Running vs Jogging: The Great Debate

Running vs Jogging: The Great Debate - Run Leelanau
Am I running or jogging in this photo? Trick question, I’m dying at the end of a particularly hot half marathon

For some unknown reason, I absolutely loathe the term ‘jogging.’ I’m part of a social media group that recently had a discussion about this. For awhile, I thought I was the only one who became irked when the term ‘jog’ was used instead of ‘run.’ The discussion that took place regarding the difference between these two words was extremely validating. These individuals were able to put their dislike for the term into words I couldn’t seem to find. Some examples include:

“It feels demeaning”

“Women are often called joggers while men are called runners”

“Jogging often has a connotation that indicates slower movement. Running carries a faster connotation.”

“If you run, you are a runner. Some people walk, some people run. What is jogging?”

What I take away from these comments is that people associate jogging with slower movement, and runners are faster. It is offensive to call those who run ‘joggers’ (IF the person’s preferred term is running). I’m certain most people do not use the word ‘jogging’ to be offensive, however, awareness of its connotation never hurts.

Interestingly enough, I had a therapist who constantly used the term ‘jogger.’ I would tell him about running and how it is my best coping mechanism, and when he would discuss it back with me, he always turned the word ‘run’ into ‘jog.’ I never thought to ask him why he did it. The significance here is that this therapist was not using the same words that I, the client, was using. As a therapist I can tell you – that’s therapy 101, yo. As a therapist, you use the terminology your client uses. It makes the client feel heard, validated, and understood.

So my takeaway here is that when speaking with a person who runs or jogs, use their preferred term for the activity. I dislike the term ‘jog’ but others may use it fondly.  Just like anything else in life, be respectful and strive to understand why someone uses specific, descriptive words. Who knows, maybe I’m overthinking all this terminology.

Do you call yourself a runner or a jogger? Why? And what are your thoughts on the difference between the words?

Planning a Leelanau County Fall Color Tour

Planning a Leelanau County Fall Color Tour - Run Leelanau

Tomorrow is the official first day of fall. We all know fall in Northern Michigan is the bee’s knees. The colors draw visitors in from all over. Sadly, the season can be short. It seems like the day after the colors peak I’m already shoveling my driveway. Therefore, there is little time to waste looking for the best places to take your fall color tour. Below are some of my favorites (click the links for directions):

Myles Kimmerly Park

This Maple City park is best known for its disc golf course. However, a little known secret is that disc golf courses make some of the best running or hiking trails. This area boasts 143 acres, most of which navigates through extremely dense woods.

Whaleback

The Whaleback Natural Area is located south of Leland. The views of Lake Michigan are similar to the ones at Clay Cliffs (mentioned below), but this separate hike is totally worth it. This area is about one mile of trails, but the top loop travels through the woods where you can peak Lake Michigan through the trees the entire time.

Clay Cliffs

Planning a Leelanau County Fall Color Tour - Run Leelanau

Clay Cliffs is located just North of Leland. It is about a 1.5 mile loop through the woods, with an extraordinary viewing area of Lake Michigan at the top. There is a steep hill, however, there is a separate loop at the bottom that is good for all hiking levels.

Alligator Hill

Alligator Hill is one of my favorite places to get some mileage on the trails. Located just outside of Glen Arbor, it has about 9 miles of various loops. All the trails are deep in the woods with spectacular colors. There is a Glen Lake lookout and a Lake Michigan lookout, both of which showcase miles of shoreline and some delightful fall foliage.

Empire Bluffs

Planning a Leelanau County Fall Color Tour - Run Leelanau

The Empire Bluffs are going to stun you. If they don’t, you need to get your eyes checked. Rolling hills through the woods lead to the most incredible overlook. To the overlook and back is only 1.5 miles, leaving plenty of time for all the photos you’re going to want to take.

Pyramid Point

Most people are familiar with the insane view at the top of Pyramid Point, but what is often forgotten about is the scenic trail leading to the top. Not only is the main trail completely surrounded with stunning trees, but take the side trail to the “back bowl” and climb to the top. The transitioning trees will be like nothing you have ever seen before.

Cathead Bay

Planning a Leelanau County Fall Color Tour - Run Leelanau

Cathead Bay is North of Northport and like many of the other areas listed above, it is a beautiful trail system that leads to Lake Michigan. (Do all trails in Leelanau County lead to Lake Michigan? It’s likely.) And if you didn’t already know, Lake Michigan shows some pretty stunning colors with the changing season as well.

These are just a few of my favorite Leelanau County Trails to catch the fall colors. What are your must-see areas for fall foliage?

 

 

So Long, Sweet Summer

So Long, Sweet Summer
Before Sugar Loaf posted all those “no trespassing signs,” (SIGH) it was one of the best places to hike and see the fall colors.

It’s a bittersweet time in Northern Michigan. Summer is quickly coming to an end. Kids are back in school, the days are shorter, the wind feels crisper. Don’t ask me how this happened, I swear that mid-April blizzard was just last week.

As we mourn the end of summer, we must also mourn the closing of another race season. In Northern Michigan, there are very few races held after October. Sure, there are a few fun ‘snow’ or ‘holiday’ themed races, but there are not races popping up every weekend the way they do in the summer.

I may be getting ahead of myself, as fall is still a top-notch racing season. Some may argue that fall racing is even better, as temperatures are cooler and more comfortable. Many of you may be anticipating a fall marathon that you’ve spent the summer training to complete. (And kudos to you if you’ve been training this hot, dry summer!) I, of course, do not have a fall marathon on my agenda because, as you may recall, I took the summer off of training and goals (psssst – I’ll have recap on how that felt coming up!)

Now that we have all that mourning out of the way, let’s celebrate. I love fall too much. Judge me, but I even had pumpkin flavored coffee this morning. October is the best month, don’t try to argue. I also love winter. (I know, I’m the worst). I’m looking forward to those crisp leaves crunching underfoot on trails, and I’m pretty damn stoked about the first snowfall of the season (have I caused you to unsubscribe from my blog yet?) There’s nothing better than running in the bitter cold, all wrapped up in [ridiculously expensive] layers and crossing paths with another runner. That calls for more than just the typical ‘runner wave.’ Running in below zero temperatures calls for a mutual fist pump into the air.

So yes, I am mourning the end of summer, but I am also beyond pumped for fall. I have several running color tours planned – the colors better be epic this year. Cheers to a new season of running, everyone!

 

Miles for Mollie

IMG_1517.JPG

Every so often, something happens that shakes the running community to the core. This summer, the story of Mollie Tibbetts is causing an uproar of emotion across the country. Being a woman in the United States is dangerous. It has been years since I have felt comfortable running without the accompaniment of another person or a weapon. I try as hard as possible to avoid running in the dark – and as the days get shorter, my running window narrows. Women everywhere are forced to alter hundreds of aspects of their daily living in order to feel safe in a world that is not designed to protect them; carry mace in your purse, travel in pairs, run inside on a treadmill, wear special nail polish that can detect if someone drugged your drink, etc. Society has been forced to create extreme measures to keep women ‘safer’ instead of holding offenders accountable for their actions.

The news of Mollie Tibbetts comes at a particularly difficult time for me. About four weeks ago, my neighbor broke into my home while I was in it. I cannot adequately express what if feels like to find someone climbing into your living room window while inside, home alone, completely unsuspecting. Since this occurred, I have been living in an exhausting heightened sense of awareness. I have trouble sleeping, I don’t feel comfortable going outside to mow my lawn or work in my garden, and I have a hard time not obsessing over “what if” situations. Sadly, this is not the first time someone has broken into my home. My home in Grand Rapids was broken into when I lived there years ago. As a therapist, I am well aware of what compounding trauma can do to a person.

So what does a therapist do when they are suffering PTSD? I practice what I preach – I attend therapy now. Despite working full-time with health insurance, my therapy co-pay is still $40 per session. I am paying $40 each week to try to regain some sense of safety and normalcy within my home. Yes, my mental health is worth $40, but it is ridiculous that the victim continues to pay for the actions of the offender.  Our world is not designed to prevent danger – it is designed for us to adjust to and prepare for potential threats. Just look at all the things women are expected to purchase in order to feel safe – mace, knives, whistles, alarm systems, it goes on.

I feel like this break-in is the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back,’ if you will. As a 30-year-old female, the daily sensations of not feeling safe are draining. Comments, catcalls, unwanted touching, obnoxious stares, and being mistreated are the norm for women. These tiny moments of everyday add up over time. They are enough to make us feel insecure within our surroundings. And then something catastrophic takes place – Mollie Tibbetts being killed while running or someone breaking into my home – that confirms our worst fears: we are not safe.

There is so much more to be said on this subject, but I’ll end on a positive note. My PTSD has not stopped me from running, despite the way it screams “this is not safe!” as I lace up my running shoes. Thousands of women are sharing their stories and continue to log the miles in Mollie’s honor. The running community is resilient and we will continue to run for Mollie and victimized women everywhere.

5 Reasons to Run the Dune Dash

35687079_1700215663425078_1317218086876610560_n
How awesome is this year’s Dune Dash poster?! Poster designed by Dale Crawford

It’s hard to believe that it is already mid-August. But you know what that means? Some of the year’s best races are quickly approaching. One of my summer favorites is the 4 Mile Dune Dash. The Dune Dash is the epitome of Leelanau County running. Here are five reasons why I’m excited to run the Dune Dash this year:

  1. Perhaps the most visited area of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is the famous Dune Climb. The Dune Dash starts and ends at the base of the Dune Climb. Therefore, participants can warm-up for the race by ascending the sandy hill and have a leisurely climb up after to enjoy the view. (Do ittttttttt)
  2. This race takes place on the smooth Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Runners and walkers will be submerged into the deep forests of the National Lakeshore. And bonus: ALL proceeds from this race benefit the Heritage Trail. Keep updated on the happenings of this excellent trail system here.
  3. The Dune Dash organizers are giving away a Yeti Cooler this year. Be there or be square, because you know you need something to put your post-race beers in.
  4. This course is mostly FLAT. (I mean, there are a view slopes, but nothing worth mentioning). So bring your speed shoes – this is a fun race for going all out.
  5. This is a 4 Mile race. How many organized 4 milers exist? I can’t think of any others. This unique distance is fun because it is longer than a 5k, but still not too long where you need to spend the full day recovering. (Think, energy leftover for the Dune Climb after!)

 

This year’s Dune Dash takes place on August 18th at 9AM. Register here to participate in this awesome event.

Plogging!

Plogging! Run Leelanau
On a positive note, I was 10 cents wealthier after my run. Who says I can’t get paid to run?

Plogging! The newest sensation. At least, the fact that it has a name is new. Courtesy of The Skimm, I learned that plogging is the act of picking up trash while running. Heck! I do this everyday. I love that it is now becoming a more widespread phenomenon and gaining attention. Clearly so many people do it that it is deserving of its own name.

Rumor has it, the health app Lifesum has a feature that helps people keep track of the amount of litter picked up. I haven’t personally checked this out, but it sounds awesome. Let me know if you look into and if it is as cool as it sounds.

As you may know, one of my biggest pet peeves is finding the beautiful area I live in full of trash, carelessly discarded. The other day I found a Wendy’s bag and several wrappers on my run. Mind you, Leelanau County does not have a single fast food restaurant. So as I stood there seething, I looked up Wendy’s on Google Maps. The closest one was 23 miles away. You couldn’t find a garbage can in 23 miles?? Are you tossing the bag out your car window as you get close to home so your spouse doesn’t know you snuck some fast food?  (I’m onto you) Hell, it’s hard telling why people litter.

I also come across a ton of discarded beer cans on my runs. Largely they are cans of Bud Light, Busch, and Miller Light. I, of course, have come to the official conclusion that people who litter drink disgusting beer, (ahem, domestics). Finding these discarded cans off the side of the road leads me to believe that some open intox tickets should be distributed in my hood.

The other day I even ran by a mattress tossed into some grape vines on the edge of an orchard. A freaking mattress. What. This is not something I could “plog.” I could not pick up a mattress and carry it to the trash while running, sadly.

If everyone who ran participated in plogging, perhaps we would have a significant reduction in trash lingering in nature. I wish plogging didn’t have to exist and people would stop littering, but at least there is something we can do to help offset it. I recommend gloves and some reusable plastic grocery bags. And when I say I recommend gloves, I insist on gloves. That shiz is gross.

I Meant to go to the Gym Today

IMG_0831

I meant to go to the gym today. My bag was packed and placed in my car.

I meant to go to the gym today, but then I spent 8 hours at work. The thought of doing anything else inside was too much to bear. After all that time in an air-conditioned building, I couldn’t bring myself to spend more time in a temperature controlled environment.

I meant to go to the gym today, but I zoomed home instead. Gym bag at my side, glaring at me with judgment. I thought about turning around,  my monthly gym bill weighing heavy on my mind. But with my windows down, I could feel the 80 degree weather and sunshine pouring in.

I meant to go to the gym today, but I traded the air conditioning in for the sun. I opted for nature therapy instead of a crowded room. I rode my bicycle to the beach. I swam Omena Bay and rode around the Omena Point. The fresh air and adrenaline brought energy that I wouldn’t have gotten inside. I live in the most beautiful place in America and this kind of weather is something we get three or four months per year. Trails, open roads, and clean water surround me. I would have been a fool to spend that time inside.

I meant to go to the gym today and I am so glad I did not.

 

Heroin, Food, and Running: What’s your Drug of Choice?

IMG_0398

I started Run Leelanau because I love where I live and my favorite way to explore this area is by running. My daily runs are full of beauty – much of which I showcase via social media. However, Northern Michigan is not without its flaws. This region, just like (literally) every region in the United States, is deep in the throes of the opiate epidemic.

As someone who works daily with people who suffer from addiction, the amount of judgment and lack of empathy from the general public is horrifying and disgusting. Every time an overdose is reported in our local news, the comments section is full of ridiculous statements like, “Natural selection,” “You can’t fix stupid,” and “Poor parenting leads to heroin addiction.” It makes me want to rip my hair out. Just typing those sentences out is making me clench my jaw to a point where it hurts.

People who display anything but sympathy or empathy for an addict are uneducated, small thinkers, and sad.

And yes, I am comfortable making that bold, generalized statement about people who judge addicts. Because the truth is, those who are judging the opiate addicts are likely facing an addiction of their own. Research has shown us over and over that addiction, no matter the substance, impacts our brains similarly.

Please note that people can be addicted to:
Drugs, food, exercise, gambling, social media, attention, television, video games, sex, shopping, work, and the list goes on, and on, and on.

It’s easy to say I am addicted to running. I get a boost in my mood after a run and crave it regularly. But I’m not foolish enough to think my only addiction is running. I’m well aware of the dopamine spike I feel when I eat an ice cream cone or some other excessively sugar-based item. In fact, food used to be my coping mechanism. I weighed around 200 pounds when I was 14-years-old. The difficulty with food addiction is you can’t ever actually quit – you just have to manage and maintain. My current relationship with food is much more reasonable, as I realize the importance of eating for fuel and have developed a greater sense of control. But I still live in a culture that uses food for everything – celebrations, dealing with sadness, family functions- it’s often the foundation for many gatherings and events.

So many Americans are addicted to food. Our obesity rates speak for themselves. The CDC reports that 70.7% of American adults are overweight. A good section of that percentage can be explained by food addiction and eating habits. The way opiates impact the brain is similar, but exponentially greater. When we eat or exercise, dopamine gets released and tells us to keep doing the thing that released it. The brain wants more of what made us feel good. With substances like opiates, excessive amounts of dopamine is released – far more than what is released during a natural behavior that causes pleasure (such as eating or exercise). This flood of dopamine causes the brain to completely rewire itself. After lengthy and repeated use, the brain may not produce dopamine naturally anymore and requires more and more of the substance to produce it.

So before you go judging a heroin user for their addiction, take a very good look at yourself and consider what your addiction may be. If you cannot display empathy for an addict or their family, keep your thoughts to yourself. Like I said, I love where I live and that love helps me continue to advocate for those who need our support.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with an addiction or mental health disorder, there is help readily available 24/7.

Local resources include:

Third Level Crisis Center 231-922-4800 – Available 24/7. If you don’t want to talk on the phone, you can also use their text line: 231-480-0292

Catholic Human Services (Mental Health and Addiction) 231-947-8110

Munson Behavioral Health (Mental Health and Addiction) 231-935-6382

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health (Mental Health and Addiction) 231-922-4850

And of course, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

 

A Summer without Goals

A Summer without Goals - Run Leelanau

Summer summer summer time! In my previous post, I mentioned that I didn’t have any races of significant distance on my radar. I’m signed up for many summer races, but have absolutely no goals set for these races. It’s liberating, thrilling, and terrifying all at the same time.

As a [fairly] competitive individual, I always have a time or distance goal set for specific races on my agenda. This summer, I do not. My plan is to run when I want, where I want, for how far I want, and at whatever pace I want. No pressure (Say whaaaaaaaaaat?) There will be days that I go fishing instead of running. Sometimes I’ll ride my bicycle to a brewery instead of running. Other days I’ll run 13.1 just because I want to. I’ve had a goal on my agenda for as long as I can remember. When I’m ready to set a goal again, I want to be eager to work for it. And I’m just not there right now. Right now, I don’t care if I run a 3 hour half marathon this Saturday. I don’t care if I walk, socialize, or do cartwheels down the hills (JK, I can’t do a cartwheel to save my life).

Knowing me, I’ll be itching to set an unreachable goal by July. However, I’m absolutely pumped to have such little pressure on myself for the summer. I need some balance and in order to achieve that, I’m going to take a break from my competitive side and run just for the sake of running again.

As an adult who works full-time, I can’t take an actual “summer vacation,” so this is going to be as close as I can get. A little less pushing, a little more relaxing. Happy summer 2018!

5 Reasons the Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon is the Bee’s Knees

5 Reasons the Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon is the Bee's Knees - Run Leelanau
When you cross The Narrows, you’re in the homestretch. How’s that view for the final push?

Believe it or not, I do not currently have a race that is of significant distance on my calendar. However, I am very excited for the next race that is on my calendar: The Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon! This year, it falls on June 16th. Hands down, this is one of my favorite half marathons of all time (do I say that about all of them? Hmm…) Anywho, the following 5 reasons are why I.LOVE.THIS.RACE.

1) It starts and ends right in the middle of Glen Arbor

As in, you should probably get yourself a great glass of wine from Cherry Republic after the race. Or, if you’re a beer fiend like myself, check out their brand new brewery and tap room! Or, stop by Art’s Tavern for a burger and their huge selection of beers. Or…or…or…

2) It’s so incredibly beautiful

I know, I know. I say that about every race. I could be running through a sewer and think it’s beautiful simply because I’m running. But this one is for real. Runners tackle the circumference of Big Glen Lake. And yes, this includes the ascend of Inspiration Point. Come on, with a peak named Inspiration Point, you know it’s going to be good.

3) Hills! But not too many…

This race has a monster hill (see reference to Inspiration Point). It’s the kind of hill you can run up, but some mean power walkers may pass you (oh, just me?) There are a couple of other smaller hills as well, so you finish feeling accomplished but not dead. Perfect combo, right?

4) The Narrows

Towards the very end of the race, runners get to cross the iconic Narrows. Big Glen is on your right and Little Glen is on your left. And of course, The Sleeping Bear Dunes‘ famous Dune Climb waves at you majestically as you run by. This may be even more inspiring than Inspiration Point! As it’s in the last leg of the race, it’s the perfect boost to get you to the finish line.

5) Summer Solstice!

Obviously from the title, this race always falls near the summer solstice. It literally kicks off the beginning of the summer race season. What is better than celebrating the start of summer with a half marathon? NOTHING IS BETTER, DUH.

So do I have you convinced yet that this is the best half marathon ever? Thought so. I’ll be there, so join me! If the half marathon isn’t your favorite distance, they have a 5k option as well. Hope to see you there!