We turned to our Super Ambassadors to find out the biggest lessons they learned while training over the past year. Here’s what they had to say:

Michyla Kielo (Saskatchewan)

  • Coaches aren’t only for elite athletes. As a middle-of-the-pack runner, I’d never considered that I could or should have a coach. After a Twitter friend had amazing race results that she credited to her coach, I decided to investigate. Just 10 weeks later I took over a minute off my 10K time! It’s so relaxing to just run and let someone else worry about the technical side of designing a training plan.
  • Running is contagious. I’ve lost count of how many friends have started running in the past few years. Each person who starts inspires someone else and the ripple effect continues.
  • Races aren’t always about racing. Of the fourteen start lines I faced in 2014, the ones that made the biggest impact on me weren’t necessarily the fastest. I ran at events with my kids, and was beside my Dad as he finished his first 5K. I ran a half marathon in the mountains near Las Vegas amidst breathtaking scenery.  I cheered for friends as they finished their first race or first time running a new distance. Running truly is a sport that has a place for everyone.

Jeremy Hopwood (Vancouver, BC)

  • Small goals can be just as fun as big goals. For a good chunk of 2014 I have focussed on small goals (4-6 weeks into the future). This has been a good way to make small, consistent progressions during a period where I have been trying to establish what some of my big goals will be going forward. I’ll continue to focus on small goals, even as I concentrate on my larger objectives.
  • Long runs don’t have to happen on the weekend. I have taken to doing my long run after work during the week. Sometimes I do my run as I commute home because the thought of “running away from work” is always fun! For me, this has made training on the weekend much more flexible. Being able to focus weekend runs on different aspects, such as speed or strength has also worked well for me.
  • It can be cool to choose your own adventure. This past May I rode from Vancouver most of the way to Portland over two days. I did this solo and it wasn’t to achieve a purpose or as part of an event. Instead, it was just a lot of fun to do something a little bit crazy, ride my bike and choose my own adventure.

Raf Lopez (Calgary, AB)

  • Have fun. This year I took a bit of a break from the structure of triathlon and Ironman training, and switched gears to do lots of run racing and road racing (cycling).  It was a breath of fresh air and what I needed to get excited for training once again.  When you're a goal-oriented person you can sometimes get caught up in the prize at the end, rather than the journey along the way.
  • Hard means hard and easy means easy. I say this all the time, but this year when I took a step back from really structured training, I embraced it.  Often in training athletes go too hard on their easy workouts and too easy on their hard workouts.  This leaves their training in a middle ground where they can't push themselves as hard as they need to and don't see the improvements that they are seeking.  A hard, intense workout, whether it’s a run, a ride, a Crossfit session, or whatever, should leave you completely empty.  And an easy workout should be chill and calm with a focus on recovery.
  • If you're in a rhythm with a sport or workout, ride it.  I’ve learned that you can't be too structured or force yourself to do workouts you can't get excited about.  This fall I was really into running and decided that, rather than getting into the pool to improve my swimming like I usually do this time of year, I'd follow what my body wanted. I was having fun with running, so I put a ton of mileage into it in September and October and scaled back all of my other sports.  The result was a huge PB for me in a half marathon in October: I beat a time I've been chasing for two years!

DJ Lalama (Winnipeg, MB)

  • Hard work beats talent. I learned this from my Bison teammates. Mustering a mere 4-4 record throughout the regular season, going winless on the road, and winning on the last day of the season just to make it into the playoffs, our team beat the odds and made one of the most documented runs in our program’s history. This wouldn’t have been possible without heart and collaborative effort. Talent is a necessity, but as you know, hard work and dedication take you a long way, ANY GIVEN SUNDAY.
  • Adversity strikes. We were the underdogs this season and barely made it into the playoffs, but through this adversity our team became stronger. The WILL to win was far superior to any scheme or strategy a team could throw our way. But it never got into our heads. We always bounced back. Manitoba Bisons, 2014 Hardy Cup Champions, this is something that can never be taken from us.
  • Recovery is key.  As an athlete you’re constantly reminded about the importance of rest and recovery. But during this playoff run its significance was substantial – and chocolate milk was a critical component. Why? I can tell you that while making three consecutive road trips (three weekends in a row), food access and the regular routine were not what they were back home, which in itself is a huge disadvantage. Fortunately, chocolate milk afforded me and my teammates the nutrients to replenish and recover while spending multiple days on the road. We did not have access to protein shakes, large carb-filled meals or vitamins, but we did have access to a convenience store and chocolate milk, which we relied on to recharge our bodies and function the way we needed to during our playoff run. 

Check out Part 1 of our series here.