Hello past me…

Dear twelve-year-old me,

Remember the wind in your hair as you ride your bike around the neighborhood, and the bliss of chasing friends, siblings, and cousins at the park, through the woods, and over mountains? Running will become your true freedom; your most loyal of friends. It will save your life and see you through the most difficult of times.

Within the next year, you will fall into a darkness so deep the possibility of a happy ending will never even occur to you. The existence of a warm heart and soaring soul will be a faded dream. You will lose touch with the places you love; the woods, the streams, the mountains, and lakes. As incredible as it seems you will lose your connection with the earth, your love of dirt between your toes and sifting through your fingers, the sun on your bare skin, and the rain tickling your face.

It will be years before you find these things again, but they have never left you and are waiting for you to return. The mountain trails of the Wasatch Front will be come your home away from home. They will become your comfort, your therapist, your peace, and your clarity.

The trails will teach you patience, mindfulness, forgiveness, and acceptance. They will heal your deepest scars because on the trail you are strong and complete. There is no judgement in the wild. Every tree and every flower is beautiful just the way it is and so are you.

Running will give you confidence to take on any challenge and fortitude to accomplish your goals. You will find grace in a face plant; warmth in the snow; rooted in the clouds. Running will be more than a pastime, hobby, or a way to stay fit. It will become much more than you ever imagined weaving itself among the very core of who you are.

The hours and hours you spend alone in the mountains will remind you how much you have to be grateful for in your life—health, friendships, family, education, financial means, and living in a place where you have the opportunity to run.

You will work through major and minor injuries carefully trying to balance your mental need to be on the mountain and your physical need to heal. There will be anger, frustration and many tears, but running is not going anywhere. It waits for you and the reunion will bring more tears, those of joy.

You will see the world as a child sees the world—an exciting adventure with discoveries around every bend.  This perception will spread to many aspects of your life. All of the lessons running teaches you will make you a better friend, mom, advocate, significant other, daughter, and member of society.

I wish you could have found it sooner, but know it is always waits for your return.

With love,



Privacy or a View?


How do you manage using the bathroom while you are out trail running? I mean there is not always a port-o-potty, pit toilet, or anything remotely resembling an outhouse. If you’re really unlucky, there aren’t even any bushes or trees you can hide behind.

So what do you do? Your first option is to hold it until you can find some secluded or semi-private place to do your business. If you think privacy is not worth the risk, you can step a few feet off the trail and put your business end away from oncoming runners.

For most trail runners, when you see someone duck into the woods, you just keep going and you don’t watch were they go. Also if you catch a glimpse of someone off the trial, it’s the same policy; keep you eyes forward and your feet moving.

Men have it much easier when it comes to urinating. Some of them go while running and you see this string of wet dirt down the middle of the trail. Women can go standing up as well, but I would caution moving while doing it. Peeing in your shoes expensive trail shoes is not fun.

Defecating is much more private of a job, but it hasn’t always been. There are sanitary reasons people go away from social places to poop. It does spread disease. Oh, and then there is the rather unpleasant odor. However, in ancient Roman times they used bench toilets. Everyone conversed and pooped together. In very remote villages, this is still the practice. In some countries around the world, there are not doors on bathroom stalls and sometimes there are not stalls, just a slanted tile floor with a drain.

Regardless of where you poop or if you poop in eye shot of others, make sure you either bring something to whip with or choose a location with something other than pine needles to use.

Depending on where your running, you probably also want to be familiar with which poisonous plants are in the area such as stinging nettle, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

My thoughts are, if you have to poop or pee in front of others, you should choose a spot with a good view!

desolation overlook


Is tapering necessary?

taper madness

Autumn is prime race season for the northern hemisphere. You can find a marathon every weekend somewhere in the United States from March until October, but during September and October there is probably two and sometimes three to choose from. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially runners.

Autumn temperatures are perfect for running. Watching the leaves shift from green to orange, red, and yellow is not something you should miss. Even the earthy smell of the damp earth and newly fallen leaves is wonderful.

Running trails triples this effect and adds the soft spring of the ground along with the sighting of wildlife who venture a little farther down the mountains.

autumn trails

As much as I love this time of year, there is one part of it I struggle with, The Taper. I hate cutting back my miles before a race. I hate it because I’m antsy and feel like I’m the energizer bunny. I hate it because I feel like I’m missing out on one of the greatest times of year to run by cutting my miles back in preparation for a race.

There is a lot of debate about whether or not a taper is necessary especially for shorter distances. I realize “shorter distance” is a relative term so let’s clarify it as distances shorter than what your body can recover from within 24 hours. For some people this will be a 5k or 10k for other this can be as far as a marathon or even a 50 miler.

A ton of research shows the benefits of tapering, however, many ultrarunners clock their fastest times and win races without a taper. Maintaining your regular schedule and reducing the intensity rather than miles could be the happy medium or maybe those ultrarunners are just anomalies. Ultrarunners are crazy anyway, right?

Here is a short video by a cross-country coach who calls the taper into question. Click Here.

I understand the reasons behind tapering and they make logical sense to me. In fact, I’ve always done some type of taper and I advise my runners to taper before events. The only thing I’ve noticed when I do taper is my muscles are not as loose on race day. It takes a little longer to get into the zone.

The only way to settle this matter is to ditch the taper or minimize it. I’m done with my races for this year and will be reeling in the winter with relaxed long distances. Of course, I’ve planned out most of my races for next year, so we will see how it goes and I will keep you posted on the results.

Is there anyone out there who has experimented with not tapering before an event? And if you have at what distances?

Run Happy, Run Free!



Hydration on the Run

hand held

I believe we all agree staying hydrated while running is important. Runners manage their hydration in different ways and there are tons of options to fit individual runner needs. Sure, you can stash water along your route or plan to run past water fountains during your run, but this restricts your creativity and freedom during your runs. And isn’t creativity and freedom the reason we all run anyway?

There are three popular options out in the running world, the handheld, belt, and hydration pack. Each has its costs and benefits so let’s go through each one.

The handheld is convenient easy to use and clean. It comes with a little pocket usually where you can store other things like a phone, car keys, or nutrition. Handhelds are not expensive. They come in all sizes and shapes. Having 16-20 ounces of fluid in your hand can take some time to get used to, the added weight and the sloshing of water. You should chose whatever shape is most comfortable. Solomon has a handheld that is more like a bladder than a bottle. I haven’t had the chance to use these during a run. The Solomon handheld bladder is a little more pricy. Handhelds are not a good option in the winter months. It’s hard to hold on to them with big gloves on and if you don’t have big gloves the water will make your hands colder.

What do I look for in a handheld? It needs to hold enough water for a ten mile run. I don’t want to stop and fill the thing up every three miles. You might as well not even carry one at that point. I have smaller hands so I need something that fits comfortably. The strap needs to hold tight enough that I’m not squeezing the bottle the whole run. It has to be spill proof. I can’t have water spurting out all over the place. The bottle has to be easy to squeeze with one hand. If it has a pocket, it needs to be big enough to be useful.

The belt and or vest consists of bottles attached to a belt or a vest. The bottles slide into pockets or clip on. There are vests with bottles on the front and the back. The belts also have various placements. These options are good if you don’t need a lot of water, but you hate to have things in your hands. They’re a little more expensive than handhelds. The bottle tends to be a little bigger or you have two bottles. There is at least one pocket to put other things in. The pockets are big enough to be useful. Having two bottles allows you to care plain water and an electrolyte drink at the same time.

When it comes to belts, I hate the bounce. It drives me crazy. I end up fighting with the thing trying to stop the bouncing. I’ll admit I have not used a belt or even tried one for the past five years because of this, so I’m guessing one company or another has attempted to fix this problem. Sometimes the placement, vertical or horizontal, of the bottles makes a big difference with the bouncing. One thing you need to pay attention to with belts and vests is accessibility. How easy is it to pull it out of the pocket and put it back in without having to stop?

Hydration packs carry a lot of water and you can stuff all kinds of stuff in them such as a compact jacket, food, small first aid kit, and a flashlight. The packs made specifically for running don’t bounce. There is some sloshing of the water, but I can’t hear it with mine. You just get used to it and then don’t register it anymore. The packs are going to be the most expensive option. They are great for long distance and trail running. The water is easy to access. They are also the heaviest choice. In the winter the tube can freeze so make sure it is insulated and if it’s really cold, that probably won’t help much.

With a pack, I look for pockets on the front and the back. I want the pockets to zip closed so things don’t fall out of them. Like all the other options, the pockets need to be useable. I want a women’s specific pack so it fits better and prevents bouncing. If you can’t get it to fit snug it will cause chafing.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any store which allows for a trial run of their hydration systems. So you have to think of your needs and then try to match it up. It’s good to have options as well because some runs will require a different hydration system. You can always use a pack, but it’s a lot to care for a ten mile run.