A view from the running trenches


So quick update from the trenches!

Had a decent January and February and decided to buckle down in the hopes of some decent times this spring as I eventually wind up for another fall marathon attempt.

The trenches are filling up with miles (or kilometres) and still putting on layers as the snow still lingers here in Canada. The temperature seems to be slowly moving towards more spring-like digits but …not fast enough.


So have sat down and used all my experience and resources: online training program (Vicsystem) and input from some great books (Run Like a Champion) an oldie but goodie (Running and Racing after 35) and (Running Science) to put together a solid plan—-that kind of scares me…gonna be some work!!



Had Headsweats send me a cool technical trucker type hat to check out and had Wahoo send a heart rate strap that sends back cool info like cadence and smoothness….reviews to come!


New Balance Canada sent me a care package and suited up with new race singlet and sweet spring running jacket! Fueling with Muscle MLK protein (and creating new recipes like protein pancakes) and sticking my Canadian EC3D compression socks on after runs (on now!).

Got an interesting story, a product to test or want to connect – find me at runningwriter@hotmail.com

Run on friends!

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The Canadian – Kenyan running connection


How running has connected two countries so different and so far apart.

The wild, bitter snow heavy tail of a Canadian winter lap at the tires of the jet as it lifts off from the runway. Many hours later the wheels of a jet meet a much warmer welcome as they touch down in Kenyan. Two different climates, two different cultures and people; but with a connection.

I am writing a slightly longer blog today – highlighting some Canadian runners and how they (among others) have helped create a link between two countries with the power of running.


It is early March and one of Canada’s top masters runners and a running star in Nova Scotia steps from a plan after a 8-hour flight from Istanbul to finally reach Kenya. One of the connections steps out. Denise Robson is a 46-year old zero body-fat runner and single mom has come to Kenya, specifically the famous runing meca of Iten, where Kenyan champions and world record holders have emerged, to train for weeks before her race at the Boston marathon.

Denise with her shoulder-length brown hair and a genuine smile has had her share of running adventures. Taking back up running after her university years she returned to win races in the masters category, turn heads and set records. She really made news in 2010 when she ran a 2:43:16 to win the masters (40+) age group category. But with success came challenges. Life threatening blood clots through her into the hospital in late 2010 at the peak of her fitness and has kept her from the start line of Boston for two years.

With a loss of sponsors but with no loss of grit and determination Denise has fought back to racing shape. In 2014 Denise was back to Bsoton and fininshed second overall in the 45-49 age group with her time of 2:53:16 on a hot day. The road back has not always been bump or turn free however. A mild scare after a marathon in the fall of 2014, left her with electrodes taped to her torso and trying to catch a cab in a hospital Johnny shirt.


Denise with young new friends in Kenya.

Grinding out runs and workouts during a decidely tough winter in Nova Scotia, with the help of friends, treadmills and an indoor track she is ready to take on Boston again. She has arrived in Kenyan not only for a once in a lifetime experience but to train hard before her April race.

I got hold of Denise a few days into her training in Kenya and asked here about it – this is her response.

“Initial reason going to Kenya was friends have been and thought the experience would be one that I would appreciate because of my love of running and of people (especially children).”

“I have been here for only 4 days and this has opened my eyes to a whole other world. There is no color here, it is simple, peaceful and beautiful. I initially came for the running and will be here for one month; however, could leave tomorrow feeling I’ve already had a life changing experience here.”

” I however, don’t even want to think about going and now look forward to the next 26 days. Making friends, enjoying the high fives the kids give me as I jog by and the giggles that follow. I videoed a group of school children playing ball today and had them come over to watch it and the laughter was just contagious. Oh yes and will not forget about all the running I plan on doing…..see what this altitude stuff is all about.”

Luke (right) helping out John Kuto (race organizer) with CowKenCanRun - a run that raised enough money for 3 cows which were given to the division winners of The Rift Valley Marathon in Kenya.

Luke helping out with CowKenCanRun – a run that raised enough money for 3 cows which were given to the division winners of The Rift Valley Marathon in Kenya.


Many miles away, in the homey and popular running store Aerobics First in Halifax, Luke MacDonald, a once elite local runner and co-owner of the shop follows Denise’s trip online. Luke no longer wins races but has gotten himself back into solid running shape after many years and is an advocate for running and a healthy active lifestyle. A drive to win and race and the love of the speed and battle has tunred itself into something else.

Luke can be found at the store but also very often with those in the community working on such initiatives as bikes to help kids stay active and get a better education. Luke has really emerged as someone who uses running to promote good in the world and help others.

Denise is a regular customer and friend of Luke’s. But there is more to the connection. Luke has also recently helped a Kenyan man in Halifax organize a local race that helped the Halifax-Canadian community race money to buy cows for those struggling in Kenya. The cows were awarded at the awards ceremony for winners of the 2015 Rift Valley marathon.


This is in addition with helping to send running shoes to those who cannot afford them in Kenya. Luke through his connections in the running world also has a friend who has travels to Kenya and now spends time helping the Kenyan communuity through running. His name is John Carson.


Run For Life is a not for profit organization that promotes running in Canada. The man behind the idea is John Carson. John is entheusiastic , full of ideas and wants to make a difference. Another former quick runner, a passion for the sport still burns and has also become a desire to help and reach out using running. One would think that Run For Life would take up most of ones time, but in the past few years John has, among other projects, has been traveling to the Rift valley of Kenya for many years to support education, health care and and a host of community based projects. He is listed as one of the guides for a tour including of course the Rift Valley marathon and also helps promote chances for Canadian runners to come and train in Kenya.

Denise Robson with John Carson in Kenya - connections.

Denise Robson with John Carson in Kenya – connections.

John oozes running, when not running, he is promoting it, organizing races and now in the heart of Kenya’s running community is connecting two running worlds. John has also teamed up with elite Canadian runners to help bring runners to Kenya, one goes by the name of Reid Coolsaet.

John Carson's photo of the 3 cows that Luke helped fundraise for - for the Rift Valley Marathon  in Kenya.

John Carson’s photo of the 3 cows that Luke helped fundraise for – for the Rift Valley Marathon in Kenya.

The connections continue.


Reid Coolsaet is a red-haired, super lean Canadian elite marathoner who is one of few in many years to come close to breaking the national marathon record set in 1975 by Jerome Drayton.

He is one of a group of runners including Eric Gillis, Rob Watson, Dylan Wykes, Lanni Marchant and Krista Duchene who has really motivated, inspired and put the “fire back into Canadian distance running.

Reid has been to world championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics and is still looking to see how far he can push himself. To help push his mind and body as far as it will alow; Reid has been escaping for a number of weeks over the past few years to train in Kenya with some of the best in the world. Trading a synthetic track for a dirt oval and a simple existence focused purely on running has helped this Canadian runner reach new levels. Reid helped John Carson promote the Rift Valley Marathon last year.

“I first came to Kenya for an adventure and to experience training with the Kenyans. After that first stint I felt I developed as an athlete and wanted to go back. It’s fun to switch up my training a little for a couple months in the year and why not train with the best runners in the world.”

“The way Kenyans approach races is inspiring, they aren’t afraid of excellence. I even learned lot about the way Kenyans deal with lackluster races. They don’t dwell on bad races and lol forward to the next challenge.”

“Seeing the way rural Kenyans live a simple life reminds me of what is really important. It makes you appreciate all the luxuries we have in Canada.”

Another speeds Canadian runner had a different way of creating connections with Kenya.


Michael Del Monte is a young film maker and former competitive runner (3:46 for 1500 metres) who has brought together his two loves into a successful career. The Canadian runner who has appeared on the cover of Canadian Running magazine recently completed a film called Transcend about the Kenyan runner Wesley Korir. The film is about running but also focuses on the Kenyan subject’s desire to do good through his running and for his country.

The running films Michael have produced that deal with Kenya focus not merely on the running but the people, the culture and what makes Kenyan runners so good. The films also deal with the personal, the dreams and the live sof runners. The films bring those who cannot travel to Kenya, closer through film.

Rob taking a break in training in Kenya to snap a shot with Kenyan star Florence Kiplagat who broke her own half-marathon world record in 2015 (1:05:09).

Rob taking a break in training in Kenya to snap a shot with Kenyan star Florence Kiplagat who broke her own half-marathon world record in 2015 (1:05:09).


Another fast Canuck runner Rob Brouillette  (Runner Rob -The Canadian Mzungu, as he signs his emails) describes his Kenyan experience during the last 3 months of high altitude Kenya running training in Iten (Home Of Champions) with some of the best athletes in the world.

“Every single day every run is done on dusty dirt rocky trails, only the odd long run or very rare speed workouts are done on road, saving the street running for races, even the track is made of sand-like terrain.”

“Kenya has the highest altitude around and is really underestimated by some people because once you actually are here you feel how hard it is to breathe, making ever easy runs more difficult, therefore your pace will never be the way it was at low altitude Canada.”

“The African saying “train hard win easy” is no lie, they really do push themselves to the limits on hard sessions and the opposite for easy runs by going slower then I can even handle some days. Recovery is very important so when not running they try to stay off their feet and simply rest.”

“Training groups can get as big as 150 members unlike anything I’ve seen back home. Kenya’s are tough on themselves that if they fall off pace from the lead pack they usually drop out of the workout.”

“For the average competitive runner here it’s easy to get high mileage between the morning workouts, evening easy runs, and all the warm up and cool downs in between. I hit a high of 190K one of my weeks without necessarily going for high mileage, it just came naturally.”


Running seems to be an activity that allows people to peer within themselves. Long runs ar often times of interspection and hard workouts time to dig deep and battle with inner demons and limits. It often seems that the outcome of the running experience produces a silent kinship with other runners but also a need to share the love of the sport, and to do good with it or through it.

Canadian and Kenyan runners run on different coloured soils, at times for different reasons and many miles apart, but the love of a sport can bring people together. There is a connection now that started with the simple action of setting out for a run and has become much more.

Denise will bring her experience and the benefits of running in kenya back for her return to the Boston marathon. Reid who has been to Kenya to train a numbe of times has formed friendships and learned about what it takes to run and race hard. Luke, John and Michael will all continue to help forge connections between two countries seperated by ocean and culture but joined by running.

Run on my running friends!

You can also find me on Twitter, Youtube and on my Canadian Running magazine blog.

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RunSafe: The Story Behind The App


This is a guest blog from US runner Samuel Voss. Enjoy.

When I first got in touch with Sharif and Violet Alexandre from RunSafe, I knew that they had made a cool app, but I didn’t know the story behind it. And not until recently, after getting in touch with Noel, did I have to ask.

But when I got in contacted him through Twitter and got to talking about this guest post, I thought it would be awesome to finally share the full story of the RunSafe beginning; so I reached out to the co-founders of this premium safety app, and uncovered the truth.

“That moment will be forever etched in my soul” was the first line of Sharif’s response.



It started when Violet Alexandre, the co-founder of premium app-maker RunSafe, called Sharif, her husband and other co-founder of RunSafe, and confirmed his biggest fears.

The two of them and their young son, Christopher, had just uprooted from Philadelphia and moved to Boulder, Colorado where Violet, “as a non-native,” was still getting acclimated to the new area and exploring different running trails. “You get on a path,” she explained, “and end up in back areas, and it is really hard to have a sense of where you are.”

“There had been a snow storm two days prior,” she illustrated for me in an email, “[and] I was still a little unsure of the various paths.

“I approached an underpass,” she continued, “but I had never run quite that far out on this particular route before and I was contemplating turning around very shortly, and it was almost like on cue at that moment when I was thinking about turning around that I slipped on some black ice.”

That’s when she called.

“I remember her stammering, clearly shaken, letting me know she slipped on some black ice, fell hard and lost control of the stroller.”

“I’ve always been concerned about her outdoor runs,” explained Sharif to me in an email, “since she would often go alone in the early morning when it was still dark. And after our son was born and was old enough to be in the stroller I had concerns about them getting hurt in some form or another.”

Yet, he conceded, “knowing her passion for running I knew nothing was going to stop her.”

“So when you first heard from Violet,” I asked, “what was your initial reaction?”

“It was almost too much to take in. Was she OK? Was the baby OK? Where were they? Was anyone around to help?” He was fearing the worst.

“I knew Boulder Creek was directly to my left,” remembered Violet, “and that if the stroller got out of control it would mean my son would fall into a frozen creek. I recall my heart pounding extremely loud in my chest.”

“I had the safety strap on my wrist so as I began falling I remember gripping it as tightly as possible. After that, everything is very blurry.”

“By some act of God and my holding onto that strap for dear life,” she explained at length, “I was able to keep relative control of the stroller. Christopher never woke up. I got banged up pretty bad. I tore a big hole in my pants and bloodied my hands too.”

Sharif recalls her telling him that “she was bruised pretty badly but assured me that she and the baby were OK to make their way home.”

Needless to say, this disastrous fall could have been much worse, and was still much too close for comfort.

“As a ‘techie’,” Violet wrote, “Sharif was immediately seeking solutions so that the next time we went running he would feel more confident.”

The Birth of an app

“After they came home,” he described to me, “we started talking about how we could prevent something like this from happening in the future.

“I knew I couldn’t stop her from running,” he admitted, “so that wasn’t really an option. It was all about making sure that she was safe on her runs and if something did happen, that we were fully prepared to handle whatever emergency came up.

“When I was looking for apps already out there, what I found were basically what I call glorified panic buttons. They might make a sound or send an alert but that was about it.

“If our app was actually going to be useful to prevent future accidents,” Sharif continued, “its first feature was that it needed to be relevant enough to the person using it so that they would be motivated to use it on a regular basis.

“In this case [for every runner to want to use it regularly] it meant that the app needed to have basic fitness features to track distance, time, pace, etc.”

“My husband was practically instantly activated into action,” Violet recounted.

“As for actual safety features,” he detailed, “the app performs three core functions to help prevent, act, and respond to emergencies.”


With a background in enterprise-level technical architecture, Sharif has had experience working with servers and databases that power both mobile and web applications in different devices, but has never before developed the front-end, user interface that so well embodies the RunSafe App. However, “having that background is what enabled me to build all the safety features that are in the app,” says Sharif.

Pillars of safety

“The three core pillars of safety – including “Waze” reporting, “Instant Amber Alert” and the PANIC Button are all included in the app,” Sharif explained.

  • The “Waze for Runners,” as Sharif outlined it, is the app feature that prevents accidents. “It would’ve been great if Violet was alerted that she was approaching an are with black ice so that she could’ve avoided it altogether (or the app could have re-routed her),” but there wasn’t an app with that function yet.
  • The action phase of the app includes all of the app’s built-in alert and notification features, like the PANIC Button, that help connect the runner with an emergency contact in the event of an accident.
  • And as far as the responsive attributes, Sharif chose to create an “Instant Amber Alert” page. “This page can be shared with the contact’s network and serves as a communication hub for all the information that comes in for tips, searchers, etc. Response is giving the contact(s) a means to quickly mobile a search and rescue effort once the emergency is deemed to be real,” said Sharif.

A Boulder-based app making company that started in late 2014, the RunSafe App was designed by Sharif, and the business itself is managed by both he and his wife, Violet. The RunSafe App is a premium safety app, that not only acts as a virtual running buddy, but is also equipped with all of the fitness tracking features you would expect from a GPS-integrated running app.

After his wife, Violet, suffered this terrible fall while running one day near their home, the idea to make this safety-focused app became a reality.

“I realized in a very real way how much I take my safety for granted,” voiced Violet in an email, “but the incident really made me wonder what I could do to be safer and more responsible.

“With RunSafe,” she clarified, “I know now that if something goes wrong I have a life line. I have someone on the other side who knows where I am and can come help if I need it.”

As Sharif recalled fondly, “Violet has been a runner ever since I knew her, and I still do worry about her whether or not she runs with Christopher.

“The difference is that I feel better prepared to handle an emergency if, God forbid, another one happens.”

“With these features,” Violet said, “RunSafe can not only fit the need of keeping individuals and our community safe, but through it, hopefully we can educate and bring awareness about the need to be safe while running as well.”

If you want to download their app for free straight on your phone just text “Hi” to 720-548-2390or follow the link here!

I have to thank Noel for hosting this blog post on his site, and the co-founders of RunSafe, Violet and Sharif, for sharing their story with me! I hope you guys enjoyed the article, and be sure to go to RunnersTongue.com to find Noel’s post!


Samuel Voss


Along with founding and writing for Runnerstongue.com, Sam Voss writes for RunSafe.me. While looking for a new fitness app to track his runs and share his workouts with friends, he stumbled upon the RunSafe App, and later got in touch with the co-founders, Violet and Sharif, in late 2014. Since then, he has been writing for both blogs, contributing to content marketing on other forums, and composing articles on running, tips, and reviews for everything runner-related. Along with being an avid runner and writer, Sam also enjoys hiking and biking in his free time. Check out more from Sam on Twittter and on the RunSafe Blog!


Gettin the ole engine going at St Patty’s Day 5k


“Takes hard work and patience to get faster. I need more of both.”

So an update from the world and mind of rapidly-aging slightly in front of the mid-packers Canadian runner.

Been working to ease up the miles and start doing some moderate workouts since the new year. My goal is to try and regain some fitness and focus on the 5k and 10k distances this spring without angering my hipflexors (and trying to strengthen weak glutes and hipflexors).

Getting out quick at Ottawa St. Patrick's Day 5k. Photo: Ian Hunter: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ianhun/sets/72157650942172788/

Getting out quick at Ottawa St. Patrick’s Day 5k. Photo: Ian Hunter: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ianhun/sets/72157650942172788/

St Patrick’s Day 5k

Been feeling fitter and have managed to get a few decent workouts between snow-covered trails and a treadmill at work. So I signed up for a St. Patrick’s Day 5k in Ottawa. My training plan on Vicsystem said I had potential to run around 18:30, I decided to go and try and hold 3:30kn pace.

Bolted at start like I was in 15min 5k shape and eased off quickly and settled into 3:30 pace……..but could only hold for 2k before I wandered into 3:40-3:45 zone. Uggggghhh! Felt like I was putting in effort but know I have not been putting in speed sessions. Was good however to get out and turn legs over and find out how much work I have to do. Hope to run something decent at Ottawa marathon in May.

Dragging my butt home. Photo: Ian Hunter: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ianhun/sets/72157650942172788/

Dragging my butt home. Photo: Ian Hunter: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ianhun/sets/72157650942172788/

Would like to be in sub 17 shape this summer as I head towards a fall marathon (Toronto Marathon).

My slow grind however was compensated by the PB of a running friend (Bridget) from great (small) group I run with from Sports4 running shop in Ottawa and a newer member who also PB’s in the 10k event (Karen). Its a friendly group and after helping push Bridget on our Wed night runs – I ran with her the last kilometre and was pleased to see her go well under 50-minutes.

Some of my running friends before they headed out for their 10k race. Photo: Ian Hunter: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ianhun/sets/72157650942172788/

Some of my running friends before they headed out for their 10k race. Photo: Ian Hunter: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ianhun/sets/72157650942172788/

Been reading 2 books “Running Science”-by Ownen Anderson and “Run Like a Champion“-Alan Culpepper (that just came out and will be posting review soon). Both have great training advice and looking forward to evaluating and seeing how I can make myself hurt to run faster.


If you don’t follow me on Twitter you will also not have seen that I am now sponsored by (and use) Cytomax and MuscleMLK. I am really loving have quick ways to prepare and recover for workouts and runs and have found that Vanilla protein powder mixed with pancake mix works great!! Also got great hat from Headsweats I am waiting for warmer weather to throw on my balding head!

Okay – my Polar M400 says I have a VO2max of 67 but now I need to train to make use of it!!

See you out on the roads my friends!

Run on!


Meet a fellow running blogger


I love running and I love meeting fellow runners. This blog is about a runner and a fellow blogger from London, England (where my family is really from)(only a few generations Canadian) – Enjoy!

Antony Harvey

Antony is a 35 year old project manager from London, England. He is married and has a three-year-old son. When not running, Antony spends his time cycling or watching rugby and cricket. He is also a writer, blogger and public speaker on a mission to break down the stigma surrounding depression in men. I met Antony through Twitter and we decided to appear on each other’s blogs.

I will now let Antony do the talking.

The struggle

I have always struggled to keep my weight under control due to a combination of binge eating through bouts of depression, and a love of good food, wine and beer. For a long time I had been in denial about my size. Things came to a head when I was best man at the wedding of a close friend in July 2012. On the day I had to squeeze into the suit I wore for my own wedding two years before. Since my wedding I had managed to gain 21lb so I knew I was in for a tight squeeze. In the end it was only through much sucking-in and deep breathing that I was able to fit into the suit and size XXL waistcoat hired for the occasion.

I didn’t see the enormous guy bursting out of his waistcoat. I thought I looked good and was absolutely mortified when I saw photos of the day. It was time for a crushing reality check after a decade of weight gain that had seen me peak 322lb in 2007. Like most overweight people I’d had eschatological dreams about losing weight, tried things like expensive gym memberships and then given up when a new life failed to appear. I had watched my friends complete marathons, triathlons and the Iron Man with admiration, and more than a hint of jealousy. I have always loved bicycles but was too fat to even consider getting on a bike.

The crucial thing for me was finding inspiration and motivation. The inspiration came from my son who was six months old at the time. I wanted him to be an active child with a love of sports and the outdoors. I needed to set him the right example. I also didn’t want him to have a fatty for a father, wanted to keep up with him as he got older and started running around.

Best Man


There were practical reasons as well, I was 32 and weight loss was only going to get tougher as time went on. I wanted to wear fashionable clothes and be proud of how I look. There were things I’d always wanted to do but hadn’t yet done, running was one of them. Deep down inside I had always wanted to run a marathon. I had put the dream to bed for a long time because I was just too fat to even begin a run, previous attempts had seen me fighting for breath, coughing and having that lactic acid jelly-feeling from head to toe.


I started running from scratch shortly after the wedding. Thanks to the Adidas MiCoach app on my iPhone and some very loud music I set out for my first run, a very slow 15 minutes which felt like a marathon at the time I weighed in at a whopping 270lb.
The next 9 months saw running take on a life of its own and my weight drop by 77lb. Success was down to a combination of good diet and lots of running. My running schedule built up gradually from that initial 15 minutes to a faster 45 minutes over the first 3 months, running at a very slow 12 minute mile pace. A further three months and I was covering six miles within an hour. More importantly, I was feeling like a runner. I’d ditched the heavy cotton hoodie (only boxing champions should run in them) in favour of closer-fitting Lycra, my shorts got shorter and I started to think of food as fuel rather than something to turn to for comfort.

I had grown to love running, I had always suspected I might but for a long time felt the mountain was too big to climb. The hardest part of course was getting my trainers on and my ass out the door. As soon as I was actually running I enjoyed the relaxation, the sheer escapism, the endorphins and even the pain. As a lifelong sufferer of depression I found running gave me clear mind and an inner peace I could not find elsewhere. On top of that it was making me healthier and giving me a thrice-weekly sense of achievement. I was hooked!

By the summer of 2013 I looked like a different man. Lean, fewer chins and a size medium rather than XXL, 8 inches had disappeared from my waist. I was able to cycle and spent my summer holiday on my new bike and running past vineyards in the South of France. I was ready to enter my first marathon.
I chose to enter the London Marathon, held on 13th April 2014. I have many friends who have run in the London Marathon, all of whom wax lyrical about the experience and sheer atmosphere of the event. I felt that if I were only to run one marathon, it should be that one. Training through the winter was a joy I had actually grown to relish running in bad weather and as for the runs; the longer the better!

I completed my first marathon in 4:06.38. Not bad for someone who couldn’t run longer than 15 minutes a couple of years before, even more so given that I woke up with chickenpox the morning after!



I have run a number of half marathons since then and have a bucket list of over 20 marathons; I am running in the first of these in Paris on April 12th. There are lots of other events I would love to explore too, I will be doing the London Duathlon in September and part of me would love to have a go at a triathlon, though I will need to work on my swimming first. I am open to the potential of Ultra Running and really attracted to the Marathon des Sables. Open to further suggestion for the bucket list and am really looking forward to getting fitter and faster. Running has taught me that nothing is impossible.

You can find Antony on Twitter or on his blog.

Run on Antony and friends!


Impressed by a chunky monkey


There are so many feet and so many shoes out there for them – I love trying something new out.

A Shoe review of the HOKA ONE ONE – Clifton

I have been running since I was twelve and have worn a lot of shoes.I started out in low-end Reebok World trainers my parents bought me after my shins screamed out in pain after many miles in a pair of high-top basketball sneakers. Nike, Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance, Salomon, Saucony…..tried so many – some have been a bit different or had new cushioning systems etc.

The HOKA ONE ONE Clifton (left) alongside my New Balance 1400s.

The HOKA ONE ONE Clifton (left) alongside my New Balance 1400s.

Then I heard about the HOKA ONE ONE shoes – they looked like chunky monkeys. After (not purposely) wearing less and less shoe to train (now training with the New Balance 1400s) I was surprised to see a shoe brand that had shoes with what looked like BIG chunky midsoles. If my 1400s were lean greyhounds (considered a race shoe by many) with just the basics, the HOKAs looked like bloated over-fed house pets.

Don’t always just a shoe by its appearance.


Lets compare first:

                             CLIFTON                             1400

Weight(size 9)           7.7oz                                         6.3oz
Heel to toe drop        5mm                                          10mm
Midsole                     HIP CMEVA                               Revlite
Fit                             Bit boxy                                      Snug
Feel                         Light/cushioned                        Light/minimal

30609031-BBLI_6 30609031-BBLI_5

I got a pair of HOKA ONE ONE Cliftons to test and review (thanks!) -below are my thoughts.


Loved the colour (I know makes no difference) and first off noticed how light the shoe felt for how chunk it looks (really light). The shoe also looks a bit boxy and my foot had room but did not feel sloppy (shoe comes with an additional insole to snug-up) and no pinching of toes etc. Good laces and no issues with upper or tongue (thin and easy to move tongue I liked). After putting on shoe I definitely had more shoe on and was higher off the ground – but did not feel overly weird (after wearing shoe that lives closer to the ground.


This shoe is completely different than almost anything I have ever worn. The fit was a bit different but no issues. The shoe is comfortable, does not feel too “flat” despite very little drop and the midsole that looks thick and soft is not marshmallowy but just…cushioned and feels good.

I took the shoe out for a few short recovery runs at an easy pace and then tried it at a quicker pace on a few others (during a Canadian winter). Felt nice to have some cushion on recovery runs and shoe did not feel big and clunky. On quicker runs had no issues (surprised) but may not be first shoe I would put on for a track workout or to pound out really fast run (trusty 1400s).

The only mildly negative thing I found was that I have less feel of the ground with the HOKAS and almost rolled an ankle on a frozen path that I don’t think would have happened with my New Balances. The shoe also has little tread (not designed to either)but I made out okay on snowy runs.

AND: Looked over the HOKA ONE ONE line and see there may be a more responsive shoe for quicker ones and even one for really long ones.

This shoe is worth a  try.

*Received the 2014 Runners World- Editor’s Choice award


Running basics


“Some simple words of running advice from someone who’s been running for a long time.”

I started running when I was 12 and have never really stopped and I am now rapidly approaching the age of 40. I am by no means the fastest, the most wise or someone to look up to – be here are some simple things to remember when training for a race.

Get fit

Get fit, have a base of fitness before you start the typical 12-17 week training program. There are plenty of resources, advice and apps (like those from Runtastic) that can help you get motivated, active etc.

Get the gear

To avoid, injury, frustration and excuses – get good running gear and shoes. Ask for help from knowledgeable running store staff like those at Sports4 in Ottawa (Canada).

Get a training plan

Whether it is a book or online training program like Vicsystem that I use – find a plan that is realistic and geared towards your goals. Also – be realistic and plan your training on days and times you know you can commit to.


Pick a run, a race, goal or adventure and register or mark it down on a calendar. Get a t-shirt that states your goal if necessary. I am going to be aiming at the Ottawa marathon race-weekend 10k in May.

Be tough

Follow your plan, be consistent and be tough. What starts out harder will become easier.

Be flexible

Be tough and committed but remember life is not always like you planned on paper. Be flexible, don’t be too hard on yourself. Training and race day can both throw challenges and changes at you, being able to adapt and overcome is something that will help you.

Stay motivated

Get a good running book or check out a running video or a film like the Canadian running film “Transcend“.

Eat, sleep and rest

Sounds simple but make sure to eat healthy, pick healthy snacks like Made with Local bars fuel up before and after properly (I use Cytomax and MuscleMLK). Remember to replace water and electrolytes, some carbs and protein after a workout and to eat healthy.

Sleep – the more and harder you train, the more sleep you need. Just an hour extra can really make a difference.

Take a rest or easy day once a week. Your body needs to recover, rebuild and get stronger.

Check out my Ottawa marathon training last year as I pushed the limits-see what I learned and the advice I received.


If your budget allows, a cool running GPS watch like the Polar M400 can help you keep track of the time, distance, pace and even your heart rate.


And remember-not many of us are Olympic-level athletes and have families, jobs and other priorities. Keep it fun and relax.

Run on friends!

Helpful resources:

Running gear reviews

New Balance running shoes

Motivating or inspiring runners stories

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