Trail Running

Squamish 50: How I trained for my first ultra

1069845_10151532225501592_916413937_nIn less than two days, I’ll be running through this.

Then I’ll be spending about eight hours runking (running the flat trails and downhills, hiking the uphills… it’s my word of the day, just made it up) up and down this and in this.

Hopefully this will be me at the end. But I’ll most probably end up finishing like this, if I finish at all, that is, considering how many times I’ve eaten dirt (or come close to) on my long trail runs lately; I tend to stop picking up my feet after 5+ hours of running single-track forest trails and stumble over every rock and root in my path.

Naw, I’m pretty excited to race Squamish 50 this weekend, and feel confident I can at least finish. Since this is my first ultra, I don’t have a time goal in mind and have no idea what to expect. My goal is just to finish, relatively unscathed. (more…)

7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 6. Mt. Doug Park in Saanich

mtdougtopA “Top 7 Trail Runs on Southern Vancouver Island” list wouldn’t be complete without including at least one trail in Saanich. Although the Westshore and Sooke are home to some of my most favourite trails, Mt. Doug Park is edging it’s way up there as one of the best places to run in Victoria (in my opinion).

I usually come here on the weekend with my boyfriend and our dogs for a hike, and had never actually ran the trails until a few weekends ago. I was trying to find a good 8 k or hour-long route that incorporated some views, but ended up forgetting to restart my Garmin (ughhhh…) and we took a route back to where we parked that wasn’t quite long enough. The following weekend we set out sans dogs and iPhone camera and ran the same route (with a few more ks tacked on at the end) so I could map it properly. It turned out to be a great run–it was the perfect combination of distance, elevation, effort and scenery. Lucky for us, both days we chose to run it were beautiful and sunny.


7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 5. Coast Trail in East Sooke Park

coasttrailinletThe Coast Trail in East Sooke Park is probably my favourite trail on Vancouver Island. I love its incredible ocean views, that fresh smell of salty-ocean-meets-rainforest lingering in the air, its many points of interest (deep water caverns, old fish trap cabins, ancient petroglyphs and soaring eagles, just to name a few) and its challenging terrain. I first ran this trail in the summer of 2009 when I wasn’t really doing much running; in fact, I had never entered a race or run farther than 10 km when I tackled this trail for the first time. I definitely think this trail made me fall in love with running; trail running, in particular. So if you’re a runner and you haven’t clamoured over its rocky, seashell speckled terrain, I highly suggested you do! And if you’re a non-runner, you might find yourself signing up for your first 10 km trail race after spending a few hours in one of the prettiest parks in the world. (more…)

7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 4. Mt. Quimper in Sooke

Top of Mt. Quimper

Top of Mt. Quimper

Sooke trails are hard to beat. In fact, I could probably come up with enough epic trail run routes to complete this blog series just in Sooke alone. But, since Sooke is a 40 minute drive from downtown Victoria, I decided to feature two of my Sooke favourites: the Coast Trail in East Sooke Park and Mt. Quimper in the Sooke Hills. This weekend we opted for Quimper as the weather wasn’t that great, and the Coast Trail can get dangerously slick in the rain.

You can take a few different routes to get to the summit, but the easiest to find (and the only one we’ve run) takes about 50 minutes to an hour to get the the top, and about 30-40 minutes to get back  down again.


7 Trails to Run Before You Die (Hawaii Edition): Pipiwai Trail

Running in the bamboo forest.

Running in the bamboo forest.

So I didn’t run any Vancouver Island trails last weekend, because I was too busy VACATIONING IN MAUI! Yes, it was amazing and wonderful and we had a blast. I didn’t do much running, or any kind of working out for that matter (except for lifting five bottles worth of wine to my lips in a large wine glass… does that count?), but we did go for a little hike/run on the incredibly scenic Pipiwai Trail on Maui’s east coast.

I think you’d be hard pressed to find another trail in existence that gives you so much dramatic scenery in such a short distance. The Pipiwai Trail, located along the road to Hana in Haleakala National Park, is only 3 kilometres from the trail head to the breathtaking Waimoku Falls, which cascades down a sheer rock face from 400 feet above you at the end of the trail. We ended up hiking on the way there (obviously, so much to see and side trails to explore, plus plenty of Instagram moments!) and running back. The hike in took about an hour, and the run back was only 25 minutes. Besides several stunning waterfalls, other trail highlights include an infinity pool, deep water-filled caverns, caves, Hawaiian jungle, a massive banyan tree, a kilometre of bamboo forest, stunning natural pools and a turquoise-blue ocean crashing into black lava cliffs.


7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 3. Thetis Lake to Stewart Mountain

madeitIt took us two tries, but we finally made it to the top of Stewart Mountain, the next trail run I wanted to feature in this series.

This trail route was tough to find, especially for a couple of directionally challenged trail runners like Debbie and me. I had run this route once a few years ago going in the opposite direction for a race, and thought I might be able to recall where the trail to the summit was. Nope. Not only did we miss the turn off for the summit twice yesterday, but also on our first attempt we took another trail all together — “Look, those white arrows are pointing that way. Let’s go the other way!” Thank goodness for iPhones and Google Maps. (more…)

7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 2. Trestle Run in Goldstream Park

trestleThis week, I’m going to feature another amazing West Shore run: the Goldstream-campground-past-the-gold-mine-to-the-trestle run, or to put it simply, the Trestle Run.

This route is usually about 7 km, but of course, I forgot to restart my Garmin after stopping for a photo op, so my map and time for the run was off…. ugh! Luckily my friend Debbie kindly gave me her Garmin info for this post, although she ended up adding on an extra kilometre as the group took a wrong turn. But either way works! It’s nice to have so many options for routes and loops in this park. (more…)

7 Trails to Run Before You Die (on Vancouver Island): 1. Gowlland Todd

debrunLast week, I stumbled upon this post on After browsing through a few, I decided 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.

My criteria for the best trails to run: Everyone has their own preference when it comes to trails — some like them to be hilly, others don’t. Some prefer roots and rocks, others feel they are too clumsy to navigate that kind of terrain and might prefer flat chip trails. I think we can all collectively agree, though, that the more scenic the trails are, the better. (more…)

How do you train for a 50k trail race?

Me and Kai on the Timberline Trail

Me and Kai on the Timberline Trail

I’d like to know, because I signed up for one taking place in Squamish on August 10!

I’ve been getting out at least once a week lately for a long trail run, usually running for about an hour to an hour and a half on a few hilly trails. On Friday, my friend Debbie and I ended up running for about two hours on the trails without any water or nutrition; we weren’t planning to go that far, but really wanted to see what Joycelin Hill was like in Gowlland Tod Park. It didn’t look like it was that much farther from Squally Reach, which is where we usually run to when we go there. We ended up running about 12 kms, and were both pretty bagged at the end. I just went downhill from then on, thinking I was getting sick (still having tummy troubles… not sure if I’m fighting the flu bug that’s been going around or if was the haggis I tried on the weekend), so I opted not to go for our planned Coast Trail run on Sunday. (more…)

How many calories do you actually burn doing workout DVDs in comparison to running?

dvd_compareI was wondering about this recently and couldn’t find anything relevant after a quick Google search, so I busted out the ‘ol HR monitor to find out.

I compared two different workout DVDs of about roughly the same duration of time — Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones and Insanity: Plyometric Cardio Circuit — to a 48 minute run that incorporates a steep trail (of which I actually had to hike up instead of run).

While the run is pure cardio, the DVDs do incorporate some strength training moves (push-ups and squats for Insanity; super sets with 3lbs weights for Jillian) along with some interval training, so the fitness benefits are a bit different. Let’s have a look, shall we: (more…)

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