Welcome to the March 2019 edition of the Upper Valley Running Club newsletter! Keep your submissions coming — email firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our ✨ new submission guidelines here.
Table of Contents
- Letter from a Board Member by Tiffany Currier
- Winter Wild Pat’s Peak by Michael Herron
- Injury Prevention Workshop
- Daufuskie Island Ultra: Battle of the Bonks by Cara Baskin
- Ask the Coaches
- The Survey Says…
Letter from a Board Member
by Tiffany Currier
My name is Tiffany Currier; I am a new board member for the UVRC. When I started running in 2014 I never thought I would be on the board of our running club. I started out running by doing my own couch to 5K program, because I was every intimidated by the runners in our club. I was very unaware just how supportive the club was to all runners of any ability. I ran my first few 5K’s in July of 2014 with my pace in the range of 15 minutes per mile. In my mind, at the time, how could these elite athletes not laugh at how long it was taking me to run these races.
This in some ways made me want to work harder, so I decided one day to go to a TNT workout. It was here I meet a coach and runners that would change the way I looked at the running community. My first TNT I workout I felt like a fish out of water with all of these amazing people literally running laps around me, but as they passed me each time they gave me such words of encouragement I wanted to keep moving to prove I deserved to be there. What I didn’t realize at the time was I didn’t need to prove that to anyone but myself, the running community believes anyone who wants to run deserves to be there.
After I went to a few workouts at TNT I decided to talk to coach Kim about my plans for the rest of the year and how I could accomplish my new goal of running a half marathon. She was very up front with me, that it was going to take a lot of hard work and she would do everything she could to get me there. I worked extremely hard and in September of 2014 I ran my very first half marathon in 3:06:55. At this point the running bug beyond what I could have ever imagined had bitten me.
Since 2014 I have run many half marathons, a marathon and many different length races, including the MT Washington Road Race. Running has been a major part of my life and the life of my family. Over the past year and a half I have lost over 70 lbs. with a large part of that coming from the running I have done. Each year I give myself new goals to reach and with the help of the other runners in our amazing club I am able to reach these goals. For those of you who may be intimidated by the members of our club or think you don’t belong I want you to know you do belong.
Winter Wild Pat’s Peak
by Michael Herron
Picture from today’s Winter Wild at Pat’s Peak. Felix and I were asked, “Where did you get the cupcakes?” They are actually bagels with Nutella. Or better said: Nutella supported by bagels. 🙂
Injury Prevention Workshop
When: April 9, 2019 at 7:15pm
Where: Cioffredi & Associates Physical Therapy: 112 Etna Rd, Lebanon, NH 03766
What: Training for race day? An injury can derail your plans for fitness and competition. Join us for an interactive seminar to learn and practice what it takes to stay injury free while training for any race distance.
Daufuskie Island Ultra: Battle of the Bonks
by Cara Baskin
The set up: Three weeks into the year, FOMO had already forced me to join my sister for a winter race. I typically back off in the winter, reset, cross train, let motivation sink and return with the sun. But, this was a unique opportunity. Worlds were colliding. Hana, my older sister and marathoner extraordinaire, was about to embark on her longest run yet. Me, having competed in longer, slower races, was trying to wrap my head around a flat ultra. Who would win? The faster runner whose race strategy could be summed simply into “run a decent marathon, then hold on,” or the slower sister with more sense in her brain and experience in her legs?
The race course: Daufuskie Island’s eight square miles lie a short ferry ride from the coast of Hilton Head, SC. Once a plantation, it’s now home to multi million dollar homes, three restaurants, one rum distillery, a feral cat sanctuary, innumerable tangles of Spanish moss, and zero feet of elevation. It’s one thing to persevere through mountain miles and rocky trails. It’s quite another to shut your mind off for long enough to survive 39.3 miles of flat pavement in three monotonous half marathon loops. Literally running through the finish arch twice before hitting stop on your watch. Seeing the runners in front of you dwindle until you are all alone, your nuun and snacks the only things accompanying your heavy feet slowing to a shuffle. And yet, there we were, having paid good money for this luxury.
The competition: This race felt important (to us); what it wasn’t, was big. 131 runners lined up for the half marathon. 23 sprung for the marathon. A mere nine masochists sought a long day of pavement in the ultra. Two of them were Hana and I. One was a professional Hoka runner we promptly waved goodbye to after the start. After shamelessly surveying the remaining six on Ultrasignup, I figured it was a battle for 2nd and 3rd place.
The strategy: Run together until one of us felt really good or really bad. No hard feelings. We both predicted ending up together in the end, but once the pair broke up, it would be each sister on her own.
The cheer squad: My poor parents, who’ve attended nearly every competition I’ve ever been in since 6th grade, would’ve sent themselves on their own guilt trip had they not made it to this island showdown. They’ve seen it all, from swim meets to field hockey games, regattas to rugby matches, 5ks to track meets, triathlons, marathons and ultras. Little did they know after setting that expectation in middle school, my sister and I would regularly sign up for longer and longer races, crossing state and country borders. They once expressed there was nothing more boring than spectating a 5k where they could only see us once or twice. Well, can you imagine anything more boring than a six hour race in which Hana and I rocketed by every half hour at just under 9 min/mile pace? Thanks Mom and Dad. It means more than you know. And how special to also have local islanders Auntie April, Auntie Kim and cousin Bret there to cheer from golf carts all day! With less spectating experience, we lost a few to the rum distillery for a bit of the afternoon- who could blame them?- but all resurfaced at the finish line.
Loop 1 (the oops): “Don’t follow the crowd!” advised the race director at the start line. Odd advice, I thought. The miles clicked off easily and my extremities thanked me for traveling to warmer weather. Hana set the pace and, though a haunting feeling started to arise, I threw caution to the wind, pushing away experience that insisted this excitement would fade at some unexpected mile. Nearing the end of the first loop, I noticed a particularly long, straight stretch of the course. I wasn’t looking forward to running this section twice more. Hana also noticed a lack of pink flags lining the road. With furrowed brows, we kept running until hitting a dead end at the beach. To our right, the ocean awaited. To our left, a group of runners stopped, turned around, and ran towards us. Shit! There goes our pace. And more importantly, where was the course? We racked our brains to collectively remember the last possible turn. Hana wanted none of the chit chat and had promptly turned around and started running back. “Are you running with me or not?” she yelled impatiently from up ahead. Tough love. “Yep, give me a second” I yelled back, annoyed, as I whizzed past half marathoners and marathoners to join her for a too fast ultra pace (8:10s). We finally found the turn and realized an ATV pulling out of the road had blocked the flags at the exact wrong moment. That’s what we get for following the crowd. The damage? 1.7 additional miles. That would hurt later.
Loop 2: My heart rate climbed to 160, refusing to dip anytime soon, and my body started to overheat from the inside out. I knew this was a dangerous zone to maintain for another marathon, so I told Hana I’d slow down but stay close. With little reaction she continued on as I watched the distance between us widen. That moment defined the difference in our racing strategies. I knew we’d meet again, at the battle of the bonks. Realizing this would turn into a lonely day, I locked onto marathoners and pulled them in, gaining confidence each time I passed a runner. I came up on a shirtless runner Robert affectionately named “the stud.” He didn’t want to run alone either, so he picked up the pace to join me for the next 19 miles. Friendly chatter soon turned into labored breathing and walking breaks as two strangers pulled each other along.
Loop 3: The race begins. These are the miles for which we train our brains. Thirst and hunger set in and the sun shone high in the sky. Walking breaks became an acceptable method to lower my heart rate. Hana started to struggle too. She looked back every mile or so as the distance between us began to shrink. At one moment a mere 100 yards stood between us. We were both in full bonk mode, but this was clearly still a race. If I pushed through without walking, I could probably shuffle with her; however, my body told me otherwise. Only a few miles left. A few seconds a mile could reel her in. I needed to make a move. My new friend started to fall a step behind and I knew I had to say goodbye. At mile 34 I pulled ahead and locked in on Hana. The grind was in full force. With two miles to go, I blurted out a childish “it hurts!” to my Mom who stood at the corner. (What could’ve been the finish line if I hadn’t missed a turn). This is what I came for. This moment was exactly what I wanted to experience in this race. The stress of a ticking clock, a now or never decision, my body aching from the damage of the day. I picked up the pace, chasing Hana who was up ahead with Dad. He had run the last mile of my Ironman with me and now it was Hana’s turn to share that moment. That last mile felt like a dead sprint (8:17), but it wasn’t enough. We ended up finishing 1:58 min. apart. In a six hour race, that’s 3 seconds a mile. That’s “Why didn’t I suck it up sooner and go for it?” I knew Hana bonked harder in the third loop, but time banked in the second loop maintained her lead. There will be more, hopefully hillier, races to come.
The aftermath: At the start line, it’s assumed we’ve all trained for the distance at hand. The real question is: who has trained for that one decision point, the one in which you turn a blind eye to pain and go for it? 3rd place lasts forever. Am I mad I didn’t beat her? Yeah. Am I proud of my run anyway? Hell yeah. This was training for those future decision points. To deter regret, I’ll focus on resting before the ramp up for my first Boston Marathon. Hana will be running her 5th. And you better believe our favorite cheer squad will be in the crowd.
Ask the Coaches
I always have a hard time during recovery after a race like a half marathon. Rather than just stop running for a couple of weeks, how can you recover and maintain your fitness safely and injury free?
To answer your specific question: Cross Train! Yes. Please cross train. Everyone should cross train for recovery purposes. Running is high impact. Fitness doesn’t have to be. (Below I’d also like to address potentially shortening the necessary recovery period.)
While it’s true that the most effective way to train for running is… running, you can give yourself a good aerobic effort through just about every other aerobic sport. Cross training can get a bad rep because compared with running you don’t get the same muscle specificity and capillary adaptation, meaning blood and oxygen won’t be going specifically to running muscles and the forced adaptation from cellular level to systemic won’t be specific to running. But that’s a much smaller price to pay than getting injured or prolonging recovery by getting back into running too quickly, or loosing fitness from lack of activity. Cross training also gets your blood flowing, supplying otherwise stagnant muscles with oxygen and nutrients, and actually supporting recovery. Cross training can be used very safely in recovery by doing an easy non-running (preferably non-impact; think cycling or swimming) workout one out of every two to three days you would have otherwise had to take completely off.
If you don’t have a gym membership and the weather is too crummy for biking, consider a punch pass to the gym, or ask your buds if they have a membership to a gym that offers a free guest pass. Some fitness classes offer a free first class, or a discounted bundle for your first month, or other promos like that. Just make sure if you attend a spin class or something similar that the instructor knows you are there to go easy. Most runners won’t be running marathons or halfs frequently enough to make this an exorbitant expense. Two or three times a year of paying for a gym punch pass/pool pass/bike rental/spin class, etc.
(As a quick aside, cross training is a great part of training plans across the board, not just after long races, and not just as part of recovery. Cross training can be used to increase fitness too. It’s is a great way to give your heart and lungs a workout, and increase blood volume, without specifically taxing your running systems. You can keep working, even when your running body is tired. Now, that’s a dangerous game to play, because it needs to be done carefully to avoid exhaustion, so make sure you’ve got an adviser on board if you want to use cross training in this way!)
To address possible causes of such a prolonged recovery, and possibly get you back to running sooner, I’d add some yoga or stretching as well as resistance training to your regular training plan. Increased strength and flexibility will go a long way in helping your body withstand these long and hard race efforts, resulting in less damage to recover from. I would not recommend increased stretching in the days after the race. As I often find myself saying, this is going to be specific to each individual. Shoot me an email if you want to talk about the specific ways injury/illness/fatigue manifest for you, and we can chat about possible solutions.
In terms of general recovery post long races, the generic formula that I recommend following is one I picked up from Coach Pete Magill, author of Build Your Running Body (highly recommend, great book.) This formula factors in age, duration of the race, and what type of workout you want to do next. For a half marathon, recover for 9 days before doing a “medium effort” workout (i.e; light tempo run) and 2 full weeks before a hard workout such as 800m repeats. Multiply this by 1.1 if you’re age 30-39, 1.2 for 40-49, 1.3 for 50-59, etc. Again, this is generic. If you’re prone to long recoveries, this isn’t for you. For other readers out there who bounce back quickly after a long race, this formula could help ensure you give yourself enough recovery.
As always, be in touch if you want to talk more about it! I’m happy to dive in deeper or address anything that this answer may have missed. Cheers!
Not long ago, mention of recovery following exercise was considered a sign of weakness, but not anymore. Research into how best to recover from strenuous exercise has exploded in the last 15 years. Coaches now talk as much, if not more, about the value of recovery as they do about track workouts, tempo runs, hill work and long runs. Running watches now tell you how many hours to allow for recovery as soon as I push the “Stop” button at the end of a run. There’s an app for everything, right? But you don’t need a fancy watch to figure out a good recovery plan. You just need to pay attention to your body day to day.
At a recent UVRC Saturday morning run I joined a group that included D. and R. R. had said he wanted to run 10-12 hilly miles and D. was onboard. Five minutes into the run, however, D. changed her mind and decided to turn left with the group that was doing a mellow 10K loop around DHMC. Why? After taking only a few steps, she sensed that her body had taken a beating from all the extra “fun exercising” (lots of XC skiing and snowshoeing) she had done during her vacation week and she was smart enough to scrap the long hilly run. In addition, D. changed up her usual pastry order at Lucky’s Garage Café afterward for beans and cheese on toast (more protein/less carbs). She said she just felt drained. D. was paying attention and made the right call. But, we’re not all as aware and experienced as D. and can use a little guidance so we don’t run ourselves into the ground.
We all know that we should find the right balance between exertion and rest, but it’s difficult to fine tune the amplitude of our efforts versus decompression of your respites. It’s easy to suggest, “When in doubt, back off and chill,” but, of course it’s more complicated than that. So, wake up, tune in and use your heart as your guide. You can judge your effort through “perceived effort/exertion” or use a heart rate monitor to be your own coach. In the same way that there are levels of effort (heart rate zones) there are degrees of rest and recovery. Shutting the body down abruptly after a hard effort may feel good in the moment but it’s best to cool it down gradually and start “active recovery” movements like walking and “very gentle” stretching soon after that. The intensity and duration of your recovery from, let’s say, a PR half marathon is going to need to balance out the depth and breadth of the energy blast that got you that PR.
Question: “Rather than just stop running for a couple of weeks, how can you recover and maintain your fitness safely and injury free following a half marathon?”
Answer: Use gentle walking as your base line “active recovery” activity. As mentioned above, your recovery should begin as you walk “slowly” out of the finish shoot. After that, socialize with your friends, hydrate and eat or drink some protein. Then, go for a walk. (If you just ran the Covered Bridges Half Marathon, you can walk up to the field where you parked your car!) When you get home, go for another gentle walk (walking your dog is even better…goooooood doggie), then put your legs up. If you are 25 years old you may be able to get up the next morning and go for an easy 5-10 mile run, but most of us should plan on walking some more and begin to add in low-impact cross training options like, swimming, pool running, elliptical machine, uphill treadmill walking, trail walking, hiking, cycling, ElliptiGo or Alter-G treadmill if you are a billionaire or an elite professional runner.
When gentle walking starts to feel easy and completely pain free, walk a little faster and gradually start to alternate jogging and walking. Walk 5 min, jog 1 min x 5 = 30 mins, every other day for one week (more or less depending on how long it takes for it to “feel good” to jog/run again), then gradually walk less and jog/run more. On the off days mix in cross training. It’s also a good idea to continue to use “active recovery” cross training options on your easy days as you go forward with your training schedule.
What I just described (walk/jog/run recovery) is a commonly prescribed program for recovering from a running “injury.” Laura and Greg Hagley (Physical Therapists and UVRC members) put me onto this technique after I torn my hamstring while sprinting to the finish (stupid) of the Granite State 10 Miler five years ago. It’s been my “go-to” recovery method for any lower body injury (niggling or otherwise) ever since. If you think about it, you are basically “injured” after a hard-fought half marathon, so why not apply injury recovery techniques? Lastly, when in doubt err on the side allowing extra time for recovery. Be patient. The body has an amazing capacity to heal itself if you let it.
Jim Burnett is the president of the Upper Valley Running Club.
The Survey Says…
For our February survey we asked you to tell us your all-time running hero. We received both expected and unexpected responses, and even two UVRC members!
Enjoy the results and look for next month’s survey!
Joan Benoit-Samuelson (X2):
- Because of all she has accomplished (in running and in life) and all she has given back to the sport in her role as a lifetime ambassador and elite runner. Plus she is down to earth and a pleasure to talk with!
- She’s a talented, remarkable runner with immense grit and intelligent training plans. But most of all, Joanie’s a truly kind human who advocates running for everyone who can – not just those at her superhuman level. She also does so much for her community in Maine. She encourages running in a beautiful way AND is one of the best runners in US history – what’s not to love?
He really appreciated running and his God-given gifts.
Local guy, world-beater, apparently also a genuinely, good person.
He is my hero is because he not only loves running and is really good at it, he dedicates his life to helping other people enjoy running and encourages them to stay positive. That’s what it’s all about.
Because he is unbelievably skilled, fit, and dedicated, and additionally he is enthusiastic and encouraging to others in all mountain sports! A freak-of-nature kind of physiology coupled with childlike enthusiasm and optimism makes him an ideal ambassador for ultra- and mountain-running.
She was so tenacious as a runner. Imagine, she won nine New York City Marathons!!! After she retired she devoted her life to promoting distance running and health. And she did extensive charity work.
Because he embodies what I’d like to be as a runner (and person) when I’m his age.
Hard to pick one, but Kirk comes to mind. He wrote “To the Edge,” a story about his training for a few-hundred-mile footrace after the death of his brother. An extremely inspiring story about an ordinary human doing the extraordinary.
Because he wrote ‘Born to Run’ and ‘Natural Born Heroes’. I LOVE those books! They changed how I thought about running, nutrition, feet, World War II, and many other Topics.
“Boston Billy” got me interested in distance running. I believe he played a big role in kicking of the popularity of distance running. He won Boston and New York four time each!
Because his book “Eat and Run” inspired me to start running, and he’s a Midwesterner too!
UVRC’s Hillary Wheeler:
No matter what the weather, it’s always motivation and a pleasure to go with her. Having someone who is a well-matched running buddy makes it that much more appealing to go out in 90% humidity or pouring icy rain.
For running barefoot over the cobbled streets of Rome to win the 1960 Olympic Marathon.
Terry Fox. This one legged Canadian runner ran across Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research. On a more personal note, the first distance running event that I ever did in high school was a 10K named for him.
One of my earliest memories of watching athletics on TV was in 1985, seeing Cram be the first person to break 3:30 for the 1500, and then just a couple of weeks later run 3:42 for the mile at the Bislett Stadium in Oslo, the world record for 8 years and still the European record. Britain had several great middle distance runners in the mid-80s, including Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe (who held the 800m world record with a 1:41 for a long time). I liked Steve Cram best of all, he used to hang out middle to back of the pack and then unleash a fast last lap to leave everyone else behind. Always exciting to watch – fast and graceful.
About this Newsletter
This newsletter is put out monthly by the Upper Valley Running Club, the premier (and only) running club in the Connecticut River Upper Valley Region. This month, the newsletter was edited by Amanda Kievet, with article collection by Laura Petto. Any comments, questions, submissions, winter running tips, etc, send to email@example.com.