Category Archives: 10k

SUCCESS STORY: Jerry Hughes’ SECRET to Sub 40 min 10k and Much More

A little over a year ago (December 2014), Jerry Hughes hired me to be his running coach. It all started because I had a Christmas special on my “fly solo” online training plans. When we first started working together, we have only met each other once or twice in person before that.

What’s amazing is that after about a week or two of following my running program, Jerry bought a training package with me for his wife. To me, this meant a lot because he originally started out as an online client and he trusted me with his family after such a short time of knowing each other.

I knew that Jerry, just like the clients before him, would improve significantly as a result of my training plan. I predicted that he would be a lot faster.

Prior to starting his training program with me, Jerry’s best 10k time was 44:53 at the 2014 TC 10k in April and best half marathon time was 1:36:12 at the Goodlife Fitness Half Marathon on October 12, 2014.

When he started training with me, he was just getting over a few injuries that kept him from running  to his full potential, which at the time, neither of us were fully aware of.

The one thing I knew about Jerry is that he works very hard, he’s not afraid to ask questions and he knows how to follow instructions. That, to me, is a prerequisite to success.

Jerr Hughes and Yana at Mile O after completing their 63km run fior the Help Fill a Dream Foundation. Photo by Ian Simspon

Jerry Hughes and Yana at Mile O after completing their 63km run for the Help Fill a Dream Foundation.
Photo by Ian Simpson.

Fast forward to April 26, 2015, which is about 4 months after he started training with me. Jerry ran his first ever sub 40 min 10k, finishing the TC10k in 39:41. At that moment, I knew that bigger personal victories are ahead of him.

Shortly thereafter, Jerry ran a half marathon personal best of 1:27:45, which is over 8 minutes faster than his previous best time. JerryHughesHaldMarathonPB2015

As we continued to work together, his list of accomplishments continued to grow exponentially.

Together, we have raised thousands of dollars for Help Fill a Dream Foundation.

Help Fill A Dream is an immediately responsive charitable foundation based in Victoria, British Columbia. They provide hope, help and happiness for Vancouver Island children under the age of 19 with life-threatening conditions by fulfilling their dreams, improving their quality of life and assisting their families with care and financial support.

We also ran from Duncan to Victoria together in order to raise funds and awareness for Help Fill a Dream Foundation.

I witnessed him come within 2 minutes of qualifying for the coveted Boston Marathon. Jerry ran his first ever marathon in 3:11:48, which is a significantly faster pace per km than he used to do for his 10k.

Most recently, he has been achieving one personal best after another in all distances across the board. His new 10k PB is 38:46.


Above: Jerry on his way to a new 10k personal best. Photo by Lois DeEll

His 10k time is now officially ~6 minutes faster than it was when he started training with me. This equates to about a 40 second per km improvement as a result of my training and his continuous dedication and commitment to excellence.

Jerry’s story is very remarkable in that he takes away all the excuses people make when it comes to working out. On average, he works over 60 hours a week. He works as a chef, which means that he spends his entire work day on his feet. Not only that, but he and his wife also have 2 young kids.

However, that’s not all he had to overcome to get to where he is. Jerry was born with a rare aggressive genetic disorder called Gardner’s Syndrome. When not diagnosed early enough, the prognosis is not very good. It claimed Jerry’s dad’s life when he was very young.

Despite all the challenges that Jerry was facing, his results speak for themselves. He never ever complained and he always put in the work that I told him to do. Jerry had every reason to make excuses, but he never ever did.

I created a plan that was tailored to his work schedule and circumstances and it worked.

What was his secret? It was a combination of a proper training plan and a genuine desire to achieve his goals no matter what curveballs life throws at him. He persevered in times when other people would have given up.

This is what Jerry had to say about our journey so far:

“Rarely in life do you meet someone that will change the course of your life forever. That day happened to me when by chance I saw a running coach that was super passionate about training runners. That was Yana Hempler. She was the first person that really believed in my abilities. Her encouragement and programs have changed me and inspired me to follow my dreams. I’m now able to talk in front of people live or in front of the camera. We have done charity work together and will continue to do so forever. There have been so many things I have accomplished due to her training from climbing 40,000 stairs, ultra marathon 55km, 12000 ft elevation, 2 marathons. One of the marathons I did was 8 days after doing the 40,000 stair challenge. Participating in Yana’s program has really changed me. My future with running has evolved into crazy marathons, ultras, and biking all to raise awareness for Gardner’s Syndrome and conquering cancer. I really believe if I never met her none of this would have happened. Thank you, Yana Hempler.”


I’m extremely proud of everything that he has accomplished so far. It has been amazing to watch him develop into a confident individual who thrives on public speaking and inspires many to follow their dreams. Jerry’s dedication, hard work and persistence deserves to be recognized.

People often say that the trainer inspires the client. That’s not always a one-way street. Jerry inspires me in more ways than I can express in this post.

From the bottom of my heart, Jerry, thank you for trusting me to be a part of your journey and I look forward to seeing what you will do next.

Want to achieve amazing results too? Let’s connect and I will help you get there.

Success Story: MEC Victoria Race 5 2015 Yields Great Results

The MEC Victoria Race 5 took place on November 1, 2015 on Hamsterly Beach, on the north-end of Elk Lake. I didn’t run the race but I was there.

At this point, you are probably wondering why am I writing a race report for a race that I didn’t run…

The truth is, it’s not all about me.

I owe my congratulations to my clients and MEC run clinic participants who did a fantastic job and had a strong showing at the race.

It was an honour, a privilege and a real pleasure to watch them come across the finish line in less than ideal weather conditions.

It may have been cold and wet, but that didn’t stop the run clinic participants from achieving personal bests.

A bit of background: In August 2015, my friend Andrew McCartney (who is a super fast runner and a fantastic triathlete) and I started coaching a new group of MEC half marathon clinic participants in preparation for MEC Race 5.


Above: Andrew McCartney and I prior to the start of MEC race 5.

The first time that Andrew and I worked together on a run clinic was in the first half of 2015. He is a fantastic team player and we coached so well together that we were back to doing it again. 🙂

We were thrilled that some of the participants from our first clinic signed up again and brought recruits. 😀

Andrew and I coach through a combination of personal experience, education, and entertainment.

We strive to create a supportive, learning filled environment where fun is the key to success.

What’s exciting is that we have succeeded.

Many clinic participants became friends outside of the clinics and not only that, but they also achieved their goals. Above all else, they genuinely enjoyed the atmosphere.

It’s not about “he’s faster than her” and “she’s better than him”. It’s about doing it together with the success of the entire group in mind.


Above: Race start. I can see how focused Peter and Jerry are right out front! And, of course, how can we miss Andrew!?

Here are some notable finishes from my clients and/or run clinic participants who Andrew and I coached:

*Jerry Hughes (individual coaching client, half marathon) 1:29:39-I told him to take it easy and he did. Now, he can easily break 1:30 in a half, just like that.

*Peter H. (MEC Run clinic participant, half marathon) 1:32:55-Personal Best

*Rafael M. (MEC Run clinic participant, half marathon) 1:43:52-Personal Best

*Alixe R. (MEC Run clinic participant, half marathon) 1:46:38-Personal Best Equivalent (PB was 1 sec faster on a road course in ideal conditions, this race was done on a trail course in rainy conditions)

*Patrick H. (MEC Run Clinic participant, half marathon) 1:48:48-Personal Best

*Ryan L. (MEC Run Clinic participant, half marathon) 1:51:28- Personal Best (approximately 3 weeks after running the Victoria Marathon…great recovery!)

*Carolynn C. (MEC Run Clinic Participant, Half marathon) 2:04:07-First half marathon successfully completed.


Above: Carolynn was all smiles after her big accomplishment. So proud of her!

*Dominique S. (individual coaching client, 10k) 54:54-Personal Best in less than ideal weather conditions, previous PB was on the road at TC10k when the weather was great. I actually told him to take this one easy too, but he still ran a personal best and said he had fun and didn’t push it too hard.

By the way…my first half marathon ever was 2:12:xx, and ALL my run clinic participants beat that with time to spare. At the start of the clinic, I was 100% sure that they all would, even those who were running their first one. 🙂


Above: Dominique and Jerry post-race. Clearly, they still had enough energy to show their sense of humour. 😉

Over 80% of the MEC clinic participants (coached by Andrew and I) who started the race, finished with a new personal best. Some MEC clinic participants did not start the race because they had conflicting work schedules that prevented them from making it to the start line.

I cannot attach a numerical value to the friendships that emerged as a result of the run clinics.

I truly love sharing the joy of running with everyone. MEC has given me the opportunity to do so through leading the run clinics and for that I’m grateful.


Above: Party time never stops. 🙂

By the way, I’m coaching a new MEC Run clinic targeting the TC10k. Space is limited, so sign up early. You get a FREE MEC race entry with your clinic registration and now it’s your turn to get a PB.


RACE Recap: Summerfast 10k July 18, 2015 and Top 10 in Timex BC Race Series

After the Victoria Goddess Run 10k, I originally planned to hold off on doing anymore road races until the fall. I realized that I have been racing almost every 2 weeks since January and have done every distance from 800m to marathon in a span of about 5 months. That’s a lot of racing and I knew that I was due for a break in order to recover from the hard efforts. Then, I could spend some time rebuilding for the next season.

However, leading up to the Summerfast 10k, I saw that I had a good chance to place Top 10 in the 2015 Timex BC Road Running Series. According to my calculations at the time, I believed I only needed to run the distance in 42:30 or faster.  For me to run 42:30 or faster in a 10k is not a problem, so I decided to race it. A good friend of mine told me that it’s an amazing accomplishment to place Top 10 in the Timex BC Road Running Series, so I could not pass up the chance.

So, over to Vancouver I went!

I stayed at the YWCA Hotel because I support the hotel’s involvement in making the community a better place. It’s great because it’s affordable, safe and it generates revenue that sustains YWCA Metro Vancouver’s community service work. YWCA Metro Vancouver is a registered charity, providing a range of services for women and their families and those seeking to improve the quality of their lives. From early learning and child care to housing, health and fitness and employment services, YWCA Metro Vancouver touches lives throughout the community.

I will always do my best to support any entity that focuses on improving people’s lives and making a difference.

On race morning, I was up very early and ready to go! I had delicious pasta with one of my friends the night before. Ate a banana for breakfast. My Garmin was fully charged. It felt great to not be under pressure at the start of the race. I knew it was a very turny course and the temperature was definitely rising.

I was just excited to be racing in Vancouver. Great way to spend the weekend.

So, we all took off quite fast. It was pretty crowded at the start so I was very careful not to step on anyone’s heels. I was trying to take it slow at the beginning but every time I looked at my Garmin, I was doing sub 4 min kms. It felt good too.

When we got to the turnaround near the start of the race, I almost tripped because I was trying to keep the same pace without stepping on anyone’s heels or elbowing someone. I know that sometimes accidents happen but I don’t want to be “that runner”, especially when I’m out there with the Muscle MLK team.


By the time we got to the Seawall, it definitely thinned out and I was no longer worried about being too close to other runners. In fact, a few km later, I was hoping to find some people to run with because the weather was getting warmer and I was looking forward to finishing. I slowed down a little bit, but nothing too unusual. I definitely enjoyed the views!!

By the time I got to the 7km mark, I knew that I was on target to be under 42:30 even if I ran the last 3k a lot slower. So, I caught up to a couple of people and decided to stay with them until the finish.


This time, I decided not to sprint with 200m to go because I was going to be finishing in and around 42 minutes. Most importantly though, I was still having fun. I wasn’t struggling and I wasn’t disappointed that it wasn’t my fastest 10k. I finished in 41:58, which is good enough for 6/29 in my age group and 14/166 out of all the women. I definitely want to do this again next year.

The volunteers, course marshals, and post-race food/beverages were excellent!!! Thanks to everyone involved for a great event!! Loved all the good vibes and high-fives. 🙂

Then, it was time for the much-awaited Timex Race Series Awards. (See the top 10 ladies in the Timex Race Series below)


I knew that because I achieved my target, I would be finishing in the Top 10 for the series. It was amazing to find out that I finished in 8th place overall.  I was very happy with the final outcome.

RACE REPORT: Victoria Goddess Run 10k June 7 2015

This year’s Victoria Goddess Run was as inspiring as ever. Thousands of women braved the heat and hills to cross the finish line, completing one of the three events: the half marathon, 10k, or 5k.

In addition to being a fun time for all the participants, this event helps support three great local charities: Victoria Women’s Transition House Society, KidSport Greater Victoria, and Victoria Sexual Assault Centre.

I heard some inspirational stories from different women who have overcome a lot of obstacles to get to the finish line. Their stories are unforgettable.

Some of them have escaped abuse, overcome health problems and much more.

Not only that, but I also got to see many of my friends and clients. It was so great to see them all in the race.

I had the pleasure of spending the entire weekend surrounded by Goddesses, first working the Muscle MLK Canada booth at the expo, then running the race, and then hooking all the finishers up with Muscle MLK.


Above: Clearly, this is where the party was at 😉

There were a lot of familiar faces at the expo. It was very exciting. The exhibitors that I talked to were very knowledgeable and helpful.

Then came time to race. When I got to the start line, I was surrounded by a sea of colourful outfits. Hot pink shirts and colourful tutus dominated the start line.

Since I remembered the course from last year, I knew that it was not a PB course. There were hills, trails, gravel and turnaround points. It was challenging but fun.

I focused on running with my friend and didn’t worry about my time. Initially, I was shooting for under 42 minutes, but it’s a tough course to do it on. In addition, it was hot out.


So, I decided to enjoy the run while maintaining my position in the race. I kept on going between 2nd and 3rd the whole race. It was great to have someone to run with the whole time.

The girl who ended up being 1st was a little bit too far for us to catch (and she set a new course record).

My initial goal was to place in the top 3, so I was definitely happy with my 2nd place finish.


We all got a beautiful necklace just for finishing the race.

I would love to do this race again next year!

Finish line hugs are the best 🙂


I love events like these because everyone is included, regardless of how fast their pace is. Best of all, women of all shapes, sizes, fitness levels, and ages get together to celebrate each other and their accomplishments.

Congratulations to everyone who finished! You are all winners.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer weekend than to make it a Goddess Weekend! 🙂

5 Reasons to Run the Victoria Goddess Run

As some of you may know, I’m one of the Victoria Goddess Run ambassadors for 2015.

The reasons that I chose to be an ambassador fall in line with the reasons why you should run it too. It’s an amazing event and I’m thrilled to see it growing every year.

I ran the half marathon last year and fell in love with the atmosphere surrounding this event.

So, this year, when I saw that there was a way to become involved in spreading the word about it- I jumped at the chance.


Above: recruiting some Goddesses! 😉

1. It welcomes female runners of all levels. It doesn’t matter if you can run a 7 minute mile or a 14 minute mile. You can run the race and have a lot of fun doing it.

2. There are 3 distances to choose from: the half marathon, 10k and 5k. It’s great to have an event that lets you choose how far to run. You are bound to find a race that fits into your training schedule and running experience.

3. It benefits three great local charities: Victoria Women’s Transition House Society, KidSport Greater Victoria, and Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. These charities offer extremely valuable programs and services in our community. This event is an amazing way to support the work that they do.

4. Meet great, like-minded people (aka other Goddesses). You all can celebrate your achievements together. What’s better than a healthy atmosphere for meeting new friends with similar interests?

5. There are awesome deals on great products and services in the virtual race bag. Not only that, but there are great post-race goodies at the finish line.

Lastly, the feeling of accomplishment you get from finishing a race will never be taken away from you. Have fun, help great charities and meet awesome people.

You can still register!

I hope to see you at the Goddess Expo and on race day, June 7th. 🙂

P.S. Don’t forget to come find me and get some free Muscle MLK.

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