Women’s History Behind the Boston Marathon

By: Arden Burrows


The 119th Boston Marathon was held on April 20th this year. The race is the world’s oldest annual marathon and the first Boston Marathon was held in 1897. The race attracts around 30,000 participants each year and there are certain qualifying times runners have to meet in order to be accepted into the race.


What is little known about the marathon is its history with women. Traditionally, women were not allowed to enter the race. Kathrine Switzer in 1967 chose to challenge the all-male event by running the marathon. Switzer registered using her initials but was stopped on the course by race official, Jock Semple. He attempted to rip off her bib number and force her off of the course. Switzer managed to get past the official and finish the race, making her the first woman to formally finish the marathon with a bib. It wasn’t until 1972, however, that women were allowed to register and compete in the marathon. Today, almost half of the participants in the race are women, which is in part made possible by the brave actions of Kathrine Switzer.


Below is a picture of race official Jock Semple attempting to force Switzer off of the course.



Anti-Bullying Day

By: Whitney Bell




May 4th was Anti-Bullying Day, which is recognized in over 25 countries worldwide. Excitingly enough this day originated in Canada! The original event was organized by two students in Nova Scotia who in 2007 bought and distributed 50 pink shirts after a male ninth grade student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt during the first day of school. Bullying continues to remain a major problem at all levels of school and there is a lot of progress to be made.
It shocked me to hear that 1 in 5 people are now being cyber-bulled, with the majority of those targeted being girls. I do not understand why girls would feel the need to try to bring one another down when we should be supporting one another and trying to build each other’s self-esteem. As I have gotten older I have realized that the people who were bullies in elementary, junior high and high school ended up being those who had the lowest self-confidence. They were not the ones who ended up being the most confident or successful once school ended. While this is not an excuse, it just goes to show that often people act as bullies because they have experience something negative in their life at one point, so it is important for us to understand and stop this unhealthy cycle.
I hope if you see someone experience bullying you will reach out a hand and help them. If you are being bullied please don’t keep it to yourself – tell someone because there are so many people who want to support you. If you are a bully, realize that your actions have long term consequences on others. It is much easier to be kind and spread happiness than to cause someone pain and sadness.
I hope that we can all stand to support #antibullyingday!

Training: Taking it One Day at a Time

By: Arden Burrows



Whenever I miss more than a few days of training, I start to worry that I will lose all of my fitness. My brain goes into panic mode if I miss a week for illness or vacation and I start to think that all the hard work was for nothing.


I have come to learn though that missing one week of training or exercise will not compromise my whole season. In situations such as these, you have to look at the long term – one year from now, will you really have noticed that you didn’t train that one week back in April?


It’s important to take your training one-day at a time. Be in the moment and look at every day as a building block to something bigger. Missing three days or one week is just a minor hiccup. Tomorrow is a new day where you can start fresh, a new opportunity to exercise and work towards your goals.


Additionally, you will most likely not lose too much fitness and in within a few days of resuming training again, you should start to feel like yourself. Don’t let one interruption from training ruin your plans and look at the break as a positive thing: you are probably giving your body and mind a well-deserved rest, which can reduce your risk of injury, burnout etc. Also, if you are taking a break because of illness, your body needs the rest to recover as quickly as possible and exercising will not speed up the process. If you’re on vacation and you take a week off, don’t sweat it. Often it is difficult to find time or a place to exercise when you’re away. It’s better to enjoy your vacation, exploring a new place while not having to worry about having to work out.


Bottom line is, a break from exercise can make you anxious about losing fitness but it is important to look at the long term as well as the short term. Think about your training on a day-to-day basis where each day is a new opportunity to work towards your larger goals but also as little pieces that fit into a larger picture, and not worrying about missing a few of those little pieces.

Want to Change Your Life? Form Good Habits!

By: Arden Burrows




People are constantly trying to develop better habits. Habits can be exercising for thirty minutes every day or tidying your room once a week. One thing that’s for certain though is that habits change your life, for better or for worse.


Habits can be small and seemingly insignificant but they can have a huge impact on your life. A couple months ago, I got into the bad habit of checking my phone every time I walked into a room and saw it lying there. I would get out of the shower or get back from a run and I would immediately check my various social media outlets, email and text messages. I would be rewarded if I saw something I liked or got a nice email. I did this for while before I started to realize that I was wasting so much time on my phone. I had subconsciously developed a bad habit that was negatively altering a part of my life.


On the other hand though, habits can be positive. Through running competitively, I’ve gotten into the habit of exercising regularly. Often I don’t think about going out for a run – I just do it.


Habits are simple altercations to your life but they are difficult to change. Once I had gotten into the habit of constantly checking my phone, it was hard to stop – but how do you stop? Small changes are key here. If you start small, the task seems less daunting and you’re more likely to do it. To exercise more, try going out for a ten-minute walk a couple times per week. Telling yourself you have to go out for ten minutes sounds much better than telling yourself that you have to go run 20k.


I was talking to someone the other day and they were saying that they find it so easy to fall into bad habits like eating junk food, but find it so hard to get into good habits, like regularly exercising. Making positive changes is tough but the adjustment is worth it. People say it takes 21 days to create a new habit. So next time you want to add a good habit to your life, try it out for 21 days and see if it sticks!

Athlete Hopefuls leading up to the Pan Am & Parapan Am Games – Part 2

By: Whitney Bell



Last week I began presenting some of the female athletes we can expect to see during the Pan Am and Parapan Am games in Toronto from July 10th-26th and August 7th to 15th. Last week featured Jessica Zelinka (track and field) and Neilly Ross (waterskiing). Today I’ll introduce you to two more athletes in boxing and swimming.
Mary Spencer: Boxing








Age: 30

Hometown: Wiarton, ON

Success: She has won three World Championships, one Pan American Games gold medal, and eight Canadian Championships.
Mary was born in Wiarton, ON and is a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. She began boxing in 2002 at the age of 17. After a few months of testing the ropes she found herself at the Windsor Amateur Boxing Club, training under 3 time Olympic coach, Charlie Stewart. 18 months later Mary won her first Canadian Championship in the 66kg weight division. It would be the first of many major accomplishments in the ring. That year, 2004, Mary went undefeated in International competitions, winning tournaments in Italy, Poland and Taiwan. She was awarded Canadian Boxer of the Year in her rookie year. As of July 26, 2011, her amateur record was 115 wins, 9 losses.
Women’s boxing became a part of the Olympic Games program for the first time in London in 2012. Spencer was considered a medal favourite, and one of Canada’s best hopes in women’s boxing. Mary is now busy preparing for the Toronto Pan Am games!


Aurelie Rivard – Swimming








Age: 18

Hometown: Montreal
Quebecer, Aurelie lives in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, where she trains at the Club de natation du Haut-Richelieu with coach France Latendresse. She took up competitive swimming in 2008; with an impairment in her left hand she competes in the S10, SB9 and SM10 disability classifications.
Rivard competed at the 2010 IPC Swimming World Championships but did not win any medals. At the 2012 London Paralympics she entered six events and won silver in the S10 400 m freestyle. She won five medals at the 2013 World Championships including two silver, two bronze and joint second place in the 200 m medley. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games she won bronze in the 200 m individual medley. In 2014 Swimming Canada named Rivard “Female Para-Swimmer of the Year”. 



Be In The Moment

By: Arden Burrows



I tend to be someone who overthinks everything. I also worry about things that haven’t even happened yet – I mean, why enjoy today when you can worry about tomorrow?
In all seriousness though, I think living in the moment is something we can all work on. Take dogs for instance, they don’t dwell on past mistakes or worry about the future (as far as we know at least!)
I was looking at my dog the other day when I was stressed out about school. As I hastily tried to cram everything into my day and worried about the paper I had just submitted, my dog enjoyed every second of her nap, then her dinner, and then her walk. She didn’t seem to be worried about whether tomorrow was going to be rainy or about what the future would be like.
Obviously a dog’s life if much less busy than a human’s, but their laid-back attitude should be a model for how we live our lives. Imagine if we weren’t constantly worrying about every little thing? Life would be so much more enjoyable!
This attitude can also be useful in an athletic context. I get very nervous before races to the point that I almost don’t want to run. I start to doubt myself, I get butterflies just thinking about the race weeks in advance, and standing on the start line I often question why I do this sport. This sometimes leads to me overthinking everything in the race and I end up settling for good instead of great. Some of my best races are when I haven’t thought at all – I just rolled with it and enjoyed the moment.
So next time you find yourself caught up in something in the future or the past, stop and put your energy into what you are doing in that moment.


Female Athletes and Body Image

By: Arden Burrows



Female athletes often feel pressured to conform to a certain body type or weight for their sport. Running, figure skating, gymnastics, and dance all encourage thin, small body types. When athletes lose weight, their times begin to drop and they often find they perform better. Many professional athletes tend to sport very skinny physiques, leading young female athletes to believe that being skinny is the only way you can run fast or perform well. This is not true. More and more we are seeing healthier looking professional athletes competing at the Olympics and other international events, proving that having a strong build can lead to fast times and fewer injuries.


Everyone is built differently and if you are constantly chasing after an unattainable body goal in order to look like the top runners, you could be putting yourself in danger. Not adequately fueling for the amount you are exercising is a far too common issue among female athletes. Almost exactly one year ago, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture. At first we couldn’t understand why I was injured. My training hadn’t been too intense lately and I was coming off a weeklong break from running. Finally, we figured out that my bone density was being compromised because I hadn’t been getting my period. I wasn’t eating enough for the amount I was training and so my body was shutting down an essential function in an attempt to tell me that something was wrong.


Fortunately, I am still young and my long-term bone density was not compromised. If I had been a few years older, however, I could’ve have damaged my bone density forever. This would have significantly increased my risk for osteoporosis later in life and might have extinguished my hopes of running competitively in the future.

Attitudes are shifting but they need to keep evolving so that there’s more discussion around this issue between athletes, coaches, parents, and teammates. Female athletes need to understand the importance of proper fueling and nutrition and need to recognize that skinny does not always equal faster.

Athlete Profiles Leading Up to the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games

By: Whitney Bell



This summer will be a very exciting time for Toronto. Not only will it be one of the host cities for the Women’s World Cup, but it will also play host to the Pan Am & Parapan Am games from July 10th-26th and August 7th to 15th.

Over the next few weeks I want to introduce you some female athlete hopefuls you can expect to see during these games! 


Jessica Zelinka – Track and Field 



Family ancestry: Father’s side: Hungarian; Mother’s side: Croatian. The name “Zelinka” has Czech roots.

Date of birth: September 3, 1981

Birthplace/Hometown: London, ONT

Residence: Calgary, AB

Languages spoken: English, French (I try)

Hobbies: I love DIY home decorating projects ideas, but have yet to find the time to do them.

Rituals: When I travel, I try to find a Christmas ornament from each country I go to. Each year we get to reminisce about all the travel stories as we decorate our international Christmas tree.

Quote I like: “Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it!”


While her friends dreamed of hockey, Zelinka was jumping over garbage pails in her London, Ont., backyard before she was even old enough to compete in hurdles. At the London Olympics (her second) she competed in the heptathlon and the 100-metre hurdles – finishing seventh in both events. After a time of concentrating on hurdles, the athlete and mother to 5-year-old Anika is back to focusing on heptathlon and coming back strong as her silver medal at the Commonwealth Games this past summer shows.
Sources: 1, 2


Neilly Ross – Water Skiing 




This 12 year old water skier is Canada’s 2014 women’s trick champion. The Belleville, Ont., native lives in Florida where her father Dress Ross, a world champion himself, runs an academy. She crushed her U13 competition at the 2014 Pan American championships and helped Canada to a bronze-medal overall.
Source: 1


Cycling for Cross Training

By: Arden Burrows




Running is a great sport for getting active and staying happy and healthy. This winter though, I found that the repetitive motion of running on the frozen concrete was beginning to take a toll on my body in the form of little, persistent injuries. I was starting to get tired of always having to bundle up and trudge through yet another cold, snowy and windy run. Don’t get me wrong, I love running and all it adds to my life, but sometimes you just need a change of scene.


This winter I started to add more cross training days into my running routine, more specifically, cycling. Unfortunately, it’s a bit chilly to go outside for a bike ride right now so I had to resort to the stationary bike. I have to admit that the stationary bike is not the most entertaining form of exercise but it is a great way to stay warm while you workout and you can listen to music or participate in a spin class if you want the time to pass a bit quicker.


Not only does stationary biking help break up the monotony of running; it is also a great cross training activity. Cycling gives your legs a break from the pounding of running while using some different muscles. I find that biking really works my quads and so it is also a great way to increase muscular strength in that area. Finally, cycling is a good way to keep up your cardio on days that you aren’t running.


But where can you find a stationary bike?


Community centers often offer free spin classes, so keep your eye open for those. Additionally, your school might have stationary bikes and students are sometimes allowed to use them. Look out for bike clubs at school as well – often they organize quick workouts and are free for anyone in the school to join.


Here is a sample workout that is quick but effective. You can increase the tension to make it more difficult:


5 min. warm up, easy cycling

3×2 min. hard, 1:30 min. rest in between

3×1 min. hard, 1 min. rest in between

5×30 sec. hard, 30 sec. rest in between

3×1 min. hard, 1 min. rest in between

5 min. cool down, easy cycling

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