Friday, April 15, 2011

HRG Runner Profile: Colin Harris

A few months ago, I was speaking to a friend about my marathon training, after a particularly long Sunday run. I was feeling a little sore that day but mostly proud of having run the distance I had. To which my friend nonchalantly replied that he had a buddy who was training to run a marathon too -- only he'd be running three marathons a week, all the way...ACROSS CANADA.

Gulp. Wow. That made my marathon run seem like a manageable distance, all of a sudden.

But still, somehow it just didn't seem real that someone could -- or would -- want to put their body through something like that. Until a few weeks ago, when I had a chance to meet this mythical runner face to face.

After having run 1,300 kilometres from St. John's, Newfoundland to Halifax and burning through two pairs of sneakers, Colin agreed to meet with me at the Second Cup on Spring Garden Road one Saturday afternoon to talk to me about why the heck he is running across Canada.

As it turns out, although the actual run to me is infathomable, Colin's reason for doing it is quite near and dear to my heart. He's running as the spokesperson for a charity he set up, Take Me Outside. The charity's mandate is to spread the word about the importance of getting kids outside and leading healthy, active lives. Colin's background is in outdoor education. All of a sudden, I now understood why he might want to put his body through such torture.

Since meeting with Colin, I've been following his progress through the Take Me Outside website. I believe he's just entered Quebec and is running through the Gaspé. I'll continue watching his progress across the country, and hope to connect with him in Toronto for the Good Life Marathon.

And somehow with all that running, Colin still managed to answer my Runner Profile questions. So without further ado, I give you Colin Harris, my latest Runner Profile:

HRG: How long have you been running?
CH: I've been running for about 17 years. I ran cross country in junior high but hated it! So it wasn't until I was a bit older that I started running again and enjoying it.

HRG: How and why did you start?
CH: I guess like a lot of people I was an active person and played a lot of sports. But team sports can sometimes lead to a lot of competitiveness which can lea to a lot of heated moments. Although I enjoy team sports, that stuff has never interested me. But running was a way to still be competitive, but with myself.

HRG: Favorite part of running?
CH: Breathing in the fresh air, listening to my body as it works, taking in my surroundings and trying to be aware of the natural environment around me!

HRG: Least favorite part of running?
CH: Chafing! That or dogs who aren't on leashes who want to bite your ankles!

HRG: Favorite time of year/weather to run in?
CH: Definitely the winter. There is something about the cold air hitting my lungs that I love. I lived up in the NWT for a little bit and learned to love running in the cold. No bugs, no humidity... a good run in the winter makes me feel that much more alive, even if I can barely feel my fingers!

HRG: Favorite distance to run?
CH: I'm not sure how to answer that. I just like running. It doesn't matter whether it's 5 k or 45 k. I have raced half marathons most out of any distance... but running marathons seem to becoming the norm these days!

HRG: Favorite route (training or race) to run?
CH: Again, not sure how to answer. I love running trails. I love running city streets and people watching as I run. But currently, I love the fact that for 8 months, I won't have a route that I repeat. Every day I see new terrain and new landscapes. Every day my route is different so for now, that's sort of my favourite!

HRG: How do you keep motivated?
CH: Running across Canada has been a dream for the past 17 years. So fulfilling that dream keeps me motivated. Going into schools across the country to chat with students about getting outside keeps me motivated. That part of it doesn't seem to be an issue these days. Training for this might be a whole different question though!
HRG: Best pre-race meal?
CH: Not so into racing these days, so not sure what to say. I'll eat pretty much anything and just try to find that balance of eating enough healthy stuff to offset the unhealthy stuff that I sometimes crave!

HRG: Best post-race meal?
Perhaps same answer as above!

HRG: Upcoming race goal?
CH: Well, my goal right now is to finish running across Canada. I'm not sure I see that as a race, but that is my goal.

HRG: Tips or words of wisdom for new runners?
CH: Run because you want to. Run to be healthy and to enjoy being outside. Don't get sucked into endless banter of splits and race times and the latest gear that will make you a better runner. If you want to be competitive, be so with yourself. Enjoy the community of running as well as the isolation it can offer.

HRG: Anything else you want to add?
CH: We all have different reasons for running and that is a good thing. But in my opinion, just being outside is where it's at! Halifax has so many trails and beautiful areas to run or walk or hike. It has a running community that is surging and that is amazing. For me, the core of running entails being outside. And as we think about our students, our kids, our future generations, getting them outside is the key challenge.

Thanks Colin!


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