Category Archives: racing

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.

Race Recap: Goodlife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon 2015

Every year, this is the biggest running event in the fall in Victoria. I always look forward to doing it. The crowds are fantastic and the atmosphere surrounding the event is great.

For the past 3 years, I did the marathon (42.2km), but this year I opted to run the half marathon (21.1km).

I felt that after finishing the Boston Marathon, I had to take a break from the 42.2km distance in order to focus on running shorter races faster. Doing one marathon after another becomes too much so I had to switch things up.


I decided that until I run a half in under 1:25 (or a 10k under 40 minutes), I will not do another marathon. The reason being is that 1:25 seems to be the elite or sub-elite standard at most races and my PB is a couple of minutes too slow (1:28:15 at Comox Half Marathon 2015).

Since I was dealing with a few challenges (moving and an incident with a cyclist on the trails) leading up to this year’s race, I knew that I wasn’t in shape to get a personal best, but deep down I believed that I would get relatively close. After the incident with the cyclist, I took a full week off running, which I think was a good decision.

What I was most looking forward to was seeing how some of my coaching clients will do in this race. Two of them were doing the marathon and one was doing his first half. By the way…they all more than exceeded my expectations of them (but that’s for another post as I feel each of them deserves a separate one highlighting their amazing individual achievements).


After my week off from running, I decided that I was going to have fun at the race and that I won’t look at my Garmin more than 4 times in total. In the past, I would find myself staring at my wrist for the majority of the race and that’s not good.

In fact, some of my best races have been the ones where I didn’t stare at my wrist so much.

At the start, I saw many of my running friends. We all wished each other luck in the race and off we went.


The first 5k felt very easy. Then, the next thing I knew, I was already passing the 10k mark, in a shocking time of 41:06!!! What???

For those of you who don’t know, my 10k PB is 40:56, which, if my math is correct, is only 10 seconds faster than I was at the 10k mark of the half marathon. This means that I almost ran a 10k PB while racing a half marathon.

Shortly thereafter, I was at the turnaround point. Coming back was a lot of fun. I saw many familiar faces and at that point I was so happy that I wasn’t staring at my Garmin.

Instead, there I was, enjoying the moment rather than worrying that I only have X amount of minutes before I have no hope of running X:XX.

As I was starting the last km of the race, all I thought about was how much I enjoyed it. Truthfully, I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t want it to end.

To my surprise, as I approached the finish line, I saw that my time was 1:30:xx. It was my second fastest half marathon time ever. Most importantly, I felt no stress and no pressure to “perform”. Sure, it wasn’t 1:25 but at the same time, I was in the Top 100 overall finishers and over 3000 people finished behind me.


Shockingly, I ended up being 3rd in my age group (out of 263) and 24th female overall (out of 2008).

The good thing about finishing was that I was reunited with my friends and clients. Let’s also not forget the post-race food….delicious!! 🙂

2015 Season Recap: Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run Series

Yet another Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run season has come to an end. The series was previously known as The Q’s Victoria Run Series and 2015 was its first year with the new title sponsor.

In addition to changing the title sponsor, they also changed their charity partnership. For several years before, The Mustard Seed Food Bank was the charity partner. This year, it was KidSport.

Over the past few years, the series raised over $12,000 for charity and that’s awesome.

By the end of the season, I definitely got to know everyone. This was my 2nd year participating in the series and it was great to meet all the prolific racers who come back for more fun year after year.

Seriously, I think there is a good reason why some people have been racing every single race of this series ever since it first started.


Above: So excited to add another medal to my collection. 1st place in Age Group Overall.

I’m super stoked that I will be able to participate next year. Since I won my age category for the entire series, I won a free 2016 season pass. 🙂 Not only that, but my name also got drawn for a free pair of shoes. SCORE!!!


Above: Photo by Chris Kelsall from the Awards & Silent Auction Night.

The silent auction to celebrate the end of the season was excellent. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday night than be surrounded by like-minded people who love running as much as I do. All the money goes to charity and there are some really fantastic items to bid on.

What I really like about this series is that it’s not expensive to enter, the medals are great, and the atmosphere is awesome.

I swear, this is a very fun experience. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be super fast and super young to participate in the track races. Runners of all levels and ages are welcome!

If you’re reading this and wondering whether or not you should do it…I think you should.


Race Recap: Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run Series XC Meets 1 & 2 2015

Once again, I had the pleasure of taking part in the Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run Series Cross Country Running Meets. One of them took place on September 19th and the other on September 26th.

Although these events are smaller, they are still a lot of fun. Since there are not that many people, I find that I get to know everyone better and it makes for a very fun and social experience.

September 19, 2015

It was approximately a 6.5km mixed cross-country race. I had a lot of fun and ended up being the 3rd female across the finish line and 6th overall. You can find the full results here.


Above: My friend Alistair and I showcasing our Bronze Medals. Good times!


Above: This shot says it all. Thanks to Chris Kelsall for this photo. It clearly indicates that I’m just there for the “cardio party”. Running always makes me smile. It’s all about the experience.

September 26, 2015

It was another fun day at the office. I definitely enjoyed the run, despite the fact that I didn’t end up with a podium spot this time around. I was the 4th female overall. Full results are HERE.


Above: Clearly someone is having way too much fun. 😉


Above: Going for my next lap.

I always do the cross-country races for fun. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should do it. This is a good way to meet friendly people who also love to run.

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.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...