The beginning of Craig Hyland’s journey into the world running has been repeated many times by other guys looking to impress a girl. “A girl I was interested in was a runner,” says Craig, “and like most guys, I wasn’t going to let a little thing like the fact that I hadn’t really run more than 500 meters before deter me.” Once Craig started running, he found it quite addictive. “It’s become a way for me to decompress, a way to challenge myself, while improving my overall fitness.”
Now running two to three times per weeks, Craig ran both the Ottawa Half Marathon (2:05) and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon (1:59). “I find that my pre-race preparation is much more mental than physical,” he says. “I visualize myself running strong, pushing hard, and crossing the finish line. I’m a firm believer that if you get yourself into the right mental space, your body will follow. Of course I have to admit that I also indulge in an extra large pre-race coffee too.”
While he’s currently enjoying some down time after last year’s season, Craig has his eyes set on running the full 2010 Ottawa Marathon at the end of May. “I plan to start training for Ottawa in the spring,” says Craig. “I’m running it strictly for the personal challenge of completing the marathon distance, and frankly I’d would just like to finish while still standing.
Among Craig’s fondest running memories is when he ran his first half marathon in Ottawa in 2008. He remembers approaching the final hill nearly two kilometers from the finish line and having every fibre and muscle in his body telling him to quit. After digging deep and pushing himself through that final obstacle, he was able to complete the race. “The desire to push past the mental and physical barriers that we think we have is one of the greatest rewards of running,” says Craig. “The feeling of going one more kilometre longer than we think we can. I think every runner has had the feeling at some point of letting themselves down. That they didn’t push as hard or as far as they could have, and sometimes we just don’t have it in us. But conversely, I think we have also had the experience of running faster and further then we ever thought we could.”
At last year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon, Craig decided to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society as part of his training for the event and in memory of family members who fought the disease. “It was definitely a great feeling to combine a sport that I love with the opportunity to give back to the community,” says Craig who ended up raising more than $700 for the charity.
And it’s in that community aspect of running that Craig finds both motivation and inspiration. Like many runners, he feels that one of the best parts of running in Toronto is the people, whom Craig describes as “warm, open, supportive and motivated.” New runners who are just starting out also inspire him. “For a lot of us, running five, 10, or even 20 kilometres is no big deal,” says Craig. “But to see a person for whom even a couple of kilometres is a struggle, and yet find it within themselves to push past the their barriers, and succeed in their goals, is an inspiring sight.”
Craig’s top running tracks: