Tag Archives: running

Active Exercise Recovery

You train hard and recovery is an important part of that program.  Recovery is important for many reasons.  Recovery allows the body time to adapt to a workout program.  It allows time for the body to repair tissue that has been damaged working out as well as replenishing depleted energy stores.  It also allows the body the rest required to keep from over training and eventually burning out.

Active recovery really means a day off – from your program.  That means that you take a day to live your life actively or doing a workout that is less intense.  This could be walking the dog, enjoying a yoga class, going for a swim or bike ride, hiking, stretching, or even grabbing a foam roller for some much needed self-myofascial release (SMR).

Rest and relaxation refers to the down time away from training altogether, allowing the body the needed time to do those tissue repairs, strengthen, and replenish.


Setting SMART Goals

Setting a SMART goal is more than just something you think is manageable, a SMART goal has defined parameters.  Goal setting is a major piece to the fitness puzzle,  It provides you with direction, motivation, and a vision of what you want to achieve.

SPECIFIC – Set a specific goal, for example instead of saying you want to “run better”, focus on a specific piece of the puzzle.  For example, running for a longer amount of time (45 minutes instead of 30), or running at a quicker pace (move from 5.0 to 6.5 on the treadmill).

MEASURABLE – by setting a specific goal, you have unknowingly set a goal that is measureable.  Staying with the running example, running faster, longer or at an incline are all things that you can track and watch your progress.

ATTAINABLE – Choose a goal that is something you can physically achieve.  I have severe arthritis in my knee, I’d love to be able to do higher box jumps, however I know that this isn’t the goal for me.  Keeping my quads as strong as possible without high impact is something that is attainable for me.

REALISTIC – Realistic and attainable sound like the same thing, I like to look at “attainable” as big picture. Realistic can be a breakdown of mini goals within that large goal.  Small realistic goals are stepping stones to reach that finish line.  For example, adding five minutes to your run every two weeks.

TIMELY – give yourself a realistic timeline to accomplish your goal; setting too quick of a time line can set you up for failure.

Remember that the pieces to this puzzle can be adjusted at any time.  You can add to your goal, adjust your timeline.  Making sure that whatever you adjust is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and can be completed in a timely manner will ultimately lead you to success.

Machines VS. Free Weights

Any workout program you choose, any training style you choose, resistance training (weight lifting) is beneficial to you.  There are two ways to accomplish resistance training, Machines vs. Free Weights.  Machines are stationary, usually plate loaded or have a weight stack and pin system for choosing the amount of weight you wish to lift.  “Free weights” is a broader term, and refers to things like dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells, body bars, and body weight resistance tools such as a BOSU, stability ball or TRX.

Which is better?

Well that depends.  Both have a role in training, and it really depends on what you are looking to accomplish.  Stationary machines are a wonderful tool for beginners, and they help to teach the body about postural awareness, what an exercise should feel like and where exactly you should be feeling it.  Machines are also useful for intermediate and advanced lifters, as they work to isolate specific muscles or muscle groups.    Machines may also facilitate the ability to lift more weight, as you are more stable and controlled.  Stationary machines hold your posture, thus they take out the necessity to have an advanced body awareness, and it can be easy to forget to activate your core muscles. Because a weight machine keeps the body in a stable position, it usually only works the muscle in one plane of motion at a time.

Free weights generally require heightened body awareness, as proper posture and core activation will reduce the risk of injury.  When beginning to lift with free weights, you can start by doing many of the exercises seated as opposed to standing which keep a greater amount of control.  Seated vs standing free weight exercises also allows for heavier weights to be lifted safely.   Moving to dynamic equipment such as a TRX suspension system, a greater awareness of proper posture and core activation is recommended. Free weights also train the body in more than one plane of motion at a time.  The body moves dynamically, and free weight training is more functional in terms of movements in every day life.

There are definitive benefits and drawbacks to both – mix it up and try something new.  Remember that if you need help with any of the topics discussed, spotting, or an idea for a different exercise, please ask us!

One Step at a Time

Part Two – Putting One Foot in Front of the Other; the Beginning of Cardiovascular Wellness.

Getting yourself moving sounds like an easy step, but for someone who is beginning their wellness journey for the first time, or someone who is starting to work out again after some time off, it can be really daunting.

Try Different Things The first place a beginner heads to when they walk in the door is the treadmill. Keep in mind that there are a lot of different things you can try when getting started, but overall the best place for anyone new to the gym is the place that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and secure.  I’m a fitness professional, and the idea of hanging out on a treadmill for an hour sounds absolutely dreadful to me.  The key to finding a successful cardiovascular program is to change it up and find something that you like to do.  The treadmill might be your favorite place in the gym, others will find the elliptical, track, or bike your happy place.  If you want to try something and don’t know how or are intimidated by it, please ask us!  There are staff working in the weight room at all of our facilities and as active people, we would much rather talk to and help our members than sit at a desk!

Not Everyone is Built to Run Every single one of us is different. Our body’s physiology and genetic code plays a great deal into what our optimal style of workout is.  There are different muscle fibres in each of us that will make certain styles of physical activity easier than others.  If you absolutely dread long distances, try inserting some higher intensity intervals into your workout.  An example of this is to run a lap, do a set of jumping jacks, running stairs, or jump rope etc… in-between resistance training (weight lifting) sets.  So of you don’t like to run, don’t stress! There’s always something else to try!

Find Your Target Heart Rate Zone, and Stay Within It! An individual’s target heart rate zone (THRZ) is based on age.  The easiest way to figure out your THRZ is with this basic equation: 220-(age)= Heart Rate Max (HRM)  This is a number that we should aim to never surpass when doing cardiovascular activity.  Multiply that number by .6 and you will get 60% of your HRM.  Multiply that first number again by .8 to find 80% HRM.  During your cardiovascular workout, you would want to monitor your heart rate and keep it between 60% and 80% of your HRM For example, if you were 25 years old, your math would look like this:

  • 220 – 25 = 195 beats per minute (BPM) as your Heart Rate Max
  • 195 x .6 = 117 BPM
  • 195 x .8 = 156 BPM

This would mean that you want your heart rate somewhere in between 117 and 156 BPM during your cardiovascular workout.

Other Options Hiking groups, team sports or group fitness classes are an amazing way to sneak in a little cardio without even noticing it! It’s fun, it’s interactive, and you can meet new people who are living a healthy balanced life to help keep you on track. Here at the YMCA there are numerous different options to get involved in both aspects.  There are registered and drop-in group fitness classes offered at every branch in the city. We also offer climbing wall classes, swim and aquatic fitness classes, as well as some sport options.  These can differ from branch to branch, so check what is offered at your home branch. A lot of towns and cities have different recreational organizations to help people get involved with team sports as well. In Calgary, a great resource to check out the Calgary Sport and Social Club.  You can join a sport by registering a full team, partial team, or an as individual to make up a full team.

Build the Habit If you miss a day, don’t get discouraged! It’s all about putting one foot in front of the other, and sometimes a stumble will happen.  This is where you need to pick yourself up, dust off those hands and take another step.  Think to yourself the number twenty one. 21. XXI.  It takes twenty one days to build a habit.  Twenty one days to notice a real difference in your physiology. Twenty one days.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll hit your stride.  You’ve got this.

Happy Trails!

YMCA Strong Kids 5K, 10K and Family Fun Run

YMCA Strong Kids 5K, 10K & Family Fun Run

Participate with your family and friends in the Strong Kids 5/10k and Family Fun Run! Sign-up as a team,support the YMCA and enjoy a fun and healthy event along the bank sof the Bow River. All proceeds help children and youth reach their potential!


Eau Claire YMCA | Saturday, May 2, 2015
5K and 10K Race 9:00am
1.5K Family Fun Run 10:30am

Adults $35 ($30 before March 1)
Youth (8Y –17Y) $20 ($15 before March 1)
Kids (7Y & under) $10 (includes t-shirt & medal)

Register Online Now!


The Joys of Winter Running

I love winter running. I love putting on 4 layers of clothing and trekking through the snow for many kilometers. Some call me crazy, but it is a whole new fitness experience and a truly beautiful way to spend part of your day.

Winter running takes some getting used to and the first run is always the hardest, especially if you make the mistakes that I did!

My first winter run, I had no idea what to wear. I thought a t-shirt, a hoodie, shorts and sweatpants would suffice because you always warm up a bit in a run. However, at -15C this set up was not going to be enough.

I started the run a little chilly, but that is almost always a great way to start a run as you will not overheat. I hit about 3 kilometres and realized that I was not warming up at all. By 5 kilometres, I felt like a giant Popsicle…a giant, unhappy Popsicle at that. At 6 km, I questioned my life choices and wondered why on earth I did this to myself.

As I passed the 8 km mark, I was under 2 km from my house. It is at this point when all runners have non-running thoughts. “This is horrible! Why would I go for a run today?! The outdoors is a terrible, evil place. I bet McDonalds wouldn’t be cold right now! I should have just ordered pizza and watched Netflix in my bed. I am throwing out my shoes the minute I get home. AAAAHHHH!”

fun run runners

A father- daughter running team during 2014 Eau Claire YMCA Family Fun Run & 10K

Good news folks! I made it home and I didn’t have any adverse medical condition upon arrival! However, I did learn the biggest lesson of my running career. If you are going to start winter running, you need the right gear. I HIGHLY suggest going to The Running Room, getting long running pants, winter running hat, and an excellent windbreaker. I promise I am not being paid by The Running Room to plug this in the article. I just believe in the products that they offer. For a small investment, you will be protected from the cold and you will be able to be successful as you tackle this new, satisfying challenge.

Living in Calgary, we have all come to terms with having three seasons: Winter, Almost Winter, and Construction. You either hide from winter or you go out in it! To avoid the monotony of continuous treadmill use and get into the great outdoors more, I suggest becoming a winter runner. The first few runs are tough, but getting out into nature has incredible mental and physical health benefits. You will feel amazing that you are tough enough to stand in Mother Nature’s frosty grasp, laugh, and run faster than the cold winds.

The Sno-cone Sprint

winter running

Winter running is a different beast, that much is true. There are many different factors you have to consider when heading out into the Arctic surface of Calgary (even in May). The air is colder, your muscles and lungs react differently and your water that you brought with you freezes. Let’s talk about water…or lack thereof in this case.

About to embark on a tasty 16 k run, I felt confident, like a Titan in sea breeze and ocean mist sailing to conquer new lands. Or like the tall guys in the Lorax who made a fortune making Thneeds.

I started the 16 k run feeling good, water bottle in hand. 1, 5, 7 kilometers go by and I didn’t even take a sip of my water. The path was mine and I was tearing it up. I reach 9 k and go to take a sip of my water but I realize the worst has cometh. My water bottle is a brick of ice. Hmmmm….

So I brainstorm. I screwed the lid off and licked the ice…not the hydration I was looking for. Apparently rubbing your tongue across a large ice cube like a puppy dog doesn’t offer a satisfactory level of liquid after running 9000 meters.

Then it hits me! “Well look around Chad! There is hydration everywhere! Hydration falls from the sky!” So I divert off the beaten path and crouch down behind some trees like Gollum from Lord of the Rings in his cave dwelling and start eating all the snow I can shovel into my face.

“I am brilliant! I should win an award for my brilliance,” I think to myself. I start running again, super dehydrated and believing that snow is the answer. Every half a kilometer, I briefly stop and look both ways for judgemental onlookers. Once the coast is clear, I avoid all signs of yellow snow and chow down on the white, fluffy goodness like a badger in the night.

When I get home, I am shaky and not feeling overly well. The dehydration seems to not be solved with my ingenious snow burgers. HOW COULD THIS BE?!

As it turns out, eating snow actually dehydrates a person further because the energy it takes your body to melt the snow is actually more than the liquid you are retaining from said snow muffin.

My advice?

1. Don’t eat snow when you run as it is not beneficial (and you look silly).

2. Don’t use a hydrapack as the water in the outer tube will freeze in under 15 minutes.

3.  Add Gatorade crystals to your water. The water will take much longer to freeze.

4. Use a large water bottle. The more water present in the container, the longer it takes to freeze


Don’t be a night badger or Gollum in the woods. Stay hydrated and stay safe.

The 5 Things Runners Are Scared Of

runners starting a race

Runners at the Starting Line during the 2014 Eau Claire YMCA Strong Kids Family Fun Run and 10Km 

1 Clouds

Mid-run unpredictable weather is the worst. Every runner mentally shouts at the sky, “WHAT SORCERY DO YOU HOLD WITHIN YOUR PUFF!?”

2. Lack of signal to the GPS wrist watch

If you see a man or a woman wildly waving their arm in the air while going for a run, DO NOT PANIC! There is no bear chasing them nor are they inventing a dance move called the jelly elbow. It is a runner simply trying to get a signal back to the GPS wrist watch. Just feel pity for the poor soul, nothing more, nothing less.

3. Clipping your toenails before a race

Nobody knows fear like this. Toe nail too long? Enjoy the self-loathing and sock snagging for 42 k! Toe nail to short? It will feel like a muskrat is gnawing at your foot for the entire duration of your run.

4. Not having consistent access to the weather network at all times of the day.

If you cannot access live updates of the humidex, temperature, and precipitation forecasts on your TV, tablet, cell phone, a family member’s cell phone as a back-up, computer and an emergency dial-up connection…THIS will send every runner into a fit of panic.

5.  The shoe-shopping vortex

Do I pronate or supinate? Which brand do I choose? How do these support my feet? How do these ones look? Are my feet wonky? Etc.. Etc… By the time you walk out of the store, your car is the only one in the parking lot, it’s nighttime and you don’t know what year it is.


UNOFFICIAL RESULTS YMCA Strong Kids 10k & Family Fun Run

family running

CONGRATULATIONS to all the YMCA Strong Kids 10k & Family Fun Run participants on a successful run today!


Here are the unofficial results: http://results.blitzevents.ca/#/race/34




The 10 km Race starts at 9:00am. The 1.5 km Family Fun Run starts at 10:30am

Support the YMCA and enjoy a fun and healthy event along the banks of the Bow River. All proceeds helps children and youth reach their potential.

Adults                       $35
Youth (8-17Y)         $20
Kids (7Y & under)  $10 (includes t-shirt & medal)

Registration fees will be refunded for those who raise more than $100 in sponsorship for YMCA Strong Kids.

Register online today!