Running - Page 5

Best Running Routes in Eugene

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Four years ago as an incoming freshman to the University of Oregon, I was thrilled at the idea of getting to run in Eugene, the mecca of running, on a daily basis. There was just one small problem. I had no idea where to go. Soon enough, I discovered several running routes that turned into favorites. Even now, I’m still finding new places to run. Listed below are some of my favorite spots to run in Eugene.

Willamette River

1. Willamette River Paths

Looking for an easy, peaceful run along the river? Head to the Willamette River Paths, located practically right across the street from campus. These series of connecting paths stretch for a total of 12 miles on either side of the river.

One of my favorite parts of this route is how flat it is. With the occasional bump that will last for a few seconds at most, the paths are entirely flat, making for an easy run. There are also a series of bridges along the route that act as turnaround points. So if you don’t want to do a boring out-and-back route, you can cross any of these bridges for a change of scenery on the other side. The route, lined with trees through a number of city parks, provides a good source of shade in the summer depending on the time of day you run.

There are also water fountains along the way to stay hydrated on those hot Oregon summer days. During the winter months when the water fountains are shut off, there are still several public restrooms along the way with sinks. The water in Eugene is very clean, so this is a good option to stay hydrated during the winter.

Screen shot 2013-01-31 at 3.56.05 PM

2. Pre’s Trail

While competing overseas in Europe, legendary Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine was impressed with the European cross country courses. When he returned, Prefontaine suggested to local officials that a running trail should be built in Alton Baker Park. Lane County worked with Bill Bowerman, the track coach at the University of Oregon, to build the trail. After Prefontaine’s death in 1975, the trail was used as a venue to host a memorial cross country race in his honor.

To this day, the trail is used widely on a daily basis by everyone from your casual walker, to runners training for the Olympics. The trail is well maintained, especially during the warmer months. It is the first running route I was introduced to in Eugene, and continues to be a personal favorite.

84-8003. Hendricks Park

Ask any runner if they want to run in Hendricks Park, and they might have to think twice before answering. This is a more challenging route with a good number of hills. However, it is also one of the more scenic running routes in all of Eugene, and the hills make it worth the challenge. It is entirely in the shade during the summer months, proving to be a great way to beat the heat.

The trail is narrow and provides for an exciting run with twists, turns, climbs, and drops. It’s like a ride at a theme park. The trail isn’t as well maintained as Pre’s Trail, but is still a very safe route that anyone could run, especially if you are feeling up for a challenge. I always feel most satisfied with my runs after tackling the hills of Hendricks Park.

Comment below with your favorite running spot in Eugene! Make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @EDN_Sports

Sean Larson Tracktown Profile

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SeanAsk any runner, and they will be able to tell you exactly when, and how they got started in the sport.

My story begins in the summer of 2007. I was just about to transfer to a new high school, having just moved to San Francisco from Billings, Montana. I learned that my new school had a cross country team, and I figured I’d give it a shot. My sister was on a cross country team in high school that competed at the state championship meet, so maybe it ran in the blood.

I had run casually over the past year, but nothing more than a few miles here and there. I began running nearly on a daily basis to get myself into shape, not knowing right away if I would stick with it.

Well, here I am five years later, still running. Since 2008, I have run six marathons (3:13:03 personal best), and five half marathons (1:27:01 personal best). I’ve had some incredible experiences along the way, including a four month sponsorship from ASICS while training for the New York City Marathon, a sponsorship I will be lucky to have again for the same race in 2013.

When people meet me, the first thing they learn is that I am a runner. I usually don’t even have to bring it up. People will just notice my two running tattoos on my arms, 26.2 in Roman numerals on my right arm, and a Greek phrase on my left wrist that is part of the story on how the marathon got its’ name.

For me, running is a way to stay sane in the chaotic college life. Between classes, meetings, homework and exams, running is my time alone with my thoughts. It’s my time to just enjoy being outdoors doing what I love most.

My favorite spot to run in Eugene is on the bike path along the Willamette River. The soothing sounds of the river while winding through the trees always makes for an enjoyable run.

Currently, I am training for the Los Angeles Marathon in March, where I’ll be going after my first “BQ.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, BQ stands for Boston Qualifier. The Boston Marathon, held annually in April, is the only marathon in the world with a qualifying standard. In order to be accepted into the race, you must run a certain time in the marathon, with those times varying by age and gender. For my age group, I must run under a 3:05:00 in the marathon in order to qualify. This is what I will be attempting to achieve in Los Angeles on March 17. I chose the course strategically in order to qualify. The race starts up at Dodger Stadium, and finishes in Santa Monica along the ocean. It is a net downhill course, which means that the finish line is at a lower elevation than the starting line. Simply put, you run downhill more than you run uphill, which generally translates into faster times.

Check back every Thursday for my Tracktown column, where I’ll touch on such subjects as how to get started running, local races, and much more.

Adventure Run #1: Camp Creek Road

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McKenzie River on our way to Camp Creek Rd.

“Don’t you get bored running?” is a question that I get asked a lot as a runner. My answer to this is “Yep, sure do! But only sometimes.” I’d venture to say that most runners have made it to the point of monotony during a run where they’d rather just stop and go home than do one more loop that they’ve done countless times before.

I’ve been there, and the situation makes me feel restless, which is an ironic thing to feel while you’re out running of all things! Obviously, because of busy schedules, every run can’t be an adventure run, but making time once a week or so to go for a fun run can keep you on the love-side of the love/hate relationship that I talked about in a previous post. In short, though, if you’re consistently bored while you’re running, you’re doing it wrong. 

The best way I’ve found to solve this problem is to break up my routine; it’s no wonder that running gets old when if I’m running down the same streets every day! I’d like to help out my fellow runners by reviewing runner-friendly routes in the area that have captivating scenery, and that you (hopefully) haven’t already explored. And, with increasing mileage comes increasing opportunities for restless running, and so as I progress with my marathon training you can expect more and more adventure run suggestions coming your way.

Camp Creek Rd.

Now, I know that global warming is a bad thing, but if there’s an upside to any issue, a warm and sunny run during November is definitely the silver lining to global warming.This week I went on an adventure run up Camp Creek Road in Springfield. I heard about the route from my marathon training partner, who raved about it after running there while training for the Portland Marathon. On this particular run we only ran 4 miles deep before turning back, but the road is long enough to accommodate a 17 miler, round trip.

We parked at a gravel lot about a half a mile away, crossed over the McKenzie and turned right onto Camp Creek Road. As soon as we made the turn onto Camp Creek we were greeted by orchards on the left and hills of autumn-colored calico on the right. These seasonal surroundings almost seemed out of place on this run because we went this weekend while it was 70 degrees out.

Even if you can’t get out to camp creek while we’re still in this sunny stage, I’d recommend trying it out before the trees are bare. Running under oaks clothed in goldenrod and pumpkin. In fact, this run is especially friendly to fall and winter running in the Willamette Valley since it is paved the whole way, which means you don’t necessarily have to end up a muddy mess every time you want to switch up your scenery.

View of McKenzie along Camp Creek Rd.

Leaves definitely puts this run at the top of my list for an autumn run in a place you haven’t been before (because we all know that Hendrix Park and Alton Baker are equally beautiful this time of year, but are not someplace new for you veteran Eugene runners out there).

At less than a mile in, the road meets up with the river and the two continue with each other intermittently from then on. The road is made up of continuous hills, but they are gradual enough that we didn’t notice them until we were halfway through our run.

A convenient way to get an extra bit of strength training while still being comfortable. Speaking of being comfortable, neither my training partner nor I truly felt good on this run—it was just one of those off-days, you know?

Despite our physical discomfort, we were reveling in how glorious it was outside and what perfect a place to run it was. That’s a characteristic of an ideal adventure run—a route that is fresh enough to give you an enjoyable run even on an off-day.To get to Camp Creek Road, head east on 126 towards Springfield, take the 42nd street exit towards Marcola, and then turn right onto Marcola Rd. There’s a gravel parking lot on Marcola just before the river where you can park. Camp Creek is a half mile up the road. Like I said, I only went 4 miles in, so that leaves much uncharted water, or in this case pavement, to explore!

Until next time, I’ll see you on the trails!

Excitement, Heartbreak, Inspiration: My New York City Marathon Story

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This past weekend, Sean traveled east to run the 2012 ING New York City Marathon as a member of a team of writers assembled by Asics. This is his story of the excitement, heartbreak, and inspiration he experienced while in New York. 

Four months ago, when I began training for the 2012 ING New York City Marathon, if you were to tell me the race would be cancelled for the first time in its history due to a hurricane slamming into the area leaving a wake of destruction, and tragically, death, in its path, I would have thought you were crazy. However, that is exactly what happened.

Last week, Hurricane Sandy slammed full force into the city. The country hadn’t seen a natural disaster so catastrophic since Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. I instantly became  consumed in the event practically 24/7 for two reasons. First, my sister lived in Brooklyn. I was only getting updates from her maybe once a day, and I was worried for her safety. Once I learned she was safe, my thoughts shifted to the marathon I was supposed to run on Sunday.

For the past four months, I spent hundreds of hours training for the New York City Marathon that was scheduled to be run less than a week after Sandy. Many believed the race should be cancelled immediately, saying that it would be disrespectful to the victims of the hurricane to hold such an event. We would be running through the streets entertained by live bands along the way while millions were forced to eat dinner by candlelight. We’d take some water, splash some on our faces, and dump the cups, all while millions more didn’t have access to clean drinking water. When you look at it that way, it seemed that there was no way the race could go on.

A banner of Ryan Hall hangs in New York two days before the ING NYC Marathon was scheduled to be run.

On Wednesday afternoon, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, announced that despite the effects of Hurricane Sandy, the race would go on as scheduled. His reasoning was that New Yorkers were resilient, and they would use the race as a way to help the city cope with disaster and tragedy to get back on its feet.

The race was re-branded as a “run to recover,” with the New York Road Runners, the organization hosting the race, promising to donate $1 million to relief efforts. The attitude of the race would be much like the 2001 New York City Marathon, held less than two months after the 9/11 attacks. But there was one major problem in comparing the race in 2001 to this year’s.

Back in 2001, they had nearly two months to recover and prepare. This year, they would have less than a week. Would they have run the marathon in 2001 if the attacks had occurred less than a week before the race? That would have been highly doubtful.

Either way, with a green light for the race on Sunday, I packed my bags and flew to New York. Friday was a pretty incredible day in the city. At the race expo, there was still the same pre-race buzz that there would be at any marathon. I attended a pre-race run with Asics and got to meet Ryan Hall, the Michael Jordan of American distance running.

I was fortunate to have a breakfast sitting at a table that included Molly Pritz, the top American finisher at last year’s race, as well as Deena Kastor, who won an Olympic bronze medal in the marathon in 2004. I returned to my hotel later that afternoon to relax. That’s when the weekend was turned upside down. As I flipped through the channels and stopped on the local news, I heard the news anchors utter words I thought I’d never hear.

Ryan Hall and I. Hall is the owner of the fastest American marathon under any conditions ever.

“We are getting reports that the New York City Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, has been cancelled.”

I immediately began to panic. This couldn’t be happening. I had to be dreaming. They couldn’t just pull the plug 40 hours out from the race right? They could, and they did. Within minutes, the reports were confirmed, and there it was in big bold letters across the screen: NEW YORK CITY MARATHON CANCELLED.

To be quite honest, my immediate reaction was anger. How could they take this away from the 47,000 of us who sacrificed so much to train for this race and get here? We had travelled from all over the world just to find out we might as well turn around and go home. On my way down to the lobby, we informed a runner of the news that she hadn’t yet learned. After we told her the race was cancelled, the look in her eyes was like she found out a family member had died. The hotel lobby was chaos. When looking around at other runners, you would have honestly thought the president had just been assassinated.

The mood was that grim. I had to get away from the lobby, away from other runners. Within thirty seconds of leaving the hotel, a reporter from the New York Time interviewed me to get my opinion on the race being cancelled. Not wanting to say anything stupid, I gave him a very textbook answer on how it was more important to focus on the relief efforts of the hurricane.

On Friday, I found my name among the 47,000 runners who would have run in the ING NYC Marathon on the “Wall of Marathoners” installed by ASICS at the Columbus Square subway station.

After a couple hours, my head started to clear, and I came to a realization. As heartbreaking as it was, canceling the race was the right thing to do. When you looked at what was happening around the city, it was impossible to think of running a marathon. How could we shut down the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to run across it, when the residents of Staten Island who had their homes destroyed relied on rescue teams using the bridge to get to them?

How could we use generators to power the start and finish when millions were in need of one to provide something as basic as electricity to their homes? How could we use so much water and Gatorade in the race when there were people in the same area who had no access to such resources?

Running the marathon would have been disrespectful, and we all knew it. It wouldn’t have been lifting the city up in a time of need; it would have been kicking it while it was down.

All of those not involved in the race saw that from the start, while all of those in the race were so blinded by our own goals, that we needed the race taken away from us to fully come to that realization.

Part of the ASICS team at what would have been the finish line of the ING NYC Marathon.

Sunday morning, we went to run a loop around Central Park. I put on my race shirt and attached my number, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a runner. But when we got to the park, the scene was not one of sadness, but inspiration. Tens of thousands had descended on the park to run, many of them running laps until they completed the 26.2 miles they had travelled so far to run.

In a time of tragedy, it was one of the most inspirational events I’ve been able to take part in, and the run I took part in through Central Park that brisk, clear Sunday morning was something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Now, I return back to Eugene, and while I’m not as sore as I had planned on being, I’m coming home more inspired than I ever imagined possible after this trip.

Illness, Injuries, and Adapting Your Training Accordingly

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As a runner, things often come up unexpectedly that mess with your training plan. For example, this weekend I had planned on hunting out a new fun-run location to tell you guys about, but instead, my I hurt my foot during a run and my training partner got sicker than she had been in years. Needless to say, this post won’t be about a cool new place to run.

Instead, this week I’ve been thinking about how adapting your training plan to these unexpected nuisances is a valuable thing to learn as a runner. So when all of a sudden you’re run has turned into a hobble because of an unknown muscle injury, or you’re feeling particularly under the weather, how do you figure out when you should run through it and when you should take a break?

Within your stereotypical runner personalities, there seem to be two extremes in approaches of to how to handle such circumstances, even if they aren’t how you should such circumstances.

The first extreme way of reacting to an illness or injury is to be overly cautious—the “better safe than sorry” approach. Let’s say you get shin splint and you immediately decide to take time off lest they turn into stress fracture, when in reality you could probably just treat them by icing and continue to train. The other extreme is to be overly ambitious—the “run through everything” approach.

You never want to take a break, and in the end it takes your body longer to recover from an injury or illness than if you had just given yourself time to rest in the first place. While throwing caution to the wind might sound like the more hip and dangerous approach, it is equally as unwise as being overly cautious. Each extreme approach has the same outcome—they both lead to wasting more time that could have been spend getting in quality training.

So how do you find the balance between the extremes? In all honesty, you learn as you go. I’ve been guilty in the past of adhering to the both the philosophies of the “train through everything” approach as well as the “better safe than sorry” approach. Learning from my mistakes as taught me to be a better judge of when to run and when to cross train or rest.

It’s really all about listening to your body—whether that means swallowing your pride and hanging up your running shoes for the day or sucking it up and training anyways. You are the ultimate judge when it comes to case by case decisions of when to train and when to rest, but here are some general guidelines to help you make your choices.

When you’re sick, lay low, but be an honest judge of how you feel. While certain colds really do have a way of knocking you off your feet, a case of the sniffles or a cough probably doesn’t require a break from training. On the other hand, it’s best to take a day off when you do feel awful. The thought of taking a break can stress some runners out, but one day of rest will not affect your race—in fact, a day or two of rest when you really need it will make you get well quicker and therefore lead to more time for quality training.

If you’re on the fence about what to do, you can always just go for an easy run instead of a workout. If you have an important workout that you really feel you cannot miss, don’t be hard on yourself if your interval times aren’t up to par. Your body isn’t at 100% so account for that when you reflect on your performance afterwards. And now, injured runners, let me introduce you to your new best friend: cross training. While some injuries may require complete rest, there are lots of different ways to cross train and most likely one or a few of them won’t aggravate your injury.

For a cardio-based workout, look to swimming and aqua jogging; for a lower body workout, try cycling. Ellipticals are an especially great way for runners to cross train since it mimics the motion of running and uses the same muscle groups, all without the impact from footfalls.

One day of cross training is usually not enough to relieve overuse injuries (which are those random, inexplicable pains and pulls are that stick around for longer than you’d like). Different combinations of cross training and running are needed for extended injuries, and how you integrate cross training and running is something you’ll have to decide for yourself based on your injury and what you are training for.

One cross country season a teammate with an achilles injury cross trained for every scheduled easy run but ran all the workouts. In the case of my foot, I’m planning on cross training every 1-2 days, because I the reality is that I need to rebuild the base I lost while I had pneumonia before I begin significantly building mileage starting January 1st. On average, it’s best to run when you can, but it’s not worth it to run when it is going to make your injury worse.

As I mentioned last week, cross training is useful even when you aren’t injured because it can keep you from getting injured in the first place by giving your body a break from the pounding and certain muscles a break from constant use—all while still getting in a workout. Even if you’re not concerned with injuries enough to make cross training a regular part of your routine, you can still use it on occasion. When you’re feeling consistently flat during your workouts—like you just don’t have any get up and go—give cross training a try for a day and feel how much fresher your legs are the next time they hit the ground.

The thing about cross training is that it makes you appreciate running so much more. Any runner who’s been injured for a week or more and had to cross train full time will tell you that’s true. It’s frustrating not to be able to run, and no form of cross training feels like an exactly equivalent workout to running, even though it is the next best thing. Don’t let that discourage you, though. While it’s not optimal, cross training has been proved to be worth it—especially when you’re other option is to not train.

Take Lauren Fleshman, for example. She is a Nike-sponsored athlete, Eugene’s own running sweetheart, and basically the poster child for successful cross training. Because an IT band injury that kept her from running more than 2 miles at a time starting last November, she had to supplement the rest of her training through various forms of cross training. Lo and behold, come this July she ran fast enough to make the finals at the Olympic track trials in the 5k at 15:51.83—the longest distance she had ran since November!

Now, us mere mortals, even with all the miles and no injuries, aren’t even dreaming of running a 15 minute 5k as a woman. I should also mention that the incredible level of Lauren’s performance after being injured for so long should be attributed as much to her sheer guts as to the powers of cross training. That being said, Lauren is still an example of how cross training shouldn’t be underestimated, and I hope you injured runners out there are encouraged to keep working toward your racing goals—and to do it in a healthy way.

Until next time, I’ll see you on the trails!

Hasay Leads Oregon Women to First Pac-12 Cross Country Title Since 1995

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Jordan Hasay
(GoDucks.com)

SANTA CLARITA, Cali. – The Oregon Ducks cross country teams had a successful day at the Pac-12 championship meet in with the women finishing first and the men finishing third.

Jordan Hasay‘s second place finish led the Oregon women’s cross country team to their first conference title since 1995, as the senior from Arroyo Grande crossed the finish line four seconds behind the winner, Kathy Kroeger of Stanford, in 20:10.

The Oregon women had three runners in the top five, including Alexi Pappas in fourth (20:12), and Allie Woodward in fifth (20:16). The Ducks’ strong race from the trio locked up the conference title as No. 3 Oregon took first with 49 points. A third place and seventh place finish from Elvin Kibet and Jennifer Bergman respectively of Arizona helped the No. 5 Wildcats towards a second place finish with 69 points. No. 4 Stanford had two runners finish in the top 10 en route to a third place finish with 82 points.

Hasay knows a thing or two about success at the conference championship meet. As a sophomore in 2010, Hasay won the race. Last year she finished third.

The Ducks came out strong, with Hasay and Woodward sticking with the lead pack from the start. By the midway point of the race, Oregon had seven runners in the top 15, which set the tone for a strong finish to clinch the conference title. Also scoring for the Ducks was freshman Annie Leblanc (17th in 20:42) and senior Sarah Penney (19th in 20:47).

The Oregon men also had a strong showing as they took third as a team. Trevor Dunbar and Parker Stinson finished in third and fourth respectively behind the Arizona duo of Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu. Dunbar and Stinson crossed the line together in 23:28, holding out the “O” on their jerseys in unison, capping off a strong race where they stayed in the lead pack for the duration of the 6K course. Also scoring for the Ducks was Matthew Melancon (31st in 24:19), Ryan Pickering (32nd in 24:22), and Cole Watson (39th in 25:03). Head coach Robert Johnson noted the effort of the trio of underclassmen (Melancon is a freshman, Pickering and Watson are both sophomores) to help Oregon seal the third place finish as a team.

On deck for Oregon is the West Regional meet, which will be hosted on November 9 at Jefferson Golf Course in Seattle. The University of Washington will host the meet.

Hasay will look to defend her regional title in Seattle. Last year in Palo Alton, Hasay won the West Regional meet with an impressive 19:44 finish as the Oregon women finished fourth as a team. Stinson, Oregon’s top returning runner from last year’s regional meet, will look to improve on his performance from last year, a 17th place finish in 29:49. The Men of Oregon finished sixth in the team standings.

Our women did an outstanding job today in the toughest conference meet in the country,” said coach Johnson to GoDucks. “They were strong from the start.

“It’s very exciting to be able to bring our first Pac-12 women’s cross country title back to Eugene. This was one of the few accomplishments that had eluded us in the new era at Oregon, so to speak, so this is a pretty big thing to check off the list.”

Rainy Day Running: The winter weather has got to be taken in stride.

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Well it’s here, guys. The arctic chill has arrived, and it’s time to trade in our track shorts in favor of some weather-friendly tights. Yesterday’s run was a bit of a wake-up call for me in this sense. Let me elaborate: it was fa-reezing for the first 5 blocks, and as my training partner and I turned the corner we encountered a tidal wave in the form of rain, which gradually progressed to pearl-sized hailstones pecking at us for the rest of our run. We were soaked, and we were less-than-happy campers.

The situation brought a quote by legendary University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman to mind – “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.” It is fitting that this was said by a man who lived in Oregon—specifically the Willamette valley—where the weather is bipolar and generally in a bad mood from October through June. Yet the purpose of this column not to sit here and complain about the weather, it’s to talk about running, and running, in this case, relates to the weather.

As runners in Oregon,we can’t “go soft” because of the weather and let down the running coach gods of Oregon, now can we? More than that, we can’t let ourselves down, and thus we’ve got to log those winter miles and run those winter workouts despite the torrents that await us for the next 5-6 months.

Perhaps they don’t await you, though. Maybe you’re one of those runners who can handle running on treadmill when the conditions are looking positively sloppy. In general, I think a lot of “outdoor runners” look down on “treadmill runners”. They seem to be scoffed at by outdoor, purist runners as if they are breaking the code of runnerhood, which must somewhere state that you cannot be stationary and running at the same time.

However, I respect you, treadmill-runners, for your tenacity to exercise and forgo the elements at the same time—no matter how boring it is. The last time I tried to run on a treadmill I lasted about 13 minutes, but if I didn’t had a watch on I would have sworn it was an hour. The time-slowing ability of the treadmill might really be a science worth looking into. People who lament that there aren’t more hours in the day should try completing their tasks on a treadmill (if possible), because minutes never seem to pass more slowly than when on that device.

Moving on from my bewilderment when it comes to treadmills, and in all seriousness, you don’t necessarily have to brave the elements every time you train. Cross training is a great way to give your body a break from the pounding of running and get a workout at the same time, no matter what the weather. Even when I ran collegiately, our coach had almost all of us cross train once-a-week to help keep us injury-free. So perhaps wintertime is an especially ideal time to take up a cycling class or get in the pool to swim laps or aqua jog.

But winter running isn’t always dreary and damp. During today’s run I was feeling nice and cozy in a fleece hoodie and tights as my training partner and I head out for a comfy 5 miler. The grayscale of the sky and the concrete was offset by her florescent orange trainers and every couple steps we crunched a fallen leaf. Nothing could have felt like a more perfect run, despite the nose-numbing weather. As you can see, autumn and winter weather can still make for terrific runs, not to mention some fun, muddy runs.

Since it seems I’ve dedicated this entire post to talking about the weather, I might as well touch on seasonal affective disorder (SAD), AKA the winter blues, and how running relates to it. Though it may appear trivial, SAD is the real deal. According to an interview published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 20% of the U.S. population is at least minimally affected by the seasonal shift—not surprisingly, it particularly affects us northern states.

What does that have to do with running? Well, spending time outdoors and exercise—especially when the two are combined—have shown to improve those who are feeling similar to the gray and weepy clouds above. The being out of doors part helps because of the exposure to sunlight (even if it’s through clouds), and the exercise part helps because endorphins are a natural stimulant (read: runner’s high). So, if you’re feeling a little sad with the seasonal shift, or you notice yourself sleepier than usual lately, running may be the answer. (But it’s not a wonder-drug, so please, if you are downright depressed, see a doctor).

Here’s a fun way to usher in our season of questionable forecasts: The EWEB Run to Stay Warm will take place November 18th, the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The events include a  half-marathon, 10k, 5k, and kids 400m. The race starts and finishes at EWEB’s River Edge Plaza with the courses looping along the river path, which makes for a fun race for the sake of racing, as well as a flat, paved course for those interested in a fast time. And who might be staying warm thanks to your signing up to run? EWEB income-eligible customers who are having a hard time paying for their utilities.

Until next time, I’ll see you on the trails!

Running Buddies: The Importance of Training Partners

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Getting lonely out there on the trails? Solo runs are great (and important), but solitary run after solitary run can get, well, boring—especially if you’re putting in a lot of miles, which in turn means spending a lot of time on the run. Finding a running buddy is a simple and perfect solution, and one that might be more advantageous than you’d first realize.

Allow me to illustrate my favorite advantage of having one (or a few running) partners. Consider this scenario: it’s 6 am, you’re cozy in bed, you could easily talk yourself out of doing your morning run today by rationalizing that you’ll do it after your day’s activities (as if you’ll have time), or telling yourself that you could use a rest day. Oh, and it’s pouring outside (this is Oregon, after all). It’s so tempting to find an excuse, right? Now reconsider this same scenario, but this time you’re meeting your running buddy at 6:30. It’s not nearly so easy to cop out now, is it? That’s my favorite thing about running partners—accountability. Neither one of you is tempted to make a lame excuse because you know the other will see right through it. You can’t bail on somebody last minute the same way you can talk yourself out of something last minute when it’s just you versus your busy schedule or a comfortable couch.

In addition to getting you to show up for a run, running with someone else regularly keeps you accountable for when you run without them. If you and your running partner are on a similar training schedule, both of you will have to do your homework (AKA, your solo runs throughout the week) to keep up with each other.

Having a training partner will undoubtedly make you a better runner. Training partners who have different strengths help develop each other as runners. During high school my training partner/teammate was a crazy, hill-loving, long distance runner, and I preferred speedy and flat running. It worked out perfectly; I’d get pulled along on those hilly long runs and she’d stay right on my tail when it came to speed work.

Likewise, having some training partners with similar strengths as you do will sharpen yours. In fact, thriving on the same kind of workout can inspire some friendly competition since you both know you can handle it. As long as you and your training partner are at least somewhat close in your level fitness, if you get out there are run together on a regular basis, you’re both bound to benefit in some way.

Where things get tricky is when it is time to race with your training partner(s). If they’re struggling mid-race and you’re feeling good, what do you do? You might feel obligated to stay with them to help them out, but then again, you also have an obligation to yourself to give every race your 100%. Most running partners end up experiencing this at some point. My best advice would be to try to work together as best you can (when you can), but don’t be afraid to do your own thing. Just because you train together doesn’t mean that you’re going to have the same good days/bad days—you and your training partner(s) might not even have the same general racing strategy. For example, perhaps one of you prefers to start out more conservatively than the other, or one of you is feeling especially good today and wants to take off. Instead of trying to compromise race-plans, stay true to what you know works for you, go with your gut, and if and when you end up near each other, work together by pulling or chasing the other along.

During my second year of college, because of various circumstances, we only had two of us competing on the women’s team. Ironically, what worked for Gyl and I, as far as training and racing go, was completely opposite of each other. During workouts and races we’d run together when we could—when it was right for each of us individually—and pull each other along. When we were spread apart whoever was behind would work on closing the gap according to her own strategy. The fact is, though, that working to close the gap is worth it, because it really is easiest mentally to run side by side with someone.

An important aspect of why Gyl and I worked so well together was that we had an understanding of what it meant to be a good teammate. We both did our best to help each other out, but we weren’t tied to each other and wouldn’t hold ourselves back if the other couldn’t keep up. If either partner is easing up during a race or important workout so that both can run together, neither one of them is being benefited, really. Giving an honest effort is just as much a part of being a good teammate as running together is, so don’t hold yourself back, and don’t let your partner do so for your sake.

While you might begin your new training partnership expecting only running-related outcomes, you’ll eventually realize that you’re also going to gain close a friend. You can’t help it. Running-fostered friendship cannot be stopped, folks, it just happens. Looking at the motley crews that make up most cross country teams leads me to believe that there’s no stereotype personality when it comes to runners, yet even people who have nothing in common aside from the love of running naturally become close. So, there’s no need to worry about seeking out somebody that you’d normally feel “friendship-compatible” with (not that there’s any harm in doing so).

A running buddy-turned-best friend of mine pointed out that these unforeseen friendships are probably formed because running itself makes you vulnerable—you can’t fake your level of fitness when you’re actually out there sweating—and after 30 minutes of running it’s unlikely that either person can stand any more small talk, so moving beyond that is inevitable.

Don’t seem to have any friends or acquaintances interested in running? Never fear, here are some clubs and training groups you can join to find some new running pals (click for further information).

Nike Run Club

Oregon Track Club
UO Running Club if you’re at the University
Eugene Running Company Marathon Training Groups

Until next time, I’ll see you on the trails!

Team Run Eugene Picks Olympian Ian Dobson as New Coach

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Runners World

Ian Dobson, 2008 Olympian and former Oregon Track Club Elite member, will serve as coach for Team Run Eugene. He replaces Andy Downin who recently accepted a position in Boston, Mass.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Ian as the coach of Team Run Eugene and we’re incredibly grateful to Andy Downin for his work in helping to launch this group one year ago,” said TRE Executive Director Robert Wayner. “Ian’s professional running experience coupled with his involvement in the local running community make him an ideal fit with TRE’s mission.”

Team Run Eugene is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for aspiring professional runners who otherwise would not have the opportunity to continue their training post-collegiately. They also enhance the running and broader communities through fostering and supporting talent, and through the promotion of running as part of a healthy and active lifestyle.

Dobson competed in the 5,000m in the Beijing Olympics and was an NCAA National Champion and ten-time All-American while at Stanford University. Dobson still holds the Stanford school records in the 5,000m (13:15.33) and steeplechase (8:32.09).

Dobson’s leadership experience extends beyond the track. He has worked at the University of Oregon’s LeaderShape Institute and with the university’s Competition Not Conflict program. In addition, he organizes and coaches a weekly community running group in Eugene.

“I’m delighted to be working with Team Run Eugene. This is the perfect opportunity to take the lessons I learned in my own running career and apply them to developing athletes and promoting running in Eugene,” Dobson said. “It’s an honor to work with these athletes. TRE has enormous potential and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Dobson competed in high school at Klamath Union in Klamath Falls. He graduated in the 2000 class before competing at the collegiate level. From there he went on to graduate from Stanford University in 2005 (redshirted one season) with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He ran professionally for Adidas from 2005-09, and for Nike and the OTC Elite from 2010-12.

Dobson has competed in many local races including the Butte to Butte. Here is a post-race interview listed below.

TrackTown Race Results: Hospice Run/Walk to Remember and More

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Click on each race image for the link to the results of the local races.

 

OTC Running Series #8

Oregon Track Club hosted its monthly race, this one being No. 8 of the season, with 76 finishers (49 male, 27 female). This 5k race features some of Oregon’s strongest athletes. Jeremy Tolman and Joshua Gordon both finished with times of 16:50 (5:26). Raina Rausch finished first for the women, ninth overall, with a time of 19:20 (6:14).

 

 

Nick Symmonds Springfield 800

Symmonds, a seven-time NCAA champion at Willamette University, hosted this 800m walk/run/sprint for all competitors to partake. Events were separated by “Walkers,” “Youth,” “Elite” and “Open.” Alex Jones, a Springfield native, took first place of the three men in the 800 with a time of 2:03.90 (4:10). There were no competitors in the “Elite Women” category.

 

Hospice Run/Walk to Remember

This 4-mile/2-mile run/walk was sponsored by Sacred Heart Hospice care. There were 65 competitors in the two events. T.J. Kinnamon took first place in the 4-mile race with a time of 26:59 (6:45). Nate Hall took first place in the 2-mile walk at 26:25 (13:13). The average time for the 4-mile race was 33:24 while the 2-mile walk average was 33:55.

 

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