Mel RunningMost days, I get home from work, say a quick hello to the pets, and then change into my shorts, tank top and sport socks. I put some Glide-It on my soles, lace up my shoes and hit the trails with my playlist and tracking app.  I am a runner.

I’ve loved running since childhood. My parents were runners, so when we were old enough my sister and I tagged along. For me, it’s instinctual. If I don’t go for a run for a few days, I just don’t feel right.

I also love it because it’s accessible to most people. All you need is a pair of runners and you can adjust your distance and pace to your physical ability. If you can walk, you can run, as they say. I’ve been inspired by people who started off going just a hundred meters and then went on to embrace running as part of their lifestyle.

Living in Manitoba, the weather isn’t always ideal. When I moved to Winnipeg, I started working at the Downtown YMCA-YWCA and I had access to treadmills and an indoor track – very exciting!  For the next few years, I didn’t run outside much and chose instead to combine my running with other indoor workouts, like weightlifting and lots of swimming (I was a lifeguard). While I enjoyed challenging my body with different regimes, I grew to dislike running indoors; it wasn’t as interesting and the air wasn’t fresh (if you’ve ever ran at a gym, you’ve probably been beside someone whose gym clothes could use a wash!)  I also didn’t feel as relaxed or fulfilled after.

So I got back on the outdoor running bandwagon. I connected a group of friends together to enter the Manitoba Marathon relay. Since then, my team, Run Times Fun Times!, is a regular entry and I often enter additional races through the summer with my teammates. This year, I want to finish a 10 km race in under 50 minutes! There, I didn’t just say it out loud, I typed it for all to read – now I have to do it!

Since returning to outdoor running, I haven’t missed the treadmill. I even find outdoor winter runs kind of fun – the instability challenges your core muscles, and you can take some epic icicle photos! I do tend to run less in the winter however, so to get my workouts in, I incorporate cross-country skiing and skating into my schedule for variety. Winnipeg has fantastic trails, and my husky gets pretty excited about a dash down the ice (and if I need a break, she can give me a tow!).

David Suzuki’s 30×30 Nature Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to get outdoors and experience the world around us. Studies and experts all agree that time outdoors provides numerous benefits; we are happier, healthier and less stressed. Combining outdoor time with activity is a spectacular way to treat your whole body positively.

Living downtown, my regular route follows Winnipeg’s beautiful river trails. During my cool down, I walk through the lovely Moon Garden at the Centennial Concert Hall.  Enjoying the sights and sounds of this urban escape surpasses the gym for me any day. So grab your sneakers everyone, have a great workout and discover a trail near you. Nature is calling!