAM_0019Led by a brilliant team of trainers, including my personal favorite Karina Vottchal (she’s a badass lady that will get sweating and out breath in a few seconds!), their mix of kickboxing, crossboxing, powerboxing and coreboxing classes will make you stronger and get you toned. I like their classes because they’re a great mix of cardio and technique. Don’t be surprised if the trainers ask you to do a few burpees or push-ups, even with your gloves on!

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If you don’t live in Toronto, fret not! Big Hit Studios also has an additional space located in Oakville. For more info on Big Hit Studios, go here.

PAM_0292Notes from the hairstylist:

Braids on braids
“A small twist on these boxer braids, instead of the usual two boxer braids, I decided to do six individual braids. I braided each one the length of Mel’s hair, and then took three on each side and braided those together, to make them look like two long individual braids.”

Photos: Pam Lau
Hair: Cabello by Carolina
Makeup: Michelle Gardin

What I’m wearing: Nike Free TR 6 Women’s Training Shoe (get it here), Nike Pro Hypercool Limitless Women’s Training Capris (get it here), Nike Flow Graphic Women’s Training Tank (get it here), Nike Pro Fierce Women’s Sports Bra (get it here).

Top 3 Summer Workouts – MISFITSTUDIO

PAM_0398I had the pleasure of finally discovering MISFITSTUDIO after having heard great things about this place for the past couple of years. Located on West Queen West, this beautiful space divided into two different studios, is definitely unique to the city. The stained glass windows and antique details in the studio creates a very special and charming atmosphere.

PAM_0426They offer a mix of pilates, yoga and movement classes. Their MISFITMETHOD is “a mindfully created experience where strength and grace support each other, where you are guided to allow the body to flow and the mind to quiet. A wild physical journey full of connection, challenge and technique each class will leave you with a touch of magic.”

PAM_0405-2I had the chance to take one of their Reformer Pilates class with the lovely Michelle Jobin. This supermom teaches Wednesday mornings from 7-8 am in their cozy Pilates room. The studio offers a great variety of classes that are sure to get you moving and make you leave feeling inspired.

A lot of great things are coming the way of MISFITSTUDIO, so make sure you follow them online here to stay tuned.

PAM_0534PAM_0526Notes from the hairstylist:

Perfect Pilates Fishtail
“A french braid is so easy to do, and it’s a go to for all of my indoor workouts, but why not switch it up with a fishtail french braid. Would you believe it’s done with just two strands?”

Photos: Pam Lau
Hair: Cabello by Carolina
Makeup: Michelle Gardin

What I’m wearing: Nike Zoned Sculpt Women’s Training Tights (get them here), Nike Zoned Sculpt Strappy Women’s Training Bralette (get it here).