guided trail running

Retreat Lovin'

We're still coming down off the amazing high of the Yoga + Trail Running Retreat hosted in Golden this past weekend.  With 32 brave and inspiring women and 1 strong and supportive guy it was certainly four days to remember.  

Here are a few pictures that captured some of the beauty and energy of the weekend.  If you want more... check out #runyogatrails on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Yoga in our beautiful studio opened our hips and hearts.

Yoga in our beautiful studio opened our hips and hearts.

Cedar Lake at dawn, before our hot-hot Friday run.

Cedar Lake at dawn, before our hot-hot Friday run.

An alpine trail run in Yoho Park achieved some big goals and created enduring memories for many of the participants.

An alpine trail run in Yoho Park achieved some big goals and created enduring memories for many of the participants.

Group run in the alpine.  Photo by Lisa H.

Group run in the alpine.  Photo by Lisa H.

Learning about proper running form before we hit the trails in Golden.

Learning about proper running form before we hit the trails in Golden.

Registration for 2016 is now open: http://www.raceonline.ca/events/details/?id=965

8 Golden Ultra Training Tips

We asked popular coach and running streaker, Derrick Spafford, for some Golden Ultra training tips.  You won't believe what happened next...  (we got some great advice!).

1. Train Hard

To successfully complete any race in the Golden Ultra weekend of races, you need to commit to training hard, consistently and smart. The distances and terrain at the Golden Ultra are challenging, so regular training averaging five times per week of running and cross training over the final few months are key. Gradually lengthening your long runs to the three to four hour range should be enough to prepare most runners to complete their chosen races.

2. Do your Hill Training

Hill training is the most important form of training that you can do to prepare for the Golden Ultra. Getting comfortable running (and hiking) uphill and downhill is vital. Alternate between hills that are long and gradual and those that are shorter and steeper. If you don’t have access to hills or mountains, be sure to hit the incline on a treadmill as a substitute. With the highest point of the course cresting over 2,400 meters, the altitude will also pose a challenge. If you don’t live at altitude, making sure that you regularly run intense anaerobic hill repeats in training will help to prepare you for what you will be experiencing at the higher elevations on the course.

3. Try Back-to-Back Long Runs

If you are running two or three of the Golden Ultra races, you’ll want to add some back-to-back longer runs in the final 6-8 weeks before the race. A typical example would be a three hour hilly run on the first day, followed by another two hour hilly run the following day. This is a great way to get your body used to running while already fatigued. Make sure that you recover well with additional rest days and light running days after B2B runs for several days before your next hard session or long run.

4. Engage Cross Training

Add additional specific types of cardio cross training (Elliptical, Mountain Biking, Stair Master, Stepmill) to your training week to boost your climbing fitness. Adding one to two days of specific cross training weekly will allow you to increase your volume without the risks of adding more running days, and with the benefit of working different muscles that will come in handy with all the climbing.

5. Add some Strength Training

A strong core, in addition to strong legs, is important for helping you to power up the climbs and stabilizing on the descents. Basic core exercises such as planks, abdominal crunches, and other stability exercises should be performed two to three times per week.

Additional leg exercises such as walking lunges, single leg squats, calf raises, and some bounding drills are also helpful for your climbing and descending muscles and to prevent you from overloading these muscle groups on race day.

6. Plan and Test your Race Day Nutrition

Stay on top of fuelling, hydration and electrolytes early and often during the race to ensure you’re well fuelled throughout each day. Be sure to get a moderate amount of carbs and protein into you asap after each stage to aid in recovery, especially if you’re doing multiple races over consecutive days.

7. Practise Mountain Running Form

Shorten your stride and maintain your stride turnover rate and effort on uphills. Run tall, don’t lean excessively forward at the waist. Hike any uphills necessary to maintain the same effort or heart rate. For downhills, make sure you relax and run with quick steps. Don’t brake or overstride, run with the momentum of the hill. Look ahead and pick your line through any technical sections.

8. Test your Gear

Don’t make a rookie mistake and try out new gear on race day. Be sure you wear the shoes and other gear that you have tried in long training runs to ensure that everything works well for you. Make sure you choose the footwear that gives you the traction and protection that you need for the conditions of the race. Trekking poles can provide a big help in climbing and descending; if you plan to use them on race day, be sure to get lots of practice with them in training.


Derrick Spafford has over 30 years of competitive running and coaching experience. He has competed in hundreds of races in distances from 800 meters to 100 miles; from track to ultramarathons. While he enjoys competing in a variety of different events, his current favourite races include trail, mountain, ultra and snowshoe running races.  For more information on Derrick's personal coaching services, please visit: www.healthandadventure.com

The Golden Ultra is a three-day stage running race (or relay) in Golden, BC, Canada.  Runners may participate in all three stages as a solo or part of a relay, or may register for any single or combination of two stages separately.

On Yoga and Golden Love: Jessica Pyper Profile

The yoga and trail running retreat is filling up fast and now only a few weekends away, so we thought it high time we shared some information on our Golden local yoga instructor, Jessica Pyper.  Jessica will be working with Kristen Stuart leading the yoga classes and Elinor Fish will guide the running practise.

Tell us a bit about yourself... 

I am a yoga student and teacher. I grew up in Grimsby, ON and moved to Golden, BC in 2009 to spend more time in the mountains snowboarding and studying and I just never left. A typical day for me looks like this: wake up, do some computer work for my business (marketing, social media, planning retreats, etc.), practice yoga, eat breakfast, get outside (either snowboarding or mountain biking- seasonally dependant), garden/house work, dinner, more computer work or work at the restaurant or hang out with friends. For work, I teach yoga classes, SUP yoga classes, workshops, and retreats. I also give Reiki treatments and currently work at a restaurant in town, too. 

When did you start practising yoga?  Why?  What do you love about it - what keeps you practising?

I started practicing yoga when I was 19 - only a few classes here and there. I gradually began practicing more and more and now I aspire to practice everyday if I can. I starting practicing yoga for the physical benefits and kept developing my practice because of all the other amazing aspects of yoga. I love yoga because it centres me and makes me feel comfortable in my own skin. I have an identical twin sister, so growing up was quite a challenge for me - I never felt like I had my own sense of identity and I didn’t really like myself too much. I was always wanting to be someone else- which sounds sad, but it wasn’t, I was very loved… just not by myself. Practicing yoga has really taught me to love myself as I am- it’s the best thing in the world.

Jessica with some garden rewards.

Jessica with some garden rewards.

What do you like about teaching yoga?

My favourite part of teaching yoga is teaching my students to love themselves, teaching gratitude, and helping them release their fears. My class is very physical, too, but my biggest focus as a teacher is teaching love.

Where do you find your inspiration for your classes?

I find inspiration for my classes all over the place- usually from my students. I never plan my classes and I base my teaching on the energy level of the group and I always teach a class around the needs of the group that day. Music also inspires me a lot, whenever I create a new playlist, I get pretty excited to teach! 

Why Golden?

I like Golden because of the amazing mountains here. We have such awesome mountain biking and snowboarding- Kicking Horse is the best resort I’ve been to yet. I LOVE the small town vibes and the people here are so rad. If the mountains don’t humble you, the people here will for sure.

What do you think are the most important poses for runners to practise?

Some yoga poses I enjoy after running are hamstrings; any type of forward fold either standing or seated will stretch out your hammies and your lower back. Downward dog is great because it stretches the calves, hamstrings, and back. I also really enjoy low lunges, with the back knee on the ground; if its available, grab the back foot for a deeper thigh stretch. Lastly, legs up the wall is my favourite all-around restorative pose.

Thanks for sharing, Jessica!

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The Golden Ultra is a three-day stage running race (or relay) in Golden, BC from September 18-20, 2015.  Runners may participate in all three stages as a solo or part of a relay, or may register for any single or combination of two stages separately. 

Meet the Courses - Golden Ultra Orientation Runs

With the advent of the summer season - it's looking HOT out there - and the grand summer opening of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, we're stoked to announce some orientation runs on the Golden Ultra courses.  

Sunday, June 7 - "The Tears" Course:  Meet at corner of Bowles Evans Drive and Spruce Drive, we will run the "single track" portion of the course (approximately 15 km).

Sunday, July 5 - "The Sweat" Course: Meet at the CBT Mainline Trailhead (on Kicking Horse Trail & Golf Course Road).  We'll run the "bottom half" of the course, approximately 20 km.

Sunday, July 12 - "The Sweat" Course: Meet at Cedar Lake parking area (Tallis FSR at Cedar Lake Campground).  We'll run the "top half" of the course, approximately 30 km.

Monday, August 3 - "The Blood" Course: Meet at the Gondola base at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.  This will be your only chance to try this course uphill until race day as the ski hill does not allow uphill traffic for safety reasons.

All orientation runs begin at 9:00 am sharp, at the designated location.  Runs are free and are not limited to Golden Ultra registered runners.  There will be a brief course description at the start and then we will set out as a group - if you're especially slow or especially fast we'll try to make accommodations so that you also get the benefit of the run.

We've posted all these runs as events on our Facebook Page - RSVP, post your questions and photos, and invite others!

Meet Yogini Kristen Stuart

When we created the Golden Ultra Yoga & Running Retreat our goal was to pull together some of the most real, inspiring and talented teachers to share their love of running and yoga with you.  There was no better person to invite than yogini Kristen Stuart. 

Kristen is a registered Yoga and Meditation teacher and a Lifestyle Coach, passionate about guiding people towards their passion, purpose and powerful presence in this life.  To introduce you more to this beautiful person and inspiring teacher, here is a quick question and answer.

Tell us a bit about yourself... Who is the real Kristen Stuart?

I live in Canmore, Alberta, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.  Although I’ve lived here for many years, this place never stops inspiring me. 

A typical day for me would be to wake up around 6:00 am with a warm lemon water drink.  This is part of my ayurvedic self care routine that I’ll share more with you at the retreat.  I follow that up with some meditation, an Americano and my yoga practice.  A healthy breakfast follows.  Once I’ve taken care of myself I start my work day of coaching, private and public yoga instruction, and all the other stuff that goes into having your own small businesses.  The evening is all about healthy dinner, quality times with loved ones and grounding.

I love hiking and climbing and there is no better place than Canmore for that.  Grassi Lakes is a quick hit close to town for hiking and the climbing gym at Elevation Place is simply amazing.  I’m so thankful that being active is so easy to incorporate into my life.

When did you start practicing yoga?  What got you interested in it?  What do you love most about yoga?

I started practicing yoga in 2001 and was initially interested from a totally physical perspective.  I came from a background of personal training and started my yoga journey with the Ashtanga style of yoga – strong and sweaty! 

For me, yoga is a way of life, a lifestyle.  Once I began the practice my life shifted in so many positive ways.  I was more conscious of the food I was eating, how I was communicating with others, and I was so much more conscious of energy.  As a totally type-A over-achiever, yoga chilled me out while still allowing me to accomplish.

Yoga is a practice that you can lean in to on a daily basis and use to help shift you in the direction that you need to be shifted.  If I wake up with low energy I can use a powerful practice to invigorate me.  Likewise, I can use a grounding practice and meditation to soothe anxiety.  My practice is ever evolving and always brings me the exact ‘medicine’ I need.

The beautiful thing about yoga is that there are so many styles and practices and everybody connects to it and values it in a different way.  This is what has kept me interested as an instructor and even within my own life.  I love to use yoga to help guide people through times of transition.  This is what forms a key part of my business – yoga-influenced life coaching.

If I was to sum up my practice:  Yoga meets me where I’m at, takes me where I need to go and never leaves me where I was.

Lots of runners are not good stretchers and are nervous about getting into yoga.  What would you tell a beginner to “ease their fears? 

That was me 14 years ago! 

It would be a rare runner that could show up to their first marathon without training & expect to win it.  Just like that, with yoga you have to start somewhere.  A small step is to incorporate some yoga into your daily routine.

Our plan for this retreat is to put together a great foundation in yoga from an anatomy and alignment perspective.   This won’t be about the end result of touching your toes (for example) but about how you can get there, slowly.  You’ll learn about both strength and flexibility, while we make it fun and playful.  Overall you’ll be able to take home a mini-program that you can incorporate into your training plan.

4.  What is the most rewarding thing about teaching yoga for you? 

By far the most rewarding thing about teaching yoga for me is watching people change.  It’s about seeing how the practice influences their lives in a positive way.  Over time I see people stretching the edges of their life, moving through fears, doubts, uncertainty, and all the other things that make us human and open us to grow and evolve.

On a more physical level, it’s amazing to see people nail their first arm balance or to watch their body move deeper into a pose. These ‘aha’ moments never fail to bring smile to someone’s face!

If somebody only had time in the day for 10 minutes of yoga (or meditation), what would you suggest?                 

I would say take 5 minutes to sit in a quiet space and meditate.  Go screen free and listen to your breath.  Then, turn on some music and take 5 minutes to run through some yoga postures like sun salutations.  Or just unroll your mat and move in a way that feels intuitive.  The key thing is to use those 10 minutes, embrace them, don’t be afraid or to busy!

Words of Wisdom?

Our beliefs create our environment.  They have the incredible potential to attract more kindness, abundance, gratitude and beauty, thus setting the tone for greater wellbeing and self-empowerment.

The Golden Ultra is a three-day stage running race (or relay) in Golden, BC, Canada.  Runners may participate in all three stages as a solo or part of a relay, or may register for any single or combination of two stages separately.

Meet our Running Guru, Elinor Fish

For those runners lucky enough to be coming to our running and yoga retreat in June, you'll get to be mentored by Elinor Fish for the entire weekend.  Here's a bit more information on this beautiful soul and fantastic runner.

ElinorFish.jpg

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the little ski town of Rossland, British Columbia, though I spent a lot of my childhood in Nelson, sailing on Kootenay Lake and riding horses.  After many years of running, traveling and studying on three continents, I now live in Carbondale, Colorado, which is about 30 miles north of Aspen.

Why did you move to Colorado from Canada?
I moved here from Canmore, Alberta, in 2006 to join the editorial team at Trail Runner magazine. I met my husband soon after and we decided to raise our family here because it’s a fantastic outdoorsy mountain town ideal for raising active kids.

You’ve competed in events ranging from  track and cross country in University to 100-mile ultramarathons. What keeps you going?  
Over the course of my 25-year competitive career, my source of motivation has shifted dramatically. In the beginning, I thrived on the competitive aspect of the sport, and spent many years pushing myself to see how fast and how far I could go.

But more recently, running has become much more about managing stress and supporting my overall health. I have a chronic auto-immune disease that reacts to stress. I’m good at working myself to the bone and pushing myself to always do more (at work and in sports), but if I don’t take care of myself, I suffer immensely.

Not only does my condition flare, but I get exhausted to the point I can’t get out of bed.

Trail running puts me in beautiful mountain places and wipes the mental slate clean so I can do everything I want to do in life, and have the energy to show up for the people who rely on me.

Lots of people say that running is not a lifetime sport.  What do you say to that?  
I specifically wrote The Healthy Runner’s Manifesto, an e-book published last year, to dispel that misconception.

Running is one of the healthiest habits we can possibly have, and when you run for health above all, then you can do it well into old age. When I see stories about people running marathons in their 80’s, I see them not a physiological marvels, but people who’ve got it right: they not only place a high value on their physical well-being, they find immense joy in the experience of running.

Instead of running to achieve specific performance goals, when you run for the process of it, of being in your body and truly experience running’s meditative qualities, then you’ve just tapped into a bottomless source of motivation that can last a lifetime.

You do a lot of personal coaching; what inspired you to help other runners? 
Trail running helped me through dark periods of mourning, loss, deep sadness and discomfort during many transitions and disappointments in my life.

So I committed myself to understanding specifically how running makes us more resilient to stress. This led me to dive into a four-year research project (that’s still ongoing) to fully understand the science behind how running changes the mind as well as the body.

What I discovered blew my mind, and I want to share those lessons with other runners. My clients are runners who are broken, burned out, disillusioned, or desperate to have running in their life, but face many obstacles.

I help them get a clear picture of their total stress load (from all aspects of life) and how it  affects their health. Then we take specific action to reduce the stress and rebuild health. It’s customized to each person, but usually involves a combination of natural running form, nutritional habits, self-care and recovery, sleep habits and mindfulness.

That foundation of health becomes the basis for their running training, whether they run ultramarathons or run to socialize or whatever their goal.

Retreat participants are looking forward to your running technique sessions. What immediate improvements will they experience?
Yes, tweaking one’s running form can create immediate improvements in running economy (efficiency), endurance, comfort and post-run recovery.

At the retreat, we’ll talk about what is means to let gravity do more of the work. Instead of using muscular force to push them through the gait cycle, I’ll show runners how to align their posture to lessen the work load.

When you don’t have to work as hard, you can be more relaxed while running, which helps you not only decrease your chance of injury, but find more joy in the experience.

What are you most looking forward to running during the retreat? 
I’m really looking forward to Kristen Stuart’s yoga classes. As a mountain athlete herself, Kristen has a deep understanding of how we endurance junkies can benefit from the thoughtful, controlled movements of yoga. I began doing yoga with the intention of working on flexibility and core strength, but I’ve learned that it offers so much more. Yoga is great for teaching runners about how to find ease and relaxation in the face of discomfort or challenge.