Category Archives: goal setting

SUCCESS STORY: Duane Mundy completes Spartan BEAST and much more

When I first met Duane, he told me about how he wanted to complete the 20km+ Spartan BEAST obstacle course race, which, in addition to being super long, also has 26 challenging obstacles.

Duane’s biggest barrier to achieving his fitness goal was his knee injury, which resulted in weight gain and a decreased level of cardiovascular fitness.

Now, as a runner, all I can think about is how important it is to take care of the knees.


Above: Duane’s before picture, side shot.

I made it my mission to help him complete the obstacle course race. I knew that weight loss would be a by-product of the training rather than the sole focus. This ensures he enjoys the process, which will in turn lead to results.


Above: Another before photo. Front shot.

First, we did a lot of rowing and elliptical training. Both rowing and elliptical training help improve cardio while minimizing impact on the knee joint. Man, those were tough. I kept on pushing him to go faster and week after week he continuously set new records for himself.

After a while, we were primarily focusing on improving upper body, glute and core strength. All of the aforementioned would help him perform better in the Spartan Beast race.

Additionally, we worked on pushups and pullups. When he first started training with me, he managed to do 34 pushups in 3 minutes. By the time he completed his training program with me, he was doing over 100 pushups in 3 minutes. Not only that, but he also learned how to properly do pullups.

Duane’s glute and core strength improved significantly and his knee also started to feel better. We also worked on stretching his tight muscles, particularly the hip flexors and hamstrings.

When he completed the Spartan Beast Obstacle course race, I was so happy to get the good news.


Above: Duane post-race proudly showing his finisher medal and Spartan Beast swag package. He sent me this photo along with a text that said “Thank you, Yana! I couldn’t have done it without you.” It truly meant a lot to me. 

When we first met, it was overwhelming to think that doing a 20km+ obstacle course is possible, especially because he hasn’t done any running due to his knee injury.

I was overwhelmed with joy when he overcame his challenge and not just survived that obstacle course, but thrived.

Here is what Duane had to say about his fitness journey with me:

“About 6 months ago, a friend of mine told me about Yana and how Yana had helped her reach her goals. I had seen Yana at the gym on numerous occasions and took notice, not only of her chiseled physique, her smiling face and contagious laughter, but more importantly, to me, I noticed how focused Yana was on her clients. I met with Yana and we struck a deal to work on my physique and prepare me for a 20km+ Spartan Beast Obstacle Course in September 2015. Due to a knee injury, I had stopped exercising and managed to gain a few pounds around my midsection as well as deteriorated my cardio fitness. Yana provided me with various exercises and techniques which allowed me to exercise without aggravating or causing further injury to my knee. After 12 sessions with Yana, although gruelling and limit pushing, not only did I lose weight and inches, my cardio increased an amazing amount and I felt FANTASTIC!! I had so much fun with Yana that I looked forward to every session and completed the Sun Peaks Beast Spartan Race with loads of energy and pep leftover afterwards. I continued my training with Yana until I had to relocate for work in January. Thank you, Yana, for your inspiration, motivation and for inviting me and your other clients to your ab-aliscious and stair-aliscious fitness parties!!”  

I thoroughly enjoyed watching him achieve various milestones throughout his fitness journey. He was able to do all the things that he didn’t think were possible. Most importantly, he had fun during the entire process.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Duane for allowing me to be a part of his journey and for giving me permission to share this story.

Wishing Duane continued success, health and wellness as he embarks on a new journey in a new city.

If Duane’s story inspired you, I can help you achieve your goals too.

SUCCESS STORY: Dominique Spragg WINS the Battle Against Plantar Fasciitis

My coaching client Dominique Spragg wins his long-term battle against Plantar Fasciitis (PF) and finishes his first ever half marathon completely pain-free.


Above: Dominique, me and Jerry post race.

As someone who suffered from it for two years before I came back to being stronger and faster than before, I can tell you one thing: Plantar Fasciitis really sucks!

However, it was during those two years that I learned a lot about it (and myself…). This enabled me to transform a personal disadvantage into an opportunity to use what I learned in order to help people.

When we started training and Dominique told me about suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, I made it my mission to help him overcome it. I wanted to see him win the battle against this terrible injury that plagues many runners worldwide.

The heel and foot pain that PF sufferers experience is unbearable and super annoying. It removes all the joy from running. If not taken care of, it can potentially lead to other injuries.

What I love the most about working with Dominique is that he is always willing to try new stretches, exercises and training techniques.

Dominique is not afraid to ask questions and he always lets me know how the training is going. This not only makes my job enjoyable but also enables me to deliver exactly what the client is looking for.

When Dominique originally contacted me, he was looking for a “running coach”. He hired me so that he could improve his 10k time, do triathlons and complete longer races. However, the same way that a brick wall stands in the way of a race car, Plantar Fasciitis stood in his way.

I initially told him to stop running for a bit (roughly 6 weeks) so we can work on other things like strength, flexibility and core stability. In that time, he still did biking and swimming in addition to our sessions, which helped him keep up his cardio workouts but took the pressure off his foot while we figured it out.

I knew that running through it would have been a bad idea because instead of 6 weeks, it could have taken him years to get over it if we didn’t nip it in the bud. As with any injury, being told to “take time off” may sound like the worst thing ever. However, it had to be done.

Tight calves often contribute to Plantar Fasciitis, so we worked on stretching them. We also  stretched his hamstrings and hip flexors.

Then, we worked on his running form, glute strength, balance and core.

Designing core strengthening exercises is a lot of fun. We worked on everything from obliques, to abdominals to transverse abdominis.

When it comes to glute strength, we primarily worked on the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius prevents the knee from migrating inward. Having a strong gluteus medius helps stabilize the knee joint to prevent other potential running injuries.

We also worked on improving muscle balance around the hips and ankles through a combination of strengthening and balancing exercises.

When I gave Dominique permission to start running again, he had to keep it slow and short. I also instructed him to stop immediately if anything hurts, especially the foot.

As he was building up his running, he told me that there was no more foot pain, which made me extremely happy. Still, I kept holding him back from doing too much too soon, despite the excitement (he is a keener and a doer).

Dominique improved his range of motion and continued to build up mileage and strength. He was becoming more and more confident with every run for the next several months.

However, the most important thing was that Dominique was genuinely having fun and enjoying the process.

In the beginning, it may have been daunting, overwhelming and slightly discouraging (especially when you get a running coach and that coach tells you not to run). The one thing I knew for sure was that if he sticks with it (which he did), then he would do great (which he also did).

It wasn’t long before Dominique was doing 15k runs, then 16k and he continued to add 1 or 2km per week every week to his long run. His weekly mileage continued to progressively increase. Dominique continued his strength workouts with me, which were consistently becoming more and more challenging.

When the big day came, Dominique was happy, healthy and confident that he will conquer the distance. He completed his first half marathon (21.1km) on October 11,2015 in 2:01:13, which equates to a faster pace than his previous 10k.

Dominique never made excuses. Despite having a busy work and travel schedule, he never missed a workout.

This is what Dominique had to say about working with me so far:

“When I first met Yana, I had undertaken to explore triathlons and had spent a year teaching myself to swim.  In the process of re-establishing a running routine over 18 months, I had developed a solid case of Plantar Fasciitis which had become painfully debilitating. 

Rather that just saying,’ ‘tough it out’, Yana transformed the way I looked at running and for that matter all exercise.  Her consistent and progressive method of helping her clients build functional strength, flexibility and capability safely and in a thoughtful way, turned our sessions into the most enjoyable and challenging events of my week. 

Yana has the gift of gauging where you are at on any given day and taking you just beyond your expectations, “burning matches” as we started to say.  Over time that leads to some pretty impressive results.   

A short 6 months later, I ran a 1/2 Marathon, pain free at a pace faster than my previous 10 K pace and had completed 3 triathlons and several more competitive fun runs by the end of the year. 

Her encouragement and enthusiasm has taught me how to play again.  For this, I am eternally grateful.   I will always cherish what I have learned from her as it has spilled over into many other aspects of my life. 

Enter the Yana Zone, it lies just beyond your expectations.  You won’t regret it.

From the bottom of my heart,  THANK YOU YANA!!  I sincerely look forward to your continued inspiration to motivate my perspiration in 2016.”

I’m extremely proud of how far he has come (no pun intended). I want to take this opportunity to thank him for allowing me to be a part of his journey and I look forward to watching him achieve many other goals. I’m proud to not only call him my client, but also a great friend.

His amazing achievement and dedication also puts him in the semi-finals of my Get Fit & Win $1000 Challenge.

If you are serious about achieving your running goals, then contact me. I can help you too, just like Dominique and many people before him.

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.


In it to Enjoy It

Many times, we are told that no matter what we are doing, we should be “in it to win it”. We must always give it 110% or not do it at all.

After all, if you don’t win, then you really don’t matter. If you didn’t win, then that means you didn’t try hard. If you are not planning to and striving to win, then you really shouldn’t do whatever it is that you’re doing.

No, you’re not allowed to have fun. Fun is for “losers”. You must be serious all the time if you want to get anywhere and achieve anything.

Truthfully, the aforementioned thought process removes joy from your life and it really does not get you any closer to actually winning. What it does is it puts unnecessary stress and pressure on you-the kind that you don’t need.


It’s the kind of stress and pressure that cripples you and prevents you from actually performing your best.

Many studies show that if you genuinely enjoy what you are doing and are actively seeking to improve, then you will continue your upward trajectory.

When you are having fun and enjoying the process, you will without a doubt continue to improve.

When it comes to running, if all you’re doing is obsessing over PR’s and your pace, you will miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the mental benefits of the activity.

You will also miss out on the joy that a PR brings you because you will be too stressed out about it being a bit too slow, despite the fact that it’s your PR.

Yes, time trials, tempo runs and speed work are beneficial for improving your performance in future races.

However, constantly worrying about how your tempo run wasn’t fast enough and how your time trial didn’t go the way you wanted it to will ultimately not help your performance. Instead, you will psych yourself out and most likely do even worse. This, in turn, will lead you to further dissatisfaction.

There was a time when I was so focused on numbers and personal bests that I stopped having fun running. Every time trial became a race against myself where I wasn’t satisfied unless I improved by at least 20 seconds.

What I came to realize is that if I continued doing it that way, then I would not be writing this post (probably because I would have quit running altogether a long time ago).

The bottom line is, we must enjoy the process. When we celebrate minor improvements, we experience the true joy that running brings.

As soon as I started having fun running, my times improved and I actually started to look forward to every run rather than dread it.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving it 90% while at the same time maintaining your sanity and life balance. Even if 70% is all you can put into it, but you still love it, then no one has a right to call you a loser because your times aren’t fast enough.  If you’re not a professional runner, then don’t worry so much about your race times and go out there to actually enjoy the run.

The truth is, you’re getting out there. You’re having a good time. You’re taking part in an activity that’s healthy for you. Improvement will come in due time.


My 5 Takeaways from Usain Bolt’s “Faster than Lightning”

A while ago, I finished reading Usain Bolt’s autobiography called “Faster than Lightning.”

Ever since I first witnessed Usain Bolt winning multiple Olympic gold medals, I became more inspired. For a long time, I’ve been wanting to see what goes on inside his head in order to learn how champions think.


I wanted to know what he went through to get to the top, in order to understand what it takes to continuously get better, faster, stronger.

This book was definitely an inspiring eye opener.

The way Usain Bolt faced his challenges was nothing short of admirable. He persevered in times when most people would have given up.

First, he was diagnosed with an unusual back condition that derailed his training. Then, he was in a potentially career-ending car accident in 2009 if he had not been lucky enough to escape serious injuries.

He is definitely a role model to many. Although realistically the majority of athletes may not reach his level of success, fame and fortune, we can all learn something from him that will help us all get better.

Below are my takeaways from the book.

1. Relax before races. Worrying about a race or who you are competing against will not help you perform better. In fact, it will cause unnecessary stress, which is detrimental to your performance. You already did all the work leading up to the race, so why worry about any outcomes that you really can’t control?

2. Manage your injuries. As an athlete, you must learn to be aware of your body. If you catch an injury early enough and take care of it properly, you will prevent a disaster in the future.

3. The point of no return. My understanding is that if an athlete is healthy, then it’s acceptable for him/her to experience the point of no return a few times during their training cycle. This is the type of workout where you test your limits. You push yourself harder than you ever have before to see what you are made of. However, one has to be careful with this one and ensure adequate recovery after a session like this (example: intervals).

4. Believe in yourself. Regardless of what was happening in his life, Usain Bolt learned to believe in himself. He thought like a champion. It doesn’t really matter how good you are, if you love your sport, you will keep trying to get better. However, before you can do that, you have to believe that you can.

5. Compete and train with the best. You have to strive to be the cream of the crop, not cream of the crap. If you’re always competing with those who are weaker and slower than you, then you won’t get any better. Training and competing with the best will push you to step up your game.

Usain’s story is very inspiring and I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to learn about him. I give this book 5 stars for the inspiration and I encourage every aspiring athlete to read it. It’s entertaining, motivating and informative. The road to success is not always paved with gold.

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