Posts tagged with Running

Break the Running Rules

Looking to run your first 5k, marathon, or maybe simply stay motivated to move? Intimidated by all the information on how to do it? Don’t worry. Truth be told, I follow almost no “rules” of running and have been a strong, lifelong runner. The points below are common suggestions given to get motivated and/or improve your running ….none of which I follow.

Run early. No matter how often I try, I hate getting up early to run. I wish races could be at 8pm rather than 8am. My body never feels ready to run first thing in the morning. No matter how much sleep I’ve gotten. No matter what I ate the night before. No matter what I eat as soon as I wake up. No matter what the weather is.

Run with music. That may be necessary while bored stiff on a treadmill, but it’s incredibly distracting while outdoors. Cars, dogs, people – whatever it is - you need to hear them coming. And surprise, listening to your environment can be fun. Conversations on the porches of houses you pass, children yelling or just the wind in the trees. The best sound of all? The silence of snow.

Use a treadmill. Sure, use a treadmill to walk on when there is two feet of snow outside, but promise me that you won’t run on it. It’s hard on the body and mind. It’s fairly earned the nickname Dreadmill. Get outside to run as often as you possibly can.

Time yourself. No. No. No. The folks standing at the start line with their fingers poised on their watches drive me crazy. And those that do it on regular training days drive me even crazier. Running isn’t about numbers, it’s about feeling good. And if you’re good enough that you really do need to be timing yourself, you’re a professional runner, and laughing at everything I’m writing.

Watch what you eat. I’m not saying don’t, but I don’t diet or pay much attention at all to what I eat. Don’t use running as an excuse to eat an entire cake in one sitting, but believe me, I eat dessert every day.

Join a group. If you’re social, join a group. I’m not very social and feel much more comfortable running alone. I also spend my workday answering questions and the last thing I want to do while running is talk – about anything. If running with others is a help, do it, but if not, that’s okay too.

Train harder. You didn’t meet that goal in your last race? Run harder! No. Try something else. Keep running, but also cycle, hike, swim. Find other activities to keep your muscles and mind fresh. You might find, as I have, you run better when you run less.

Set a race schedule. It would be nice to plan a race schedule each January and be able to stick to it, but life doesn’t work that way. Races are expensive and losing $50 because you had to go out of town for work can feel more defeating than missing the actual race. I live by the “sign up on the final day of registration” method. And my favorite? Race day signup!

In conclusion, you’ll find me running sometime around 7pm, outside, by myself, without headphones, probably muttering about laundry and which of three upcoming races I’d like to do though won’t sign up for anytime soon, not paying a bit of attention to how fast I’m going and all likely after a day of drinking too much coffee and eating too much junk. But I love it and I continue to do it regularly and have for more years than I’d want to admit. If you are, however, looking to be a more serious runner, by all means ignore what you've read here and get to bed as you probably need to be up early!

Reply 1 comment from Adam Hafdahl

Need motivation? Try the trails

Do you loathe going to the gym? Have a treadmill in your house used only as a clothing rack? Forget everything you've tried inside and get outside in 2014. Trail running is a challenging and fun alternative to traditional indoor exercise.

Done on dirt, grass, snow (and quite often mud), it’s much kinder to the body than road or treadmill running. Trails offer twists and turns, hills and even water crossings that utilize more muscles in your body than other forms of running. Also, many groups exist for trail running, making it a very supported and safe activity.

Keep in mind that trail running often involves, and is very accepting of, walking. Even the most elite runners will walk hills and other rough areas. Remember this, beginners!

Below are several upcoming area trail races for all experience levels:

Psychodelic 5K, Ice Version – Sunday, January 26, 9:00am. Shelter #2, Wyandotte County Lake Park, Kansas City, KS. Difficulty: High. Lots of ups and downs and rocky terrain. Considering the time of year, could be slick and quite cold. Beginners through advanced runners welcome.

Run Toto Run 50K, 10 Mile, & 20 Mile – Saturday, February 8, 8:00 & 9:00am start times. Wyandotte County Lake Park, Kansas City, KS. Difficulty: High. Lots of ups and downs and rocky terrain. The shortest distance offered is 10 miles so a good deal of training is recommended. Trail conditions are often slick or muddy depending on snow/melt levels. Recommended that runners have some longer runs (10k+) under their belts!

Mrs. Robinson’s Romp 5K & 10K – Saturday, March 15, 9:00am. Shelter # 14, Wyandotte County Lake Park, Kansas City, KS. Difficulty: Moderate. Ups and downs, but not as intense as other Wyandotte County Lake Park events. Plus, the weather is generally better than January and February events. Beginners through advanced runners welcome.

Pi Day River Rotation Half Marathon & 5K – Sunday, March 16, 8:00 & 9:00am start times. Riverfront Park, Lawrence, KS. Difficulty: Low. Rolling hills and smooth terrain. Excellent for beginners through advanced runners. Bonus – There is PIE at the finish line!

Free State Trail Run 100K, 40 Mile, Trail Marathon & 1/2-Marathon – Saturday, April 19, 7:00 & 8:00am start times. Clinton Lake State Park, Lawrence, KS. Difficulty: Moderate. Some hills and rocky terrain. You never know what the weather will be – rainy and cold or blazing hot so be prepared for anything. Good for experienced runners looking to do a first long trail run.

Shoreline Shuffle 5K – Sunday, May 4, 8:00am. Clinton Lake State Park, Lawrence, KS. Difficulty: Moderate. Some hills and rocky terrain. Beginners through advanced runners welcome.

For more information about local trail running groups, check out the Lawrence Trailhawks and the Kansas City Trail Nerds

Runners tackle a hill in the Psychodelic 5k, Ice Version 2013. Photo courtesy of Dick Ross.

Runners tackle a hill in the Psychodelic 5k, Ice Version 2013. Photo courtesy of Dick Ross. by Erika Gray


Summer Love: Tips for hot weather running

As I entered mile five or so of my run this morning, I started thinking time had sped up and it was July because no way could I have been wearing a jacket and gloves last week and now sweat poured out of me in just a t-shirt. Lawrence went from winter to summer seemingly overnight and though I wouldn’t be surprised if it snowed one more time, I’m switching gears to my summer running mode. Heat can make running more challenging, but it’s not a reason to stop doing what you love (or are trying to tell yourself you love).

Here are 10 tips I follow for hot weather running:

  1. Go early or late. You’ve got more daylight now than any other time of the year – use that by getting out a couple hours earlier or later than normal. Ideally, never go out between 10am-4pm.
  2. Stay in the shade. I’m a trailrunner the majority of the time and shade comes naturally with the local trails. If you run pavement, try to find tall buildings or shaded parks to run through.
  3. Bare minimum. Wear enough clothing so that you don’t cause a car accident while running down neighborhood streets, but don’t overdo it because you’re self-conscious. Loose fitting, light colored clothing is ideal.
  4. Protect your feet. Wear synthetic fiber socks to wick away the excessive foot sweat that comes with hot weather running. Extra sweat means blisters and blisters mean less time running later. Fun phrase to remember: Cotton is rotten.
  5. Chill. Soak a bandana in cold water and wear it around your neck or tie a couple around your wrists. A small amount of cool goes a long way.
  6. Drink as you go. Carry a hydration device with you no matter how far you’re going. Hand held bottles, waistpacks or backpacks can be found locally at Garry Gribbles or Sunflower Bike on Mass Street. You need approximately six ounces of fluid for every 15 minutes of exercise. Having a little extra to pour over your head has a great cooling effect as well.
  7. Salt up. Sweating more means losing more salt and that can be replaced by adding some to your diet. Be reasonable - an afternoon pretzel snack or shaking some salt on dinner is good with most runs.
  8. Slow down. Give your normal pace a break and take it easier, even walk periodically.
  9. Tell a friend. As with any time of year and any weather conditions, tell someone where you are going and for approximately how long.
  10. Know when to say when. If you begin feeling dizzy, lightheaded or nauseated – stop, rest and drink. There is no reason to cause yourself harm just to get a run in – be smart.

In the heat of summer, try to schedule runs early or late in the day and find shade.

In the heat of summer, try to schedule runs early or late in the day and find shade. by Erika Gray


I run

I don't go to church. I run. I don't go to therapy. I run. I don't diet. I run. I don't drink. I run. I don't own a scale. I run. I don't go to a gym. I run. I don't wear a watch. I run.

Running isn't just exercise for me, its a way of life. When I run, I'm a better person.

I have co-workers, friends and family that shake their heads when I talk about an easy 10 miles or getting up on Saturday morning to get muddy on a trail. Nothing beats the feeling of finishing a run. Pure exhaustion, blessed relief, a quieter mind. Your only immediate desire is a drink of water and maybe a sandwich. The hardest moments in my life have been more bearable with running. My mind solves problems it couldn't while sitting at a desk all day.

I prefer outdoors running. You can run on a treadmill - sure - but you're missing the best part. Sun, rain, dirt, trees - they're all a part of our most basic human existence and the closer you get to them, the better you feel. And mud? Make it your friend. I have a pair of running shoes I won't bring in the house because they're so repeatedly caked in mud. They are my favorite shoes. I look at them and know how strong I am. I wish I could wear them to work.

Running isn't pretty. Midway through a run on a hot July day, sweating in buckets, my water pack nearly empty, bug bites all over... or 15 degrees in winter, three pairs of gloves and socks, snot frozen on my face, cheeks red with windburn. No, running isn't pretty, its beautiful.

If you want to see humanity at its finest, sign up for a race. Don't do it for the time, t-shirt or medal. Do it for the experience. The feeling of complete strangers handing you water or bandaging a sore foot. Strangers cheering for you on like you're the oldest of friends. At a finish line, when you get high fives and hugs from more strangers. People offering their own phone to make a call or helping you to the sideline. You don't know their names, but they're not really strangers. They too are runners, or the family of runners, and in those moments they are your family.

I have made friends in the middle of marathons. People that you start encouraging because you see their pain. You know that wince. You know that cramp. People that turn and encourage you. Before you know it, you know their children's names and all the mess of their lives. In a shared span of five miles along a wooded trail or crowded city street.

During the Leadville Marathon last June, as I was starting mile 11, feeling I'd gotten in a bit over my head, beginning the dreaded 3,000 foot ascent... a woman next to me started talking to me. I know she could sense my fear. She was local so the altitude wasn't really a factor for her. I was immediately dubbed "Kansas" and she encouraged me all the way up that mountain. I lost her on the way back down, as she was acclimated and my legs far too shaky, but as soon as I crossed the finish line that afternoon, she came running up to me, hugged me and congratulated me.

Never have I fallen in a race without someone there to pick me up. Never have I finished a race without full, screaming support - whether I got first place or almost last. Running is a family. A family that will always watch out for one another. The greatest support system I've ever known. Lawrence is lucky enough to have several running clubs - all of whom have wonderful members that offer the same amazing support on everyday runs. If you've thought about taking up running, you're in the perfect place to do it. And don't worry about how far you can go, just that you go. Or how fast, just that you keep going.

I volunteer at races because runners give back. All of them. Giving aid to those that have done it for you is part of the circle. I don't know a runner that hasn't handed out water, clipped shoe timers, marked courses or a dozen other things. Running is very personally spiritual and therapeutic and running is also about family and giving.

Then there are the actual families of runners. Those that don't run, but support that wife, husband, sister... they all deserve the highest of praise for their patience and undying support from daily runs to standing around waiting on us for hours at finish lines. Talk about deserving a medal! We runners understand that as well, and fully appreciate it.

I'll be running this weekend on my own as well as volunteering for the Free State Trail Runs taking place at Clinton Lake. The 2013 event is being dedicated to the victims in Boston.

The start and finish line of the 2012 Leadville Marathon.

The start and finish line of the 2012 Leadville Marathon. by Erika Gray


Romp postponed

Mrs. Robinson's Romp 5k & 10k trail races originally scheduled for this Saturday, March 2, have been postponed until Saturday, March 16, due to the snowstorm related closure of Wyandotte County Lake Park. Start time remains at 9:00 am at Shelter #14, Wyandotte County Lake Park, Kansas City, KS.

For further information and updates, see


Will Mrs. Robinson’s Romp seduce you?

Nothing like a race in honor of Anne Bancroft’s best role. Or is it in honor of the occasional reports of cougars in our area? I’m thinking a dehydrated trailrunner 15 miles into a Saturday workout may have hazily melded the two together… well, whatever happened, we now have Mrs. Robinson’s Romp 5k & 10k trail run also known affectionately as the Cougar Run.

The 4th annual event starts at 9:00 am, Saturday, March 9th at Shelter 14, Wyandotte County Lake Park, KC, KS. You can sign up race morning for $25, but if you do so by midnight Friday, February 15, its only $15. This includes a mug and sticker. Sign up at Dogs are also welcome to enter with their human for only $5 more. They may need some help with the registration process though..

The 5k is perfect for beginners as the trails aren’t too tricky – for a single track trail, in a rather hilly area, in winter. The 10k course is rumored to be a bit more challenging! And if the Trail Nerds say challenging, they really mean you’ll be cursing at yourself and the trail at least 90% of the time.

Packet pickup will be race morning so give yourself some extra time.

Free photos will be provided by Dick Ross and staff of SeeKCrun. I like to think of them as coaches because when you happen upon them along the trail, you have to perk up and pick up or risk looking completely defeated in a photo for all to see!

For questions and additional information on the event or the Trail Nerds, see

The trails (and a healthier mind and body) are waiting!

--And a quick thank you to Mike Nichols and the rest of the cast and crew of The Graduate, without which we wouldn't have such an awesomely named event.

Sign up today for Mrs. Robinson's Romp 5k & 10k trail run hosted by Ben Holmes and the Kansas City Trail Nerds.

Sign up today for Mrs. Robinson's Romp 5k & 10k trail run hosted by Ben Holmes and the Kansas City Trail Nerds. by Erika Gray


Get out and run like Toto did from the tornado

Are you Psycho? Answer the following questions to find out: Do you like running? Do you like running outside? Do you like running outside in winter? Do you like trailrunning outside in winter? If you muttered yes at any point, you are on some level a Psycho and should sign up for the Psycho Wyco Run Toto Run trail run!

The event takes place Saturday, February 9 at Wyandotte County Lake Park, Shelter 2, in Kansas City, Kansas. You’ve got a choice of distance: 10 miler (9am start), 20 miler (8am start) and 50k (31 miles and 8am start).This is no sissy course so if you haven’t done much hill training I’ve got one word for you – beware. Still interested? Sign up online now at Packet pickup can be done race morning or on Friday, February 8, 3-9pm, in the Comfort Suites, 3000 N. 103rd Terrace, KC, KS.

All participants receive a long sleeve technical shirt, mug and what can only be described as a truly “heavy medal”. Hot meals and drinks will be available post-race in addition to the aid stations along the course. Carrying your own hydration device is highly recommended as trail distances can feel (and actually take) much longer than on a road.

The course itself is single track, rocky, rooty and as mentioned, hilly. Be polite in passing or being passed by fellow runners. The course will be marked out with flags and various signs so if you pay attention, you shouldn’t get lost. Race Director Ben Holmes, however, has pointed out at many an event that it really wouldn’t be a trail race unless, “Someone got lost, someone got hurt and someone had to (expletive) in the woods.” Quite honestly, in my experience, he’s right. So be alert and you can avoid at least the first two. You’re on your own for that last one.

Photos will be taken this year by Dick Ross and staff with SeeKCrun. It’s great to have proof of your pain to show off to family and friends.

For more information and updates on the event see

One of many hills in the Run Toto Run event as seen in the heavy snow of 2011. Courtesy of Dick Ross and SeeKCrun.

One of many hills in the Run Toto Run event as seen in the heavy snow of 2011. Courtesy of Dick Ross and SeeKCrun. by Erika Gray

Reply 1 comment from David Johnson

Thanksgiving Day 5k seeking volunteers

Need a reason to escape your family for a couple hours Thursday morning? Or have family coming in from out of town and want to show them something great about Lawrence? The runLawrence Thanksgiving Day 5k run/walk is still looking for volunteers.

The event is headquartered at Woodlawn School, 508 Elm, North Lawrence. Both indoor and outdoor assistance is needed so don’t let cold temperatures deter you. The race itself kicks off at 8:30am. Volunteer arrival times will depend on assigned duty.

Keep in mind, this event is one of the largest and most diverse running events of the year in Lawrence. Currently a dozen states are represented. Come and be part of the fun.

All volunteers receive a Woodlawn student designed t-shirt and are eligible for a drawing for two gift certificates from Johnny's Tavern.

If interested, contact Dee Boeck, Race Director at (785)841-3587 or

The runners and walkers of Lawrence (and many other places) will be thankful!

For more information on the race, see

Come join the fun at the annual runLawrence Thanksgiving Day 5k Nov. 22.

Come join the fun at the annual runLawrence Thanksgiving Day 5k Nov. 22. by Erika Gray


Run NYC: Run in Lawrence to aid those in New York

Amid much controversy over the diversion of supplies and police in the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort, the ING New York Marathon, one of the world’s premier running events, was canceled this past Friday for the only time in its history.

I had not signed up to run the marathon, but having lived in New York City some years ago, I wasn't surprised that for days people insisted the race would go on. Honestly, it sounded like a very New York thing to do. Get up and move on. However, as more stories of damage and loss of life reached me and the world, I was glad to hear of Bloomberg’s decision.

Whatever your feelings on how it played out, one fact remains – people need help. Here is your chance to help even if you can’t travel or spend much. Run NYC is a virtual run to benefit New York City – meaning you can run anywhere at anytime.

At you can sign up for a 26.2, 13.1 or 3.1 mile distance, choose your donation amount (even $5 is appreciated), and get running. You will need a Dailymile account or may sign up for one via an already established Twitter or Facebook account. You can then run your pledged distance anytime between Sunday, November 4 and Sunday, November 11 and log your time on the run4nyc site.

You receive a bib number upon signing up and a finisher’s certificate upon completion. More importantly, you help those in need. 100% of donations go to the American Red Cross.

I’ll be running this week for New York City as #3040.

Get out and run Nov. 4 - Nov. 11 and help Sandy victims.

Get out and run Nov. 4 - Nov. 11 and help Sandy victims. by Erika Gray

Reply 1 comment from Karrey Britt

Get vertical in the Tower Run

I ran up a mountain recently. Okay, I ran a few hundred yards, slowed to a walk, then more of a stumble. By the time I reached the top, some 3,000 feet later, I was nearly crawling, choking for air and even tearing up. My status as a flatlander was painfully obvious to myself and those around me – so many from cities some 5,000 ft. and higher.

All I could think, and not dare say for fear of wasting precious oxygen, was “Come to Kansas in August and I’ll kick your butt.” Meaningless in that struggle, but one does what one must to push through such an event. “You may run easily through the thinnest of air, but I can run through air so thick and wet you wouldn't believe it!“

Alas, Kansas has no mountains on which to train so if I’m to get stronger and ever redeem myself, I must look elsewhere..

Saturday, November 10, is the perfect event for myself and others looking for a nearby vertical challenge. Downtown Topeka Inc. is hosting the first annual Tower Run in which participants will race up 16 flights of stairs in the Bank of America Tower, 534 S Kansas Ave., Topeka.

Registration/check-in begin at 8 a.m. and runners take off at 9 a.m. For safety, runners will be released in pairs every couple minutes.

Entry is $30. All participants will receive refreshments and a shirt. The three fastest times in each age category will receive awards. For more information and to register online, see Shirts can’t be guaranteed after November 7.

This challenge is perfect for athletes of all kinds so come on out and climb! Or crawl!

Downtown Topeka Inc.will host the Tower Run on Saturday, November 10.

Downtown Topeka Inc.will host the Tower Run on Saturday, November 10. by Erika Gray