Trail Running

The importance of exercising outside

IMG_5561I feel incredibly blessed and lucky every time I go out for a hike or trail run — even if it’s pouring rain and the trail is nothing but miles of mud puddles and slippery roots like it was this past weekend. How lucky am I to live in a place where such pristine and breathtaking trails are only a short drive away? I am well aware that that are millions of humans on the planet who will never get to walk trails like these. That they may never see anything except for concrete towers or suburban slums. I wish I could come pick you all up on a bus and take to you these trails or somewhere just as magical. Everyone should have the opportunity to be in nature. It’s part of our humanity.

I don’t know the type of person I’d be if I didn’t have access to nature and the ability to exercise safely outdoors. It had been about three weeks since I went hiking, and I was already starting to feel the effects of my absence from nature: Despondent. Tired. Sad. Lost. Irritable. Luckily on Friday, Matt’s sister Sara — who resides in the middle-of-no-where Saskatchewan — agreed to join me for a hike out to Mystic Beach, one of my most favourite places on Vancouver Island.

There’s just something about being in the trees and near the ocean that’s so healing for me. And after the stress of these past few weeks, it seemed to be just what I needed to feel balanced again. (more…)

Another Vancouver Island trail you need to run before you die: John Dean Park in Sidney

John Dean Park - on the Barrett Montfort trail.

John Dean Park – on the Barrett Montfort trail.

And we thought we had run all the beautiful trails around southern Vancouver Island… turns out, we were wrong!

Back in 2013, I started creating detailed trail running route posts of all my favourite trails around southern Vancouver Island after reading this post on Shape.com and deciding that the trails I run regularly in Victoria could definitely give those suggestions a run for their money. I mean, how many places in the world have this many well-maintained, amazing and beautiful trails, all within an hours drive of the capital city? Probably not too many. And I’m sure there are many other spectacular trails that can rival these (Inca Trail, anyone?), but for accessibility’s sake, I’d take my moss-covered, root-entangled, winding west coast trails over almost-urban gravel trails any day.

By mid-2014, I had photographed, mapped and blogged about the seven best trails to run on Vancouver Island according to my “Best Trails to Run” criteria (scroll to the bottom of this post to read my criteria and for links to each post). Well… turns out I need to add a number eight to that list 🙂 Thanks to Coach Lindsey of TriStars for suggesting this trail and for providing directions. I can’t believe I’ve never been here before! (more…)

Best gift ever during birthday staycation week extravaganza

Views on my birthday morning run

Views on my birthday morning run

I don’t want this week to end.

Other than some social posts, I’ve successfully stayed away from my computer and spent most of the week getting pampered at the spa, hiking with my dog, and reading books. It’s been lovely, and much needed.

Though the massage, facial, daily yoga and Epsom salt baths all week have been amazing, my favourite day was obviously yesterday (my actual birthday), where I spent the morning in the spa getting a manicure and Ayurvedic pedicure and came out to find my wonderful boyfriend had already paid for my treatments. Then I came home to discover he snuck into my apartment and put a big bouquet of flowers on my kitchen table 🙂 Then last night before dinner with my family, he gave me this amazing gift.

 

 

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#FitFashion Friday Feature: Some Product running and yoga pants from Breathe Athletic

IMG_4873Last weekend I had the pleasure of testing some new ethically produced, locally made yoga and running tights from Breathe Athletic here in Victoria BC. I’ve you’ve never shopped at Breathe, you must — owner Stephanie Hinton sources the most beautiful yoga, fitness and lifestyle apparel for women, all of it made in North America and/or produced ethically and sustainably where possible. Can’t get to her store? Don’t worry — she also sells her product lines online through her website at breatheathletic.com.

But on to the pants! I took this pair of tights from Some Product out for a chilly trail run.

 

 

 

 

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One thing I loved right away about these pants (aside from the eye-popping “Blue Equestrian” print, made-in-Vancouver tag and gorgeous imported Italian — yes, Italian — fabric) was their slight compression-like feeling. (more…)

#FitFashion Friday Feature: West coast winter workout gear essentials

wcwwgeLiving on an island off the west coast of beautiful British Columbia definitely has its perks. The ocean surrounds us, the wilderness here is beautiful, there are plenty of places to explore for hours on end without seeing another human being, and the weather here is never too extreme. That means year-round outdoor adventures and not having to spend the winter cooped up in a gym to stay fit and healthy.

Even though we hardly get any snow here at sea level and the temperature rarely drops below -1°C, outdoor enthusiasts still have to consider the elements when exercising outside during the winter months. Here are a few key pieces of apparel us northern west-coasters should add to our workout wardrobe for winter: (more…)

Guest Post: MEC Big Wild Challenge 21 km trail race review

Debbie getting ready to "run" the MEC Big Wild Challenge.

Debbie getting ready to “run” the MEC Big Wild Challenge.

By Debbie Preston

Some of my favourite races to run are the MEC series here on Vancouver Island. Although they might not have all the bells and whistles that other races have – some races aren’t timed, there are no medals and there aren’t always aid stations along the route – these races have the essentials: they are always affordable ($15-$20), you’re guaranteed to be challenged by a talented group of fellow racers and the entire MEC team and amazing volunteers will cheer you along the course. (more…)

Gowlland Tod 10 km point-to-point trail run: Squally Reach, Joceyln Hill and Caleb Pike

Beautiful views on the trail

Beautiful views on the trail

Confession: I haven’t spent a whole lot of time running on trails lately, partly due to my crazy work and study schedule, and partly because I’ve actually been enjoying my urban runs and strength training workouts at home. Granted those urban runs are alongside the ocean in beautiful downtown Victoria, so they aren’t quite as mundane as your average pavement run, but I digress.

After Squamish, I didn’t hit the trails again for a long while. I wasn’t really sure if I’d even want to do an ultra again… but lately I’ve been really missing those long days out on the trails: the quiet serenity of the forest; the quad-busting, chest-burning climbs; the semi-controlled falls on technical downhills… (more…)

Sunday Runday: Francis/King Regional Park trails

Beautiful old growth trees

Beautiful old growth trees

I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to explore this park.

Francis/King Park is only about 15 minutes from downtown Victoria, just off Munn Road near Prospect Lake. There’s a nice little trail system within the park that connects to Thetis Lake Regional Park in the Highlands, so you could easily make this run longer than the one hour-ish run Debbie and I did.

Though lacking vistas, Francis/King certainly has some beautiful single-track trails that twist and turn through old growth cedars and lush, green marshland. This would be a great place to go if you’re a trail running newbie as the trail is neither that steep nor technical. (more…)

7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 7. Matheson Lake in Metchosin

photo 1(1)After almost eight months, I finally mapped the last trail I wanted to feature in my “7 Trails to Run Before You Die – Vancouver Island Edition” series. I was thinking about featuring Elk/Beaver Lake, but it didn’t quite meet my twisty-windy-fun-trail-with-nice-views criteria. It’s a great place for long, easy runs, but I find I get bored when I run on flat trails that don’t twist and turn through the trees. The trails around Matheson Lake, however, are anything but flat and boring. The trail loop isn’t very long (about 4 km), but you can tack on another 2.5 km by starting at the parking lot right off Rocky Point Road and doing a nice warm-up run down the Goose.

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Race Review: Gunner Shaw XC 10k Classic

Dirty trail shoes, which were a lot muddier before running through the lake at the end of the race.

Dirty trail shoes, which were a lot muddier before running through the lake at the end of the race.

If you’ve ever wanted to slog your way through a mud pit, splash through a smelly swamp and bound through an ice cold lake during a race–and also NOT get electrocuted/bruised shins/etc. in the process (a la Tough Mudder)–then Gunner Shaw is the race for you. Not only is it affordable with a $25 registration fee if you sign up early, Gunner Shaw is also a fun, friendly, no-frills local race that’s a blast for newbie and experienced trail runners alike. (more…)

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