Category Archives: Running

How I stay motivated to run outdoors during the winter…

I love running and yes even in winter! People always ask me ‘how do you do it’ or ‘why do you do it’ and it is a pretty easy answer…because I LOVE IT. I love that I get to enjoy the beautiful city I live in while running outdoors, I crave that feeling after a good run when I get home, I enjoy the friendly waves I exchange with other runners as we pass each other, I love feeling healthy, happy, alive and free when I am running outdoors. I also love being one of ‘those crazy people’ drivers see running in the winter. It’s fun to know I might be inspiring someone to try it. It’s funny because before I started running in the winter I used to be amazed when I would see people running all bundled up, I am now that person!

Are there days when I don’t feel like going for a run outside? Sure! And to be honest when the temperature is dangerously low or I know that the sidewalks will be extra slippery I will run on the good old treadmill (aka dreadmill). But 9 out of 10 times I will get outside for a run no matter what. What do I do to stay motivated you ask? Here are a few tips I’ll share with you…

1-Have a goal-I believe that unless you have signed up for a race you’ll have a much harder time motivating yourself to get outside for a run during the colder months. Look up some locals races and sign up for a 5, 10, 21 or 42km race! Having a race goal and putting a plan into action to reach your goal increases your chances of running on days that you don’t feel like leaving your bed or couch.

2-Run with a friend-You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s one of the easiest ways to stay on track in the winter. Not only do they help keep you accountable by “forcing” you to show up, but misery loves company. Grinding out at fast 5 km in the snow and below zero temperatures isn’t quite as bad when you have 3 or 4 of your running friends by your side to freeze your butt off with.
If you don’t have a few running buddies that you can try and team up with, check out some of the local running clubs,they’re usually struggling for numbers in the winter and they would be glad to have you. I am lucky to have my friend Peter to run with once or twice a week.

3-Plan out your route/have a plan-I have a coach who has designed a program for my half marathon training this year.  I am always looking for support and to learn different training methods.  I also strongly believe that every great coach needs a coach, and I am more successful when I have a monthly workout plan and someone to check in with on a weekly basis.

4-Warm up before going out-You do not want to start your run being cold. Make sure you do a good warm up indoors before you head out. Try doing some mobility exercises or even walking up and down your stairs or doing jumping jacks works too. It’s also very important that you wear the right gear. It will take you a few runs to figure out how many layers, what type of hat/scarf/gloves and shoes work best for you, but you’ll learn by trial and error.

5-Bring your music-I don’t always enjoy running with music as I always get tangled or annoyed by the headphones etc but I do find (especially for longer runs) that music really helps to motivate me to speed up and keep going especially when I get tired during the end of my run. Some of the music I enjoy running to is usually upbeat (pop, hip hop, electronic).

These are just a few tips that can make training this winter a little easier and keep you more consistent. If you have some tips or tricks that help keep you on track, I would love to hear them. Please share your tips in the comment section below 🙂


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The best Christmas gift ever…a testimonial from one of my clients (my sister!) :)

Just thought I’d share with you an amazing letter I received in a card from my sister Jenn this year on Christmas eve! I couldn’t hold back the tears as soon as I started reading it!  I am so proud of how far she has come in 1 year!! I am even more excited for the amazing things she has planned for 2013 including a 30km and 42.2 (full marathon) race!  YOU GO SIS!!  Here is her story….


Exactly one year ago today, I received probably one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received in my life.  My sister Leslie Robertson gave me three months of online personal training support for Christmas.  I was pretty excited to receive this gift but I was also hesitant at the same time, thinking “well, how will this work?”

My journey actually began as a result of this gift and my New Year’s Resolution (yes, some of us make those-LOL!).  On January 1st 2012, I was working out at the gym and I decided to stand on the scale in the change room.  This moment was shocking! I had not been on a scale for years, measuring myself only on the fit of my clothes (and probably a bit too scared to see what the numbers on the scale would truly be).  From the moment on, I committed to myself to my fitness plan and my resolution to meet my fitness goal.

I began with a 30 day challenge-exercise everyday for 30 days in the month of January.  I achieved that goal and lost some weight in the process.  In February, I added a weight training regiment that Leslie provided and also included some high intensity interval training a couple of times week.  I also started running, my true passion!  I decided that I would do the 5km Around the Bay race in March of 2012 as a goal to continue working towards.

It wasn’t easy training for my first 5km.  I started with run 2 minutes walk 3 minutes on the treadmill and moved to run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes and so on until I could run 30 minutes on the treadmill without stopping.  After that I moved my training outdoors and continued to work towards my goal of finishing the 5km race.

Well, not only did I finish 5 km in March, I completed 5 more races this year, including the Yonge Street 10km, the Ancaster Heritage 5km, the Burlington Downtown 10km, the Road to Hope 5km.  My biggest fitness goal to date was the Army Half Marathon in Ottawa that I completed with Leslie in September.  It was probably one of the hardest things that I have done in my entire life, but completely worth the training and hard work.

As I continue on my fitness journey I have lost about 47 pounds and continue to lose more, hoping to hit my final weight loss goal in March 2013 of 62 pounds.  My one regret is that I did not do measurements (even though Leslie asked me to) which would have been encouraging at those stages of plateaus that I hit along the way.  I have learned that you always have to have a fitness goal in mind-my current goal in a 30km race-Around the Bay in March which will hopefully be the preliminary training ground for my ultimate goal of the Road to Hope Marathon next November.  I want to thank my sister Leslie for inspiring me to change my life-to set a fitness goal and work hard until you achieve it.  I don’t know where my weight loss journey would be right now had she not provided  me with the tools and encouragement to change my life.  Thank you for helping me to “Get Fit with Les”!!  I am forever grateful!

Love ya,



Thank you so much Jenn for choosing to take full advantage of my gift of fitness last Christmas, you are a true inspiration to everyone!  Best of luck in your continued fitness journey and your BIG race goals this year!  You can do anything you put your mind to!!

Les 🙂

Around the Bay race recap

Last weekend as many of you know I participated in my third Around The Bay 30km race and this race is still one of the best.  It is very organized, a challenging distance and what better place to run then close to my hometown of Ancaster (I still cannot say that I am from Hamilton even though Ancaster is now considered to be part of the city of Hamilton)??  Even though I have done this race before nothing can prepare for this challenging course, especially the last 10 km but as we all know I love a challenge but still had a tough time finishing this race!

The race starts off with a slight downhill,  and with my friend Jodi by my side (it was her first time) feeling pretty good we definitely got caught up in the fast pace of runners at the front of the pack and ran a bit above pace but it made up for the slowing down that happened at the end.  After the first 10km (58 min split) then next 10 km took us over flat roads and some small over passes and we were both feeling pretty good and we on pace to finish in under 3 hours.   At 18km as I was scanning the crowd along the sidelines and who do I spot?? My high school crush (those who know me well know who it is!!) and my first reaction was to smile and say hi (which I did!) and he responded with a smile and “good job!”  WHOA!  Sounds silly but that was just what I needed at that part of the race.  So with a little extra pep in my step I forged ahead and looked to back to realize I had lost Jodi!!  I was too in the moment that I had forgotten about my running buddy.  After being worried about being a bad race/pace partner for my friend I had faith that she would find her way to the finish line with me.

Next milestone was the 21 km mark (the distance in a half marathon) can’t remember my time but was somewhere around 2 hours (my 15km split was 1:28) and I was still feeling good and starting to feel relief I as was more than two thirds done.  But then came the  ‘Rollers’… 5km of ups and downs, taking you right to the point where my legs were screaming, my body hates me and I start saying to myself “WHY AM I DOING THIS???”…And just when the rolling hills are over there is a bit of a flat section (PHEW!) and then I hear the music that gives me goosebumps “WE WILL WE WILL ROCK YOU!” and the I see famous little man (who brought a huge smile to my face) is standing on the sidelines giving everyone a high five for good luck before heading up the killer, “heart attack hill” which is approximately 500 meters long (or 1/2 km) at a 7.5% grade… WHOA! Last year I remember tripping (almost falling) on the wooden bridge just before heading up the hill and badly injuring myself so this time I took it slow and watched my footing before slowly shuffling (at this point) my way up the hill, make the left turn (with a few curse words and a bit of a walk break) and off in the distance you can see it, Copps Coliseum, the promised land, the finish line.  Except it is a lot further than it looks and what’s worse??! It is downhill all the way back, which feels amazing on your already tired quads (from all the hills) NOT!!  There is even a Grim Reaper on the final stretch telling everyone to take to short cut to the right (which was a cemetary) as we will all end up their eventually! HAHA Another good distraction that made me forget about how tired I was.

At this point my body is moving faster than I am comfortable with and it starts to hit me at 28km, so I stop and take a walk break.  Then a girl behind me (whom I’m never met) comes up and says “Want to help each other finish this race?” It was like she was sent from an angel in heaven, what perfect timing!! I perked right up and said YES!!  So we started running at the next intersection, made small talk (I found out her name was Jocelyn and she found out she was doing this race 3 weeks ago as her plans to do the 15km 2 person relay backfired!) and ran all the way until she had to stop again as her hip was bothering her.  She told me to keep running and at this point I could see and hear the crowds (including my good friend Erika and her boyfriend Noah who I always see close to the finish every year!) and this always pushes me to pick up my pace even though I had little gas left in my legs.  I rounded the corner down the steep ramp into Copps Coliseum and sprinted to the finish line!  I put both hands up and rested them on my head, took a deep breath in and out and looked up to see my whole family waving and yelling and this brought a huge smile to my face!  I DID IT!!! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

In the past I have done this race in under three hours but this year was not the case, I finished in 3hrs3mins but as I have told many people it is the first time that I really enjoyed the race and I will remember this one forever.  One thing that practicing and studying yoga has taught me is to be in the present and enjoy the moment!  I totally did this and am glad I did.  I did not finish disappointed with my time, or regretting the number of walk breaks I took, instead I finished smiling and content as I accomplished what I had set out to do.  And the best part of the day was seeing my boyfriend after I crossed the finish line and giving him a  big sweaty kiss, followed by more hugs and kisses from my mom, dad, sisters, my good friend Leanne and Dave’s parents.  It was so nice to have everyone there for the first time ever!  Then when Jodi came in shortly after giving her a big hug and seeing the look of HOLY CRAP I DID IT on her face.  Still super proud of her finishing her first 30 km race.

Then to top off a great race we obviously had to eat (my fans were hungry too after 3 hours of waiting for me to finish!)  We headed to Burlington for a delicious brunch at Russell William’s diner and let me tell you how good it feels to eat eggs, bacon and pancakes GUILT FREE!!! AMAZING!

After brunch it was time to say goodbye to my family and friends 😦 and hop (more like hobble) our way into my car for the long ride back to Ottawa.  Lucky for me I had Dave drive, mom in the back as she was coming to visit for a few days, and the hilarious and story telling Jodi behind me.  Let’s just say the ride back flew by with so many good stories to share and with multiple pit stops (for Jodi and I to stretch our poor, tired legs) along the way.

Overall a very successful race and I told myself that’s it for races for me this year (I did 4 in the past year including a full marathon!)…but who knows what the future will bring.

Hope you enjoyed the detailed recap of my race!  It was a race to remember!

Have a great weekend!!

Les 🙂

How to calm the pre-race day jitters…

So the time has arrived!  Time for me to run the Hamilton Around the Bay 30km race for the 3rd time!  I don’t know what it is about this race but I keep signing up for it!  Maybe it’s the challenging distance, the location (close to my hometown of Ancaster!), the fact that I get to see my family and friends, the time of year, the awesome Dri-fit shirts we get or my love of running but I never seem to get tired of this race!  For those of you who have done Around the Bay you know what I mean I am sure.  If you haven’t done this race yet I highly recommend it (even if it is held in “Steel City” Hamilton!)

Pre Race JittersIt doesn’t matter how many times I have been in a race I still get nervous the last few days leading up to the race.  I think the best but also the most challenging part about preparing for a race is the week before the race.  I can remember back to my very first half marathon in September 2008.  I was training with the Orleans Running Room and had so much support from them and my personal trainer but I was so worried about what to eat/not to eat, how much I should be exercising, what clothes to wear, how much sleep to get, etc, etc and this is totally normal!  I feel like a pro now as I have done quite a few races since then to test out what works and what doesn’t.  Today I will share with you some tried and true tips for new runners leading up to your race…

Top 5 Tips:

1. RELAX-You have done all the training (hopefully!) that needs to be done so give your body a rest and enjoy tapering!   This is the most important part of your training as it gives your body a chance to recover and prepare.  Depending on the length of your race, your mileage should drop substantially at least the week before.  This is the hardest thing for many of us to do (taking a week off from running) but if you must, go for a couple short and easy runs.  I usually do my last run 4-5 days before the race and do a spin class the Thursday before.  On the other hand don’t become a couch potato the last week, do some yoga, biking, walking or body weight exercises to keep your muscles and your mind fresh.  Another thing to remember is the importance of getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night so your body will perform at it’s best.

2. EAT CLEAN– I am sure most of you are already doing this consistently but it is even more crucial to have a proper diet leading up to the race.  “Carb loading” is recommended for long distance races (half marathon distance or more) but this does not mean you can load up on simple carbs (white bread, pasta, rice, juice, etc).  Instead increase the percentage of calories you are getting from healthy complex carbs (brown/wild rice, rice/whole grain pasta, fruits and vegetables).  The meals you have the day before the race and for breakfast the day of the race are the most important ones so plan these in advance!  I have a story about a half marathon race I did in Toronto after having dinner at Jack Astor’s the night before…not pleasant…but I learned my lesson-DO NOT EAT OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE A RACE!

3. CATCH UP ON CHORES– With all the extra time you’ll be having while tapering instead of sitting around being antsy about the race how about tackling the pile of laundry you’ve been ignoring, or tidy up your place a bit.  Sounds like a great idea to me!  If chores aren’t your thing maybe catch up with some friends who are feeling neglected!

4. PREPARE YOUR RACE PLAN- Make sure you know where and when to pick up your race kit/packet. If you will be traveling to the race, finalize all of the arrangements.  Figure out exactly what you need to eat, drink wear, and bring with you on race day and get everything ready to go

5. VISUALIZE SUCCESS-Picture yourself at various points along the course feeling strong and confident.  Set a goal and visualize crossing the finish line at that exact time.  Mentally prepare for any “what ifs” that could occur during the race but most importantly KNOW THAT YOU WILL HAVE FUN and ENJOY YOURSELF!

It is perfectly normal for everyone to be a little nervous the night before and the day of the race but just use that energy to help you stay excited and strong. Even though you might not be bringing home the cash prize or breaking a world record you should welcome these pre-race jitters as a sign that you are excited to be running!  Regardless of your time or how you finish think of all the people who never even started training!  You are a winner before you even start the race because you are the one that set a goal, worked hard to prepare for it and showed up to do it!  The race is the easy and fun part, so enjoy it!

For any experienced runners reading this I would love if you had any other tips to add to this list!  So feel free to comment!

And finally keeping with the running theme today I thought I’d share a few quotes about running with you…

“Compete against yourself not others” Jeff Galloway

“Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another” John Dewey

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it” Oprah Winfrey

“If you don’t think you can you won’t!” Yardley Jones (ran a 100 km ultramarathon one year after a stroke)

“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now.  Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.”  Priscialla Welch, Olympian and NYC marathon winner

Have a great weekend!

Les 🙂

The importance of cross training for runners

As some of you may already know I like to run and do it a lot!  One thing that I find very important for becoming a well-rounded runner, preventing injuries, improving my speed and something that most runners chose to ignore is CROSS TRAINING!  In today’s post I will answer some frequently asked questions about cross training for runners 🙂

What is it? 

Basically it is any activity or training that can be used as a complement to your running program.  Cross training can include  strength training, stretching/yoga/pilates, agility/plyometric drills, deep water running (which I tried for the first time last night!), hiking, swimming, cross country skiing, snow shoeing or biking.

Why do runners need to cross train?

To give your body a REST!  Running is one of the best forms of exercise as it is convenient, efficient and a full body workout BUT it is very repetitive and can lead to overuse (or under use) of some muscles.  Most runners can suffer from tight hamstrings, weakened quads and a sore back (unless they are ChiRunners of course!)  It is healthier mentally and physically to ‘mix it up’.  By doing other activities that you enjoy a few times a week you keep your body fresh and it gives you the chance to notice tightness or weakness in other parts of your body.

If you are a runner who is trying to lose weight, strength training is the best way to shed some extra pounds.  Building lean muscle, means you will increase your metabolism and with a proper diet consistent cardio/running workouts this will lead to fat loss.  Who doesn’t want to be as light as possible when running?  Lowering your body fat percentage/trimming inches makes it easier on the joints while running and less chaffing between the legs or under the arms with less fat on your body!

How often should I cross train?

It depends on your schedule but I recommend doing at least 1 day a week of something other than running.  All runners will benefit from doing 2 strength training workouts a week and stretching (or yoga) everyday!

Why do I need to train my legs? Isn’t running good enough?

Running is a great workout for your legs but the running motion works the same muscles over and over again.  Leg strengthening exercises help address muscle imbalances that could lead to an injury.  Lifting weights also adds power to the legs which translates into speed!  I recommend focusing on strength training your legs during the ‘off season’ and doing more maintenance type workouts during training leading up to a race.

The bottom line is this: Find an activity you enjoy (or hate to do because you aren’t good at it but most likely need to do more of) and do it a couple of times a week to give yourself a great mental and physical break from running!  Just ask my clients who run how much easier and enjoyable it is to run with a strong core, legs and upper body and improved flexibility and posture from following a consistent strength training routine.

Contact me for more tips on how to implement cross training into your running/training program.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Les 🙂

What’s on YOUR iPod??

I am the type of person who doesn’t normally work out or run with an iPod, mostly because I find that the ear phones never stay in and the cords always get in the way-SUPER annoying!  But during the winter I find that it’s tougher to motivate myself to  get out for a run (especially with the weather we’ve been having lately)…so I decided to try running with my iPod.  The result? My runs are WAY more enjoyable, I find my pace is quicker and the music makes me feel like I can run forever!!!  Pretty obvious I know, but something I hadn’t tried in awhile 🙂

Here are my top 10 fave songs to run (and dance!) to…

1. C’Mon-Tiesto

2. Wild Ones-Flo Rida ft Sia

3. Turn up the Music-Chris Brown

4. Beautiful People-Chris Brown/David Guetta (and anything else Chris Brown or David Guetta!)

5. Last Friday Night-Katy Perry

6. Part of Me-Katy Perry

7. Levels-Avicii

8. We Found Love- Rihanna

9. Raise Your Weapon-Deadmau5

10. A Real Hero-College ft Electric Youth (from the movie DRIVE)

This list goes on (lots of music is required on my 2hr + runs!) but these are a few of my faves that I put on repeat 🙂

What do you like to run/workout to??  I am always looking to update my iPod…

Have a great weekend!!

Les 🙂

Start the New Year off with a Personal Challenge!

With a New Year starting tomorrow what better way to start the New Year off with a bang then starting a 30 day challenge?!  Join me in a 30 day nutrition and fitness challenge to ensure your commitment to health and fitness in the New Year.  This challenge will kick start your 2012 and get you on your way to a healthier, happier you…and hopefully it will help you pick up a new habit after the 30 days 😉

Here are some ideas for your 30 day nutrition and/or fitness challenge:

Try running everyday (for at least 30 minutes)-Check out my friend’s blog for more details

No alcohol for 30 days

30 days of eating clean (only raw foods-no refined/processed/fast foods)

30 days of fitness (classes/workouts)

30 day yoga challenge (I may try this one!)

Get up early everyday

Cook a new healthy meal everyday

Drink 3 liters of water everyday

Eat more  fruits and vegetables

Eat breakfast everyday (for those of you who don’t already)

Remember chose something that YOU want to do!  I would love to hear your own ideas and experiences from your 30 day challenge!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Les 🙂

What is ChiRunning? (Guest Post by Eric Collard)

What is ChiRunning?

A lot of folks ask me what ChiRunning is all about. No, you don’t do Tai Chi while you run and no, it’s not that you move around with a chai latte in your hands either!

One of my favourite things about ChiRunning is that it builds body awareness. The technique reinforces proper posture and alignment while stressing proper form instead of making the movements “perfect”. Most people simply speed through life and have no idea how their body moves. ChiRunning makes you aware of the biomechanics involved in running so you can be gentler to your body. It takes running from a sport to a practice, similar to yoga, and makes mind-body connection a key to true progress, not just speed.

ChiRunning is all about running from your core. In order to be more efficient as a runner, you have to be aligned and let your centre bring you forward instead of relying on your legs to take you along for the ride. Your core is where you get the bulk of your power and is the link between the upper and lower body. Almost 60% of your power output comes from your core so why not use it to the fullest?

It seems we lose our ability to lose ourselves in our movements and have fun as we age. I find the technique helps you bring you back to your youthful days. Most people could run forever when they were kids since they were in the moment but you lose that ability as you age for some odd reason. Don’t take ourselves too seriously. Just get out there, forget about your ego for a few minutes and experience things!

Eric Collard is one of 13 certified ChiRunning instructors in Canada and he has taught the technique to close to 300 people around Canada in the past two years. He is also an NCCP-certified triathlon coach and a Lululemon Alumni Run Ambassador. You can connect with him on Twitter (@_ECinc) or on his blog.











If you haven’t been to a ChiRunning workshop yet I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you go!  Eric runs workshops all over Canada but does many here in Ottawa.  The next one he will be running is Sunday December 11 from 1-5pm at the Louis Riel dome.  Check out his website for more information!  Register now as they fill up quickly!

I went to his workshop earlier in the year (as did many of my clients) and I was blown away by the things that I learned about my running form (it was bad and was the reason why I kept getting injured).  Having read the book before (ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer) also helped a lot as I was familiar with the ChiRunning principles.  I have been practicing ChiRunning for almost a year now and not only am I more aware of my posture and form while I run but I have been injury-free (even after training for/and finishing a full marathon and a half marathon in the same year)!  So for all your runners out there or wanna-be runners or people who want to learn more about what ChiRunning is please feel free to email Eric  at

Les 🙂

Don’t Let the Winter Months Ruin your Running!

With Christmas just around the corner, the holidays can take up all our time and be a good excuse to miss a run, a yoga class or a workout. Now I am not saying to go crazy and run in -40 weather or when the sidewalks are pure ice BUT it is smart to maintain a lighter running program at the least. If you plan to run any races in the spring you should definitely run throughout the winter as it will be easier to start training when the weather gets nice (and it will also help you keep your weight off over the Christmas holidays!)

Another way to motivate yourself to run in the winter is to sign up for a holiday race such as the Santa Shuffle (in most cities) or the Resolution Run. Or better yet sign up for a race somewhere warm in Feb/March, that way you will have to train through the holidays and get to reward yourself with a sunny destination race. I am planning to do the Around the Bay 30km Race in Hamilton (not everyone’s favourite spring break location :P) at the end of March which means training will begin December 1st…

No matter what you do, a little bit of running over the holidays can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, have fun with a friend or maintain your training program and your weight.

For more tips on how to stay warm while running in the winter check out my friend Tess (and her friend Jess’) blog post from today…

If this little dog can run in the winter so can you! Look at how much fun he is having!

How many of my readers run throughout the winter months?? What do you love most about it??

Check back in the future for more winter running tips (especially for those of you who are too nervous/scared to run in the snow…I used to feel the same way!)

Les 🙂