Running around the Hammer

The sun is finally shining again so it’s time to get those running shoes out of storage and start clocking in some kilometers. Luckily, Hamilton is a real runner’s paradise with tons of good routes, groups to join, and people to ask for advice.

To get your motivational juices flowing, I sat down with a few of Hamilton’s most active runners, collected information about running routes, and compiled some important pieces of advice for you.

Slow and steady wins the race

Before you run out the door, first hear what Jordan Bierema, trainer and manager at Hamilton’s premier running store Runner’s Den, has to say. His number one piece of advice: “Get some help when starting out. You can get a personal trainer, but it can also just be a training plan you get online.”

Too often has Jordan encountered runners that went straight from being dormant for months to doing multiple long runs a week. This can cause some serious physical damage. “The most important thing when starting out, is taking it easy,” states Jordan. “Run at a pace that is under what you think you can do, just to let your body ease into it. As you progress, consistency is key. Slowly speed up and increase your number of weekly kilometers. In the end your body will thank you.”

A perfect place to start your training is at one of Jordan’s favourite running spots — Bayfront Park. The Waterfront Trail that runs along the edge of the lake is flat and gives you amazing views. The biggest perk of this location might just be the 200 meter markers that you’ll find along the way. Ideal for setting out a run of a set length or to help you with pesky – but very effective – interval training.

Another great spot to check out is the Escarpment Rail Trail. If you start out from Wentworth St, you’ll have a 7k non-stop route to Albion Falls. Be careful though as the entire run slopes uphill as you end up on the Mountain. The advantage of this? Once you turn around to go home, you’ll find yourself shattering your personal bests!

Don’t go at it alone

Runners often don’t just face physical barriers along the way, but psychological ones as well. Boredom can really slow you down. A good playlist or an interesting podcast can be a good option, but turning your runs into social activities might just be the best solution.

One of your options in this regard is the Hamilton Running Club, an open-to-all group that meets for a run every Wednesday and Sunday. The group is meant for runners of all skill levels and paces. Before, during, and after the run you get the chance to talk about training methods and upcoming races with fellow runners. And, as the group states themselves, it’s simply a great way to meet new people!

One run this group often embarks on is the Sulphur Springs Trail. A staple for the local running community as it takes you through the beautiful Dundas Valley. It’s best to start off at the Ancaster Community Centre, from where you’ll have countless routes to take. Expect to see a lot of fellow runners on the trails especially in March and April, in preparation of the annual race that takes place towards the end of May.

Another great group that I would recommend you to look into are the Lower City Runners. They meet every Tuesday at 7 pm in front of City Hall. A 3k and 6k group both set out for a run and meet at a Hamilton bar by the end that changes every week. It’s a perfect way to treat yourself to a well deserved post-run pint.

Aim for the stars

Do you perform best with a goal to strive for? I’ve got one for you: a 2 hours, 10 minutes and 28 seconds marathon. A bit of a stretch for you perhaps, but not for Hamilton born Olympian Reid Coolsaet. At the 2015 Berlin Marathon, Reid finished 6th in this personal best time. Together with his two Olympic marathons – 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro – he considers this his biggest running accomplishment. And rightfully so!

Reid’s favourite run in the Hamilton area can be found in Dundas. The Spring Creek and Monarch Loop is a demanding 12.5 kilometer trail over a rolling crushed gravel terrain. “I like the undulating terrain and the quietness of the trail”, says Reid. “I find that the hills make me a stronger runner. Strength that I can then transfer to the road and track.” The loop starts and finishes at Sanctuary Park and can easily be cut up into shorter loops if 12.5k is a bit too demanding for now.

Ready, set, go!

Now that you know where to go and what to look out for during your training, you’re good to go. So pick your route, tie up those laces, grab a granola bar, and get going. I look forward to hearing about that new running superstar from Hamilton that breaks onto the scene this year!

Upcoming runs

Feeling confident that your training is on the right track? Sign up for one of these upcoming events and show off your stuff!

Shawn & Ed Beer Run
July 12, 2019

Hell In The Harbour
[6K obstacle course]
August 17, 2019

Strides for the General
[5K / 10K]
September 14, 2019

Sticks n’ Stones Trail Race
[5K / 10K / 25K / 50K / 50K relay]
October 12, 2019

2019 Hamilton Marathon Road2Hope
[1K / 5K / 10K / 21K / 42K]
November 2, 2019

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