Just over 10 years ago I joined a running group at a local gym. I had never proactively sought out running as a hobby or interest before. I loathed it in high school. Fitness tests and the 2400m run came three times a year and it was a nightmare for me. But I started small, 1 minute of running followed by 2 minutes of walking. The progression was slow but consistent and culminated in a 5km race a few months later.
Running isn’t for everyone. And that’s 100% okay. For those that are interested in running in New West and want a few ‘pro-tips’, this post is for you. One seasoned runner, Carly-Ann tells people, “Being a runner from NW is not [like] being a runner from someplace else. No matter where you run, you’re going to be hill training on your way there or back.”
Since then I’e learned a lot about running in New West and wanted to share my accumulated knowledge of running in the Royal City.
Tip #1 – Hills, get used to them
Running in New West: You gotta love hills. You don’t need to run them all, but get comfortable physically and psychologically that there will be hills in your future. Even running across town from Glenbrooke North to the West End, there are some inclines to tackle. But as Naomi Perks told me – “There’s no shame in walking up those steep hills!” They can be a good challenge and if you ever get into hill training or hill repeats you are never short of new locations to try out.
Tip #2 – Safety above all else
Safety – it’s important for everyone to be seen and to see others. It is a brutal truth that not all drivers stop at stop signs or at pedestrian crossings. You are given one body, make sure you are cautious with it. For some people that might mean lighting your exterior up with reflective clothing or even a basic light system. Use lit crossings and don’t assume a drive sees you. When it gets dark in the winter, hit the track! New Westminster Secondary School has a well-lit track. You may even want to do some stair workouts. Personal safety is just as important – be aware of your surroundings, run in pairs or a group when possible, tell someone where you’re running and if you wear earphones keep one out.
Tip #3 – Record it
Electronic recording can be a great way to motivate and track your runs. Whether it’s Strava, Apple Watch, Nike Fitness, FitBit, or pen and paper journaling, keeping track of your runs will help ensure you don’t over train (or under train). Using your phone or electronic device can help track your pace, distance, time, elevation and sometimes heart rate. It can be an information overload but also fun to dig into.
Tip #4 – Variety is the spice
Avoid fatigue by incorporating different activities. Weight training is important for everyone regardless of age, weight, gender or ability. I’m a fan of New West’s Canada Games Pool because they have an awesome sled / prowler equipment that adds variety to every workout. Follow that up with some stretching or yoga is a great balance, or a dip in the pool. Variety is important especially to avoid injury and boredom.
Tip #5 – Fun New West Routes
There are limitless routes to discover in New West, pick one and discover a new neighbourhood
- Queens Park neighbourhood – easy to add on distance
- East to west run along 7th avenue – quiet route through a variety of neighbourhoods
- New West Secondary School track – well lit and soft surface
- Hume Park (my new personal favourite – hills, shade, washrooms!)
- Queens Park is about 2.5 kilometres around and offers some challenging hills regardless of the direction you run
- Glenbrook Ravine is quiet, car-free and gorgeous in any season
Tip #6 – Join a local group
Over the years I’ve attended many runs hosted by the Running Room. There isn’t one in New West but the Running Room at Market Crossing in Burnaby is relatively close and some of their runs do cross into New West. The Queen’s Park Running Club has operated since the 1990s and meets at the Queen’s Park bandshell three days a week for groups runs of different lengths.
There is a lot to get excited about with running in New West. Take it slow and enjoy the journey.
And if you’re a runner in New West be sure to share your tips below.
When starting a new physical activity always listen to your body and consult your physician for advice.