Tag: Nike

Fitness Swellness: Reaching Volt Level on Nike Run Club app

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I never knew attending the media launch of NikePlus in Toronto in the spring of 2007 would turn me into a runner who just last month logged 15,000 kilometres on the NRC app to reach Volt Level.

I couldn’t have predicted it. I hated running in gym class in school. I remember walking with a stitch in my side as I walked the perimetre of the schoolyard and hating my life at that moment.

I got to learn a little bit about running just before the NikePlus system launched here; my sister had gotten into running, and at the time I just didn’t understand the sport at all. I didn’t know a marathon was by definition 42.2k (I thought any run was a marathon and would call a 10k race a marathon, hahaha), and when I went to cheer her at her races, I didn’t understand how she’d been running for several hours, nor how we were able to predict where to find her along the route.

But I went to the NikePlus launch in 2007 and given I’d just started covering health for Flare magazine, I soon after registered for a Learn to Run clinic at the Running Room so I could put this system to use (back then the system involved putting the little sensor into the sole of your shoe, remember?!).

From there, I went onto the 5k clinic, 10k clinic and half-marathon. I stuck to the half distance for a little while since my time was quite slow, and I found myself struggling. Then I discovered I had a Graves Disease (that is, an overactive thyroid autoimmune disorder), which was why I would get so tired running (I’ll never forget my endocrinologist’s look of shock when I asked about running halfs and his direct order to not run long distances since it causes your muscles to tire quickly meant that I had to take a break for longer distances for a bit). A difficult breakup caused me to take another break, and then finally with my thyroid issues sorted out, and a halfhearted desire to get my life back on track, I joined a clinic again with a friend. It helped pull me out of depression, and I went on to register for marathon clinic, and I ran my first marathon in 2012, and finished with a time I was thrilled about for my first marathon.

Over the following eight years til now, I ran several other marathons (including Chicago for my third time in this race which I ran with a horrible cold) and halfs (my most recent and most memorable being the Dead Sea Half-Marathon), and a few 30ks (namely Around the Bay, which I last ran in 2014). Which brings us to 2020…

I’ve never been a runner who does a high volume, but with the pandemic, and no races in the calendar thanks to the pandemic, I decided to make simply logging distance a goal, so for April, I aimed to run 200k. Done and done.

And then at the end of April, when I needed another goal to keep me going, I came across the Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee 1000k and realized that if I registered, I would reach Volt Level and cross the GVRAT finish line at the same time. And if I could run 200k, certainly I could do 250k for the next four months, right?

I quickly realized my finish lines for Volt and GVRAT would not coincide since the virtual race is based on Lazarus Lake miles (and because the actual distance across Tennessee is actually 1021.68k) but no biggie, they’d just be a day or two apart. I registered for GVRAT…and within a week became intent on finishing the race as quickly as my body would allow without getting injured. Full breakdown of my GVRAT obsession in this post here!

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And less than two months into this virtual race, on a very hot and humid Sunday morning, June 28th, I reached Volt Level on NRC! 15,000 kilometres run. Given the number of runs not counted on NRC for a variety of reasons, I know IRL I reached this distance a little while go but I try not to focus on that missing data (but anyone who tracks their runs and for whom it’s a big motivating factor knows how it can make the run not seem like it even happened, hahaha). It took 13 years, and an intense 1021.68k race during a pandemic to get me to reach this level now (without GVRAT, I would’ve reached Volt sometime later this year).

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In terms of the NRC app, I have to say reaching Volt status was a little underwhelming in terms of the app. I expected something celebatory on the app. But the only difference is the screen now is the signature Volt yellow. It doesn’t even appear under the Achievements tab. But that’s OK, I have my own run celebration in store for this (hello, burger picnic with my running pal who’s also doing the GVRAT!). Oh, and I’ll happily be returning to using the NRC app on my Apple Watch rather than my phone (I had to switch for a few months as I didn’t have an iPhone to sync with my watch).

Although I find much of the personal motivation from the numbers (my pace, the kilometres I’ve completed, etc., etc.), the sport is about so much more than just the numbers, though. Running has brought so much to my life and changed me as a person. I’ve made good friends though the sport, had the opportunity to run in some incredible places around the world (Istanbul! The Dead Sea! Philly! Vancouver! To name just few.), and it’s pulled me out of low times in my lif, which I wrote about for Flare in 2012. The lessons in strength and resilience it’s taught me are immeasurable. On the days I dread having to run (because, believe it or not, I don’t consider myself someone who loves running, it’s very obvious to me when I talk to runners who are truly passionate about the actual act of running), I remind myself of all of the things running does do to enrich my life in incredible ways to get me to slog through sweaty, endless runs.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank you to Nike Canada for all of the support and gear and running opportunities through these 13 years, and the gear and events from other brands as well such as Apple, Reebok, Saucony, New Balance, Gatorade, Saucony and iRun magazine. (My apologies for brands I’ve overlooked, I think I’m still weary from my 1000k race!).

15,000k complete, and so many kilometres to go. There is no finish line.

Leave a Comment July 13, 2020

Fitness Swellness: Setting my 2019 race goals

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A better title for this post would be re-setting my 2019 race goals. Because I had spring 2019 goals, that I’ve had to adjust.

I kicked off the year thinking I’d run Around the Bay (I haven’t run it in several years, not since 2014) and the spring Goodlife Toronto Marathon (which I last ran in 2015). And so I ran regularly. Having trained for 12 marathons thus far, I didn’t look at a particular race schedule but rather worked on slowing increasing my distance and mixing in speed work or hills, along with some steady easy runs, and I was more or less on track in terms of total mileage more towards the beginning of the year.

But the winter weather wasn’t very motivating. Add the fact that I seem to continuing my streak of coming down with colds way too often. I also have a persistent pinched nerve in my neck that has me not feeling much like myself for the past five weeks. (I haven’t yet seen a physio yet; the plan was to go this week, and then I came down with a cold!).

I called off running Around the Bay when a couple of weeks ago, I was at the start of my long run of the week and realized my fitness is nowhere near where I’d need it to be to PB in the marathon in May. Since it was highly unlikely I’d run a PB, I didn’t see the point of training for a spring marathon. You have to really want to run a marathon, and with my heart not in it, well, the truth of it is, I know I can complete a marathon…so I don’t want to just finish another 42.2k race. It won’t be significant to me to just complete it or much fun.

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I knew calling off doing Around the Bay and a spring marathon was the right move when the idea solidified in my head to not race them and all I felt was a rush of relief. Not having to plod through long runs through the grey and (then) slushy streets. I felt a hundred times lighter by just deciding to delete them from my calendar.

But today I realized my secondary goal is now out of reach as well. I had thought I’d try to turn my fastest half-marathon. which I have not focused on since moving up to the marathon distance. But I’ve procrastinated (or been out of commission thanks to colds or my silly pinched nerve problem) too long and now the Goodlife race weekend is just four weeks away. I haven’t slashed this from my schedule yet. But if I run it, it’ll be to just run it for fun, because I have not focused on improving my speed so I am not in shape to PB. A half I think can be fun, for me, a marathon is too long and grueling to be fun, no matter how slow and easy you take it.

What this means now is that fall is the focus. Which means a summer of training in the heat. I think I commit to training best when I’ve got a race I am registered for (not just tentative race goals). The easiest would be to just keep it local and run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (I last ran the half was in 2016)…but I’m thinking I should do a destination race.

One fitness goal that I did accomplish so far this year? Making it through all eight weeks of working out with Nike on Thursday mornings (I may have been late almost every week, but this non-morning person got her butt there!). With my scattered schedule for the past several years finally settling into a much less stressful routine, I’m really happy that I was able to attend all eight weeks of this program. It’s funny the things you come to appreciate. I still adore traveling and am itching to get away but it’s also incredibly comforting to be home and follow through on things like this.

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Photographer, Hanna Kim-Yoo for Nike Toronto.

2 Comments April 4, 2019

Healthy Swellness: 2018 Year in review

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2018 was a struggle.

Was it worse than last year? No. 2017 was stressful, and this year was just stressful but rather than feeling super wound up about it, I spent much of this year numb, as though my brain just shut down because I couldn’t manage even the energy and thoughts it takes to get stressed out. I’m not sure if it’s thanks to years of freelancing (which as fun as it may seem from the outside, you have to put a lot of pressure on yourself, or at least I do, and I find it quite anxiety inducing). I had too many days when I just felt like I could only throw up my arms because I just felt I couldn’t adult anymore.

When times like that would hit me hard, it’d take digging deep and reminding myself of the good things I had going on through the year…

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I found better balance in my schedule this year. 2016 left me burnt out with 31 trips, so in 2017 I scaled back but still found myself stressed with being away from home too often. This year, I happily settled into a manageable balance between travel, work and life at home. I traveled nine times plus four road trips (and two same-day trips but those don’t really count, it’s the being away from home overnight that throws my schedule for a loop). Those trips included some favourites, such as Calgary and Banff and Chicago (three times!), and new destinations I’ve long had my list, including one epic drive down Highway 1 in California in a rare vintage Mercedes and the incredible Mexico City. I often had FOMO in the past about travel, but after steady travel for several years now and it being extremely draining, but now I know these amazing places in the world will always be there. It’s not worth sacrificing my sanity to flit around the world every other week. This year I felt much more relaxed and loved having time to take Billie Jean on hikes and to see friends.

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I made new friends and made time for existing friendships. About a year ago, out of the blue, I got a really sweet note from an acquaintance, because, kind and empathetic person that she is, she knew I was ruminating about an altercation she’d been witness to. I’d only met Tiffany a few times in real life on a couple of press trips, but we got to know each other well when I was coming to Calgary for work and she invited me to plan extra days and stay with her and her adorable family and we explored Banff and Canmore together (this part of Alberta is one of my most favourites of everywhere I’ve traveled). And she’s just as fun and awesome as I thought she’d be. In addition to new friends,  I spent more quality time with my old friends. From fun dining out excursions whenever I had a car to the very first solo trip with one of my best friends. Life often gets in the way for us to hang out together regularly but she was able to come along on a press trip with me in December to Miami for a cruise. I’m so happy we were able to spend that time together (plus it was on the Celebrity Edge cruise ship, which is a stunner; I’ll post about that soon).

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I worked with brands I’m thrilled to support. So real talk, this “influencer” world is a mega frustrating realm to work in. With people buying followers and likes or not being transparent, it’s not an equal playing field whatsoever so it can be aggravating. But it is incredibly rewarding when speaking to certain brands about partnerships and hearing how they perceive Health & Swellness and why they want to partner with me, and I see that they really get what I’ve created for my platform. This year included working with brands I’ve long been a fan of including Reebok, President’s Choice, Shoppers Drug Mart, YMCA, Clif Bar, Kind Snacks, to name just a few, plus press trips with Marriott. And let’s not forget Michelob Ultra; besides repping the brand and racing in their Night Race, I had a steady stock of beer all summer, so it was a good summer, cheers!

I started working with some great outlets and people. In addition to having more stability and routine in my life thanks to traveling less, I also started working with two brands on a more regular basis and the teams for both are very supportive and open to my ideas and they’re just a joy to work with. One is You Are UNLTD, a magazine and website focused on changing the convo when it comes to aging. Aging doesn’t mean shriveling up and all sadness, people! And the other is D’FYNE magazine, a fitness and lifestyle magazine for women 40+. I swear that working on that mag makes me want to work out more, these women are fit and so incredibly strong.

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I ran my 12th marathon and, oh yeah, I was on a Nike billboard. While I’m still chasing that elusive BQ, and this year I raced less than usual, I ran the Chicago Marathon for the third time and had a decent result considering I had an awful cold for the race. Despite that, that race weekend in the Windy City will forever be a running “career” highlight thanks to the fun Nike squad, the informative and fun activations I got to attend and yes, that Nike billboard of me on Michigan Avenue.

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Even now looking at this photo of me with the poster, it still doesn’t seem like real life.

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I had to say goodbye to my first fur kid, but my sweet animal kingdom continues to bond. I suffered a huge loss about six weeks ago: my cat Kobe passed away at home. He was 17 years old. Kobe was a chill cat, he minded his own business and wasn’t one to seek attention from other people but of all the pets, he was always the one who wanted the most snuggles from me. I adopted him 16 years ago, so he moved with my from uptown to the east end and to the west end and in that time had to welcome not only a tiny kitten but also a rescue dog into his household and has been there though many upheavals in my life. I wasn’t prepared for him to go, but can you ever be ready for that? I think of him daily, and my heart still feel broken (I think it always will). I miss his presence and loud snores very much.

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The other two nutballs, Mya and Billie Jean, are healthy and happy. Mya, since Kobe’s death, seeks much more affection and I love that she’ll often come to snooze beside me now. As for Billie Jean, she continues to adapt to life in the city. She’s much more curious about people in the park and is much quicker to trust people than she was before (even letting people she just meets to pet her). One of the best days this year is when I happened to track down puppy photos from her rescue home in the DR and learned about her origin story. The joy and delight she exudes gives my heart a lift every single day. You have to spend time with her to see what I mean. My bestie who adores Billie Jean has said she’s never met a dog like her, and that part of what makes Billie Jean so sweet and special is because she’s happy, she’s really happy. I won the lottery with my rescue pup and my two cats. Love you and miss you, Kobester.

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So what’s next for 2019…

I didn’t accomplish many things I wanted to in 2018; I didn’t have time to blog about things I’m passionate about as much as I wanted to from the start of the year; for several years now, I’ve been wanting to pick up my reading habit again (I used to read a book a week at least, but haven’t done that in forever). I don’t have a fully fleshed out list of goals, but working on this blog more and reading remain on that list.

I also would like to improve my health and fitness. This year, I came down with what felt like cold after cold. I’m writing this right now sniffling and tired, actually. Thankfully nothing more serious health-wise, but it’s not like me to be under the weather so often and so I need to improve my immunity; maybe just wash my hands a helluva lot more, and take vitamin C. Fitness-wise, I want this to be an epic running year, and I’ll soon be choosing a few key races for spring and fall. I also want to incorporate a little more variety into my workouts, and in fact have already started to by going Spinning, taking a few classes at Studio Lagree and meditating using the app Calm (a gift from partnering with Capital One).

2019 is a fresh start. I still have much to get in order but I’m feeling good about climbing out of this rut. Life is fleeting. Even before Kobe died, I knew his time was near and so I made an effort to dance around the living room with him more often and let him cuddle as long as he pleased even if it meant I was trapped sitting or lying down when I had shit to get done. Nowadays,  I tell Mya and Billie Jean how much I love them every day and smother them with affection, and reach out to friends more, even if it’s just a quick text to let them know I’m thinking of them. The year will fly by in a blink of an eye. So let’s learn lessons from this past year, move on and make the most of 2019.

Wishing you a safe and happy new year, whether that’s out partying or at home and asleep before midnight!

Karen xo

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P.S. Here’s my #2018BestNine. The Chicago Marathon figures prominently (I mean, being on a Nike billboard is effing epic!) plus a few travel photos (Miami and Bowen Island) made into my most liked posts. By no means reflective of my year or what my real everyday life is all about, but we all know how Instagram is, but definitely some great moments from the past year that have helped shaped me into who I am today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment December 31, 2018

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