Tapping Your Inner Strength

sit upsSo the glorious summer of 2014 is behind us, the fall is with us with cooler temperatures  and the magnificent autumnal colours. Days can still be warm but the mornings have a dampness about it and since the clocks went back, the evenings are getting darker earlier, but still pleasant enough to get out and do things.

Over the last few months we have talked about all of the diverse activities that can be enjoyed during the summer and I do hope some of you have tried some different sports and workouts. There is no reason not to continue these into the fall should your schedule permit, or you may want to take a break and reflect on what you did in the summer, and plan more fun and challenging activities over the next few weeks.

Fall classes at rec and fitness centres are now in full swing so you may have already set your next challenge. Or you may be waiting for the New Year to really plan and set that one goal that has eluded you. Fall is a popular time for class sign up, but January far exceeds that. Rec centres traditionally hit a spike in January as we make those resolutions that we never break (right!) But let’s not move too far ahead of ourselves – we still have three months to go in 2014 so what are you going to do with that time?

This time of year is a good time to head back into the gym and work on your strength and core. If you are a runner you may have run or about to run that fall race that was your target goal. So now is the time to reflect on that, and enjoy the down time. You no longer have to get up on weekends at the crack of dawn to get in the miles. You don’t have to do those weekly hill or speed workouts any more. You can certainly keep up the running but not the intensity. So consider a twice weekly visit to the gym. Why? Building a strength and conditioning base will make you stronger and will reap huge benefits when you decide to set your next running goal. When we say strength that doesn’t mean bulk. Maintaining two sets of 15 reps of a chest press at a moderate weight, for example, will strengthen and tone. If you want more intensity – lower reps at a higher weight will do that. It really depends on your goal. We are all stronger than we think we are, so just go with the flow and see what works for you.

Regardless of what you do – maintaining form and a strong core is important. I do my chest press and pec flys lying on an exercise ball. That way I engage my core. Similarly, bicep curls and triceps dips I do standing on a Bosu – this is great not just for the core but balance. Adding these props also make workouts more interesting and challenging. Strength workouts (including warm up and cool down) don’t have to be long: 30 – 45 minutes, twice weekly is quite adequate for maintenance, particularly if you are new to this type of training.

Prior to starting your strength training warm up first on a bike, rower or treadmill for ten minutes. Gentle stretching can be your cool down afterwards. If you haven’t used a roller, and your gym has one, use it! Gentle rolling out your quads, hamstrings, even your back can have a therapeutic effect on your body. It’s rather like giving yourself a massage. Most gyms have sample exercises posted so consult those, or talk to the fitness consultant on its proper use.

The gym is also a great time to do those exercises that your physio, chiro and massage therapist gave you that you didn’t do. (We have all been there and find excuses not to do them). So take a few minutes at the end and work on those areas that were niggling you during your training. Again, this will only benefit you later.

So regard these next few weeks before the silly season starts, to reflect on your achievements over the summer and if you did a big race, give yourself a pat on the back. Then before you dive in headlong into your next challenge, consider the gym – it is an ideal way of complementing your current regimen while giving your body a well-earned break from hi-intensity training.  And you know what? You might get to like it and want to continue it when you do ramp up the miles again.

 

Last of the Summer Workouts

sea otter at Glencoe CoveWhat a summer we are having. This long stretch of hot, sunny weather means we have no excuse to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. With just a few weeks left of warm temperatures it is a great time to get those last few outdoor workouts in. With cooler temperatures in the early mornings and evenings it is also ideal conditions for running or cycling, particularly if you are training for a fall race and need to get those last few miles under your belt.

If there was ever a time to take the gym outdoors it is over these last few weeks of summer. There are still many outdoor workouts to take in as was summarized in the last issue – such as boot camps and yoga – but there are also many ways you can use our wonderful parks and green spaces to create your own training zone. This can be a form of circuit training – alternating cardio in between each exercise – or can be done on its own. This is also a great way to prepare you for the gym if you have had a break for a few months.

Here are some examples to try. Tip: do this with a friend – far more fun and you can challenge each other.

  • Tricep dips on park bench: just as you would do dips in the gym with a bench, a park bench is a great substitute. Place your hands behind you on the bench, legs straight and dip!
  • Push-ups on the grass: soft lush grass provides a great ‘mat’ for push-ups. If you find a full push-up too much, rest your knees on the grass.
  • Bench press on a park bench or log: as with the dips, bench presses can easily be done on a park bench or if you want a lower surface – a log.
  • Side leg raises on a bench or table (ensure table is stable): if using a bench ensure it is wide enough for this exercise. This also provides a great core workout because you are on an elevated surface. Raise one leg to the side at a 45 degree angle, repeat the other side.
  • Step-ups on a bench or log: for a less challenging exercise try a log. Alternate legs as you step up and down.
  • Squats with bench: stand with the bench behind you and squat as if you are about to sit down and then stand.
  • Explosive jumps with rocks or logs: find a log with no obstacles nearby and jump over front and backwards. Alternatively find some rocks and place at 3’ – 4’ intervals and leap frog over each.

If you want to do this as circuit training do one set of each: 10 – 15 reps, cardio (jog or rope skip for one minute are examples), and repeat for as many sets you can do in 30 minutes.

If you are a runner and want to try something different try running on sand. On Vancouver Island we are blessed with abundant beaches – so pick the beach that you feel would be the most suitable. Soft sand would provide more uneven footing so potentially could cause injuries, so hard packed sand may be the best option. Tip: for inspiration just imagine you are in Chariots of Fire!

So, enjoy the rest of summer with these workouts that are sure to challenge you, but they will also prepare you for whatever goals you set yourself this fall.

Get Moving on Summer

 

Speedway.Wide_With these hot summer days we are having, why not think out of the box and consider some summer sports that you may and tried or dabbled it, but hadn’t really given it a chance. Summer is a great time to be exploring trails, splashing around in the water or ripping up the tennis courts. So let’s see what else is out there to try.

Tennis

While we are fortunate to be able to play tennis outside year-round on Vancouver Island, for many it is still a summer sport and with an abundance of public courts, the sport doesn’t require a tennis club membership, unless you want to play competitively or in a league. In Victoria there are courts attached to most parks – in Saanich itself there are over 20 locations each having a minimum of two courts. Nanaimo boasts 15 in parks and clubs, and in the Comox Valley recent expansion to the Anderton Park tennis facility will boost the number of courts there and in Lewis Park in Courtenay.

Pickleball

You may have seen the name on some tennis courts. But what is Pickleball? It is traditionally played on a badminton-sized court with special Pickle-ball paddles, made of wood or high-tech aerospace materials. The ball used is similar to a wiffle ball, but smaller. Some tennis courts have a Pickleball court marked in blue and will post times you can play. The net is lower than a tennis net so an ideal game for the little ones in the family to enjoy. More info at: www. victoriapickleball.blogspot.ca 

Paddling

For some of us there is nothing better than hitting the water in the summer, whether it’s kayaking or canoeing. There are many opportunities out there for novices, and organizations like the Victoria Canoe and Kayaking Club, Nanaimo Paddlers and Comox Valley Paddlers offer a range of courses and activities. Joining organizations such as these offers a safe and experienced environment and the membership is usually very affordable. If you want to learn more about padding you can take in MEC’s annual Paddlefest in Victoria on Saturday, July 12.

Golf

Mark Twain called it ‘a short walk spoiled’, but for some golf is a religion. But if you don’t take it too seriously then it can be fun. Par 3 courses – like Henderson in Victoria – are a great way to spend an hour or less, perfecting your skill. They are also a good family activity. If Par 3 sounds too strenuous try pitch and putt – also great fun.

Ultimate

Ultimate takes to the parks in the summer where you will see a disk (Frisbee) being thrown from player to player in a sport that now has over five million followers in the U.S.  Canadianultimate.com is where you can find all the information about leagues and the sport. Locally, the Victoria Ultimate Players Society, Nanaimo Ultimate and Comox Valley Sports has summer leagues and offers pickup games for members. But, of course you could also grab a bunch of friends and a Frisbee and head to the park and start throwing.

Running/Cycling

A guide to summer activities wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two perennial favourites, running and cycling. I have covered these activities many times in the past, but they are still worth a mention, if not as a reminder that we do have a variety of terrain on the Island and really no excuse to pump up the tires or throw on the running shoes.  If you like to run off-road and want a challenge then try out the Gutbuster trail series. There are two races left in the series: Transfer Beach – Ladysmith and Mt Washington. www.gutbustertrailrun.com. If you like to get down and dirty then try out the Island Cup Series – Vancouver Island’s premier mountain bike event. There are three races left – check out: www.islandcupseries.com.

Outdoor Classes

Why stay in the classroom when you can do it outside? Many fitness professionals take their classes outdoors during the summer. Outdoor yoga is becoming popular in Victoria and a wonderful way to exercise while enjoying the summer heat. Bloom Yoga in Victoria offer Alfresco Yoga in July and August in a beautiful setting on the ocean. In the Comox Valley, Elm Health put on a number of outdoor classes including Fresh Air Fitness, and Jumpstart Boot Camp in Nanaimo has daily boot camps – all outdoors.

So get out there this summer and keep moving!

 

 

Setting Fitness Goals – the SMART Way

keep going We are now into the dark depths of winter when those memories of that incredible hot summer seems months, even years ago. We know this time of year comes upon us suddenly (and yes we  blame the time change) but we need to face the fact that we now have three months of winter ahead and we have to be an adult and deal with it.

In the fitness world we can a) turn our back on exercising outside and workout indoors; b) layer up and get out there and just do it no matter what the weather; c) get out that training plan and make a goal for the spring, or d) all of the above.  The last option is definitely the way to go. Hey this is Victoria – there is really no excuse not to continue to run, bike or hike here. (As I write Environment Canada informs me that it is -13C in Calgary and snowing.  Get my point?)

So now we are in agreement where do we start? It is that time of year when we tend to make resolutions for next year, and whether  you are a New Year Resolution person or not we all do at some point say we are going to do this, or change that because that is in our nature. Most of us want to change something about ourselves and often make too many lofty goals so they are dead from the get go. So it is important to make them SMART. Most of us have heard of SMART – Smart, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely – but many don’t adhere to this very simple but effective principle.

So you have run a 10K and now want to do a marathon. Wrong. The difference between 10 kilometres and 42.2 is huge. Make the half marathon the next goal – more achievable and less likely to fail (and we won’t even talk about the possibility of injury). You did the Tour de Victoria 50K and next year want to tackle the 140K. There is a 100K distance so why not make that your smart goal?

Goal setting and planning is always more achievable and manageable if you do it in a group setting. However, not all of us are ‘groupies’ and often prefer the solitude of exercising on our own, not being reliant on someone else’s agenda and timetable.  That is fine if you have the mental strength and character to do this. But there are a lot of groups, clubs and clinics out there whose sole purpose is to get you out there to exercise in a safe, friendly environment. And depending on the group, you can be paired up with individuals with the same ability and goals and like-minded attitude.

So where do we start? Get out that paper and pen (okay I am old fashioned) and write down your 2014 goals. Some examples:

  • Start a running/walking program
  • Run my first 10K
  • Train for my first half marathon or marathon
  • Train for my first triathlon

How do I go about doing this?

  • Write my own training plan (because  you are not a ‘groupie’)
  • Join a run clinic or triathlon club
  • Talk to my friends and arrange group runs/rides

Whether you are in a group or as an individual add variety to your training. On some days head into the gym and do some strength training or if it is really pouring with rain outside, use the treadmill, bike or elliptical. Cross training is good for you – not only does it add variety, it also helps avoid injury.

Most importantly, reward yourself after a challenging workout or run. Have a latté or a glass of wine and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. The next three months doesn’t seem so bad after all does it?

Happy Trails

cash and sal elk lakeThis is a great time to explore the wonderful trails we have in Victoria. Having had one of the best summer’s in history and a mild fall we had some glorious colours that make the west coast so famous.

I personally like nothing better than walking (with my dogs) or running through Arbutus-lined pathways strewn with freshly fallen leaves. The colours are also particularly special making a run a bright and cheerful way to start or end the day. We are lucky here as we can choose to run by lakes, the ocean or through residential areas where rural trails are in abundance depending on where you choose to go. Here are some favourites.

The 10k trail that circumnavigates Elk and Beaver Lake is a gem in Victoria. On a warm day it provides shade and on a rainy day – shelter. For those who like running or walking with their dogs it is ideal, with many places for your canine friend to cool off and to throw a stick for. The trail is marked every kilometre so GPS deprived individuals don’t have to worry about knowing how far they have come or how far they have to go. Watch for others enjoying the trail, in particular horses. Dogs can be off leash as long as they are under control.

If you like a challenge and a few undulations in a beautiful setting then Thetis Lake is a great place to run. Rated moderate to challenging by the CRD, this 834 hectacre park has a abundance of trails that intersect to you can make your journey as short or long as you like. Arbutus trees are a feature of this lake trail as is natural wildlife on the water. Like Elk and Beaver Lake there are areas for your four-legged friend to enjoy a cooling swim. The all-year round doggie beach is a particular favourite allowing your best friend to socialize with like-minded canines.

The Galloping Goose trail, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, is 60 km of sheer delight for recreational athletes with many cyclists also enjoying the Goose. The pathway is now paved all the way to Colwood. However, beyond Colwood it is still mainly trail and stunning to explore – particularly around Roche Cove and Matheson Lake and all the way to the Sooke Potholes. This part of the Goose is surprisingly quiet and largely undiscovered so ideal for a quiet, solitary run or walk. It is marked every kilometre so you can choose to join the trail at a convenient spot and venture forth for as long or short as you like.

Lochside Trail is a 29 km trail from Swartz Bay to Victoria and even though there are paved and road sections, the Royal Oak Drive to Sayward Road and beyond to Island View Road has some off road and is surprisingly quiet. It is a favourite for cyclists so if you are running with your dog then it is advisable to leash up. Ocean views are a feature of this trail.

There are other great trails in and around Victoria – Horth Hill Regional Park near Sidney and Durrance Lake in Mount Work Regional Park are two others worth exploring. If you do venture on to some of these trails this fall, particularly the lake trails, ensure you invest in some good trail shoes – this will help particularly ascending and descending any slippery inclines. So be sure to visit your local running store to get kitted out.

 


Fitness on a Budget

Simon_GLFVM_2012_292September is a great time to renew those fitness goals that you made in January.  On a tight budget? We will guide you through some affordable options so you can stay fit.

Get Outdoors
We have some great parks and trails – used for walking, running, cycling and even horseback riding. Our gems include the Galloping Goose and Lockside Trails – over 80 kms of trail connecting downtown with Sooke and the Saanich Peninsula.  Oak Bay, Saanich and the Westshore have some wonderful scenic trails – Mount Douglas and Thetis Lake are must do’s – just watch for signs that may not allow bikes. Rec Centres like Juan de Fuca and Cedar Hill have chip trails, and if you want to combine some activity with your walk or run, the Henderson Rec Centre Chip Trail has outdoor circuit training stations.

What to Wear
Running and walking is an affordable way to maintain your fitness – all you need is a good pair of shoes. But shoes can be expensive. So here are some tips on kitting yourself out.

Drop in at race expos: good shoes will often be on sale and there will be knowledgeable staff on hand to help you choose the right fit for your feet. Shoes companies generally release new versions of their products in the spring, meaning that the running stores often want to clear out their stocks of last year’s models for a significant discount. Like shoes, clothing can be bought at a discount and will go on seasonal sales (so buy for next summer in September and update your winter wardrobe in the spring).

If you are a cyclist the most expensive item will be your bike and helmet, but most bike stores have sales and like shoes will sell off old models, so shop around. While it looks neat to be kitted out in those flashy cycling jerseys and shorts, a basic bike short and a tech top is all you need. Don’t forget your helmet – it could save your life.

Class Act
There are a variety of ways to stay fit indoors. Many rec centres offer introductory visits with a free drop-in class or you can buy monthly or annual passes depending on your budget. Ask about volunteer opportunities – you may be able to work-out for free or at a reduced rate.

Some private clubs are offering great deals this month. Champs Personal Training in Saanich are offering a Back to School Parent special on September 11 and 13 where you can work-out for FREE.  Their boot camps start September 11 through to November 1 and are $8.50/session – these camps are held at the Gallery at Saanich Fairgrounds and are a great way to stay in shape. www.champspersonaltraining.com.

Insideout Fitness in Greater Victoria also has boot camps at $15 for a drop in. But if you can get a group together of three or more, you can save anywhere from 25%-60% off the rate. So buddy up and check this out! www.insideoutfitnessvictoria.com.

Fierce Studio, downtown on Fort Street, is a martial arts and yoga studio. Check out their Hit to Fit circuit training. Three months unlimited classes are $150 + HST – commit to three sessions a week, you get the fourth month FREE.  Back to School Special: $99.00/month for unlimited adult training in jiu jitsu, kickboxing/boxing, yoga and Hit to Fit circuit training: commitment is for school year, Sept-May, and $89.00/month if you commit for the full year. Kids’ membership special is $69.99/month for the school year (Sept-June).  They also have a FREE first class offering for new students, and if you are interested in trying out all the classes/styles the Introductory Week Special is just $20. www.fiercestudio.ca.

Club Phoenix is having an ‘Everyone is a Student’ promotion in September where you can drop in and pay student rates. www.club-phoenix.com.

This is just a selection of what you can do on a budget – so what’s your excuse?

Running in Victoria

Simon_GLFVM_2012_308What a summer! Endless sunshine, great attractions, unique festivals, alfresco dining and an abundance of visitors. This is the Victoria that we want to show the world. With one of the warmest summers (so far) on record everyone is getting outside and enjoying all what Victoria has to offer. And that includes the amazing running and walking routes that we have in abundance here. The variety is endless – you can run by the ocean, by lakes, on rural trails and through Arbutus forests.  There are trails for everyone and for every ability. Over the next couple of blogs I will share some of my favourites.

Beach Drive – Dallas Road
This is perhaps the best place to run on a hot day where warm ocean breezes cool you down. Depending on how far you want to go you can start in Uplands at Cattle Point and run all along Beach Drive to Dallas Road into downtown, or just do an out and back. Cattle Point to the bottom of St Georges Terrace and back is a favourite and even has a water fountain en route. This ocean run is part of the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon held every Thanksgiving weekend. No wonder it is regarded as one of the most scenic marathons in Western Canada.

Westsong Walkway
This downtown route is just 5K (10K if you do an out and back) and a lovely way to explore the inner harbour. You can start on Swift Street and run over the Johnson Street bridge to the trail that skirts around the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort. The path gets narrow at some points so be courteous to oncoming pedestrians. It ends at Barnard Park in Esquimalt.

Galloping Goose Trail
Where does one start to talk about this amazing trail system? Sixty (60) kilometres in length, this trail system stretches from Victoria to Sooke. You can join it at any point and just run – the beauty of it is every kilometre is marked so you can actually use it for training. There are sections of paved pathways but once you venture further west into Colwood the terrain is more rural and ideal if you are seeking shade. Very popular with cyclists and walkers, the Goose so can get busy at certain sections, but it is a joy to run.

Enjoying Summer Activities – Injury Free

Simon_GLFVM_2012_233Injuries are the bane of our lives particularly if you are active and have set yourself some goals. But quite often we can be the cause of them if we don’t look after our bodies or listen to the warning signs. With summer now upon us we often tend to increase our activity levels because of the warm weather and the need to be outside. But often we can take on too much too soon, resulting in feeling a sprain here, an ache there and then before we know it we are injured. I can speak from personal experience as it is nearly a year that I detected an injury possibly caused by too much intense running in June and July of last year – after a winter and spring of … well intense running.

I had a niggling pain on the outside of my left knee – a short sharp spasm that would recur during a long run. Of course as a typical runner I tried to run through it and self-diagnose until the next run. I did go to my physiotherapist and was given exercises and advice on what to do, but having just joined a new running clinic I was enjoying the sessions and the camaraderie of the long runs. Eventually I saw sense and stopped running for a couple of weeks – that couple of weeks turned into a couple of months and more physio, chiro and then acupuncture. Since then I have had prolotherapy and IMS and even though one year on I am running I am not at the stage I was a year ago.

Could I have prevented this injury? Quite possibly if I had listened to my body sooner and cut back the intensity, but we tend not to do that, thinking that pain will go away. Quite often an injury can be prevented – if it starts as an ache or soreness and we lay off the activity, then we allow it to heal before it gets too serious. But if we don’t back off and seek treatment then the injury could be prolonged. Having learned the hard way here are some tips if you feel an injury coming on.

  1. Stop the activity. In the long run this is the only way you are going to recover.
  2. Seek advice. If you have an aching or sore muscle see a physiotherapist or chiropractor who can diagnose early what the problem is. This can be complemented by massage therapy.
  3. Depending on your injury you may be able to do another activity to stop you from going a) stir crazy and b) to maintain some level of fitness. For runners, swimming or cycling can be great alternative exercises.
  4. On the advice of your health practitioner start back slowly into your regular activity. Many will put clients on a program e.g. a walk program that builds to a walk/run, decreasing the walking and eventually increasing the running. By following a controlled program you will be able to monitor your progress and eventually start setting goals. For me, having missed most of the Island Race Series early this year, I set a goal of running the last race – Sooke 10k in April. I did it albeit slower than usual, but felt motivated and pumped afterwards.
  5. Stay motivated. Injuries if treated early and appropriately usually go away. You just need some patience and a positive attitude and before you know it you will be doing your favourite activity again.

So get out there and enjoy the rest of the summer and stay injury free.

Hydration and Exercise – Are you Getting Enough?

Simon_GLFVM_2012_370It is summer and that means getting outdoors and enjoying the sun and fresh air, and enjoying our favourite activities. It also means ensuring we are adequately hydrated. Don’t get me wrong, hydration is a year-round necessity, even in the depths of winter we need to replenish our stores but it is doubly more important in the summer.

What many don’t realize is hydrating is just as important before exercise as it us during and after. Sipping water during the day should be part of your daily routine. If you keep a glass or cup of water at your desk or favourite chair and top it up during the day, you would be amazed how much you will drink, without really trying. If you work in an air-conditioned office it may be easy not to drink as you probably don’t feel thirsty, but air conditioning can have a dehydrating effect on the body during the course of eight hours, so sipping some H²O is very important.

So how much should we drink on a daily basis? That depends on many factors – body weight, metabolism, lifestyle (sedentary or active) and exercise (type and duration).  There are many experts out there who calculate that we should drink a litre of water per 30kg or 66Ibs of body weight. So a 132Ib person should drink 2.5 litres and a 154Ib person – 2.9 litres. And this should be more when exercising, particularly on a hot day.

If you would like to add some flavour to your water then there is a myriad of sports drinks on the market. When running, cycling or walking for less than an hour, water is quite adequate for replenishing lost fluids, but for an activity of an hour or more a sport drink with electrolytes should be considered. Most supermarkets and running stores carry a selection – often with many flavours. Many of us have our favourites, but if you are new to sport drinks then you may want to buy a small packet or bottle and do your own taste test. For powdered products there are mixing instructions but it is best to experiment to see what works for you. Too much powder may leave an aftertaste in your mouth and too little won’t have any benefit. So try them out on a ride or run until you have found the right balance.

While adequate hydration is important, over hydration can be deadly. Hypotremia is the condition when you drink too much and cause water intoxication. There have been marathoners who have died from this when they haven’t taken in enough fluid during the race, and subsequently drunk too much too quickly afterwards. Sipping water with an electrolyte during activity will prevent that craving for a drink afterwards.

So the tip here is to keep that favourite water bottle topped up during the day – that way you resist the urge to binge drink when you really get thirsty. And go out and experiment with some of the sport drinks on the market until you find your favourite.

Almost Free Running

Simon_GLFVM_2012_312Compared to many sports, running is a low cost activity. All you need are shoes, shorts and a shirt and off you go. Whether you run for fun or fitness, with a best friend or your 4-legged buddy, there are a few dos and don’ts that you should be aware of.

Shoes
This is the one piece of equipment that you shouldn’t skimp on; using old, cheap or unsuitable shoes can lead to injury and expensive medical bills – as well as a long layoff from the running trails. So whether you are a new or experienced runner you should make sure that your shoes are the right ones for your feet and are replaced at regular intervals. However, there are ways of reducing your costs:

  • Shop at running events and expos

Even if you are not running the race, drop in at the expo for the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, TC 10k or other big races. Good running shoes will often be on sale and there will be knowledgeable staff on hand to help you choose the right fit for your feet.

  • Time your purchases

Shoes companies generally release new versions of their products in the spring, meaning that the running stores often want to clear out their stocks of last year’s models for a significant discount.

  • Clinic discounts

If you’ve signed up for a running clinic with a store then they may offer in-store discounts for clinic participants which can help lower the cost of those new shoes.

Of course you can always join the growing barefoot running movement for the ultimate cost saving!

Clothing

Most of us have some sort of athletic clothing in our closets – but there are a couple of ways of updating your wardrobe for a minimal cost. The baggy sweats, basketball shorts and cotton T may be fine for the gym, but technical fabrics with sweat wicking ability will pay dividends in comfort as well as performance when you’re on the run. Like shoes, clothing can be bought at a discount and will go on seasonal sales (so buy for next summer in September and update your winter wardrobe in the spring). Other ways to save include:

  • Volunteer

Races and events are always looking for volunteers; course marshals, set-up crews, expo staff and post-race food servers are some of the ways you can help out. Volunteers are often rewarded with a shirt or other clothing; the Victoria Goddess run this year rewarded its volunteers with a technical shirt. Volunteers are also entered in the post-race prize draws, where prizes can include clothing, race entries, store gift vouchers or even free shoes!

  • Don’t be choosy

Sure – that name-brand, stylized, neon coloured shirt may make you feel like a million bucks (and yes, recent studies have shown that the way you feel about your appearance can affect your performance), but last year’s version from the discount rack, or the technical shirt from CostCo, will fit the bill when you’re on the road.

Training

We can all benefit from expert advice – but for a some a race-focused running clinic is not always necessary. A quick look online will show you a multitude of running programs aimed at your first 5k, or a marathon with 90k a week of training. A good place to start are RunningMagazine.ca or RunnersWorld.com. If you’re training for a specific race check out the event website. The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon has free training programs for both the marathon and half-marathon aimed at all levels of runner. If you want to run with a group, but not do an organized clinic, then there are a number of running groups and clubs; each with a different feel or vibe. The grand-daddy of them all, the Prairie Inn Harriers have an excellent website (pih.bc.ca) full of running and race information, as well as links to other running groups and a chat-line where you can ask your running questions.

A GPS enabled, or foot-pod linked, watch is an accurate way to track your speed and distance. If you want a cheaper option then the Galloping Goose, Lockside Trail and Elk/Beaver Lake all have km markers so you can track your progress. If you want to create your own route, use mapmyrun.com or gmaps-pedometer.com to plan your route and keep an eye on your distance. If you know where your km markers are then you can track your speed using a regular watch.

Races and Events

If you want to compare your running ability with others then you will inevitably run an organized race. The key is to plan ahead, as entry fees increase closer to race day; having committed your $$’s to the race entry also acts as extra motivation to keep training. You can also sign-up for a series of races at once and get a significant discount; you can enter the 8 races in the Frontrunners Island Race series for $120 if you sign up by December 1st, but it costs $30 per race if you sign-up on race day.

Whatever you do don’t run a race without paying (called being a bandit). This has insurance, medical and logistical implications for both yourself and the race organiser; many races raise money for charity and a portion of the race entry fee goes towards that. Also, don’t run with your friends race number. If you have a medical emergency on course then first-responders need to know who you are (not who registered) and if you have any medical issues, as well as your correct emergency contact person. Finally, you might be running in the wrong sex/age category and affect the race results and prizing. Basically, if you don’t have an official entry with your name next to it then don’t run the race – just cheer on others or volunteer and get into the spirit of the day.  If you’re a fast runner, or an up-and-coming runner, contact the event organizer and see if they have complementary entries for “elite” runners.

Running is a great way to get fit, make friends and explore our beautiful region. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be safe, fun and fulfilling.