Paramedic Mike

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I run to give youth suffering with mental illness a fighting chance

Why I Run for Youth Mental Health

Far too often in my career as a paramedic I see the ill effects of youth suffering from mental illness. Youth living on the street, bouncing from group home to group home, or living at home with family not knowing where to turn. I am often their first point of entry into the “system”. Many of them turn to the paramedic services and hospital emergency departments for help only to find their needs are not being met. The frustration of everyone from the patient and their family to myself and the rest of the health care team is evident. These people often don’t know where to turn for the help they desperately need.

The pre-hospital and hospital settings simply do not have the capabilities or the capacity to help them over the long term. Unfortunately, when they arrive at a hospital they are seen by many members of the health care system, treated for any immediate threats and then released without any long-term strategies for them to cope in the future. This situation then has a turnstile effect of them being seen, treated, released, relapsed and repeat. This in fact hinders their recovery. They have no idea of the other help that is out there and available for them to turn to in their time of need. I was very happy to find out that there is a program to help these people and their loved ones navigate through the system and find the proper services they require. I was also happy to find out there is a way I can help.

RBC Run for the Kids allows me to raise awareness and much needed funds for the Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook. I run to give youth suffering with mental illness a fighting chance to get the help they need to set them on a path to wellness. I run for the kids to help end the stigma and bring more awareness to mental health illnesses. I run for the kids because our kids are our future and sometimes they need a helping hand to get to where they need to go in life.

Mike van Mil

Mike van MilMike is a Primary Care Paramedic for 2 GTA services who is training for his first full marathon with his wife. His job exposes him to the effects of youth mental illness, so he is eager to make a difference through fundraising, running, promoting the event, and helping you reach your running goals. Contact Mike for a cheer squad, support and tips from his own learning experiences!

View more RBC Run for the Kids Ambassadors.

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Why I Chose STWM As My First Marathon And How I Plan To Get There!

TORONTO June 18th 2015. Digital Champion Mike Van Mil took up running after hearing about all the achievements of his runner friends and the camaraderie of the running world. A year ago he set the goal of running the Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half-Marathon and he hasn’t looked back since! When Mike’s not running, he works full and part time as a paramedic in the GTA. You can also find him at the hockey rink and dance studio cheering on his two children or enjoying family trips to Disney. Connect with Mike on Twitter, Instagram, and his blog.

Why I Chose STWM As My First Marathon And How I Plan To Get There. By Mike Van Mil

Firsts are amazing things aren’t they?  First love, first kiss, first house, first child, first car… This could go on forever.  All significant times in your life that you will remember for the rest of your life.  And if you have any control over when, where and how they happen, you do everything you can to make sure they are special and shared with your family and friends.  So when it came time to select my very first marathon the choice was easy. Probably the only easy thing about running my first marathon!  I wanted my first to be right here at home where my family and friends could cheer me on!  A marathon where I was comfortable and familiar with my surroundings, the route, and the organizers.  There are quite a few marathons in the GTA and I needed to find one that suited me and my needs.  The choice for me actually came quite quickly and easily.  I selected the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for a few reasons:

1. I have already established a relationshipMike Van Mil Blog Image 1with Canada Running Series as a Digital Champion for the 2015 Toronto Yonge Street 10k. This means I already have a good idea of the high caliber races CRS puts on and the amazing management team they have to ensure the whole process, from sign up to race day, goes off without a hitch.

2. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is held right here at home which makes it easy for my friends and family to come cheer for me on race day.

3. This race fits very well with my training goals and race calendar.

4. The course is quite flat and runs right along the lake, which will mean cooler temps and inspiring views!

So how the heck am I going to stay motivated over the next 4 months to get longer and longer runs in, without feeling daunted or overwhelmed? Self doubt has a nasty way of creeping into my brain sometimes, trying to take over my thought process. This is where motivation and visualization have to kick in.  My biggest motivation when I’m training is to visualize running the marathon and to remind myself that I need to be prepared for it, both in my legs and in my lungs.  The only way to prepare is to start months ahead and just run!  I will get the miles under my belt, gradually increasing my distance every week.  For me, the body is kind of like a sloth; it is very slow to react and because of this you need to tax it slowly over time, with increasing levels of exertion. Thankfully I really enjoy running! It is a wonderful stress relief for me after a busy shift at work.  I also find having a running partner or group greatly improves motivation. For me it’s my wife.  Since we do a lot of our races together, we are on the same training plans. We lift each other up and keep each other motivated.

To be completely honest, I don’t really know the first thing about training for a marathon!  For all my past races my training really had no plan or structure.  It simply involved getting out when I could and gradually increasing my mileage and run/walk intervals.  I think, though, that training for a marathon, which is twice the distance I’ve ever completed, requires a plan and a structure to be successful.  The plan I have selected begins on July 1st and slowly builds from there. It starts with 3 runs per week and slowly progresses to 4 runs per week. I will admit that I am a little daunted by the structure, the miles, and the amount of time required in the last few months of the plan.  If you don’t know a lot about me, I work a full and part time job with 12 hour shifts.  That presents a whole set of challenges to my training as well as my family life, but that’s a whole topic for another time.  Suffice it to say I need to buckle down, not make excuses, and find the time to get my training runs in, while still fulfilling all my other obligations.

“Make time for the run; the run will not make time for you!”

Mike Van Mil Blog Image 2I am really looking forward to this whole adventure.  I am excited to see where this will bring me when it’s all done.  I may love it and I may hate it but I am trying to leave expectations at the door and see what happens.  I have chosen not to set a time goal for myself either. With this being my first marathon I really want to just experience 42.2k without the pressure of abiding by a time.  I’m sure there will come a time in the future where I will set marathon time goals for myself, but for now I’m going to ride this train and see where it takes me.   I don’t doubt that there will be ups and downs and I am not afraid to share them with you. My hope is that one of you may also have the same concerns or issues that I do and you will take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.  If you are, please let me know because I also take comfort in knowing that what I am experiencing throughout this journey is normal.  I truly believe that this is going to be one of those firsts that I will remember for the rest of my life!  I am so thankful that I get to experience it right here at home with my closest family and friends!  Thank you Canada Running Series for giving me that opportunity as well as the ability share my experience with all of you!

#KeepSmilin :)



5 Quick And Healthy Post-Run Snacks

TORONTO February 2nd 2015. Digital Champion Mike Van Mil took up running after hearing about all the achievements of his runner friends and the camaraderie of the running world. A year ago he set the goal of running the Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half-Marathon and he hasn’t looked back since! When Mike’s not running, he works full and part time as a paramedic in the GTA. You can also find him at the hockey rink and dance studio cheering on my two children or enjoying family trips to Disney.

5 Quick and Healthy Post-Run Snacks. By Mike Van Mil.

I’m at the grocery store the other day and I see all these “snacks” marketed to people like me who are looking for a quick fix after a good, hard training run. First thing I do is flip over to the nutritional chart and I can’t believe what I see! Most of these things have more sugar than your average chocolate bar! I quickly put them back on the shelf and move on, but I’m still hungry! What do I do now to fill the post-run hunger gap? Bring on my wife! She is the one who keeps me on the straight and narrow when it comes to what fuel I put in my body and I really have to give her credit. She has found quite a few post-run snack options for this running couple that we can make at home. These snacks are quick to prepare, healthy, and use natural ingredients that you can easily find at your local grocery store.

Since they work for me, and are quite yummy, I thought I’d share with you my top 5 snacks that I turn to when I need a little boost:

Handful of Nuts#5 Handful of plain, unsalted nuts:

My favorite nut mix is called Yuppy mix. It has smarties included in it which I love but they do increase the sugar content so I try to limit how often I buy that kind. This mix is called Sierra Mix and I found it in my grocery stores bulk section. It has a great variety of nuts in it including raisins and dried cranberries for sweetness. It’s a great source of protein.

Empty the Fridge Shakes#4 ‘Empty the Fridge’ shake:

I really like these shakes because I can mix up the flavor and ingredients and clean out the fridge at the same time. The staples are 2 cups of frozen mixed berries, two large handfuls of spinach, 4 tablespoons of soft tofu (plain or flavored) and about a cup or more of unsweetened almond milk until you reach your desired consistency . I also like to add a spoon of chia, salba, or wheat germ. Then look in for fridge for things like cucumber, zucchini, cauliflower, etc and this is where you can really get creative and mix things up! I find I enjoy these more when I change ingredients so it’s a different shake all the time.

Veggie slices with hummus#3 Veggie slices with Hummus: 

This one is pretty self-explanatory. One thing I can suggest is to try and make your own hummus. There are lots of easy recipes out there like this one that you can make in 5 minutes or less. However, when time is sometimes of the essence, I will opt for the store bought kinds and chose different flavors. The hummus shown here is a garlic flavor.

apple slices with peanut butter#2 Apple slices with cinnamon dusted peanut butter: 

This is one of our favorites since it’s so quick and so yummy! Simply slice an apple or two, spoon out some peanut butter (preferably the natural stuff), then sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Presto! You can even switch it up by trying almond butter or cashew butter and experimenting with different spices on top like cocoa, nutmeg or ginger.

Peanut butter balls#1 Peanut butter balls:

This one is my all-time favorite. It requires a little more prep-time and works better when you prepare them ahead of time, but trust me, you won’t be able to stop eating them! There are lots of recipes for Peanut butter balls out there,  but these bad boys were made with 1 cup of oats, ½ cup of peanut butter (natural is better but any kind will work) 1 teaspoon of chis seeds, 1 teaspoon of flax meal, and 3 teaspoon of coconut flakes. The beauty of these is that you can really mix them up by adding more or less of one ingredient as well as trying new mix-ins depending on your supplies or tastes.

I hope you find these as yummy and useful as I have! This is just a small selection of the infinite amount of choices out there but these are my top 5. Good luck with your #TYS10K training and don’t’ forget to hit me up with your training progress! I’m always around for a #HighFive, word of encouragement or my personal experiences so don’t be afraid to contact me on Twitter or Instagram!


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