Get outdoors this fall in Western Canada

Cross training can enhance performance for serious runners.

In Western Canada, autumn has already made a cameo appearance with the onset of falling leaves. Despite temperatures in the high 20s, the sweet aromas of ripened blackberries blending with the subtle wisp of composting vegetation serve as vivid reminder that the fat lady is warming up for her summer swan song.

Trails and vistas are turning into a multihued blanket of crimson and gold as Mother Nature shows off her best side once again. Indeed, the autumn scene in Western Canada is picturesque with rugged good looks from surrounding mountain tops to a Pacific Ocean that beckons to sail her, explore, or just lay back and admire her. Out west, there is always something to do outdoors, including golf year round.

As summer nears its end cycle, signs of fall are evident in cooler nights and shorter days. The smells of autumn are welcoming as the cool crispness is invigorating, therefore making any outdoor activity compelling. No caffeine needed here.

The onset of fall can also be the perfect time to enhance your running by incorporating cross training. For runners who want to try a different activity or who want to shift into a new gear – that could also mean new clothing – now is the time to start. Whether or not you are a runner, the fall could help jumpstart you into getting some exercise and perhaps trying a new activity that you never thought of doing before. Besides, the weather is still warm enough and with little rain as deterrence, it’s a great time to get off the couch and start building a healthy, new you.

Here is a showcase of activities that runners and outdoor enthusiasts can do to help maintain their fitness level:

With many beautiful, yet challenging trails in Western Canada, hiking is popular and a must on your ‘to do’ list if you haven’t already tried it. Hiking is a good cross trainer for runners because of the stamina needed. The best part is you may take part in a three to four hour hike with an elevation of more than 2,000 meters and your legs will feel fine the next day.

If you spend the day hiking with family or friends, keep hydrated and bring some snacks with you. If you are beginner, it is recommended to start with easy terrain. Bring a map and know your route – figure out how long the hike will be. Dress warmly and bring an extra change of clothes. Wear hiking or trail running shoes to avoid slipping or falling. For instance, The Grouse Grind, located in North Vancouver, B.C. is a 2.9 km trail regarded by many as a giant stair master where thousands run or hike each year. The elevation is 2,800 feet and the average time it takes to do the climb is 90 minutes.

From the Grouse Grind take a hike to the Sea to Sky Grind in Squamish, BC. This is an intermediate to advanced trail and is 2,000 meters in elevation, taking the average hiker about 2.5 hours or more depending on level of fitness. This trail has some ropes and chains that are necessary to climb from one level to the next.

With so many hiking excursions available, there are still lots of trails for the runner who wants to try trail running. Take your running off-road for a change of pace and scenery. If you’re new to the sport, begin with an easy trail until your fitness improves. Know the route so you will not get lost. Watch your footing to avoid tripping over roots. British Columbia is well-known for its scenic, yet treacherous mountainous terrain, of which there is no shortage of.

Biking or mountain biking can be a great workout and a good cross trainer. Bring rain gear, wear a helmet. Know your route and safety procedures. Bring water with you. Get ready for one of the most exhilarating west coast outdoors experiences that you’ll ever know. It seems that almost everywhere the hiking trails go, the biking trails are nearby.

If you enjoy golf you can play year round in Vancouver or Victoria because of the climate. Golfing can also be a good workout when you add up the yardage. Some of Canada’s most scenic and challenging courses, both public and private are located on the west coast of B.C. Autumn can be a good time to preserve your game, while test driving your new fall gear. Dress in layers and keep hydrated on the course.

Circuit training in the park can be a good cross trainer for the runner who doesn’t go to the gym to get that total overall fitness. Find a park that has circuit training. Start easy if you have never done it before. Do two sets of 10 to 12 repetitions of all moves with little rest.

Walking your dog is a win-win situation for you and your dog. Dogs are also good running partners that also provide safety. If you are a new dog owner, start your dog with shorter walks. Walk your dog every day and try different routes.

Last but not least, consider washing your car once a week. This will help keep you in shape and you get a clean car. All you need is a pail, wash cloth and soap. Don’t forget to wash the tires – it will work those core muscles.

To see more of Christine’s work online visit her at, on twitter at @christineruns, or on Youtube at runwithitcb1.

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