Stoked to be releasing a new episode of the podcast today!
My guest for this episode is Jen Segger, she is a global endurance coach, an adventure athlete, an expedition run guide and the head coach for Run Like A Girl. She is a badass athlete and incredibly successful coach based out of Squamish, British Columbia. Thrilled to have her on the podcast today, she recently completed the Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race in British Columbia earlier this fall and placed 2nd with her team. Let’s find out more about her story.
The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.
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!
The CrossFit Games have become in the last couple of years, one of the most anticipated sporting events around the world. I have been attentively watching the female athletes compete for the past three years and was stoked to see that there are several Canadian women that make it to the games each year. One of which, is the amazing athlete Emily Abbott, from Alberta. She finished 35th overall at the CrossFit Games in 2014, then 8th in 2015, 20th in 2016 and 19th at the 2017 games. She will be competing in Costa Rica and then Dubai in December and will also be partaking in Wodapalooza in Miami before starting the sanctioned CrossFit season leading up the next year’s games. So incredibly stoked that Emily is sharing her journey with us today!
1) What first drew you to CrossFit?
I played basketball at a high level at University of Windsor for 5 years. Post Uni I was traveling throughout Europe…after eating and drinking to my hearts content I came back to North America slightly heavier and a little uncomfortable. My boyfriend at the time suggested I try this “CrossFit thing” as he thought I would be pretty good at it. I tried it out and loved how it sparked my competitive edge I had used for so long when I played basketball. I also loved the nature of constantly improving or working on one’s weaknesses. When I first started CrossFit I couldn’t do a single strict pull-up. I was determined to change that. And I did.
2) The sport has evolved tremendously in just a few short years, how has that impacted you as an athlete who practices the sport at a high level?
I started training CrossFit seriously in 2013. The next year I made it to the CrossFit Games. My involvement in the sport has been that of rapid ascension. I got into competing at the right time. I was 24! Now I am 28 and I can sure notice a difference between me competing against someone who is 22. The sport is attracting younger athletes, athletes who start CrossFit at 16 rather than a washed up former college athlete. So my recovery game in between sessions has to be that much more thorough. Can’t smash training all day and have a few beers anymore… my discipline with the sport has definitely evolved because of that. I still have fun though. To keep things fresh I pursue other movement because I value athleticism- not just linear CrossFit. I bike, dance, surf, hike and try to move in all ways outside of the gym.
3) You have been at the CrossFit Games since 2014, what does a typical training week look like for you when gearing up for the games?
Regionals training is brutal. Games training is a blast/still brutal. I typically train 2-3 times a day. Each session I try to knock out in 2 hours so I can eat and rest in between. It is important to place time limits on yourself or next thing you know you have been at the gym all day and your training sessions way too long. Intensity is key. Eating food right after a training session is vital. My coaches will then throw in some surprise miserable workout just to see if I have the grit to power through. I also add in a lot of running, biking and swimming miles throughout the week. At some point you will hit this stage called “over-reaching.” It is at this point, mentally, that training becomes the toughest. You don’t want to do another burpee, another warm-up, another squat—you are SICK of working out. And that is when you know you are ready to taper, rest and go out to snap necks and cash cheques.
4) Do you feel that the sport currently supports and provides as many opportunities for women as it does for men?
CrossFit is one of the only sports I have competed in where I feel there is a solid platform for both female and male athletes alike. Same prize money, same sponsorship opportunities. The women’s competition this year was way more exciting than the men’s side- it was electric! If anything women have an easier time in this sport because we are a little more creative on the social media front. We have a little more fun with it. That being said, like in any sport, women are still objectified and hyper-sexualized. It’s a double edged sword because we work hard for our bodies (on the extreme fitness end- training like this isn’t for health and wellness- its for performance which can be a detriment to hormonal function, joints etc.) and should be proud to show the world strong, healthy bodies. On the other hand why the hell are we wearing booty shorts that ride up our asses to workout for time? Ahh such a conundrum but it is a tale as old as women competing in sport!
5) What is your favourite event to perform in and why?
Power output events. I am a pure power athlete. A short, hard sprint is what I do best in. Pure WORK- no skill haha. I am working my hardest to level that out however. I need to be more on the endurance end!
To follow Emily‘s journey, check her out on Instagram here.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a really interesting panel organized by InnerVoice.Life in Vancouver, on storytelling and inspiration from endurance athletes. This is where I first heard of Steph Corker, a Vancouver athlete, business owner and all-around inspiring woman. She shared her incredible journey with everyone present in the room and I was immediately drawn to her no-bullshit #realtalk attitude. So I got in touch with her following the panel to find out more about her story and what led her to start upThe Corker Co. as well as her thoughts on being the current Ironman Canada title holder.
1) What first got you interested in competing in Ironman and why?
Ironman was a super bucket list item — I wanted to finish my first IM by the time I was 60, because I thought it would take a full life time to build up to that crazy distance! When I moved west from Toronto, I immediately fell in love with watching IM Canada in Penticton, BC. I guess you could say the rest was history…
2) After finishing 16 Ironman races as an amateur athlete, you decided to go pro this year for the very first time. Why was it important for you to make that transition? How much has it changed your life as an athlete?
I took up the sport of triathlon as I like to call myself — a tri-hard! I wasn’t very great at riding or running, but did have a swimming background. So I would swim relatively well and then spend the rest of the day “trying-hard!” It was through some great races and many not great races that took me to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Truth be told, I haven’t yet had an awesome race in Hawaii — it is sort of the elusive goal of many of us. However, I thought I could continue to race at the top of the amateur field and continue working toward Hawaii, or I could take a super leap of faith and see what trying hard with the pro girls was like. This transition was important to me because I’m a raging feminist in all things – business, sport and life. I think we owe it to each other to show up – win or lose – and be a female on the start line!
In terms of changing my life as an athlete, I do think my training intensity/volume has gone up this year — because, it has to in order to compete with the full time athletes that I now race with. Yet more importantly, it has me eating humble pie every darn day. My first pro race, I finished last (as a pro). I mean, I guess there is only one place to go from there, right? 🙂
3) You are the current title holder of Ironman Canada, what does a typical week of training look like for you? How do you balance training with owning your own business?
I did win the amateur race at Ironman Canada in 2016, however, there was no female pro field. So 2017 is going to be a really sweet return with such a large and awesome group of pro women. My training is rather intense leading up to an IM race — I swim nearly every day, I log 2 long bike rides each week and run 3-4x/week. To be honest, it is not the training that requires as much balance as the sleeping, eating, maintaining daily necessities that consumes time in my life. I’m not sure I really balance anything particularly well, instead I think I’m ruthlessly focused and only allow so many things to be in my life at one point in time. I start work 4 days a week at 10AM and try really hard to get to bed early — that is the best version of balance I have found in work and sport.
4) What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in your career as an athlete and how were you able to overcome it?
I don’t think this is spoken about enough and I’m happy to be at the front of this conversation — but body image is a really big deal to me. I do not look like 90% of the triathletes in the sport. And I especially do not look like a runner. This can be really easy to hold onto as dead weight (no pun intended!) and feel really inferior on the start line. My biggest practice has been in ensuring that the food I eat gives me fuel and the self-talk I tell myself gives me wings! Women come in many different shapes and sizes, and my work, my obstacle has been to remind myself that no one can see the size of my heart or the guts of my mental fortitude. Most importantly, my work is to surround myself by the people who believe in possibility….regardless of how we look.
5) How has support for women in the sport evolved over the last couple of years? Are there more women partaking in the sport nowadays?
Ahh, I’m so passionate about this topic yet to be honest, I’m not super well versed in the true stats behind it. If anything, I’d say it appears there is a decline in women participation, yet I could be so wrong about that. My first race of the year there were 20% females/ 80% males – if that is any indication, I just wish the numbers were skewed differently.
I think it is really important that women show up to sport to encourage more women to also show up — I think we like to see examples of what’s possible and then ask ourselves: could that be me one day? I hope so!
It was with great enthusiasm that I followed the Rio Summer Olympics a few months ago. Team Canada did such an exceptional job not only representing the country but also showing their talents to the rest of the world. It was such a proud moment to see young Canadian athletes top the podium in so many different disciplines. Seeing Rosie MacLennan top the podium in trampoline for the second time in a row, was incredibly inspiring to watch. I recently had the chance to ask her a few questions at the Toronto Biosteel Women’s Training Day a few weeks back. Hope you’ll enjoy my 5 Questions With: Rosie MacLennan.
1) What drew you to the sport of trampoline?
When I was a kid, I tried a ton of different sports. My parents wanted to make sure we were really active. Then when my older siblings switched from gymnastics to trampoline I tagged along. It was their favorite part of gymnastics and I got hooked pretty quickly.
2) What would you say is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome thus far in your career and how were you able to overcome it?
My biggest challenge would have probably been the concussion I got last summer and the uncertainty that came with it. It’s not like a broken bone that takes 6 weeks and then you’re back. So it actually drew out until about 3 weeks before the World Championships and I didn’t know if I would be able to compete at Worlds and that’s our Olympic qualification. So just with that anxiety and then even going back and having issues with spatial awareness and just trying to figure all of that out, was probably one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced before.
I had a really great support system in my family, my boyfriend and my friends. I also had a really great team of people surrounding me health-wise so they were making sure that I was exploring every possible thing to help. But I think just that dream and that drive because I love the sport, I think it also allowed me to reconnect with that love of sport because at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was to get back on that trampoline and jump, regardless of what that meant for the Olympics.
3)You are the first woman ever to win back to back gold medals in trampoline at the Olympic games and the first Canadian ever to defend their olympic title in an individual sport a the summer Olympics, what do these achievements mean to you? What goals do you want to achieve next?
It means the world and to me. It really represents the journey and everyone that has helped me get there. It really was a process and I think my favorite part of the whole experience was the day before the competition, just being in that room with the 16 other girls and training under the Olympic rings. That moment was so special. As for now, I just started training again so I will definitely go for another season but I don’t know beyond that. There are some rule changes that I want to explore and what that means but I want to get back into it.
4) What’s your favorite place to travel to and why?
I love competing in Switzerland, partly because I’ve done well there and partly because it’s a beautiful country. We compete in the mountains so it’s really hard to wake up in a bad mood when you wake up with such an incredible view. The other thing is that with the altitude we actually jump higher because there’s less air resistance so I like that.
5) I know you work with a lot with a lot of children and always want to inspire the next generation. What kind of message do you want to share with them?
I think it’s important because I want to empower them to explore different opportunities and explore something they’re really passionate about and connect them to something in sport and health specifically because it’s a journey. I’m really passionate about health and activity and if you can inspire that in kids at a young age, then you can hopefully inspire a healthy active lifestyle.
From Canadian World Cup alpine ski racer to motivator and public speaker, Larisa Yurkiw is a force to be reckoned with. The 28-year-old athlete from Ontario has accomplished a lot in her lifetime already, from partaking in the 2014 Sochi Olympics to also being on four World Cup podiums. She recently announced her retirement from professional skiing after her most successful year of competition. I had the chance to chat with her about her career thus far and also what’s next for her.
1) What first got you interested in downhill skiing and when did you realize that this was something you could pursue more seriously?
I have two older brothers I chased around the ski hill from a young age. The norm gets thrown out the window so I was fairly fearless. I did my first race was I was 4 and the passion grew with the intensity.
2) 2016 has been a great competing year for you but you recently announced your retirement after 10 years in the competitive circuit. Why was this the right time for you to hang up your skis?
Health has the final say. I had my 5th knee surgery in May and I felt it was a decision between racing 20 more international races or skiing with my kids one day. I was becoming more successful and finished my career ranked 3rd in the world so I no longer had unfinished business. It was that hunger that drove me for so long so I knew it was time to find the same drive in a different direction.
3) How has the transition from athlete to being an entrepreneur been going? What are some of your career goals moving forward?
I love this new life. I have found a career that gives me a bit of an adrenaline rush still, motivational speaking, and I continue to find challenges for myself. I took time off initially but realized quickly that I’m meant to have both a structure and a serious set of goals.
4) Can you talk to us about Team Larisa and if you will be continuing to pursue this in the future?
Team Larisa was the name of my team. I was skiing for Canada independently but, by the end, the Team was made up of thousands of Canadians and Europeans, both skiers and non-skiers. I will continue to promote bravery and share the power of vulnerability and resilience with the story of Team Larisa wherever I can. It became so much more than ski racing for me so if I can use it as a vehicle to help young and old alike to just get a bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable, then Team Larisa has successfully lived on.
5) What is the best advice you’ve ever been given and how has it helped you as an athlete and in life today?
Advice came from so many but most consistently, to keep on keeping on. The setbacks were the most consistent event throughout my journey so learning to fight on and get creative with my resilience allowed me to ultimately be world class in my sport. Without a constant fight and high self-belief, the very first obstacle would’ve bounced me in a completely different direction. “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” Mexican Proverb.
Prior to hearing about Brianne Theisen-Eaton‘s story I had never heard of a heptathlete before. A heptathlon is a track and field combined events contest made up of seven events. The events are as follows: Day 1 (in order): 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m. Day 2: the long jump, javelin and 800m. Brianne is a Canadian heptathlete who will be competing at this summer’s Rio 2016 Olympics. She also competed at the London 2012 Olympics, won a silver medal at the 2013 & 2015 World Championships and was the reigning Commonwealth Games champion in 2014, just to name a few of her many inspiring achievements. For this summer’s games, she partnered up with Crest Canada as one of their ambassadors for their new 3D White line so that she can #SmileThrough this summer’s Olympics. She took a few minutes out of her insanely busy pre-Olympic schedule to answer a few questions about her journey thus far.
1) What first got you interested in track and field? Do you remember when you decided to become a heptathlete?
I liked all sports to tried track for the first time and fell in love with it. I decided to try the heptathlon the summer between grade 9 and 10.
2) What does your weekly training regimen as a heptathlete consist of?
During the week we train our hardest on Monday, Wednesday and Friday which covers technical events and running. Then on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday we make things a bit easier by preparing for the throwing events and lifting. I finally get to take a break on Sundays, which are my only days off.
3) How has working with brands like Crest helped with your training and career thus far?
I use Crest everyday. I drink a ton of coffee and my guilty pleasure is candy, so it fits perfectly into my life, keeping my teeth white and healthy. Crest has helped to boost my confidence when I’m competing. I am happy to have Crest as part of the story and journey as an athlete.
4) What are some of your favourite places that you’ve had the opportunity to travel to and why?
I love Austria. Food is great and the fans are awesome. A couple of my favourite vacation places are Rome and Dubai.
5) What are your goals for this summer’s Olympics in Rio?
Go out there and do the best I can in every event.
For more information about Brianne and her campaign with Crest Canada, go here.
Sarah Wells is a Canadian Olympic hurdler from Toronto who will be representing the country at this summer’s Olympic games in Brazil. Sarah is an inspiring young athlete who hasn’t let injury or obstacles deter her from realizing her dreams. After a stress fracture in 2011, she tattooed the word “Believe” on her wrist as a reminder that she could still achieve her goal of becoming an Olympian. Low and behold, with much determination and perseverance she made her Olympic debut in London in 2012. Last year, she also took home the silver and bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.
This tattoo has inspired a collection that she will be launching in collaboration with WINNERS on June 1st. Her strong self-belief should be an inspiration to all of us. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview below.
1) What first got you interested in hurdles? When did you know that this would be something you wanted to pursue?
I was fortunate to have a high school teacher suggest I try hurdles. Under his coaching and guidance I fell in love with hurdles and hoped to become world-class one day. I really enjoyed the small sense of accomplishment of getting over the hurdles all the way to the finish line—kind of like life.
2) What does your weekly training routine look like? What are some of your favorite workouts to do while training?
My training day consists of 5 hours of training: A warm-up, reaction time drills, hurdle drills, interval training, circuit work, explosive medicine ball tosses, weight training, and stretching. My favourite would have to be the painful interval training because once you’re finished you know you’ve bettered yourself.
3) You took part in the 2012 London Olympics, what did that experience teach you as an athlete?
One thing learned for certain is that Olympic athletes aren’t superheroes. Like me, many have gone through challenges; I saw great success but heartbreak, too. I learned that facing and overcoming obstacles happens to everyone.
4) In addition to being an athlete you are also a motivational speaker. Why is it important for you to promote sports in youth?
I love public speaking to younger people because for me, I saw sport as a vehicle for so many opportunities and I want to encourage the younger generation to pursue physical activity as a way to find self-confidence, a sense of self, see the world, and learn important life lessons.
5) You will be participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics, what are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to bettering myself. The last Olympics I finished as a semi-finalist. This time I hope to make the Olympic final and put myself in the position to run for a medal.
Check out Sarah Wells’ new athletic wear collection in collaboration with WINNERS in stores next week!
Thrilled to have on the blog today an Olympic Athlete and also all-around inspiring woman. The timing couldn’t be more perfect with the Pan Am games about to hit Toronto and today’s 15k race in Toronto. Phylicia George is a track and field athlete from Markham, Ontario. She made her Olympic debut in 2012 in London and finished in sixth place in the 100m hurdles. I’ve been following her training journey these past couple of months via social media so I couldn’t be more thrilled that she took some time from her busy schedule to answer the questions below. Hope you’ll be just as inspired by her as I am. Enjoy my 5 Questions With Phylicia George:
1) What first got you interested in track and field? What is it about this discipline that you like so much?
My earliest memories of running was racing my dad in the parking lot. I loved racing kids on the playground and putting everything I had in me to be the first at the finish line. So I guess you could say I’ve always had this innate competitive nature. One of my first introductions to the sport of track and field was watching the 1996 Olympics. I instantly fell in love with the intense competition and the raw emotions that I saw. I love the fact that track and field is an individual sport. It’s very much a personal journey about pushing yourself past your limits. When you line up at the start line, It is literally you vs. 7 other people; your best vs my best, which is an amazing feeling. It’s a sport that continually encourages you to grown as an athlete and as a person. It’s a very difficult sport to train for and takes a lot of sacrifice, however that dedication makes achievement all the more enjoyable.
2) You always have some very empowering and inspiring posts on your blog for athletes and also for women in general, who inspired you along the way?
I’m inspired by so many people. Anyone who overcomes the odds, strong women that defy societal standards, positive people working to make real change in the world, and the list goes on. More specifically my mother was a huge inspiration to me. She was a very strong woman with great values, who always encouraged me to be great. As well, my father is the ultimate humanitarian. I grew up seeing him helping people and going out of his way to make others lives better. I try to fashion my life and my impact after both my parents. They both inspired me to not only be a better person but to also be good other people.
3) You made your Olympic Games debut in 2012 in London and will be going to the 2016 Rio Olympics, what does a typical training week look like for you?
Training is pretty intense. I usually train 5 days a week. Sometimes I’ll have training blocks where I train 6 days a week. On average 3 days a week will be high intensity and 2 days a week will be recovery days. Different parts of the year we have different things we focus on. For example at the beginning of the year, it’s all about conditioning and getting in shape, so it’s a lot of long runs, high volume, lower intensity. As we get closer to competition, we decrease volume and increase intensity. Throughout a training week I also make sure to have great emphasis on my recovery and sleep, which is a huge to make sure I’m getting the gains I want from my training.
4) What 3 tips would you give to people who are currently training for their 1st ever race or who are just getting into running?
1) Don’t try to do too much too soon. That is the fast track to injury. Its easy to get really excited about training and take on more than your body can handle. Its important to have a plan to stick to which will help you increase smartly
2) It’s a process. Things won’t always be amazing. You’re body won’t always feel great. There will be ups and downs but during the downs its so important to trust in the process. The path to success is never straight. 1 step back and 2 steps forward, is still moving in the right direction
3) Set Goals. I’ve always found having something to work towards helps with my training. I usually set big goals at the beginning of the year and then small ones throughout the year. It really helps to keep you focused and it can be the extra motivation you need to help you get through those tough workout
5) What is your next career goal?
My main goals right now is winning an international medal. I’m aiming to be on the podium at World Championships this summer and then next year at the Rio Olympics. I’m also looking to break the Canadian record in the 100m Hurdles.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of getting trained at NTC by Canadian Olympian Sheila Reid. Sheila is a track and field athlete and a professional runner that participated in the 2012 London Olympics. She is currently training for next year’s Olympics in Rio and also this year’s Pan Am Games in Toronto. She was in town for the announcement of Nike Women‘s upcoming 15k race happening in Toronto on June 14th (In case you didn’t already know, those interested in participating in the race will be able to sign up on March 9th!). Training with Sheila was incredibly inspiring to say the least. Getting to spend time and talking with an athlete of that level was very enriching. I’m looking forward to following her next running achievements. Hope you’ll get inspired by this week’s 5 Questions with Sheila Reid:
1) What first got you interested in running? Do you remember your first race and how it went?
The first race I can remember was in grade 4- that was the first year we were allowed to participate in sports at school outside of gym class, so I joined the cross country team. I came in second and everyone from my school was really proud of me. I remember being really confused by that because I wanted to win. The team didn’t train at all, and the only requirement was signed consent from a parent to compete. So from the start, for me, it was all about racing; how far could I push my body on any given day? By the end of elementary school I was a champion.
2) You are currently training with the Oregon Track Club Elite, what does your training regimen look like? How has training in the US helped you as an athlete?
My training regimen consists of running, cross training, and weight training. I run every day (twice a day 4x/week), lift weights 2x per week, and some days I will supplement my training with cardio work in the pool or on an ElliptiGo machine. Specific race preparation happens during interval workouts; these are running sessions I do twice a week to work on pace-specific training. I decided to go to America for school to compete in the NCAA system because I felt that the high level of competition would force me to compete at that same level. I’ve remained there based on many of the connections I made while at university.
3) You took part in the 2012 London Olympics and placed 28th in the 5000 meters, how did that experience change you as an athlete?
Like after any competition, you go back to the drawing board with your team and assess where you can improve. After this particular instance, I felt more energized than ever to be more calculated with my training and listen to my body during each session. I decided quickly that London wouldn’t be my last race and was vocal that I was ready to give running my all for myself, my teammates and my coaches.
4) What advice would you give to people who are just getting into running?
If you’re just starting your running journey, my advice would be to create a routine and find a positive community that will push you. Even if you set a goal to run 15 minutes a day without stopping, you will be surprised by the improvement and momentum that can spring from something as small but routine as that. From there, build your goals by attainable bite sizes. The best way to find inspiration to keep moving is by surrounding yourself with positivity and community. By committing and finding a strong community like a Nike+ run club, you will push yourself faster and further, and the people around you will help you go beyond your limits.
5) You’ll be taking part in the Nike Women’s 15k Race happening in Toronto on June 14th as well as this year’s Pan Am Games in Toronto. What are your career plans for the next couple of years?
My training program is largely focused on going faster. I’m constantly focusing on developing my fast twitch muscles and pushing my cardio abilities to keep me at my peak speed for a longer duration of every race. In my training over the next couple of years, I’ll be aiming to improve my speed with the long term goal of competing in the Rio 2016 Olympics. I’m fortunate enough to have some amazing competitions and checkpoints along the way, including the Pan Am Games in 2015 in Toronto, and the 2015 Track & Field World Championships in Beijing in August.