iRun Magazine Summer Spectacular

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Cam Levins , racing in ASICS, eyes taking down every record in our sport.

Tips from around the country on choosing shoes, training, tapering, nutrition, getting over the Wall, and Natasha Wodak’s Guide to Being a Good Runner and Living Your Best Life.

The official magazine of iRunNation

In 1975, 143 men and 3 women took to the start line of the inaugural Ottawa Marathon on May 25. Starting and finishing at Carelton University, the runners in cloth race bibs and non-technical gear, could not have known that they would be the pioneers of a half century of racing in the Nation’s Capital.

Over the years, as the popularity of running ebbed and flowed, partcipants returned year after year, events were added, new courses designed, sponsors onboarded, and technology advanced to create the biggest annual mass participation event in Canada: Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. This is your race.


Over 50 years, hundreds of thousands of people have participated in the nation’s most popular race weekend. Each one of them has a unique story. A reason to show up, to fundraise, to volunteer. We’re looking for 50 people to highlight in celebration of 50 years running.

Who would you like to see receive a star?

Scan the QR code to submit your nomination.

“Why don’t we put on a marathon in Ottawa?”

Sound Mind, Sound Body

here is a strong stillness in you. Your mind is composed. Your heart beats loud. Your body feels robust. Your feet are grounded. Your mind, your heart, your body work as one, a sense of spiritual connectedness to community, grounded in nature.

I feel this sense of calm bliss when I have a sound mind and body.

It’s a structural feeling that you can take on the world. Sometimes it happens on a run. Sometimes when you’re playing with a child. Maybe it’s when you’re coaching. Perhaps writing. Whatever your passion in life, you know when your mind, your heart and body are not only working in alignment, but when they are in a resilient, adaptable, sustainable place.

How do you find your sound mind? Your sound body?

How do you get the mind-body-spirit connection to connect?

Here’s what we know from the research. Fifteen minutes. That’s right, just fifteen minutes of physical activity can make you feel better. It may not fix all your problems, but it will be a step in the right direction.

Here’s what else we know—nature is healing. No, not looking at nature on your phone—although that can help. Stepping outside, leaving your screens behind, and connecting with like minded-people. Stopping to smell the roses. Looking up to get a dose of daylight.

What can you do to achieve a sound mind and body?

First, practice self-compassion and self-kindness when things don’t go to plan. Continue to practice emotional selfregulation—how you’ll show up when things get tough. Set yourself up for success playing to your strengths.

Then the controllables. Nourish yourself. Sleep soundly. Connect with your community. Ground yourself in nature, practicing some form of physical activity.

In the spirit of what we all love to do—continue to run. Find your mind-body-spirit connection to align, finding a sense of freedom as you step out the door and float away from the rest of the world: feeling your heart pump and your feet on the ground.

Anima Sana in Corpore Sano (ASICS) or “a sound mind in a sound body. Enjoy.” ISSUE 01 2023 8 STARTING LINE // BY SASHA GOLLISH
Photographs by Amanda DeMelo
Our writer explores her inner-dimensions to explain how peacefulness is a cornerstone of her running life

10ayem title

Climbing the Wall, by Forerunners

How do I get over the dreaded Wall?

This is something that Cam Levins has mastered. Want to tame the Wall? It comes down to two things: Preparation and Pace Execution. I always tell our athletes: train to a level and then race to a plan. The Marathon—98% aerobic; 2% anaerobic—is an interesting beast. Anaerobic threshold is such that when trained, you can almost maintain that pace indefinitely. Or certainly for a number of hours, depending upon neuro-muscular development (ie. practicing for 2-4 hours of easy running). Keep it within the threshold and optimal performance will occur. Prepare to maximize AT and improvement will occur. To maximize anaerobic thresholds (AT) one must do two

things: build aerobic fitness by building the general volume of aerobic running (over ideally a 4-5 month period and by practicing 5-10% of the time at or near the AT Threshold; especially in the period of six weeks before the big race goal.) But remember the majority (at least 90%) of running should be at aerobic speeds (30 seconds to a minute slower than marathon goal pace) to establish the biggest aerobic base possible. For our business to survive 37 years and more, it’s the same principles as getting over the Wall: preparation and pace execution. We built a solid business plan and then steered it, through execution and monitoring, much like training and racing marathons.” 9

Sasha Gollish is a registered professional engineering, chartered professional coach and PhD graduate. She works in the Mental Health and Physical Research Centre (MPARC) in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Toronto. Part-time she works for Team Unbreakable, a free program focused on exercise and its reciprocal relationship to mental health. She is a 11-time Team Canada member. She has raced everything from the 1500 metres to marathon; a couple of notable honours include a bronze medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games in the 1500 metres despite losing her shoe and holding the Masters World Record for the Indoor Mile for the 40 to 44 year age bracket.

Shoes 101, by BlackToe Running

What advice would you give a runner when shopping for a new pair of shoes?

Your shoes are the only thing separating your feet from the pavement, so buying a new pair is a big deal! But how do you know whether you need a neutral or stability shoe? Or how much cushioning you need underfoot? Or when to add a carbon-fibre shoe into your rotation? (Pssst: you should already be using a carbon shoe for speed work and races!). Visit your local specialty running store (ahem, like BlackToe Running!) for a professional stride assessment before choosing a new pair of shoes. It’s important to get fitted properly for running shoes that will support

your body mechanics (such as a neutral stride vs. needing a stability shoe for overpronation), foot shape, and goals. We also suggest considering both your immediate and longer-term goals whenever you decide to buy a new pair of shoes. Whether you are hoping to get faster, be able to run longer distances, come back from an injury, or get through a season with “one shoe to rule them all,” there are different options available to meet your needs. There is a lot of information (and misinformation) out there, so leaning on a team of Shoe Experts who have your best interest at heart is always the perfect place to start your shoebuying journey! 11

Last Man Standing

Cam Levins Rebuilt His Body and Mind to Become the Fastest Marathoner on the Continent. He Wants to Go Faster.

ike thousands of running nerds around the world, Cam Levins cleared his schedule so that he could watch the Boston Marathon. The 34-year-old Canadian professional marathoner was watching for one specific reason: the course’s notoriously tough profile was remarkably similar to that of next year’s marathon at the Paris Olympics—lots of heart-pounding climbs and quad destroying descents. Eliud Kipchoge, the reigning gold medalist and world record holder at the distance, was racing in Boston. Levins has become obsessed with mastering next year’s Olympic marathon so that he may author one last big breakthrough in his already brilliant career, and he wanted to see how the best would negotiate all those hills.

Going into Boston, Kipchoge had a near flawless marathoning record, and tended to make one of the most gruelling sporting events appear effortless, closer to Swan Lake than a death march. But Kipchoge had never run a hilly marathon before. In one of the most shocking upsets in distance running history, Kipchoge struggled mightily, fading to a sixth place finish. “For me, it brings up questions regarding the Olympics next year in Paris,” Levins says. “It’s going to be a tough course, maybe more difficult than Boston. Seeing someone like Kipchoge struggle in Boston was eye opening to me.”

For Cam Levins, everything is now about taking his career to the next level at next year’s Paris Olympics. This may sound absurd, given what the Canadian has accomplished in the past ten months alone: placing fourth in last year’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, and lowering his own national record from 2:09:25 to 2:07:09 in the process. Then, this past March at the Tokyo Marathon, he once again lopped off a shocking chunk of time, running 2:05:36, which established Levins as the fastest marathoner in North American history.

But Levins only achieved these last two significant breakthroughs after a crushing failure at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where he faded badly and watched Kipchoge methodically ratchet up the pressure on the lead pack, and then float away, eventually finishing more than 20 minutes ahead of the Canadian. Levins came in 71st that day, and it could have spelled the quiet end to an excellent career. Instead, it haunted him.

“I asked myself, ‘If I retired right now, would I be OK with the effort that I put forth, or would I have regrets? But it wasn’t about performances or times. I felt like I hadn’t yet given myself entirely to the sport. And that bothered me.”

A Star is Born

As a teenager living in Black Creek, B.C., Levins showed promise, but wasn’t sought-after by the top U.S. collegiate track programs. He ended up at Southern Utah University, a smaller Division I school with a forward-thinking distance coach in Eric Houle. Levins’ partnership with Houle led him to experiment with massive mileage weeks, eclipsing 300 kilometres— more than doubling the workload of his peers. The school is situated at an altitude of just over 5,800 feet, making it an ideal training environment for a distance runner but a punishing one, as the oxygen depleted air improves red blood cell development, key to becoming a top-level endurance athlete. In the spring of 2012, Levins swept the 5,000m and 10,000m at the NCAA championships, and became the first Canadian to win the Bowerman Award as the top American collegiate athlete.

That summer, at just 23, Levins qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, in both the 5,000m and 10,000m (where he would go on to finish in 14th and 11th, respectively). He also turned pro, signing with Nike, in a move that would both broaden his horizons and notoriety as an international athlete, but also lead him towards a period of future turmoil.

In the winter of 2013, the video streaming platform Flotrack featured Levins’ unusually demanding regimen in a Docuseries entitled Driven, and the young Canadian became something of a running folk hero as the documentary crew filmed his spartan and ascetic lifestyle, seemingly completely consumed by a higher calling devoted entirely to running.

Soon after the series streamed online, Levins was recruited by Nike’s Oregon Project, headed by famed yet controversial coach Alberto Salazar. NOP was seen as the top training group in the world, and Nike spared no expense in funding the project. Levins moved to Portland, Oregon, where he trained at the Nike global headquarters on its idyllic, tree-lined track, alongside American track star Galen Rupp. (After years of speculation that Salazar had been pushing his athletes to use grey-area performance enhancers, the coach was banned for life from sport for sexual and emotional misconduct in 2020. Levins says he never witnessed any inappropriate actions by his former coach. NOP was disbanded in 2019.)

Under Salazar, Levins reduced his mileage and focused on more intense workouts, with mixed results. He won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 2014, but the following year, he flamed out at the Pan Am Games in Toronto. His struggles worsened in 2016, sustaining a severe ankle injury and failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics. By July 2016, at 27 and in what should have been the prime of his career, Levins hit rock bottom, undergoing a substantial surgery to his left ankle, while Nike elected not to renew his contract. Levins was left to rehab his destroyed leg and salvage his career on his own. ISSUE 01 2023 12 PERSONAL BEST // BY MICHAEL DOYLE
Photographs by Sean Michael Meagher BIG TIMES: Cam Levins, photographed exclusively for iRun outside Forest Park’s Leif Eriksson trail near his home in Portland, Oregon.

Reborn as a Marathoner

After a lengthy period of recovery, Levins decided to embrace the event that many had long felt was the most natural fit for his talents: the marathon. He signed a contract with the shoe brand Hoka, which allowed him to focus on training full-time. Levins committed to debuting at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in the fall of 2018 and delivered on the hype, running 2:09:25 and breaking Jerome Drayton’s 43-year old national record. He seemed destined to be the next great North American marathon runner in a time when interest in the event was skyrocketing due to the popularity of Eliud Kipchoge, and the emergence of super shoe technologies.

When the Olympic qualifying window opened in 2019, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the new Canadian record holder would make the team. All he had to do was run under 2:11:30, and Levins decided to return to Toronto, hoping his familiarity with the course would set the stage for a favourable result.

“The entire time I was running, I was thinking aout the time I had to hit, not how I felt,” Levins

says. “I wasn’t running the race the right way.” Levins faded badly after the 30K mark, and finished in 2:15:01.

The pandemic forced the postponement of every major qualification race in the spring of 2020, and eventually the Games were pushed back by a year, which allowed Levins a few chances to make the standard. First, he got himself into an exclusive elites-only London Marathon, seemingly an ideal opportunity to run a fast time. Levins paced well under 2:10 past the halfway point, but began to suffer in the rainy, cold conditions, eventually dropping out.

Becoming increasingly desperate, Levins travelled to another COVID-era elite-only race, The Marathon Project in Chandler, Arizona. There, he joined a group of 85 Americans and a few fellow Canadians also looking to qualify for Tokyo but again Levins struggled after the 30K mark, and slipped to 2:12:15.

In late May 2021, on the last weekend of the

Olympic qualification window, Levins travelled to southern Austria for yet another one-off marathon, this time staged on a highway still under construction. Levins’ pacers couldn’t keep up with him, and he was forced to run much of the S7 Marathon alone. It rained heavily, but Levins managed a 2:10:13, securing a spot on the Canadian Olympic team for the first time in nearly a decade.

The 2021 Tokyo Olympic marathon, held in the more northern city of Sapporo due to concerns over the heat and humidity in August in Japan, was destined to be a challenging experience for even the best runners in the world. Levins trained diligently, prepared for the adverse conditions the best he could, but ultimately wasn’t able to adapt to the extreme physical and mental challenges.

“Nothing went wrong leading up to it, but I had to be honest with myself,” he says. “What I was doing just wasn’t working.”

Shoes 102, by Boutique Endurance

How do I know when I need to change my shoes and what sort of shoes should I be looking for?

Most road running shoes will last 500-800 kilometres but lightweight shoes are more in the 250- 300 kilometre range. I think ideally rotating two different pairs works best, perhaps one shoe for long runs and one for shorter, speedier work. But runners need to listen to their bodies!! The best moment to change runners is when little aches and pains start to appear and the shoes no longer feel comfortable. Aches and pains could be the sign of old shoes.

Courtesy of Cam Levins ISSUE 01 2023 14
Always on the run: Levins competing for his high school Commox Valley Cougars track team and, on the left as a freshman and on the right a senior, the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds.

The Rebuild

During their planned post-mortem FaceTime call between Levins and his coach, Jim Finlayson, Levins told him he was willing to rebuild his approach from scratch. And this included his shoes. After the disappointing finish in Sapporo in late 2021, Hoka decided not to renew Levins’ contract, which allowed him to explore his options for the first time as a marathoner. Eight months before Eugene, Levins reconnected with his old strength coach at Nike, David McHenry, who continues to train some of the top track ath letes in the world. Levins wanted to talk about racing shoes, but he also needed guidance in adding strength training back into this routine.

“I think that Cam may have thought that, transitioning into the marathon it might not have been as imperative to continue with a strength program,” McHenry says. “After a couple years in the marathon he realized, ‘Wow, there’s a hole in what I’m doing.’”

Levins brought a collection of super shoes from different brands into McHenry’s facility, and they tested how Levins performed in each pair while connected to a Biomechanical Solutions treadmill designed to provide a detailed breakdown of how Levins’ body performed in each shoe, including a 3D scan of how his spine moved during his stride. “You put on all these reflective dots all over your body that tracks how you move, along with force plates in the bed that senses how you distribute weight, how your feet are landing,” says Levins.

“We did a side-by-side analysis of the ASICS MetaSpeed and the Vaporfly, and we realized that the ASICS was a far better shoe for him,” says McHenry. “It had far better biomechanics. I was pretty astounded. I do a lot of work with the Nike shoes, and I honestly didn’t think anyone would catch up, but the ASICS shoe on Cam’s foot, it’s remarkable.”

McHenry and Levins then went to work in the weight room. McHenry had fine tuned a program specifically for marathoners. “At first it was really demoralizing, because I wasn’t making any progress,” Levins says.

“Working on our weaknesses is hard,” says McHenry, “and improvement takes time.” But by the beginning of 2022, Levins began responding to the regimen, which includes doing a strength session immediately after finishing a long run. He now alternates between triple run days, and double run days with a lifting session. The latter includes mobility work, single-leg balance exercises, higher reps with less weight, followed by deadlifting and squatting fewer reps with more weight.

Running, Running and More Running

Levins also decided to resume running higher volume weeks, in the range of 300 kilometres, including revisiting his unusual practice of tripling. “For some reason, it’s always allowed me to recover better from each of my runs,” Levins says. “If I wanted to get in the mileage I’m aiming for with just two runs a day, I’d have to run each of them for a considerable amount of distance. I’m able to cover more mileage without having to pound myself in a single run.”

Levins gets the workouts and the overall concept of the week from Finlayson, and then decides for himself what to run on non-workout days. Usually, Levins will finish each day, particularly when he’s tripling, running on a treadmill he has within a custom-made altitude tent set at around 7,000 feet, a leftover from the Oregon Project days that he’s reconstructed in a spare room of his house. He also sleeps in a mini tent each night. “It’s just me in there, covering about half my body,” Levins says. “We had the bed-sized one before, but my wife hated sleeping at altitude.”

Another significant change was to move away from obsessively running large blocks of marathon pace workouts, realizing that hitting these numbers for the sake of it could operate like training fool’s gold. “Nailing a big block of marathon pace in a workout fooled us into thinking I would be able to just repeat that on race day; but marathons aren’t run that way,” Levins says. Instead, Finlayson has

feel too overwhelming for Levins.

All of these alterations led Levins to run what he thought was the race of his life in August 2022 at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon. He should have been satisfied, as he’d nearly reached the absolute apex of marathoning, particularly for a Canadian athlete. But he couldn’t shake the thought—he could go faster. And he didn’t just want to be in the race at the end, watching the best in the world finish right in front of him. He wanted to be there with them. He wanted to be one of them.

And then his phone rang. It was Levins’ agent. “ASICS wanted to meet with me,” recalls Cam. This felt serendipitous to Levins, as he’d responded extraordinarily well to the ASICS shoe in the lab. Levins had been racing in the Nike AlphaFly, but was intrigued by the ASICS product. “I performed well in them, and more so than even the money, the most important thing for me is that I can be competitive with the best in the world and that I’m on an even playing field.” Levins signed with ASICS in February, 2023.

The Final Piece

He now had a revamped and battle-tested training plan in place and reestablished financial security without sacrificing shoe performance. But that creeping feeling remained that he had not fully unlocked every aspect of the marathon.

Levins began working with Toronto-based sports psychologist Dr. Judy Goss in November 2022, as he was contemplating a return to Japan in order to run the Tokyo Marathon in March.

Photograph by Victor Sailer / Canada Running Series ISSUE 01 2023 16 PERSONAL BEST // BY MICHAEL DOYLE
courtesy of Canada Running Series.

“Athletes get obsessed with the time, but the time is not the true indication of performance,” says Dr. Goss, who helped Levins develop positive self-talk strategies while training and racing, and staying present and in the moment. “There’s being associative or dissociative; you don’t actually want to be too associative at all times,” she points out. “It’s about being where your focus is. Your focus is like a flashlight. If I’m focusing on the finish, I’m starting to think about what others are doing, or how I am going to execute in these final moments of this race.”

Dr. Goss developed a series of mental exercises Levins practiced during hard workouts, so that he would fall back on them like muscle memory at the later stages of the marathon. He now has a sort of diagnostic checklist he goes through in the opening kilometres of a race, something he employed for the first time in the Tokyo Marathon in March. “I now disconnect how I’m racing with how I’m feeling,” says Levins. “I know I’m not going to feel amazing throughout the entire race, but I remind myself that I can do it, and that I’ve done these paces before, and that helps me relax. It’s not unknown territory.”

Levins now approaches each run as an opportunity to train his mind, as well as his body. “I’ve got to be my own biggest cheerleader while I’m running. We’ve all heard about ‘positive self-talk.’ And when you’re running a marathon, there’s a lot of opportunity for letting negative thoughts creep in, and to give up. It’s mostly just a constant battle to keep yourself in a good mindset. I now focus only on what I need to do in the moment.”

Japan, Again

Levins chose Tokyo in March because he knew there would be a deep field of athletes and that

he wouldn’t be alone in the last 10K of the race. But now he was prepared to manage any scenario. At the start line, Levins went through his newly modified routine. Instead of running a specific set of strides, he focused on feeling his heart rate and getting his body warm and ready to go without obsessing over paces. “I don’t think about numbers,” he says.

He’d also made a bold decision for the start— that he would not get preoccupied with what those in front of him were doing.

“One of the things I spent a lot of time working on leading up to Tokyo was practicing getting into a rhythm, a pace that felt like it was good for me. But I disconnected from what was going on in the front of the race. In the past, if I focused on that, I would tighten up and not conserve energy.”

Japan is a running obsessed country, and the course was lined with spectators for the entire gruelling 42.2K. The pacers dropped at 30K. “That’s the point in the marathon where, in the past, I’ve had difficulty,” he admits. “But that’s not been the case over the past year. With the weightlifting and mileage, when the pacers stepped off the course, I knew I was going to do well.”

With just a couple of kilometres to go Levins was in the lead group, as a desperate sprint to the finish line ramped up. Levins let his guard down just at that crucial moment. “I let my mind

wander. I needed to be focused on being in the race and focused on winning the thing. I still have some work to do.”

A video of Levins in the finishing chute shows him nonchalantly saying, “Meh, not bad.” It wasn’t until Levins was waiting in doping control that he looked up the North American marathon record. “I honestly thought I’d just missed it. I was pretty happy when I realized I was wrong.”

Levins says he is now focused on the journey to the next marathon, a process he hopes will forge him into a truly world-beating racer. “I want to get down to being as close to a 2:03 marathoner as I can going into Paris,” he says. But watching Boston, and what happened to Kipchoge may have also altered Levins’ approach for the next year. “I think I’ll only do one marathon between now and the Olympics next year. I’ll do what’s best so I can be the best athlete I can be for Paris.”

Levins is blunt when asked what he wants to achieve next: “I want to become a Major winner and a Worlds or Olympic marathon medallist. Sure, right now I’ve run the fastest time by a North American. But I am not the greatest. I don’t have the hardware to back it up. What needs to stand alongside the times is how well you’ve run at big competitions. My hope is that I’m putting Canadian marathoning in a different stratosphere for more athletes to come. I’d like to cement my legacy as one of the best marathoners that North America has ever seen.”

Race Day Nerves, by Brainsport

What’s the best way to shake those pesky race day nerves?

Like most runners, I really struggle with this question. In the past, I found myself throwing up before a race—catastrophic on the morning of a marathon when you need to save your calories. But my perspective really changed after training in Kenya. I met some of the best runners in the world. While it’s true they really love running, they are also doing it as a job. Winning for a Kenyan might make the difference between affording critical medicine for their family or going without it. This really made me realize how lucky I am - I can run for the pure joy of it. Yes, I still get nervous but now I do my best to simply be grateful that I’m able to run. This really helps take the edge off the nerves. 17
A marathon it’s mostly just a constant battle to keep yourself in a good mindset. I now keep myself in the moment, and do not think about how the race is going to end. I focus on what I need to do in that moment.

I’d like to cement my legacy as one of the best “ 21
marathoners that North America has ever seen.”

We’re here to create resiliency.”

The ASICS sustainability program puts an earth-first approach to supporting runners

Matthew Xu is the Sustainability Lead at ASICS and he says that carbon emissions and recycled materials are at the core of his running shoe brand. “It’s about people and the planet,” says Xu, when explaining his company’s approach to manufacturing sporting goods. Being a wellness brand, says Xu, makes his company acutely in touch with the environment. “ASICS wasn’t created to make money—it was started to provide physical fitness to Japanese children after the Second World War.” iRun recently caught up with Xu, from his perch in Southern California, to get a sense of the initiatives ASICS is following in their quest to not only make good shoes and sportswear, but to do so in a way that benefits both the runner, and the world in a way that benefits runners and the planet.

We’re committed to reducing carbon emissions through using recycled materials.

Minimally worn ASICS shoes sold at select ASICS outlet stores.

Sustainability is integrated into our business, products and culture. It’s our competitive advantage in today’s world.

ASICS takes a circular business approach.

Circularity means going back to where you started. ISSUE 01 2023 22 GREENER PASTURES // BY RAVI SINGH

Create items that use fewer resources.

We’re committed to bringing the benefits of movement to the world we love to run in.

Using less materials, making products last longer in a cleaner way, and increased reuse and recycling.

We want future generations to live on a healthier planet—by achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

ASICS has partnered with One Tree Planted to launch the Run for Reforestation Challenge.

Carbon neutral by 2050 is our goal.

By 2030, 100% recycled polyester commitment.

By reducing our CO2 emissions and embracing recycled materials, we are aiming to contribute to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5˚C.

What we put into our shoes, we put into our world.

Headquarters is run entirely on solar power.

100% renewable energy across business facilities by 2030.

ASICS will plant 25,000 trees once we reach our goal of 25,000 Challenge completions.

63% CO2 reduction across direct operations and supply chain since 2015. 23

Increasing Endurance, by Rackets & Runners

What’s a good approach to increasing your endurance and moving up in the distance that you race?

Gradually progress your volume, stay consistent and don’t neglect your rest and recovery. Gradually increasing your mileage over time takes a lot of patience, but allows your body to adapt to the increased workload and helps build a stronger aerobic base. Aim to be consistent with your training schedule, make adjustments as needed based on your progress and include a variety of different training sessions (long runs, tempos, intervals, and recovery runs). Your rest days are equally

Meaux, Inspiration!

The athlete inspiring the country on Canada’s Ultimate Challenge has big plans for her next act.

Hint: expect loads of fun

he wasn’t the fastest or the strongest athlete, but she always had the most heart. Meaux Redman has had a lifelong connection with sport, and says that, from early on, athletics was all about connecting. A natural introvert, she discovered something unlocked inside her built around movement. This would later serve her as she inspired the country and got comfortable on TV. Back then, she says, as a university athlete, competition and the friendships she built because of her athletic endeavours went hand in hand. “I really enjoy my alone time,” she says, “but movement has given me energy and gotten me to like social interaction.”

Always looking for new challenges, Redman turned to running. “Whether you’re running a 5K, 10K or longer distances, there are so many options with running,” she explains. As many runners know well, the mind-body connection

as important as your hard days and should be scheduled regularly into your training plan to allow your body to recover and rebuild. Make sure to listen to your body and adjust your training as needed to avoid overloading yourself. Remember, a properly fitting, well-cushioned running shoe can go a long way in alleviating stress on your body and keeping you on the move. In any case, the key to improving endurance and moving up in distance is consistency, patience, and gradual progress. It’s important to listen to your body, take rest when needed, and always have a quality pair of cushioned running shoes along for the ride.

Photographs courtesy of Meaux Redman ISSUE 01 2023 24 STAR POWER // BY ANNA LEE BOSCHETTO

of running is undeniable, addictive, and transcendent. “It’s a moving meditation—a way of calming my mind, without being still,” says Redman. “Mental stillness doesn’t have to come from physical stillness.”

Running, time and again, has helped her boost her self-confidence and find steadiness. She says she uses our sport to find her pace— one foot in front of the other—regain a sense of calm, find peace, and return to her life ready to take on the world. The dopamine boost, she says, is unparalleled. “Running is the most humbling form of movement,” says Redman. “That’s part of why I come back to it.”

Her passion for sport has made Redman open to facing new challenges, including taking on the competition on CBC’s new reality television show, Canada’s Ultimate Challenge. “Sports is a sense of home that I take with me anywhere I go,” says Redman. “Sport is a connection I have with everyone around me.”

When it came to competing on Canada’s Ultimate Challenge, Redman’s meditative approach was helpful in tackling the obstacles. Balance, pace, endurance: all of running’s cornerstone skills came together to help her succeed. Even in unchartered waters.

“I had anxiety when I saw a new challenge,” she explains, “but I dialed it down, knew my strengths and what I was capable of doing because of my skills as an everyday athlete.”

How does an everyday athlete get cast on a reality television show that turns the country into a giant obstacle course? It all comes down to being open to challenges when an opportunity— like a random DM—drops into your social media feed. “I received a link about the show being in its first season and thought: I’ve done difficult things before, it doesn’t hurt to try.”

As a result, Redman had the opportunity to

participate with 26 athletes traveling over 1,300 kilometres in 32 days: the adventure and challenge of a lifetime.

“It was a mindblowing experience,” she says. “I hope I inspire the people that watch.”

Through the encouragement of a fellow Canada’s Ultimate Challenge competitor and professional obstacle course racer, Redman signed up for her first 15K obstacle course last summer. As runners know, when crossing one finish line, the next thing to do is seek out the next. “Obstacle

Always on the run Everything Fuel, by Frontrunners

What can you tell me about race day fuel?

Fueling can be the difference in succeeding or failing at your goals. Ensuring that you are properly fuelled before, during and after training and racing is almost as important as the training itself. Just as you practice your pacing etc, you should be testing different food to see what works for you. I personally try to have a similar meal the evening before my long runs and races: chicken, rice and veggies. I find this sits well in my stomach overnight and race day. I also chose this meal because if I travel around the world for an event, I can basically guarantee I’ll find this meal anywhere I go.

course racing isn’t only about me,” she explains. “I want all of us to get to the finish line.”

Having a common, positive focus is one of Redman’s biggest takeaways from television stardom, especially her new obsession with running. Like shared knowledge between all of us who have crossed the finish line at a race, Redman says she’s become an evangelist for that revitalized feeling of accomplishing a goal.

She says, “We’re all lucky to be doing what we do.”

The morning of long runs/workouts/races, I use Quaker Oatmeal and coffee. This is again something I can easily bring with me if I travel and all you need is hot water. In the mornings I try to avoid any acidic fruits or dairy products as they can give you stomach cramps and mucus. I also pre-load using with Maurten drink mix or Tailwind Endurance for hydration and during workout I use Maurten gels to keep me fuelled during the workout/race. Again with anything is test different products during your training to find what tastes good and sits well in your stomach while you are active. Key is to test while working out. Sampling a gel at an expo or store for flavour is very different than when tried during activity. 25
TAKING OFF: Meaux Redman on the set of Canada’s Ultimate Challenge, where her attitude and effort made her an immediate hit with Canadian fans.

Kickback to

Staying Cool, by Strides

How do I beat the summer heat?

For Canadians across the country, summertime is the best time for running outdoors - no worries about slipping on ice or freezing their face! The mid-summer heat, however, can sometimes prove challenging, but if you follow a few recommendations, summer running can be both enjoyable and rewarding. The first, and most obvious, is to move your runs from mid-day to either early morning or later in the

evening, when temperatures are cooler. Hydrating before (very important!), during and post-run will also help keep your energy up. Many sport nutrition brands now have various options for drink mixes with carbohydrates (important pre- and mid-run), electrolytes (important at all times) and proteins (important postrun). Good ‘ol water also does the trick for staying hydrated! Finally, dressing for the heat is critical. Lightweight apparel, wearing a hat and using sunscreen (minimum SPF 30) will help your core temperature stay lower and avoid sunburn! ISSUE 01 2023 26 YOUNG & RESTLESS // BY BEN KAPLAN
Photographs by Jamal Omar
A trip to Los Angeles for the LA Marathon inspires the the Kickback community to Dream Big, and Affect the Next Generation

to the Future

Always on the run Pace Yourself, by Culture Athletics

What is the secret to choosing and maintaining a sustainable RACE pace?

Putting in the work to really know yourself and the distance you’re running. Pay close attention to your pacing in your tempo runs and other longer workouts. Ideally you can lock down a pace that’s challenging, but is something you can settle into and hang onto for as long as needed.

“Settling in” to the pace is the important part. You want to be able to run the pace without it feeling too strained (especially early on). This will depend on the distance of the race and your goals. There’s also great indicator workouts—such as the Yasso 800s, two fast laps around a track followed by one slow lap, repeated eight times—that can be a useful tool for finding that sweet spot as well. 27
CALIFORNIA DREAMING: For many of the kids in the Kickback crew, the trip to the Los Angeles Marathon was their first time out of the country. Now they want to visit Europe, Japan, and all over the world.

Always on the run The Running Community, by Boutique Courir

How do I connect with the running community?

Runners are welcoming and running brings together people of every shape, every neighbourhood, and every size—without judgment. The running community is not only for top runners, we’re all about diversity. And with so many new runners getting into the sport, we think the running community as a whole only gets better. The benefits of belonging to a community, in addition to the summer barbecues, is the sharing of information: our groups talk about running routes, new shoes,

“Human beings are designed to pursue what we believe in and when I’m helping others I believe I’m helping myself because I don’t want to wait for change to happen,” he says. “I want to give people who look like me and come from where I come from a template to address the things we need the most—right now.”

Kickback, which recently moved into its office space, has grand designs and the kids in the park talked about seeing it expand not only across Canada, but also around the world. After seeing Los Angeles and wearing their ASICS on the Santa Monica Pier and in the LA Marathon, the guys see no reason for Kickback mission to be completed within their own lives. Inspired by Burger, their goals of lifting up the kids behind them are the same.

“We’ve all watched Jamal and the biggest thing now for all of us is to show the next generation that if you take things seriously, anything can happen,” says Badhasa. “We want the kids behind us to be better than us, that’s Kickback philosophy: we want them to surpass us on every level.”

fun races, and training advice. Running is ultimately done alone, but the group makes the sport more fun. Like a team. Look at the independent run shops in your city, our groups meet Sunday mornings, but there’s plenty of groups all over, even around the world! Here in Montreal, we regularly welcome runners (of all levels!) from France. I really think, especially after COVID, the running community is very important and, when the weather is tough, when it’s cloudy or rainy and your bed is calling, there’s nothing like the running community to move you forward. It’s good to have a network of friends to kick your butt.

LITTLE FEET: Just some of the young runners getting a headstart in the Kickback Run Club. 31
We want the kids behind us to be better than us, that’s the Kickback philosophy: we want them to surpass us on every level.”
Join Diabetes Canada and Lace Up to End Diabetes SPONSORED CONTENT LACE UP TO END DIABETES
Sandra Genua, type-two diabetes
One in Three Canadians are Affected by Diabetes or Prediabetes ISSUE 01 2023 28
Maggie Stewart, type-one diabetes

Sandra Genua says her type 2 diabetes diagnosis didn’t come as a surprise. “My family has a history of diabetes and while pregnant with my first born, I became pretty stationary and I knew at some point I might be impacted,” says Genua, an avid hiker who today says she feels better in her 50s than she did in her 30s, even with her diabetes. “I think my diagnosis was a wake-up call and the reason I participate in Lace Up to End Diabetes every year is to raise awareness and funds to destigmatize diabetes, and help find a cure.”

Every September, Diabetes Canada holds their Lace Up to End Diabetes event. The national celebration—which brings together 1000s of athletes, runners, walkers, cyclists, mothers pushing strollers and everyone in between—raises money and awareness to fund education, support services, advocacy and diabetes research that could lead to the next big medical breakthrough. With a tracking app to help participants on their fundraising quest to reach either a fun 30-day or 100-kilometre challenge, every distance and dollar make a difference in the lives of people living with diabetes or prediabetes.

Maggie Stewart, who participates every year in the Lace Up to End Diabetes challenge—inspired by Aven, her 5-year-old grandniece who was diagnosed with type1 diabetes last December—believes more Canadians should be involved with the excellent program. “By getting involved with Lace Up to End Diabetes and Diabetes Canada, I’ve learned more about type 1 diabetes and want to get the message out there about the challenges surrounding this condition,” she says. “It’s important to not only make life easier for people who are living with diabetes, but also to find a cure.”

Diabetes Canada will be active this spring at races in Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg and registering participants for their Lace Up to End Diabetes campaign all summer long. Visit laceup.diabetes. ca for more information on the various ways to participate, including corporate teams looking to take part in important charitable work.

Sandra Genua has already begun fundraising and says she wants to recruit as many Canadians as possible to join her on her run.

“I hope my journey will influence others to consider both their own lifestyles and all of the Canadians who are currently living with diabetes,” Genua says. “Getting involved with Lace Up to End Diabetes and Diabetes Canada has been a game-changer for me and it’s inspiring to make measurable progress to improve my health. I’m feeling super pumped because right now I know Diabetes Canada is recruiting the entire country to help them continue to accomplish really big things.”

For more information on Diabetes Canada and Lace Up to End Diabetes, please see laceup. and learn about how you can help change the world, today.

Challenge yourself or rally a team by moving and fundraising in support of the 1 in 3 people across Canada impacted by diabetes. Every distance and dollar make a difference in the lives of people living with diabetes. JOIN A MOVEMENT TO END DIABETES Join today. September 1-30, 2023 LACE UP TO END DIABETES #LaceUpYourWay 29

tanding outside a downtown Toronto park in their gray Kickback sweatshirts, Abel Berhane, Badhasa Ibrahim Abbas and Jamal Omar are an antidote to the pessimism that can sometimes threaten to swallow us whole. They radiate energy and not only look forward to their next races, but also look forward to their lives’ potential—through the mentorship and opportunities of Kickback program, the guys say they feel empowered to take on the world.

“To others, Kickback might look like an organization, but to me it’s like a family,” says Berhane, 18, of the non-profit organization supported by ASICS that he says is changing his life. “We might live in parts of Toronto that aren’t particularly privileged, but Kickback has opened new doors for me and allowed me to believe in what’s possible, and that motivates me to keep doing good, because suddenly there seems like more options.”

Options, as runners well know, are all about freedom—the chance to grow and achieve, experiment and experience new things. At

Kickback, a non-profit, volunteer-run community initiative that photographer, activist and youth worker Jamal Burger started at 27-yearsold in Regent Park, the team has fostered a youth culture where kids can come for a run club or play basketball, and receive real world applications for achieving in life. Abel, Badhasa and Jamal, recently back in Toronto after experiencing—via Kickback—the LA Marathon, say they appreciate the camaraderie of their in-person social network, but also the encouragement and tangible professional help. Like anybody, all they want is the chance to succeed.

“If any of us are ever like, ‘I want to try something,’ there’s immediately thirty people at Kickback offering advice and willing to roll up their sleeves and help with the work,” says Jamal Omar, 22, who took all these pictures and started at the program as a student and now works as a Kickback adviser part-time. “If you’re applying for school and need a reference letter or want to talk about professional options, there’s this whole team of people standing right beside you.

I never had that before and, for real, it means the world.”

To Jamal Burger, comments like that are music to his ears. Kickback Run Club, like the basketball pickup games, are meant to give its members a positive afterschool outlet. But that’s not enough. Burger wants his kids to have every opportunity—opportunities disproportionately ladled out to the more affluent parts of town—to prosper: personally, professionally, in business and in life.

“Everyone wants to make their lives better, but when you don’t have guidance or opportunities that leads to rash decision making and the police system is waiting for us, which makes it ten-times more likely we won’t get hired for that new job,” says Burger, co-founder of Tier Zero, a growing Toronto-based strategy, production and design firm. Burger, who comes from Regent Park where Kickback is based, is a self-made success story who got to the top and decided to pull up as many people as he can. He’s fueled by the success he sees in the kids that he helps.

What do I need to buy to get racing?

If it’s shoes you’re after, It’s best to try them on after a longer walk, run or in the afternoon when your feet have had a chance to swell a little. One foot is typically a bit bigger than the other so trying on both shoes is recommended and catering towards the larger foot. A shoe is only as comfortable as the sock and insole you use with it. A proper fitting socks can provide more cushion, support and breathability. Don’t forget about the reduced risk of blisters when using a synthetic or merino sock vs cotton. If blisters are an issue, think about using an anti-chafe stick or

ointment. Proper fitting shorts or tights should not ride up or slip down. Many customers are loving the 2-in-1 short. These styles typically provide a bit of compression for the thighs and have extra storage. Sticking with a Merino or synthetic material like polyester/spandex will continue to help with moisture wicking and breathability. Many women say the most important piece of gear they use is a well-supported running bra. This can transform your workout by reducing unwanted movement; finally, GPS watches can give you more analytics than most people could fathom. Hydration packs are a staple and sunglasses and hats work as amazing UV protection—but also provide great style.

Everything Gear, by Bushtukah ISSUE 01 2023 30 YOUNG & RESTLESS // BY BEN KAPLAN
Photographs by Jamal Omar
#CHOOSETORUN October 15, 2023 Register now at

Running doesn’t cost me time, because

without running.”

Running Style, by Coureur Nordique

How do I wear running clothes and still look cool?

ayor Sutcliffe wears many hats. In addition to being a broadcaster, journalist and longtime volunteer, the Mayor also started iRun magazine in 2008, as a publication of his media company, Great River Media, which was launched in 2003. Today, the Mayor still fits daily runs into his busy schedule, and even took some time out to chat with old friends.

iRun: Can you share an anecdote from a day at the office—perhaps when entertaining a visit from close buddies like President Biden or Ryan Reynolds?

Mayor Sutcliffe: We hired a new member of our office a few weeks ago and her first day was when Ryan Reynolds visited. I told Ryan that we were trying to convince her it was a normal day, so when he was introduced to her, he said Beyoncé was going to be visiting the next day.

iRun: Not quite like your days as the publisher of iRun, though we do entertain celebrities like Cam Levins around here. But seriously, is there a connection between the two gigs? MS: Every role I’ve had in my career has been an amazing learning opportunity and I’ve tried to incorporate all of my past experience into this job. Having spent most of my career as a small business owner, the big difference for me is that at city hall I don’t have to do almost everything myself. There’s a great team of people around me and I can rely on their help and experience.

iRun: I’m amazed that you’ve carried on with your running. Everyone complains about being busy but I can’t imagine anyone being as busy as you. Why not give up your sneakers?

At 45-years-old, I’m not stressed like I once was about my running and I think wearing colourful, bright clothing helps me engage my mind to be happy. When you’re happy, you look cool—no matter what you wear. I’ve tried it the other way, being stressed, but now I think the thing is to enjoy your life before, during, and after the race. Colourful clothing helps me with that. At a race, there’s a sea of runners. You want to stand out. Why not have fun? I think if you feel good in your clothing, you’re cool and that will help you perform. It’s tied into confidence. I like yellows, reds and blues and don’t mind clashing. Stress can have a negative impact on performance so if I wear my socks up high or bright shirts and big sunglasses, it’s fun. That’s cool. Sometimes if I’m wearing something loud, it helps remind me to stay loose. You’re being photographed at races. Wear something that shows the world who you are.

M Photographs courtesy of Mayor Sutcliffe ISSUE 01 2023 34 RUNNING THINGS // BY BEN KAPLAN
On the iRun with the Mayor of Ottawa, iRun founder Mark Sutcliffe
I couldn’t do what I do
iRUN OTTAWA: Sutcliffe, seen a run, says that, since becoming Mayor, he’s increased not descreased his workouts.

MS:I could never give up running! I’ve run every single day for just over a year, including throughout last year’s election campaign and every day that I’ve been mayor. I believe in making as few decisions as possible, so if you run every day, you can never postpone until tomorrow.

iRun: What do you get out of your running, and has that changed since becoming Mayor?

MS: People always wonder how I have time, but if it’s important, you make time. And I get so many benefits from running that I would lose if I didn’t do it. It doesn’t cost me time, because I couldn’t do what I do without running. It keeps me healthy and sane. I get energy from running, and it also gives me the time to think things through and remind myself of principles and priorities. Running teaches me that everything is about the long game.

iRun: Can you talk about the pressure, running the country’s capital, but also the rewards?

MS: It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I get to see every part of our amazing city, and witness all the great work that’s being done by residents, volunteers, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and not-for-profit organizations. Any pressure is outweighed by the extraordinary privilege and honour of being the mayor of my hometown.

iRun: Does being a runner help inform your politics, your understanding of your city?

MS: I try to remember the lesson I tried to share in my TEDx Talk. Picture a marathon, but one in which we don’t all line up at the same start line. In real life, some of us start much farther back because of circumstances, disadvantages, and systemic biases. I was very lucky to be born in Ottawa at a time of safety, opportunity, and

prosperity. My parents were immigrants who came to Canada from very different circumstances. I try to remind myself of that every day.

iRun: That’s so true. And to pivot a bit, can we talk about Ottawa Race Weekend? What does it mean to the city and how many times have you participated in the event?

MS: Ottawa Race Weekend is one of the biggest and best events in our city. It’s great for the health of our community and it brings a lot of visitors to Ottawa. My guess is that I’ve participated almost 20 times as a runner, volunteer, and broadcaster. The only time I didn’t have a role was in 2009, when my wife was nine months pregnant and I didn’t think it was a good idea to be running a marathon when she might go into labour.

Recovery Tips, by the Running Factory

How do I best recover after my race?

Recovery requires nutrition, hydration, sleep, stress control, and tools from the moment you finish your run to the moment you start your next. Make the time for the things that help you become an old runner, not an ex-runner—it’s worth it in the long run (pun intended)! Think nutrition: fueling properly pre-run, during your run (do your “gu math”) and post-run to replenish and rebuild. Also hydration: drinking enough water pre-run, water and/or hydration mix during your run, and post-run mix to replenish hydration and electrolyte levels. Another key

iRun: No wonder you’re the Mayor. That was probably wise.

MS: As it turns out, we went to the hospital the night of the marathon and our son Jack was born the next day.

iRun: What are your running plans this year?

MS: I intend to run the marathon at Ottawa Race Weekend. I’m also hoping to run the Berlin Marathon in September. I originally gained entry in 2019, but I’ve had to postpone a few times because of work and COVID.

iRun: I think it’s great for our readers to hear that. That you still have big running goals even though you’re doing the biggest job of your life.

MS: I think it’s really important to have personal goals even if you are deeply engaged professionally. The stronger you are physically and mentally, the more effective you will be. The more well-rounded and diverse your life, the better perspective you’ll bring to your work. I’ve often said to my colleagues on city council, quoting the great Canadian rock band Trooper: We’re here for a good time, not a long time. Someday I won’t be mayor, so it’s important for me to cultivate and enrich the other parts of my life, including family, friends, and hobbies.

iRun: Are you recognized on your runs? Do you see the city through different eyes? MS: I sometimes get recognized, but I think for most people it’s out of context so they aren’t expecting to see the mayor sweating through a run. I’ve always loved the physical beauty and diversity of Ottawa so I relish running throughout the city. My appreciation for my hometown has only grown.

element is sleep. For sure getting recommended hours of sleep to help heal and build your muscles. Be flexible during your week to maximize what you get from your runs and balance the demands of life. There’s also great recovery tools—things like foam rollers, massage guns and hand rollers help keep your muscles loose and encourage best range of motion for optimal running efficiency. Local medical professionals like Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Massage Therapists, and Sports Nutritionists (among other professions) are a great aid in keeping your muscles and joints on track. Having a team in your corner is always a good thing! 35
FACE TIME: Sutcliffe, upon being annointed Ottawa’s Mayor, and then on the run with Ian Fraser, race director of Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Photograph from the Berlin Marathon courtesy of Natasha Wodak

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