Run Long Run Strong Endurance Coaching, LLC

New Year, New Journey: How to Enjoy Running Again

02 Jan

Starting a new year is always a good time for reflections on past achievements and goal setting for new ones.  Starting a new decade makes it, well, ten times better!!

I was out on my first run of 2020 and it occurred to me that a lot of athletes might be doing the same thing, at the same time, and having the same thoughts.  “Why am I so slow?  I only took a little time off and it feels like everything is SO HARD!!  Lots of my other running friends took time off and it doesn’t seem like it slowed them down at all.  Their workouts on Strava look so fast!!  What’s wrong with me?”

Nothing is wrong with you.

The problem stems from comparisons.  Comparing your workouts to your spouse’s or your friend’s workouts.  Comparing yourself to your last year’s self.  Comparing yourself to the version of yourself that you hope to be.

Capitalizing on the ten times better reference, let’s talk about ten ways that you can be a better athlete without that pesky comparison problem getting in the way.

  • Be realistic.  You are never going to be the same as you were last year, 5 years ago, ten years ago.  And you don’t know if or when you will get any better in the future.  The only thing that you CAN do is to be the best that you can be RIGHT NOW.
  • Be honest.  Do you really know how much time everyone else took off?  Do you know what other things they might have been doing in terms of cross-training, nutrition, recovery?  No two people train or recover the same way, so you shouldn’t expect to come out of the gate the same way, either.
  • Be present.  When you tackle a workout, be an active participant in each moment of it.  Don’t zone out to your tunes or worry about that 20-mile run you have planned for next weekend.  Pay attention to your breathing, your foot strike, your posture.  Take in the nutrition and hydration that you need.  Make each workout count.
  • Be in the know.  Why are you doing a workout?  Is it a recovery run?  Is it a threshold run?  Is it a VO2max workout?  Knowing WHY you are doing a workout can be as important as the workout itself.  If you don’t know why you are doing a certain workout, ask your coach.
  • Be patient.  Every run is not going to be a PR, nor should it be.  Eighty percent of your workouts should be easy, well below your threshold effort.  If you get annoyed because you aren’t getting faster each time you run, refer to #4.
  • Be happy.  Yes, smile while you run!!  If you don’t believe that smiling can make your runs more enjoyable and more effective, ask Eliud Kipchoge.
  • Be observant.  Feeling particularly fatigued after your long run?  Check back over what you did over the past few days.  Did you get enough sleep?  Did you hydrate well?  Did you fuel properly?  Or did you binge watch Criminal Minds all night while scarfing ice cream and knocking back Red Bulls?  Often the reasons we feel sluggish after (or during) a run have nothing to do with running at all.
  • Be encouraging.  Instead of getting frustrated at your friend’s pace and thinking snarky thoughts, drop them an encouraging message.  Cheerleading for someone else has a sneaky way of making YOU feel better.  Spread some joy and watch it come back to you – and it might just make your feet lighter on your next run, too!! 
  • Be a participant.  Seek out your local running club and offer to be a sweeper on their next group run.  Not only will you get your miles in, but you’ll most likely be a big help to someone else who is struggling.
  • Be kind – TO YOURSELF!!  We are our own biggest critics, no secret about that.  Make your relationship with yourself a priority and think about the things you say and think about yourself.  Would you say those things to your best friend?  

Remember, running is supposed to be fun.  You may want to get a PR, or a podium spot, or finish that 100 miler, and that’s great!!  However, running is about the journey and not the destination, and each of our journeys is different.  Stop worrying and enjoy the process.  Happy running!

Do you have a Casper the (not so friendly) Ghost?

12 Dec

You have an athlete you’ve been working with for a while now.  They’ve not always been the most consistent, but they usually get most of their workouts done.  Each week, you email or text to check in and you get a response 70% of the time.

Fast forward a few weeks, and now the athlete is barely doing workouts and your emails and texts go unanswered.  Then, soon after, even the workouts stop getting done.  You wonder what’s going on when the answer hits you.  You’ve been ghosted.

You look back over your communications with the athlete, searching for signs of what went wrong.  You scour workout histories and race results.  In the end you are still left scratching your head and wondering if you could have done something different, and not only have you lost an athlete, but your self-confidence probably took a hit, too.

The truth is, chances are that you did nothing wrong and neither did your athlete – at least from a coaching standpoint.  Oftentimes the problem begins before you even sign the athlete on.  There are a few things you can do to hopefully avoid circumstances that allow for ghosting to happen.

It starts with the initial contact.  Whatever method you use to fill your athlete pipeline, you can have multiple points at which you can use effective interviewing questions to gather information and create an athlete profile.

Have a few key intake questions attached to your contact form or scheduler that the athlete has to fill out before confirming an initial consult.  Ask things that are absolute deal-breakers for you. Questions that clearly reveal a discrepancy in philosophy or show that this may not be a good athlete/coach relationship could save you trouble down the road.  Based on the athlete’s answers, you can either do some follow-up questioning to dig a little deeper or send a respectful reply in which you explain that your roster is currently full, and you are not taking new athletes at this time.  Be sure to have a network of coaches that you can refer them to so you can end the communication on a positive note.

If an athlete answers the initial questions and you determine that the relationship might be a good fit, go ahead and book that consultation.  It is during this consult call that you will have another opportunity to ask questions.  It is important for you to understand that you are interviewing the athlete, not the other way around!  It is YOUR business, and you determine who you work with.

When interviewing an athlete be sure to ask them how much they value communication and what their preferred method of contact is.  Also ask what he or she thinks a coach does, what they expect from a coach, and what he or she thinks you will expect from them as an athlete.  Questioning like this will help you establish a good foundation with an athlete and will also point out some red flag behavior.

Finally, have a clause in your athlete/coach contract that clearly states what you consider ghosting to be in terms of communication and getting workouts done and what the consequences of those actions (or inactions) are.  Be sure to stress to the athlete to read the entire contract before signing it.  You can also add spots for the athlete to initial (next to the points of the contract that might get “skimmed”) so you can later point out to them that he or she agreed to these points if the need arises.

Ok, so you’ve done all your questioning and the athlete has signed the contract, and you determine you are going to start working together.  A few months down the road you begin to see early signs of ghosting behavior.  What can you do to mitigate the situation before you have to enforce the contract clause?

If the athlete is still communicating with you at all, you can use some motivational interviewing to see if you can figure out what is causing the ghosting behavior.  Does he or she have family issues going on that is preventing workout compliance?  Could he or she be sick, injured, or burned out?  Have the goals changed?  Does the athlete just not want to run anymore?

Use the answers as a guide to change the plan going forward, or to gently end the working relationship if that is what the athlete needs.  Try not to take anything personally – life is organic and dynamic and sometimes things happen that require the athlete to redirect his or her attention and focus less on running.

If all communication from the athlete has ceased yet they are still doing their prescribed workouts, you will have to decide whether or not to keep them on your roster.  While your job as a coach is to provide your athletes with workouts tailored to get them fit and ready for their goal races, it can be very difficult to assess progress and recovery without their input.

If communication has ceased AND the athlete is not compliant in his or her workouts, then it might be time to enforce the contract.  If you need to take this action, be sure to outline in your final email any attempts by you to contact them, note the prescribed versus missed workouts, and state your intention to terminate the contract (include the exact date and remind them of the contract clause regarding ghosting).

Every coach hopes to avoid encountering a ghost athlete, but the reality is that we will all most likely have at least one during our coaching careers.  Use these tips to refine your athlete on-boarding and remember that each athlete, from the 100% compliant to the ones that disappear, will teach us something about ourselves and our methods.  Find the positive in each relationship, and you will become a better coach and a better person.

Happy coaching!!

Holly C.

30 Nov

Run Long~Run Strong: How old are you?
Holly C: 27 for the 20th time, hahahahaha

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
HC: I’m in a relationship with a man who is very tolerant of my exercise schedule.  I started my 2nd career 3 years ago as a medical lab technician.

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
HC: I started running in my early 30s and realized that it satisfied my need for self-flagellation.

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
HC: I love the feeling I have after finishing run.

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
HC: I love to write fiction. Someday, I will write the story of a feckless heroine who overcomes injuries and a myriad neuroses to complete a marathon.

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
HC: The Twilight Run at Bluff Point park.

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
HC: I would love to do a marathon in foreign country.

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
HC: One year, during a Bluff Point race, a gnarly June bug flew into my mouth.  I kept my cool and carried on, but I could feel it crawling around in my throat.  Later in that same race, I saw a deer and got all excited and than fell on my face.

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
HC: Finishing my 1st half marathon.

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
HC: Running inspires certain bodily functions and the most inconvenient moments.  It’s best to sit on the toilet with a magazine for 20 minutes before a race.

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
HC: Make sure to consistently stretch and massage. And honor your body when an injury crops up.  Let your body heal when it needs to.

Ben N.

19 Nov

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Ben N: 46

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
BN: Daughter and 2 grandkids. Married to Laura.  She understands my mental state quite well!  I am a physician assistant and have been so for 24 years.

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
BN: I started running consistently 10 years ago after several of my patients convinced me to train for a half marathon. I have been addicted since.  

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
BN: Signing up for the next race!  Running with my dog. She is a pound rescue and she helps keep me motivated to get out there even when it is -10.

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
BN: Hunting and anything to do with the grandchildren

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
BN: Teton Ragnar Ultra relay.  That was an amazing trail race with the most awe inspiring views! I would never change up my team of 4. Second would be Glendo WY trail 30K I ran with my dog. She was the true winner of the event. She set the K-9 course record even though it was the inaugural year. Third would be Lean Horse 50K in Custer SD.

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
BN: American Heroes Ultra.  I signed up for the 100 miler for Sept 11, 2020.  I would like to do a destination marathon like the Great Wall event.

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
BN: Being chased by a cow moose was not funny at the time!

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
BN: Winning my age for the Lean Horse 50K.  Introducing my love of running to me eldest brother, he is addicted to the run. 

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
BN: Proper nutrition and hydration during ultra events. 

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
BN: Sometimes it is important to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the views.  Slow days are very important. Pay attention to nutrition and hydration.

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just NEVER GIVE UP” – Dean Karnazes

Lesa D.

19 Nov

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Lesa D: I am 50 years old and will be 51 in November. I love the fall (not the shortened days tho) not only because it’s my birthday but the weather is chilly, the colors are spectacular and I love Thanksgiving! 

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
LD: I am twice married now to my soul mate. Or at least I like to think so. We have no children but a rescued Carolina Dog. Of course we guess that’s what she is because ‘someone said so.’ Her name is Mebbie after Meb!!!

I am a social worker at a VA hospital in NC and currently work with service members (mostly combat) that are transitioning off active duty into the VA Health Care system. I’m originally from W. PA just North of Pittsburgh.

Believe it or not, I totally use to hate running, I mean, LOATHE it!! But, I found that I can have fun and now that I found ultras – Mind Blown!! I can walk if I want to. 

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
LD: I started trying to run in the summer/fall of 2012 and failed miserably. I didn’t know what the crap I was doing and ended up getting horrible hip pain all ITB crap. I saw a group doing run/walk intervals one day and I thought for sure I could do the same. The winter of 2013 my husband signed me up for an all Ladies beginners running group and I learned to use run/walk. I actually was a group leader for the same group for 6 years. 

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
LD: Signing up for races. I think I would crap out if I didn’t have some form of race to motivate me. Plus, I like to travel for my races.

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
LD: I read, but I need more hobbies. Do you have suggestions?? We keep talking about joining a group that helps build fences for dogs but we never do. I suck. 

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
LD: Oooo. This is a tough one. I love MCM but the Flying Pig Marathon is a close second. 

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
LD: I don’t have one. (coach’s note: Yet.)

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
LD: Meeting up with a friend, who I was supposed to train MCM with and didn’t. Out of 30K runners we bumped into each other at the porta-potties and we ran 23 miles together. 

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
LD: Shoot.. getting the DFL award at the Algonquin 50K race this past Feb. Like, I literally had two seconds to spare when I crossed the finish line. It shouldn’t really be my proudest race moment bc I spent way too long screwing around at aid stations but it was an EPIC finish! 

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running
LD: Stretch, stretch and stretch and foam roll. Oh, and don’t buy the pretty shoes, but shoes that work for you. 

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
LD: Don’t compare yourself to other runners because if you do you will take the fun out of running for yourself. Bad runs happen and they are bound too, but you keep going. Forward, relentless, motion. 

Heart Rate Variability: A Valuable New Metric for Athletes

20 Sep

Have you ever wondered why you feel so exhausted the day after a stressful day at work or school?  Did you know that this stress can affect your workouts as well as your health?  What can you do to ensure that you can hit that hard workout tomorrow, despite having a tough day at work today?  Heart rate variability (HRV) could be the missing link to help you unlock your potential and have a healthier future.

What is HRV?

HRV is the measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat. This variation is controlled by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is divided into two components, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight-or-flight mechanism and the rest-and-digest response, respectively.

The ANS works regardless of our desires (hence the name autonomic) and regulates a variety of metabolics, including heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and digestion.  A higher HRV means more variability between heart beats and indicates a healthy and rested system.  Conversely a lower HRV means less variability, meaning the body is overly stressed or may indicate a brewing illness.

Why is HRV important?

The clinical importance of HRV was first recognized in 1965 when doctors noted that fetal distress was preceded by changes in heartbeat intervals before any change occurred in heart rate itself. During the 1970s, researchers devised a number of simple bedside tests used to detect autonomic nerve damage in diabetic patients and this furthered our understanding of the connection between HRV and overall health.

The association of higher risk of death after a heart attack with reduced HRV was first shown by researchers in 1977, and in the late 1980s it was confirmed that HRV was a strong predictor of death after a myocardial infarction event.

So, what does this mean for us as athletes and how can we relate HRV to training and performance?  It’s actually quite straightforward.  If we are stressed, our HRV goes down and we are less able to perform a strong workout. If we are recovered and relaxed, our HRV goes up and our bodies are primed to hit the hard intervals or the weights.

How do we measure HRV?

There are several devices on the market (WHOOP, which I personally use, and Oura, for example) that measure and track HRV.  You can also measure HRV using a standard chest strap heart rate monitor and any number of apps available on your smart phone.

If using the chest strap and app method, the measurement needs to be taken upon waking, before eating or drinking anything. Measurements should be done 4-5 times a week in order to get a proper baseline and trend.

If using one of the devices available, your job is even simpler.  The device automatically reads your HRV during your sleep phase and records it to the device’s platform.

What controls HRV?

HRV responds to changes in the autonomic nervous system activity associated with stress. Studies show that HRV changes in response to stress induced by various methods.  Some contributing factors to changes in HRV are the amount and quality of sleep, healthy eating habits (or lack thereof), a stressful day at work or a relaxing day at the beach.

The ANS responds to all of these inputs by sending signals to either the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) or the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest), and HRV will reflect the most active system.

Myocardial infarctions (heart attack), diabetes mellitus and heart transplants are just a few health issues that can cause long-term changes to normal HRV.  Some drugs and supplements can cause short-term changes to normal HRV and should be taken into consideration when tracking HRV.

High HRV equates to proper recovery and effective management of stress. 

We can counteract the effects of life and training stress by getting plenty of sleep, eating a variety of high-quality foods and hydrating properly.  Avoiding alcohol and caffeine also seem to contribute better recovery and subsequently, higher HRV.

Long-term stress contributes to a persistent low HRV because the body is in constant fight-or-flight mode, and may indicate overtraining syndrome or simply a need to reduce overall lifestyle stress.

How can we use HRV to train effectively?

Tracking HRV is a great tool to motivate change. It may encourage a runner to get more sleep or drop that extra tempo workout if his or her HRV is unusually low.  Conversely, it may motivate a runner to work a little harder at those intervals or push a bit to get those last few miles of a long run if his or her HRV is high and the body is primed to take on extra strain.

While monitoring and training using HRV obviously can’t help us avoid stress, it could help us understand how to respond to stress in a healthier way by adding meditation or by aiming to get a little more rest.

The body doesn’t know miles, or hours at work, or a fight with our spouse.  It knows stress.  By tracking the body’s response to stress, we can create a training program that works to progress the runner without overdoing it.

Since HRV is a marker of all life’s little stressors, altering the training plan according to a higher or lower HRV is more appropriate than rigidly sticking to a plan that might ultimately be the runner’s undoing.  In this way we can potentially avoid overtraining syndrome, illnesses or injuries that often accompanies hard training without getting enough recovery.

Further Reading:

Heart rate variability: A new way to track well-being

Heart Rate Variability Standards of Measurement, Physiological Interpretation, and Clinical Use

Stress and Heart Rate Variability: A Meta-Analysis and Review of the Literature

Natalie D.

09 Sep

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Natalie Dielman: 43

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
ND: I work at a library doing programming for adults.  

RLRS:When and why did you start running?
ND: About 10 years ago – I never understood why someone would run for fun and then one day I decided to try it. No idea why!  

RLRS:What keeps you motivated to train?
ND: RI love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a race (or long run).  I’ve never considered myself an athlete but I’m constantly amazed by what my body (and mind!) can do when running.

RLRS:What are your hobbies outside of running?
ND: I love to read, hang out with my family, and explore new places.

RLRS:What is your favorite race?
ND: I loved the Dublin Rock and Roll Half Marathon – great course, fun support, and a wonderful city.

RLRS:What is your bucket list event?
ND: Reykjavik Half Marathon!

RLRS:What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
ND: I’m a pro at posing for race pictures – even if I’m so over the race at that point, I can get a big smile on my face for the picture.  At the Dublin race, mile 12 or so, I started my race picture pose and the photographer said something like “smiling! Very impressed!”, lol.

RLRS:What is your proudest race moment?
ND: Finishing my first half marathon (Disney) was surreal and amazing.  

RLRS:What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
ND: That it is so mental!  I really have to make sure when I think I’m ready to stop that it’s not my mind talking (and it usually is my mind telling me I’m tired, not my body).

RLRS:What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
ND: You can do it – really!  And the more you run, the better you get.  

Lisa B.

08 Jul

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Lisa Brown: 51

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
LB: I have two kids, ages 20 and 25. Right now, I’m in the middle of a move to Ohio where my guy is starting a job at the University of Cincinnati. I’ve been a librarian for about 20ish years, the last 14 in public schools. Not sure what I’ll do in Ohio, so stay tuned!

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
LB: I was originally a road runner and triathlete when I started. It’s funny because when I finished my first 5K, someone mentioned that I should do a marathon. I remember shooting that idea down – and now I have two successful 50Ks under my belt. Oops. A couple years ago, I went totally to trails. Never looking back!

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
LB: My weight! Seriously, I love to eat and running makes me happy and calms my anxiety. The woods are my happy place.

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
LB: I’ve rediscovered a love of cooking – see what I’m saying? I like to read, hike, bike, travel, pretty much anything outdoors.

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
LB: I don’t think I’ve had one yet!

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
LB: I really wanted to do Twisted Branch this year, but nagging injuries have plagued me. It’s still on my list of “I really want to do this race!” 

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
LB: I was delirious during the end of the Dam Yeti 50K last year. About a mile or so from the finish, there was a dead raccoon who’d been struck by a car on the grass next to the trail. Out loud, I said, “guess you should’ve run faster.” Unfortunately it was out loud, so the other runners around me heard it, and cracked up. Lightened the moment and we still talk about it!

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
LB: It’s a tie – my first race six months after back surgery, and crossing the finish line at Algonquin 50K – my first successful race of that distance. 

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
LB: I’m not sure. I research everything to death (hello, librarian), so I like to think I’m sorta well-informed. 

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
LB: Go your own way. Be open to advice and criticism, but realize that you’re the one who has to be disciplined enough to get out the door. Kick your own ass and be proud!

Susan G.

05 Jul

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Susan Gilstrap: 44

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
SG: Married 12 years to a wonderful, supportive husband, Ken. I have two fur babies, 1) 5yr old purebred American Bulldog who is a meathead and loveable and 2) Winnie a 10 year old Corgi mix who just wants to lick you to death! We live in Dallas, TX. I work in advertising in downtown Dallas as a Sr. Art Director. 

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
SG: I started many years ago, around 2006ish and just wanted to get into shape.

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
SG: Honestly, I’ve lost motivation throughout the years especially after my marathon in 2015. I’ve started again and it’s the feeling I get after waking up in the morning (and I’m NOT a morning person) and knowing throughout the day that I got my workout done! Plus, I love seeing the green after I’ve completed a workout in TrainingPeaks!! hahaha

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
SG: I love horses and use that passion to create handmade cards/art.

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
SG: Not sure I have a favorite. Depends on where I’m at with my training. A good 5k is always great for motivation because the distance doesn’t kill you and you get a medal!

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
SG: Ooh, maybe the Honolulu Marathon and a 50 miler. (although the 50M seems almost impossible!!)

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
SG: During my marathon in 2015, we did it in Eugene, OR where my husband is from. About mile 15, both my sisters-in-law and their kids were driving up and down the street in their grandma’s old Caddy screaming out the window! Then, some of them jumped on course with me!! Mile 15 was when things were still funny! (not at mile 19 though!)

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
SG: Crossing that marathon finish line!!!

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
SG: Don’t stop believing in yourself!!

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
SG: Take it workout by workout. Try not to get overwhelmed by your goal race. “My race, my pace.” To try and not compare to others paces.

Jennifer S.

12 Jun

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Jennifer Stewart: 40.

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
JS: No human kids, but two active dogs (a German Shorthair Pointer and Lab/Golden mix that keep me on my toes and join me for long runs.  I’m married, and work for a health care consulting company based in Washington DC (but mostly work from my home office in Colorado).

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
JS: I grew up in Northern California near gorgeous trails.  I’ve enjoyed hiking and running as long as I can remember.

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
JS: After sitting at my desk, I love to get outside and move.  I moved to Boulder because the trails are so beautiful and varied, and they help encourage me to get outside.

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
JS: All the typical Colorado activities: mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding, backpacking, pack burro racing, canyoneering, nordic and downhill skiing.  And playing my banjo!

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
JS: I love the Red Hot Ultra in Moab.  It’s a gorgeous course that’s run mostly on slickrock.  The views are amazing and the trail is super fun. (It also routinely humbles me, since it’s hard for me to train for an ultra over the winter).

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
JS: The Grand Traverse ski race.

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
JS: While training for a long race, I had to slog up a hill alongside a road.  A car passed me right before the summit and everyone in the car cheered…. and when I made it to the top of the summit, the car’s passengers had strung toilet paper across the road and cheered for me when I ran through it and “broke the tape.”  It still brings a smile to my face.

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
JS: Standing at the starting line of an Ironman and knowing I had managed to adequately prepare… despite a full time job.

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
JS: There will be seasons to my running– times I want to run long and times I don’t; times I want to run with a group, and times I want to run solo; times I’m faster and times I’m slower.  It doesn’t matter which season I’m in.

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
JS: Find what makes you happy with running and do that. Don’t feel like you have to conform to what brings others joy.

Coach’s note: Jennifer is indeed tackling her bucket list race this year. We wish her the best!!