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Yafa Sakkejha winds her run down with Dolly Parton's 'Jolene'

Yafa Sakkejha is the founder of House of Verona, a health retreat in Blue Mountain Resort, Collingwood, Ont. Three years ago, she felt as if she were wearing cement running shoes, so she examined her eating habits. She transitioned from a North American diet to uncooked vegetarian meals, and now the 25-year-old runs with boundless energy.

When did you start running?

At 20 when I was a student at Queen's University.

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Where do you run?

Around Blue Mountain and across the flat parts along the top. In Toronto, I run the Rosedale Valley Road. Every Sunday, running is part of my triathlon training with friends. That portion is 20 minutes, and then on another day I go for an hour by myself.

What song gets your started?

Usher and Jay-Z's Hot Toddy has a great riff and a dirty beat that makes me feel like when I go out to a club. I like the back and forth between Jay-Z and Usher - it gives me a kick-start.

What gets you up a tough hill?

Kanye's The New Workout Plan is hilarious. He sings about working out and achieving goals. It's playful and light.

What track gives you an energy boost?

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In Rihanna's and Nicki Minaj's Raining Men, the bridge builds halfway through and the girls are having a dialogue. I like the content and lyrics and Minaj has the body I want to achieve. Lady Gaga's Born This Way and Cee Lo's F. You are energizing, too.

What tune concludes your run?

What's so beautiful about Dolly Parton's Jolene is she's putting her heart out there saying things to Jolene in a way that I can appreciate her vulnerability and honesty. This song is like a counterpoint to that pumped-up girl-power stuff.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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