February 2023 Newsletter
Note from the Editor
There's so much valuable information in this month's newsletter. From introducing our UVRC board, to upcoming races, to volunteer and educational opportunities, and more! Be sure to check out the "Get Fit Local" article to learn how to express your interest in discounted memberships at local gyms.
UVRC Newsletter Team
UVRC Newsletter Team
Table of Contents
- Letter from a Board Member: Who's Who on the UVRC Board by RJ Jones
- UVRS 2022 Prize Ceremony by Geoff Dunbar
- Red Zone 5K by Geoff Dunbar
- Shiver Me Shamrocks 5K by Shannon Reilly Poole (Heritage Credit Union)
- 2023 New Hampshire Grand Prix by Jim Westrich
- Ivy League Championship Marshalls by Jim Westrich
- Get Fit Local by RJ Jones
- Safety First: CPR and First Aid Classes by RJ Jones
- Distance Running Symposium by Geoff Dunbar
- Yoga for Runners by RJ Jones
- Helping Students 'Find Their Stride' in Life and Running by Kristen Coats, UVRC Member and Couch to 5k volunteer
Who's Who on the UVRC Board
By: RJ Jones
The dust has settled, the roar of the crowd dies down, and now your newly elected UVRC Board stands victorious from the grueling combat (aka an online election)! If you missed it, we had a recent changing of the Board members this year and there are a few new faces and many returning ones. The UVRC Board are the folks that are facilitating the behind-the-scenes work that keeps our club running smoothly and us moving forward both literally and metaphorically. Usually, people don’t want to know “how the sausage is made” but I think it is important (under all circumstances) to get to know the people that you elect; what their goals are, how you can relate to them, and also to see that they are quirky members of the community just like you! Which is why I asked my fellow Board members to write up a quick bio and answer some questions about themselves to help you get to know them and also so you can recognize who they are when you see them! These are your representatives that are committed to making changes in the club and the community so I highly encourage you to say hi when you see them and tell them your thoughts about ways we can make the running club even better! So in alphabetical order here are your current UVRC Board Members!
Position on the Board: help where needed
Where are you from: Suburbs of Philly
Goals on the Board: I'd love to get people together more often or outside of structured workouts
Running/Athletic Goals: Complete a hut traverse and a multi-day adventure!
What would your running theme song be: We Can't Stop by Miley Cyrus
Describe your perfect run: A climb so steep there is no expectation to run, tons of moss and mushrooms, and a technical descent where no one falls! Ok ok it's a hike.
Favorite stretch: Child's pose or half pigeon
What are reading/watching/listening to: I'm watching Love is Blind Season 3 and I feel like my brain is maybe turning to mush but the drama keeps me coming back week after week.
Position on the Board: Board member at large. Also series coordinator for the Upper Valley Running Series
Where are you from: Originally Cleveland OH, been in Hanover for the last 13 years
Goals on the Board: Keep the UVRS going!
Running/Athletic Goals: Running goal #1: Avoid major injuries. #1 permitting, would love to pace CBHM and CHaD, and qualify as UVRS finisher
What would your running theme song be: I'm a podcast while running guy... screw you music!
Describe your perfect run: We lived in Marin County for one year, and the trail running there was amazing! Mount Tamalpais, Muir Woods, the Dipsea Trail, Tennessee Valley Beach... such great runs and memories. Especially when my wife Nancy ran with me; pretty rarely in those days due to childcare issues
Favorite stretch: I wouldn't say it's my "favorite" thing, but my IT bands are very balky and need lots of stretching.
What are reading/watching/listening to: I just finished reading "Legends and Lattes" and it was a great comfort read.
Anything else you’d like to add: I was one of the founding UVRC members 12 years ago. My main reason for founding the club was to run with friends, new and old. So, let's go for a run!
Position on the Board: Treasurer/Leb. Rec. Liaison
Where are you from: Rhode Island
Goals on the Board: Continue assisting all members and be as supportive as possible to further club involvement and benefits
Running/Athletic Goals: Ideally to get my kids running with me, and to avoid getting shin splints.
What would your running theme song be: Anything fast-paced, and or something I can sing to. There are just so many options.
Describe your perfect run: HAHA well I can share one of my most memorable runs is running in the rain on a trail race. Although wet and cold when most folks were running around the puddles I loved running through them.
Favorite stretch: Any stretch where I can feel it is a great stretch.
What are reading/watching/listening to: Oh this is a good one. I often listen to music and PINK is a favorite. However if I’m going with what I’m spending most of my time doing it’s either coaching my kids in a sport of the season or helping with our school Parent Teacher Organization.
Robert Jones (RJ)
Position on the Board: President
Where are you from: Phoenix, Arizona. I came for an internship 8 years ago and I guess I lost track of time
Goals on the Board: To help more people enjoy running!
Running/Athletic Goals: I would like to do a double-digit run at least once a month. But my discipline is like the house of straw that the little pig built; a poor architectural decision and also it will collapse at the slightest provocation
What would your running theme song be: Get Over the Barrier (the Roaring Version) by the Falcom Sound Team. It’s from a video game and the Falcom Sound Team decided to crank the epicness to 11 and then break the dial clean off
Describe your perfect run: Just warm enough where I can wear a tank top and shorty shorts and feel comfortable, mostly flat with a net downhill, ideally no one else is around so I can sing out loud when the moment strikes me and not feel self-conscious, and ending at a nice bench or somewhere where I can flompf down and stretch and then get a cold drink. It’s the Rail Trail, I want to run on the Rail Trail all the time. Vert is for chumps
Favorite stretch: Sumo Squat!
What are reading/watching/listening to: I just watched Speed Racer for the first time. It is SO GOOD! My retinas were almost incinerated from all the color and brightness, but it was worth it.
Anything else you’d like to add: My sub-goals are to become locally famous as “that weirdo that runs on Route 120 all the time and appears to be dance-running”. And also to develop a catchy slogan for UVRC.
Position on the Board: Board member at large
Where are you from: Currently White River Junction, previously too many to list!
Goals on the Board: Bulking up our social calendar
Running/Athletic Goals: Run slower and lift more!
What would your running theme song be: Funkytown by Lipps Inc.
Describe your perfect run: Moose Mtn loop on a clear, crisp fall day
Favorite stretch: Love a good supine spinal twist
What are reading/watching/listening to: I recently watched Reservation Dogs on Hulu and can’t recommend it enough! Hilarious and heartfelt.
Position on the Board: Pacing Volunteer Coordinator
Where are you from: Connecticut/Vermont
Goals on the Board: Provide a fun environment for fellow runners
What would your running theme song be: Song Beat Control - Tilly and The Wall
Describe your perfect run: Running out my door on a combination of trails and roads that passes by several Witch Windows
Favorite stretch: Pigeon Pose
What are reading/watching/listening to: I have not been reading or watching anything lately as I have been working on a weather station and indoor temperature webserver for home. I do listen to many podcasts. Lately, I have been listening to a snowboard podcast, The Bomb Hole, and A Brief History of Mathematics.
Position on the Board: I’m a member of the UVRS (Upper Valley Running Series) and Social Committees. I also put together the Runner Profile in the monthly newsletter so let me know if you would like to nominate any of your friends!
Where are you from: I was born in Minnesota but grew up in Central Wisconsin and consider that home.
Goals on the Board: Increasing sustainable initiatives and awareness
Running/Athletic Goals: Potentially running my first race in 3 years after coming back from an injury.
What would your running theme song be: ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen
Describe your perfect run: Right now it’s any run that doesn’t leave me feeling a little too tight the next day!
Favorite stretch: Can’t say I have one but I’ve been trying to be more consistent about practicing yoga, especially targeting the low back and hips.
What are reading/watching/listening to: Oh where to start! I’ll keep it simple(ish). I’m listening to an audiobook titled ‘World Without End’ by Ken Follett and it’s a 45 hour journey about monks and builders filled with political and personal drama. I also happen to be reading a book called ‘The World We Make’ by N.K. Jemisin, so apparently I enjoy books about worlds.
Position on the Board: Secretary
Where are you from: Wilder, Vermont
Goals on the Board: Continuing to create a welcoming environment; To support members in reaching their running goals - whether it's a 5k or a 50k!
Running/Athletic Goals: Run the Covered Bridges Half-Marathon in a time that is faster than my last (and first) Half-Marathon in Concord, NH
What would your running theme song be: Anything from the Rocky IV soundtrack - thinking of the training montage scene when Rocky runs in deep snow always gets me pumped!
Describe your perfect run: A perfect run is gently rolling hills, about 70 degrees, all on soft dirt, and with a running buddy to push me! Oh, and a lake to jump into when we are done!
Favorite stretch: Pigeon pose all the way.
What are reading/watching/listening to: I just finished The Last Dance and was completely engrossed. Chicago Bulls were all over the headlines for the entire 1990's. It was so interesting to see the personalities and team dynamics behind the scenes. I finished it over a week ago, so now, I am actually about to start one of Phil Jackson's books! :)
Position on the Board: Formally President, presently Tuesday Night Track Coach (also Vice President)
Where are you from: I was born in Wisconsin, raised in upstate (western New York), but have lived in New Hampshire since 1988
Goals on the Board: I wanted to see the club grow into a year-round program (TNT use to go from April to October), and for us to support the more competitive sprite of the club (on-going). I am also interested in more professional coaching (two of us are now certified).
Running/Athletic Goals: Less injuries and more races
What would your running theme song be: Theme from Chariots of Fire
Describe your perfect run: "Golden Runs" (as I call them), are recognizable because you negative split without trying. Golden sunlight, dew speckled meadows, or perfect snow also help!
Favorite stretch: Huddler stretch. Not really useful, but very relaxing. Also reminds me of my steeplechase days
What are reading/watching/listening to: Reading: Fiction: Mysteries & Adventures. Non-fiction: Nature & Wilderness (non-tragic) adventures/exploration.
UVRS 2022 Prize Ceremony
By: Geoff Dunbar
Announcing prizes for the 2022 Upper Valley Running Series! For those who achieved coveted Series Finisher status, we've got some prizes for you.
- When: Tuesday, February 14 6:30pm
- Where: Ramuntos Pizza, Hanover
- What: UVRC Runner's Night Out
- What Else: UVRS Prize Ceremony
- Who: Anyone in the UVRC is welcome!
I'm out of town that week so RJ is going to handle prize-giving duties.
UVRS finishers, you should have _already_ received a code to sign-up for Covered Bridges 2023, as part of your winning. If you can't make the ceremony, no problem, we can arrange pick-up at the Lebanon Recreation office.
Don't know what the UVRS is? See here for information about the 2022 series. The 2023 series information coming soon.
Thanks to the 2022 UVRS committee for putting the prizes together!
Red Zone 5K
By: Geoff Dunbar
We're planning to do a kick-off for the 2023 Upper Valley Running Series (UVRS) at the Red Zone 5K in Wilder VT, 10:30 on February 11 (Super Bowl Saturday). You can check out more information on the flyer or at the registration website.
Note that the Red Zone 5K is not _in_ the UVRS for 2023, so don't worry if you can't make it. But it's a fun and well-organized winter run, so I hope I'll see many of you there.
Don't know what the UVRS is? Check out last year's website. The 2023 website is coming soon.
Also I know there have been a few questions about the Shamrock Shuffle registration WRT the UVRS. We're not announcing the series until the Red Zone 5K, but you might want to hold off on registering for the Shuffle if you are planning to register for the UVRS.
Geoff and the 2023 Upper Valley Running Series Committee
Shiver Me Shamrocks 5K
By: Shannon Reilly Poole (Heritage Credit Union)
What: The Shiver Me Shamrocks 5K
When: 11 March 2023
Where: Downtown Rutland
The Heritage Family Credit Union is proud to sponsor the Shiver Me Shamrocks 5k in Rutland, VT. It also includes an after party at Hop n’ Moose!
UVRC members can receive $5 off registration with code RUNCLUB5 at checkout. They can register at https://www.active.com/rutland-vt/running/distance-running-races/shiver-me-shamrocks-5k-run-walk-2023
All proceeds benefit Come Alive Outside in Rutland, Vermont.
The first 200 registrations will receive a FREE winter pom hat!
Every registered 5k runner/walker will receive a drink ticket, good for one drink or soda, to use during the after party at Hop n’ Moose (Center St next to the start/finish line!
Kids will begin the day with the FREE Leprechaun Leap Fun Run down Center Street at 1pm. Prizes for best costume!
Race prizes for overall first place Men & Women and first place in each age group for both Men & Women - timing by Granite State Race Services.
Men's, Women's and Kid's Best Costume will also be awarded so be sure to wear your green.
There is a 60 minute time limit to walk or run the 5k. Race support will be pulled at 2pm.
No dogs allowed. Strollers are highly discouraged due to the poor road and sidewalk conditions this time of year.
2023 New Hampshire Grand Prix
By: Jim Westrich
A few weeks ago the NH Grand Prix running series was set. I wanted everyone in the club know that you are welcome to join other UVRC runners for any or all of these races.
Before I list the races I want to thank everyone who responded to the poll and help shape the 2023 series. We got 22 respondents so that was a great help to gauge what the club wanted out of the series. We wanted 6 races and we got that. A few people wanted more 5Ks and we got 2. The Down River 10k was the most popular local race and we got that. Most of us wanted closer races but we did not get that.
Here are the races. We should have a van going to all the away races so feel free to start training for the March race.
- 3/26 - Nashua Soup Kitchen (Nashua)10K
- 5/7 - Cinco de Miles (Bedford) 5K
- 7/4 - Run for Freedom (Derry) 10k
- 9/17 - Halfway to St. Patrick's Day (Manchester) 5k
- 10/7 - Down River Trail Run (Enfield/Lebanon) 10k
- 10/22 - Delta Dental / New England Half Marathon (Hopkinton/Concord)
Two changes to NH Grand rules this year:
- Runners need to complete only 5 out of the 6 races to be a Granite Runner. I am hoping we can get a bunch of Granite Runners in the UVRC this year. Being a Granite Runner means you get some unique and as of now undetermined swag (I have suggested carving our likenesses on Cannon Mountain but that may not be the prize this year).
- New England Half Marathon will count 25% more than other races (points out of 125 instead of 100).
I will be posting more about each race and details as we get closer. I just wanted you to have 2 months notice for the first race. We may even have announcements about swag for Grand Prix runners. Right now, we are going to continue to give away UVRC singlets for anyone who runs two or more away races (we can even give them to you in advance if you sign up for 2 races). A lot of the races this year have bigger after parties than in past years so maybe that may encourage more UVRC runners. Anyway, there will be singlets for sure for those who have not earned one before and I am looking for other ideas for more swag for those who participate in the series.
The series is designed and scored to encourage participation (last several Couch to 5K runners earned more than 50 points just by running in Skip's Run). You can earn more points by placing higher in your age and gender category but it is a team competition so lots of people of all abilities running will earn lots more points than a select few. Please join us for as many races as you can!
Thanks all and enjoy the winter running.
Ivy League Championship Marshalls
By: Jim Westrich
Dartmouth Track and Field and the Ivy League are looking for volunteer Marshalls for the Ivy League Heptagonal* Indoor Track & Field Championships February 25th and 26th. They are asking for 5 marshalls for each session and Dartmouth athletics will fill in any spots that do not have volunteers. We have had several UVRC members that have volunteered in the last few years for various tasks and Dartmouth athletics wants to use us as their first choice for Marshalls for this important event.
Marshalls generally do crowd control at track events and there will likely be a few hundred athletes and spectators at Leverone for most of the weekend. There may be other minor duties as needed. There will also be perks! We have gotten food this year at every volunteer opportunity (chips, drinks and sandwiches), preferred parking next to Leverone, and for the "Heps" Championship there will be shirts to wear (and keep). It will also be a very exciting event.
As I have been asked to be an Umpire for the meet I will not be able to be a Marshall so we are hoping that we can have a head Marshall as well for Saturday or Sunday (we may have one for Sunday but not sure right now). Let me know if you are interested in that as well--it is a fairly simple job but important.
At the bottom of this email is a link to a Google doc to sign up for 3 or 4 hour shifts for that weekend. There are 4 sessions--2 each on Saturday and Sunday. Feel free to sign for more than one session or sign up as a group! Thank you!
*The Ivy League running championships in track and field as well as cross country are called "Heptagonal" as they originally had seven schools (no Brown I think) before the Ivy League was formed. They kept the name despite having 8 schools for men and women once the Ivy League was created. This confused me so I am including this note in case in confused any of you.
Get Fit Local
By: RJ Jones
Hey UVRC! Do you like supporting local businesses while saving money? Do you like fitness and fitness programs? Well, good news! We have been in talks with some of our local athletic, fitness, and recreation centers about ways we can help our members achieve and maintain their fitness levels. We are in agreement that as great as running is, fitness and wellness come from a diversity of activities and movements. That’s why the Carter Community Building Association (CCBA), Upper Valley Aquatics Center (UVAC), and Dartmouth Athletics are interested in providing UVRC members with a discounted membership rate!
Now before I get into the good stuff I want to make it clear that this would be for new memberships only, sadly if you already have a membership at these lovely places you will not be eligible for the discount. That being said though, we hope that this will be a consistent relationship so there’s potential next year!
But since this is a bit new (and somewhat of a financial risk for them), before they can commit to the discounts, they need a commitment from us. They’ve asked us to poll our membership to see who would be interested which would help us negotiate rates. To facilitate this, Kristine was kind enough to create sign-up pages for each facility, they’re links to Leb Rec just like you would use to register as a UVRC member or for the vanpools. If you’re interested in becoming a member at the CCBA, UVAC, or Dartmouth Alumni Gym, simply follow the link and “sign up”. Note that this is just a poll, not an official membership yet, but in the near-term we will be using this data to hopefully put together a membership agreement with each of these facilities!
If you’ve never been to these gyms or want a peek at what they have to offer, here is a brief summary of their facilities, programs, and opportunities
Carter Community Building Association (CCBA)
Your membership gives you access to our glass-enclosed pool, 35+ weekly group fitness, and indoor cycling classes. Pick and choose from boot camp, HIIT, Zumba, aqua fitness, TRX, yoga, and more!
- Adult sports programs
- Youth sports programs
- Basketball and tennis courts
- Soccer and multipurpose fields
- Free weights and strength training equipment
- Cardio equipment
Interested in a CCBA membership? Express your interest here: https://secure.rec1.com/NH/city-of-lebanon/catalog?filter=c2VhcmNoPTIzOTUyMTI=
Upper Valley Aquatic Center (UVAC)
- FREE 70+ weekly land and water classes
- FREE Wellness Screening to test your overall fitness
- Discounts on swim lessons for children and adults, camps and other programs
- Unlimited access to a state-of-the-art Competition Pool, Warm Water Pool, Splash Park, and Fitness Center
- Nationally certified trainers and instructors
- Economical small group training programs
- Fully equipped gym with strength and cardio machines with private viewing screens
- Full schedule of indoor cycling FREE to members
- Spacious Family changing rooms
- Party, group, and event rental options
- EFT and Annual membership may be put on hold twice a year for up to 60 days total per year
- On-site BE Fit Physical Therapy
- BLEND Smoothie Bar
Interested in a UVAC membership? Express your interest here: https://secure.rec1.com/NH/city-of-lebanon/catalog?filter=c2VhcmNoPTIzOTUyMTE=
Dartmouth Alumni Gym
Dartmouth Gym memberships are only valid until 1 July 2023 and will need to be renewed for Fall Term. Dartmouth Gym membership includes:
- Access to our Karl Michael Pool any weekday from 10 am-2 pm and any weekend from 2 pm-5 pm. This is a full-sized pool that offers 8 swimming lanes to choose from.
- Access to our 12 Squash/Racquetball Courts. Squash/Racquetball equipment can be rented at the Alumni Gym front desk for no charge.
- Access to our 1/13th of a mile indoor jogging track.
- Access to 4 basketball hoops on 2 courts. Basketballs can be rented from the Alumni Gym front desk for no charge.
- Access to the Zimmerman Fitness Center which contains will contain all new cardio equipment comes February, free weights, squat racks, rowing machines, spin bikes, and weight lifting machines.
Interested in a Dartmouth Gym membership? Express your interest here: https://secure.rec1.com/NH/city-of-lebanon/catalog?filter=c2VhcmNoPTIzOTUyMTc=
Safety First: CPR and First Aid Classes
By: RJ Jones
Friends, sorry to get real with you but crisis moments can happen at any time with absolutely no warning. Especially this time of year where there are many icy spots; it is unfortunately not uncommon for someone (and it could be anyone) to become critically injured from slipping and falling. We can do our best to prevent these moments from happening in the first place, but when they do, being prepared can prevent serious injury and even save lives
As runners in this area in particular, we are often off on remote roads and trails where emergency services cannot easily or readily reach you, so it is important for as many community members as possible to be trained in First Aid and CPR because you never know when you might need them. This is why I am pleased to announce that UVRC and Leb Rec will be sponsoring a First Aid and CPR training class!
Our first class (because hopefully this will be a recurring event) will be offered Saturday 4 March 2023, 0900-1500 at Lebanon City Hall. Space will be limited so we can only have up to 50 people. BUT we will happily set up another class at a later date if there are more people who are interested or if you cannot make this class. This class will be FREE and also lunch will be provided!
Please register through Leb Rec using the link below
CPR/First Aid Class: https://secure.rec1.com/NH/city-of-lebanon/catalog?filter=c2VhcmNoPTIzOTUyMjY=
And HUGE thank you to Kristine Flythe and Leb Rec for setting this up!
Yoga for Runners
By: RJ Jones
Yoga is great y’all. And yoga is for everyone! While for many yoga is primarily an exercise routine I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there is a deep and rich cultural history to yoga that extends far beyond our contemporary practical purposes and understanding. But this is not a history of yoga article, this is a “what yoga can do for you as a runner and how you can incorporate it into your life” article (title pending).
At the core of yoga is a tenet that one can and should be in tune with their body. Or put another way; one should be able to consciously experience every part of their body. Think about how often during the day we just put our bodies on autopilot without really being aware of the movement of our limbs. Even as I’m writing this I notice that I’m unconsciously hunching over and sitting poorly at my desk. Well yoga is here to help address that through intentional and conscious stretches and exercises.
Yoga is particularly beneficial to runners because most, if not all, of the poses and flows (series of connected poses) are compound in nature; meaning that they incorporate multiple muscle groups at once. This is helpful to us because it builds muscle stability and prevents us from over developing some muscles while neglecting others which can set you up for injury. Yoga also strengthens and stretches muscles, increasing flexibility and working out tension so it fits in wonderfully with your recovery. And when done with intent, i.e. slowly, consciously, and with focus; it can help relax the mind and slow down those racing thoughts and anxieties.
But like any activity, it takes time. Fortunately if you have even just 15 minutes to spare, you can perform a beneficial yoga routine. Truth be told, even spending 5 minutes stretching, slowing down, and focusing on your body and breath is helpful to your mental health, but to gain more benefits to flexibility and injury prevention you do have to put in more time. Sadly we haven’t mastered time travel yet so the only way for us to have time is to make it.
My recommendation is to fit a full yoga routine (15+ minutes) in on your typical recovery days at points where you would want to wind down or “get your head on right” e.g. first thing in the morning, on your lunch break, after work, before bed, or if you have an easy run you could incorporate yoga into your cool down since you should be stretching anyway. Or if you want to reduce one potentially bad habit while building a better one, pop down into pose whenever you feel the urge to scroll through your phone (your brain and mental health will thank you). Whenever you manage to squeeze some yoga in be mindful of the following guidance
- Be mindful and intentional: one of the benefits of yoga is that you are focusing on you, your body, and your mind. This all goes out the window if you are focusing on other things and not giving your movements your full attention. I know from experience that on demand focus is difficult especially when your mind is in a constant state of racing, however, it helps to start each routine, even the short ones, by counting deep breaths in for 10 counts and deep breaths out for 10 counts. It can act as a fire break for your thoughts and help refocus you. Remember if you’re going to do yoga, DO yoga.
- Breathe: Deep intentional breaths the entire time, don’t hold back your stomach, let it expand naturally. And when you exhale don’t be polite about it, let it out no matter how it sounds (but slowly). 10 breaths (10 in and 10 out) is a typical amount of time to hold a pose
- Move to stretch, not to pain: Go into every position slowly and to the point where you feel a stretch but it is not painful. Your body knows the difference between outright pain and discomfort. Flexibility is not easy and takes work, so go easy on yourself if you cannot go very deep into a pose, that is the reason you are doing it in the first place, to get better.
You can do it! I won’t bog you down with a bunch of resources but know that you can essentially go to YouTube and search for yoga that fits any demographic and skill level i.e. I looked up “Yoga for inflexible men over 30” (which is me) and got a ton of videos. And to show that you can do yoga anywhere at any time even if you aren’t very flexy, here are some good yoga poses for runners that I did in my office at work. I included the names so you can look them up for full descriptions and form. Go for it team!
Helping Students 'Find Their Stride' in Life and Running
By: Kristen Coats, UVRC Member and Couch to 5k volunteer
What if your alarm clock never squawked that familiar beep-beep-beep at o-dark-thirty? What if your ‘works-with-Alexa’ coffee maker never brewed your pre-run nectar? What if your mudroom wasn’t a technicolor repository of zero drop, low drop, and high drop shoes? What if you never experienced any of these morning rituals (and dare I say isms), because you were never introduced to running?
No running?!! What?!! For many of us, running is more than just competition and exercise. Running is connection, camaraderie, social capital, community, a prophylaxis for good mental health. AND beer and pizza and chocolate and (enter post-run fattening food here). But how do we move the needle from the former narrative of ‘no running,’ which could also curtail friendships and connections, to an aspirational vision for more runners and younger runners ‘who thrive socially, emotionally and physically…”? One great solution to this question began a dozen years ago.
In 2011, my husband Paul introduced me to Jenny Williams, a Dartmouth alum, local business leader, and at the time the Norwich Recreation cross-country coach. I was dazzled by Jenny’s tenacity and vision for youth running programs. Jenny began designing a model of no-barrier running for students at Mascoma’s Indian River Middle School. With a bit of networking, Jenny attracted strong support from decision makers, key stakeholders, and coaches, including a formidable coach named Ben True.
Jenny’s vision is now a flourishing nonprofit, known to many as Finding Our Stride (FOS). Their aim is holistic and intentional: “Building Fitness, Self-Esteem, and Resilience through Running.” FOS offers free after school running programs for six to eight weeks at 28 sites in the Upper Valley region of VT and NH, two seasons per year. Eighty percent of coaches are teachers, guidance counselors or social workers at the schools at which they coach. The program provides modest coaching stipends, training and resources for coaches, nutritious snacks, entry to an end-of-season community running event, and shoe vouchers on an as-needed basis.
A cornerstone of the program is community engagement, as connection within one’s community helps to foster self-esteem and resilience. Each spring season, teams choose non-profit organizations to support, and runners and coaches collect funds or goods for those local charities. In the spring of 2022, FOS teams supported the Upper Valley Humane Society, the Upper Valley Haven, the Caring and Sharing Food pantry, the Cancer Center at Dartmouth Health, the Friends of Wrights Mountain Trails in Bradford, VT, and playground maintenance at their own schools. A generous anonymous donor matched all contributions, resulting in an investment of over $8,000 in the local non-profit community.
In the fall, all teams (including runners, coaches and family members) run in the Dartmouth Health Children’s “Hero” run. In 2022, the FOS team of 329 participants was the largest, and the #1 fundraising team, contributing $31,720 to Dartmouth Health Children’s. FOS is proud of their runners, who raise these funds through coin drives, bake sales and modest donations (even birthday money) from family and friends.
I was privileged to work with Jenny during the early years of FOS by helping her make community connections and recruit schools in Vermont and New Hampshire. In addition, I was honored to help advance FOS as a Board member from 2019 - 2022. FOS achieved huge milestones over the past decade, which is another article for another time. However, I want to bring FOS to our attention as adult runners who are fortunate to participate in a great running club and community. I invite you to help further the work of FOS by considering one or more of the following action steps.
- Become familiar with FOS and learn about their mission, vision and values.
- Consider becoming a coach one day a week at a participating FOS school near-ish you.
- Consider giving to FOS, one simple way is to give a gift of $100 to support their no-barrier’s shoe voucher program. This ensures every student athlete has great running shoes.
In closing, I am compelled to ask you to consider these action steps, because you were once introduced to running. And if you are at all like me, it has made a HUGE difference in the way I live and thrive. So let’s be grateful for running and pay it forward with some local support and social good.
Photos linked: FOS student athletes at the 2022 Dartmouth Health Children’s “Hero” run