December 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the December 2019 edition of the Upper Valley Running Club newsletter! Keep your submissions coming — email newsletter@uppervalleyrunningclub.org and check out our submission guidelines here.

We’re looking for new editors. If you’re interested in getting involved with making this fantastic (if I do say so myself) newsletter happen each month, please send a message to newsletter@uppervalleyrunningclub.org. We’d love to have you.

Happy running!

Table of Contents

  1. 2020 Membership Renewals by Alex Hall
  2. Jingle Bell Run by Amanda Kievet
  3. Letter from a Board Member by Tiff Courier
  4. Winter TNT by Tim Smith
  5. Oops I Forgot to Register! by Geoff Dunbar
  6. Kettels, cocktails, sinks and running by Ravina Handa
  7. Icarus and Goldman’s Dilemma by Jim Burnett
  8. Route of the Month: Sunset Rock by Geoff Dunbar
  9. Giving Thanks by Judy Phillips
  10. Ask the Coaches

2020 Membership Renewals

By Alex Hall

You can now purchase/renew your UVRC membership for the next year! Any new members can join now and receive all the member benefits for the rest of 2019 and all of 2020! Already a member and plan to renew next year? Why not do it now and check it off your to-do list?!

Registration is processed through the Lebanon Recreation & Parks department:
Link for Individual Memberships ($20)

Link for Family Membership ($35)

Jingle Bell Run

By Amanda Kievet

via GIPHY

The annual UVRC Jingle Bell Run is happening on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17th! This fun and festive event includes a run, a party, and a raffle where just about everyone walks away with a sweet prize.

Here are the details:

When: Tuesday, December 17th at 6:00pm

Where: Ramuntos in Hanover, NH

What: A 3 mile easy pace jog around the Dartmouth Green and Occum Pond, with jingle bells*. Followed by pizza and our ever-popular raffle.

Please Bring: Reflective and weather-appropriate gear for the jog and a small contribution for the raffle. Use your imagination but popular items in the past have been a bottle of wine or beer, homemade cookies, candy, your favorite running snack or beverage, or a new pair of running socks.

All ages and abilities are welcome and encouraged!

* We’ll supply the jingle bells

Letter from a Board Member: Back in a Flash!

By Tiff Courier

Most of the time after a race my first action is to look at the kids age groups and see how Gunner did, even before looking for my own results. I used to find myself amazed at how fast the kids in our area were. Lately, I’ve grown to expect it and the ability of the youth in our region never seems to amaze me anymore.

As we form friendships and bonds within our running club, it’s important to remember that the long term future of the club isn’t with the 20-somethings, it’s really in our area schools as kids begin to develop a love for running at a young age. With that being said, we are truly blessed to have some amazing athletes coming thorough the pipelines.

Many schools, such as Hanover, Windsor, Woodstock, and Thetford amongst others have athletes shining in Cross Country from their middle schools through their high schools. My personal connection as a mother and a wife is with the Mascoma based schools. This season the Indian River School boys were the Small School Middle School State Champions and immediately rolled that success into competing for the Granite State Flash in the USATF Junior Olympic Circuit.

Some of you may remember that last year ten Mascoma School District runners went to Reno, NV to compete in the USATF Junior Olympic National Championships with the Flash. This year eight of those runners and one new runner are once again headed to the USATF National Championships to represent the Flash. For the eight returning runners I guess we could say they were back in a Flash!

These nine young athletes worked their way through the New England Association Meet in Smithfield, RI on November 17 and were back at it a week later to compete in the Northeast Regional Championship on November 24 in Long Island, NY. Pouring rain, mud, and 20 mph winds were no match for the determination of all nine of these young men and women making it to Nationals. Next up for this group is the National Championship Meet on December 14th in Madison, WI.

Now I look at the results of races and see so many names of young runners that I recognize and smile knowing the future of running in the Upper Valley is in wonderful hands as we make room for younger generations to take over when many of us have hung up our running shoes. Next I look forward to following these athletes journey to compete against the nations best in Madison.

Someday they’ll carry the mantle for our club, right now they’re busy making memories. One thing for certain, the future of running in the Upper Valley will not be gone in a Flash!

Winter TNT

By Tim Smith

You have been hunkered over your keyboard all day while the snow pelts against the window pane. Or you have been dealing with customers who track snow, salt and sand into your store. Or everyone you have met has the flu. And you are going to go outside and run just because it is Tuesday?

While all of you co-workers head home to sit by the hearth, you are pulling on your running tights and debating about which base layer to wear. While most of the Upper Valley thinks that sports means watching hockey and basketball, you are checking the batteries in your head lamp.

Winter Tuesday Night Track (without a track) is here.

Why do I I love to run in the winter? Is it the fact that I really have the whole outdoors to myself, for only the hardiest are out there? Or is it because on a really cold day the warmest I get is when I am sweating as I work my way up Tuck Drive? Or maybe because being out there is just so extremely different than being inside and sitting?

I don’t really know the reason to run the rest of the week, but I do know the reason I run on Tuesday is that it is the one time during the week when I can be with like-minded people.

When I arrive early at Occom Pond and have doubts about anybody else showing up, and then I see a few headlamps, or reflective vest, rounding the corner and coming towards me, it is a heart-warming moment.

But enough of this waxing.

Through the winter the point of Tuesday Night Track (TNT) is to maintain a base level of fitness. I know that for most of you the next serious race is months away, but by having TNT we also maintain the routine and expectation of a weekly up-tempo work-out.

And it is also just plain fun.

We cycle through four basic workouts (see below). These are not extremely hard, but they can be challenging. I may modify workouts because of footing, but we will always be there. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these harriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”.*

Week 1: Long intervals. The most common thing would be repeat miles. But I’ll try to add a bit of variety somehow.

Week 2: “Two Beer Tuesday”. A two mile time trial and then pub night. Actually we might be breaking this pattern this month to fit around the Jingle Bell run. So stay tuned for details.

Week 3: Hills. We use to always do these on Tuck Drive. Right now that is under construction, and I don’t know what it will look like when done. So this might be a moving workout. Again, pay attention to the weekly TNT announcement and the Meetup page.

Week 4: Tempo Runs. This is an element of training which I think we have sadly neglected in our club.

Week 5: (Dec 31, March 31) We don’t have many 5th weeks this year – I hope we are back to the oval by April – but just look for something fun and different on that last Tuesday of January.

So every Tuesday at 5:30, except when we are at a hill, Occum Pond is the place to find happy people as we hurl along in the dark of this winter.

* Motto of the US Postal Service

Oops I Forgot to Register!

By Geoff Dunbar

Registration for the Covered Bridges Half Marathon (June 7, 2020) was December 2. For those new to this, this is the largest, most prestigious, and most restrictive race in the Upper Valley, with registration filling in minutes. Missed it? Never fear, UVRC can help!

First of all, our club provides the official pacers for the race. If you prefer to be a pacer (like me), or if you forget to register and still want to do this race, this is an amazingly fun and rewarding (and less stressful!) way to run the race. If pacing is your thing, look for emails over the winter about details. Highly recommended!

Secondly, if you are a “finisher” for the Upper Valley Running Series, you get guaranteed registration for CBHM! You still have to pay, but no need to fight the masses on Monday. Of course, you are too late for 2020, but consider this for 2021. (Note: we aren’t officially confirmed as this being the prize for 2021, but I expect it will be).

P.S. To all of my 2019 UVRS finishers, you guys didn’t need to register on Monday. I’ll get you a code soon, and you’ll be able to register for the race later.

Kettels, cocktails, sinks and running

By Ravina Handa

2019 has been an odd year for me.

Between international travel, a dollop of uncertainty and multiple life changing decisions, my head has often felt like a kettle, heating up under the pressure. It’s a wonder steam does not visibly flow out of my ears at times.

Yet through the swirl of change and high-pressured decisions, knowing that there are two running practices a week that I can attend with a friendly, caring running community, has been a constant I have depended on.

The positive impact running has had on my life is not easy to quantify. It brings a sense of relaxation akin to taking a 40 minute holiday from my life.

I could liken the mental ease I feel after running, to the feeling I get when I am sitting at a beach bar in a tropical country, overlooking the ocean as the sunsets, while sipping a frothy, perfectly balanced pina colada, listening to Bob Marley play.

Running simply empties my brain and relaxes my muscles. Similar to the plug in a full sink, letting the water drain out.

As my short term travels take me further from the Upper Valley, I hope this little article reminds me to get up and run twice a week. It’s certainly an effective way to keep me sane through a strange year.

Icarus and Goldman’s Dilemma

by Jim Burnett

The Fall of Icarus: The Greek myth portraying the inexorable fate of those driven to succeed at all costs and in the end doomed to failure. The mind blindly propels the body to fly faster and higher. But why? What explains the need to reach for the sun against all odds? Is it arrogance, hubris? Is there no middle ground? Icarus’ father, Daedalus, warned his son “to keep a middle course over the sea,” explaining that escape from King Minos, “…may be checked by water and land, but the air and the sky are free.”(1) Now, in what could be called the 2nd Gilded Age in which luxury and greed are ever present, we are taught that anything is possible if we put our mind to it and that it’s okay to fail while pursuing a course of trial and error. Surely we will learn from our mistakes and through persistence and the will to succeed we will triumph in the end and escape doom. But what of Icarus, who “…soared exultingly up and up, paying no heed to his father’s anguished commands. Then he fell. The wings had come off. He dropped into the sea and the waters closed over him.”(2)

Goldman’s Dilemma is a question that was posed to elite athletes by physician, Robert M. Goldman, asking whether they would take a drug that would guarantee them overwhelming success in sport, but cause them to die after five years. In his research he found that approximately half the athletes responded that they would take the drug.(3) This suggests that many elite athletes are willing to risk their lives for the chance at a world record or gold medal just as Icarus risked his life when he reached for the sun.

The moral to the story for us mere-mortal runners is to follow Daedalus’ advice and keep our aspirations in check. But this is not as easy as it sounds. If it were easy to back off, none of us would every get injured or hit the wall at twenty miles. So, what to do? Hold on to your lofty goals and big dreams but take it step-by-step and be patient. The bigger the goal the more time it will take to achieve it and the longer it takes, the more patience is required. So, enjoy your flight, go slow most of the time, rest often, eat real food and, unlike Icarus, fly freely in the air above the land and water and beneath the sky — the sky’s the limit!

1, 2 — Mythology, Edith Hamilton, Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1940, p. 193.

3 — Goldman, Robert; Ronald Klatz (1992). Death in the locker room: drugs & sports (2 ed.). Elite Sports Medicine Publications. p. 24. ISBN 9780963145109.

Route of the Month: Sunset Rock

By Geoff Dunbar

Got a route for the newsletter team? Send it along to newsletter@uppervalleyrunningclub.org.

This month, it’s the Sunset Rock Loop! We often do this route on the Saturday morning run during the summer, because it is so nice. It is almost 9 miles, with good views, a decent hill (but less than many other local routes), but also long, easy stretches of the lovely Rail Trail.
Strava map

If you want to change things up, you can skip the Route 4 bridge by going a little farther and meeting the Rail Trail at the end of Lake Mascoma. This is also nice, adding about a half mile. In addition, there is a winter variant which skips the Rail Trail completely. However, you end up on Route 4 for about a mile which is OK but not great, so we don’t usually do this route in the winter. And, of course, there is the age-old runner’s trick of doing the route backwards, getting completely different views and hills.

Giving Thanks

By Judy Phillips

Last week, we traveled to Palm Desert, California for my last challenge of the year…actually, I thought of it as my “last chance”in ‘19.


This was, without doubt, my worst running year in 40+ years’ running and racing. I exacerbated a back issue twice this year, which caused me to quit 4 halfs at the 7-8 mile mark, skip 2 others and a ten miler. In between the flare ups, I was able to do 5 10ks, a challenging ten miler, 2 eight milers, and dozens of other shorter races, for which I’m very grateful. However, as an older runner, I do have to face facts: age means a longer recovery time (I never believed this until about 5 years ago), and a drastically slower pace when running through pain.

I had signed up for the USA Women’s Half Marathon earlier this year, along with the other races on my forward calendar (optimistically, 2020 is filling fast). I don’t like the term “bucket list”, and a younger running friend gave us the book, The Runner’s Bucket List (Malan), years ago for Christmas. I admit I was a bit put off. But the book is fun, and I found this race in there. It’s rather expensive because of the schwag: a Tiffany necklace and mimosas post- race, plus a pasta dinner the night before and a buffet afterwards.

The course was straightforward – all right turns save one – and it was a large field so I was never alone as I can be these days, as a much slower, totally back-of-the-packer. The weather was perfect. It was an early start but only about 20 minutes from our hotel. I made gluten free protein bars and froze them before we left, and I picked up a yogurt and water at the hotel the night before, so I was all set for an early breakfast. I felt fine at the start. My back had been much better finally the week before thanks to PT and exercises, and I started to feel hopeful as I began the race.

Immediately, a new challenge presented itself: a cramp on the upper part of my left thigh. This persisted through mile 7, when the cramp “jumped” to the other side….it’s always something, at this age/stage, it seems. My pace slowed but it was consistent. I ran each step, albeit I’m sure it would not be considered running by some, including myself of just a few years ago. I didn’t quit.

The course was very flat, with barely an incline, although some referred to the “hills”, which made this runner used to the awesome hills of northern New England chuckle. The scenery was breathtaking – I kept my eyes on the mountains as I plodded along. I made sure to hydrate during the race.

I finished, was given my necklace by a young man in a tuxedo, and smiled. I’m still smiling. I needed a “win”. I’m so grateful to my husband who supported me through this effort and was ready for “the call”, which I didn’t make.

I’m so thankful I didn’t quit.
Judy Phillips Norwich, Vermont

Ask the Coaches

Got a question for the coaches? Send it to newsletter@uppervalleyrunningclub.org and I’ll send it on!

Colin Smith:

I’m about 2 years back into running after several years off and after a lot of improvement in race times the first year and then continued but smaller improvements this year, I’m wondering how best to continue that progression next year (across a range of race distances from 5k on the road to 50k trail races).

For the past few months I’ve generally been running 50-60 miles a week, with a consistent weekly long run of 12-16 miles, some kind of tempo run most weeks, and about one race a month. Most of the rest of my running is commuting to and from work (9 mile round trip). I was a bit overweight when I started running again but lost about 30 lbs last year and have been more or less the same weight all of this year.

What do you suggest in terms of changes to my weekly running schedule, diet, etc., that are likely to be most beneficial? (e.g., start doing some faster paced training like going to TNT; add more hills to my runs; gradually lengthen out the tempo runs I do; build up to 60+, 70+ miles per week; lose a few more pounds, or something else?). Or should I just be patient because what I’m doing now is fine and it takes time to see the benefits?

Greg Hagley:

Congratulations on your current running form! It takes a lot of discipline and consistency to make the changes that you have over the last several years. It should feel excellent to see weekly running mileage rise and race times fall while feeling healthier overall.

I’d like to turn the questioning around and ask you several questions. What do you want from your running? How much more time and energy can you offer it? The energy for work, family, and recreation all come from the same bucket. From a distance it looks like you’re quite efficient balancing life demands by getting in two runs-a-day commuting to and from work. Your long runs appear super consistent (on Strava). Again, I’d like to ask how much more time and energy can you offer to running? You’ll get back what you put in.

If you’re not already doing these things, I’ll suggest two additions to your routine. First, to run races fast you need to run a little faster than race pace during training. As you know, This is often best done in interval training. This could be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. Something will be better than nothing. TNT is a great way to do this, but you could creatively also fit it into your commuting runs too. I’m not sure how much time you spend at “tempo” pace so I’m not going to comment on that. A second suggestion should also help your running consistency as well as your speed. This would be to stretch daily and complete some sort of strength routine 2-3 days/wk. The stretching could be as brief as 5-10 minutes for key muscles that tend to be tight on your body. The strengthening session could be similarly brief with focused exercises on your weaknesses.

I hope that this helps and keep up the good work!

Greg Hagley is a physical therapist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon and a certified USA Triathlon Level I coach.

Jim Burnett:

The first key to progressive, long term, sustainable running and training is to balance your efforts during workouts and long runs with the amount of rest and recovery you allow afterward. The human body is amazingly adaptive, but only if you give it enough time to rest, recover and rebuild itself between hard efforts. Remember, the harder you work, the more time you will need to rest and recover.

The second key is proactive injury prevention. Core-focused strength exercises stabilize your body and keep it balanced. Flowing movements (yoga) and light stretching stimulate blood circulation, calm the body-mind and promote healing and wellness.

The third key is good nutrition. Fuel the body with what it needs. As Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Avoid highly processed foods, especially refined sugars. Bad nutrition promotes illness and restricts energy production and body functions.

The final key is to be your own best advocate. No two runners are alike. Take care of yourself, your body-mind. Run by feel – listen to your body. When you get up, monitor your resting heart rate manually. Day-to-day fluctuations of a few beats per minute are a sign of increased stress or greater restfulness. Lowering your resting heart rate over time is a sign of increased fitness. If you wake up and pay attention, you will learn to hear and understand your body. You will feel your blood flow and your muscles working. You will know when it’s time to back off and, most importantly, when it’s time to fly.

Personal note: I am becoming a stronger and stronger advocate for “less is more” when it comes to running, training, fitness and wellness. I am more and more wary of heart rate sensors and algorithms that evaluate your fitness based on questionable heart rate data. In my opinion, if you want to improve your running in the long run, you are better off listening to your body than to a device. Feeling your body function, monitoring your own perceived effort (instead of looking at your watch) and learning how to respond to what you feel, is incredibly empowering and fun. Strive for running efficiency – the ultimate definition of “less is more.”

Jim Burnett is the president of the Upper Valley Running Club.

Carly Wynn:

Love this question! As you might have guessed, I have boundless enthusiasm for this type of query about incremental gains. That’s what training is all about.

So from my view, there are three main things going on:

  1. Training asks the body to adapt. Adaptation is in highest demand when there is variance in the demand placed on the body (i.e; vary your training.)
  2. Recovery allows the body to adapt, and all athletes should focus more on recovery, especially when they hit a plateau.
  3. You won’t be able to keep seeing as rapid adaptation as you did in the first year or two back, and hoping for that will lead to unhealthy habits of over-training, under-eating, etc.

So, to address the first point. I agree with your inclination, and Greg’s advice, that you should incorporate some intensity (interval) training. I also agree with Greg’s sentiment that “some is better than none.” TNT therefore could be a good way to start, though it sounds like your runs are primarily centered around your commute, so schedules might not align here. The thing to understand about intensity training is that different workouts ask the body to adapt in different ways. If your current training is not providing the performance boosts you are hoping for, you may need intensity workouts that are targeted more specifically at the gains you want to make. TNT may provide that, if you can get some one-on-one attention from a coach, or you have some other resource that helps you modify the workouts to fit your needs. You mention a variety of performance goals, from 5k to 50k, and I would strongly advise you to chat with myself or one of the other UVRC coaches about which workouts will specifically help further your goals, and why.

Getting some clarity on how you want your intensity training to align with your performance goals will also inform what modifications you should/could make to your tempo runs. Weekly tempo is not a bad idea for runners with general fitness goals, but if you want to start adding some goal-specific intensity to your plan, you probably will start varying your tempo runs more too. For example, you probably won’t continue running a tempo run every week, though you may for short blocks of time, depending on what race you’re prepping for. You might add some variance to the tempos (i.e; instead of one 5 mile block, maybe 2×3.5 mile blocks.) There are a lot of ways to vary your intensity workouts.

There are also ways to vary your other training. Totally agree with Greg here: strength should absolutely be a part of your training! I’m a huge fan of calisthenics (body weight exercises, no lifting), in part because it’s generally safer for athletes to do alone, and in part because it can be done anywhere. I’d recommend a couple short sessions per week. Again, talking with a coach, trainer, or PT will get you going in the right direction, or if you’d prefer to write your own strength plan you can always tap the internet’s wealth of resources for exercise geared toward your specific weaknesses or imbalances. I recommend a few of my favorites here.

Okay, moving onto #2, because I can already tell this answer is going to be reallllly long. Yes, I totally agree with Jim, recovery is the biggest, most under-utilized tool in most athlete’s box. If you’ve hit a plateau in training, my opinion is that the first thing you should do is rest, not add more training. If you’re not feeling tired, but have just noticed you’re not improving as much as you used to, odds are good the body will be able to adapt to more training. Likely that is ultimately where you’ll go in the end. But a little rest will not hurt, especially if you do not have regularly scheduled off days or recovery weeks. So, take a week off from that long run. Cut your weekly mileage down by about a third, or sub out some workouts for cross training. Then you’re probably good to go from here, with the reminder that rest weeks are necessary! (and rest days; hopefully you have at least one day off/active recovery a week already!)

What I would recommend above all else is that you build some recovery into each day. In the 30 minutes right after a workout, you have such a golden opportunity to kick-start recovery. Build an extra 15-30 minutes into your workout time if you can, especially on long run and intensity days. Get in good recovery habits: change out of wet clothes, get a small snack, get off your feet, stretch, foam roll, put your feet up etc. And sleep! Oh my goodness, if you want to see every single aspect of life performance improve, get more or better quality sleep at night. But I really can’t go into that one here or this will turn into a Russian Novel.

#3) Be realistic about how much improvement you can continue to expect, and at what rate. We can’t all continue to improve as quickly as we did when we just started something, or we would all be accelerating toward world records in every new thing we try! You can absolutely continue to expect incremental gains, especially if you have specific goals and are training accordingly. But I think it’s normal that you are seeing your progress slow now that you’ve been back at training regularly for almost two years. Don’t blindly train harder in pursuit of the feeling you had a year ago. That will only lead to fatigue long-term. I would also not advise the goal of more weight loss, at least not for the express purpose of running faster. There’s a limit to how much weight you can lose, and it’s been proven time and time again that athletes are healthier overall if they don’t attempt to approach that limit.

To conclude, I will second what Greg said: congratulations on your progress. I know it may seem like a crummy prize to have the exponential improvement be winding down, but you have so much potential to keep building on from here, even if it doesn’t look exactly like how the last year has looked. As you can probably tell, I’m very nerdy about all this, so feel free to reach out if you want to chat about the specifics of your goals and training plan going forward.

Carly Wynn is a personal coach at www.CarlyOutside.com, and can be reached at Carly@CarlyOutside.com.

Laura Hagley:

Jim – I totally agree about the nutrition/plants affecting recovery.

I think Michael Joyner sums up a nice training plan in two haikus:

Run a lot of miles
Some faster than your race pace
Rest once in a while.

and,

Make your hard days hard and your easy days easy.

To figure out hard and easy, I lean on Jack Daniels’ Running formula.

Laura Hagley, DPT, CSCS, EP-C runs competitively for Millennium Running Club. She placed 25th at 2016 Olympic Trials, and competed in the Elite Women’s Wave of the 2016 Boston Marathon. Professionally, Laura is the Director of Ancillary Services and Physical Therapist at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH. For questions, please email laura.hagley@vrh.org.

About this Newsletter

This newsletter is put out monthly by the Upper Valley Running Club, a running club in the Connecticut River Upper Valley Region. This month, the newsletter was edited by Amanda Kievet, with article collection by Geoff Dunbar. Any comments, questions, submissions, winter running tips, etc, send to newsletter@uppervalleyrunningclub.org.

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