Sunday, July 24, 2016

Road to Castlerock

By:  John Cash

Like a lot of you, last March I watched the documentary The Barkley Marathons.  I was inspired. Within minutes of the credits, I was logged onto Ultra Signup registering for a race that I had been interested in running for more than 2 years.   As I confirmed my spot on the Vol State Race page, terror set in.  A 500 K on the roads of TN directed by a character known almost exclusively for always difficult, often misleading and hard as shit races.

Recently, I have made some great but difficult changes in my life.  That was how I viewed Vol State, great but difficult.  I have no previous multi-day race experience and 24 hour races have yet to go seamlessly.  Honestly, I didn’t know that much about the race.  I had the John Price book.  I knew the course hit several states.  I knew there was climbing.  What knowledge I had was fuzzy having been pushed out of the way to focus on 24 Hour Races and Marathon Training.  I assumed there would be plenty of time to research before July.  

Aside from scouring race reports in my “free time” at work, my concentration was pulled to other things, life, kids, a move, starting a business…mountain biking.  It was the weekend before and I had not driven the course, half my crew had to bail and basically I just had a drape hat, some arm sleeves and some printed copies of maps.  My training still felt focused on 24 Hour Racing and Vol State was basically going to get jammed in there.  

I got lucky by reaching out and finding a close friend, John Schupp, who was available to come out and help Meghan, my girl friend, in crewing me.  My daughter, Megan, I know…that can be confusing or make things easier…returned home from a trip to Florida early and she was really interested in joining us for the adventure, as well.  In the days before, we began recruiting more interest from friends that offered to stop in along the route and ended up being met by Shari Munier and Greg Wells in the second day.  I can’t believe these people were all willing to travel such a distance, to travel a larger distance, just to help me fulfill an obligation made on an inspiration.  I wanted very badly not to let them down.

I know every one of them had special experiences traveling the Vol State course.  It seems every time I met up with them they had a story to share and an overwhelming report that family, friends, the club and even people I have never met were actually following the race and interested in this crazy thing I was participating in.  It was very motivational learning how many people were remotely along for the adventure with us.  

I have only ever written one race report and it was pretty terrible.  My reason for writing this down is to first, thank all those people that sent a message, kept in touch, thought about the race…maybe even got a little inspired themselves.  Secondly, there are a few things that I wish I had known before attempting a multi day and while they are fresh, I want to remember them.

So, thank you guys.  I am reading over all the posts, comments and looking at some great pictures.  Recently I have been forgetting my race experiences shortly after they are done.  What I can’t feel from Vol State in a week will still be there in my thoughts thanks to so much interest and involvement from the people of my community.  I say thank you only because I don’t know how to better express my gratitude to so many.  Thank you everyone.

Other things I will have to try to remember if I ever multi day again:  
Eat the right way: Heavy fatty meals for slow burn, small carb calorie boosts until hunger 
Stay dry: Especially your shoes, change them, change socks, tape feet, avoid wet shoes at all costs  (additionally, watch water in other areas and be liberal with the lube)
Sleep enough: You need to hit REM sleep but not much more than that to feel awake.  A half hour won’t cut it.  1.5-1.75 hours is good enough without jeopardizing run time

It has amazed me how an after thought documentary inspired me to commit to something so great and difficult on nothing much more than a belief that I could do it.  Maybe not do it well, but as long as I could walk, I knew would get to Castlerock.  Ok, I didn’t foresee walking being such a burden in my planning, but like I said, that is part of the reason I am typing this up.  What I have found even more amazing is the actual reach of this experience.  I didn’t think anyone would care about this race or how I was handling it. I found though, that this experience wasn't just mine.  My crew, Meghan and my daughter each appreciated aspects unique to them.  All of the people that said tracking the race led to inspiration for them really made me think about the race differently.  All I can say is that I am grateful that I was inspired, I am grateful that such a crazy opportunity exists and I am grateful to have felt such support from all over.  I hope any one that felt inspired by the race finds their own Vol State and goes for it. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Check This Out: Nutrition Stop

I recently had the opportunity to chat with DRC fast-packer and runner Rick Kwiatkowski  about Nutrition Stop (click here for their Facebook page), where he works in St. Peters, MO. Get to know more about Rick and Nutrition Stop in this interview, then make sure to head over to St. Peters sometime to check it out!

Daily Run Blog (DRB): How do you pronounce your last name? Sorry to ask a question I'm sure you hear ALL the time, but I'm curious!

Kwiatkowski: Qua-Tow-Ski. It really is Kvee-At-Kov-Ski. Kwiat means "flower" in Polish and Kowski means "person". That was probably too much info.

DRB: Nah that’s not too much info. How long have you been working at Nutrition Stop (NS)? What has kept you there?

Kwiatkowski: I am terrible with time frames, I have been there for over 15 years. I moved to Texas [for] a while and worked for two different corporate nutrition stores. The reason I have stayed is how Mom and Pop shops do business. We sincerely try and help people. There are no push products and we do not work on commission.

DRB: What corporate nutrition stores did you work for?

Kwiatkowski: I worked for Vitamin World and GNC. I managed stores for both companies.

DRB: What differences do you see between these corporate stores versus NS?

Kwiatkowski: A lot of corporate owned and operated stores have push products and use a system that offers commission on certain products. I know how a lot of stores work and unfortunately I feel it interferes with the idea of truly helping someone get what they really need.

DRB: Both of the stores you previously worked at are supplement-specific. What kind of products do you carry at NS?

Kwiatkowski: We carry produce (all of it is certified organic), groceries, natural cosmetics, supplements, and bulk items.

DRB: Oh dang, now I really want to check it out! Do you have any favorite products? (I admit, I assumed it was mainly supplements!)

Kwiatkowski: We get our meat from local farmers. One product I eat almost every day is Missouri Bison. I also eat the Best Bar Ever nearly everyday as well. They are fresh made to order bars we have in the refrigerator(no preservatives).

DRB: I'm assuming the Best Bar Ever is local, then? Are a lot of the grocery items local?

Kwiatkowski: We try to get as much local as possible (Best Bar Ever is not local, but is always fresh). I live downtown so I am able to pick up some of our orders directly from the facilities downtown. I get to see how and where the items are made and deal directly with the people who make them.

DRB: Those relationships must be invaluable! Have you or Nutrition Stop been able to grow your local food stock because of those direct dealings?

Kwiatkowski: Yes. I also make it a point to go to local farmers markets and Best of Missouri Market (held yearly at the Botanical Gardens). 

DRB: I’m sure that’s a great event! Do you do any of the ordering or selecting of products? If so, what do you look for?

Kwiatkowski: Yes. The market has changed so much in the past decade with internet and big box stores getting into the market. We, of course, look at quality of product and integrity of the company. But now we have to see who is carrying these companies and if they are selling them at fair prices. Some products are being sold directly at prices lower than what we buy them for from our distributors. This is not just happening in our industry, but others as well. That is why it is such a struggle for Mom and Pop shops to survive.

DRB: Wow they really don't make it easy! It's good that you understand that, though, and are able to look for those things. Now, you carry a wider range of products than I was expecting, but I'll still ask: what do you recommend to first-time customers? I get pretty overwhelmed at nutrition stores and I wonder if it would be the same at NS?

Kwiatkowski: I personally believe in keeping things simple. That way people are less likely to be overwhelmed and more likely to stick with it. I usually preach paying attention to your macros (proper amounts of carbs, fats, proteins) and not sweating the micros too much. Starting with a good multi is a great way to ensure you are getting a good foundation of the micro nutrients you actually need.

DRB: Okay! Is that part of why you warned me that your views on nutrition and eating are “a little out of the range of normal”? Can you explain what you meant when you told me that?

Kwiatkowski: I have tried a lot of different ways of eating in my time. I noticed the biggest improvement in my health when I added clean meats and organic dairy back into my diet. I was feeling so great that I did some research to see if there were any people who mainly lived off of such foods as staples. That is when I found out about the Masai Tribe of Africa. They are herders who live mainly off of meat and milk. They believe farming is a desecration of the land. Pretty extreme departure of what people commonly think. So I decided to embrace this idea and test it in a reasonable manner. As a result I eat a lot of dairy and meat and nearly no fruit and veggies. Haha!

DRB: Ha, wow! That is different from the norm. I assume that's why you like the bison meat? What do you consider clean meats?

Kwiatkowski: Hormone-free, pasture-raised, and organic if possible.

DRB: Within that, do you eat any meat or lean toward one kind of meat over another?

Kwiatkowski: Not really. I do bison, grass-fed beef, salmon, and tuna. I look for calorie- and nutrient-efficient foods. Most meat fits into that category.

DRB: You said you tried other dietary regimens, were you trying those all through your running/fitness journey?

Kwiatkowski: No. I really just started running seriously a year or so ago. I was an avid day hiker back in my single days. After getting married and having a kiddo, my windows of trail time have diminished. So, to make the most of it, I decided to train to be a fast packer. I had to evolve my diet to be nutrient- and calorie-efficient and change my training to involve running along with power hiking.

DRB: Do you feel your fitness journey ties in with NS in any way?

Kwiatkowski: Yes. I believe health is a holistic sort of thing. The three main things we should focus on is nutrition, exercise, and sleep/rest. Nutrition Stop fills in the nutrition aspect, fast packing hiking/running is the exercise, and me being an exhausted, active parent equals sleep. Ha!

DRB: I would ask if your son is active, but I have a feeling he is! How old is he?

Kwiatkowski: He turned four this month.

DRB: Oh he definitely exhausts you, then, ha! I see your trail running posts, do you take to the road ever?

Kwiatkowski: Occasionally. I used to run mainly paved at Forest Park almost daily when my son was younger and would ride willingly in his stroller. Haha!

DRB: Does he enjoy fast-packing or running with you?

Kwiatkowski: At times. We live in a walk able neighborhood and have tons of parks around. We get a lot of outdoor and playground time. I usually pack out all our water and snacks in my fast-pack so it works into the whole idea of fast pack training.

DRB: Soon enough he'll be fast-packing right alongside you! Thanks so much for your time, and for sharing such wonderful information about Nutrition Stop.

This is definitely a place DRCers should check out. Let us know if you've been and give us your thoughts on it! Thanks again Rick, see you on the trails!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

An Introduction to Adequate Recovery

By Meg McCarrick

In DRC, you see us talk a lot about recovery, but what does it mean? Is it healing up after an injury? Or taking a day off after an intense work out? Is it just a word reserved for elite athletes?

Look, if you are a member of DRC, you are an athlete. It is time to recognize that and treat yourself as such.  

With the weather on the verge of a spring upswing, we are all counting down the minutes until our feet get to hit the pavement or trail each day. Not surprisingly, the highest incidence of injury is often associated with this rev-up in running. As glorious as it is to be out there increasing speed and mileage, sometimes we neglect applying the necessary recovery to our running lifestyle.

Ok, so… remember, we are athletes here. We are killing PRs and pushing our limits and crushing the physical standards most people expect of themselves. Let’s take a couple minutes to talk about the parts of the day NOT spent running, but that definitely affect our running.

Hydration: Hydration is an everyday necessity and our general population is kind of terrible at it. 3-5 liters of water a day. Who does that? Well, athletes …like you. So get yourself a heavy-duty BPA-free, or steel or glass liter bottle and keep it with you. DRINK!  Replenishing fluid for your body after exertion or time in the heat or wind or even extreme cold is key to keeping the cells of your body turgid and productive. You cleanse your digestive and urinary systems more regularly and efficiently with a steady flow of water consumption. The healing process actually speeds up with effective hydration. You get over illness more quickly, repair an injury with less time down and stay mentally sharp, all simply by consuming an adequate amount of water on a daily basis. Be ready to pee a lot.

Nutrition: There is a very obvious disconnect with Americans and the purpose of food. We typically do not view food as fuel, or as sustenance, or as specific to healing or health. We tend to limit ourselves rather than green-lighting a feeding frenzy of actual real food. Calories derived from real food sources are easily utilized by our systems at rest and during physical demand. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have better food education built into primary, occupational, or even medical schools. So, it is up to us to look for the information and to apply it even when that type of lifestyle is made challenging in our common culture. Food is basic and simple… if it is basic and simple: fresh, clean, live foods are going to create a fresh, clean and live environment within our bodies. If you are eating junk, your system will be junk. The “you are what you eat” saying rings very true to those people looking to reach their physical and mental potential. Athletics aside, wouldn’t it be great if all people ate for health? We would eliminate diabetes and most cancers, as well as drastically reduce occurrences of common viral and bacterial infections because we would be more capable of fighting those things off, JUST BY HAVING A HEALTHIER SYSTEM. Now, imagine what kind of an impact a diet full of fresh, clean, live foods can have on your preparation, performance, and healing as it links to your running lifestyle.

Rest: Good sleep is paramount. We are up before the sun and not in bed until well after it goes down. We sleep restlessly as our body fights the daily sugar spikes, screen time, work and life stressors. We sleep with other restless bodies, barking dogs, noisy traffic, kids that need to get up to pee. Even when we do get in bed, as tired as zombies, sleep is often hard to manage. Napping is viewed as laziness, but we are all tired. Someone once told me to make sleeping a hobby and habit, enjoy it, don’t apologize for it and take all that you need. 8-10 hours, try to make time for it. Your body’s cells actually heal more quickly while you are at rest; while sleeping, complex systems are still diligently filtering, processing and creating new cells, pathways and products.

That’s the recovery trifecta. By becoming more in tune with your water intake, pushing a heavy diet of good foods, and making sleep a priority you can take on quality workouts, make huge gains, and heal in a fraction of the normal time. This is essentially the secret to evolving to your most impressive athlete and self. Ok, so training and balanced workouts are extremely helpful as well, but I would venture to say that how you recover actually plays a larger role in your ability and potential than just jamming out intense training. Further, you are going to be able to jam out a whole lot harder with the right regular big picture care.

Stress Avoidance: In addition to those main three, Hydration, Nutrition and Sleep, there is another facet of well-being that effects recovery. It’s a little sticky to avoid stress as we are bombarded with it in most aspects of our lives. Heck, it is why a lot of us run in the first place. If you focus on the trifecta, you will find that some stress is more manageable anyway, but there are some areas that require a little more thought. We all have those issues in our lives that make just getting by difficult. Money, other people, jobs, expectations… some of these things are static and you just have to sip your herbal tea and let it roll off your back, while in downward facing dog, listening to Fleet Foxes. But some other stresses can be lessened with clear decision making to avoid overly-heavy situations, setting up smart systems and even considering cutting your obligations. The most effective way to lessen the effect of stressors is to stay positive and stay thankful. Take time to really value those great relationships, accomplishments and joys in your life. 

Solid athletic performance and recovery will always be complimentary of one another. As DRC athletes, and especially going in to this busy season of running, remember to place some importance and focus on recovery. Proper hydration, nutrition and sleep, along with keeping a peaceful mind will strengthen your running ability and allow you to make those changes in form and training that lead to even bigger gains. Happy Running, DRC!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Year, New... Ugh!

By Rae Hedlund

Welcome to another year, DRC! Looking back at 2015, I’m blown away by all the things our club has accomplished: members have joined and become confident and consistent runners; people have run their first races or tackled new distances; we have shared stories, told more about our lives before running and how running has changed us. It’s truly incredible to see the things our club has done over the last year.

I’ve spent the past year helping with the DRC blog, encouraging you to share your stories, and I have loved every minute of it. Every story you’ve told has been an inspiration to me personally, and I’m so thankful to have been a part of it thus far. Starting out another year, I feel excited just seeing the things to come, with the 2016 Penny Challenge, our month of speedwork in April, and other fun things in the works, it’s all so exciting! But can I share something with you that hasn’t been exciting me lately? Resolutions.

For some years now, I’ve felt completely overwhelmed by the “New Year, New You!” concept. Those of you that know me know I’m an extrovert (Gasp! Shocking!), and while I’m great at seeing a big-picture concept, achieving the final product leaves me feeling confused and muddled—the details elude me. Ask me to tell you my “resolutions” and I get frazzled because I have a lot of things I’d love to accomplish, but don’t know what is reasonable and what isn’t. To be honest, there is also a part of me that’s just cynical about resolutions. Think of all the memes out there about people going to the gym in January... and not going after that! Those memes are how I’ve always looked at resolutions.

Not gonna lie, I think they based this off something I said once.
I'd tell you to disregard the year, but this shows that I'm not the only one who thinks this way!
Well, I’m here to say sorry. I’m sorry for being cynical, and I’m sorry (okay, only a little) for being so easily stressed over a pastime that most people embrace. However, I’ve shifted my thinking over the last couple years to try to see “resolutions” as goals- and I’m always excited to talk about my goals! I have some for the year (volunteering and decluttering, to name a couple), but my main goal is to be gracious with myself. The idea of being gracious, compassionate, or just kind to myself came during my 50-miler last year, and I’ve tried to keep that idea alive.

This year is starting out particularly directionless for me. Being 34 weeks pregnant, I’m just thankful for every moment my body feels good being active. Over and over, I’ve been encouraged to “listen to my body,” while also being prodded to be cautious and not overdo things. So, this year, I consider it a  goal to continue having a healthy pregnancy. With that in mind, I have just tried to be gracious with myself while doing what I love: I love running! But I also know that I need to take walking breaks, or cut a run short; there are also times, though, where I know the discomfort I’m feeling stems not from pregnancy, but from running just being tough.

Starting off my year in my third trimester has thrown my already easily overwhelmed, non-detail-oriented brain into a tizzy. How can I set fitness goals? Can I get close to last year’s mileage, or is that out of the question? What do I even want my goals to be? I’m not much for racing and have none on my calendar for the year, and I’m okay with that! I’ve learned that I don’t need a race as motivation, that I just like to see what my body can do, and with DRC to keep the motivation flowing I know I’ll continue running (thanks, DRC!).

No races, no mileage goal, I really do feel directionless! At the same time, though, I’m looking forward to some awesome volunteering opportunities—it is so inspiring to see others pushing themselves, getting to help them on their way is just way too cool. I’m hoping to get to pace some friends this year as they go out to crush their goals, because what better way to give back to those who have helped me in my own running journey? Even continuing to encourage you DRCers to share your running stories with the rest of us through the blog is something I’m looking forward to this year!

What does this all mean, then? Here I am, somewhat goalless but looking forward to a full year. Honestly, I feel a little empty about it, but also kind of excited to see what the year will bring; with nothing in my sights, anything that comes across my horizon will be an adventure I’ll be floored to take part in. I love seeing the goals/resolutions of other DRCers, because I know that I’ll be setting goals sometime this year, just not in January. I feel directionless, but I know that I’m not.