Running the Frigid 8

Janie Boschma

It’s finally my turn to complete the Editor’s Challenge and if you haven’t already guessed by looking at the pictures, I’m running. Far.

For my Editor’s Challenge, I’ll be running in the Frigid Eight run on Dec. 1. It’s an eight-mile race around Chippewa Falls and farther than I’ve ever run before. I’ve got 23 days left to finish my training and I’ll be completely honest up front, I’m nervous.

Before college I was involved in sports, but you would have never found me out for a jog. Sure, this is a little out of context, but I think Gandhi summed up my feelings about running pretty well when he said,”I only run when I’m being chased.”

Even now, I sometimes feel that way. Don’t tell.

I began running in college solely because I wanted to take the kinesiology activity credit early in my academic career, and it just so happened that a jogging class was the only one that fit into my first semester freshman schedule. It was like fate, or the registrars, were taunting me.

Oddly enough, I ended up liking the class and continued jogging after it was finished. But semester after semester, it has been the same routine. I begin a workout schedule in the beginning of the semester when I’m motivated and homework levels are still relatively low. But stress levels always go up, the hours I spend in my bed decrease and somewhere between midterms and research projects, I forget to run one day. Then the next. Then suddenly, it’s finals week and I’m resolving to stick to a workout schedule next semester. I’ll really do it, right?

I generally ran about two to three miles a day before I began training for the eight-mile race. I knew I’d need to slowly build my mileage. Last fall I increased my mileage too fast and ended up breaking my right foot, so my biggest concern with this project was preventing injury.

Back in September, when I initially agreed to this challenge, I went to McPhee and employed the help of assistant professor and Director of Athletic Training Robert Stow. I wanted to know how to train and prevent getting another cast on my foot.

We talked about what I wanted out of this race and what my goal was. I told him all I wanted was to finish.

His biggest advice to me was to stop counting miles and to start running time increments.

“It’s reverse engineering,” he said. “Think how long it’s going to take to run eight miles based on your one mile.”

My average mile at that time was about 10 minutes, so we set my goal at training to hit 80 minutes of solid running by Dec. 1.

As for training, Stow said I shouldn’t just take long runs everyday, but should include short days of running, cross training and even resting days, along with one or two long runs a week.

Stow said cross training is important because it uses muscle groups in the body other than those used while running and helps prevent injury.

“Running is harsh on the body,” he said. “You need to supplement your fitness program to reduce the risk of hurting yourself.”

He suggested I get out and bike, rollerblade or swim, again using time as a measure, instead of miles.

For my long run Stow suggested I add 10 minutes, or about one mile, every week.

“Just get the time in,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re under your race pace, you need to be out there moving for that amount of time. You’re going to be sore and your body needs time to adjust.”

So far my long runs are up to 60 minutes, and I have about three weeks left to increase to 80-minute runs. At first it was easy to increase my time. I didn’t feel much difference between 20 and 30 minutes, but now I feel the difference and the last 10 minutes of my long runs are more of a push than ever before.

Stow also stressed that I take a rest day and get enough sleep, because that is when the body repairs itself.

“Always take off a day, even elite athletes need to recover,” he said.

I chose Saturday for my day of rest, because nothing feels better than sleeping in a little. Getting enough sleep has been the largest issue in this whole process. I feel a huge difference in my runs when I get even just five hours of sleep instead of four.

When I’m tired, I feel slower, like there is a force pushing against me, and I struggle to run even 30 minutes. On days I’m rested, my runs seem to fly by and I feel good at the end. Maybe it’s runner’s high, but when I finish running on a day I’m well rested, I feel energized and even relaxed.

But what gets sacrificed when school gets busy and homework goes later into the night, the running or the sleep?

It’s been a little bit of both lately and that’s what is making me so nervous about the Frigid Eight. For example, Tuesday morning when I wrote this piece, I overslept my alarm. I know it was because my body needed more sleep, but I had to decide between getting up and running or finishing homework and this article. Running got pushed to later and homework won – mostly because it was due in a few hours. But I find that happening more and more, pushing off running for homework.

Now, with less than a month until race day, I’m feel I need to push a little harder to prepare myself.

But don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. Last Saturday, I ran in my very first race, the Carson Park 10 & 2 Mile Race. I figured there would be a good number of college students and younger adults, but was surprised to see such a wide range of ages. One mother ran with her elementary school-aged daughter, a few older men ran together. Many people were wearing shirts from the Carson Park race from years past.

I started by running down the hill in Carson Park and remember thinking how nice it was to start a race running downhill. It never occurred to me that I’d have to run back up the hill to finish. When I turned the corner, knowing I was on the last leg of the race, I saw the hill, and held my breath for a split second. Here it goes. Sure, it wasn’t the Boston Marathon, but pushing up that hill was tiring. I got to the top and saw the finish line just a little farther away; I never felt more like Rocky in all of my life.

The adrenaline of running with other people helped me keep going. I ran behind a middle-aged man almost the entire time. I watched his pace and tried not to fall behind him. After I finished, another man came up to me and jokingly said, “You really kept me going there.”

I didn’t realize that others were pacing themselves off of me. After the race was over, everyone mingled, talking about their times and how the race went for them. There was almost a camaraderie between us. We all just ran a race. We all finished.

This Editor’s Challenge may not be tackling the large issues of social responsibility to the environment or the local economy, like my co-editors’, but I’m confronting a personal struggle. For me, this started as a challenge to see whether or not I could train for an endurance race, but now, it’s a battle against time and trying to find the time I need to finish this challenge.

My goal is to finish the race come Dec. 1. I got a little taste of the running community in Eau Claire and realized it is fun to finish these races. Hopefully I’ll feel the same way at the end of the Frigid Eight. For now, I’m committing to training and trying to balance everything. If you see me on one of my jogs around the campus area, give me a little chase for a few seconds. Who knows, it might help.

About the challenge
During the semester, each Showcase editor will take on a long-term challenge. Check out www.spectatornews.com for updates on Katie’s progress with going green and Theresa’s progress as she prepares to race. Watch the Showcase section for more articles at the end of their challenges.