Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The scenic loop: running at The Forks

One of the best ways for me to instantly feel better is to go for a run. I run a couple times a week from my studio in the Exchange to The Forks. I love running. It gets the cobwebs out. I feel lighter, energized and relaxed all at the same time. It is my most consistent tool. It resets me.

I am a social runner, I enjoy chatting and running. It is one of my favourite ways to spend time with people I care about. My best friend and I have scheduled twice weekly runs. It’s pretty fantastic. We get to hang out, do something great for our bodies and work out whatever is on our minds. It’s a win-win-win situation. On weekends, my husband and I lace up and tour around. It’s pretty awesome to have my favourite people double as my running buddies.

My running route is a scenic and beautiful tour of downtown Winnipeg centred around The Forks. It connects different distinct neighbourhoods. In my 30 minute run I tour The Exchange, Waterfront Drive, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Esplanade Riel Bridge, the historic rail bridge at The Forks, St Boniface Hospital, and the St Boniface Cathedrale. The trail hugs the river which is beautiful in all seasons. I often think of  the river as the living part of downtown- the ice, the melting, the currents, it’s always alive. I enjoy the process of watching the snow and ice melt and the green reappear.

There are very few times when we are away from phones, computers and to do lists. When I’m out on my loop the only thing I have to worry about is putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. It’s so simple and beautiful.

To help you get started and explore my favourite loop, I put together my top five tips for you to start running at The Forks:

1.     Make a plan. Not a runner? Start by walking. The Couch to 5K app is helpful in that it gives you a walk to run ratio building up over time. Commit to days and times. Use the historic rail bridge at The Forks as your starting point of the 3 km loop. Follow it to the Norwood Bridge, along the path behind St Boniface Hospital, along Tache Ave. and across the Esplanade Bridge back to the Forks. This base loop connects to many different active transportation routes: Assiniboine Ave, Lyndale Drive, North Winnipeg parkway, and the Seine River. Exploring is part of the fun!

2.     Invest in good shoes. You need one piece of official equipment for this sport - invest properly. Start with a brand new, properly fitted pair of shoes that are made for running. Not your old ones from 1997 aerobics step class. This helps prevent injury. Seriously, I have the bunions and multiple lost toenails to back this up. Check out Canadian Footwear or Running Room. The shoe experts can connect you with the proper shoes to support your body so you an have a comfortable running experience.

3.     What to wear. Weather-wise, it’s still quite a mixed bag. After running all winter, spring running feels like a tropical dream! You really only need one layer on the bottom - pants! And up top, two layers. Ladies - a good sports bra goes a long way. Also, zipper pockets are pretty important to carry keys and phones.

4.     Technology + Tunes. For keeping track of my runs, I like to use Runkeeper. Music? I am a super social runner (see #5) I run alone 10% of the time and when I do, I prefer the peace and quiet and watching the world pass me by. But, I think I’m a bit alone on this, many people love music when they run, pumping them up and having a party of one. I asked my friend and runner Rachael to give me her top five pump up running songs:
1. Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder
2. B-Boys In the Cut by Beastie Boys
3. Wake Up by Arcade Fire
4. Queen B*tch by David Bowie and
5. The Choice is Yours by Black Sheep.
If you’re a set it and forget it kind of person, Google Play music is super helpful in curating just the right playlist for you. You type in one song or artist and it will curate a playlist based on that.

5.     Buddy up! I’m social. It’s not JUST exercising, it’s visiting time. I also like appointments for things. Making a regular commitment to meet someone to walk or run helps to keep you consistent. When someone is expecting you, you are much more likely to be consistent. Work downtown? Make plans with an office pal to go for a lunchtime jaunt.

There you have it! And don’t forget to stretch after every run. Here are some basic stretches and yoga moves from Runner’s World that are helpful in promoting flexibility and reducing injury. Can’t wait to see you out on the loop this spring!

Lindsay Somers is a lifestyle health coach in Winnipeg. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram. All photos my Mark Reimer.

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