Mizuno Fit Friday: Partner Squats

It’s Fit Friday today and Jessica and I are demonstrating the partner squats on youtube. Doing exercises with friends makes the work so much easier. The partner squat works the Abs, Glutes, hips and thighs. It’s also great for working on balance.

To start, step 1:
Stand facing your partner making sure you are about an arm’s length away from each other. Your feet should be slightly wider than hip width apart and your toes pointed forward or slightly outward. Reach out your arms so that you can each grasp the other’s forearms.

Step 2:
Both partners need to shift their hips back and down. This will also create a hinge-like movement at the knees. As you continue to lower your hips, the knees will start to shift forward slowly. Try to prevent your knees from moving too far forward beyond the toes. Brace your core to keep your trunk stable and spine straight. Each partner should maintain a firm grip and allow one another to lean back slightly in order to be able to sink deeper into the hips for greater range-of-motion.

Step 3:
Both partners continue to lower themselves until their thighs are parallel with the floor. If the heels begin to lift off the floor or the torso begins to round, return to start position. Ensure that the feet do not move, the ankles do not collapse in or out and the knees remain lined up with the second toe.

Step 4:
Returning to a standing position. While keeping a firm grip on one another’s forearms, each person should maintain a straight trunk with a head-up position. Exhale and press the feet into the floor through the heels. The hips and torso need to rise together, returning to the start position while keeping heels flat on the floor and knees aligned with the second toe.

Repeat this exercise 10-15 times (or until failure), doing 3-4 sets. Make sure you and your partner discuss each other’s physical abilities and you don’t push each other beyond failure.

For more Fit Friday videos, please make sure you subscribe to our YouTube page.

Wineglass Half Marathon: A Race Report

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 5.16.48 AM

I was lucky enough to get an entry to the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, NY. I wanted to do this race for only one reason, the finisher medal. It’s the most beautiful race medal I’ve seen. I’ve done something like this only two other times; the Los Angeles Marathon and the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (I will do pretty much anything for a Tiffany necklace).

The drive to Corning, NY from Toronto, if you don’t take the wrongs exits, will only take between 3-4 hours. Since I hadn’t really expected to be doing this race, I didn’t have a hotel booked. This was a good opportunity to cross off another bucket list item; pre-race camping. For October, it was slightly cold, but so much fun. The campsite I stayed at has cabins as well and it’s conveniently located close to Bath, NY where you can park, get to the start line, or shuttle to the half marathon start.


Race day always requires a bit of planning luckily this one is pretty easy. The marathon race starts in Bath and the half marathon race starts in Campbell. Both races finish in downtown Corning. I really love this kind of race start. The marathon will eventually catch up to the half marathoners and it allows for a better finish for racers and spectators. The race is very organized, I however wasn’t. I didn’t realize that I had to drive to Bath and get a shuttle down to the start line of the half marathon. I kept thinking how lucky I was that I was so close to the start line. After I finished the race, I realized the errors of my lack of planning.

The racecourse is beautiful, flat (pretty much a net downhill in fact) and is point to point. Race day ended up being a headwind kind of day, other than that, the weather temperature was perfect. Picturesque autumn scenes of rolling hills, trains, and rivers were the views from beginning to end. Water stations were perfectly spaced out, showing up roughly every 2 miles. GU gels were generously handed out and for someone (me), who didn’t come fully prepared; this was a happy dance moment.


The crowd support was surprising. A race, which runs through three small cities, crowds cheered as each neighborhood got behind the race. It was hard not smile and give a few high-fives. One of my favourite moments of this race was about 2km to the finish line along a suburban street; kids had completely covered a 400M section in inspiring words with chalk. This is the stuff that chokes me up during a race. So many happy words of encouragement made me smile from ear to ear.


The finish line made me feel like I was running a race as big as The Boston Marathon. The screams were so loud and even though I was only doing this as a long run, I felt like it was my very first race. I crossed the finish line and all I wanted was that medal. Once it was around my neck I was ready for some food. The post-race was just as well organized. Full chocolate milk, cans of soda, hot soup, apples, bananas, bagels, cookies and at the very end, pizza! I took one of everything and enjoyed my post-race feast. Recovery never tasted so good. The bag check was easy and I got my stuff and was in warm dry clothes, ready to find the town’s best coffee shop. The town market square is a really cool artsy place, and I can honestly say they have N. America’s best cappuccinos.


Getting back the start to get my car would’ve been easier had I actually followed the instructions. However, since I needed to get back to Campbell, I had to kindly ask, well actually beg to kindly make a special stop for me. They happily obliged and I made a note for next time to read all instructions for race day.

This is a race that sells out fast so when registration opens, get signed up. Take a bunch of friends and make a weekend of it. Whether you go camping, glamping or stay in a hotel the town is very accommodating to the runners that come into town. Make sure you don’t miss this race next year. If you’re looking for a great October personal best course, this race has got the right ingredients to get you that goal.


Motivation Monday: Making a Comeback


I’m back! After two weeks of total frustration with my running and mostly my anxiety, I made a comeback. This is my second year in my adult life, doing a full round of cross-country races. It’s a frustrating sport for me. It can actually make me cringe at the thought of running at all.

I bailed on a race last weekend, not ready to fully plunge back into it. My coach, my amazing coach either by design or accident, always knows how to get me back in the game. He needed me to help out with the Ryerson Rams at their second ever cross-country race. I would also be entered as alumni to race with the team in return. Win win!


First a bit about the brand spanking new Ryerson Rams team. It’s a movie in the making. The first time the school has ever had a cross-country team. They have no budgets, barely a school racing uniform but they all have the right attitude. These kids are amazing. They’re so young and have little to no experience in the University racing scene but they’re dedicated. They have a world class coach (I’m slightly biased), and I have no doubt the Ryerson Rams will be the school to fear in a just a few years.

I got to spend the morning with them in Waterloo and for me; my life had come full circle. As a 14-year old girl I was actually on the UofT cross-country team, racing as the youngest member. It was the best and worst time of my life. However, that story is for another time. This weekend, I was the oldest member of the university team and as much as these kids inspired me, I hope I was able to leave behind a trace of wisdom.


Both the men and women’s team ran their hearts out. I was so happy to be a part of this team of misfits (I mean that in the best possible way), a team of underdogs, because my whole life this is how I’ve felt. The Ryerson Rams taught me an important lesson about the word team. Running, a solitary sport turns into a full on team event only once a year and that is Cross-country season. Not a great “team” person (otherwise I would’ve taken up baseball), I appreciate the idea of working on a team so much more since Saturday’s race.

As my coach texted me words of encouragement leading up to race day. I was still doubtful I could pull off a good race. I should stop second-guessing anything Timo says. I had one of the best races I’ve had in a very long time. On a slow, hilly and windy cross-country course I managed a 23 and change minute for a 6km. At one point Timo said to me as I passed him “I can tell your having a good day, that smile!” I was having a great day. I finished the race, and Timo hugged me and said, “You’re back!.” After what felt like a long vacation from running, it feels good to be back.


FitFriday: Lying Leg Throwdown

Today on FitFriday, I got a little help from Jessica (a.k.a. lacesandlattes) to demonstrate a great partner exercise. Going to the gym for most is the hardest thing to put on the priority list. Even if you get 10 minutes of gym time a day, then you’re winning. For runners, it’s absolutely important you include some kind of a strengthening routine into your week. Running alone won’t cut it. To prevent injury and strengthen the muscles around your running muscles, you should add a few simple exercises. Often times, I end my runs at the closest Goodlife gym, spend 15 minutes on some core exercises and get on with my day. It’s that simple.

Next time you go, take a friend with you and try some partner exercises. Partner exercises are great to keep each other motivated and push each other through the burn. A really fun abdominal exercise I like to do with a gym partner is the “Lying Leg Throw down”. This exercise is an excellent way to get stronger abs while also strengthening your lower back.

It’s simple:
•lay on your back with your head between your partner’s feet.
•grab your partners ankles, providing stability for your upper body and lower back.
•slowly raise your legs up and bring your feet toward your partner.
•your partner will then throw your legs away from them, while you engage your •abdominals to slow the movement, creating resistance.

repeat these steps until failure (10-15 times) and then switch positions with your partner. Each person should do up to 3 repeats of this exercise.

If you have lower back problems, do not do this exercise. Instead work on some of the plank exercises I’ve previously shown until you’re strong enough to do a more advanced exercise such as the lying leg throw down. Always see a doctor if you are concerned about starting an exercise program.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the FitFriday youtube channel to get updates on exercises you can include in your fitness routine.

Motivation Monday

download (2)

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted on a Monday. I’ve been spending time with me the last two weeks. As marathon season kicks off for most of the running community it’s nice to be a spectator for once. My relationship with the marathon is on hiatus for the moment, as some who read my blog regularly know. I find myself watching from a distance and learning more about it from the outside in.

The preparation for the marathon is long and arduous at times. I’ve always enjoyed the build up and the training, but not everyone does. The big day is nerve wracking and even if you’re 100% percent for it, the marathon gods may have other plans for you.

My marathon goal is big and I have at least a years worth of work to put in before I can even decide if I will go for it. As marathon season takes over my city, my run club and my work life, I feel more like a student taking notes and mentally taking observation from the field.

For so many this is a special time of year, so enjoy it. Have faith in your training and be honest with yourself before race day. Did you really do all of the work? Did you get in those necessary long runs even when your body was begging you to quit? If the answer if yes, there is no reason to be nervous, enjoy your taper week and toe the line with confidence. If the answer was no, adjust your goals and expectations. Fully enjoy your taper week and run for some other reason than just to chase a PB.

As most everyone is another week closer to their big race, spend these next couple of taper weeks evaluating your last 16 weeks of training. Be honest with yourself and set realistic goals even if they aren’t the ones you really want. There is always another marathon around the corner. Most importantly, enjoy the race, enjoy the moments inside the race and enjoy that moment you cross the finish line.


Fit Friday: Step Raises

For most athletes targeting your glutes can be literally a pain in the butt. Most problems I’ve come across usually originate from the glute muscles being under developed. There are so many exercises to get the job done, but the best and simplest one is Step-raises.

Like the name says, all you require is a step. That can be a flat rock in a park, a park bench, a box at the gym or even simply a set of stairs in your house. Step-raises will work the glute muscles as well strengthen the hamstrings and quads. Even more importantly, step-raises work the muscle evenly, giving you balanced tone and strength.

For beginners simply stand with your feet hip width apart and step onto the surface you have available. Squeezing the glutes keeping them engaged; pull the opposite leg up to step. Step back down to the start position and repeat 10-15 times. After you’ve completed one set, switch to the other side, doing the exercise for the same amount of repetitions.

Depending on whether you are new to an exercise routine or more advanced, start with 2 sets and work your way up to 4. If you want to make this exercise even more dynamic and include some of the smaller stabilizers muscles, follow through the step-raise by brining the knee up towards the chest. This will effectively strengthen the hip flexors, and get more of the core muscle groups involved.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the FitFriday YouTube Channel for more great fit tips every week.

Mizuno Fit Friday: The Spider Plank

Today is Fit Friday! Today on the Youtube channel I’m demonstrating a plank. I’m not the kind of person who enjoys standing still for too long, so when I do exercises I find it hard to do static exercises.

Static planks are quite popular, but they will only work the core in one plane. Adding some instability and movement to a plank will be much more effective. Not only with you will force your stabilizers to get involved, you’ll find you will save time! Doing dynamic planks will be much harder to do for a long time. My favourite dynamic plank is what I call the Spider Plank, where you incorporate the arms and the legs into the posture. Static planks are often about trying to increase the time you can stay in the pose. Dynamic planks are going to focus on how many repetitions you can do, correctly.

All planks have to start on a strong foundation. To begin any plank you want to make sure your wrists are lined up with your shoulders. This will prevent strain on your rotator cuff. Next the lower back and butt are in a neutral position. Too high the muscles are not effectively being challenged. Too low and you are putting unwanted strain on your low back, risking injury. At the feet, they should be hip width apart (sometimes wider for beginners) and make sure you keep them firmly planted to reduce your hips swaying back and forth.

For very beginners to plank, the static plank is a good way to get used to the posture. In spider plank, the beginner can alternatively start with lifting the arms off the ground, focusing on balance while things begin to get stronger.

Planks are so easy and simple so they can be done anywhere and also everyday. If you are going to start adding them to your gym routine, do 2-4 sets of 10-15 reps. If you are going to add to your everyday routine, make sure you do them after your cardio (bike, run or swim) and stick to 2 sets of 10-15 reps.

Stay tuned for more Fit Friday tips every week and don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel.