October Updates

Here’s what’s going on at Whisper over the next couple of months.

  • RESULTS: Click here for the Harvest Classic results.

  • HOTELS AT JO's: We have 30 rooms booked at the Holiday Inn Express in Seattle and 20 at the HIE in Eugene. Please see the Calendar, specific dates 11/16 and 11/23, to book your rooms if you intend on traveling to the meet on the Friday before the JO races.

  • PRACTICE DAYS: As we get into the fall months, practices are now 5:30-6:45pm on weekdays. Please pay attention to the mid-week practices on the WR Calendar. Because of MS and HS District races this month, we are having practices on Wednesday's or Thursday's. The change is due to the XC District races and Halloween.

  • Headlamps: Sunset is now earlier than the end of our practices. Please have your child bring a reflective vest, belt, or anything that makes illuminates their torso. Also, please be sure they bring a headlamp. These items can be found at most running stores, athletic stores, or even Fred Meyer. They can also be purchased online.

  • SPRINT PRACTICE ON HOLD: The start of practice will soon begin in the dark, making it impossible to work on sprint technique. Until Christmas break, when the kids have days off from school, we are placing Sprint workouts on hold. If a sprinter wishes to join us for the distance workouts, they are definitely welcome to do so (total distances at workouts will be roughly 1.25 mile warm-up, 2-3miles of interval work, .5-1 mile cool-down.

  • SUNDAY EVENTS: WHY Racing GF's Run for a Cure on 10/13, Seton Catholic Open House on 10/20, and WHY Racing's Scary Run on 10/27. Whisper is a WHY Racing sponsor, meaning we don't run at these events. If your child (or you) would like to race in these events, you'll need to register him/her via the WHY website. For Whisper, these events are merely for the promotion of youth running and Winter Training.

If you have any questions, or text or call Coach Dave. 360-989-0935.

Sleep & Peformance

Gone are the days we jolt out of bed to hastily start our day.  The youthful days of yesteryear were just a moment ago, and we now envy our youth and their ability to speed through the house upon waking up prior to school.  Our age and memories have been replaced by a shuffling warm-up just to make it out of the bedroom, with fleeting thoughts of “this can’t possibly be how I’m going to live the rest of my life, is it?”

These are the trying times of runners as we age.  A colleague once said to me, “You can run into your 40’s, but you can’t run out!”  Gulp!

There certainly are remedies that can offset the post-exercise soreness related to running.  Those aching Achilles, the tight glutes, can be alleviated through the same energy and discipline that it takes to actually head out for the run itself.  In fact, at the moment, I, Coach Dave, am enrolled in a 7-week stretching class at Boomer Fitness, which has provided the necessary relief as I head into the Winter Cave of training (see the September newsletter).  As therapeutic as the class is, it will only serve its purpose if I cultivate the necessary self-discipline of post-run stretching on a consistent basis - a heavy task in itself.  That, as well as sufficient hydration and proper nutrition.  In addition to stretching, hydration, and healthy foods, the main variable that I find equally as important is sleep.

There are few things in ones youth that lay the foundation for discipline within adulthood. Spiritual health, healthy eating patterns, and sleep are likely at the top of any list when it comes to proper long-term Physical Health and Wellness - and healing, too! A study, albeit small, produced by the ScienceDaily titled “Sleep Extension Improves Athletic Performance and Mood” noted improvements in power output and faster speeds when performing drills for those who extended their sleep to 10 hours each night . The study also reports a greater overall mood, which if you have a teenager in the house, this might resonate a bit more.

Another study, Sleepy Runners: Measuring Sleep, Performance, and Injuries Among Runners from Anderson University, found an association between “poor sleep quality and injury among consistency training recreational runners.”

Teaching in the field of health and having may online discussions in Health classes report on the topic of sleep, I am left believing without a doubt that sleep has a direct impact on recovery and performance. A consistent bedtime routine prepares the mind and body that it is time to rest. A restful 8-10 hours of sleep, particularly in a dark and cool room, with your phone in another room, heals the microtrauma created by the previous days running load, ultimately preparing you for the next day ahead.

In summary, having a consistent bedtime ritual, along with consistency leading up to that ritual, helps prime the body for optimal sleep. It is even more important for young student-athletes, who expend 15-20% of their daily caloric needs merely learning and processing information, to sleep beyond the general 8-hour suggestion, perhaps up to 10-hours per night for optimal recovery and rejuvenation.

Happy sleeping!

Into the Cave

As fall nears, the days are getting shorter and the weather will soon be turning cooler and wetter.  In these times, it’s important to embrace the right mindset so that we may sustain our fitness, or even improve our fitness, over the next eight months.  Annually, I like to think of the fall and winter months as the most opportune time to get into the best shape of my life.  Okay, being in my mid-40’s, perhaps that’s not realistic, but at least I can set the goal to become the fittest I’ve ever been in my racing age group of 40-44 – although I will be 45 in December. 

Setting long-term goals and having a vision of the end result is paramount when in pursuit of things that truly matter.  Whether your goals are centered around your career, your educational, your running, or something else, visualizing to level of intensity that you can emotionally and mentally feel the results before they happen is a key step in successful goal attainment. 

As I begin the eight-month trek, I imagine myself venturing into a dark cave of majestic wonder and optimism centered around the vision I have for the goals I’ve set.  The time in this cave is somewhat familiar – it’s a place I venture into each fall, only to come out the following spring in better or worse shape than the previous year.  The end result is merely a byproduct of the work that was done in the cave.

What’s most important to know prior to heading into this cave is two things – your goal(s) and your level of commitment.  You know right now, at this very moment, whether or not you will incessantly pursue your goals, baring something unforeseen of course.  Perhaps from past experiences, you have set goals to do great things, only to then place those goals in a box, high up on a shelf, which you will reach for at a later time.  So how much later?  At what point will you say, “Enough is enough!” and begin to truly work on yourself and your goals?  This cave is one you will wake up in every day for the next eight months, and the outcome will be entirely up to you and the level of devotion you put forth.

Step 1: Set a goal and see it like its right there in front of you!

Visualize your goals to the point that if they were right there in front of you, they’d slap you in the face!  Create your own cave by setting a long-term, eight-month goal, so when spring arrives you can accomplish something once unfathomable.  Set daily goals to ensure you get your ass up and out of bed, so that when the day is done and everything else has gone to shit, at least you’ve accomplished your goal of the day that, in the end, will be worth the investment.

Admittedly, I stole that last line from a colleague of mine who when I asked if she exercises in the morning or afternoon, she said morning – that was her reason why.

The truth is the truth.  Set your goals and for the next eight months, live vicariously through yourself and get things done that will advance you every day in the direction of the successful attainment of your goal. 

Enjoy the process!

Spokane to Sandpoint 2019

The Spokane to Sandpoint Relay turned out to be the perfect capstone on Summer Training. For weeks on end, these kids work so hard on their running goals and this is the perfect reward for their dedication, discipline, and commitment. I am already looking forward to S2S 2020 and perhaps even bringing another team with us comprised of Whisper runners! For now, I hope you enjoy this video, which summarizes the Spokane to Sandpoint experience.

All it took was a text...

In the spring of 2011 I set out to begin my training as a marathon runner.  The agenda for the day: run home from Clark College, taking Airport Way, which wound up being a 22-mile, dreadful experience.  Just after crossing the 205 bridge, around mile 15, I wound up walking until I came upon an abandoned home along the Old Evergreen Highway.  Being in dire need of water and cautiously optimistic, I approached the home and turned the spigot clockwise.  I was in luck.  No longer parched but still with weary legs, I continued slogging eastward.  With 3-miles to home, this was by far the most difficult hill I had ever experienced at the time, yet it was assuredly due to the combination of being undertrained, undernourished, and quite simply, underprepared.  This 22-mile trek was a learning experience – 7 mile runs are easy, but marathon training is going to take smarter planning.

This topic hit me this morning when I received a text from a Whisper runner, Maddie, which said, “That wasn’t fun.”  A day earlier, Maddie texted to inquire about the workout of the day because she wasn’t going to be able to make it to practice and she wanted to perform the workout on her own.  The workout was a ladder – 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m, 1-mile, and a few 250m’s to finish.  This was the first time in a long time that I had prescribed a mile interval – generally intervals are under 1k – but I had to try it out.  For the most part, the workout did indeed suck.  And Maddie was spot-on when she said, “That wasn’t fun.” 

Years ago it was the long runs that I dreaded the most.  Anything over 15-miles and I knew I had to prepare well, including hydration and fuel for the road.  In time, I began to enjoy runs over 10-miles because they are the ones that provide the physical and emotional challenge I need, and they are also where I feel most alive. I suppose that’s why the marathon is so intoxicating.  You’re going to a place of wonder, a place of curiosity, a place of vulnerability, a place of playfulness, and being in my mid-40’s, a place of continuous questioning of my own abilities.  Going to these places, the challenges, is essential in training.  They are places I aim to get my runners to arrive, so they are ready when it arrives to them during their race.

These places and feelings haunt me both in my training and in my racing.  It’s been the midweek runs, the runs between 6 and 9 miles, the runs on Monday through Friday, that have challenged me the most over the last few years.  Hampered by an Achilles issue, or both Achilles for that matter, injuries have wreaked havoc on my confidence and my ability to train consistently fast and consistently well for the last few years. But there was a place, a moment in the race last weekend when I felt the familiarity of the suck, yet harmoniously a place of strength, both which could be traced back to my midweek runs.  It was a place I have been many times over the last few years.  Being in that place provided a sense of, “I have felt this before.  I have been here before.  I can do this.”  At that moment, I knew that if I could manage my splits well, which for the most part were similar to that of my midweek runs, I could still break 3-hours in the marathon at 44-years old.

Maddie‘s text this morning was a reminder that even during the times of difficulty when training, particularly when training alone, that it’s okay to have physically and emotionally challenging workouts.  It’s even okay to question your skill set.  It’s natural to question your ability.  It’s natural to have self-doubt.  But what’s important to remember is that there’s always tomorrow. There’s always the hope for a better run tomorrow.  And that’s perhaps why runners run.  Maddie’s text wasn’t about any foreseen self-doubt of her own skills as a runner, but the reality we all face when running.  When we have a challenge ahead of us, how do we respond?  I know how Maddie will respond – I’ll see her tomorrow.  But how will you respond?

Finally, the word “hope” makes me think about The Boston marathon logo, or mascot, which is a unicorn. Jack Fleming of the Boston Athletic Association, which hosts the Boston Marathon, says, “The unicorn is a mythological figure that is meant to be pursued, but, in that pursuit, you never catch it.  So it inspires you to continue to try – to race harder in the case of running – and though it may be elusive, it really is the pursuit of the unicorn that makes you better and better and better.”  I fully believe that this is why we keep coming back to this place of misery in the sport of competitive running.  This dark place of questioning and self-doubt.  Because though it may be a place of familiarity, it’s also a place that we know we can go when we need a dose of self-confidence. Though time and time again our results might not be there, there is still hope for a better race, a better run, and a dose of self-confidence that all of us need, because running has provided this sense of success before.

Two Tales of One Race

The LCMSAA Championship 800m Race, as told by Hanna Bailey

To be entirely honest, my 800 at districts felt like the longest 800 meters of my life. From the beginning, I planned to pace off Elle, then beat her in the final stretch. I wasn’t entirely confident in this plan, but being my last race running for my middle school, I figured it was worth a shot. Before the race, I was nervous because I knew that I was going to have to work through a lot of pain if I wanted to succeed. I was also excited, though, because I had been waiting for this opportunity all season. The day of the meet I did everything I could trying not to overthink the race, but by the time I was warming up, I was kind of freaking out. I got in my lane and stepped to the line. In a final attempt to calm myself, I closed my eyes and mentally reassured myself that it was only two laps of suffering. The gun went off, and the butterflies went away. Everything went pretty smoothly until it was time to cut in. Two girls cut in between Elle and me, and I knew that if I let Elle get too far ahead of me, I would never be able to close the gap. In a desperate attempt, I sprinted ahead of the two girls before the straight ended and cut in right behind Elle.

Hanna (left) and Elle (right) after an epic 800m district race.

Hanna (left) and Elle (right) after an epic 800m district race.

About 300 meters in, I was already tiring out. I was beginning to think: maybe I can’t do this; maybe she is too fast. I reminded myself, though, of how frustrated I would be over the next few days if I quit, knowing that this was my last meet, and I still had more to give before the finish. I stayed with her. At the end of my first lap I considered it a tiny victory that I only had one more lap to go, and I was still right on pace. With 300 meters left, all I could think was, “If I could only get to the last 200 meters, I could still win this.” Sure enough, by the time I made it to the final curve, I forgot all about how miserable the last 600 meters had been. At that point, I was anticipating when we’d reach the final straight, where I would pass her. I got too excited, though, and as soon as I saw the finish line I started to sprint. As I passed her, I though for sure that I was going to win. Then, in the last twenty meters, I felt her coming up on me. All I could think was, “Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap!” We finished right beside each other, and I honestly had no idea who’d won.

Regardless of that, though, I made my way off the track and tried to catch my breath. It literally felt like I was dying. After a moment, Elle came up, put her arm around me, and said, “Good job!”

All I could think was, “How is she still talking right now?”

The LCMSAA Championship 800m Race, as told by Elle Thomas

During the track season, I noticed the difference between my mental state before, during, and after the race. No matter how much you plan or prepare before a race, you really have to be able to adapt to the situation since every race can give you a different challenge.

—Before Districts

 After church, and before a very nice Cinco de Mayo dinner, me and my dad had the “what’s your plan talk”. While sitting in our camping chairs in the backyard, my dad asked me the routine question before any race, “Hey, Elle. What is your plan for districts?” I answered with my classic response, “I wanna go fast!” This led to a more “in depth” conversation about the purpose of my training this far was for opportunities like this. This made me nervous; however, I trusted my training and coaches which have taught me to do my best. I knew as long as I left everything on the track I would be happy with my performance.


 While sitting on the bus, I did prepare for what was coming. I felt really good about the 1600 and my nerves were calm. When I thought of the 800, I really got nervous. Based on the previous race, I knew Hanna Bailey was going to push me and I would be in pain. 

 After fighting the wind and winning the 1600, I really started to focus on the 800. I got really nervous, but what calmed me was the thought of, “Hey, everyone is supposed to be nervous. You’ve trained hard for this so, it is going to be great.” While jogging to the check-in table, I felt really confident and was excited to run. I was prepared for the 800.

 During the race, I felt like my mind went blank. Everything was pretty routine until the last 100 where Hanna Bailey snuck up on me. When she passed me, I kind of panicked. With about 50 to go, I got my thoughts together and thought, “Hey! This is districts! I’m going to give it all I got.” I fought to catch up to her and match her speed. I put in all the effort I could give and lost by just .01 seconds. 

—After Districts

 After the race, I was so proud of my performance. I was able to be pushed further than I ever had before in a race. The result was a second place; however, I knew I did my best. I was able to PR. During this track season I’ve learned a lot about me and what the body can do. I realized that our body can go further and harder than our mind tells us they can. You have to be positive and believe in yourself. This particular race at Districts definitely has given me the experience to recognize what I can do. I’m just excited to compete more with Whisper and be pushed by the team and other competitions in the coming weeks.


Time for New Kicks?

One day you’re pounding the pavement, putting in the miles, and the next, you’re feeling more than usual pain in the areas that absorb the typical impacts caused by running.  Running related injuries typically start from the ground and work their way up through the body.  Ankles, shins, knees, hips, and the lower back are all common and problematic areas that absorb the impact from our attempt to plodding along.  No matter the age, gender, or running style, nobody is immune to these running-related injuries, making it even more important to listen to pay attention to your shoes, especially as they, your shoes, age.

Running shoes, also known as trainers, are governed for approximately 300 miles of use per pair.  This estimate is based on a 150-pound body, so the aging of your shoes might change if you are lighter, in which your shoes will last longer, or heavier, in which they won’t last quite as long.  A quick inspection of your shoe might be telling – is the tread over-worn and/or has the shoe lost its cushion? 

Typically, the bottom of the shoe is most worn on the heal and lateral (outside) side of the shoe.  Comparing with the medial (inside) side of the shoe might raise further awareness and insight as to how your foot strikes the ground, and how much mileage you might have left on your pair of shoes, if any at all.  A general rule of thumb is if the tread is level with the sole of the shoe at any part of its surface, it’s time for a new set of kicks.

Another way that a shoe may lose its integrity is if the cushion becomes rigid through 24/7 use.  If your shoes are only used for running, then the cushion may outlast the tread.  However, if the shoes are worn more frequently (i.e., to school, practice, leisure play, around the house, etc.), then the cushioning of the shoe could become more rigid than your feet prefer, leading to potential issues, or injuries that trickle through the feet/foot and up through the body.

Personally, when my shoes lose their tread, they go into retirement.  Because they’ll have plenty of cushion left, I’ll then use the worn shoes for school and leisure activities.  My rule of thumb: my running shoes are for running and my retired shoes are for everything else.  It might drive you bananas seeing multiple sets of shoes scattered throughout the house, but chalk it up to one of two things: 1) feel blessed to have active, healthy children, and 2) you, or the person(s) with the dispersed shoes has a greater chance of a healthier body.  


Hug Mother Earth

With my first bite of quinoa, Laura says, “Your cells are thanking you one bite at a time.”  She is the same person who introduced me to Marion Nestle’s book, What to Eat, who says two consistent phrases near the end of almost every chapter, 1) we vote with our fork, and 2) if we don’t like our food system, take action by purchasing only ethically and sustainably raised foods.  The statement about voting with our fork resonates across many areas of life.  From choosing to purchase combustion engine vehicles versus battery operated, or a veggie patty versus a hamburger patty, we all make decisions that have a butterfly effect of sorts on the environment.  It’s our vote.

Having a tree-hugging bone in my body, I decided to Google some ways we can reduce our carbon footprint and share these tips in the present newsletter.  Certainly many parents at Whisper make an effort to carpool and send their children to practice with a reusable water bottle, which is very much appreciated.  Here are some additional goals we can set to reduce our impact on the environment:

  • Choose sunscreens that are ocean and eco-friendly.

  • Use reusable bags (avoid plastic)

  • Be mindful of over consumption or unnecessary consumption.

  • Turn off lights.Turn off water when not in use.

  • When traveling less than a few miles, consider biking instead.

  • Use mass transit.

The World Wildlife Foundation takes this topic to another level by highlighting ideas around environmental awareness, social norms, living sustainably, and more.  Also, Racing Extinction, is a modern documentary film around the extinction of animals and also our carbon footprint.  Whether it something as simple as turning off a light or eating a conventional meal, we are casting our planetary vote, and she is listening.


More than Nutrients

Topics such as Nutrient Density, Iron Rich Foods, and Organic Eating are always popular with runners, but perhaps the topic of Food Proximity should play an equal role when making our food choices considering the carbon footprint foods have on the environment and climate change. 

Instructor Garret Hoyt of Clark College says it best: "The growth of food plays a direct role on the health of the planet. To put it simply, the food industry emits ridiculous quantities of CO2 and other emissions because of its complexity.  It used to be that you went to the farm and picked up your food and that was it.  Now if you look at the farm, they're driving big tractors over the fields several times to seed, fertilize, spray for bugs and weeds, and then again to harvest.  Now look at where the seeds came from, they were likely purchased and imported.  Farmers aren't saving seeds like they used to.  The fertilizer used to be manure, but now they use different nitrogen sources which are a massive source of nitrous oxide emissions which is a potent greenhouse gas.  Add in the fact that the fertilizer was produced in a factory somewhere and had to be transported to the farm for application, that all contributes to the emissions of our food.  Pesticides and herbicides are also produced, transported and applied using fossil fuels that are part of the emissions produced by food.  Foods are then harvested and transported.  Rarely are they transported directly to a consumer, first they have to be processed, packaged, transported to a distribution center before shipped to a local grocery store where you drive your SUV to pick up dinner that traveled about 1500 miles on average to get from the farm to your plate.  And then there is the other side of things: while not technically 'emissions', our CO2 emissions wouldn't be as impactful if we had more trees to absorb the CO2...  But agriculture is the leading cause for deforestation.  Primarily we are cutting down trees to grow the crops that feed our beef addiction.  Here is another source that could be insightful."

 In addition to seeking the nutrient contents within a food produce when shopping, consider an effort to seek locally grown foods as well.  Happy shopping!