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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.

The Relay - How, What, Help!

Running is better with friends!

Running is better with friends!

So you don’t think you can run the entire Golden Ultra as a solo, but you still want to come and check out the scene for the weekend?  Grab some friends and enter a relay team.

Unlike some other running stage races, a team entry is not about running the event together: it’s about divide and conquer!  You'll need a runner that can complete each stage - one for each day.

Each team will require an individual with the stamina for the 55km “Sweat” stage, but the Blood and Tears stages are much more amenable to trail runners looking for a less-than-all-day commitment.  Consider putting in a team that can celebrate big goal achievements on each leg: first vertical KM, first ultramarathon, first 20 km.  How fun would that be?

Two-person teams (one person runs two stages) are totally legitimate and welcome, although there is no price difference between the two and three person teams.

We’ll be awarding prizes for the top all-male, all-female and mixed teams over the three days.

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.  

Staying Safe!

(c) Darcy Monchak

(c) Darcy Monchak

Do you remember doing practise fire evacuations in public school?  I sure do - it was an opportunity to spend more time outside and it felt exciting and fun to file out of the school in a quick, orderly fashion.

Practise makes perfect and while it is very unlikely that you'd ever need to use your fire evacuation skills in school, you had them in case you needed them.  This is the concept that we're applying to the development of the Golden Ultra's event emergency management plan.  

Borne out of our Race Director's good and bad experiences in previous events and obsessive-compulsive desire to be over-prepared, the emergency response plan is designed to educate and prepare all participants, volunteers and crew in the case of a real emergency response on any scale.  The emergency response plan shows land owners and permitting authorities that the event organizers are prepared and professional, and it provides a basis upon which to develop mutual aid relationships with police, ambulance and fire response agencies for coordinated response.

The super-star team creating the Emergency Response plan was outlined in an earlier blog post.  Deborah Varley, future certified Emergency Manager studying at the University of Brandon, discovered through her research the frightening lack of literature on event emergency response.  The closest thing that she could find to a sport event emergency response plan was one from the National Park Service in Death Valley, published in spring 2015.  

What would require a response?  Pretty much anything from an aid station running out of Honey Stinger chews to wildlife on course, electrical storms, course sabotage, and more.  Part of the emergency planning process is to compile a complete list of anything that could occur, assessing the likelihood that it will occur, and then designing the appropriate preparedness plan and response.  Information and education are critical!

Interestingly and coincidentally, two major outdoor publications shared stories on emergency preparedness in the past two weeks.  Get Out There magazine published a story about the potential for wildlife interaction on the trails and how to deal with it, while Trail Runner Magazine's article focused on required gear for events.  Both of these concepts are likely to affect participants at the Golden Ultra - either at the event or as part of your training - and are worth the read.

Having an emergency response plan does not mean overabundant and stringent rules and regulations, it means having a plan, a communications strategy, and doing some practise.  This will mean that the Golden Ultra will have some gear recommendations or requirements (they'll be posted here as recommendations a month prior and you'll be updated on requirements at the meeting on Friday evening).  

Gear recommendations may change to requirements based on the race-day weather forecast, local wildlife activity, and other factors that may pose threats to participants.  We believe in choice and each individual's ability to assess their fitness and risk but we also have greater authorities to answer to, including ones that may have to rescue or recover runners from situations created by the event.

All that serious talk aside, there is a fun aspect to the emergency preparedness process, and that's the great prizes we'll have available for our orientation activities over the summer months.  Stay tuned for some educational quizzes and videos that will make you a more prepared trail runner whether here in Golden or on your trail at home!

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.


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. 

Ten Reasons to Register Before March 15

... in case you actually needed these spelled out...

#10 - More time to work on your speed so you're able to outrun the bears!  Just kidding, we have an industry-leading bear & safety program in the works.  

#9 - More time to wrap your head around "The Blood," our Vertical KM and how to run it!  Check out some of our suggestions here.  

#8 - More time to brag to your friends about how your tackling your first stage race and how that’s so much harder than the 10K they’re training for.  Maybe they'll be inspired to enter a team and make your mini-vacation into a proper running road trip.

#7 - More chances to win one of our registration incentive prize packs from our sponsors - we’ll be drawing 1 registered runner April 1st, May 1st, June 1st, July 1st, August 1st, & Sept 1st (and, yes, you can win twice if you're that lucky)!

#6 - More time to work on your downward dog in preparation for the Yoga & Trail Running Retreat in Golden June 25-28th.

#5 - We'll make sure you get an extra pastry Golden's own Crust and Crumb bakery: you’ll have earned it with all the extra training you're doing... or just thinking about doing (it counts, right?).

#4 - You can book your vacation days off work now and avoid conflict with your other co-workers who just want that extra time for house cleaning, wine tasting or cruises.  

#3 - You can book your accommodation and meals package early, scoring the best roomie, and making sure you're in before they sell out!  

#2 - So you can start dreaming of those beautiful Golden trails, viewpoints, and all the other great stuff to do while here!  

and the #1 reason...

is to SAVE MONEY!  Everyone registered by March 15th receives a $50 gift certificate that can be used for their own foods & accommodations package, to attend the Yoga & Trail Running Retreat, or to share with a friend for their registration!

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.