New Run Club Alert: Adidas Runners Toronto

Adidas Runners Toronto vanI know I’ve said again and again how incredibly fortunate Toronto’s fitness community is, but this latest news makes that statement all the more true. Just last week, Adidas Canada launched Adidas Runners Toronto—the company’s first such run club in North America—and I was lucky enough to be there for the inaugural run.

Adidas Runners Toronto inaugural run

Run clubs are the best place to meet like-minded friends. Here I am with fellow fitness blogger Johanna—go check out her website and follow her on Instagram for some serious #fitspo

Led by coach Rejean Chiasson (co-founder and head coach of Pace & Mind, and former head coach of Toronto’s Nike+ Run Club), with the help of a group of friendly and experienced run leaders catering to a variety of pace groups, Adidas Runners Toronto is a free run club for all levels that meets three times a week in various locations throughout the city.

Adidas Runners Toronto Coach Rejean Chiasson

Rejean Chiasson, creative director and head coach of Adidas Runners Toronto. This dude was the 2012 Canadian marathon champion, so believe me when I say he knows his stuff

Adidas Runners Toronto run leaders

Adidas Runners Toronto has a pretty stellar group of run leaders who encourage, inspire and make sure no one is left behind

Here’s the weekly schedule:

  • Tuesdays: Interval Training
  • Wednesdays: Boost Run (5- and 8-kilometre options)
  • Saturdays: Long Run (10- and 15-kilometre options right now, but these distances will vary from week to week)

Adidas Runners Toronto will set up shop in a new spot each week, making the run club accessible to more than just the downtown folk, and keeping things fresh for everyone. Their first stop was Coronation Park, followed by Riverdale Park East, and next week they’re moving on to Ramsden Park. For now, you can stay informed about location specifics and run routes by joining the Facebook group and/or following Adidas Canada on Twitter, but apparently there will be a full website down the road. Registration isn’t required at this point—just show up and keep an eye out for the Adidas van, which is equipped with a rotating selection of trial shoes, complimentary post-run fuel and plenty of space to store your bags. And if you’re coming straight from work and aren’t able to change before you arrive, not to worry. The van will either be parked near a bathroom or the crew will provide some sort of a makeshift change room for those who require one.

Adidas Runners Toronto shoe trialCoach Rejean promises to offer trail runs, hill training and scenic routes away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets at rush hour, and says he’s open to input from group members; the program isn’t set in stone, it’s evolving. He says he hopes to cater his programming to suit the needs of the group and the races they’re training for, and he’s looking forward to creating a run club that takes advantage of all that Toronto has to offer.

I’ve attended three runs with this new club so far, and I’ve really enjoyed the change of scenery, trying out some new shoes, meeting some new runners and seeing a lot of familiar faces, too. I already knew Rejean from NRC, but it’s obvious that he’s really in his element now, having the freedom to create the workouts himself rather than following instructions from a higher-up in the U.S. With Adidas, he really gets to put his expertise to use, and we all get to reap the benefits. Tuesday’s Interval Training session was particularly memorable as I haven’t done any speed work since April. It was tough. And for someone who just ran a marathon in May, I was feeling surprisingly out of shape. So I’m looking forward to getting out for speed work every Tuesday this summer and maybe even working my way into a faster pace group by the time SeaWheeze rolls around in August.

Adidas Runners Toronto group shotAnd now for some real talk: To be honest, I had been wondering when another big brand would swoop into the run club scene, following in the footsteps of the well established and much buzzed-about NRC that has practically taken over the world with its urban running movement—a stroke of pure marketing genius that also happens to have a hugely positive impact on the communities it infiltrates. I assumed it was only a matter of time before a rival brand attempted to follow suit. What I didn’t see coming, however, was the rival brand poaching NRC Toronto’s head coach, hiring NRC Toronto’s former photographer and scheduling its runs on the same days, at the same times, practically forcing us to pick a side. And I don’t blame them for doing it. At the end of the day, whether we like to acknowledge it or not, these big-brand run clubs are marketing tools meant to help boost the bottom line. But for us as consumers, as athletes, we don’t have to pick a side. We don’t have to replace our entire running wardrobe to join a different group or feel like traitors for taking part in both. We have the luxury of trying all of the different options and doing what suits our needs best. So whether you’re a slave to the swoosh or the three stripes are more your style, who cares? As runners, we’re all in this for the love of the sport. Let’s be grateful to these companies for offering us such fantastic training opportunities, but let’s not allow them to bring negativity and rivalry into our running community. We can leave that to the execs. Deal?

*All photos by Jess Baumung, courtesy Adidas Canada

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