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Get your feet dirty with 5 early season BC trail runs

Ignore the white stuff, dream of the mud

The weather outside is frightful as the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island are caught in the icy grips of old man winter. And he is a total jerk. But, that won’t stop us from looking forward to getting our feet dirty this on the trails soon enough. For those eager to plan, here are five early season trail running events to whet the competitive appetite. (It also helps to ignore, old you-know-who.)

The Dirty Duo, March 9
This is a scenic and rather hilly race set in North Vancouver on the Capilano University grounds and Inter River Park and will challenge runners of all levels on these sweet North Shore trails. Runners can choose from a 50K, 27K and 15K distance. Runners can also participate in a relay with a mountain biker or can do a 27K run and a 30K bike for the ultimate challenge. This event is part of the Foretrails Run Series, www.foretrails.com.

The Cap Crusher, March 16
Break out the four-leafed clover running kit and celebrate spring and St. Patrick with this challenging run around the upper Capilano Canyon and along the river. This trail system is quite beautiful but can also offer technical workout for runners. There is both a 12K (8:30 a.m. start) and 24K (9 a.m. start) option as well as a kids race (8 a.m. start). It all gets underway at 8am at Cleveland Dam. For more information go to www.trailseries.ca.

MEC Greater Vancouver Trail Race One, April 7
The first MEC Greater Vancouver Trail race of the year features 5K and 9K courses through Pacific Spirit Park, chip-timed results, coffee and bananas, finish-line massages, plus unlimited high-fives from stoked MEC members and staff. Runners will enjoy a course that passes through the beautiful forest trails of the northern section of Pacific Spirit Park. For information go to www.events.mec.ca.

The Marathon Shuffle, April 28
Head to the Sunshine Coast and the drop-dead gorgeous Sunshine Coast Trail for the annual Marathon Shuffle. The event takes place along a 29 kilometre section of the trail and passes through the settlement lands of the Tla’amin Nation and is a collaborative effort between Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society, Tla’amin Nation, Club Fat Ass and the BOMB Squad. Registration opens Feb. 22. For more information go to www.sunshinecoast-trail.com.

The Cumby, May 11
The Comox Valley Road Runners are hosting the 4th annual Cumby trail race set in the Cumberland Community Forest located in the hills about the historic village of Cumberland. The race day event lineup includes the full Cumby 25K race as well as the 13K Half Cumby and new this year the 5.5K family-friendly Mini Cumby. Walkers are also welcome to join in the Mini Cumby to take in what the Cumberland Community Forest has to offer. For more information go to www.thecumby.ca.

 
  

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5 steps to build toward a bigger and better triathlon season

Maintaining a base level of fitness is important in the off-season to keep you strong

The winter months provide a perfect time to move away from structured training and allow your body time to properly recover. That said, halting your training altogether is not recommended and will only make getting into shape for the new triathlon season even more difficult. Maintaining a base level of fitness is important, but shed the pressures of race season training and be better off for it. The key is finding balance. Here are a few considerations for the cold months.
  1. Work on your weaknesses – Most triathletes have strengths and weaknesses. Know where you excel and where you need to improve. Use the non-racing months to zero in on the discipline(s) you really need to strengthen. Read books on the subject, do some research on YouTube, ask more experienced athletes and try to gain further knowledge about strategies to bolster performance. Then put this information into practice and aim to develop your proficiency while it’s cold outside.
  2. Do shorter, more intense workouts – Forget endurance. Instead, focus on lactate threshold and where applicable, power output. These should be short, hard workouts, and gauging your effort is a good idea. A simple way of doing this is by using a heart-rate monitor. High-end fitness is not easy to attain, so forgo volume for intensity. Add longer workouts as race season approaches.
  3. Include core strength and flexibility – Hit the gym, park, or home gym for some strength exercises, which will make you stronger and translate into better race performances when the tri season begins. Many studies have backed up the importance of strength training for triathletes. Employ resistance training, bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups and push-ups, and spend time loosening muscles via thorough stretching.
  4. Cross-train – Specificity is vital in triathlon as it is in most sports. If you want to swim, ride, and run faster, then you should train your swim, ride, and run. That said, use the winter time to mix up your training. Run or ride some trails on the mountain bike, hit the slopes with your x-country skis or snowboard, pull out the hockey stick, or skates. Consider trying something fresh and new such as hot yoga, pilates, or meditation.
  5. Build family time into workouts – Sometimes we forget or don’t make time enough to do this during race season. But when the pressure is off, take the family with you on outings, such as pushing the stroller around the park with your spouse if the weather allows, taking the family to the rink, or hiking in the backcountry together. Everyone will be happy for these adventures. 
Forget pure tri fitness during the winter and search for balance in your life. Look at your training from a different perspective and allow spontaneity and freedom in your workouts. There will be plenty of time over coming months where hitting specific fitness targets and logging mileage goals are the name of the game, but that’s not for now. Recover. Rejuvenate. And be better for it in the long run.