#runstory // NAT

#runstory // NAT

"I got into running to recover. I was burnt out after starting up the Food Wolf and running it full time for three years. It was starting to wear on me. Even though running is the last thing you feel like doing when you’re fatigued and overwhelmed and overstressed and overworked - I got some gentle encouragement that running might be helpful to emerge from that.

I ran before, for about three years just for fun on and off, until something switched. It was only when I was least taking care of myself that running took care of me.

The woods were the switch. I realized that running can be a lot more fun when you do it on trail. Trail showed me that running could be a restorative activity, while pounding pavement sporadically was hard and didn’t always leave me with a good feeling. When I got into the woods, I realized it was a skill I could build over time and it got me hooked in.

I didn’t know there would be such a sense of belonging with a crew until I went into the woods - these people just as wild and crazy as I am who want to go for long runs in the middle of the wilderness. They don’t know you, but there’s a tacit unspoken trust from strangers - whatever happens in the woods, they’ll take care of you.
I really like that sense of belonging. It grew on me, it grew me on trail, then one day I realized the trail crew was the same crew running road, so I might as well just run road.

Now I take two days off and I’m like ‘I don’t know if I can do this!’ You know that feeling? If you take a couple of days off you feel like maybe you’ve never run a step in your life. But it takes a special kind of road discipline to maintain trail. 

Trail is really sensory. You could say that a lot of my work in food and my career in public relations is about creating a sensory experience, whether it’s through words or through taste – I live to share those experiences. You have to be present on trail. You have to show up, pay attention a little bit more. You can’t really space out. It’s a lot of positive ions, so it charges you up, it works your entire body in a different way than running road. I find in the woods you always finish strong because you’re outside, regardless of the conditions, there’s something so free about it. You can completely disconnect from everything else when you run trail. Somebody else has an emergency phone, somebody else has a first aid kit. You can leave everything behind and check out, and I need that decompression to show up and perform in other areas. Running trail feeds the other parts of my life.

I’m registered for the Fundy Circuit 50K Ultra and I’m really fucking excited for it. Running trail is like the alternative side of running - it’s becoming more and more popular but it’s still sort of alt  – we do things and see things a little differently than road runners. I’m building my whole training plan around the concept of rest and active resting. I’m training for the 50 by sleeping and running more trail. Basically my motto for the next three months is ‘sleep more, run trail’.
So that’s my goal, and then I registered for the East Coast Ultra in Newfoundland a month later, because if I’m going to run Fundy I might as well run Newfoundland - wtf, I’ve never been, why not? It’s a barely manageable stretch goal. To go from having only just started trail running in July 2016 to running an ultra in September 2017 – that’s big. But I’ve learned a lot about how to rest through running. When you get home from the woods you have to actively chill. I’ve always been good at chilling, but I’m better now.

For anyone interested in trail running, I would say approach it with a lot of playfulness and lightheartedness. Enjoy it. Forget that you’re running, you’re not really running, you’re just going through the woods. It’s not about the athletics here, it’s about you being at ease with yourself, finding your flow and being ok alone in the forest. 

You’re won’t be going as fast as you think, but you’ll be going faster than you ever thought you could."

Check Nat's headstanding and trail running adventures on insta @nataliechavarie

#runstory // TROY

#runstory // TROY

"It’s daunting. When I think about it too much there are butterflies in my stomach. My previous self would say ‘don’t do it man, you’re crazy’. But now I’m curious about how far I can go, because every week I go further. If I can finish it, even better.

Signing up for the marathon happened on a whim, it was an New Year's resolution thing. I was in Dartmouth and I thought ‘this is where the offices of the Bluenose Marathon are’. I just went in, then before I knew it I’d signed up and paid, and then it was too late to back down. I signed up for the full 42.2K. The longest I’ve run so far is 27.

I would never have thought of doing this before – nothing remotely like this. I have so much respect for marathon runners now. Not that I didn’t before, but there’s a lot of thinking and strategy involved, it isn’t purely physical. It’s not just a distance, it’s a feat.

I started running a year ago. Before that, I used to do the Terry Fox run once a year. I’d prepare for it a bit, and that was the only running I did all year. I thought about looking for a group, so I went to the Run Nova Scotia website to research and I realized NER was super close. If you’re not right there at 6pm, you could miss it – you’d never know there’s a gathering of runners two blocks from where you live. So I came to my first run with the crew and I was probably 15 minutes behind everybody. But still it was nice, and it got better after that.

They were really supportive. My slow pace was OK with the crew – and nobody was giving me unwanted advice. I really liked that. I just showed up, tried my best, and that was it. I was surprised at how much easier it got - and I keep surprising myself.

A few weeks ago we ran the Glebe Street Gutbuster – a full year after my first run when I lost everybody – I was feeling really good, I was leading all the way and it felt great. I know anybody could have caught up to me at any time, but I was happy it was easy to do. It was uplifting.

Training for the full has got me believing in my abilities more. Running through the winter was hard, but because I had the Bluenose I’d signed up for, I had to do it – and now I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Remembering the cold days and the rainy days I didn’t want to run, but I had to go, because it was part of the training program. I know I’ll hit a ceiling at some point (maybe next week) but I want to see how far I can push it.

My former self would’ve thought this was impossible – a full marathon or even a half? No way. But I guess reason left out the back door and my shoes and my feet are taking command.

I think I’m more confident now. I know the Bluenose loop. I’ve done it now in different conditions. I’ve done all I could. I just want to complete it. I don’t know how I’ll feel when I do - soreness, extreme pain, numbness? I might cry. If I finish it I don’t think it’ll even set in, I think it might take me a few days to realize it.

I know I’ll have fun though – I’ve been told the experience is amazing with people cheering and everything – they’re cheering for everybody."

Bluenose Marathon weekend kicks off May 19. Come out and cheer with the crew on May 21.

#runstory // JANNA

#runstory // JANNA

"I grew up playing competitive sports and running was always one of my strengths. I played soccer in first year University but after getting cut in second year, I joined the cross country running team and I’ve been running ever since. Over the years I’ve been dabbling in road races and I recently found a love for trail running with the NER crew.

While one of my strengths in sports growing up was my running ability, leading and inspiring others was always important to me as well. I got to be team captain a lot, and teaching yoga is a way to keep doing this in my adult life.

I've been practicing yoga for over 10 years, but it wasn't until I went through some emotional hardships that I really connected with it on another level.

We went through years of unsuccessfully trying to have children and it just sucked. Up to that point with everything else in life, if you wanted it, you just worked harder for it and you could make it happen eventually. But on those long days of dwelling and not being able to get out of my own head about it, I could get on my yoga mat and just feel so much better.

Yoga helped me heal by accepting what’s in my life, but also accepting what’s not in my life. I just had to say ‘maybe this isn’t my path’ – and when I finally got to that point, I got so much happier again.

I don’t think you can fully get there unless you take the time to actually ask yourself those tough questions, and be with the emotions and with the feelings. That doesn’t have to be yoga for everybody, but for me it was yoga.

Yoga and running are more than ways to feel good physically – for me, they’re a release. The road or the mat are where I can go and take time out of my day to unwind, reconnect and clear my head. Whether it’s by myself, when I can really let go and get into the music, or with someone – and get that social aspect with the crew. Those conversations are a way to tune out from every other chaotic part of your day.

I heard a quote the other day; ‘it’s not about whether you can touch your toes, it’s about the journey on the way down’.

I just want to continue to grow."

Janna teaches yoga at Shanti and MEC in downtown Halifax


#runstory // DAMIAN

#runstory // DAMIAN

"I needed something. I needed to do something that was both a mental break and a physical motivation. Maybe it was age or just wanting more solitary time, but I found my way back to running.

I hadn’t run for years after sprinting a lot in high school – I was active, playing squash and basketball – but I’d just got into in other stuff and I didn’t have anyone around me who was running, which made a huge difference. It was just me. 

But last year running became social. It became emotional. Last year was the first year I had a run goal. I wanted to run 1000K - I ran 1300. Every other year of my life I don’t think I’ve run more than 100, maybe 150K. I went from 150 to 1300K in 2016.

It’s so hard to describe the joy that I get from coming out every Wednesday. It was really intimidating at first, but now I look forward to it. It’s the motivation. There are just so many positive vibes going through the crew. I can talk to anyone. Everyone’s so open and not competitive and humble, it’s amazing. It’s really hard to describe to people. It’s something I look forward to the most every week, because it’s positive physically, socially and mentally – it’s uplifting in every way.

This year I want to go sub 45 at the Fredricton 10K, and sub 20 for at the Bluenose 5K. I’ll run Cabot with the crew too, and the Natal Day Road Race 2 Miler in Dartmouth - it’s probably my favourite race. And hopefully I’ll run 1000 miles, which is a sub goal for the year.

I don’t do this because I’m trying to be the fastest, I’m doing it for myself. It’s become part of my life. Whether people run or not, people have their own things that motivate them, that make them feel good and that they value. Running is that thing for me."