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March 13, 2017
I’m originally from Russia but grew up in Canada. When I first came to Canada, I could barely speak a few words of English and had to go to school less than a week after landing in Canada. That was definitely the first of many challenges that I overcame. I went from being that girl that people told to stay away from sports because I wasn’t good, was made fun of and that was picked last in gym class to becoming the NWASAA zone champion and competing at the Provincial level in Track & Field and Badminton, ultimately becoming the Female Athlete of the Year in grade 12.
I focused on athletics and academics while in school. At the time, it was my dream to be on the University running team. However, that dream got crushed by an injury where I could not run for a few years. Then, one day, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started my recovery process. Unable to afford a trainer, I had to figure it all out for myself.
I went from barely being able to run a block without walking to running my first TC10k in 2012 in 43:35. That same year, I qualified for the Boston Marathon for the first time. In 2013, I ran the length of Vancouver Island to raise funds for the SPCA, Mustard Seed and Recreation Integration Victoria.
Since then, I’ve worked with other charitable organizations like Wounded Warriors Canada, Help Fill a Dream Foundation and the United Way. In addition to being a running coach, I’m also a nationally published fitness writer. My work has appeared in Canadian Running Magazine, Independent Sports News, CVV Magazine, and Ageless Living Magazine.
Although I no longer coach full-time, I’m most passionate about using fitness as a way to fundraise for charitable organizations and create a positive impact on the community. I plan to organize more charity boot camps, charitable run clinics and donate a percentage of profits from any of my online coaching programs to worthy causes.
Back when I was in Junior high school, I got cut from every team and got bullied relentlessly for not being athletic (among other things). So, I decided to try long distance running and it was definitely not a smooth road for me to say the least. I wanted to get better and I really wanted to be athlete of the year.
By the time I got to high school, I had got very good at distance running and went to provincials with the goal of being on the University running team. Also, finally received the Athlete of the Year Award in Grade 12.
Unfortunately, that dream again got derailed due to an injury right before university which left me unable to run fast for several years and I gained weight. I was determined to get back into my pre-injury fitness level as well as achieve some major goals. Ultimately, my goal is to inspire others to strive to reach their goals because if I can do it, then so can they.
I want people to recognize that if they really want to do something, nothing and no one can stop them. Fitness is such a personal thing for every individual. Not everyone has to be an ultra marathon runner but everyone can do something and there are always plenty of goals to tackle.
I think that the biggest secret is believing in my clients long before they start to believe in themselves and bringing out the best in them. Another secret is, of course, the knowledge, research and education that I’ve put into my programs.
My running programs are designed to suit each person’s individual fitness level, work/life/family schedule, as well as goals they want to reach. It’s important to take the time to get to know the clients, listen to them, their personal challenges and their potential barriers to success. I get into the “why” they strive to reach their goals as opposed to simply focusing solely on the “how”. It doesn’t matter if I’m coaching a group of people or individuals because I strive to make it fun and convenient for them by delivering a positive experience.
Crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2015. It was a big deal for me because I’ve wanted to do it since I was 15 and first saw the race on TV. The injury that derailed me before going to university at one point made me feel like there was no way that I could ever run a 10k again, let alone qualify for the Boston Marathon.
When I ran my first 10k after my injury, my time was 1:30, which was a far cry from qualifying for Boston. However, six months after that, I signed up for the TC10k and finished in 43:35, which was miles ahead of my predicted finish time of 55 minutes.
Prior to that, there was a point in my life between my injury and year two of university where I was broke, injured and uncertain of the future in every way. That same year I ran the TC10k in 43:35, I also qualified for Boston for the first time running my first ever Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon, which came as a shock to me. Therefore, the Boston Marathon marked a big turning point for me and is proof that previous setbacks weren’t fatal or final.
I often stop and think about all the things that are going well for me and that gives me enough reason to smile. Having accomplished goals before my 26th birthday that I didn’t know I ever could make me very grateful for what I have now. I always have something to work on, something to strive for and the thought of “continuous improvement” inspires me.
I think the biggest piece of advice I would give them is to not compare their journey to the start line with anyone else’s. Everyone who attends the TC10k for the first time has an amazing story as to why they chose to be a part of the event.
It’s very important to enjoy the journey leading up to the race and enjoy the entire experience rather than focusing solely on pace and numbers. Regardless if you run a 7-minute mile or a 14-minute mile, you are still a runner and you should be proud of your accomplishment no matter what.
Thank you. Powerful is definitely not the word I would use to describe myself…HAHAHAHA. I would consider myself to be a continuous work in progress. I also tend to think about what I’ve overcome, and I try to relate to what other people are going through. Being able to relate to people of all walks of life I think is the key to my being able to inspire them. When you cross that finish line, nothing will take that joy of personal accomplishment away from you.
Facebook: Yana Hempler Fitness (fitness page) and Instagram and blog