Hi there! My name is Katie Hudson. During the day I work at Shopify as an offline marketer, and by night I run with Nike as one of their Pacers for NRC (Nike Run Club) here in Toronto. I also lead a fitness group every Thursday morning at Casa Loma called the Castle Runners. It’s an endurance training workout where we combine running with sprinting and body weight exercises. Needless to say, I keep pretty busy either running or working out. When I’m not running or working out, I’m eating. Seriously, I love food and I love to eat. Life is too short to not eat good food. If it isn’t obvious by now, food and fitness are two huge passions of mine, and I combine them into my creative outlet otherwise known as whyirun.co (check it out!).
I use to think that being fit meant being skinny. As an individual who grew up overweight most of my life, this is what I longed for, and strived to be. Luckily, during my early to mid twenties I realized that it was so much better (and healthier) to focus on being strong, and that being skinny was overrated and not necessarily healthy.
My Idea of optimal level of fitness & wellness is a combination of work-life balance, strength & endurance training, and clean eating - with some indulgences every once and a while. I’m a big believer in the 80/20 rule. Living clean and healthy 80% of the time, and giving yourself that other 20% for whatever makes your stomach smile (for me this usually consists of chocolate and/or wine).
I’m always striving to be a better version of myself, whether that is to be stronger, faster, or just eat cleaner.
This involves challenging myself constantly - because if you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done before. This means continuously pushing myself at the gym to lift heavier weights, training to run faster and father, and make adjustments in my diet as my body changes to give it everything it needs to support my active lifestyle.
I made a serious life/heath change about three years ago. At the time I had been slaving away at the gym and seeing zero results. It was frustrating, and I had had enough. I ended up getting a personal trainer, took a long hard look at my eating habits, and decided to start doing something I thought was once impossible: running. I quickly realized that my old workout routines were incredibly inefficient, and not surprisingly I was over eating (and not eating the right things). Once I shifted my training strategies, and challenged my body in new ways, I started to see some major improvements and changes. I was thrilled.
Once I had built up my endurance and cardio a bit, and finally gained some confidence - in March of 2013 I decided to join the Nike Run Club in Toronto and start running outside with others. At the time, it was one of the scariest things I had done, but I am so glad I did but that is when I fell in love with running, and in love with the running community here in the city. I started running once a week with Nike, but then quickly began running other days on my own. One of the things I am most proud of in terms of my fitness achievements was what happened in August of 2014: I was approached by Nike to become one of their Run Club Pacers. I was floored. They wanted me? The once non-runner to help lead and inspire others to run? I was honoured, and couldn’t wait to start.
At the moment I run at least twice a week with Nike for NRC (Nike Run Club), sometimes more if we have special events throughout the week. At NRC we cover distances between 4km - 25km per run, depending on the programming session. Then, every Thursday at 6:30am, I lead the Castle Runners, a free 30 minute workout group at Casa Loma. It combines endurance training through stair sprints, with body weight exercises at the top in the park. My other days of the week are spent at the gym lifting weights - usually 2 - 3 times a week. Or doing the occasional spin or yoga class.
I try to have a variety of exercise in my life, because I don’t want to just be constantly running.
If I only ran, I would wear down my muscles, and I would have a greater chance of injury. Being injured is never fun, so I try to avoid it as much as possible, which means strengthening my body in addition to all the wear and tear I put on it (ie. keeping a variety of exercise in my life - weights, yoga, pilates, spinning etc). This also includes rest days - which I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t do nearly often as I should, but I am starting to really emphasize it in my workout routines.
Right now I’m focused on getting back into weight training. I was really good about it before training for my marathon, and then running Chicago took over my life, literally. I was running 5 to 6 days of the week, and when I had the energy/time I would try and do some kind of strength or cross training to balance out my running. It was tough. After I ran my marathon, it actually took me a long time to get back into wanting to run or even train again, my body needed a serious break.
I’m getting back into weight training again because I want to increase my muscle mass and decrease my body fat percentage. When I first started in my fitness journey, my main focus was to lose weight. Now, I’m not as concerned about the number on the scale anymore, but rather what’s behind it.
Setting goals is the number 1 thing that keeps me motivated. Without goals I find I’m either not as motivated to train, or I just feel a little lost.
With goals, I have something to work towards. I’m one of those really nerdy people who love to make lists and goals, and get way too much satisfaction when I cross something off or achieve something. It’s like ok, that’s done, what’s next? It’s always about working towards something.
Currently I’m working on achieving a specific body fat percentage, as well as working towards unassisted pull ups and strengthening my upper body.
Exercising and taking my fitness/health seriously has not only given me more confidence and better self esteem, but it made me appreciate the body I have (even if it isn’t perfect in terms of our modern “societal standards"). You only get one, you must treat it well!
When I’m active, I feel so incredibly energized, and most importantly happy. ("Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy!" - Elle Woods). Exercise is my time for me. It’s my time where I can zone out, or work on my self, blast my favourite tunes and just do something I love. It’s an important part of my life and when I don’t exercise I can definitely feel the difference. I feel like fitness keeps me sane, and in positive mental health. If I’m having a bad day, feeling sad, angry or frustrated, working out always makes me feel better. It helps me focus and clear my head.
I think there use to be a big stereotype that girls should only do “light” exercise, whether that was sticking to cardio machines or aerobic classes, or doing Pilates/yoga. That was it, those were our choices to stay fit and healthy, because god forbid doing anything else would cause us to “get bulky” (read with sarcasm). Now luckily, we live in a society and a culture where it’s totally acceptable for women to be seen and accepted in a weight room. I love feeling empowered when I walk into a weight room, and the respect or sometimes look of awe from guys when they see I’m going to squat actual weight! or deadlift, or build my strength.
In my opinion, I think being strong and healthy is so attractive, and much better than being able to fit into a pair of skinny jeans. You are not defined by a number on a scale, nor the clothes you may or may not fit into!
We unfortunately live in a society where “image is everything” so women are constantly being exposed to unrealistic bodies that are sadly photoshopped. This leads to unhealthy habits, self esteem issues and poor expectations around what bodies “should” look like. Causing ripple effects for future generations.
Just because you don’t have the “right body type” does not disqualify you from certain activities, sports or fitness routines! I’m not your average runner, I don’t have the classic lean body type, and when I first started to run I wasoverweight. This played into my confidence and self esteem as I hated the way I looked when I first started to run, especially outside. It took me about a year and a half before I finally ran in my first pair of shorts because I was so self conscious about my legs.
I know there are lots of girls and young ladies out there who feel hindered or scared to start a sport, or fitness activity because of how they think they look. It’s so sad, and I just hope that they are able to eventually love their bodies, gain the confidence they need to just start, and grow from there.
One of the greatest parts of my job as a Pacer for NRC and Leader for Castle Runners is motivating others, and giving them the confidence to run. I know they can do it, they just need someone to believe in them. Because once you do, they will believe in themselves, and you see this spark, this change. That’s where they start to really dive deep into what is possible with their body. And that right there, is incredibly powerful.
Fitness is a fantastic way for young girls and women to build their confidence, self esteem, image, and leadership skills. It’s a way to build and interact with your community, make friends, and challenge yourself.
For me, running and outdoor workouts has made me into a strong leader and advocate for other people’s health. I help to inspire and motivate others to run. Whether that’s in person or over social media. I’ve had people reach out to me from Canada and abroad saying how I provide them motivation to get outside and get active. THAT is incredible, and still blows me away to this day. It makes me want to keep going, to keep pushing, and to keep challenging myself to be better.
To conclude, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes about running. For those who run, they get it. But often, those that don’t, just don't understand why we run, what it provides runners, and what it means to us. Here’s a little insight:
“That’s what running does to lives. It’s not just exercise. It’s not just achievement. It’s a daily discipline that has nothing to do with speed, weight, social status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, where you live, what car you drive, or whether anyone anywhere loves you. It’s about the slow and painful process of being the best you can be. That’s why the first step out of the door is always so hard. That’s when we choose between settling for average and being a superhero version of ourselves.”