Aleka Lilius

Thursday, August 18, 2016

On who you are…
I love black coffee. Especially before a run. I don't function well without it. Ask my husband.
I am a wife, sister, daughter, dog mother, friend.
I am a runner. I run with the Foodrunners and Nike Running Club.
I recently quit all my desk jobs and went back to the hospitality industry full time. I needed to be moving and not sitting for 8 hours a day.
I took a vow in January to start the journey to finding the strongest, healthiest, fastest version of myself.
So far I'm doing pretty good. 

On running… 
Running. I will talk to anyone who will listen about running. I will try to talk anyone into starting to run. Running is my outlet. It is how I cope with the rest of my life. Its my way to reset and feel better about the day. It's my way to show myself that I can do what I had thought was impossible. 

On your First Run...
I was a runner in public school and high school. I was quite good but fell out of it. Since then I have dabbled in and out of running.
My first run back was in 2014. It sucked. It was hard. I had unrealistic images of how it was going to go. I could barely make it 1km before stopping. I kept going for 4km at a very slow pace. I wanted to die but I wanted more. 

On Street culture…
There are pockets of Toronto that are very accepting of runners. There are pockets of Toronto that are not. Try running through the financial district at 8:30 on a Wednesday morning. Its a game of dodge, weave and glare.
But in a whole I feel like the city is becoming more aware of the healthy living movement. Its apparent with healthy food places popping up all over the city. You can get juice delivered to your door through Ubereats... I did it :) 

On running culture…
Running culture in Toronto is amazing. The shear amount of running groups and crews is huge. You can join a group any day of the week at any time of the day and be welcomed with open arms. Running has brought some incredibly inspiring and wonderful people into my life who I wouldn't have known otherwise. Running is cool again. I remember when I used to get made fun of when I told people I was going for a run but now everyone is doing it. Now you can get random high fives from people or yelled encouragement from cars ( or other things)

On gadgets…
I use Nike+ as my tracking app for running. I used my phone as my "gadget" until this past winter when it was so cold that my phone would die mid run. So I started looking into a cheaper option for a watch. I found the TomTom multisport watch on amazon and I have never looked back. I can use it to swim, bike and run. Its great for track work outs and regular runs. The battery lasts for at least 4 regular runs. 

On injury…
My first year of running was riddled with injuries. I didn't really understand what I was doing. I was just running. I wasn't doing any strength, my cross training was pretty much non existent. My first real race I was training for was the Nike 15k in June 2015. I ran it injured. Then apparently didn't learn because I then started training for the Scotiabank half and had to stop training about a month out because of injury. I still ran it and pulled my hamstring during the race.
I took the time to go see Brittany at Runners Academy and really figure out what was happening to my body. And to take the time to properly heal. Fingers crossed but I have been injury free since December 2015. 

On achievements…
In January of this year I decided that enough was enough and I needed to figure out how to become the best version of myself. For 2015 I would run then eat a burger and fries and drink a beer because I had just run. Then I would get injured and not be able to run and still eat that burger and fries and drink all the beer. My weight was yo-yoing and I felt horrible. Then I finally decided that I needed to figure out my body and take care of myself. 

I took a running workshop that helped me develop a proper running stride and gait. I researched into what I should be eating for my hypothyroidism and changed my diet. I started doing strength, swimming and biking along with running while training for the Goodlife half marathon in May. I stopped drinking for awhile. I made running my priority. I made my body and mind my priority.
The goal for Goodlife was to run it under 2 hours.

Within that 4 month training cycle I signed up for a 5k race. The goal was 25 mins which if I did it would be the first time I would run under 5 min kms for longer then 1k. I came in at 24:12. That moment made me realize that what I was doing was working and it made me believe that I could achieve more then I ever thought I could. It made me feel like a runner.

The goal for Goodlife changed. A week before the goal changed to 1:48. Scary but doable.
I came in at 1:47:09- a 23 min PB from my last half marathon.
I call this my biggest achievement in running. 

On future goals…
Boston. Isn't that everyones goal? But first running my first marathon on October 9th in Chicago where the goal is to finish. From there, we start training to BQ. Then who knows, my friend is bugging me to run Comrades with her. 90k through South Africa, why not??
My future life goals are somehow to combine running, fitness and nutrition into a career. My husband is a chef and the plan is to someday open a catering/restaurant space together.

On your social media…
At the start of this journey I was a little scared to put myself out there. I know that my life has been a lot of ups and downs and I made it out the other side fairly unscathed. About a month into this I decided to try on the medium shirt that I had unrealistically choose as my size for the Nike run last June. For the first time it fit. I took a picture and put it beside an old photo of me at my heaviest. The response I got was so encouraging and huge. I started to track my progress. The people that came out of the woodwork to congratulate me or tell me I was inspiring them was helping me stay on track. It held me accountable. I started my blog soon after and told my story to the world. It was very healing and helped me shed my past and look forward. Social media is my outlet to show the world that anyone can do it. You just need to start. And ask for help if you need it. 

On Pink…
I own a pair of pink shorts.
On Pain…
Digging deep and pushing through the pain is something that I am learning. I'm also learning when pain is for real and I should stop or rest. Rest days are so important. 
On women’s running…
The women I have met while running are the best of the best. The friendships and the commradery that is felt between women in the running community is huge. There are healthy competitions of course but there are more high fives and pats on the backs then anything else. Women motivating women. Its a beautiful thing. Women should run because it makes you feel empowered. 

On the Past you…
Aleka version 1 is what I call my past self. I would tell her that life gets better. I would tell her that everyone has their shit. Everyone. You can choose to life with that shit or you can choose to shed it and move forward. 

When I die…
I want a huge party to celebrate what I have accomplished in my life. I want my ashes to be scattered down the Trent River where I married my best friend and biggest supporter. 


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