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About Steve Wagner

My running and athletic career began on an an icy spring morning in 2006, when I found myself at the start of the Fargo Marathon as a newspaper reporter. For more than 10 years, my inclination was to head home from work, plop down in front of the television and unwind from a long day. Weekends might include a round of golf, a little mountain biking and an occasional hiking trip. For several summers, I spent summer weekends on the lakes of Minnesota, chasing walleyes, and I'd take an annual pilgrimage to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. But the start of the marathon changed me, even as a spectator. The positive vibe and contagious energy prompted a simple vow: run something, anything, the following year. A group of co-workers graciously agreed to run the 26.2-mile relay. That experience prompted me to start entering smaller local races and then a half marathon. Soon, against my initial objections, I began training for the 2008 Grandma's Marathon. My journey as a runner began then, serving as a greater purpose than the destination. That journey continues. The path has taken me to the starting and finishing line of 15 marathons. During my journey, I've found a true passion for the path less traveled, particularly country roads, trails and the Ragnar Relay series. To this end, my running isn't about destinations, rather discovering my limits in an experiment of one. It also opened the door to possibilities, and piqued my interest in triathlons even before my first marathon. In July 2012, I finally jumped into the world of triathlons, completing a first sprint event. Now I've set out to compete in more triathlons, while staying true to my running passion. Along the way, I hope to discover new horizons, learn more about myself and break through personal boundaries.

Wild Hog Wednesday

For the past few Wednesdays, I’ve joined a group of Grand Forks runners over at the Wild Hog Smokehouse Bar and Grill for an evening run. The outings have quickly become a highlight of this summer, and a chance for me to meet some people in my new (relatively) hometown.

There are several worthwhile advantages: sharing in the camaraderie with other runners, dialing up the pace while I aim to return to pre-injury shape, sharpening my training for the New York City Marathon and having a chance to chat afterward with some really friendly people. Last week, I left inspired as the conversation focused on triathlon, and I’m still feeling the commitment to explore the sport more.

Unlike most, I enjoy running in the heat, and found evening runs in June and early July invigorating. But they do put a crunch on time.

So, I’ve returned to running early, with most mornings offering up phenomenal weather and a great setting to start the day.

However, on Wednesdays, my goal is two workouts, and the legs feel a little heavy during that second run. The leg fatigue also is a bit of a challenge on Thursdays as the morning routine leaves me packing in 3 runs in 24 hours. But I’m not likely to want to skip any of these runs as the accumulated fatigue provides strength for my marathon training.

Along this journey of restoring my running routine, though, it hasn’t been all about mileage. I’ve enjoyed the path, and taking some time to hang out with Coby. This last weekend, we headed to the lake, where he had a chance to swim and play. Since he’s still growing, I’ve been reluctant to have him along for many of my running adventures, but there’s plenty of time for that. In the meantime, my hope is to plan something special for his birthday on Sunday.

 

Apps to run by

After running the Red, White and Boom half marathon, I decided to revisit the App Store for iTunes to see if there were any worthwhile downloads for runners. Mainly, I was looking for a pace calculator.

Flipping through the numerous options, I settled on Pace Calc, which hit the mark. I also found MilePost, which will send inspirational quotes daily to your phone at the time you set.

But I also was looking for an app with a GPS function: something that would serve as a backup or replacement to my Garmin. There are plenty of options available.

As I read the app descriptions, and read the user reviews, I settled on Runmeter. It is pretty much unparalleled in reviews, and there’s a free version. Even so, I decided to pay $4.99 for the Elite version because of the additional options available for the one-time upgrade cost.

On my first run, I simply pressed the start and stop buttons, and used it in conjunction with my Garmin. Runmeter served its purpose.

The next day, after running in really warm temps, I sat on the patio and flipped through the different Runmeter screens. The amount of data available was astounding and I realized how amazingly powerful this tool can be. While I really like my Garmin 910, which is a terrific GPS watch capable of tracking large amounts of data for multiple sports, I still keep a written log – where I keep track of my notes on the weather, shoes and how I feel, particularly if I am dealing with injuries or other aches and pains.

But Runmeter does all of that, too, if you want. It keeps track of weather, including humidity, and files each runs’ data into a calendar, which provides a running mileage total for the week, month and year. I haven’t even explored all of the options, or unlocked the apps’ full potential, and I’m impressed. When I head out of town, and don’t plan to race, there’s no need to bring my Garmin. I’ll just rely on Runmeter on my iPhone.

New York Spirit

“Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.” – Tim Noakes

In the current edition of Running Times, the magazine takes a look at Meb Keflezighi’s amazing Boston Marathon victory.

Since the magazine’s arrival, it’s been sitting next to the couch until today when I stopped home during my lunch break. After turning a few pages, I stopped to read the article on Meb, whose story has always intrigued me. It includes a priceless quote from Bernard Lagat, another inspiring and amazing runner: “We believe we can still run hard… And we believe that it is actually up to (us) to decide what (we) want to do.”

The quote, while intended to describe elites, really is more universal.

At least I believe it can be applied to runners of all ages and levels.

Within the past week, I’ve come to believe my prior running form is once again possible. For most of the past year, I’ve lacked that self-belief for several reasons: sidelined by injuries, straddled with a lack of fitness and feeling the weight of life’s demands.

At some point, my running turned the corner. I knew that lost fitness doesn’t come back overnight. In fact, I read that it takes 3 weeks to regain fitness lost from a week off. Those types of numbers meant it could take some time to regain my form. Medical tests, chiropractor appointments, switching back to my old shoe model and lots of consistent training has bolstered my confidence that I can climb – slowly – back into condition of running marathons my way.

In part, the 30 Days of Running campaign really helped. It helped me commit to running every day – without excuses. I told myself that if I could make it every day in June, then perhaps the entire summer would be possible.

There were a few days I missed. But I’ve run every day in July, and instead of feeling tired and worn out, I’ve gained strength, stamina and determination.

It’s the law of momentum: It’s easier to maintain momentum than create it.

Running the Red, White and Boom half on Independence Day didn’t yield a spectacular finishing time for me. It gave me something much more important: a race in which I managed the pain, experienced the joy of racing tactics again and the confidence that days and days of running are beginning to pay dividends.

It also renewed my spirits for the New York City Marathon and the training needed to go there and compete to do my best.

Since then, I’ve also come across this gem of a statement:

“Lack of confidence leads to anxiety and tension and reduced motivation,” says Cindra S. Kamphoff, Ph.D, Director of the Center for Sport and Performance Psychology at Minnesota State University, in this 2013 Running Times article. “Confidence is one of the most important predictors of running performance. When I talk to runners, I tell them, ‘Confidence is up to you—you and your mind.’”