Tag Archives: runners world

i love it when i’m right

please pardon the more-than-slightly obnoxious title for today’s post. but it’s an entirely true and accurate statement for today’s main story!

remember back here when i gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to the new redesign of the runner’s world shoe finder? i loved how the new yes/no q & a chart suggests a wider range of running shoe options:

(you can now find that flowchart online here, at the runner’s world website; at the time of my initial mention, the chart was not available online).

back in february i posed the question of whether the store would follow suit and revamp our colour-coded shoe wall:

an example of our old shoe tags - yellow tags defined our neutral/cushioned shoe category (blue was for stability shoes and red tags indicated motion control shoes)

honestly, i had an inkling [which i expressed to manager paul – i have a witness!] that at some point in the near future, we would be seeing a shoe wall overhaul.

on friday, i was proven RIGHT!! we received brand new tags for our shoe wall…

all tags are now BLACK!

i absolutely am 100% thrilled with this shoe wall redesign! the all-black tags make the wall look clean and more professional:

the view from afar!

here’s a close-up of a new tag:

we'll put the spotlight on the women's mizuno wave inspire 8!

under the old system, this shoe would have had a blue (stability) tag. if you take a peak at the right hand side, above the price (U.S. friends, i am betting this shoe costs a lot less for you) you will see three blurry words:

  • cushioning
  • stability
  • weight

each shoe receives a rating of 1-5 for each of those categories:

for cushioning, a 1 would be a shoe with very little cushioning (like track spikes or vibrams) while a 5 would be the ultimate in softness and comfort (like an asics nimbus or a nike vomero).

for stability, a neutral (yellow tag) shoe is a 1 or 2, while a 3 or 4 indicates a stability (blue tag) shoe, and a 5 designates a motion control (red tag) shoe.

for weight, our resident experts weighed a men’s size 9 shoe; if the shoe was over 11 ounces, it’s got a ranking of 5, 10-11 ounces is a ranking of 4, 9-10 ounces equals a 3, 7-9 ounces is a 2, and less than 7 ounces is a 1.[glad they figured that out for us!].

let's look at the saucony triumph 9 - the upper-end neutral shoe from saucony

in this example, you can see that the triumph 9 gets a rating of FIVE for cushioning (as a more expensive shoe, you are getting more cushioning, better quality cushioning, so the five rating makes total sense), ONE for stability (it is a neutral shoe so there is no reinforcement through the arch, at all). and FOUR for weight (saucony shoes are not known for their lightness).

compare the triumph 9 to the nike free!…

ah, the nike free run 2...can you believe i still do not own you, beautiful shoe that you are with those fantastically awesome colours!!!

look how much less cushioned (only a TWO rating) and LIGHT it is! that’s a minimalist shoe for you!

so, like i said, i am totally pumped to work with this new system. and i am thumping my chest that i saw it coming!


here’s another thing i was right about: the impactful effect of starbucks coffee on my system. it’s now been ten days since my last cup of starbucks via coffee, and i have had not one moment of where the WHEEEEEEE!!! feeling of a coffee jolt has turned into more of an EEEEEKK over-the-top case of the jitters and/or anxiety. taster’s choice instant, i am sticking with you. starbucks, i will enjoy you in-store – as a decaf! – but via pacs, you are not coming home with me any more!


remember when i went to carrie’s book launch for the juliet stories? the toronto globe and mail reviewed her novel-in-stories (here is that review) in this past saturday’s newspaper. national exposure like this is a major achievement! way to go, carrie! (acclaim for a neighbourhood + mennonite author – we like that).


how did you choose your current pair of running shoes? of course, i am hoping you will say you shopped at a specialty running store…and i will grin even more widely if it was a certain running store!

canadians: have you won a coffee yet at tim horton’s for roll up the rim? i am 1/1 but i have yet to cash in my free coffee – timmie’s is not as convenient as s’bux for me to get to!

did you remember to turn your clocks ahead? yes – i sprung ahead early saturday eve (i am always paranoid i will forget). so, i went to bed an hour earlier than usual…and could not fall asleep. so i lost an hour sleep, anyway!

a sea of (white) humanity

take a look at the following race photos:

(ottawa marathon – source)

(toronto waterfront marathon – source)

(boston marathon – source)

for years, i have had this rant bubbling in my brain that just wished to come out, but i didn’t know how to argue my thesis in a succinct and pithy manner. here’s the upshot of what i’ve been ruminating on:

marathons are so white.

i wanted to let loose about how the number of white marathon runners does not reflect our population composition, about how it is an elitist sport, about how you need to be at a certain socio-economic-level to qualify for and participate in the boston marathon…i’ve just never been able to clearly articulate my thoughts on paper (or in a microsoft word doc).

luckily, runner’s world magazine came to my rescue with their december issue:

runner's world, december 2011 issue

i no longer subscribe to the magazine because i can read it for free at the store, but more importantly, i was tired of how they were rehashing similar ideas every few months.

in this issue, however, they have a unique, well-researched and fascinating article:

the question posed by the article...

...and the accompanying visual

i avidly read the article (during a slow spurt, bien sûr)…and then re-read it and made notes a few days later.

now, the article focuses on persons of african-american origin and their lack of representation in distance running in the u.s., but the concept translates well to canada.

in the u.s., “core” runners, those who tend to enter running events and train year-round, are 90% caucasian, 5.1% hispanic, 3.9% asian and 1.6 % african american (p 94 of the article). i’d say that in canada, the 90% caucasian stat is likely also the case, but i’d propose that asians are next most represented group.

i will not hijack the entire article – i encourage you to seek it out on your own here.

to pique your interest, though, here are the three main questions asked:

  • what does account for the low participation numbers among minorities?
  • what obstacles do minority runners face?
  • what can be done to address this lack of diversity?

(these questions are found on p 95).

the reason i liked this article so much is because it is not just a whine about how we need to increase minority participation in running (a main benefit being that it is “an inexpensive and effective way to address health problems of at-risk populations” [p 97]). rather the author states his queries, provides supporting statistics, quotes professionals from several relevant fields, then answers the question, “what might be done?”

i’ll highlight just one of his five proposals: “media could be more conscious of race when choosing models” (for photos that accompany stories and for advertisements).

i love this idea. while finishing up the runner’s world article, i had a brainwave – i grabbed the latest edition of our in-house magazine in order to see exactly how diverse the models were for stories and ads.

you can pick up the magazine for free!

in our november/december issue, i found one asian male included in the promotional ad on the back of the magazine cover:

the ad in question

on the inside of the front cover, the asian male’s face is obscured:

sorry for the blur - they're jumping too fast, haha!

so, he is in the ad but you need to look carefully to pick out his nationality. all other stories, ads, features show white males and females. wow.

now – what is fabulous is the article which talks about kids running (it’s on page 34 of the issue) – it’s totally multi-cultural! how wonderful!

great photo

if we are to change the make-up of long distance race participants, it is key to target children. with events like the terry fox run, and run for the cure, we have opportunities to get kids interested in running, and encourage them to be life-long fitness enthusiasts. today’s 1 k elf run participant may very well race a future boston marathon !

in closing, i’ll reiterate that it’s worth your while to read the runner’s world piece. today’s blog post does not capture all my thoughts and ideas on this complex and multi-faceted topic, but it’s a start.

share any personal observations or thoughts that you wish – i’d love to continue this discussion!


november thankfulness:

(for thursday november 17): yesterday…i think i was thankful…or else i am really in trouble…that

i need to read these every day


oh golly, miss molly.

Two Thumbs Down, Two Thumbs Up

I don’t consider myself a prude.

When you’ve seen grown men pee in the corrals at the Boston Marathon, all hangups about body parts and bodily functions pretty much disappear.

I received the May issue of Runner’s World this week. (Obviously, they did not process my cancellation request in time to stop the mailing. Great. Now my expected refund of $11.29 will be not so…grand).

So, I’m flipping through this new issue, and two advertisements catch my eye. Let me rephrase: two ads pop my eyeballs open in wide surprise.

The first one:

read the caption up there in the top corner...

And the second one:

yea for vibrams (i have two pairs) but this ad???...

So, in Ad #1, I am genuinely shocked that they’d use the word BOOBS in print!  Attention grabbing – yes. Classy – no. I honestly don’t recollect ever seeing tatas referred to this way before! Am I just behind the times??

Ad #2 – Naked Man + his strategically placed hands…Risqué – yes. Innovative, perhaps. And I can even see how Naked Man relates to the creative slogan, and ties in to the Vibram shoe minimalist mentality. Still, I was surprised to see such a scantily-clad model advertising shoes!

Am I off-base?

In contrast, here are two ads that I do embrace. The first one is from the same RW issue mentioned, above:

read the white print under the "ONWARD" book cover, L hand side...

I love A-Ha quotes about life. This is meaningful stop-and-ponder ad print. Thank you, Starbucks. *Like.*

Secondly, a great ad from Oprah magazine:

this ad would fit nicely in RW, eh!?!

Now that’s smart writing. Way to go, National Peanut Board.

Any ads that have caught your attention lately, positively or negatively?

A few years ago, Pearl Izumi ran a series of ads, differentiating between runners and joggers.

Here’s an example:

At Pearl Izumi, we don’t jog. We run. And we think that matters. The thing is running is endangered. You might find this hard to believe. After all, the number of entrants in your local 10k is surely on the rise, and every Saturday the park is packed with people prancing around in brand new trainers, trying to nurture their chi or look good for their wedding or whatever. Unfortunately, few if any of them are running. They’re jogging, a half-hearted fore-aft movement of the legs that has about as much in common with running as bowling. And with all the jogging going on out there, runners are losing the soul of their sport. A sport that started with our ancestors running wn dinner and remains to this day predatory at its core. Joggers are prey. Runners are hunters. If you belong to the latter group, revel in the fact that you sit firmly atop the bipedal locomotion food chain. And run like an animal.


Considering that I still remember the campaign a couple of years later, the ads obviously did their intended job: they were attention-grabbing, and provoked discussion. (Too bad Pearl Izumi shoes…are…not the *preferred choice* of many athletes!)

Any blasts-from-the-advertising-past that have stuck with you?

Enjoy your Sunday! And if you’re magazine-skimming today, turn the pages with caution – you just never know what you may see!

Too-Da-Loo, Runner’s World

Yesterday, a question popped into my head:

Why am I subscribing to Runner’s World magazine?”

My answer? Because I always have.


That response seemed a little lacking in sound reasoning, so I devoted some more brain time to pursuing this train of thought.

Upon reflection, I realized that I have subscribed continuously to this Runner’s Bible for at least 15, if not 20 years. I started running in 1989, and I’m pretty sure I started getting the magazine via home delivery shortly thereafter – likely soon after I got my first pair of shoes!

To cut to the chase, today I went to the RW website and cancelled my subscription. It was the logical decision to make, and to be honest, it makes total sense! Here’s why:

~ we sell Runner’s World at the store. So, I have access to the publication for free, and can read it during any quiet times while on shift (as long as I make sure not to slop peanut butter or spill coffee on it – haha!). Sure, our store copies arrive about one week later than my personal copy is delivered by mail, but since there is no time-sensitive news involved, I think I can bear it.

~ as much as I hate to admit it, I am spending less and less time reading hard copies of the newspaper and magazines, and more and more time scanning online versions of the same publications. For years, I was a newspaper junkie; over the past while, I’ve weaned myself off of my reading routines (yes, used to knit and read the newspaper and drink Diet Coke!), and have turned to reading on my computer instead. And, I’ve noticed that the RW website carries virtually all of the same stories and features that appear in the paper magazine.

~ not to sound overconfident, but after 20+ years running, and given my occupation, I feel experienced enough that I could author some of the articles…Do I really need to read up on how to dress for cold weather? Or the best hamstring stretches? Yea, I still read these types of articles, but I learn very few new ideas.

Cramping Out(source)

~ to my mind, RW recycles articles every 2-3 years. The main tips in “The Twenty Best Superfoods For Runners” will next appear as “Healthy Staples For Your Kitchen.” “Beat the Winter Blues” is not much different than “How to Stay Motivated in the Off-Season.”

The Best Foods For Runners


~ this will sound just plain snarky: I really dislike the current editor-in-chief, David Willey. I’m sure he’s a very nice guy in real life. His editorials just irk me, though. Yes, this is a small quibble to whine about, but reading his openings makes me petulant. This aversion cannot be further explained, sorry.

So there you have it. Maybe I can just feel all virtuous about saving the planet, one less paper product in my home, blah blah. Which reminds me…Runner’s World is about due for another “How to be a Green Runner” article. May 2011 issue, I bet.

Do you subscribe to any magazines? Would you consider giving them up?

A Leaner, Meaner Boston

Last week, on Wednesday February 16th, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) revealed their new qualifying standards for the 2012 and 2013 races. Runners had been anticipating this news ever since September 2010, when the 2011 marathon online registration sold out in about 8 hours. Clearly, the registration and qualifying procedures needed a revamp.

The most efficient way to relay the updates is to give you the link so that you can read the BAA press release for yourself. So, to get the information “straight from the horse’s mouth,” click here.

If you’re feeling lazy, or frankly don’t give a toot, here’s what I took away from reading (and re-reading! *geek!*) the statement:

~ the BAA is introducing a rolling/tiered admission procedure starting with the 2012 Boston Marathon. The faster your qualifying time, the earlier you can register

~ the BAA has tightened qualifying times by five minutes for every age group, beginning with the 2013 race.

~ to reward longevity, the BAA lets those who meet the qualifying standard AND have run at least 10 consecutive Bostons to register at any time (ie on the first day of registration).

As you can imagine, the reaction in the running community has been mixed. I laugh a little, because I truly believe it is just human nature to resist change. So any new initiatives, regardless of what they are, are going to be met with skepticism by some/most people.

If you’re interested in reading feedback, here are a few links to check out:

~from the Runner’s World Forum:


(grab a coffee – as I am posting this link, there are 309 posts in this thread!!)

~from the Running Room Forum:


(in typical mild-mannered Canadian fashion, there are only 23 replies to this thread!)

~an article from the Marathon Guide website:


Now for my own thoughts…

I am 100% in favour of these new initiatives, and commend the BAA for decisively and boldly updating both the qualifying and registration procedures.

I, like a few of the commenters at the Runner’s World link (above) agree that runners should use these stricter standards as positive motivators in training and racing. Just run faster! Train harder! Dream bigger! Race smartly!

Boston is the only marathon in the world for which a runner must qualify (excluding charity runners). It truly is an “elite” racing experience for the masses. With demand being at an all-time high, it IS time to tighten standards and redefine what is an “elite finishing time” for the non-professional runner. 

Some people argue that women have it easier then the men in terms of their qualifying times. Maybe, maybe not. But in the interests of being fair, the BAA had to take away five minutes from everyone. Simple and just.

While Boston is an absolutely fabulous race experience (Sidenote: I ran Boston in ’97, ’98 and ’99; my PB was set on this course in 19998: my net time was 3:00:45) with a thoroughly enjoyable and unique course, it is not the only memorable or unique or fun marathon out there. Paris, Disney, New York, the Great Wall of China…there are exotic marathons, unforgettable routes, once-in-a-lifetime/Bucket List choices out there for everyone…you name it, you want it, you can find it in terms of a race experience.

By issuing the new standards in February, six months ahead of registration for 2012, the BAA gives runners the opportunity to wrap their heads around the new process. People like time to adjust, think about, whine about, debate new initiatives. I can’t wait to see how these changes improve both the registration and race experiences.

By the way…only 56 days to Boston 2011!

my race bib from 1997!

scrapbook of all things related to the 1998 race trip!

posing on the finishing line (not the day of - haha!) of the 1999 race!

I Resisted the Call…

….the call of the Saucony Kinvara, that is.


You’ll recall that I’ve been loving all shoes that are minimalist in style, of late. The last purchase was my Vibrams. See here if you missed their welcome to the family.

When I found out the store was carrying the Kinvara (my exact store didn’t receive it, but other locations did), I decided I needed these shoes. Runner’s World had reviewed them back in the spring  – see their comments here. Then when I was flipping through Canadian Running Magazine at work, I saw their positive comments, shown below:


Kinvara – $140

Saucony (Lightweight Trainer) Men’s 218g, 7.7oz / Women’s 189g, 6.7oz

This shoe is causing a sensation among the minimalist crowd, as it manages to combine the levelness and low ride height of other minimalist shoes with the comfort and cushioning of a regular training shoe. Our testers immediately fell in love with the high-performance feel of these lightweight trainers. There’s enough cushioning to protect the soles of your feet from the pavement (after all, were bare feet meant to run on asphalt?) and the extra material in the midfoot provides some stability. A wafer-thin, translucent upper facilitates maximum flexibility and comfort, while an inner layer of thin, flexible bands keep the foot in place. The outsole’s super-flexible triangular grooves further enhance the fast feel of the transition. A fantastic speedwork and racing shoe for biomechanically efficient runners. (source)


Oh yea, I was practically drooling in anticipation! So I brought the shoes in from one of our stores – and quickly put them on during my next shift.

Super comfy!

Super flexible and light!

But….the toe box felt a little loose. See, I have a very narrow foot to begin with, plus I like a snug fitting upper on my running shoes. And Saucony provides one of the widest toe box areas of any shoe brand.

But they were so cute!!! (The model I tried on sported the same colours as the photo, above – hot pink and white! They’re spectacular, I tell you!).

I put them back in the box and went home to reflect.

Next shift, I put the sexy Kinvaras on again and wore them around the store for a couple hours (perk of the job!). They honestly felt GREAT on my feet – as light as my Nike Frees (all three pairs, yup). Yet, something nagged me about the toe box. I had to tighten the laces so much that the fabric upper bunched a bit around the lacing system. And I could really wiggle my toes side to side.

I put them back in the box and went home to reflect.

The next morning – this was Monday of this week – I glumly sent the shoes back to their originating location. Despite the positive attributes (lightness, cushioning, cute colours, snug heel fit), I knew I wouldn’t be loving them due to the toe box being less than 100% for me. And a deal (staff discount!) is not a deal if the shoes won’t be venturing out of the box.

So while I may not have the Kinvaras, I do recommend them if you’re looking for a minimalist trainer or light racing shoe. Read this blog post here, all you fellow shoe geeks, for a very thorough review).

Me, I’m holding out for the fact that I put the Reebok Zigtechs…


…on my Christmas List and I really hope Santa comes through…I know these fit, and…I need a new pair of shoes, don’t I?!

Advantage: Goodlife

I’ve been scooped! For the last couple days, I was planning a post where I wanted to talk about the Goodlife Toronto Marathon and an interesting development for the 2010 race (October 17, 2010). Then yesterday, the story breaks that the City of Toronto is putting its foot down on having two marathons in one city, three weeks apart, and will issue ONE marathon permit only, beginning in 2011.

Here is the full story, as it appears in the Globe and Mail today. It’s well worth a read, if you have time. The issue is being flogged to death in various running forums and I am not going to delve into the story in depth right now. But for the running community, this is a face-off worth watching. Which race will prevail? Each one has its loyal supporters and vocal critics. I’ve competed in both events over the years, and each one has advantages and disadvantages.


Waterfront Marathon: more crowd support, larger field of entrants, excellent organization, draws more elite level athletes

Toronto Marathon: better/more scenic course, longer history of existence


Waterfront Marathon: course is boring as all get-out, September weather sometimes an issue (hotter, more humid)

Toronto Marathon: poorer organization, point-to-point course necessitates transportation issues

I am willing to bet that the number of entrants increases in both events for the fall 2010 races, due to the fact that it will be the final “running” of one of these events. And who knows: the winning marathon may well go with a different course. I think we will also see an increase in the number of people/crazies who do both events – this is the last chance!

At this stage, who will prevail? I am placing my money on the Waterfront. Money talks, bottom line.

But here is the REAL story I initially wanted to discuss! Runner’s World Magazine has chosen the Goodlife Toronto Marathon as one of its  four Marathon Challenge sites for this year (the other marathons being Flying Pig in Cincinnati, San Francisco and Richmond). What happens is you sign up for the Challenge, and Runner’s World provides you with training and perks on Race Day.

This is a complete coup for the Goodlife Marathon! Runner’s World magazine is likely the most recognized running resource in North America – any association with this magazine is going to bring your event more money, more competitors, more recognition. It’s the same deal as if Tiger Woods has chosen to play your golf tournament.

So, let’s tie these two stories together now: we have a race to see which of the two Toronto marathons will prevail (due to the rivalry between race directors, there is no way a compromise or a combining of the two events will ever happen). We have the presence of Runner’s World at the upcoming Goodlife Marathon in 2010…but the Waterfront is decidedly the “bigger” event…this is going to be good!


Waterfront Marathon – http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/

Goodlife Marathon – http://www.torontomarathon.com/