Friday, August 30, 2019

Rediscover Running

We all have had periods of long time where we were not able to run. 

I am not talking about a weekend when your in-laws are in town or it rains cats and dog for three days making outside running difficult.  I am talking about the times when it is weeks, months or years since you have run.  This might be because you can't run, like coming back from an injury -- or times where you just don't want to run because you've lost the desire. 

If you are in this state right now, I'd like to suggest that you rediscover running today. 

Let's look at two examples that define what I mean. 

During my competitive running career, I went through periods where I struggled to find motivation.  One particular time I recall was when I had plateaued with my race times and no matter what I tried, I just couldn't take that next step with my time goals.  I still ran every day, but I was just going through the motions.  Living in Alabama, you literally can train year round because even the winter weather is tolerable.  I had been training nonstop, year round, for 5 years with no break.  I felt like I was in my peak years for fast times, so I was unwilling to take a break and lose any fitness.  I knew that unless something changed, I was going to ultimately burn out and either walk away from running, or risk injury and not be able to run.

I knew that I needed to rediscover running.  Not that I had forgotten how to run, but I had forgotten what I loved about running.

So, I started to trail run, much more often.  I still did my quality running on the roads and track for temp and VO2Max workouts, but on most other days I could be found in the woods on single track.  For me, being alone in the wilderness is just about as good as it gets.  It doesn't matter if I am crushing a hill climb, working on my footwork on a technical downhill or just on an easy jog with my dog, I feel so alive when trail running. 

I noticed that my joints stopped hurting so much from the less from the softer surface of hard packed trails.  My road running quality actually improved because I wanted to make the most of my actual workouts.  And for once in a very long time, I actually started looking forward to running again.  It just took a change of where I ran to mix in more trail running, and I was able to rediscover why I loved running so much.

I was able to rediscover running and it changed my life. 

Fast forward nearly a decade to present day.  I have been retired from competitive running since December of 2016 when I went out on top with a Boston Marathon qualifying time at Run CIM in Sacramento, California.  But with medical issues, I really have not been able to run (fast) since hanging it up. 

There is an old saying that reads "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it's yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be."  Well I didn't let running go, I had to walk away from it, even if it was on my own terms.  But the yearning for it was so much greater because I was still at the tail end of my prime and I knew that I had more quality miles left in my legs.  How can you continue to do something that you love so much, but not at the same level you could once?

I knew that I needed to rediscover running.  Not that I had forgotten how to run, but I had forgotten what I loved about running.

I quickly learned that I needed to redefine what running was for me.  Because it will no longer be repeating quarters on a track at sub minute miles or going out for 3 hour long runs.  Running is now closer to jogging than running.  Running is taking the dog out for an hour where I rotate running for a minute followed by walking for a few minutes.  Running is being in a new city and exploring on foot pre-dawn to experience new places.  Running means something different to everyone, and can even change what it means for each person over time. 

I was able to rediscover running and it changed my life. 

With winter fast approaching, if you have been on a break with running, now is the perfect time to rediscover it.  Start slowly to avoid injury or burnout, but build up a routine before the snow flies.  Depending on where you live, you have 1-2 months before it gets really cold to create a new habit of running, 

Be sure to understand that what running was to you before you stopped may be different than what it is to you when you start again.  Maybe once you rediscover running you will actually enjoy it more (or differently) than you once did. 

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

2018 UPRRC Annual Meeting

2018 UPRRC Annual Meeting

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Queen City Running Co.

119 W. Baraga Ave Marquette, MI 49855

UPRRC 5km fun run  to start at 11:00am Eastern Time
Meeting to start at 12:00pm noon Eastern Time

Agenda items will include reports by the officers, newsletter editor, webmaster, treasurer report, membership dues, appointments for 2019 and review of the 2018 activities.  Additional items  may be added to the agenda at the meeting,.

All members are invited and encouraged to attend!

Looking back to 10 years ago

Charette Returns Home, Wins Classic

By ERIC CHARETTE, Senior Writer
August 2, 2008

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. - In a closely contested battle, a runner with local ties outlasts the rest of the field in the 2008 Lake Antoine Classic 5-mile race on Saturday. Eric Charette, now of Huntsville, Alabama won the race by a mere 5 seconds over his closest competitor, capturing his first race victory in 100 career attempts.

"The race played out almost exactly as I had scripted it in my head when I developed my race plan," Charette said, after returning back to his home town specifically to run this race. "I've always said that running races starts with training, is followed by a well planned strategy for the race, then it all comes down to execution."

Charette later indicated that his plan was four-fold; to go out hard in the first mile, possibly taking the lead in order to set the pace. This would separate the serious contenders from the rest of the pack. Then to run a relaxed pace through the middle miles over the rolling hills on the west side of the lake, pushing hard but not all out. Then at the beginning of the last mile to lower the pace as to take the potential kick out of anyone that trailed closely, as he knew that he doesn't have the finishing speed of other runners with younger legs. Then after the last turn, to take a glance behind him to assess the situation in order to determine how he would need to run the last quarter mile.

As the race began shortly after 9am, the sprinters quickly took the lead before exiting the park and out onto the road with Charette among them. It was wasn't until just short of the half mile mark that Charette took the lead. As planned he pushed the pace early, clocking a 5:22 in the first mile, building a lead of 8 seconds over the nearest runner.

"I felt pretty good early on this race, despite having to run into a mild head-wind on the way out," Charette said. "I knew that the first mile was run much faster than I could hold for the entire race, but this was part of my plan and I had executed the first part flawlessly."

The "Classic" course, now in it's 31st year, runs around Lake Antoine on the roads and provides little shade for runners. The course is mostly flat, but provides some short rolling hills in the middle miles that challenge even the best runners when running at top speed.

Charette held true to his plan, running the middle miles at a pace closer to what he would average overall. His splits came in at 5:36, 5:47 and 5:38 for miles two, three and four. The third mile was comparatively slower paced than the other miles as this would include the hills along Devereaux St and Lakeside Dr. In the section of the race, the nearest runner to Charette, Tim Hebert from Fort Collins, CO, closed in on the lead, making it a two man race.

"I knew that he was lurking behind me and that he was getting stronger and faster in the middle miles," Charette said after the race. "There aren't many tight turns where you can look behind to see the chase pack, so I could sense him there but had no idea how close he was. I did know that I was dictating how the race was being run and running relaxed was part of the plan for this part. I was preserving energy for a hard push in which I would try to build more separation over the pack before the home stretch."

Eric Charette had been in this position before, having recently lead a 5 kilometer race in Florence, AL before he was out sprinted in the last 100 meters by two younger runners, resulting in a 3rd place finish.

"I wasn't about to lose the lead like I did a few weeks ago. I knew that in order to stay in first, I would have to show the field that they would have to run 10-15 seconds faster than me in an already break-neck pace from miles 4 to 4.5."

Charette, who has now been running competitively for merely 5 years, just topped the 10,000 mile mark for his career. He also owns 60 top 10 finishes and averages in the top 10% of his races more than 90% of the time. He has become more dedicated and driven in 2008, as he has already run 25 races since early April. Other than a weekend off after the Boston Marathon, Charette has raced every weekend, often twice on the same day, in chasing his first victory.

"I was really gunning for a victory at the 'Bass Run' a few weeks ago in Crystal Falls. We had great weather that day and I ran a near perfect race but just couldn't stay with the leader, Jake Keehan, a freshman runner for UW - Oshkosh." Charette would finish in 2nd at that race, adding to his career total of 9 second place finishes.

As the runners came into the final turn onto the east side of the park, Charette held a short lead over Hebert.

"Rounding that last corner was the first time that I could clearly see Tim. This was a great feeling because I knew that he would have a difficult time closing the gap in the last quarter mile," Charette said. "At this point I told myself that I only had to hold on and endure for less than a minute and the race would be over."

Coming through the gates into the park, Charette sprinted toward the finish line pumping his fist in victory. Finishing with a time of 28:01, Charette claimed the overall honors by 5 seconds over second place, earning his first career victory.

"I knew that I would have to run at least a mid 28 to have a chance to win. I have never run faster than a mid 29 in a 5-mile race before but using my recent races as a guide, I felt that I had a fast time in my legs," said Charette who lowered his personal best by 80 seconds for this distance. Running 16 seconds per mile faster than he had ever done so for this distance, Charette had raced to his script and won in front of the hometown crowd and his parents, Dennis and Drema.

"In running as many miles as I do, I have been over this scenario a thousand times in my head. How would I perform when it really mattered, carrying the lead into the final stretch? Would I falter under the pressure of the situation and succumb to the competition, or would I stay mentally strong and finish what I had started when I took my first steps as a runner back in 2003?"

Charette would answer this question in grand fashion with a story-book ending. "It takes a lot of will to keep trying when you have failed at something 99 times before. It would be easy to quit, but that's not in my character. I may never win another race after this, but knowing that I was able to do it on this day under these conditions makes the years of training all worth it."

Tim Hebert would go on to finish second overall with a time of 28:06. The top local runner would be Andrew Kangas, rounding out the top 3 with a time of 29:47. Perennial local runner Steve Orchard took 4th.

After the awards were announced, Charette said "I may be holding the first place award, but credit goes to so many people that made this happen. Without all of them and their support, I'd never have started running or kept up with it for so long."

So what is next for Charette? When asked, he replied, "I am unsure of what I will do next. My short term goals have been met, which including qualifying for and racing the Boston Marathon and winning a competitive race. My long term goals remain as trying to break 3 hours in a marathon and running more ultra marathons. I'd really like to go beyond the 50km mark and maybe run a 50 or 100 mile trail race someday. On the other hand, I am in great shape for road racing right now and I might be better well suited to chase the marathon time goal first. Either way, today's win will only drive me more to run and chase my dreams even more."

The 32nd running of the Lake Antoine Classic is tentatively set for the first Saturday in August, 2009.

Eric Charette writes race reports after every race and posts them at