Tag Archives: running

One Step at a Time

Part Two – Putting One Foot in Front of the Other; the Beginning of Cardiovascular Wellness.

Getting yourself moving sounds like an easy step, but for someone who is beginning their wellness journey for the first time, or someone who is starting to work out again after some time off, it can be really daunting.

Try Different Things The first place a beginner heads to when they walk in the door is the treadmill. Keep in mind that there are a lot of different things you can try when getting started, but overall the best place for anyone new to the gym is the place that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and secure.  I’m a fitness professional, and the idea of hanging out on a treadmill for an hour sounds absolutely dreadful to me.  The key to finding a successful cardiovascular program is to change it up and find something that you like to do.  The treadmill might be your favorite place in the gym, others will find the elliptical, track, or bike your happy place.  If you want to try something and don’t know how or are intimidated by it, please ask us!  There are staff working in the weight room at all of our facilities and as active people, we would much rather talk to and help our members than sit at a desk!

Not Everyone is Built to Run Every single one of us is different. Our body’s physiology and genetic code plays a great deal into what our optimal style of workout is.  There are different muscle fibres in each of us that will make certain styles of physical activity easier than others.  If you absolutely dread long distances, try inserting some higher intensity intervals into your workout.  An example of this is to run a lap, do a set of jumping jacks, running stairs, or jump rope etc… in-between resistance training (weight lifting) sets.  So of you don’t like to run, don’t stress! There’s always something else to try!

Find Your Target Heart Rate Zone, and Stay Within It! An individual’s target heart rate zone (THRZ) is based on age.  The easiest way to figure out your THRZ is with this basic equation: 220-(age)= Heart Rate Max (HRM)  This is a number that we should aim to never surpass when doing cardiovascular activity.  Multiply that number by .6 and you will get 60% of your HRM.  Multiply that first number again by .8 to find 80% HRM.  During your cardiovascular workout, you would want to monitor your heart rate and keep it between 60% and 80% of your HRM For example, if you were 25 years old, your math would look like this:

  • 220 – 25 = 195 beats per minute (BPM) as your Heart Rate Max
  • 195 x .6 = 117 BPM
  • 195 x .8 = 156 BPM

This would mean that you want your heart rate somewhere in between 117 and 156 BPM during your cardiovascular workout.

Other Options Hiking groups, team sports or group fitness classes are an amazing way to sneak in a little cardio without even noticing it! It’s fun, it’s interactive, and you can meet new people who are living a healthy balanced life to help keep you on track. Here at the YMCA there are numerous different options to get involved in both aspects.  There are registered and drop-in group fitness classes offered at every branch in the city. We also offer climbing wall classes, swim and aquatic fitness classes, as well as some sport options.  These can differ from branch to branch, so check what is offered at your home branch. A lot of towns and cities have different recreational organizations to help people get involved with team sports as well. In Calgary, a great resource to check out the Calgary Sport and Social Club.  You can join a sport by registering a full team, partial team, or an as individual to make up a full team.

Build the Habit If you miss a day, don’t get discouraged! It’s all about putting one foot in front of the other, and sometimes a stumble will happen.  This is where you need to pick yourself up, dust off those hands and take another step.  Think to yourself the number twenty one. 21. XXI.  It takes twenty one days to build a habit.  Twenty one days to notice a real difference in your physiology. Twenty one days.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll hit your stride.  You’ve got this.

Happy Trails!

YMCA Strong Kids 5K, 10K and Family Fun Run

YMCA Strong Kids 5K, 10K & Family Fun Run

Participate with your family and friends in the Strong Kids 5/10k and Family Fun Run! Sign-up as a team,support the YMCA and enjoy a fun and healthy event along the bank sof the Bow River. All proceeds help children and youth reach their potential!


Eau Claire YMCA | Saturday, May 2, 2015
5K and 10K Race 9:00am
1.5K Family Fun Run 10:30am

Adults $35 ($30 before March 1)
Youth (8Y –17Y) $20 ($15 before March 1)
Kids (7Y & under) $10 (includes t-shirt & medal)

Register Online Now!


The Joys of Winter Running

I love winter running. I love putting on 4 layers of clothing and trekking through the snow for many kilometers. Some call me crazy, but it is a whole new fitness experience and a truly beautiful way to spend part of your day.

Winter running takes some getting used to and the first run is always the hardest, especially if you make the mistakes that I did!

My first winter run, I had no idea what to wear. I thought a t-shirt, a hoodie, shorts and sweatpants would suffice because you always warm up a bit in a run. However, at -15C this set up was not going to be enough.

I started the run a little chilly, but that is almost always a great way to start a run as you will not overheat. I hit about 3 kilometres and realized that I was not warming up at all. By 5 kilometres, I felt like a giant Popsicle…a giant, unhappy Popsicle at that. At 6 km, I questioned my life choices and wondered why on earth I did this to myself.

As I passed the 8 km mark, I was under 2 km from my house. It is at this point when all runners have non-running thoughts. “This is horrible! Why would I go for a run today?! The outdoors is a terrible, evil place. I bet McDonalds wouldn’t be cold right now! I should have just ordered pizza and watched Netflix in my bed. I am throwing out my shoes the minute I get home. AAAAHHHH!”

fun run runners

A father- daughter running team during 2014 Eau Claire YMCA Family Fun Run & 10K

Good news folks! I made it home and I didn’t have any adverse medical condition upon arrival! However, I did learn the biggest lesson of my running career. If you are going to start winter running, you need the right gear. I HIGHLY suggest going to The Running Room, getting long running pants, winter running hat, and an excellent windbreaker. I promise I am not being paid by The Running Room to plug this in the article. I just believe in the products that they offer. For a small investment, you will be protected from the cold and you will be able to be successful as you tackle this new, satisfying challenge.

Living in Calgary, we have all come to terms with having three seasons: Winter, Almost Winter, and Construction. You either hide from winter or you go out in it! To avoid the monotony of continuous treadmill use and get into the great outdoors more, I suggest becoming a winter runner. The first few runs are tough, but getting out into nature has incredible mental and physical health benefits. You will feel amazing that you are tough enough to stand in Mother Nature’s frosty grasp, laugh, and run faster than the cold winds.

The Sno-cone Sprint

winter running

Winter running is a different beast, that much is true. There are many different factors you have to consider when heading out into the Arctic surface of Calgary (even in May). The air is colder, your muscles and lungs react differently and your water that you brought with you freezes. Let’s talk about water…or lack thereof in this case.

About to embark on a tasty 16 k run, I felt confident, like a Titan in sea breeze and ocean mist sailing to conquer new lands. Or like the tall guys in the Lorax who made a fortune making Thneeds.

I started the 16 k run feeling good, water bottle in hand. 1, 5, 7 kilometers go by and I didn’t even take a sip of my water. The path was mine and I was tearing it up. I reach 9 k and go to take a sip of my water but I realize the worst has cometh. My water bottle is a brick of ice. Hmmmm….

So I brainstorm. I screwed the lid off and licked the ice…not the hydration I was looking for. Apparently rubbing your tongue across a large ice cube like a puppy dog doesn’t offer a satisfactory level of liquid after running 9000 meters.

Then it hits me! “Well look around Chad! There is hydration everywhere! Hydration falls from the sky!” So I divert off the beaten path and crouch down behind some trees like Gollum from Lord of the Rings in his cave dwelling and start eating all the snow I can shovel into my face.

“I am brilliant! I should win an award for my brilliance,” I think to myself. I start running again, super dehydrated and believing that snow is the answer. Every half a kilometer, I briefly stop and look both ways for judgemental onlookers. Once the coast is clear, I avoid all signs of yellow snow and chow down on the white, fluffy goodness like a badger in the night.

When I get home, I am shaky and not feeling overly well. The dehydration seems to not be solved with my ingenious snow burgers. HOW COULD THIS BE?!

As it turns out, eating snow actually dehydrates a person further because the energy it takes your body to melt the snow is actually more than the liquid you are retaining from said snow muffin.

My advice?

1. Don’t eat snow when you run as it is not beneficial (and you look silly).

2. Don’t use a hydrapack as the water in the outer tube will freeze in under 15 minutes.

3.  Add Gatorade crystals to your water. The water will take much longer to freeze.

4. Use a large water bottle. The more water present in the container, the longer it takes to freeze


Don’t be a night badger or Gollum in the woods. Stay hydrated and stay safe.

The 5 Things Runners Are Scared Of

runners starting a race

Runners at the Starting Line during the 2014 Eau Claire YMCA Strong Kids Family Fun Run and 10Km 

1 Clouds

Mid-run unpredictable weather is the worst. Every runner mentally shouts at the sky, “WHAT SORCERY DO YOU HOLD WITHIN YOUR PUFF!?”

2. Lack of signal to the GPS wrist watch

If you see a man or a woman wildly waving their arm in the air while going for a run, DO NOT PANIC! There is no bear chasing them nor are they inventing a dance move called the jelly elbow. It is a runner simply trying to get a signal back to the GPS wrist watch. Just feel pity for the poor soul, nothing more, nothing less.

3. Clipping your toenails before a race

Nobody knows fear like this. Toe nail too long? Enjoy the self-loathing and sock snagging for 42 k! Toe nail to short? It will feel like a muskrat is gnawing at your foot for the entire duration of your run.

4. Not having consistent access to the weather network at all times of the day.

If you cannot access live updates of the humidex, temperature, and precipitation forecasts on your TV, tablet, cell phone, a family member’s cell phone as a back-up, computer and an emergency dial-up connection…THIS will send every runner into a fit of panic.

5.  The shoe-shopping vortex

Do I pronate or supinate? Which brand do I choose? How do these support my feet? How do these ones look? Are my feet wonky? Etc.. Etc… By the time you walk out of the store, your car is the only one in the parking lot, it’s nighttime and you don’t know what year it is.


UNOFFICIAL RESULTS YMCA Strong Kids 10k & Family Fun Run

family running

CONGRATULATIONS to all the YMCA Strong Kids 10k & Family Fun Run participants on a successful run today!


Here are the unofficial results: http://results.blitzevents.ca/#/race/34




The 10 km Race starts at 9:00am. The 1.5 km Family Fun Run starts at 10:30am

Support the YMCA and enjoy a fun and healthy event along the banks of the Bow River. All proceeds helps children and youth reach their potential.

Adults                       $35
Youth (8-17Y)         $20
Kids (7Y & under)  $10 (includes t-shirt & medal)

Registration fees will be refunded for those who raise more than $100 in sponsorship for YMCA Strong Kids.

Register online today!



The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race: Lesson 4

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race
The Tales and Lamentations of the Ill-Prepared Runner


May 13, 2013 by Chad Baird

UPDATE – January 13, 2014: I wanted to share with everyone the before and after photos of me doing this race! Happy running!

Lesson 4 – Dress for the Weather

Sometimes living in Calgary is tough! The weather is often cold and unpredictable. In turn, this causes every Calgarian runner to shake their fists at the sky occasionally throughout their lifetime. To properly explain this concept, I shall be explaining my tales and lamentations regarding the 2010 Mother’s Day 10km race. It was a frosty morning. I woke up, looked and fully expected to see a stray reindeer or two. I decided to put on five layers of clothing for my upcoming race. I put on a wool long sleeve, three short sleeve cotton t-shirts, and a warm hoodie. I was set! The cold had no chance against my defence! No chance! Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that overheating had an excellent chance of breaking the defense system…but I didn’t even think about that. I got to the start line and it had warmed up to about zero Celsius but it had begun snowing. Through the fresh falling snow, I saw a guy in front of me wearing nothing more than shorts and a sleeveless shirt. I thought to myself, “This guy is so dumb! He will be so cold!” Negative, this guy was exponentially more enlightened about running races that I was. I started the race and within 500 metres, I could already tell that I was getting way too hot. By 3 kilometres, I standing at the aid station dumping cold water down my back and legs. 5 km in, I had my sweater tied around my waist, old granny style, looking fashionable as ever with my sweater tie swag and a beet red face. At 7km, I had my hoodie still around my waist – and was now carrying three shirts. You know what makes running a race easier? Not carrying a couch cushion sized ball of your extra clothes that you brought along with you for the ride. I continued huffing and puffing down the road, physically steaming because I was so overheated. A person could have cracked an egg on my head and 14 seconds later, enjoyed a fine omelette breakfast because I was as hot as a frying pan. I crossed that finish line 15 seconds shy of an hour and that is nothing short of a miracle. As I walked to the C-Train to head back home, I saw the guy I stood behind in the crowd – Sleeveless Shirt Man. I looked at him, majestic, muscles prominent and graceful, barely had a bead of sweat on him. He won, I lost. As he looked at me, he gazed upon a poor soul who had a face as red as the sun, an absolute mound of clothing burdening his arms, and to top it all off, a sweater tied around his waist. I’m sure if he was preacher, he would have laid hands on me right then and asked the Lord to help me in my time of need. I was a mess, but it was my own fault!



…and After!

My advice to you is this – don’t over dress for races. Running Room founder John Stanton states that it is always best to start off a race a little chilly. I always try to follow his wise words. It may seem cold standing at the start line, but when your feet hit the pavement and you have multiple kilometers under your belt, you will warm up I promise!

Don’t overdress for races, come to the start line with a bit of a chill, and please don’t make my same mistakes! Running is beautiful; don’t make a mess of the Mona Lisa.

Stay tuned next week for Lesson 5 – Eating Too Much

Written by Chad Baird | BCMM Public Relations Student | Mount Royal University

Do you Even Lift, Bro? Lesson Two

Lesson Two: Learn How to Get in the Best Shape of Your Life

In my last blog, I explained the issues surrounding my lack of focus during a sports performance class at the YMCA. I want to elaborate on this. Without a doubt, my sports performance class in high school was the most useful class I have ever taken. I learned how to better myself, how to workout at a functional level and how to avoid a multitude of injuries.

I have seen a plethora of poor decisions in the gym across my many years of running and lifting. I have seen people bicep curling 100 pound bars primarily with their lower back. I have witnessed people running in a flailing fashion that is sure to break an ankle during their travels. I have seen people lifting weights in ways that offer no conceivable benefit to their bodies whatsoever. Furthermore, think of all the people you don’t see at the gym.

Two years ago, I got my best friend into running. Recently, I asked him why he doesn’t go to the gym to gain some more muscle to benefit his runs.  His answer made me sad as he told me that the reason he doesn’t go to the gym and previously lived an unhealthy life is because he didn’t know how to workout.

There are so many people out there who are living unhealthy lives simply because they don’t know what to do when they get to the gym. There are many people who feel the gym would be an embarrassing or an unprofitable venture because they have not educated themselves on proper form and gym technique. Maybe this person is you.

I want today to be the day you decide to better yourself. A life of fitness is a beautiful thing. Educate yourself about fitness and join the millions of happy people who decided to learn about fitness to further enhance their time on this earth

  • If you are in high school, take sports performance or any fitness-based class that your school has to offer. I still use the skills I learned in those classes to better myself today.
  • For those of you who are going to post-secondary institutions, take fitness classes at your campus gym to learn how to workout. They are presented at phenomenal student rates and are so beneficial. The YMCA also has discounted rates for students and youth. It helps you so much in your life!
  • For those of you who are working full-time, find a gym that you love and start taking a few personal training sessions just to learn the ropes. The YMCA has awesome personal trainers and offers awesome classes to make you a better you. Also, just to get into the swing of things, start going to the gym with a fitness-oriented friend. Ask questions and engage.

I believe the most important part of fitness is the way in which we educate ourselves about the topic.

See you on the weight floor.

Written by Chad Baird | BCMM Public Relations Student | Mount Royal University

Stay tuned next week for Lesson Three: Hey You! Get Off the Phone!

More Blogs by Chad:


Yoga for Runners – NOT Just for Runners!

Interested in taking a yoga class, but not a runner?  That’s ok!!  Although this yoga program is designed to meet the needs of runners and will address specific areas of tightness and muscle imbalances, anyone can benefit from this class!

Yoga will improve your flexibility, core strength, balance and endurance. Discover how yoga will benefit you both physically and mentally.