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

Sunday, April 29, 2018

We are all the same, you and I

Unless there is a miracle, my competitive racing career is over as I have effectively been forced into early retirement due to health concerns. While I struggle with this notion from time to time, it has given me the opportunity to look back at what was an otherwise stellar stretch of running. These days I spend more quality time with my family and those long grueling pounding the pavement are replaced by hours of walking the dogs. It also has given me a lot of time to think back over my running career.

During my 30’s I was racing almost every weekend; sometimes twice, averaging 40+ races a year for the better part of a decade. I was running every distance from 5km to 50km and was winning or standing on the podium in just about every race. You can say that I had an obsession.  But like any athlete that rises to the top of their sport, it takes hard work and you have to be a little selfish and obsessed to rise and stay on top.  There was a time early in my career where I was jerk!  I never really knew how to deal with having success so it took me awhile to figure that out. 

I remember one incident in particular that helped to put some of this into perspective for me.  There was a race in which a mid-pack runner came up to me and said that it was an honor to talk with an "elite runner". I knew that I was having success, but it never dawned on me that I was viewed as an elite runner by some people. So in the weeks to follow, I remember thinking long and hard about what that really meant.  Why should it be any different to talk to someone just because they are good at something?

Then I realized that just like I looked up to faster runners at the time, and viewed them as elite, that person probably did the same to me. While none of us were going to the Olympics any time soon, I appreciated the kind words, but I also realized that it takes nothing more than going to a big time race to be humbled as to where we fit with our abilities. I also appreciated the fact that others looked up to me and I will admit that selfishly it did feel good to be recognized for something, but should it have been an honor to have me dispense some running advice because I was fast? No.

For tens of thousands of miles, I laced up my shoes just like any other runner. I paid the same race entry fees for races. Regardless of finishing time, we both put forth the same effort during the race. If you ran as hard as you could and you were proud of that effort, then I loved to hear about it. I was always looking to talk to people before and after races; I loved to hear the stories of where people were from, the adversity of their training and other stories that help bring us closer together as athletes. It should have been no more of a privilege to talk with a faster runner than it would be to talk with someone who had a higher rank at work; we are all people at heart and when you take running away, we are the same.

I was taught by some of the best (and fastest) guys in town and I loved nothing more than to be able to pass this on to the up and coming runners. If I had kept it all to myself then it would have been a waste for those who taught me. I really enjoyed teaching so that others could pay it forward. I loved it when people would ask me for help on training or something running related where I could leverage what I have learned to help them out.

Just because I ran fast doesn't mean that I am, or was, any different than you. I respected the fact that you are out there doing it and trying your best. I was never above running with, or talking to anyone. If anything; the opposite. People think that because you are fast, that all you do is run fast. I loved to run with friends of all paces and really I just enjoyed the company of running with other people. If I was training for a goal race I would always find a time for my quality workouts. Not many people enjoy running alone day after day and I was no different; sometimes I'd rather sacrifice a key workout just to not run alone. After all, we are just human first and runners much further down the list.

Now I will be honest to say that after I warmed up before a race, and lowered the sunglasses, that was my time. It was how I went to that mental state that I needed to be in order to race my best. Some athletes use heavy rock music on their phone to take them there; for me lowering the sunglasses put me into the zone. But, the second the race was over, I got more enjoyment from seeing people finish and talk about how exciting it was to race. If I was able to help you in your training, with coaching or to even just encourage you with my words or cheering during the race, then that was greater than any medal or reward I could receive for my own efforts.

So if you are a 5 minute miler or a 9 minute miler; a 40 mile a week person or an 80 mile a week person; a 10 mile runner or a 100 mile runner; we are all the same, you and I. We are runners. We are athletes. We all suffer the same during races, hurt after hard workouts, have occasional injuries and smile from ear to ear when we cross the finish line, knowing that we have given our best effort. We all look up to people who are faster than us, but maybe we should be looking in all directions for good quality people – not just those who are gifted athletes.

Now that my racing days are over, I hope that I was known for who I was, or how I impacted your running life in a positive way, not because I ran a fast race once upon a time.  I am just glad that I figured this out early on, and didn't continue my running career thinking that I was above anyone else.  I was not.  I was simply a man who had the will to test the limits of my body.  And now that I look back on it, it means more to me that I may have been a difference maker in peoples lives, than all the medals that I earned. 

After all, we are the same, you and I.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Running Injury Prevention

It is that time of year when most runners starting to think about the upcoming race season.  In Upper Michigan, it is also a time for just being proud to "get out there" and log some base miles as the temperatures and conditions make it tough to do any real training.  As you look back at last year, and look forward to this year, it is a great time to think about running injuries and what causes them.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Let me first say that I am not a medical doctor. What I am is a veteran runner who has been coached by the best; I have read dozens of books on running and training; have logged thousands of hours running and had just about every type of injury along the way. I understand how to apply the fundamental principles of training to achieve the desired result and maximize the ability of any runner. I have also successfully coached many runners of all levels.

Let’s first start with definitions.

An INJURY is a physical problem severe enough to force a reduction in training. Did you know that scientific studies show that about 60-80%* of all runners will experience an injury resulting in significant loss of training time (more than three days) during an average year? When compared to other endurance sports, the risks associated with running are higher. Injuries can have varying degrees of severity. The best source for grading these injuries is described by Bob Glover and discussed in "The Competitive Runner's Handbook." These grades are useful when describing the severity and knowing when to take corrective action.
  • Grade One: Minor aches that aren't noticed until after a run.
  • Grade Two: Some discomfort is felt, possibly during the later stages of a run but does not affect performance.
  • Grade Three: Severe discomfort and pain which may alter form and limits training performance
  • Grade Four: Pain is so intense that running is not possible and you are forced to rest until it pain subsides
Being SORE or experiencing SORENESS after a strenuous workout, a time trial or a race is normal. You have just stressed your muscles beyond the limit of your regular workout and your body is reacting. Scientifically, soreness is your body's defense mechanism responding to tiny tears in muscle fibers as a result of the workout. After your muscles recover, they actually should be stronger. Tearing and repairing is the process of raising your fitness level and allows you eventually to run further and faster. Swelling is a side effect of your body trying to repair these fibers and may contribute to stiffness in the muscles. This process usually peaks within 48 hours after exercise. For this reason, you are sorer on the second day after a hard workout but for the same reason you are able to work out hard two days in a row (DOMS). Being sore, stiff or fatigued does NOT mean that you are injured.As Hal Higdon suggests, "If you want to become a runner, you may need to accept some soreness as a natural part of the conditioning process." Running is a process of repeatedly stressing your muscles to become faster and stronger, so some pain or soreness is to be expected.

Running injuries are quite common among amateurs and professionals, beginners and veterans. Although a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (Archives of Internal Medicine, vol. 149(11), pp. 2565-2568, 1989) has determined that injury risk can be linked with inexperience. The study pointed out that individuals who had been training for less than three years were more likely to sustain injuries when compared with runners who had been running for longer periods of time.

A similar study by Dr. Murray Weisenfeld concluded that most injuries occur when running mileage starts to climb over 40 miles per week. That means that if you are training for a half or a full marathon, you are putting yourself at additional risk, even if you are able to limit all other factors.

Most injuries are caused by training errors with very few injuries occurring as a result of a single factor. Injuries do not occur suddenly, but more gradually, elevating up the scale as mentioned above. Of the many things that you need to know in order to avoid time limiting injuries is the ability to recognize the difference between normal soreness and possibly progressive injuries. Knowing your body and understanding when you have stressed it too much and when to back off is very important.

Injury causes

Improper form and/or poor biomechanics
This is listed first because it is something that you can do very little to change. You may choose proper footwear to correct pronation or study video of your running form to help make minor corrections, but in the end, your natural form may limit your ability to run without risk of injury. Some people may have a great desire to run and be competitive but do not have the basic genetics to support anything more than running for basic fitness. You can tweak your form, slightly improve your vo2max and your running economy, but as my long time running partner Marty Clarke has been quoted in saying, "You had all of the ability to run the day that you were born."

General overuse
This is a blanket category for running too much. This is the most common factor leading to injuries and means not backing off in training when the initial signs of an injury are felt. It simply means that you have stressed something repeatedly without adequate rest to allow for the rebuilding process as discussed above.

Equipment related
This is mostly related to footwear, though can also be improper apparel for the conditions. If you are wearing shoes that are not designed for your foot then you are putting yourself at risk when you take your first step. Going through a formal fit process, having an expert analyze your form to properly recommend the right shoe for you is vital. Since your feet strike the ground 90 times per minute per foot, it all starts with your feet and works up from there. Typically shoes need replacement after 300 to 500 miles and it is smart to begin to rotate in a new pair of shoes after 200 miles on the first pair. Not allowing your footwear to properly dry out after wear is the number one cause for them to break down and reduce their life.

There are no ways to truly avoid injuries, but you can do your best to lower the probability that you experience one that will set back your training. This is in no way a complete list, but here are things that you can do to improve your chances of staying healthy.
  • Build mileage at an increasing rate of no more than 10% per week, reducing mileage every 4th week to permit recovery.
  • Follow the hard – easy rule, scheduling a day of rest or easy running following a hard workout and before the next hard workout.
  • Don't do too much, too soon, too often, too fast, too hard, with too little rest.
  • Listen to your body. When it says to back off, take an extra day of rest, knowing that you can’t skip all of your hard workouts or you might consider a less aggressive plan.
  • Be sure to be properly hydrated and taking adequate nutrition, before, during and after your run. Carbing up is important to provide proper fuel before the run, during the run to help sustain longer efforts and immediately after to help the recovery process.
  • Incorporate stretching into your routine, after muscles are warm and after activity subsides.
  • When needed, leverage recovery tools such as message, icing, compression, elevation and rest on aching muscles.
  • Try to vary the type of surface that you do your training on, knowing that a softer surface such as trails are easier on your joints and will prolong your running career than daily pounding on concrete and blacktop.
  • Add strength training to your program, especially in the building phase toward your goal race.
  • Keep your weight in an acceptable range for your height and gender, eating as healthy as possible. Being on the heavier end of the ranges may cause joint (especially knee) pain.
  • Obtain proper rest during your training and understand that as your volume of running increases, so must your hours of sleep.
  • Warm up before each workout and follow it up with a proper cool down. This will help to ease into the workout before introducing stressors to cold muscles.
So what does all of this mean? Soreness is inevitable and while injuries are likely for endurance running athletes (based on studies and the law of averages), you can take steps to reduce your risk factor. Training too hard too often may lead to injury, while not training hard enough will lead to underachieving and failure to achieve goals; there is a fine line between these two. Training is about finding your limits and learning how far you can push yourself without getting hurt.

While there is proven theology behind these methods and they are applied with the utmost attention, there is no guarantee that they work unilaterally across all runners. This is because no two runners are alike and each person responds differently to training. When I am coaching runners, I do my best to instruct runners on how to train properly, give them the best chance to succeed while teaching them to run and remain healthy for the long term. If they follow our properly designed training program which incorporates the principles discussed above, listen to the advice given and listen to their bodies, they have the greatest chance of success.