Letter from a Board Member

Looking at the Year Ahead: Words from the Prez

By: Robert "RJ" Jones

Salutations UVRC Fam!

I don’t know about you but in that crossover period between the previous year and the next, I get something like temporal dissonance, where time seems to be going too fast, too slow, and it hasn’t formally hit me that the year is gone and another is here. Maybe this is something we all experience where we are at the nexus of a new beginning and an ending where so many things seem possible and that's why we spend a lot of the beginning of the New Year making goals to accomplish. I say that but I couldn’t tell you what plans I made in January of 2023 to be honest, hence preservation through writing is key for success because I am terrible at holding myself accountable.

But this year will be special for me in regards to UVRC goals because this will be my last year as President of the club because in Fall 2024 I’m enrolling in the PhD Program at the University of Vermont and will be moving to Burlington. It is a decision that I am very excited about, but one that also causes me no small amount of sadness because I will sincerely miss the community I've come to know in the UV. I never would have imagined that my life would take me to the UV where I've got to befriend so many amazing people but I am eternally grateful for that opportunity. And to have been entrusted with leading this club for so long has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my adult life which is why I want to help set the club up to keep moving forward as my predecessors have done before me. I have a few goals for the year to accomplish before I go, some of them nebulous, some of them concrete, and I hope you’ll support me where applicable because while I am the President, my phenomenal cosmic powers are completely void without the power of community engagement! So here are my goals for the year in no particular order

Goal #1: Future Proof our Website

We are very fortunate that people more tech-savvy than myself set up our website. However, I speak from experience when I say that someone (me) poking around in there without knowledge can break things pretty easily. But this is going to become unavoidable as we continue to advance, expand, and modernize. So I want to get our website to a state in which it is easy to access, easy to update, and hard to break. I want to incorporate more of our social media presence to help us stay connected and advertise to new members. And also it would be pretty awesome to throw a merch store in there but that may be a little outside of SMART goals. Sooooo if you or a web developer you love want to help me atomize our website and reconstruct it again, please reach out!

Goal #2: Connect with Other Running Clubs

I think it was the New York Times or some other large news source that said 2023 was the year of running clubs and it was pointed out that there are actually many more clubs in New Hampshire and Vermont than just us (although in my completely unbiased opinion, we are the best one). I want to meet them and connect, let it be known that they are welcome to our community, and hopefully vice versa. I want to lay the groundwork for maybe one day having a Twin State Running Festival where we can all gather and run together like one big running family! I’ll probably have to road trip to a few places so if anyone wants to come along let me know!

Goal #3: Add a Mid-tier Workout

This is probably the hardest one of the goals mostly because it is the riskiest and the most effort-intensive. I’ve been thinking for a while that we need something in between our more intensive Tuesday Night Track workouts and our more socially oriented Saturday Morning Runs to round out our running portfolio so to speak. Something that isn’t necessarily focused on speed or building running strength but more on distance and time spent running. I think there are a lot of us (including myself) who are in the endurance valley (a phrase I just made up) where you can get to a pace you want but it’s maintaining it for a race distance that’s the hard part. Or maybe you just want to run for longer but not by yourself. It’s a work in progress but one I really want to actualize before I go

Goal #4: Make Running More Fun!

When I was a young lad in school we would go to the locker room, get changed into our gym clothes, and then gather around our PE teacher who would announce what we would be doing that day. Usually, this was things like “line up and pick captains for flag football” or “it’s a volleyball day, count off for teams”. But we knew that every once in and while there was going to be the dreaded wild card; THE MILE!  Our PE teachers seemed to get a small amount of sadistic pleasure by watching our faces drop when they announced that we were doing the Mile; which was just that we had to run a mile and if you didn’t improve on your time from last time, you had to run it again the next day or lose a letter grade in PE. To those of us who were not athletic but obsessed with our grades, this was pure torture. Contrary to this was when they would announce that it was either scooter day or dodgeball day, it was like all our suffering (keep in mind that I was a broody unathletic teenager) was worthwhile because those were fun days! I want to bring that latter energy to some of our workouts with running games. Still a challenge, of course, but I feel like very rarely as adults do we get to run for play and not for purpose. I’m talking relays, capture the flag, adventure quests, fartleks, and any other things y’all can think of to add to our workouts. 

Goal #5: Up Participation!

This one that is near and dear to my heart but technically the one I have the least control over. Last year our membership hit upwards of 320+ people but in my rough estimates, I usually only ever see about 100 or so of the same people at our workouts. I want to improve that in any way I can by reducing whatever barriers there are that keep people from coming. I think a portion of that might be because people don’t feel there is pace representation at our workouts or that the workouts are beyond their ability. I get it and I've been there, it's no fun to show up for something, end up being the odd one out, and have to do that thing by yourself so there’s little to encourage you to come back. And that’s the part that I have no control over. I want to work with the Board to make our workouts so that all feel welcome, have the space to achieve, and can connect with runners in their pace range but what I cannot do is make you show up. You have to do that. And that is my call to action to YOU for 2024. Show up. Show up and let us know what you want so we can make changes!

Personal Goals

Lastly, I just wanted to throw in some personal goals for the heck of it and maybe a little accountability. And I feel like I ask y’all to share parts of your life with the community, it's only right that I share some in return

  • Get better at French
  • Sew a complete wardrobe
  • Commute via running or biking more
  • Land an Ollie
  • Stop paying for meals at restaurants that I can easily make myself because I’m actually pretty good at cooking
  • Make onion rings from scratch
  • Squat my body weight
  • Do a podcast about something. Anything will do
  • Give heart rate training a try

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