Rave: Learn to like running

We have a love-hate relationship with running here on the fourth floor. Love: being completely energized and refreshed post-run (and post-shower), knowing you just burned a couple hundred calories, and that muscles-are-sore-in-the-best-way-possible feeling. Hate: being a sweaty, red-faced mess in public, being unable to catch your breath, and feeling like you may die at any moment. Some of us are newbie and/or wannabe runners, and wanted to share our tips for how to actually like running… or at least stop hating it.

First thing’s first: Don’t underestimate the power of a brisk walk to warm up and post-run stretching. This article from the Globe and Mail notes pre-run stretching can be counter-productive and compares stretching to piece of gum. “You put it in your mouth and chew it for 10 minutes – then take it out and stretch it. Voila! It stretches with ease. Take that same piece of gum out of your mouth and put it on a table, then try to stretch it 10 minutes later when it’s cold. It stretches with resistance and snaps. Muscles work very much the same way.” Try these post-run stretches from Huffington Post.

Next, have realistic expectations and set a goal. You will not be able to run 5k right off the bat, and if you try, you will most likely never run again. Ease yourself into it with an app like Couch to 5k, a running program designed to get just about anyone from the couch to running five kilometers or 30 minutes in just nine weeks. It alternates walking and running intervals, gradually increasing the run over nine weeks, until you are able to run 5k or 30 minutes non-stop. RunKeeper is another cool app that lets you enter a target pace at the start of your activity and get coached on whether you are ahead/behind that pace through your headphones, along with tracking how far you went, how long it took you, and the route you travelled. 

RunKeeper app.

Running is easy on the wallet given it’s free and you can do it just about anywhere, but we do recommend investing in a quality pair of shoes, if nothing else. A good pair of shoes will absorb the impact on your bones and joints, saving your knees and shins. We like Reebok Runtone – the airpods on the outsole create micro-instability, activating your muscles as you stabilize yourself, while the synthetic mesh offers breathability for your feet.

Something else worth investing in, especially for our larger-chested friends, is a decent sports bra. Our friend at Happy or Hungry who has big nungas herself (as she calls them), has done the research and recos the Ta Ta Tamer from Lululemon. Cheaper bras are okay for strength training and yoga, etc. but you’ll definitely want to keep strapped in on the run, so it’s worth the trip to Lulu.

Ta Ta Tamer II from Lululemon.

Some other easy ways to enjoy your run include making a killer playlist (try not to listen to these songs until your run so you are pumped when you hear them!), listening to an audio book, or catching up on Mad Men (when on the treadmill). Basically, make your run interesting so you’re not focused on the hard parts. Switching from the treadmill to an outdoor jaunt can help too – a change of scenery can do wonders.

We’d run every day if this was our view: shirtless Matthew McConaughey.

And remember: You don’t have to run fast. You just have to run.

Fave Five: Toronto Running Routes

With spring finally here (was it ever really winter, though?), it’s time to jump off the treadmill and take our cardio out-of-doors. There are so many great spots to run – or walk, if that’s your thing – in Toronto, but we’ve highlighted our favourite five 5k routes in the city:

Lakeshore: Summertime Run 

Toronto has a beautiful lakeshore to run along (and let’s hope that’s never marred by a casino, Mayor Ford). Start at the base of Lower Spadina and run past the marina, lusting over the beautiful boats docked there. Continue west through Coronation Park until you join up with Lake Shore Blvd. W. Cross the foot bridge (bonus points if you sprint up the steps) and Exhibition Place. Loop east to Strachan, cross at the lights and follow your route back to the marina. Enjoy the sound of seagulls and refreshing lake breeze.

High Park: City Escape Trail 

High Park is ideal for running – not just because it brings us closer to nature, but because the hilly routes are challenging, so you can really gain endurance by sticking with this route for a few weeks or so. Starting at Bloor and Clendenan Ave. run east and enter the park at High Park Ave. Stick right along W. Rd. until it meets up with Colbourne Lodge Dr. Head north for a hot minute until you turn onto Centre Rd. Hang a Louie onto Spring Rd. and high-tail it back to your starting point. Or collapse on an inviting patch of grass for some sun salutations or a quick cat nap before heading back.

Cabbagetown: Wishful Thinking Route 

Ah, Cabbagetown. What was once a low-income neighbourhood back in the day is now full of beautiful, fully-restored heritage homes (read: out of your budget). See how the 1% live by following this lovely route. Beginning just north of College on Bleeker, run straight until you reach Howard St. Then turn right and head towards Parliament, where you’ll change direction southward.  Once you reach the cemetery entrance, head inside and do a loop of the perimeter. Exit the same way you went in and continue down Parliament, hanging a left onto Wellesley St. E. Run until you hit Sumach St. Wonder how little Cabbagetown homes  cost 25 years ago. Curse your bank account and lack of foresight. Head west along Winchester St. until you return to your starting point. Shuffle dejectedly back to your rented apartment. Thank the higher powers for that natural runner’s high that will eventually boost your spirits.

Toronto Island: Adventure Run 

Use the Centre Island ferry ride over to warm up and stretch so you’re ready to run as soon as the platform lowers. Take off down the Avenue of the Island (romantic) all the way until you hit Lakeshore and then head left towards Ward’s Island. Careful on the boardwalk (it can be a little uneven). This side of the island is usually not that busy, so feel free to sing along with your iPod. Keep wrapping around the point and cut back through the residential area of the island. Wish that you, too, lived on the island upon seeing the idyllic little homes. Connect back to Cibola Ave. and finish in front of the Rectory. Grab an iced tea and wait for the Ward Island Ferry to take you back to the Big Smoke.

Financial District: Ghost-town Sprint 

Save this run for a morning on Saturday or Sunday for full effect. Start off at Victoria Memorial Park and run east on Wellington, straight past all the empty office towers. Keep going until you hit Church then loop up and back via King St. Imagine you’re in The Walking Dead and there are zombies hiding in the eerily quiet buildings. Run faster. Keep sprinting until you start to see city life again. Whip down Portland, back to the park. You survived!