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Home / News / Calgary woman laces up to quit smoking

Calgary woman laces up to quit smoking

Val Yanke, right runs with Country Hills Running Room assistant manager Melissa Kendrick on Monday May 1, 2017. Yanke became an active runner and quit smoking through the Running Room’s Run to Quit program. Gavin Young/Postmedia Network
Gavin Young Gavin Young / Gavin Young

For 30 years, Val Yanke was a committed smoker.

Time and again, Yanke would try and quit, but inevitably resigned herself to a habit she said gave her a break from the world.

Then after three decades, the 55-year-old woman Calgary woman successfully quit smoking through an avenue she never thought to explore: running.

“I’m not a runner,” Yanke said with a laugh. “I meant to start exercising anyway, so I figured this would be a unique way to quit smoking. If I could learn to run at the same time, that’s a bonus.”

Learning of a now-nation-wide program called Run to Quit launched last year, Yanke took the plunge and signed up. She said the running sessions were excruciating at first.


Val Yanke gets ready for a run outside the Country Hills Running Room on Monday May 1, 2017. Yanke became an active runner and quit smoking through the Running Room’s Run to Quit program. Gavin Young/Postmedia Network

Gavin Young Gavin Young /

Gavin Young

“When you’re smoking, you think running for two minutes is going to kill you,” she said. “But when you’re not smoking, it wasn’t so bad. Every week it just got better.”

Coordinated through the Canadian Cancer Society, Running Room and the Public Health Agency of Canada, Run to Quit has helped more than just Yanke. In the program’s first year, 40 per cent of participants said they quit smoking completely, and almost half said they were running on average three times a week.

Starting out with discussion sessions, carbon monoxide testing and stop-and-start running clinics, Yanke said the goal is to quit smoking and tackle a five-kilometre run at the same time.

“I never dreamt I would be able to run for half hour straight, let alone 21 kilometres,” Yanke said. “Running has completely changed my life, and helped me appreciate how much more I can do not smoking.”

Completing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas last year, Yanke is now a full-time runner and even teaches at the Run to Quit clinic in Calgary.

“Not only was it huge accomplishment being able to run so much, but I don’t even want to smoke,” Yanke said. 

For more information, please visit: runtoquit.com

abrooks@postmedia.com

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