As a child, Leanne Gislason knew a thing or two about not giving up.  Leanne was born with malformed hips and a hearing impairment.  Growing up, she wore braces on her legs, and she could hardly walk, much less run.  She never played sports, and in fact avoided them, preferring isolation over not being able to perform simple athletic tasks that other kids could.

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Top Five - Ways To Enjoy (or Not Hate) Running

If you find running a consistent struggle, you are not alone. Even runners who love running don't love all runs. If you simply can't make friends with running no matter what you do, here are a few tips and links that you might find helpful. 

1. Posture


Running posture, like our daily posture, is important. Over time we have gotten used to slumping over at our laptops or while on our phone or relaxing to watch TV. Unfortunately this poor posture translates over into our running form. Slumped shoulders. Head hanging. Eyes down. Core...what core? So tip number one for improving your running, is posture. Eyes up. Stand tall. Head inline with your spine. Shoulders back and relaxed. Hips under you (not tipped back or forward.) Soft footfalls more under your body than far out in front (over striding).  Sounds easy, right? Like anything new it is going to take some practice to break old habits so start slow.  Doing a "head to toe" body check as you run is a great way to become in tune with your posture. As you run simply ask yourself a few questions: "Am I standing tall? Are my shoulders relaxed? Are my eyes up, looking forward? Are my arms swinging softly back and forth?” Just tuning in to your body will help you begin the process of improving. Focus on one thing at a time for short periods. Keep it up and you'll find that over time your form and posture - and therefore your comfort - improving.  

Additional Info: Chi Running - video 

2. Belly Breathing

If you are panting like a sled dog every run then you may want to consider a few changes to your running style. First up, practice belly breathing (you know, those deep breaths that extend your lower abdominal). In through your nose, out through you mouth slowly, very relaxed. A 5 count in, a 5 count out. Practice while laying in bed, then sitting and then begin to work that type of breathing into your runs. The 5 count may not work but the act of breathing more deeply into your belly will help oxygenate your blood far more than quick short breathing from your upper chest.  Practice, then practice some more. Having breath control can make an enormous difference in your running ability. 

More info on Belly Breathing

3. Pacing


There are times to run fast, there are time to run moderately fast but mostly you should be running comfortably. If you don't like running, or find it hard then consider this:  slow down!
Unless you are doing speed intervals, hill work or a tempo type run you should be running at a conversational pace. That's right. Conversational. If you can't carry on a chat with your running buddy then you are going too fast. Slow down. Forget about pace and run what feels pleasant to you. Top elite athletes spend much of their time running at an "easy" pace so why should you be any different?  

More about Pacing - More Info

4. Mix It Up

Mixing up the terrain (trails, hills, beach) builds strength. Hitting the track for intervals builds efficiency. Road runs at a tempo pace builds consistent race day speed. Try to mix your runs up each week rather than get stuck in the same route at the same pace over and over and over. You'll become a stronger runner, you'll be come more efficient, you'll become a little faster without trying too hard.
Hiking is another way to help build strength. Hilly trails, and the ups and downs of uneven terrain use your muscles differently. This will help you build stronger attachments at your joints, and can reduce over-use injuries often common with repetitive motion. 

Article - Importance of Varying Terrain

5. Make It Fun - Or Embrace The Challenge


One way to ensure running success is to make it fun. This could be through a running group, running with a buddy, entering races or training sessions with some great tunes as company. I'll admit to having Feargal Sharkey "A Good Heart" on my running playlist; an 80's classic! 
We tend to stick with and work on things we like most. To improve as a runner, you first have to come to peace with running itself. Is it hills you loathe? Run more of them and make it a challenge, something you can overcome and be proud of. Is it speed work? Run with a group where your natural "competitive" instinct can kick in to propel you through a workout. Is it running itself? Stay in the moment, slow down, do your "head to toe body check". Ask yourself some questions. "What is it that I'm finding challenging today?" Remember your inner dialogue can have a huge impact on your moment-to-moment physical ability,  so keep it positive, keep it in the now and keep it focused on moving forward. 

Humorous Article I Love - I Hate Running (Contains Foul Language)

I don't expect every run to be a good one. Sometimes a 30 minute run can feel like 4 hours and sometimes 4 hours on the trails feels like 30 mins. That is normal, what isn't normal is to struggle every run. I hope the tips provided above help you find a middle ground with running, and help you to improve.  Maybe you'll never love it, but if you don't loathe it then that's probably some kind of progress!

Coach Lindsey Millar
Interested in a Personalized Coaching Plan?


Top Five Rules for TriStars Success

Top Five Rules for TriStars Success

As those who have experienced a spin class with me know, I am a fan of “The Rules” as published by the Velominati. These are rules of cycling which cover everything from riding in the rain (#9) to safety by prohibiting half-wheeling (#86) to what to wear (#53). The rules are put forward in the spirit of good fun and camaraderie. In that same spirit, I am putting forward these slightly modified top 5 rules for success with Tristars whether we are just starting out or wizened veterans

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Erin Ellis joined TriStars when she moved to Vancouver Island in 2016.  She didn’t know anyone on the island, and she figured it was a way to meet like-minded people.  Erin didn’t have a background in triathlon, but she had become interested when a friend completed a sprint tri the previous summer.  She thought it looked like a fun goal, and she began to train herself. 

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Athlete Profile: Shelby MacDonald - A Worlds Class Triathlete

The triathlon world is abuzz at the moment – of course – with the upcoming ITU Multisport World Championships Festival.  The Worlds take place in Penticton this year, providing a unique opportunity for local qualifying athletes.  Not only is there a local sense of pride in participating in the Worlds, it is nearby and more accessible to local athletes. 

A number of TriStars have qualified for Worlds and will participate bearing the Canadian uniform.  One of these athletes is 25-29 Male Age Group athlete Shelby MacDonald.  He is one of seven athletes who will represent Canada in his age group in the long course at Worlds.  On August 27, Shelby will wear the maple leaf and represent Canada competing against some of the best athletes in the world.  Shelby is most looking forward to representing his country.

Shelby qualified for Worlds last summer at Challenge Penticton.  This was a remarkable feat, considering that he didn’t delve into the world of triathlon until 2015.  Shelby started cycling in 2011, competing in his first Gran Fondo.  The next year he began running, competing in a 10km.  He figured that swimming wouldn’t be too hard to add, as he was already doing so well at the other two sports.  Little did he know that swimming would prove to be the most difficult sport for him and provide him with the biggest challenge.  It wasn’t a strong sport for him as a child, and developing swimming skills came to him with practice, not naturally.  Today, Shelby is proud to say that he is a capable swimmer because of a lot of hard work and dedicated practice.

During Challenge Penticton in 2016, Shelby suffered a panic attack because of the mass start.  A familiar and scary story for many triathletes, he was packed into a group and couldn’t find clear water to swim.  About 100m into the swim, he doubted his ability to even finish the swim.  He told himself to swim just to the next buoy and decide if he could go on.  He repeated that throughout the swim, finishing it in a mental victory.  After surviving the swim, Shelby’s bike and run legs went well.  To his surprise, he heard Steve King announce over the loudspeaker that this could be a podium finish.  Shelby thought this was a mistake until the actual ceremony when his name was called.  He placed third in his very tough age group.

Shelby has been training for an Ironman.  He feels like, if anything, he will have overtrained for the race at Worlds.  He worries a bit about injury pulling him from the race, but mostly he just wants to enjoy the experience.  Since starting his triathlon career, Shelby has come to realize that his goal really is to just enjoy the sport.  And what a venue to enjoy it in!

When asked what motivates this highly talented athlete, Shelby says it’s the people around him.  He enjoys seeing people accomplish new feats, like their first open water swim or long ride.  He is inspired when people move outside of their comfort zones to better themselves.  He enjoys seeing people accomplish something they didn’t think they could.

Shelby’s list of mentors is incredibly long.  It includes many people from the TriStars family like Chris Siver, Merv Child, Saskia Bjornson, Christopher Mavrikos, and Kathryn Deegan.  He lists qualities in them like humour, determination, kindness, patience, and persistence.  The wonderful thing about his mentors is that the qualities he lists move beyond the sport.  He admires these qualities in their ability to help each other and the community.

What’s next for Shelby?  After Worlds, Shelby will leave his trade of carpentry to return to school.  He will also continue to train for an Ironman.  We wish Shelby the best of luck on both fronts.  Thanks for representing TriStars at Worlds!

Top Five - Way to Love Hills (Running)

Top Five - Way to Love Hills (Running)

As a general rule, the four horsemen of training are (in no particular order) distance, speed, weather, and terrain.  Amongst these are all sorts of sub-categories of challenges.  Distance holds with it fatigue, nutrition, and a host of others.  You get my point.  Most runners train to reach a goal in one of two horseman.  They either work on speed or distance.  No one trains for specific weather unless they are running an extreme destination race.  Likewise, most runners do most of their runs on flat terrain.  They only train hills when they are told to do so by their coach.  However, most races have at least one hill.  The world isn’t flat, after all.

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