Team Athletic Mentors

41 Reasons to Trail Run

October 4th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Erin Young

Runners, just like everyone else, are often set in their ways.  We like the shoe brand that we have been wearing for years and will never switch.  We have our favorite routes, which we run religiously at least 3 times a week. And we are hesitant to leave the comfort of the road to try out something new, like trail running.

We have excuses like, It’s too hard on your body, I’ll get lost, It’s dangerous, the monsters in the woods will eat me… Well, I’m writing this to let you know that is is actually less stressful on your body, you can run out and back to avoid getting lost or download one of the nifty apps (Alltrails) for your phone, and I promise you that people are more dangerous than wildlife… and monsters.

I left the road years ago. Occasionally I have to run a little road to get to the dirt, but the road is much less adventurous to me after the years spent on trail. I love helping others find the adventure and beauty of the trails. It has made me a stronger runner, physically and mentally. But here are 41 other reasons to run trail as soon as tomorrow…

1)  You won’t find traffic lights on the trail.  There is nothing worse than stopping every block to wait for the light to change.  Avoid those pesky lights all together by hitting the trails.

2)  Wildlife on the road usually comes in the form of roadkill, but on the trail, you are one with nature and all the wildlife that comes with it. But remember they are more afraid of you than you are them!

3)  Trail running is easier on the knees than pounding the pavement.  The more giving trail will help prevent injury to knees and joints.

4)  Trail running strengthens ankles, also helping to strengthen the muscles that support your feet and legs.

5)  You aren’t going to get hit by a car on the trail, so while other dangers might be of concern, traffic most certainly is not.

6)  Balance is a big issue for many of us.  When trail running we are forced to adjust our balance with every stride.  Over time that practice will improve our balance which helps us not only in the present, but as we age.

7)  It is hard to get bored on a run, when you are constantly paying attention to your footing and your surroundings are so beautiful.

8) Trail running lets you experience the seasons in the rugged way nature intended.

9)  Roads are designed so that hills are not too steep or sudden.  Trails are not. You can run killer hill workouts on the trail that could never be done on the road.

10)  Some of the best running races in the world are run on trails.  By getting into trail running, you open yourself up to a whole new world of races both locally and elsewhere.

11)  By running the singletrack, you gain immediate membership into a new running subculture.  The trail running community is very friendly, I promise.

12)  If you want to run ultramarathons, you better start thinking about trail running.  Most ultras are run on trail.

13)  Trail running works a variety of  muscles in the legs and back, giving you a more well-rounded workout than running on smooth pavement.  This is important for strength and helps prevent injuries. 

14)  Trails can be found just about anywhere. Check out the AllTrails app for wherever you live and travel.

15)  Every new location provides a distinct trail experience.  The type, elevation, and views from one trail can be completely different than another.

16)  When running you can cover much more ground than hiking.  Turn that 5 mile day hike through the woods into a 10 mile trail run in the same amount of time!

17)  Nothing screams adventure like a trip deep into the wild wilderness.

18)  Slow trail running builds crazy amounts of muscle that road running just can’t do.  When you hit the roads after a few trail outings, you’ll notice that new strength speed.

19)  People, bikes, and strollers all crowd the sidewalks you are trying to run down.  Get away from the crowds by hitting the trail.

20)  Getting dirty is a lot of fun, and really easy to do when trail running. Think of it as being a kid again. 

21)  You can take a lot cooler pictures from a mountain peak or river bank than you can from a city sidewalk.

22)  Trail running can be turned into an entire vacation by camping out on the trail and running during the day. 

23)  Need a boost to your self-esteem?  Start telling people you are trail runner.  They will think you are a badass, trust me.

24)  Everyone likes to have an excuse to run slow.  You will naturally run slower on trails than the road, so now you don’t have to hide it!

25)  Training at a higher elevation makes running at low elevations easier.  Trails will often lead you up a mountain or along a ridge, providing great opportunities for running at elevation.

26)  When you read blogs like irunfar.com and atrailrunnersblog.com, you will relate.

27)  Being a trail runner doesn’t mean you can’t still be a road runner.

28)  You burn 10% more calories trail running than you do on regular road running.

29)  Many runners rank solitude as one of their favorite parts about running.  On the right trail, you will feel like you are the only person in the world. But there are often great opportunities to make life long trail friends!

30)  Trail hills can be tough, but no one in the trail running community cares if you throw your hands on your knees and power-hike your way up the hill.  In fact, it is expected!

31)  Trying out a new sport means trying out cool new gear!

32)  It is really easy to get lost when trail running (in your thoughts, hopefully not on the trail). And in my opinion, so what if you get lost on the trail. It might be the best adventure you’ve had in years. These days, it seems far more difficult to get lost than it is to find your way home.

33)  Adrenaline keeps a lot of runners going when they are tired.  By moving your run to a more extreme location (a trail), that adrenaline keeps pumping.

34)  When you need a rest, it’s a lot more pleasant to rest by a creek, under a tree, or on a mountain peak than on a street corner.

35)  You’ll begin to feel like a Tarahumara Indian. See Born to Run, required reading for all trail runners.

36)  It is easy to turn a short run into an all-day trek through the woods.  Switch between hiking and running if you want to spend more time on the trail.

37)  After following a few simple steps, even the indoorsman can feel prepared. There is nothing you’ll need that a handheld water bottle or hydration pack won’t carry.

38)  The softer surface will help keep your feet healthy as you break in those new minimalist kicks.

39)  Hikers think you are crazy, sexy, cool, when you speed by them.

40)  Right now you probably get weird looks when you break out the headlamp for early morning or late evening road runs.  No one out on the trail at that time of day/night would think twice about the glowing lantern coming from your forehead.

41)  Trail scars are impressive.

That might seem like a lot of reasons, and there are so many more.  If you ever need a guide, I’m your girl. Coaching endurance and trail runners is my favorite thing to do, besides running trails! erin@athleticmentors.com


Start’Em Young

May 20th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Dawn Hintz

“An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.” – Emil Zatopek.

Or as I translate it “Run like a child”. When I watch children run I see joy. I see pure satisfaction racing to the imaginary finish line. I see them run with an unbridled passion whether it’s chasing a friend or to the edge of a lake ready to plunge in.

When my eldest son, Jacob, was 9 years old he wanted to compete in his first triathlon. He completed that day with a smile that didn’t end and a passion for a sport that has the chance to keep him healthy and active for life. When he was 12 I signed him up for Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program. A 6-week program that took him beyond the fundamentals of the 3 disciplines; swim, bike and running.

The same 6-week program prepared kids as young as 9 for their very first triathlon. Some of who had very little experience swimming in a lake. They were guided through a mass swim start, exiting the water and making the transition to the bike. When they returned from the 6 mile bike, they were coached through the transition to the run. And boy did they run! Every one of them ran joyously to that finish line where they triumphantly received their medal.

The Youth Triathlon Program has continued to grow. This year will be the first year of two youth groups. The first group will be for very beginner triathletes and the second group will develop teenagers who are ready to go beyond the basic triathlon introduction. While both groups will be ran side by side; each program will be tailored to that group’s needs.

The beginners will spend more time on the fundamentals of each disciple. Each training session will include a workout but more time will be spent giving a solid introduction to each of the disciplines and answering necessary questions. Swim technique will be reviewed in a pool before venturing to the lake. Then they will be taught safe road biking and transitioning to running. It will all be brought together with a miniature triathlon practice and a race course preview before the big day.

More experienced youth triathletes will follow a similar schedule with more emphasis on vigorous training. They will be guided to new levels of athleticism. These children already know how to swim, bike and run. Now they will fine tune their technique in each discipline and learn how to peak for race day.

Both groups will race the Shermanator Triathlon on August 3rd, 2019.

If your child has an interest in triathlon, this is the program to give them the best start and a joyous finish!

Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program

Click this link to signup for Shermanator Triathlon


Packing your saddlebag

May 2nd, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Written by Jared Dunham

If you’ve never had the privilege to be in the middle of the rain with a flat tire, and your last CO2 canister just leaked out, then you can’t truly appreciate having the proper tools fix a mechanical issue. Accidents on the trail will happen, and the only way to deal with these is to bring the right tools/supplies with you. The best place to store all the tools needed for your bike to survive hours of singletrack is in a saddlebag. The amount of equipment you bring in the bag is determined by the time/distance your covering. Let’s look over a few things that you should be including in your saddlebag before you go out adventuring.

Before we begin, the 3 durations we’re going to be considering for packing tools are:

  • Short Rides (Under 2 hour ride)
  • Medium Rides (2 to 5 hour ride)
  • Long Rides (5 to 10 hour ride)

Master link

  • Why should I bring it? They are generally the part of the chain that snaps when it breaks due to pressure.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1
    • Medium Rides: 2
    • Long Rides: 3+
  • Notes
    • Not all are re-usable, you might be able to take them on and off the bike, but they will not stay strong
    • Can be easily packed

Multi-tool

  • Why should I bring it? The Multi-tool exists to do any basic repairs or calibrations you need done on the trail.
  • Recommended Amount: Any Ride: 1
  • Notes
    • Make sure the multi-tool has a chain breaker, it will be one of the only things you can use to get your chain apart on the trail.

Spare Tube

  • Why should I bring it? In case you get a tire puncture from all sorts of sharp objects.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1
    • Medium Rides: 1
    • Long Rides: 2
  • Notes
    • You can zip-tie a tube to the back of your seat when racing.
    • If you have “deep” rims make sure that the valve stem of the spare tube is long.
    • zip ties, rubber bands, plastic sandwich wrap, or tinfoil to keep the tube wrapped tight.

CO2 Bike Inflator or Mini Pump

  • Why should I bring it? These devices are used to refill a fresh tube or one that has just been patched.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1 pump or
    • Medium Rides: 1 pump or 2 CO2 Canisters
    • Long Rides: 1 pump or 3+ CO2 Canisters
  • Notes
    • CO2 Bike inflators have a learning curve.
    • Some mini-pumps come with mounts that allow them to be attached near a water bottle cage.
    • If you mount the mini-pump, cover the nozzle from dirt and mud.
    • Mini-pumps take A LOT longer to fill a tube.

Cash

  • Why should I bring it? If your exhausted at a gas station it might save you from being forced to pawn off your bike for a ham sandwich.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: None
    • Medium Rides: $20
    • Long Rides: $20
  • Notes
    • Can be used to temporarily fill a gash in the sidewall of a tire.

Tire Patch Kit

  • Why should I bring it? In case all your tubes are punctured.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: None
    • Medium Rides: 1
    • Long Rides: 1
  • Notes
    • Get tire patches that require glue for use.
    • Make sure the patch kit includes tire levers.

Other Ideas for Trail Bag:

  •  Zip Ties
  • Packaged Rain Poncho
  • Meat Tenderizer
  • Fire Starter Kit
  • Miniature Knife

For the pack itself, I’ve recently been using a Topeak “Aero Wedge Pack w/ Fixer”. The bag is capable of fitting everything you’ll need and more. Something great about it is the “Fixer”, which is a piece that mounts to the bottom of the seat instead of relying on straps to hold the bag. However, no matter what you’re using to carry tools it’s always important to pack enough for the time you’re riding and the pathway conditions you’re faced with. Hopefully this helps a little bit when you’re considering what to bring with you on your trail travels.

 

 


Yankee Springs Mountain Bike Kid’s Race – Let’s Go!

April 4th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Amy Kimber

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Yankee Springs Time Trial on Saturday, April 27th. This is the longest running mountain bike race in the state of Michigan, beating Iceman by about 7 months.

This is an awesome event for all ages! Whatever your ability, we have something for you, and it’s free for our young racers to compete!  Make it a family event!

Athletic Mentors is proud to be running the Kids Race and Team Members will be there to support and motivate the young riders.   This event has been known to attract around 80-100 kids ages 2-12 years old (we will let older kids race too).   These races are  free, but make sure to sign up the day of the race.

Strider racers will have their own grass loop, it includes a small uphill and some big pine trees to navigate around.  There is plenty of viewing for family and friends.

Our youngest pedalers will have a challenging loop with a combination of single track and a grassy field, it’s about a ½ mile in length. The older kids will choose between one or two laps on the famous 2 mile Yankee loop known to the locals as the “warm-up loop.”  It’s 100% single track. The course offers rocks, roots, and some challenging sand pits for kids to navigate.

Come out and enjoy the day to expose your kids to the sport of mountain biking and trail riding at 8833 Twin Creek Dr, Middleville, MI.  We will have plenty of volunteers to monitor and supervise your kids during the race.  All the kid racers will receive an award!

Along with being a fun event, all proceeds go directly towards maintaining and building the many wonderful trails right here in Western Michigan.

The race schedule is listed below or visit http://yankeespringstt.org/race-day/ for more details.

Strider Race – 11:30
The Striders (bikes without pedals) will race multiple loops on a grass loop with plenty of opportunity for families and friends to cheer. This race will last roughly 15 minutes.

Beginner Race –  12:00
The beginner race will be 1/2 mile long and will consist of a mixture of single track and double track.  Beginner racers should feel comfortable riding on trail and uneven terrain.

Intermediate Race – 12:30 
The intermediate race will be 2 miles long and is mostly single track.  Intermediate racers should have the endurance to race 2 miles and the ability to handle single track on uneven terrain.  The single track is mostly hard packed dirt but does have some sandy spots with a few rocks and roots.

Expert Race – 12:30
The expert race will be 4 miles long and is mostly single track. Expert racers should have the endurance to race 4 miles and the ability to handle single track on uneven terrain. The single track is mostly hard packed dirt but does have some sandy spots with a few rocks and roots.


Traumatic Injury Life Saving Tips

March 8th, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Written by Dawn Hinz

Sadly it seems there are more car versus cyclist accidents. In 2006, 772 people were fatally injured in cycling accidents. Where as in 2016, that number was up to 840; including 5 local cyclists. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts)

We do everything we can as a cyclist to minimize the danger. We wear bright clothes, our bikes look like Christmas trees and most importantly, we follow the rules of the road. Unfortunately that doesn’t guarantee that we aren’t seriously injured. What should you do if tragedy strikes you or your group?

  • Everyone should carry a cell phone on their body. I do not agree with keeping your phone in a bag on your bike. If you are thrown from your bike you may not be able to reach your phone.
  • KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. You should know your route and where you are along that route. This way when you call 911, emergency personnel can find you as quickly as possible, when every minute counts. Go one step further and set up an activity tracker that relays your location to a reliable person who is not a part of the ride. This way they get a notification if you stop moving and can call for help.
  • Know how many people are in your group. 911 will need to know how many patients need an ambulance. Then, go help your friends. You should know any help you render will be covered under Michigan’s Good Samaritan Act (MCL 691.1501). This law basically states that a volunteer trying to help someone cannot be held liable if those actions cause further injury; excepting gross negligence.
  • Do not move someone unless the location causes further danger or harm. I.e. Perhaps you need to slide someone off the road if traffic is not slowing down or giving you space.
  • Do not unnecessarily adjust the patient’s head. If you hear snoring, gurgling or no breaths then gently place the head in a “sniffing” position.
  • If you see blood, control the bleeding with direct and continuous pressure. Put your hand or hands over the wound and keep pressure on the wound until help arrives. Every red blood cell counts.
  • If it is cold or even slightly chilly outside keep the patient warm if possible. Hypothermia causes shivering which wastes precious ATP. Even slight hypothermia will worsen a trauma patient’s outcome. Give them your jacket or get blankets from bystanders.

With these actions you have given your friends a fighting chance in the Emergency Room. If you would like to take it one step further then it is time to find a First Aid and CPR class. Stay safe out there.


2018 USAT Age Group National Championship Race Report

December 3rd, 2018 by Marie Dershem

Written by Brian Reynolds

The 2018 USAT Age Group National Championship took place in Cleveland, Ohio this year.  The olympic distance event was an “A” race for me. After an off-season of working hard on improving my swim and a summer filled with great training sessions, some fast new equipment, and improvements in every discipline, I was ready and excited to peak for my “A” race.  I was excited to race because my summer training was going really well.

Here is how my day unfolded at Nationals on August 12th, 2018.

Swim

The drama before the swim was waiting to find out if the swim was going to be wetsuit legal. The day before the water temp was 78.5 deg F and the wetsuit cutoff is 78 deg F so it was going to be a close call race morning.  On race morning the water temp was 75.8 so it was wetsuit legal! I was happy it was wetsuit legal because it would help neutralize the advantage to the strong swimmers. There were a fair amount of waves in Lake Erie, which made it a tough swim.

I started in the first wave, which was helpful because I knew who was ahead of me in my age group.  In past events, I’ve started later and never had a good sense of where I was compared to my competition.

My plan for the swim was to get out strong and try to catch the draft behind the strong swimmers.  However during the race it was very difficult to stay on anyone’s feet for more than a few seconds without getting pushed off course by the waves.  I was working harder during this swim than any other swim this year. It didn’t help that the swim was around 200 to 300 yards long. Although it felt like I was giving up a lot of time to the leader, I was only 1:10 minutes down from the leader. This was the closest I’ve been to the leader coming out of the swim at Nationals. I was in 17th pace after the swim.

T1: Swim to bike

The swim to bike transition was long.  It was roughly a 300 yard run from the lake-shore to transition. I had a smooth transition besides my helmet visor being super foggy.

Bike

When I got onto the bike my legs were feeling good and I was able to get up to power quickly.  I passed 8 riders within the first 2 miles of the race. After passing the riders, I could see the flashing lights of the motorcycle pacing the two leaders.  I used the motorcycle as my carrot to chase. I was quickly making up time on the leaders. By mile 5 I ca

ught up to the leaders. At this point I was excited because I’ve never been this close to the lead at a USAT nationals event.

I had to wait before passing the leaders because there was a sharp right hand turn.  As I made the turn I noticed that the road surface was very rough. There were several tare strips going across the road which prevented me from taking a more aggressive line into the turn.  Instead I took a wide sweeping turn to help keep my bike under control. Unfortunately I ran out of pavement and my front wheel hit the curb in the middle of the road. I landed on my right side and skidded across the pavement.  I had cuts on my elbow, hip, and hand. I would also find out later that I had bruised my rib and had a big dent in my helmet. A race volunteer ran up to me asking for my name and what event I was in to make sure I didn’t get a concussion.

My day went from an ultra high feeling of being with the race leaders to an ultra low feeling of being on the ground bruised and banged up.  At first the crash didn’t feel real because a month prior I had crashed my bike during the Tri Del Sol race.  I couldn’t believe that I crashed again!  As I laid on the ground I thought about dropping out and calling it quits. But after thinking about it for second I picked up my bike, re-positioned my dropped chain, fixed my helmet, and I got on my bike.

For the remainder of the ride I felt discomfort in my right shoulder area with every breath I took. I wasn’t able to ride at the same power prior to the crash, riding at 75% of my full capacity. Although frustrating, I knew that all I could do was give it my best effort. Even with the crash, I was still able to post my fastest bike split for a USAT Nationals event. My hard training had paid off.. I was in 8th place after the bike.

 

T2: Bike to run

My T2 transition was not as smooth as T1.  Coming off the bike my shoe fell off the pedal so I had to go back and pick it up.  As I ran through transition and picked up my run gear I was starting to notice more discomfort in my right shoulder.

Run

When I started running, my form was off due to lack of mobility in my right shoulder due to pain.  I was running 20-30 secs slower than my typical race pace and at  this point I was in 8th place. It took about 2 miles until I was able to settle into a descent run rhythm.  I wasn’t feeling too fatigued during the run since I wasn’t able to push myself to my full capacity. Thankfully I was able to run the 2nd half faster and picked up a few places to finish 6th in my age group.  I was proud of myself for finishing the race let alone finishing in the top 10. However, I was still bummed about not having the performance that I was capable.

If there was a silver-lining I can takeaway from this race it’s that unexpected things can happen to disrupt your race.  However, when the unexpected happens it’s your attitude that will dictate how much of an impact it will have on your race. A good attitude will go a long way especially, when you need to adjust your race plan and expectations.  During this race I was saying to myself “it’ll be pretty cool if I could still finished in the top 10” and I did! I still had something to chase and keep me mentally engaged during the race. At my next race my goal is to keep the rubber side down and that will be a win in my books.


Running through pregnancy

November 28th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

By Erin Young

 

The day before the big Rim to Rim to Rim run and totally oblivious that I was already a few weeks along.

I found myself relentlessly tired from weeks of epic running. I had flown out to Yosemite that spring break, to poke around and then over to Lake Sonoma only to be humbled by 50 miles of relentless “hills”. Two weeks later I ran (my face off!) at the Ice Age 50 miler in Wisconsin, gunning for top 10 in hopes of a ticket to the “big dance”. Just two weeks after that, my girlfriends and I took off for our dream adventure trip to the Grand Canyon for the 53 mile rim to rim to rim adventure to be covered in just one day. I played hard. I was living with no regrets, saying yes to everything. That all came to an abrupt end when I just couldn’t kick the fatigue. I was just SO tired. After weeks of rest and still whining, “I am SO tired”, my best work buddy slapped me with the ridiculous suggestion that I try a pregnancy test. I laughed in a way that now just seems so cocky. When she found me crying behind my desk, she knew she was right. And just for the record, those were tears of fear, not regret. Never regret. Fear because I knew that life as I knew it, was over. But life wasn’t over. This was great. I was going to have a little buddy to be part of all of these adventures! But running through a pregnancy isn’t easy. I found ways to make it tolerable, and even enjoyable. These are my suggestions for keeping it going and even making the actual birth far easier!

 

  • Don’t stop running! As soon as you find out you are expecting, make your plan to keep it going. Once you are out of shape, getting back is far more difficult during pregnancy. Be reasonable and make your goal to maintain fitness rather than gain. There has never been a better time to focus on building your aerobic base.

 

  • Remember that heart Rate will be elevated and you will breath heavier, even if you haven’t gained a pound yet. Blood volume doubles before the end of the 1st trimester, causing your heart to work harder

 

  • Don’t worry about going above a certain heart rate. It is a myth. You can run hard and race as long as you feel up to it. You will cut off your own oxygen supply before you ever take away from the baby. Trust me, I had an OB researcher to back me up on that one and I raced all the way through pregnancy!

 

  • Running in the heat is going to feel way more difficult. You will get hotter faster. I suggest early morning or treadmill runs in the air conditioning. Always carry ice cold water, or ground up ice with water. It will help you feel cooler.
  • Invest in a “belly belt”. They will help you run longer into pregnancy and give your belly and lower back support. I also continued to use it for several months after I had my son. This is a must!! Belly Belt This is similar to the one I got, there are many choices on Amazon. Don’t bother with the cheap ones as there is little support.

 

  • The Hoka’s sure are ugly, but they are the greatest pregnancy run shoe ever! Just look at all that cushion!

 

  • Running dirt trails felt so good compared to the road. Plus it is usually shaded and not as many people around to witness your walk breaks!

 

  • Have a running buddy! It helps so much to have a friend to motivate you. Some days were so difficult to roll out of bed. Having my friends waiting for me (sometimes in my driveway!) got me moving every morning before work. I was lucky enough to have a few who could tolerate my dropping pace. And when I was too slow, we ran on treadmills next to each other!

 

  • Strength train! You don’t have to do box squats, but 2-3 times a week in the weight room will maintain your some of your strength and make recovery easier. Plus, you won’t feel so terrible with the added baby fat that you WILL have during pregnancy.

 

Run as much as you want as long as you are comfortable. You know you better than anyone. The day my back and pelvis started hurting I halted to a walk and my son came that evening. I have no regrets about running during pregnancy. It was difficult, but making it social made it enjoyable and helped me feel more like myself. I realized that I wasn’t giving up my identity, but it was enhanced.

 

Now, running after the baby comes is a whole other story! The good news is that pushing the baby jogger really IS easier than having one in your belly!

My little buddy building his 1st two wheel bike



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