A Conversation With Justyn Knight – Canadian Record Holder and Olympic Track Star

A Conversation With Justyn Knight – Canadian Record Holder and Olympic Track Star

“Don’t be scared to fail, I fail all the time” – Justyn Knight

At the end of the February, we capped off The Altitude 5K Challenge. This was a challenge for runners of all levels to see who can run the fastest 5km on the treadmill when the altitude chamber is set to 9000ft elevation.

After a month that saw all sorts of runners from the community come out and participate in some friendly competition, we were left with our winners. Congratulations to our top runners – Dan Rowland and Catherine Dawe – on running the fastest times of 18:20 and 23:00 respectively in the male and female categories.

To top off our event, I was able to do an interview via Instagram live with one of the world’s fastest 5km runners, Justyn Knight. To check out the full interview – head on over to our Instagram page here or view the full clip at the bottom of this blog post. It was full of laughs, heartfelt words and some “off the track questions.”

If you are unfamiliar with Justyn, he has a fairly impressive resume on the track. Justyn competed at the Tokyo Olympics, placing 7th overall in the 5000m race. He’s also the Canadian record holder for the indoor 1500m. He holds the second fastest 5000m in North America running a time of 12 minutes and 51 seconds. He’s a two-time world finalist, two-time NCAA champion and jokingly the best self-proclaimed dual athlete in the Greater Toronto Area (he actually might be right).

In today’s blog post, I will be highlighting some of Justyn’s responses in case you don’t have time to watch the entire interview. I get you are probably busy!


All Things Justyn And Running

“Was running always your passion?”

To some people’s surprise, for quite some time running was NOT his passion. Justyn was all about the “balling life” and lived and breathed basketball for much of his life, including high school. He actually got into running by accident, well sort of an accident. Although he was a stand out basketball athlete, he was not doing well in gym class, and to boost his mark he had to go run 5km. Wearing only basketball shoes and shorts, he started his run and set a 5km school record. From there, he realized that he should give running a shot. But this came at a cost of choosing between running and basketball. I think he made the correct decision.

“What are some tips for someone just getting into running?”

Truly falling in love with running is something Justyn thinks is extremely important, it is not something you can do for 10 hours all day like shoot hoops, pucks or playing volleyball. It is a different type of fun, so you have to find ways to keep it fun. He also said, “Notice and internalize your wins in running, those will help you keep going no matter how small they are.”

“What are your tips for someone pursuing a career in running?”

Pursuing a career or any professional sport is extremely difficult and not glamourous like people might think it is. There is a lot of time spent in the proverbial “trenches of training”. You are on a journey that won’t be a straight line to the top. Don’t compare yourself to others because you have no idea where that person is on in their journey. We also live in a day and age of social media.

People posting their workouts can create a comparison culture. Justyn felt this when he would see people training paces that he wasn’t doing and sometimes felt discouraged. Running is very independent, so have faith in the way you are training. The greatest sprinter of all time – Usain Bolt – didn’t have very nice facilities or the best technology. So fancy isn’t always better.


Justyn On Tackling BIG Goals

Justyn has his own little spin when it comes to setting goals. You have probably heard of the acronym S.M.A.R.T goals – with the “R” standing for realistic. Well, when you compete at the highest level you probably have to do things a little differently and cliché acronyms might not work. That’s why Justyn talked about setting unrealistic goals for himself.

Of course, it takes some mental toughness to know you that you will likely fall consistently short of your goals. Justyn’s theory is that if he shows up to practice and trains for that unrealistic goal, falling short of his goal will still put him in a place of success. Races rarely go perfect. Even if you did everything right you can’t control what others do in the race. In his mind, if he just set realistic goals, he might not perform at the level he wants to.


Overcoming Failure

People will say that was an L (loss), but to me that L stands for lesson, and you can always learn from a loss” – Justyn Knight

People looking from the outside in often just see Justyn as this incredibly successful runner. You hear the stories of the winning moments far more than the losses he had endured through his running career. He had two pivotal moments in his running career. The first one was during college when he first paced 143rd and then one year later came in 4th. The second was when he turned pro, he came in 25 pounds over race weight, running his slowest time ever and placing dead last.

He kept that race bib wrote his time on it and put it up on his fridge as a reminder of the disappointment he felt, and what he was working towards everyday. Justyn has a unique way of dealing with his failures. He doesn’t simply ignore them. But rather, immerses himself in his feelings and “feels bad” for himself for around 2 days before he bounces back. Once he bounces back, he remembers not to take today for granted because it will impact tomorrow.



Celebrating Successes

Justyn would not be where he is today if it wasn’t for his talent and incredible work ethic. He shared some of his sweetest memories of racing. In 2017, he went to the world championship finals and was racing against people he watched on TV. These were people who he looked up to as role models.

Prior to the race, he looked at the final heat and felt like he had no business being in that race. Yet he still placed in the middle of the pack in 9th position – a milestone so young in his career. His all-time favourite memory was not at the Olympics. But rather winning a national championship with his team at Syracuse University. Running is a very independent sport. But when you win as a team and you can share that experience it just makes it so much more magical.


Fun Facts About Justyn

“Who is your childhood hero”

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, their work ethic was unmatched and that’s what I strive for.

“If you were to pick an animal that most closely represents your personality traits, what are you choosing?”

My little cockapoo dog, we both get up to no good.

“If you were going on a first date where is the first date taking place?”

Couldn’t give away his secret…..but he does love the cheese cake factory.

“What is your middle name”


“What is your go to pump up song”

Rumors by Lil’ Dirk

“What is your pre race meal?”

It was chicken parmesan in college but now I don’t have to have it anymore because competing internationally you don’t know what food you will have access to.

“Do you do any cross training?”

He does weight training and plyometrics, but doesn’t really know his plan, just does what the coach tells him to do.

(As someone who trains lots of athletes, I can verify this happens more than often, even at the professional level.)

“Would you ever do a group run led by yourself for the local fans of Toronto?

Yes! As long as people are going to show up….so if you are in the Toronto area and love running be on the look out for this post.



It was an absolute pleasure to interview Justyn Knight, he is truly a one-of-a-kind person. He’s down-to-earth, humble and fiercely competitive. But he also knows not to take life so seriously and have some good laughs. He is a true leader in his community on and off the tack. Thank you Justyn!

You can follow him on Instagram @justyn.knight for more updates on his career and maybe a chance to participate in a community led run by the legend himself, stay tuned!

About the Author

About the Author

TJ McInnes

TJ McInnes is one of our Strength and Conditioning Coaches here at Altitude Athletics. He has a strong background in strength and conditioning and high performance coaching and is passionate about developing and delivering exercise programming that is tailored to his clients wants and needs. He has a particular interest in the athletic population and is constantly seeking a better understanding of the art and science of effective coaching.

A strong interest in sport and physical activity has led him to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Physical Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. He went on to complete his Masters of Professional Kinesiology at the University of Toronto, with a specialization in high performance. He has since completed additional certification in a wide range of areas of nutrition, sleep and recovery, functional strength, neurology, biomechanics and exercise selection.

Altitude Athletic is Toronto’s first and one of the largest altitude training facilities in the world. We’re here to help you prepare for your next big climb, event or meet your health goals. Click here to learn more about what we do at Altitude.

Contact Us

How to Run Your Fastest 5K Ever

How to Run Your Fastest 5K Ever

If you’re a beginner runner, 5 km is the perfect ‘first race” distance to prepare for. If you’re more experienced and enjoy speed, you can use the 5K distance as a platform to push faster times and try for new PBs. Regardless of your level or intention, completing a successful (and fast 5K) requires training and practice. Here are some tips on how to run your fastest 5K ever.


1. Have a Plan



Running a 5K fast is a challenge. And just like most other challenges in life, it helps to be prepared. So, unless your 5K is tomorrow, now is the time to make a plan. Start with answering, “what is your goal?”. Your goal should be realistic and dictated by how much time you can put into your training, how experienced you are and your current fitness level. 

Having a plan ensures you aren’t just training blindly or trying to run 5km every training session. You should have a comprehensive schedule that includes a balance of speed work, recovery, base runs and strength training. Keep on track with your plan by monitoring your heart rate and pace. 

In general, we recommend starting your training at least a month in advance. 3 months will give you plenty of time to get race ready, but it all comes back to your initial goal. Other variables like your fitness level and running experience will also play a part. Again, your plan should include a breakdown of your interval run days, base runs, strength/cross training and recovery to get the most out of your training.  

Strategies like building a tapering period into the days leading up to your race will ensure you aren’t weighed down by training and have given your body the chance to recover and re-energize. If you keep on training hard right up until the day of your race, it might actually hinder your performance!

If this is all new to you and you don’t know how to plan? Reach out to one of our coaches at Altitude! You can book a coach consult to come into the facility and talk about your goals and training needs here: SCHEDULE COACH CONSULT


2. Incorporate Intervals 


5Ks are fast-paced and usually over before you even know it. Be prepared to keep up with the pace and accelerate in key moments. In a marathon, you may get away with purely aerobic training. But in a 5K, you’ll want to work on what’s called your anaerobic energy system. Interval training (alternating between hard and easy efforts) will help increase your aerobic and anaerobic energy system. Need to pass someone quickly? Or finish pick your speed for the last leg of the race? You may need to tap in to your anaerobic energy system for the extra burst to make sure you reach your goal.   


3. Start (or Continue) Strength Training 


As runners, strength training can be a bit boring and feel unnecessary. But it’s actually a fundamental part of boosting speed and efficiency and protecting us from injury. Although the bulk of your training will be running, it would be a mistake to neglect strength.  

Strength training can improve the elastic capabilities of your muscles and tendons. While you run, your muscles are contracting and using energy. It’s hard work! What if there was something that could save you from burning through precious energy in a race? Well, by strength training and working on plyometrics, you can tap into that elastic energy and reduce the load on your muscles. We can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want to take advantage of an energy save like that!

Strength training can also keep tissue strong and resilient to reduce chance of acute and chronic injury. Remember, running is an impact sport, and strength training can save you from the aches and pains you can suffer down the road. This will allow you to do what you love more often.  



 4. Know Your Target Pace



Like we mentioned earlier, having a goal is key to running a fast 5km. So you will need to set a base line at the beginning of your training so you know a pace you can sustain over the 5km.

If you are just starting to get into running, you may have no idea. Just going out on a run and experimenting with speeds can be an easy way to pinpoint your starting pace. Additionally, there are many free pace calculators on the internet to help you get a feel for pacing. Wearable tech – like a smart watch – can also be used to help track your pace in real time.

Remember, shaving off significant time on your pace doesn’t happen overnight, stick to the training plan and make adjustments. That being said this leads us into our next tip.  



5. Be Consistent 


We have emphasized the importance of having a plan a few times in this post, only because it is so important. But we all know that sometimes things get in the way and plans go out the window. And that’s okay! If you find yourself in a situation where you are falling off track, remember that doing something is better than nothing, even if it’s not exactly what you planned.  

As long as you are feeling good and pain-free, keep consistent with movement so that when your race day rolls around you aren’t coming into it from days (or even weeks) on the couch or at the desk. It can be helpful to create a Plan B workout for if you can’t make a run on a certain day – I.e., a quick 10-minute HIIT workout, a 30-minute walk during a conference call or some stretching at night to keep your body loose and mobile.  

It also helps to find a running partner to train with (ideally on the same plan!) that can help keep you accountable and just makes training more fun to engage with others.  



6. Work on Your Breathe



You probably never thought you could be bad at something you do more than 20,000 times a day, but there are better ways to breathe and worse ways to breathe. And breathing can help you run a fast 5K. 

Developing good breathing patterns will help you get sufficient O2 to your limbs to help your engine keep gunning. The diaphragm is a massive muscle and we need it to work well to breath well, therefore training it is important. Secondly, nose breathing can help with relaxing our blood vessels to increase blood flow an O2 delivery systemically.

What is a good breathing pattern and how can you practice good breathing? Here’s an example: Lay on your back, put your feet flat on the ground (hook lying position). Next, put one hand on your chest the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath in through your nose, you should feel your stomach rise and then your chest. Practice breathing in through your nose for 5 seconds and slowly exhaling out for 5 seconds. The bonus of doing this is decreasing your stress levels too, so give it a try.


7. Recover Well



It isn’t all about the training! Your ability to run your fastest 5K is influenced by your ability to recover well throughout training. Recovery is so important, because this is when your body fulfills the adaptations you work so hard to get from training, like stimulating more robust energy systems and stronger tissue.  

So how can you recovery well? It isn’t sexy like all the recovery modalities make it out to look like. Really you just need to focus on the basics – good nutrition, hydration and the most important, sleep. Once you’ve gotten that covered and do those few things then you can get into extra modalities like expensive massage guns, ice baths and red-light therapy.  

So there you have it, that’s how you can run your fastest 5K ever. Even just taking a few of these tips will set you on the right back towards running your fastest 5K ever. And remember, at the end of the day the most important thing is that you have fun and enjoy each step along the 5000 m course.

We’re here to help you optimize your prep for any race distance. Learn more about training options at Altitude here.


About the Author

About the Author

TJ McInnes

TJ McInnes is one of our Strength and Conditioning Coaches here at Altitude Athletics. He has a strong background in strength and conditioning and high performance coaching and is passionate about developing and delivering exercise programming that is tailored to his clients wants and needs. He has a particular interest in the athletic population and is constantly seeking a better understanding of the art and science of effective coaching.

A strong interest in sport and physical activity has led him to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Physical Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. He went on to complete his Masters of Professional Kinesiology at the University of Toronto, with a specialization in high performance. He has since completed additional certification in a wide range of areas of nutrition, sleep and recovery, functional strength, neurology, biomechanics and exercise selection.

Performance Assessment for the Cycling Athlete

Performance Assessment for the Cycling Athlete

You’re busy with work, life and training. With so much going on, it’s helpful to see if your hard work is paying off. Where does your fitness stand right now? Is there a way you can do things better and train smarter?

A performance assessment is a great tool for cyclists (or in fact, any athlete) to gain valuable data to understand their baseline and to help better guide their training. Learn more about some of the data a performance assessment will tell you and why this data matters:


VO2 Max – What is It and How Can It Help Me?


In a good performance assessment, a coach will measure something called VO2 Max. Your VO2 Max can help provide insight into your current performance. Also, it can guide your training plan to ensure you continue improving and be used to track progress.

VO2 Max measures the amount of oxygen your body can take in and use during maximal exercise. This is basically your ‘upper limit’ when it comes to intense exercise. The measurement looks at the liters of oxygen you consume per minute. The number we get helps us look at the health and function of different systems.

In other words, how well you breath in, extract oxygen from the atmosphere via the lungs, how well that oxygen is loaded into the circulator system and delivered to working muscles via the heart and arteries, and finally how well the muscles extract and use that oxygen. (1)

Cycling is an aerobic sport and cyclists are highly dependent on using oxygen for energy production. Therefore, VO2 Max is a large contributing factor to how well you can perform on the bike.


Performance assessment for the cycling athlete

Functional Threshold Power, What is It and Why Should I Know It?


In addition to measuring VO2 Max, a good assessment for cyclists will also find Functional Threshold Power (FTP). FTP is the highest power output that you can hold for ~60 minutes. FTP is a good indication of your specific anaerobic threshold, meaning you will know exactly how hard you can work before anaerobic energy systems begin contributing excessively (2).

This shift is typically noticed as an intense burning sensation in the muscle, as anaerobic energy system produces metabolic by-products such as hydrogen ions leading to the burn. This will allow you to optimize your training by using percentage of FTP to create specific training zones that correlate to specific training goals, for example a work rate of 56-75% of your FTP would be an ideal training zone for developing aerobic endurance.

Our performance assessment will provide you with your HR (heart rate) at threshold, power at threshold, VO2 Max and more. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of your current level of performance, and data to optimize your training. Learn more about assessments and services at Altitude: ASSESSMENTS





Altitude Athletic is Toronto’s first and one of the largest altitude training facilities in the world. We’re here to help you prepare for your next big climb, event or meet your health goals. Click here to learn more about what we do at Altitude.

Contact Us


(1) “Measurement of VO2 Max-VO2 Peak is no longer acceptable”. David C. Poole and Andrew M. Jones. Journal of Applied Physiology (2017).

(2) “Functional Threshold Power in Cyclists: Validity of the Concept and Physiological Responses.” Borszcz, Fernando and Tramontin, Artur and Bossi, Arthur and Carminatti, Lorival and Costa, Vitor. (2018). International Journal of Sports Medicine

(3) “VO2 Primer” University of California – Davis. Health – Sports Medicine: VO2 – Rate of Oxygen Consumption

Swimming For Change with Robert McGlashan

Swimming For Change with Robert McGlashan

This month, Altitude member Robert McGlashan will complete the third of three impressive open water swims as part of an open water marathon, Swim for Change, to raise $300,000 for 3 Canadian charities! Rob swam Lake Erie and Lake Ontario this summer, and in just a couple of weeks he will be headed to California to be the first Canadian to swim around Angel Island.

Who is Robert McGlashan?

Robert a Toronto-based lawyer and partner at Blakeney Henneberry Murphy and Galligan. He is on the board of an environmental organization dedicated to cleaning up and protecting the Great Lakes: Great Lakes Open Water. Robert is also an elite open water swimmer, who has swam the across the highest navigable lake in the world called Lake Titicaca (Bolivia) at 3,812 m (12,507 ft), the Straits of Magellan (Chile), Bonifacio Channel (Italy), the Alcatraz Island (USA), the Bay of Naples from Capri to Naples (Italy) and swam over 25 hours across Lake Geneva from Switzerland to France. He was nominated for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year award.

Robert McGlashan


Swimming Angel Island 

Angel Island is located in San Francisco Bay. Visitors to the island enjoy spectacular views of the San Fransisco skyline, the Marin County Headlands and Mount Tamalpais. It is also famous for being start of big open water events, including: the Night Train Mile and the annual RCP Tiburon Mile, one of the World’s Top 100 Island Swims.

The round-trip swim around Angel Island is a 10-mile (16.1-kilometer) loop in San Fransisco Bay. Swimmers start from Aquatic Park Cove and swim out and around the island. They then head back to Aquatic Park. The swim is cross-current and known as being challenging with rough waters. Swimmers cross two big
shipping routes twice. The first and fastest person to swim Angel Island was Dave Kenyon in 1984.

Angel Island Swim

Credit: Marathon Swimmers Federation


Robert’s Altitude Training Preparation

Robert is aiming to not only be the first Canadian to swim Angel Island, but also the fastest person ever. Altitude Coach Josh Downer developed a specific program that has Rob combining paced training swims with strength/interval training at Altitude Athletic. Rob trains at Altitude Athletic 3 times a week and performs power circuits with exercises including back squats, band-assisted squat jumps and Versa Climber intervals. At Altitude, Josh monitors Rob’s heart rate throughout the sessions to ensure he is meeting specific heart rate targets that optimize the altitude training effect. Josh has also set certain paces for Rob’s training swims – which he does 5 times a week – to ensure he is prepared to up his speed on the big day.

Rob has seen a difference in training at Altitude, he states, “The benefits of altitude training for me have been improved strength and endurance as well as increased rate of recovery.”

Swimming Angel Island for the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Society of Canada

The Mountain Gorilla Conservation Society of Canada is a volunteer-based charitable organization whose members are passionate and dedicated to helping save the worlds wild gorillas The organization helps to secure the future of wild gorillas by increasing the number of wildlife veterinarians in the field. They work to monitor and provide the highest level of veterinary care to mountain and lowland gorillas suffering from life-threatening illness and injury, and address environmental issues that affect the poor, low income and underserved communities through resource management, environment and conservation studies, resilience planning and preparedness.

On October 26, 2021, Robert McGlashan will swim the cold swim around Angel Island to raise $100,000 for the Gorillas. This is one of three charities he will be swimming for in an attempt to raise $300,000 for 3 Canadian charities.

Help Robert get to his goal of raising $300,000 by donating to the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Society of Canada: DONATE NOW 

The team at Altitude is incredibly proud and inspired by Rob embarking on this amazing open water marathon and raising money for incredible organizations.

How to properly implement altitude training in your race build-up

How to properly implement altitude training in your race build-up

If you are reading this, you are probably thinking about experimenting with low oxygen (hypoxic) training.

Great move. Altitude training has many benefits when it comes to marathon training. Exercise physiologists around the world say that it can improve fitness by increasing mitochondrial activity, augmenting red blood cell count, even changing gene expression.

But here’s the thing: no matter your fitness level or sport of choice, it’s best to have a plan when implementing a new form of training. Here, we suggest how you can make the most of Altitude Athletic in each phase of your race build-up.

1) The Base Phase

When: up to two months before race day

You might like to start to build your base five to six months in advance of your race, particularly if it’s a longer event like a half-marathon, marathon or Ironman. If so, your question might be: when do I start implementing altitude training? New research indicates that there could be a memory component to altitude training benefits. The more accustomed you are to low-oxygen training, the greater the benefits you might reap. So, best to acquaint yourself with thin air as soon as possible.

That being said, ease into running, cycling or other workouts at altitude slowly. If this is your first experience with low-oxygen training, and your goal race is still months away, start your build with easy efforts in the first week at altitude.

So, if you’re focused on an upcoming marathon training, begin by targeting recovery and non-workout runs. And adjust how you define “easy pace.” Unlike running at a measly 250m in Toronto, running even the easiest of paces at, say, 9,000 ft will at first feel challenging. After one month of base, also try one of your weekly workouts at altitude.

Tip: Monitor your blood ferritin and haemoglobin levels monthly during this phase to see how you are responding to the change in stimulus.

2) The Added Stimulus Phase (two months to two weeks before race day)

This is when you dive into harder, higher-volume and race simulation workouts. Executing these tough sessions at altitude can boost fitness and confidence.

In this phase, alternating between altitude simulation and sea level workouts can be useful for two reasons:

First, working out in a low-oxygen environment will make it harder to hit splits. Use those workouts for building fitness and accustom yourself to the feeling of running hard, and use the sea level workouts for teaching your body what it’s like to run at your goal pace.

Second, doing big workouts at altitude may tire you out at times in this phase. By mixing in sea level workouts, you mitigate the risk of overtraining and burnout.

Tip: Hard training at altitude will likely elevate your basal metabolism, so hydrate aggressively and eat many nutrient-rich foods in this phase. Remember that this phase is more refined. It’s where you can make the most gains, but it’s where you are most likely to overexert yourself. These tenets are significantly augmented at altitude, so make sure you are giving your body enough fuel to recover.

3) The Sharpening Phase

Last two weeks before race day

If altitude simulation feels comfortable by now, try to train exclusively at low oxygen for these last two weeks. It is common practice for athletes to spend the two weeks prior to a goal race at altitude, before coming down two to three days before your race.

That is because even though it likely takes longer than two weeks to see haematological (blood) adaptations, studies show that other benefits of altitude training can be made faster. In the two weeks before your race, training at altitude could improve your muscles’ buffering capacity, making them better at working in acidic conditions (like the final parts of your race.)

Tip: Do not fret over workout splits in this phase. Remember that workouts at altitude will still feel harder than normal, even if you are sharp. If you have made it to this phase healthy and fit, your reward should be to feel good during workouts, instead of worrying about pace.

Tip II: Do your last training session at altitude at least three days before your race, to ensure that you do not have leftover fatigue on the start line.

No matter the training phase you are in, approach altitude training like regular marathon training: with diligence. Eat well, drink lots of water, and always listen to your body’s signals. Do those three things, follow our tips, and put in the work – the results will take care of themselves.

Learn more about altitude training for endurance athletes here.

Want to do some more research on hypoxic training literature? Check out our Hypoxic Training Literature folder in our Linktree!

Running a half marathon (in lockdown!)

Running a half marathon (in lockdown!)

Over the past year, lockdown has made it very tough to keep up a fitness routine that not only keeps you strong and healthy but is also challenging, fulfilling and fun. As someone whose fitness routine revolved mostly around tough conditioning sessions in the gym, kickboxing, bouldering and the occasional indoor spinning class, I was certainly thrown through a loop in March 2020 when these activities were essentially no longer available to me!


Post-run high!

An early saver for me personally was a half-marathon that I had signed up for a few months previously (before lockdown). My boyfriend and I had signed up to run the Wimbledon Half Marathon that May. It would be my first ever proper running race while he had run a full marathon the previous year in Edinburgh. I was very excited, but also quite nervous about training for a long distance event. The training I was used to was based more on short, intense bursts of power like those used in Muay Thai or plyometrics, as opposed to longer, sustained cardiovascular training that required more endurance. In fact, I think the longest I had run up till then was about 10 km! However, I was certainly up for the challenge and we began planning a full 6-week training plan leading up to the half-marathon. I spent a lot of time considering how I would balance half marathon training with my already jam-packed, gym-based fitness routine. 


Unfortunately, 2020 had very different plans and not only was it looking like the half marathon would likely be cancelled, but we ended up in separate countries as I spent early lockdown back home in Ontario and he remained with his family in the UK. We decided for the sake of it to just follow the training plan anyway, in case by some chance we might still be able to meet again in May and run the race. Those training runs which started short (2-5 km) and then ramped up (10+ km) became such key parts of my early lockdown. It was a chance to get outdoors and most importantly, it was an opportunity for some consistency in a time that was otherwise incredibly unpredictable and uncertain! I tried to go into it with no expectations and I enjoyed feeling stronger with each run and more able to handle the longer distances. I loved listening to music during the runs, exploring my neighbourhood and feeling a tiny bit like I was achieving something together with my boyfriend even though he was so far away and I wasn’t sure when I’d see him again.


Eventually, May rolled around and we were both still very much in separate countries and the race was now very much cancelled. However, we were both well trained at this point and decided to just run the half marathon anyway. And so we picked a day to do it and set off simultaneously – me in the morning in (a very sunny!) Oakville and him in the afternoon in (a very windy!) Essex, 5 hours difference between us. We actually called each other a few times during the race to check in and my sister even joined (with no training at all – she’s quite the runner!). I ended up running the race in just under 2 hours with a time of 1:53:20 and an average pace of 5:22 min/km – not bad for someone who’s more into sprints and burpees!


I tried some of Endurance Tap’s maple-based energy gels during the run for a boost!

Map My Run

The race through Oakville, tracked on Map My Run!

The half-marathon was a highlight for me in a year that was tough both on the fitness side of things and just in general. One thing I’d say I learnt from it was the benefit of setting yourself challenging but achievable goals and trying to achieve something new. Even though we didn’t get a chance to experience that revved up ‘atmosphere’ so typical of race events, it was almost more special to me in that it was such a personal experience that I got to share with someone I was separated from and that we managed to stick to it in such a bizarre and difficult time. 


If you’re away from someone you love right now and want to try and achieve something fitness related (or anything really – doesn’t have to be fitness based!) a race that you both train for together is a good option!

About the Author



Jessica is based out of London, UK and consults early stage businesses on how to raise investment for their companies. She is an avid fitness enthusiast and loves kickboxing, plyometrics, weight training and calisthenics.

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