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The Real Illinois- Entry 3


Another week has gone by. We are about halfway through the summer now before most of us head back to school. Last week, readers got an update of the lives of Zach Boehmke and Andrew Gazdziak. This week, readers will hear from the two other runners being spotlighted currently, Jackie Newell and Henry Wolf. After reading what they have to say, I will post a couple things that I found interesting to read recently and might provoke some deeper thinking about running and nutrition, hopefully. Next week, we will have our first spotlight of an additional runner/worker. Now, on to Jackie.


Jackie Newell

June was really good to me. First of all I was enthusiastic about my internship. I loved working in the lab because I was learning so much and I got to just run methods on various samples all day. Naturally, there were bad days where there would be little for me to do, or somebody would get frustrated with my ignorance about chemistry, but through out June I remained pretty un-phased because I liked being there. I was also putting in some really good work for cross-country. I was in a routine and I stuck to it. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were “easy days” so I would run a mile, lift weights and do core before work at 6:00am and then run after work. (Before you start thinking I’m crazy to be lifting, I’ll remind you that I am still a distance runner, so it was all pretty high repeat, low weight intensity.) Tuesdays and Thursdays I did “medium runs” or “progressive runs.” Basically a run-by-feel type workout over the hills at a forest preserve near by. Then of course long runs on Sundays. I also devoted myself to my running diet (high protein, low fat, lots of fruit, no dairy) and by the end of the June saw real results. I lost four pounds and felt so strong on all of my runs.


Another glimpse of Swallow Cliff

Despite how awesome June was, I still find myself repeating the mantra “just get through July.” Why? Probably because the honeymoon phase of my internship is over and now its just work. I like being busy, but sometimes work is too stressful to handle. My supervisor and co-workers ask me these questions that I really just can’t answer because I just read the protocol and do what it says. I just want to tell these people “I’M SORRY I JUST DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER!” I am only an intern, yet so much is expected of me and it can be very overwhelming. Likewise, running has become much more stressful. I’m not really worried about racing yet. More so I just made a big jump in mileage this week and I am nervous to maintain it. Nervous and ready, I guess. I only felt bad on a run today, the last day of my mileage week so I’m hoping it was just a shock to my system. My fear is that I’ll blow it on a workout day and lose my confidence. I’ve had that happen before and it only makes getting a good work out in a couple days later that much harder. Also another crappy part about starting another 65er is that feeling on Sunday when I know I’m starting from zero again. So yeah.. here’s to another week of fitting as many miles as possible around work. I hope by my next entry I will have resurrected my attitude towards work and running. But until then, enjoy your July, I hope you’re not “just getting through it.”



Henry Wolf (circa his high school days)

I’m not entirely sure what I should be focusing on for this post. Running? Work? Life? I guess running and work are my life currently. A typical day goes as follows: I wake up at 5:20 and am out the door with Ben (my good friend, training partner, work mentor and landlord) to run by 5:30. Generally we run at the Great Western Trail or Leroy Oakes, and about once a week we go to another trailhead near the Fox River that has some really great trails and some terribly exhausting hills. There have been no workouts yet, so every day is an easy run with a long run on Sunday. Mileage has stayed between 40 and 50 a week so far. The clock strikes core at least twice a week and we do a short core and mobility routine to this dope station. I’ve also been doing push-ups every day since sometime in mid-May to keep up with my goal of getting stronger.


Ben and I leave for work at about 7:15 and carpool into work with two co-workers in the design team. With average traffic, we make it in and start work around 8:20. We have lunch at noon and leave between 5 and 7, depending on how much work we need to do. A couple of times we’ve had to work really long, like 11-12 hours, but fortunately that hasn’t occurred too often. After our hour-long commute back to St. Charles we make it back between 6 and 8, which doesn’t give time to do much after we eat.

The worst part of the summer so far has been the lack of sleep. I’m tired all the time. With all that time locked up by driving and working, there really isn’t that much time to relax and sleep. I think that’s been a factor in my injury and poor running so far. I feel terrible every day; before, during, and after every run. My left lower leg has been locked up and tender all summer and I often limp through half my run and most of my daily walking. I either take elevators or rely on handrails on stairs. Needless to say, I had a terrible race on the Fourth of July. I just keep stretching, massaging, and praying to get better.


Henry (Not on the 4th of July, it was 100 degrees, c’mon)

I really like the places we’ve run in St. Charles. The worst surface we ever really have to run on here is a paved asphalt bike path which is one of the better surfaces in Mahomet. Leroy Oakes and Great Western are great. Both are very shaded. Leroy has some nice dirt and grass trails while Great Western is mostly crushed limestone. Either way, I’ve been able to stay on pretty soft stuff so far, which is one of the main reasons I haven’t been too injured to run yet (knock on wood).

Work has been great so far. I really like the project I’ve been working on and the people that I work with. I’ve learned so much the past five weeks. Yesterday I got to design the first structure of my career, a 4 four-foot-tall stone retaining wall. Although I didn’t have to consider loads or do any structural analysis it gave me my first experience of what structural engineering will be like in real practice; working in conjunction with a team and selecting the design that best meets the constraints of the project.

I’ve gotten into a rhythm and routine this summer and the days seem to be flying by. It’s hard to believe that my internship is already half over. At least five more good weeks ahead I hope. In the tradition of the closing quote, here’s one from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters: “Active habits are strengthened by repetition but passive ones are weakened.” 

That was good insight from two different people with two different lives. Since I run with Jackie a couple times a week, it is cool to see how each of our respective fitnesses are improving. I say this because we are each tinkering with the food we put in our bodies and it is interesting to see how they respond. With Henry, I really sympathize with the lack of sleep. That is the biggest thing I have noticed as well in terms of energy levels during the day. According to, a healthy adult needs 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night and I have to say that I have reached that total once in the last month, so Henry, hang in there.

Anyways, I have been doing a lot of reading and my own little research on the side about different topics. These include running physiology, nutrition, tips for better training, etc. I have also found a couple of interesting things along the way that you might like to check out.

This is an article I read on how a whole food diet can decrease risks of Multiple Sclerosis and also may reverse the effects of the disease once in its active stages:

Also, here is a little excerpt from Born to Run, written by Christopher McDougall, on the benefits of barefoot running:


Page 172: 

Painful Truth No. 2: Feet Like A Good Beating

As far back as 1988, Dr. Barry Bates, the head of the University of Oregon’s Biomechanics/Sports Medicine Laboratory, gathered data that suggested that beat-up running shoes are safer than newer ones. In the Journaal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Dr. Bates and his colleagues reported that as shoes wore down and their cushioning thinned, runners gained more foot control. 

So how do foot control and a flapping old sole add up to injury free legs? Because of one magic ingredient: fear. Contrary to what pillowy-sounding names like the Adidas MegaBounce would have you believe, all that cushioning does nothing to reduce impact. Logically, that should be obvious–the impact on your legs from running can be up to twelve times your body weight, so it’s preposterous to believe a half inch of rubber is going to make a bit of difference against, in my case, 2,760 pounds of earthbound beef. You can cover an egg with an oven mitt before rapping it with a hammer, but that egg ain’t coming out alive…

And on pronation from Dr. Gerard Hartmann (patients include Paula Radcliffe, Haile Gebreselassie, and Khalid Khannouchi)

“The deconditioned musculature of the foot is the greatest tissue leading to injury, and we’ve allowed our feet to become badly deconditioned over the past twenty-five years,” Dr. Hartmann said. “Pronation has become this very bad word, but it’s just the natural movement of the foot. The foot is supposed to pronate.”

To see pronation in action, kick off your shoes and run down the driveway. On a hard surface, your feet will briefly unlearn the habits they picked up in shoes and automatically shift to self-defense mode: you’ll find yourself landing on the outside edge of your foot, then gently rolling from little toe over to big until your foot is flat. That’s pronation- just a mild, shock-absorbing twist that allows your arch to compress.

That was from pages 173, 175-176 of Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. If you are interested in continuing reading, I would recommend going to a library, or you could ask me and I will let you borrow my (Andrew Gazdiak’s) copy.

That’s it for this week. Hope everybody enjoyed the reading. Until next time…

“The proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation.” – C. S Lewis (to continue Henry’s theme)


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