Wednesday, August 25, 2010


So it's begun... SNC CC 2010. :) My final season as a Green Knight!

Camp has been going on for nearly 3 days now, and haven't sat still much at all. Exactly the way I like it!

Today was definitely the most fun day thus far. We traveled a little over an hour north of Green Bay to Clark Lake in the Whitefish Dunes State Park up in scenic Door County. Two of our freshmen are from the Door County area so they were able to guide us on some AWESOME trails. It felt so good to get on woodchip/gravel trails, off the pavement, and away from campus and the same old sidewalks! It was an absolutely gorgeous day -- about 72 degrees and sunny.

It's been a lot of fun getting to know all the freshmen - there's 28 of us total and 17 of those are freshmen! They're an incredibly talented group and are obviously going to be vital to our success this season. We lost just one girl from a season ago to graduation (Kim, you'll be very missed!)- so we have 8 returning ladies and I know we have a very, very solid chance at winning Conference and maybe even going beyond that -- if we can stay healthy and continue to develop our freshmen!

I love the sport of cross country because the TEAM and camaraderie are so much a part of it. While yes, ultimately running is an individual sport, the opportunity to get to Nationals as a team is what fires me up more than just about anything! Imagining running at the National meet with my entire team at the starting line alongside me is the ultimate dream. While I know that will be an extremely difficult task, especially with our tough Midwest Regional, it's definitely a possibility. It's a huge reason why this week of Camp is crucial to develop chemistry/synergy and a feeling of trust among one another!

Of course, looking at the season, I have a lot of individual goals as well. It still hasn't hit me that it's my last collegiate season, and I really don't think it will till I cross that finish line for the last time in November. But that's exactly why I'm going to keep taking it day by day, week by week, meet by meet, so that I can savor the little moments, like today in Door County! It was our first time taking a training trip, and it was such an awesome experience -- hope they do it for years to come!

I'm extremely excited for our annual home meet, always the first weekend in September - the Tom Barry Invite. All alumni are invited back and actually scored in to the meet. It's in honor of a former SNC athlete/coach, Tom Barry, who died of a heart attack during a road race in the early 1990's. It's always fun to chat it up with the alums, and then of course, to beat them all! ;) These first few meets are going to be a great feeling out process for all the freshman (there's 9 freshman guys!) and as a Captain, I know the meets prior to Championship season are a perfect chance to help calm any worries anyone may have and to continue to build team morale that will very much be needed by the time late October/November rolls around!

I do best leading by example, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to be more vocal and to listen to the needs of all my teammates! I'm not going to be around much longer, and I want to do all I can to help this program continue to build on the successes of recent years! I had a ton of fun chatting with them today and having good times, but I know it's going to be even more crucial for me to be there when things aren't going so well -- when the workouts get really tough, and when studying and the stresses of school really start showing up. That's when I'm going to be ready to step in and help us all get through the tough times together. Getting through tough times together is a huge key to achieving success! Those tough workouts are what are going to make us stronger than anyone else when the season really starts to heat up.

And so, as we're more than half way through camp, I know we've got a ton of success headed our way this season if we can keep up what we've started thus far :) We've got a lot of great work ethic and plenty of time to work up to where we need to be on October 30th for the MWC Championship and beyond. I know we can push each other to achieve more success than many think is possible out of this group!

SNC CC 2010: Determined to Dominate! ... & WITHOUT LIMITS!

I'm going to try and post a meet-by-meet recap, so check back in often throughout the season! Our schedule is on one of my pages at the top of my blog. Just click on the tab that says "2010 XC Schedule."

Here's to a great season -- watch out for the St. Norbert Green Knights!

Best of luck to all competing in cross country this fall. What an awesome sport.

Happy Running!

The 2010 SNC Women's CC Team :)

SNC CC 2010 Group Photo in Door County!

And finally...Some awesome quotes on teamwork:

"When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality." --Joe Paterno

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.--Henry Ford

“There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others.” --George Shinn

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I was recently interviewed by Dave Tiefenthaler, the creator of a great running website,

One question in particular really struck me, mostly because I hadn't ever really stopped to think about it before: Why do you enjoy running so much?

I'm a big fan of asking why. I think understanding the reasoning behind what goes on in this crazy world of ours is crucial to developing as a human being - to gain knowledge and to be able to form your own views/ideas/opinions. I'll never say no to a little kid who continues to ask, "why?" because I think that little kid represents an inquisitive way of life we all need to buy in to! One of my favorite quotes (yes, I know I have a lot of "favorites" ;) ) is "it's what you learn after you know it all that counts." (John Wooden) The smartest people in this world simply never stop learning and acquiring new information... never stop asking "Why?"

So it is with this thought that I delve in to the question of WHY I love to run.

For the purpose of brevity, here's what I told Dave in my interview:
It’s the “runner’s high,” it’s the constant improvement and goal setting that can be made, it’s the connections made with other runners who share the same passion for the sport…. I think I could go on and on. Basically, I feel that running, along with God, family, and friends, fulfills me as a person!

However, never one to be short-winded, I couldn't help but feel like my answer was incomplete.

With my passion for running, I can't believe I'd never really thought about/addressed this question before. This was honestly the first time I'd straight up been asked that question! I can imagine with all the raised eyebrows and blank stares I've gotten from people (can't count the number of times I've wanted to yell, "TAKE A PICTURE!") just in my own hometown that many have wanted to pose this question to me long before this, but surprisingly it's never really come up.

So... over the past couple of days as I've been out on my runs, I've taken some time to... really dig deep to get to the answer in its entirety!

I love and have loved a lot of things in and about my life. I love God, my family, my friends, my dog... and I have loved sports for a very long time. Prior to St. Norbert, throughout all of high school, I absolutely, positively loved the sport of basketball. I spent endless hours in a gym honing my jumpshot. But, there was always something about it that... ate at me. Like I was always searching for more. Never once did I feel content about where I was at in my basketball career. And that became especially true as I began as a collegiate basketball player at St. Norbert. Suddenly I was quite honestly in over my head. Sitting on that bench that season made me come to the realization that there had to be something more out there for me; something that could reward me better, put a smile back on my face more often, and give me a much greater feeling of contentment.

Running. It became my escape from the basketball court - it was a refreshing break from the screaming of coaches and the stresses of being in over my head. It got me through that disappointing season because, as I quickly began to realize, it brought me happiness! When I got out and ran, it didn't matter that I had failed to step on to the court for even a single minute earlier. It was something only I, myself, could control. And I liked it. I really, really liked it.

By the end of basketball season, I was up to running for about an hour at a time. I never knew how far I'd run or even how fast -- I'd simply go by feel. Looking back, it's very refreshing to note this, to know that I fell in love with running in its purest form - not even a watch many days, just a t-shirt, shorts, and a pair of running shoes.

So why would I ultimately decide to put the sport I was in love with through all of high school on hold for-- running ? Well, the next big reason is the success that would follow as a result of the hard work I put in -- continually running, day after day. I medaled at our Indoor Conference track meet about 2 weeks after basketball season was over with. It was at this moment I knew I'd found a sport where I could finally get out of it what I put in to it. And I LOVED that feeling.

The other part is at that Conference meet, I realized I was with a group of people like me. I instantly found myself able to fit in to their conversations and relate to who they were as people. I finally felt like I belonged at St. Norbert! And I LOVED that feeling.

And now, looking back at the "beginnings" of my running -- now nearly 4 years ago!! -- makes me smile. I've had my fair share of ups and downs throughout my running career thus far, but remembering how that fire/passion for running was first lit makes me set aside all those troubles and simply recognize how much joy it's brought in to my life.

And in 4 years, that like of running I found during basketball season, turned in to a love, and then a passion. I started meeting more runners like me via Twitter (shoutout to @steeplcreepr & @sastewart11 who I've formed an unbelievable connection with!), sharing experiences and feelings with them -- and that became another reason why I love running. I truly believe runners have a connection with one another unlike any other athletes in any other sport!

How about that constant challenge running provides? As a goal-oriented person, I love that running is there everyday to present a challenge. Sometimes that challenge can just be to lace up those shoes and get out the door! But there's always a better time or a longer distance you can look to build towards. Running is without limits! "Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'" :)

Then there's that feeling, that only real runners know -- that runner's high. It's that burst of energy you somehow get at the end of a long, long run... it's that feeling you get in the middle of a race that helps you beat someone you never thought you were capable of beating. It's that incredible feeling you have as you finish your run or race or workout -- a feeling of euphoria that can't even really be put in to words! It's not something that happens all the time, but when it does, it's the perfect reminder of WHY we run. :)

So, there's a more complete answer as to WHY I love to run. I love the freedom, the simplicity, the high, the people, the challenges, the successes, the happiness, the contentment, the improvements, and the life lessons associated with running. And there are some others too -- the cool gadgets (Garmin watch!), the ridiculously expansive and seemingly endless array of running shoe & gear choices available, the awesome flurry of websites devoted to fueling your passion for running that have popped up over the last couple of years (see this Running Times article!) and the obvious health benefits associated with running... but these, to me, are added bonuses. When you talk about the LOVE of running, it all goes back to those first few months I began running -- when I ran because it felt good, and because it helped me meet people I could actually relate to. I love running because it has fulfilled me in a way I never knew possible. And it will continue to be a part of my life for as long as possible.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on WHY you love running. Leave me a comment below, shoot me an e-mail at or tweet me!

Till next time... Happy Running. Don't ever forget what made you fall in love with this terrific sport. :)


Some great quotes on why we run (you didn't actually think I'd only provide only one or 2 quotes in a blog post, did you?? ;) ):

"We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves...The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, 'You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.' The human spirit is indomitable."
-Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile

"Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."
-Oprah Winfrey

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement." - Steve Prefontaine

"I always loved was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs." - Jesse Owens

"I run because it's so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can't. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you're capable of so much more than you thought." --Arthur Blank

"Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too." --Richard O'Brien

I'd also love to hear your feedback on the interview I did with! View the interview in its entirety here. Thanks again to Dave, creator of Tips4Running, for asking to do the interview! It's an honor to be featured on such a great website/resource for runners!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tales of a Rejuvenated Runner

So I've been meaning to write about this for a few weeks now... promised a few people I'd share at least a few of the exercises and things I've learned through these dog days of summer training... that have truly left me feeling like a brand new, rejuvenated runner!

To be honest, I ran basically my entire second half of my outdoor track season in pain. My hips and lower back were in a constant state of hurt. I never complained or was very honest with my coach about it because I didn't want to have to back off or worse yet, miss an opportunity at Nationals. The frustrating part is that it most definitely caused me my ultimate goal of winning the 10K. I think what it did do, though, was finally make me realize I had things I needed to address -- getting proper recovery and finding the CAUSE/root of my recurring IT band and hip irritations.

Luckily I have a National Champion teammate that I could look to as a resource. See, her entire previous freshman track season, my teammate (Emily) had such horrible shin splints that she could barely even get 2 workouts in per week. She would run maybe twice a week and go to the pool or bike the other 5 days! We all knew she was incredibly talented -- she was just being held back to the extreme by her shins. She had seemingly gone to just about every sports medicine doctor on earth to try and see what she could do to "cure" her shin splints, and many told her she would need surgery. She didn't settle for this diagnosis, though, and finally she was introduced to a guy at Bellin Health in Green Bay that led to her own rejuvenation as a runner. Her problem was really quite simple: little to no glute or core strength. She was lacking in strength in the two most important areas of the body for a runner. She began doing the exercises they gave her, day in and day out, and pretty soon those debilitating shin splints were... poof, gone! It was an awesome discovery, and needless to say, an absolutely incredible transformation as she went on to win the DIII Indoor 800m run!

So, as I finished a somewhat disappointing track season, I was ready to do just about anything to get out of the stupid pool and get back to running miles upon miles WITHOUT pain, as I absolutely love to do. I made an appointment at Bellin and went through what they call "Movement Chain Assessment." Here's what Bellin's website says about the assessment ( : "The assessment is a comprehensive analysis of the body’s ability to perform efficiently. They utilize Dartfish Software Technology to videotape posture and biomechanical movements, in addition to measuring flexibility and hip strength. Upon identifying any muscular imbalance or weakness, an athlete is provided with a personalized instructional sheet and DVD with specific exercises to improve these areas."

The biggest eye opener was watching myself do a squat. I basically couldn't do one. The trainer recognized this immediately and explained to me the evident imbalance of my quad and glute muscles. I have always had extremely strong and well-defined quad muscles, dating back to my basketball and soccer days-- and I had thought I had done enough single leg squats and things of that sort to keep my glutes fairly strong. Boy, was I wrong! The trainer explained my glutes were always inactive during my runs, so my IT band was overcompensating for the lack of strength in my glute/hip region. That's why stretching and foam rolling only helped alleviate the pain to a certain extent. I had finally gotten to the ROOT of the problem!!

I also discovered through the analysis that my calf muscles were so wound up that my ankle joints were almost completely inflexible. Another thing they noted was how tight my upper back/shoulderblade area was. Probably the number one thing people have yelled at me during races is to "relax your arms!" I have always run with a very tight upper body, and haven't understood why it always seems to be so tight. Well, it was explained to me that the lat muscle connects all the way to the hip, so the tightness in my lats was causing my hips/IT band to become even more irritated! Again, here I was finally getting to the ROOT of the problem.. and the best part is, they were then ready to give me solutions to the problems I had endured all track season.

It has now been 9 weeks since I went through the Movement Chain Assessment. I can honestly say I have had the best training period of my entire career because of it -- it's not just that I've run more miles, it's that I FEEL better than I ever have, every single run, every single day. I FEEL so much stronger.

The best part of all this? The exercises are pretty simple. I think the biggest reason more runners and athletes in general haven't done stuff like this is it is somewhat time consuming. It takes a day to day commitment, something many runners aren't willing to do. I have several teammates who have started this program and end up not keeping up with it, because it seems they have the philosophy that just going for runs takes up too much time in itself. What I have realized more than ever this summer is when you get to a certain level, it's the little things that matter most - the day to day stuff - that will help you continue to see gains.

Here are the most basic corrective exercises I have done this summer:
  • Glute Bridges - start with double leg, progress to single leg
  • Side lying clams (back against wall)
  • Lateral leg raises (with back against the wall)
  • Band work -- angled steps (forward & backwards), lateral steps, monster walks, jumping jacks, & shuffle short steps (forward, backward, & lateral)
I have also majorly amped up my core work. The strength and conditioning coach at St. Norbert has given me some stuff that just plain hurts so good! Here's a little sampling of some of the core work I've done:
  • Front & side bridges - 60-90 seconds x 5-6 throughout the workout -- single best core exercise for runners!!!
  • Medicine ball chops & swings -- angled and overhead (chop is start high and go low with medicine ball, swing is start low and go high with the med ball)
  • Overhead slams with med ball - start with a med ball over your head and slam it to the ground back & forth on each side
  • Walking side-to-side rotations w/ med ball - take a step, swing the ball laterally (side to side)
One other aspect of my training I've really focused on is stretching and FOAM ROLLING! Dynamic stretching before a run and/or weight training workout (especially backward lunges/lateral lunges/side-to-side shuffles) and then foam rolling (visit and order one of their Trigger Point foam rollers RIGHT NOW!) has helped me feel more energized during workouts and recover faster after they're done.

A quick side note is that these exercises are not a cure-all for all runners. My biggest recommendation is that you find a program similar to Bellin's in your area where you can go and get your gait/movement analyzed and get corrective exercises tailored to your specific needs as a runner! It's certainly revitalized me, both physically and mentally, and I'm confident it can do the same for any runner looking to take it to the next level.

So here I am, less than 3 weeks from my final collegiate running season. I can't wipe a smile off of my face -- life is so good right now. I know I can't possibly continue to feel this good all the way till November, but I'm trying to take it one day at a time, because as I said above, it's the little day-to-day things that have to be committed to in order to see gains in the coming weeks, months, and even years! I'm extremely excited for my future and what this season will bring, and that future is much brighter thanks to the day-to-day changes I've been able to make throughout this summer!

I've still got a lot of improving to do, but I've never been more inspired, more spirited, or more enthusiastic about both running AND life than I am right now :)

~Some amazing quotes to sum up my summer and my life at this moment:
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it. ~Buddha
  • Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that...Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
  • Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring: all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia
  • Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day.
  • If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm. ~Vince Lombardi
  • The impossible can always be broken down into possibilities.

If you have any others to add, let me know... because in case you haven't noticed, I'm a HUGE quote person. My wall in my dorm room is covered with dozens and dozens of quotes. Can't ever get enough of 'em!

Till next time... Happy Running.

And... don't forget to smile :)

-Knight Runner