ORANGE MUD NEWS
Are you a triathlete, road cyclist or runner who is curious about mountain biking? Want to learn but need some basic tips? I was in your shoes a few years ago when I got a little burnt out on road cycling. I have since switched over to mountain biking exclusively and while I am no expert, here are a few things you may want to know about mountain biking:
Start slow, go short and pick easy trails. Get comfortable on your bike and find some beginner trails. 20 miles on a mountain bike is MUCH different than 20 miles on a road bike. So don't start off planning a huge ride right out of the starting gates! Miles to miles, it is NOT the same.
Adjust your body on the downhills. Move your body to the far edge of your seat when going downhill. Keep your center of balance low and stable and your butt off the saddle. If you have a dropper post on your bike: stand and use it. By standing you are allowing your body to absorb the shock from obstacles on the trail. Another trick I've learned was to keep my pedals parallel to the ground when going downhill. I try and keep them at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. This way they are high enough that you won't gash them into a rock at high speeds. It’s not fun, trust me.
Get your bike dirty, stop treating it like a baby. Remind yourself this is NOT your road or triathlon bike. Get it dirty and it's ok if it gets scratched. Mountain bikes are much better at taking a beating than our precious tri bikes. But to keep your mountain bike in top shape always clean after every ride.
It's ok to walk! Mountain biking terrain can be steep, loose and rocky. It's ok to get off and walk. It's more important to have fun rather than to end up in the emergency room.
Look way ahead of you. Always, always, always look at least 10 feet ahead of you. This way you have more time to react if something is on the trail. Keep your eyes focused on where you want to go, not where you don't want to go. For example, do not fixate on that large rock on the edge of the trail that you are worried about crashing into. If you are focusing on the rock, your body will naturally draw itself to that rock and before you know it, you'll be crashing into it!
Practice shifting gears. You shift gears a lot when you mountain bike. I can recall the first couple times that it drove me crazy to be shifting around that much. It was so different from road biking but that is normal so shift away. You will also want to get into the habit of shifting before you reach the hill. Again this is where you always want to be looking ahead and make sure you are prepared for the hill by shifting early.
Take a lesson or join a group. Keep your elbows loose and don't clench your hands. Use your elbows to absorb the shock. Just relax, have fun, enjoy the scenery and give mountain biking chance. These are all tips I learned from my local bike shop: Soul Ride in Prescott, Arizona. They cater to beginner mountain bikers and frequently hold lessons and retreats. It’s a great way to improve your skills and be a part of the mountain bike community. Please look them up or join one of their group Wednesday rides that I help lead each week.
Are you an experienced mountain biker? What tips do you have for beginners? Leave your comment below.
Soul Ride: https://soulride.bike
You’ve been known to toss back a few with your buddies in record time. You’ve chugged a beer before/after/during a race. Keg stand? No problem. We get it, you’re a beast. But if you think the Beer Mile is all fun and games--think again!
The Beer Mile has become popular in the running community and is now commonly found as either part of a larger running event (especially ultra running events) or even as a separate organized event on it’s own. Some running groups put on their own neighborhood Beer Mile, because beer and running.. why not?! So it’s no doubt you’ve been toying with the idea of participating in this crazy running challenge. But the Beer Mile has been known to chew up and spit out many a man or woman who weren’t prepared! I know. It happened to me.
For those unfamiliar with the Beer Mile, it sounds pretty simple on paper: chug a beer, run a ¼ mile lap. Chug another beer, run another ¼ mile. Repeat until you’ve downed 4 beers and ran a mile. Only rules are you’re not allowed to vomit and the beer has to be 5% alcohol and no less than 12oz. These simple rules have fooled many into just showing up. It didn’t end well for them.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Let me bust some of the biggest Beer Mile myths so you can enjoy the challenge and not curse it.
- It’s Just Four Beers. Correct. Four beers… in approximately 15-30 minutes. Think back to your college days. Even when you shotgunned a beer, did you follow it up with 3 more back to back? Yeah. Now you’re seeing the big picture.
- It’s Just A Mile. Also correct. 4 laps-1 Mile. But have you ever ran laps with multiple beers sloshing around, threatening to come up? Way tougher than it sounds.
- I’ll just throw up and keep going. Nope. If you vomit there’s another beer and an additional lap waiting for you. And honestly, this is the hardest part of the Beer Mile-not throwing up! Chances are high that beer is going to come back up. The key is waiting until after you cross the finish line to let it loose.
- I’ll go slow. Okay, I’ll admit, this is a pretty good strategy, if you’re not competing to win. But if you’ve got a competitive side like me, try getting your speediest miles in the first two or three laps, gain some time on your competitors, and then keep it steady on the last lap.
- I’ll be so drunk it won’t matter. You’ll get intoxicated for sure, just not right away. It takes a bit for it to hit your system. It’s not going to be like running an entire mile drunk. Most won’t get buzzed until about the third/fourth lap. But once you cross that finish line, be prepared for it all to hit you at once!
- I don’t need water. False. This may have been one of my biggest mistakes during my Beer Mile experience. My stomach was full, I was feelin good. Why would I need more liquids? The massive hangover later was my answer.
- All finished. Let’s celebrate! The beers have hit everyone, you’re all feeling good. Time to crack open the celebratory suds. No! I’ll admit, I was the one who was calling for a toast amongst the cheers and high-fives. Which quickly led to “let’s open the good stuff”. Our 4 beers quickly became 5, 6, 7... did I mention the massive hangover? My advice is to toast over some water and food, wait a bit, then start in on the “good stuff”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I loved my Beer Mile adventure, and want to do it again. But I’m sharing my advice so that you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into. The better prepared you are, the better experience you’ll have. Take my advice into consideration and you’ll be ready for a fun time.
Have you participated in a Beer Mile before? What advice would you give to the newbies out there?Guest Blogger,
"As a long time adventure racer, ultra runner and standup paddler I have tried numerous different style bladder hydration packs never really being satisfied; that is until my first experience with the Orange Mud Endurance Pack this past weekend in a 6 mile standup paddle race. First thoughts out the box is that the pack is super light weight. Once you put it on the pack seems to fit like a glove and contours to your body perfectly. The hydration tube is long and has excess so you can cut to preference. With two pockets on the chest, shoulder and rear pockets to store whatever is needed you can load down this pack for the long haul or keep it lightweight for shorter races.
For my crash course race test of the Endurance Pack I have to admit I was skeptical of its ability due to the leaning over required for a proper SUP stroke(near 90 degrees); well, the pack did not disappoint, I never felt it shift back and forth, it breathed well and my gels stayed in the front chest pocket even while digging deep to a 2nd overall place finish. My last concern was that moment we all fear when we take of the gear to find chaffing and abrasions; Not A Single One and I didn't even have on a shirt!
This pack is now my favorite I have ever owned and will be replacing all my others; congrats to Orange Mud for producing this awesome pack!"
Follow Walker Higgins and his race company at WHOA.
As most of us do, I really enjoy running. My favorite distance is the marathon. Even though to-date I have only done 3: NY, Sydney and Melbourne. I began running when I was 24 years old - 12 years after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease where the pancreas stops producing insulin. Type 1 diabetics have to take a minimum of 4 daily insulin injections with multiple blood glucose checks through finger pricks, and constantly manage food intake to do our best to stay as healthy as possible and avoid long-term health complications.
For me, running provided an immediate, new found freedom from the frustrations of living with type 1 diabetes. A normal day for me consists of testing my blood glucose levels up to 20 times a day, giving multiple daily injections every time I eat and trying to manage all of this with exercise – sometimes the biggest challenge of them all.The rewards I reap from running, far outweigh the associated challenges with having type 1 diabetes. In 2016, I decided to take my love for running to the next level, signing up for my first ultramarathon for 2017. A 50km race in the Blue Mountains region of Australia. https://www.ultratrailaustralia.com.au/
I had a great 2nd half of 2016 in terms of racing – completing 8 races in a 3-month period and qualifying for the 2017 Boston marathon.
I was ready for a good year ahead… until I got a stress fracture in my left foot in October at the Melbourne marathon.
This took me off my feet for the following 12 weeks, putting my training plans back a couple of steps. Fortunately, I have still been able to continue running and swimming to keep up my cardiovascular fitness.Since getting back on my feet, there have been a few challenges probably not faced by the average runner. My diabetes has to get used to high intensity and endurance exercise again. This generally means during runs my blood glucose levels drop too low and I have to eat a constant stream of fast acting carbohydrates (gels, jelly beans, energy bars or fruit) to keep them within the normal range and prevent them from dropping dangerously low and potentially collapsing.
This adjustment can take the body up to 6 weeks to get used to and the need for carbohydrates slowly reduces.
So how does a type 1 diabetic train for a marathon or their first ultra and keep their diabetes in good control?On a typical mid-week 8-mile training run I will test my blood sugar levels 20 mins before I run. I would eat some short acting carbs, generally a banana or dates 10 mins before I head out the door and closely monitor how I feel and my sugar levels for the following hour.
Thankfully I recently got a device called a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) which feeds constant, live readings of my blood glucose levels to my insulin pump and I can monitor my levels without having to prick my finger while running – a tricky skill to acquire through lots of practice. The CGM device makes such a difference with my diabetes control during training and races.
During any training run I have to closely watch my sugar levels and try to keep them in the ideal range whether refueling with carbohydrates to bring them up or giving microdoses of insulin to bring them from being too high.
I also always have to bring snacks with me for both refueling my energy requirements and in the case I have a low sugar level.
During longer runs I will test my sugar levels with my blood glucose meter – generally around the 13 & 18 mile mark for an average 20 mile run. I also have to refuel a lot more not for my diabetes but to keep my glycogen stores up as I am burning through so many calories. I will eat 3 Clif bars (40g of carbs each) during my run with no insulin.
Training on the trails for the ultramarathon has added a couple of other challenges too, which I am learning to enjoy, very different to training on the tarmac.I am generally on my feet for longer hours and at a slower pace.I have more time to focus on my diabetes management but have to plan ahead with what I am going to take with me before I even head out the door and hit the dirt path.
The typical questions that run through my mind:
- Do I have enough water for hydration?
- Do I have enough supplies for refueling?
- Do I have extra supplies to treat low sugar levels?
- Do I have my blood glucose monitor as a backup to my CGM to test my sugar levels while running?
- Do I have a fully charged phone in the case of an emergency?
- Do I have my identification on me and do people know where I am running (if going on my own)?
And the most important question of them all: Am I ready for some fun?
In so many ways I am blessed to have type 1 diabetes. It has changed my perspective on life and allowed me to enjoy running with an appreciation unique to my experience.
Both diabetes and running have changed my life in ways I can’t put into words.
Now here is to Boston and running my first 50kms. 2017 is going to be a good year.
One thing I love about running is the sense of freedom that it brings me every time my foot strikes the trail or the pavement. It’s more than a release for me, it is a way of life. I look forward to my run. When I’m working I’m thinking about hitting the trail and when I am running I’m thinking about the awesome tacos and beer that I am earning or my next race. What I am not thinking about is the guy in traffic who cut me off, or the long day at work that I had, or my bank account and the bills that need to be paid. It is a time for my mind to rest and for the most part be relatively clear and calm.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. We love running. It’s what we do. One thing that I’m trying to do this year is bring that same feeling to my races. I want to run well and have a great race but I also want to enjoy my surroundings. I want to meet new people, suffer together, and when it’s all over, enjoy a beer. It is easy to get caught up in trying to set new personal records, qualify for that big race, or simply beat that person who gave you a weird look at the starting line. I have been there myself. I have had good and bad races. This year though, I want to really soak in everything that my races have to offer. I want to run WITH friends and strangers, not just blow past them and try to catch up when the race is over.
The point that I am trying to make is that it is easy to get caught up in the racing aspect of a race. It’s easy to overlook the fact that there are some cool people around you hiking, running, enjoying good company, and every now and then having that aid station shot of whiskey or beer. There is a whole other world inside the race itself of people just simply having a good time. I am not saying go to every race and party. I am simply challenging you to sign up for a race or two this year where you snap a few pictures, take in the scenery, meet someone new, and have fun. Enjoy the camaraderie of the like-minded people that you are running with. That doesn’t mean you can’t sign up for a race and go crush it either.
Ultra and trail running are gaining popularity everyday. Races are popping up everywhere and are offering better courses, aid stations, finishers medals and t-shirts, and after parties. As much as I love all of this, it also means that race prices are going up. I am all about paying for a great race! I want to make sure that the people putting together these fantastic races and their volunteers are being compensated for their hard work. I also want to make sure that after I’ve paid for the race, the travel expenses getting there, the time I spent training which kept me away from friends and family, that I am getting the full experience of the race and my “money’s-worth.” So challenge yourself this year and make sure you have some races on the calendar where you will have time to stop and smell the hops.
Guest Blogger: Mike Coutu
Your New Year’s resolutions may vary--ranging from more miles to new challenges. And I’m a big fan of running with friends to keep you motivated year round. But sometimes there just isn't anyone available around (or let’s face it..anyone willing to run). So what do you do? I say grab your pooch! Dogs need exercise.. and so do you.. so why not enjoy a little together? Plus, dogs rarely complain, make excuses, or ditch you for an extra hour of sleep.
My pups love to run. They see me grabbing my gear and can't wait to get out the door. It’s a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion. On those days when you're lacking some motivation, and you have a pup who can handle the activity, strap on that leash and go.
Don’t have a pup? This is a great excuse to go to a local shelter and rescue your new running buddy. If you’re still on the fence about adopting a dog, some animal shelters will allow volunteers to take certain dogs for a run throughout the week. What better way to find the perfect 4-legged running partner that’s right for you!
Running with your dog isn’t going to be easy if it’s your first time. Before you head out the door, there are few you things you should take into consideration:
- They need water just like you. Sometimes more! Even if you’re you go on just a 30-minute run, it's a good idea to carry water with you. I take my Orange Mud VP2 with me so both of my pups and I each have our own water bottle.
- They need to train. Was your first ever run a 10-miler? Probably not. So make sure you start off small. They need to work up to longer miles just like you do.
- They will stop frequently. Besides all the smells, they will have to poop/pee. So don't expect to run with a specific time in mind. Just enjoy the company of your companion. Both speed and distance will come with time.
- Be aware of your surroundings. You may not feel the sharp gravel or broken glass beneath your feet, but your pup surely will. Keep in mind you’re wearing shoes and try to avoid areas that would hurt if you were barefoot. Also watch for approaching traffic, other dog, cyclists, etc. While other people may be aware of you, they may not see or notice your dog, especially at night. For night running, there are a variety of clip-on LED lights to help keep your pets safe.
- They WILL frustrate you. That's right. They will see a squirrel... another dog... a stick...a stick that looks like a squirrel... It's going to take time to teach them to run with you so you MUST be patient. Give it time and they will learn to leave those things behind.
Do you and your dog log miles together? What was your biggest frustration when learning to run together and how did you overcome it? I hope these tips help both you and your furry running partner have a happy and healthy 2017!
Jeremy Heath - Orange Mud Ambassador and blogger extraordinaire!
2016 was a real soul questioning cluster, at times leaving me confused, self-doubting, stretched thin, and frequently benchmarking against the previous scale by which I’ve measured my former successes. From a running perspective, I walked into 2016 with the mantra, “I will run for fun, I will run to free my soul.” I had made a vow of returning to the road for the love of the sport, and I was hell-bent on a season of easy targets and finding the existential freedom that judgment-free pavement can do for the soul.
Coming off the most painful marathon of my career in New York’s November 2015 season, I was ready to throw in the competitive towel and quite literally put my feet up for the year (forever?). I was a bucket list marathoner, I’d reminded myself. The fact that I kept signing up seemed like some sort of masochistic subconscious that I was dying to shake. In my third 26.2 mile race with a time mere minutes over my “under 4 hour” goal, I was beginning to think my body just didn’t have the mental endurance to carry me 4 minutes faster. 4 minutes. That’s 240 seconds over the goal time I’d now attempted three times and failed.
A bit of a baseball watcher, and certainly a fan of Disney’s Aladdin, three seemed like a pretty perfect number to walk away with a strikeout and give the genie his freedom. I’ve admitted many times that I’m a middle-of-the-pack runner, and I’d proven time and again (and again) that I wasn’t capable of reaching that mystical goal.
In 2016, I expected to run less, but more vividly, and to watch the other areas of my life excel without the added pressure of BQs, PRs, and various other competitive banter. I wanted an opportunity to wake up on a Saturday morning and say “screw this, we’re going to the beach” instead of panting through 14 sunny miles. But when it came down to it, I didn’t do that at all. I kept up with my training regimen with the same intent and half the stress. I went to multiple practices with my running team on both weeknights and weekends, and in the small window I’d decided my competitive career was in countdown, I PR’ed the Brooklyn half marathon and ran a sub 3 hour twenty mile training run.
Of course, the races were painful. The practices took a toll on my body, but for the very first time they were only reassuring to my mind. Then, it clicked. I wasn’t afraid of pushing myself. I wasn’t tied down by my training routine. I was simply afraid to truly put myself on the line for the risk that I would voice my expectations and then miss them by mere seconds.
That was the summary of running in 2016, hell...that was 2016 in general. It was a year of realizing fears in the wake of failure, and making a pledge to be the type of person that doesn’t lose sight of the fact that running - and life - is and will always be a personal sport.
With this mindset, I signed up for and was granted lottery into the 2017 Chicago marathon. In 2017, I will return to the road with a new goal to find my “absolute max.” I’ve heard time and again professional runners talk about a lack of race regrets because they “left it all on the road.”
“What does that mean?” I would think. What it was it to give my true all? ...even more so what did it feel like to leave it all? At this point, I still don’t really know. The runs of 2016 and before were a careful calculation of “all-enough” to make sure I couldn’t fail. Not anymore. I am and have been in pursuit of my personal best, a far more internal record than a personal record.
And suddenly it’s not really the road that’s freeing, but the incredible turmoil of possibility which comes from unbridled exertion in pursuit of a new challenge. So bring it, 2017, with your expectations, judgements, comparisons, and benchmarking. Bring your muscle soreness, tired eyes, and double shots of espresso. I feel empowered for your arrival as I never have before, ready to take the trying times of 2016 and use them to fuel a year of great charge.
Author at thehappyrunnerdiaries.com
I know many runners who are satisfied with just running for the sake of running, without targeting a goal event in mind, but many others I know prefer to structure their training around an event that’s months away. I think I, too, belong in the latter camp. Having a target race on the calendar can help bring meaning but also structure to training without robbing yourself of the “joy” factor, too.
As 2016 begins to come to a close and you’re looking at your race calendar for 2017, why not take a risk and do something that’s perhaps out of the ordinary for you -- register for a trail race. As I mentioned, I’ve been running for a long time now, but it’s only been within the past few years that I’ve gotten into trail running, and let me assure you: it’s an adventure out there!
Below, I’ll give you some of my bits of wisdom and reasons why you should take the plunge and register for a trail race (or several) in 2017.
It’ll shake up your daily running and bring you a new focus. Unless you already run exclusively on trails every single day, chances are high that foraying into training for a trail run will bring a new focus to your running, which can be a good thing. It’s really tempting and ridiculously easy to do the same running route day after day, but it obviously gets pretty boring and stale after a while. When you’re training for a trail race, you’ll probably find that you need to do a different type of training -- maybe by training with the focus of “time on my feet,” perhaps, or by including lots of hill repetitions and elevation ascents/descents -- which in turn can make you a stronger (and faster) runner. Besides, variety is the spice of life, right?Trail racing (and training for them) can make you mentally unbreakable. If you’ve been running and racing for a while now, you know how important it is to be mentally tough. In fact, I’d wager that having sound mental fitness is as important, if not more, than getting yourself into fantastic physical shape. When you’re training for a trail race, you’ll probably need to spend more time on your feet than you usually would, as well as climbing and descending more hills than you usually do, and this can be tough, both physically and mentally. I’ve spent many days on trails where I wonder what I’m doing -- why am I running 15+ minute miles when I could easily run sub-8-minute miles on roads -- but then I remember how the “mental callusing” I’m doing in training will be helpful come race day. Trail running can be definitively harder than roads running/racing, yet the mental fortitude you’ll develop from racing trails can pay off in all areas of your life: running and otherwise. Remember: getting outside your comfort zone is a great thing.
It’ll keep you accountable and might make you more willing to put in the work. I know many people who swear by having a race on their calendar if for no other reason than it makes them continue to put in the training week after week, month after month. After a while, though, it makes sense that you’ll begin to maintain some base fitness, and you might not necessarily have to work as hard to “stay in shape” or be able to complete the distance. If you’re planning to run a trail race, though, and you’re used to running and racing roads, you’ll likely find that you’ll need to work a little harder and put forth a little more effort -- in the form of getting strong on climbs, on figuring out ways to be nimble and fast on the downhills, or learning how to hike expeditiously -- just to get or stay in shape. I know many runners often aspire to “run more hills,” for example, but in the absence of having a hilly trail race on the calendar, this goal falls to the wayside. Putting a trail race on your calendar -- after paying for it and registering, of course -- may make you more inclined to properly train for it, even in inclement weather or when it’s “inconvenient” to you to do so, if for no other reason than you not wanting to waste your hard-earned money.
The best reason: trail races are fun! As I mentioned earlier, I’m completely biased in my opinion that running is the best sport out there, and even if you’re used to just running and racing on roads, I bet you’ll find that the race-day atmosphere at trail races is still as energizing, exciting, and fantastic as what you’re used to. Sure, trail races are sometimes a little more “chill” compared to road races, and you may not run as fast as you would if you were on flat pavement, but there’s still something so gratifying and exhilarating about pinning on a bib and trying your best to run as fast as possible, even over rocky terrain, upturned rocks, exposed roots, or through water. Perhaps a better question to ask yourself: why not sign-up for a trail race?! What have you got to lose?! Provided you put in the training, remain injury-free, and show-up healthy and ready to rock, you may very well surprise yourself at how much fun you have.
As you’re planning your 2017 season, seriously give trail racing a shot. Fortunately for you, as your research will reveal, there are distances available for everyone: anything from a 5k all the way up to (and beyond) 100-milers or multi-day races. Who knows? Maybe even after one season of training for a trail race and then running your event, perhaps you’ll even migrate over to trail racing for the foreseeable future. Let me assure you: it’s a good place to be.
Writer Bio: Dan Chabert
Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is a husband, entrepreneur and ultramarathon distance runner. Aside from those 3 things, he spends most of his time on runnerclick.com, runners101.com, monicashealthmag.com & nicershoes.com and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.
Two years ago my wife and I took an epic road trip that took us through ten states and nine national parks. I had recently just left the Navy after eight years and we wanted to take advantage of my time off before I started my current job at Martin House Brewing Company in Fort Worth, Texas. We packed up our Nissan Cube and hit the road. We saw mountains, canyons, deserts, glaciers, lakes, and even a few bears. We hiked, explored, visited craft breweries, and I ran in some of the most beautiful mountains I had ever seen. It was magical to say the least. That was until we were on the last day of our trip and we pulled into our driveway and reality sunk in.
Time went by and we both sunk back into the work grind. We each began our training for our yearly trip to Los Alamos, NM where I run the Jemez Mountain Trail runs and she bikes the Santa Fe Century. We had been looking forward to hitting the road the day we returned from our road trip. We went and raced and had a blast and on our nine hour drive back we decided that we would no longer sit at home wishing we were somewhere else. We would take “Mini-Adventures” that would tie us over until our next grand adventures. It didn’t take long before “The Itch” set in. We began to research local parks, trails, anything that was within driving distance that could help us make that “Itch” go away. We set out one Monday to explore Colorado Bend State Park which was only about a three hour drive. Pulling up to the park we didn’t think too much of it but when we made it further into the canyon and we saw the Colorado River for the first time since we camped on that very same river in Utah on our road trip two years prior, we were blown away. We set out to hike one of their many gorgeous trails and discovered hidden canyons, waterfalls, creeks, and all kinds of natural beauty that we did not expect to find in Texas. After a day of hiking and exploring we were determined to explore more of our surrounding areas for adventure. From then on we dubbed these expeditions “Mini-Adventure Mondays”.
Since that little trip that we took on a whim we have taken many mini-adventures to local state parks and anything that is within driveable distance. We realized that there is so much around us and we have been sitting around pouting because we aren’t back in Glacier or Yosemite National Park. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and wonder why we aren’t all living in cabins up in the mountains running trails everyday. I still sometimes think about it. What I encourage you and anyone that reads this article to do is to get out and explore your local state parks. It doesn’t even have to be a state or national park, it can be a local park that offers neat trails and a close getaway. I recently found a nature center 20 minutes from my cabin that has become my go-to training trails. Stop wasting time wishing you were somewhere that you aren’t. There are untapped resources all around us. Get out and explore, be spontaneous, and take rad mini-adventures.
Written by Guest Blogger: Mike Coutu
Paying it Forward
Running and cycling are individual sports. You train and race to get a specific placement number or time by your name. You start out with individual goals, but as you meet people, you find a sense of community. I find, more often than not, that is the community that keeps bringing me back to sport and not a desire for me to get a specific time or place in a race. Over time, I’ve evolved from being an individual participant to wanting to help others and foster a sense of community amongst my fellow athletes. The focus shifted from “me” and seeing how I improved to “we” and helping others gain confidence in a new sport, make friends, and feel included. It’s actually become a driving focus and I now seek out opportunities to help people out or provide a friendly face when out training or racing. If you’ve ever experienced someone helping you out or maybe saying a nice thing along the way, then it’s time to pay it forward and do the same out in your community. Here are some suggestions:
- Go to races and spectate. Do you have friends racing at an event that you’re not signed up for? Go and cheer your friends on at a race! Make it even more fun with costumes and signs! I will usually make signs and put them out in lonely parts of the course and then place myself in a more central part of the race to maximize my face time with athletes. You’d be surprised how a friendly face or word can lift up an athlete and propel them for miles! Bonus points if you also have a cooler full of cold beer for post-race refreshments.
- Volunteer at races. Are you looking for a simple one time way to help out? Find a local race and volunteer at it. Here in Denver, we have many race organizers who offer you a discount for a cheap entry to a future race. By volunteering, you get good future racing karma AND a cheap future entry. Win win!!
- Help with a specific group that interests you. Are you excited about helping a bunch of new people learn how to mountain bike? Maybe it’s helping a specific group of people, like veterans, women athletes, special-needs athletes, kids? Find something that really interests you and find a group that aligns with your interests and see how you can become involved. You’ll gain a new perspective on sport and help out a group of athletes in meeting their goals.
- Volunteer as a training coordinator. Have you been participating in a local training group’s activities? Pay it forward by coordinating some training sessions! You can make your commitment a simple one time deal where you lead a group of runners on your favorite trail or you can make it a season-long commitment by organizing an entire season. There are MANY groups that need help (run stores, running clubs, tri clubs, mountain bike groups) and all it takes is some enthusiasm, organization, and good communication skills. Don’t feel like you have to be an expert to be a coordinator either – most groups just want someone to organize things and be a friendly face.
- Sign up to be a leader in a local club. Have you been an active member in a club for a while? Do you want an even bigger role in helping groups out? Consider becoming a club leader. This usually involves nominating yourself for a club position that interests you and becoming a Board Member. This is a heavier commitment with higher visibility but also has a larger impact on a group of people.
No matter your commitment level, I challenge each one of you to go out and make a positive impact in your community. It could be something as simple as a smile or kind word to a fellow participate or something more complicated like helping a bunch of beginner runners learn how to run on trails.