Spring Fever

You’re lying to my face if you tell me you don’t have just a little bit of spring fever right now. As a winter enthusiast, I greatly appreciate all four seasons in our beautiful mitten. Who doesn’t love the beauty of a fresh snow fall and the way it makes road running less impactful on our old knees and bodies? Plus, as someone who sweats more than the average person, the colder air definitely helps to tone down the perspiration.

However, on February 20th, we experienced a sunny, 57 degree day. It was glorious. And it was a great reminder of what it feels like to go outside without being in pain (winter winds are harsh!) and it got me just a wee bit excited for spring.

Not only is spring the beginning of warmer weather and fewer layers, but it is the unofficial start to the race season! A few races that I refuse to miss this spring and summer include:

Traverse City Trail Running Festival – April, 27-28, 2018. This race is a great weekend extravaganza! I’m running the 50k this year for my first ultra, but the 10k relay is so much fun!

Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon and 5k – June 16, 2018. Running up Inspiration Point is the perfect way to kick off summer, duhhh .

Friends of Fishtown 5k – July 21, 2018 – This is a great race! It starts and ends in the heart of Fishtown and the hills in between are sneaky challenging. Pro tip: Get a sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty after.

Port Oneida Run – August 4, 2018. Choose between the 10k, 5k, and 4 mile race. The 10k is my distance of choice in this race. It is challenging, but takes you on the beach, through the woods, and all over Sleeping Bear’s beauty.

Spring Fever - Run Leelanau
Oooh summer races are coming!

The Dune Dash 4 Mile Race – Date still TBD, but last year it was held in mid-August. I love this race! It starts and ends at the famous Sleeping Bear Dune Climb. Check out my recap here.

Vineyard to Bay 15k – September 2, 2018. With a new distance this year! Historically it has been a 25k, 5k, and 25k relay. This is the first year that it is being run as a 15k. I can’t wait to see what the new course brings! My recap of the 25k can be found here.

Don’t fret, friends, spring is near. And pretty soon I’ll be complaining about running in the glaring sun and humidity, ha! What races do you plan to run this spring and summer? Are there any that I didn’t mention that I need to do?

 

 

 

 

Betsie Bay Frozen 5k

Betsie Bay Frozen 5k - Run Leelanau
Hoping for another FROZEN event this year

If you want to complete a race that will make you feel like a winter fanatic, look no further than the Betsie Bay Frozen 5k. This is hands down my favorite winter 5k. Only the hearty get out and race on the shores of Lake Michigan in the middle of February – and as it would turn out, there are a lot of hearty Northern Michigan runners.

Runners get shuttled from Frankfort’s Main Street to the top of Elberta’s scenic overlook. If you’re brave enough to turn your face toward the whipping winds of Lake Michigan, you’re in for a fantastic view. Runners then head down the hill and keep along the Betsie Bay, heading right back into Frankfort. Given that this race starts on a downhill and then is 100% flat after, it’s a great race to PR. Finishing fast is extra good in this scenario, because the shores of Lake Michigan are not particularly warm in February.

So I’ve discussed the awesomeness that is the actual race itself, however, the post-race giveaways are absolutely insane. The directors of the race do an incredible job of getting sponsors involved. The community completely backs this event and their support is very clear. Tremendous giveaways include gift cards to local establishments, baskets stocked full with useful and delicious items, as well as local attire that people actually want to wear.

If you’ve never done this race, I insist that you join me on Saturday, February 17th. Dress warm, make the mad dash through Elberta and Frankfort, then celebrate total winter badassery.

 

Training While Sick

A dreadful thing has happened. I can’t even bring myself to say the words, “I am sick.” Rather, I am “under the weather.” It came on Wednesday afternoon while I was at work. As a typical runner, I thought to myself, “I better get my long run in tonight before this gets worse.” I went out after work that evening with the intent of running 20 miles, AHA (against husband advice).

Fortunately, I was on a loop course instead of doing an out and back, because I could feel myself getting worse as I ran. I became fatigued and wondered if I could even finish my first loop. I did, slowly and agonizingly, then admitted defeat. Shortly after, I went to bed, thinking I’d feel tremendously better after a good night’s rest. FALSE. I woke up feeling worse. I’ll spare you my symptoms, but I felt extra stressed as I had already had my rest day that week.

After laying in bed for far too long, I decided to attempt to ‘sweat out’ my illness at the gym. It surprisingly helped. Three days later and I’m still not back to normal. I can’t bring myself to rest completely (I know, I know). I’ve been doing easy, 30-minutes runs these past few days. After yesterday’s I felt worse, after today’s I felt better.

Does anyone else feel like when they’re sick, that half the time going out in the fresh air for a run makes them better? I feel like I’m tricking my body; if I’m well enough to complete a run, I must not be sick. Silly, I know. So here I am, accepting defeat, I’m not going to get my 20-miler in this week. This is the first week of my training program that I have not completed each run as scheduled. Big sigh.

I know runners, including myself, are notorious for pushing limits on running when injured or sick. I am going to force myself to take an extra rest day so that I can complete my long run next week, along with every other planned run. The logic of resting when sick is obvious, but following through is the difficult part. Rest now, run later. Because if I don’t, I might have to rest for longer than just a few days.

Training While Sick - Run Leelanau
Bring on the chicken noodle soup! Photo credit: Campbell’s

 

Reframing

I’m a fairly optimistic person, but there are definitely moments where negativity sneaks in. If I’m not careful, I start to dread entire portions of my day and become irritable. One of my favorite quotes -oh wait, isn’t it called a mantra in runner speak? – Anywho, one of my favorite sayings is:

“Don’t treat a gift like a burden”

And we see this all the time. Something that we originally thought of as a gift eventually gets treated like it’s a giant pain. Work? Bleh. I don’t want to go to work today. But remember how grateful you were when you first got that job? What would your life look like if you didn’t have a job? Would you have a home? Would you be stressed about finances?

I would not survive without reframing. Reframing allows me to change how I look at situations to make them more positive. It allows me to see the benefit in doing things I might not want to do.

Reframing applies to most life situations, including running. (Of course!) On my long run days, I start to get anxious at work thinking about how I have to run 20+ miles in 10 degrees that evening. I think about how tired I am and how I’d much rather go home and stay on my warm couch than bundle up to run for an unreasonable amount of time. But I force myself to reframe. What if I was sick and couldn’t run? What if I lived in a dangerous area where I couldn’t safely run 20 miles? What if I had to run this long on a treadmill??? (Ultimate death) I worked for a long time to be able to run 20 miles. I reframe my thought process to think about how incredible it is that I can run a 20-miler after work and it doesn’t feel like a big deal.

Reframing - Run Leelanau
Running in 10 degrees and extra windy conditions. Instead of complaining about it, I think about how this weather will make me extra grateful in the spring.

I’m not saying reframing works for everything. As a social worker, I’m not going to ask someone with severe depression to “reframe and find the bright side in what you’re going through.” That’s a different beast. However, the art of reframing can make dreadful, exasperating tasks seem much more purposeful. Instead of saying, “I have to go to work today,” try, “I get to go to work today.”

Think about cleaning your home. Few people look forward to that task. Yet, I try to look at it gratefully. I have a home to clean. Not everyone can say that. I believe that gratefulness is essential to happiness. Reframing helps me to be more grateful in everyday life. So tonight, I am grateful that I get to run 20 miles after work. And I’m especially grateful I have a warm home and a pizza to come home too when I’m done.

18 Common Runner Pet Peeves

17 Common Runner Pet Peeves
Stanley and I share a patience level. Gif credit: Imgur

I recently had the joy of participating in a conversation with runners about their biggest pet peeves within the running world. Below are a few that we discussed. Please feel free to comment and add pet peeves of your own. These crack me up.

 

  1. When someone refers to any distance as a marathon. For example, “I ran the 5k marathon last weekend.” No, Daryl, no you did not.
  2. When you just start out in a race and a spectator shouts, “You’re almost there!” Ok, Clyde. Go sit in your car.
  3. Awful race signs. At my first marathon, there was a man holding a sign at the .2 mark that said, “Only 26 more miles!” I continue to hate this unknown man.
  4. Wardrobe malfunctions. Recently I went on a run where my shirt kept riding up, my pants kept slipping down, and my shoe came untied three times. Running is hard enough. Stay in place, shiz. 
  5. Catcalling runners. For a refresher on how to leave runners alone, check out this post.
  6. When you’re trying to pass some people but they are running or walking 4 wide and you can’t get by.
  7. When non-runners ask you if you won your most recent race.
  8. When your GPS watch malfunctions. Accuracy or death, bro.
  9. When you’re crossing a road at red light and a car is parked on the cross-walk. It’s cool, I’ll just run into the intersection to get around you. 
  10. When public forums complain about runners and say, “Roads are for cars.” I can’t even.
  11. Being chased by an unleashed dog while the owner just waves and says, “Don’t worry, he’s friendly!” But is he going to follow me all the way home?
  12. When races don’t start on time. Listen, no one held the race for me when I was stuck in the porta-potty line. Snooze or lose, suckers. 
  13. Referring to running as “jogging.” Pssh. Jogging is for mall walkers.
  14. People who show up to a 5k with 3 water bottles, 6 gels, and a hydration pack.
  15. Cars turning right at a red light without yielding to pedestrians. HELLO!
  16. Inhaling bugs or getting them stuck in your eyelashes while running in the summer. Can I call this fuel?
  17. When spectators smoke at a race. ARE YOU KIDDING
  18. When a non-runner finds out your time in a race and says, “Well that’s not bad.” Ok, Susan, you just keep that couch warm.

That’s the list so far! Like I said, I’d love to hear from you about your pet peeves within the running world. Cheers and happy running!

Running by ‘Effort’

Running by Effort - Run Leelanau
Yak Trax are required for optimal “medium effort” in these conditions

Every training plan I have followed sets up each run by pace: an easy run should be completed at a 10:00 minute per mile pace, speed work should be completed at a 7:15 pace, etc. My 50k training plan is not set up this way. With this plan, my runs are completed by “effort.”

On tap for today, I have a “one hour medium effort run.” As this is new way for me t train, I find it weird. I also do not find it consistent. “Medium effort” for me changes daily. My best “medium effort” is after 8 hours of sleep, maintaining proper nutrition, and tolerable weather conditions. Today’s medium effort run will not be optimal medium effort. I got less than 6 hours of sleep last night, drank 2 beers yesterday, and ate a Twix bar (not sorry about that). Not to mention, the roads are covered in ice and the wind is exceptionally gusty today.

Though my effort level will still feel “medium,” I am willing to bet my pace will be slower than if I was well-rested and nourished, running on dry roads. So I question, is it better to run by specific pace or on effort? What is the benefit of running by effort? It seems easier to me, almost like a cop-out. I can easily convince myself that I’m running at a medium effort. But with paced runs, there’s no cheating. Either you are on pace or you aren’t.

I suppose that since I do not have a time goal for my first 50k, running on effort is just fine. With this race and its training, I care most about getting the miles in. However, I don’t think I would use a training plan that utilized effort level over pace if I was training for a specific time in a race.

What are your thoughts about “effort training” over training with specific paces? How does this work out for you when race day comes?

Still I Run

IMG_4094

Wouldn’t it be awesome if my full-time job was that of a runner? Well, it’s not. Somehow my 9:15/mile pace hasn’t caught anyone’s eye. (Go figure!) Fortunately, I sincerely love my day job. When I’m not running, I work as a clinical therapist. It is fair to say that I am equally as passionate about mental health as I am about running. As it would turn out, I’m not the only one.

I first heard about Still I Run on the Michigan Runner Girl podcast. Still I Run founder Sasha Wolff was interviewed and I was hooked. Still I Run is a community that raises awareness about mental health through running. One of the main goals of Still I Run is to defeat the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

Immediately I knew I had to be a part of this movement. I emailed Sasha and we connected. I had the honor of writing for Still I Run, sharing my story and providing insight on how to incorporate mindfulness into running.

You see, I’ve suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember. Running helps me manage my symptoms of anxiety – which includes irritability, fidgeting, and overthinking everything. Running helps me manage my mental health so I can help others manage theirs.

When I saw that Still I Run was looking for ambassadors for the 2018 year to help spread awareness about mental health through running,  I knew it was a perfect fit. I applied and kept my fingers crossed. Just last week, I received the exciting news that I was one of seven selected to be an ambassador for Still I Run.

Still I Run is a community of wonderful contributors, writers, and passionate individuals. Be sure to check out the full website to read hundreds of inspiring stories and connect with amazing people. And keep your eyes peeled for more awesomeness this year!

Leelanau Trail Guide for Runners: Coming in 2018

Leelanau Trail Guide for Runners: Coming in 2018 - Run Leelanau
Each season makes the trails seem like a whole new place to explore

I own the book ‘Trails of M22.’ It details 40 different trails along M22 and makes me positively giddy. (PS You can pick up your own copy through the Leelanau Conservancy)

People frequently ask me about trails in Leelanau County. They like to know what are the best trails for running, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, etc. People like to know the distance of each trail, whether they are good for winter running, if they have bathrooms at the trail head, and so many more questions that I fall short of answering.

In 2018, I will be putting together a Leelanau Trail Guide for Runners. You see, ‘Trails of M22’ is a great book for locating the trails, however, it leaves many questions unanswered. Believe it or not, I’m a planner; Type A personality to the max. So I need to know exactly what I’m getting myself into for a trail run.

As a runner, these are the things I want to know about a trail prior to running it:

  1. Is there a bathroom at the trail head?
  2. Is there a place for me to change into my running clothes?
  3. Is it well-marked or will I run in circles and get lost?
  4. What are the distance options of the trails?
  5. Is it hilly? Lots of roots to look out for?
  6. What are the highlights of the trail? Scenic overlook?
  7. Is this trail used year round?
  8. Can people hunt on this property?

Those are my questions, but I bet there are more out there from fellow runners.

I need some help from you fine folks!

What kind of information do you want to know about trails before you run them? I’m happy to do the brutal work of exploring each trail (cough cough), but let me know if there is something specific you need to know and I will fully investigate.

Feliz 2018 and happy running!

 

Don’t Start a Training Program the Week Before Christmas

Don't Start a Training Program the Week Before Christmas - Run Leelanau
Trying not to poke my eye out during winter training

Look how behind I am at updating you guys on my 50k training. Week one has passed and we are well into week 2 now. I started this blogpost with a day-by-day recap of what I did and how it went, but then it got obnoxiously lengthy, and who really cares about every tedious detail? I’ll save that thrilling report for my gracious husband.

Instead of filling you in on every dirty detail, let me tell you what I learned this week. I learned that is it NOT ideal to start a training program the week before Christmas. Maybe some people can successfully do so, but I’m not the champion of the world. Also, A) I was sick with some sort of sinus nonsense B) I had not done any holiday shopping yet C) I work full time + had 26 hours of on-call scheduled this week and D) I had to dedicate one evening to celebrating your father’s birthday. AHHH

Let’s just say I am patting myself on the back because I completed my long run, my hilly run, and “medium effort” run. (Though “medium effort” is very relative to how I was feeling with my sinuses in the state they were.) I also got two strength training days in at the gym. My hill runs are supposed to be on trails, and I fell short there. I opted to run the road hills near my home because I didn’t have extra time to get over to a trail to do the right thing. Ping! Hopefully I’ll be better this week.

The most notable run on tap for this week is a 10-miler. I’m a-ok with keeping it short because this week’s forecast does not enter double digits. Today we have a balmy 4 degrees with a -13 windchill. Of course I’ll boss up and complete the runs, but one just may be on a treadmill this week.

However, if I can handle completing my training runs on a hectic week like this, it gives me hope in carrying out the rest of my training runs, no matter what my schedule looks like. It can only get easier, right? (As I stare begrudgingly at future 20+ mile runs…)

Stay warm, friends!

Hey, Ultra, I’m Coming for You

There was a time (not so long ago, in fact), where I thought running a 10k was impossible. (Someday I’ll share with you all what it was like for me to train for my first 10k, I thought I was going to die.)

Fast forward 6.5 years and I have completed seven marathons and more 10k’s and half marathons than I’ve kept track of. I love the marathon. (It is easy for me to say this right now, my last one was in May – I’ve safely distanced myself from the pain and repressed the memories.) I have many lofty goals for my running self, one of which is completing a trail ultra. (Another running goal includes the illusive BQ, but one thing at a time.)

Starting December 18th, I’ll be completing an 18-week training plan to run Endurance Evolution‘s Traverse City Trail Festival’s 50k. At the date of this publication, the date of that is still TBD (Come onnnnn, Endurance Evolution, don’t you know how impatient I am?!) However, in the past, this race has been run the 4th weekend of April. So I’ve created my training plan in hopes that will be the case in 2018 as well.

Hey, Ultra, I'm Coming For You - Run Leelanau
December 18th. “Patiently” waiting.

For training plans, I have a habit of finding one I like online and then manipulating it to fit my schedule, fitness level, and environment. I also don’t plan what I’m going to do each specific day – that just never works for me. Because life, ya know? So I write down all the workouts I’m supposed to do in a week and then evaluate what each week looks like and when I can do which workout. Because sometimes, it just doesn’t work out to complete a long run on Sunday (brunching and mimosas have a strong pull).

Week one is as follows:

‘Long’ 8 mile run

Easy Run or Cross training + Strength training

45 minutes of hills and trails

Cross training + strength training

45-60 minutes easy run + strength training

Rest

1 hour medium effort run


You’ll notice that the runs include “easy” or “medium” effort instead of pacing times. As this is my first trail ultra, I’m not concerned about time and will feel out my pace. My training program also includes more strength training than any plan I’ve come across. However, I’ve found that weight training is crucial for injury prevention (and it’s nice to have some indoor workouts in the winter). For accountability purposes, I’ll check-in weekly with my progress.

If anyone has any pointers for moving up from the marathon to an ultra (especially a trail ultra!) I’d love to hear them.

Hey, Ultra, I'm Coming For You - Run Leelanau
Winter trail running is a whole new world

Cheers, friends! Happy winter running!