Category Archives: Fitness


Respect the impact of summer elements on your exercise.

You either like the heat, or you don’t. Those who live in Vermont because they prefer cooler temperatures, and snow and winter sports, just might start to complain when the thermometer hits 70 degrees. Others luxuriate in the penetrating heat of a sunny Vermont day. Both camps often agree, however, that high heat combined with elevated humidity often cause a game change.

In any event, longer daylight hours married to pleasing temperatures lure most outdoors. An added bonus is how little one needs to wear in summer versus winter conditions.

That does not mean, however, that one should be unprepared for what summer elements may produce.

— Weather: It may change any minute. If it rains, will you be prepared? Be sure to check the forecast. Right or wrong, it will at least give you a good idea of what is possible. Above all, avoid getting caught unprepared when dangerous lightening strikes.

— Heat: The condition of heat exhaustion is preventable; heat stroke is deadly. Learn the symptoms and treatments for both (see, for example, Your troubles may appear initially as heat cramps. If these escalate to dizziness, hot and clammy skin, rapid pulse, headache, nausea, fatigue (to name a few symptoms), it’s time to take action. Or rather, it’s time to stop, find a cooler place (even the shade of a tree) and hydrate with water or a sports drink. Untreated, heat exhaustion can become unmanageable and dangerous. If symptoms continue for an hour and body temperature is elevated to 104 F or above, seek immediate medical attention.

A warm, dry day is an excellent time to get outdoors to train for a sport or participate in a game, competition or event. However, if conditions are adverse, best to err on the side of caution: Play it safe, dial it back, reduce the intensity or length of your training, take special care to hydrate well and spend every available minute out of the direct sun.

— Wind: Unintended consequences prevail when one embarks on an adventure on a windy day. When checking the weather forecast, also be sure to note the wind. When cycling, paddling or running, for example, a headwind is disadvantageous because of the effort involved. Yet a tailwind, though often an exciting relief, just might be more than you bargained for. On water it’s easy to be blown off course, and on a bike those pesky cross winds can be unsettling. Wind is also unexpectedly dehydrating.

— First aid: It’s smart to refresh your memory of basic first-aid and to pack along a few simple aids that could make the difference between a blip on the day and a sad experience.

— Bugs and bee stings: Oh my; these do come with the territory. Some people seem to attract insects more than others. Know your personal tolerance level and bring along whatever you need to protect yourself whether it’s a topical spray or lotion or long sleeves and pant legs, or even netting. If, of course, you are allergic to bee stings, always be prepared with an EpiPen (epinephrine injection) or whatever antidote you use, and inform your companions of your allergy.

— Poisonous plants: Learn to identify poisonous plants such as ivy, oak, sumac, parsnips, and even common plants such as sunflowers wild grapes and clematis ( Reactions to toxins from these plants vary in different individuals.

Surely when your work is in the outdoors, choices are limited and precautions take on new meaning. If, however, you are off for a day of fun, think ahead to insure a safe and pleasant outing for yourself and those with whom you spend your hours.

— Sun protection: Finally, by now, unless you live on another planet, you have heard repeated warnings to protect your skin from the ravages of skin cancer due to exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Apply and reapply sunscreen as needed.

Read below to see what Kimberly Evans, a registered dietitian, has to say about nutrition and the sun.


by Kimberly Evans, MS, RD.

The sunscreen dilemma is a frequent problem with athletes and outdoor enthusiasts come summer.  One might think that this is a no brainer.  After all, for a very long time now we have been programmed to lather up on sunblock before we even step outside.  You do this to protect your skin from harmful sunrays, and therefore protect your skin from cancer.  For the most part, we can all agree that skin protection is an important consideration for those who are active outside in the summer months.

But wait, there are some cons; maybe even more cons than pros.  For one, not only does sunblock keep out harmful sun rays, it also keeps out very beneficial Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is a crucial hormone-like-vitamin that not only keeps athlete’s immune systems healthy, but also plays a role in preventing stress fractures and other sports-related injuries. 

It is a good practice for active people to get vitamin D levels tested once a year, especially if they are sun-avoidant or heavy sun block users.  Salmon and mushrooms are a great natural source of Vitamin D, but many folks find that they need to take supplemental Vitamin D3.

Another very real sun block con is that many sunscreens are loaded with harmful chemicals, commonly referred to as endocrine disruptors. 

The skin is the largest organ of the body and creams, oils, and lotions applied to the skin quickly make their way into the blood stream.  Chemicals such as PABA, paraben, sulphates, phthalates, oxybenzone, and forms of Vitamin A are common sunscreen additives. 

If you lather up before going outside, a good rule of thumb is to choose a sunscreen that has strong broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, such as those containing zinc oxide.  Badger All-Natural Sunscreen and Aubrey Organics are two good examples. 

The Environmental Working Group (a non-profit research group focused on public health protection) has several guides to choosing a good sunscreen, as well as several interesting articles such as “Eight Little Known Facts About Sunscreens.”

 As a registered dietitian and food enthusiast, I find there is always a celebration to be had when food comes to the rescue. In my world it often does.  Beyond topical sunscreen, foods themselves can offer sun protection for the skin. 

The next time you are heading out for a run, hike, bike, walk, swim, round of golf or any other outdoor activity, plan a meal where you can eat your sun block or take sun protecting snacks along. 

Wait, what?  Yes. I am not talking about finding an edible sunscreen here.  I am saying that many foods in your kitchen contain natural protection against solar radiation. 

The phytochemicals in foods actually make their way to the upper layers of your skin, increasing resistance to UV damage. Think of these foods as part of your summer medicine cabinet that can be found in your kitchen and your garden.

Here are the top foods that offer skin protection.

TOMATOES. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a phytochemical that has been shown to protect the skin against sunburn.  This protein is enhanced by olive oil and cooking the tomatoes. (Bruschetta anyone?) 

AVOCADOS. The oils in avocados help protect the skin from damaging effects of the sun.  Avocados make a great addition to a smoothie, a salad, or as a sandwich spread.  (Although I have been known to simply cut them in half and eat with a spoon right out of the skin.)

APPLES, particularly red apples.  The triterpenoids in the skin of apples fight cancer cells by inducing apoptosis, or death of cancer cells.

GREEN TEA. The catechins in green tea offer skin protection.  Make a goal of two cups per day.  Green tea can be a good liquid to add to a smoothie, use in a sports drink or to make a simple iced tea.

CITRUS. Beyond the healing properties of the Vitamin C found in citrus, the essential oils found in the skin of lemons, limes, and all citrus contain limonene, an essential oil that offers a dose of skin protein when eaten.  Zest lemons or limes into your tea (hot or iced) or even onto a nut butter sandwich. (Trust me on this one; it is delish.)

OMEGA – RICH FOODS. Salmon, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are omega powerhouses.  The omega-3 fats act as sunscreen and have been shown to decrease squamous cell skin cancer by 20%.

POMEGRANATES are rich in ellagic acid and support glutathione production in the body. These phytonutrients offer antioxidant protection and fight skin damage caused by free radicals. Pomegranate juice is always available and makes a tasty pink lemonade. 

Pomegranates also make an excellent addition to guacamole. This is a win-win. Try this recipe.

Pomegranate Guacamole

 2 ripe avocados

¼ cup diced red onions

3 TBSP freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp salt

½ cup finely diced cilantro (mint or parsley can be used for those non-cilantro lovers – cut down to ¼ cup)

½ cup pomegranate seeds

Halve and pit the avocados and scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a bowl. Add red onion, lime juice, salt, and cilantro to the bowl. Mash the mixture together with a fork. Stir in pomegranate seeds and serve with chips or crudité (jicama is very nice here)

If you are active outside in the summer, add these foods to your shopping list.  Food does not need to replace sunblock entirely, but it can work together with it to increase its effectiveness in a most tasty and delicious way. Culinary medicine is a growing science that combines the art of cooking with the emerging science of nutrition, genomics, and biochemistry. Eating your way to skin protection is just one example of culinary medicine. 

To contact Evans, email or visit her website:


This story ran in the Rutland Herald & Times Argus on 7-10-2016, written by Linda Freeman, Field Editor and Correspondent for ACTIVE VERMONT.

Last week on the Active Vermont page you read tips on how to choose your own SUP. Once selected, what next? What can you do with a SUP? The short answer is “a lot.” A stand up paddleboard is legally a vessel and can be used much like a kayak or canoe. One or more users can navigate ponds, lakes and rivers for sport, recreation or fitness.

Standing up is a lovely way to tour. The vantage is just that much better and what is below the board is easily seen. Looking straight down you will see far more than glancing across the top of the water from a seat. Though the very idea of standing on something potentially tippy in the middle of a lake can be daunting, it’s really not so bad. In fact, there’s no rule that says you must stand. You might want to begin seated or kneeling. In fact, if there’s a stiff wind and you really need to get where you’re going, you might want to lower your mass and cut through less wind.

But back to your first time out. Because I was skeptical about the touted simplicity of SUP, what I had heard of as “user friendly,” (yeah, right), I knew I had to try it before writing about it. So I did and will share the few bits I learned.

Begin, of course, with the right SUP and the correct length paddle. Don’t forget your pfd (personal floatation device), leash, water and sunscreen. (Refer to Active Vermont, July 3, 2016.)

If you start from the shore, simply push the board out a little way, lay the paddle across like an outrigger, put one knee on the board, then the other, and voila you’re afloat.

At this point the paddle is much too long to be effective, but will do something. As soon as you are ready, take your time, find a centered balance on the board, and straighten up. At first you might be tense, (I sure was) but allow yourself to move with the board and start to paddle.

Find a functional alignment: feet parallel, about hip-width apart, toes pointed forward, knees slightly bent tracking over the toes, back erect, and looking where you are going. “Much like bicycling, when your forward momentum increases, your stability increases as well.” (

With one hand over the end of the paddle and the other partway down the shaft, begin to make sweeping strokes close to the board. There is a way to refine a “J” stroke that will help keep you tracking forward, but you will need to switch sides regularly anyway. The longer you’re on the board, the more comfortable you will be. Try standing slightly fore or aft and see what effect that has on your paddling. Practice turning and using so many of the same techniques that you would use with a canoe. The wider your board, the more stable. Soon, however, unless the water is really disturbed, you should find yourself relaxing and enjoying the ride. And, oh yes, don’t forget that the strength of the paddle stroke comes from your core and not just arms and shoulders. With arms relatively straight, twist from your torso to execute the stroke. Paddle wrong and you’ll tire too quickly.

“The paddle in the water is your 3rd leg of stability,” Mike Strojny said. As assistant retail manager at Umiak Outfitters, he has seen many newcomers to SUP. “A couple hours and you should be good. Wrong equipment is a problem. When it comes to technique, a lesson helps accelerate the learning curve.”

Finally, wear a swim suit. If you fall, you want to fall into the water, not on the board. Just be cool and pretend you meant to take a dip.


Yoga on a stand up paddleboard is not new. In fact, Wikipedia refers to this as an “emerging sport,” and cites its acceptance within an “international community.”

The Huffington Post lists the following reasons to practice Yoga on a paddle board. Certainly, if your Yoga is getting stale, SUP makes it a uniquely different experience. Because of the unstable base, you need to refine your technique and, in the process, get a better workout. Once you accomplish your goals, there is a sense of empowerment; and, because it is “a touch scary,” your success is well-earned. Furthermore, it is noted that the practice can be calming with more attention paid to breathing. It’s fun and it’s beautiful.

A quick Google search will find SUP and Yoga alive and thriving in Vermont. In the Killington area SUP Yoga is in its fourth season. (www.killingtonYoga .com). At Waterbury Reservoir both Grateful Yoga and Siren SUP with Merin Perretta and Anjali Budreski offer multiple classes each week into September. (


Merin Peretta, SUP yoga.

Merin Perretta, SUP yoga. Photo courtesy of Merin Perretta.

Merin Perretta brings to her teaching a rich and varied background with personal, physical and intellectual depth. “I took my first Yoga class at the age of 15 or 16 with my sister at a Community Center in Newton, Ma,” Perretta said. “There was a lot of meditation and I liked it.”

Perretta has always been fitness-based and athletic. Her Yoga experience “planted the seed. It took a long time to germinate and set down roots.” First there was a move to the Northeast Kingdom where she found a little studio that “drew me in,” she said. As her Yoga learning and practice continued, Perretta went on to enhance her bachelors degree in medical sociology with a masters degree in counseling. Today in Montpelier Perretta pursues mind-body integration through her work as a certified personal trainer and Yoga instructor.

When Perretta and Budreski met, “we totally hit it off,” Perretta said. Both teach at Yoga Mountain in Monteplier. “I’ve learned so much,” Perretta said. “I’ve found my Yoga platform at Yoga Mountain.” Perretta and Budreski both love SUP and both love Yoga . “We’ve got to bring this to people,” they said. Siren SUP was born of their shared enthusiasm. The two became business partners planning their SUP classes as well as a trip to Costa Rica in March 2017 to a surf and paddleboard destination where they hope to work with women of all ages, engaging all the element of youth, coming of age, and maturity. It will be about sister groups, partnering, Yoga and, of course, SUP. (For more information visit

My own experience with Yoga on a paddleboard happened a few weeks ago on a beautiful, though breezy, sunny day on Curtis Pond in central Vermont under the guidance of Merin Perretta. I had never, ever, been on or near a paddleboard. Perretta was unfazed. I do, however, practice Yoga and, though relatively new, am also relatively comfortable with some of the asanas.

What are asanas? Though strictly speaking asana may refer to a seated stillness, asanas in Yoga are often referenced as postures, or the physical actions of Yoga . Though Yoga is indeed about far more than exercise, it is often the place where most of us begin.

So to begin at the beginning, I managed to stand up and paddle and reach the point where I might try a few simple asanas. Working from a tabletop postion, on all fours, was easy and a real start in adapting to the movement of the board on water.

Transitioning into downward facing dog, basically a pike position with hands and feet on the board, added something new. As I looked back past the end of the paddleboard (for all purposes upside down) the play of the water against the board did weird things to my eyes and balance. Looking the other way in camel pose was another story. As I looked up at a cloudless sky the world seemed still; so much easier.

Trying a few poses lifting one leg, twisting, stretching or moving from plank to the board were all done with a sense of exploration. Strangely aligning from bow to stern on the board was do-able (warrior I or pyramid pose) but aligning with the long side (warrior 2 or triangle poses) was far more challenging. Just as I was feeling pretty good in dolphin pose with one leg in the air (sort of half standing on my head) I looked to see Perretta in a full head stand. Oh well. The sky’s the limit I guess.

The bottom line is that if I can do this, anyone can. Each class,similar to my experience, is taught with respect for what each individual brings to the board. No previous SUP or Yoga experience is needed.


SUP yoga class taught by Merin Peretta.

SUP yoga class taught by Merin Perretta. Literally Asana on the Water.  photo supplied by M.Perretta.

Perretta, who practices her Yoga with precision focusing on alignment and fitness, also brings to her work a deep sense of the mental, emotional and spiritual. “Yoga is 1% theory and 99% practice,” she quoted.

And then there’s the fun part. Speaking of SUP Yoga she said, “If you’ve even a glimmer of curiosity, try it. Encounter it, look it in the eye, and do it.”

But perhaps more importantly the experience deepens a Yoga practice and expands it to include more than navigating the poses on water.

The unstable surface challenges core strength and balance, yes, and there is a playfulness about the process. But there is also a connection with your immediate yet vast environment; with water, sky and air.

The board becomes your mat, the space in which you engage. It becomes your partner and your teacher. You learn to release, to float. You may sit, kneel, stand or lie on your board, your Yoga mat in action. You feel buoyancy and relate physically to the movement of the water, to tides, to flow.

Your perspective is organic. When you seek your drishti, your focal point, you may need to look inward.

When you finish your practice, you lie supine on your board, eyes closed, and give yourself to the water’s surface, be it active or still. You feel and sense rather than see and do. Your board gives you feedback from your practice. You learn which muscles worked and which joints opened. You feel your spine, hips, skull, heels, elbows and hands against a stiff but moving surface. It makes you think about where you’ve been and where you are going, and then perhaps relieves you of thought. Flow is a word often united with Yoga . On the water, flow is quite literal.

For me, my take home was a very real example of what in Yoga is called Sthira and Sukha, steadiness and ease. Uniting these two qualities that could be perceived as opposites, is profound. Finding a balance between effort and ease significantly impacts sports performance as well as daily living. Striving for strength, energy and capability; then softening with ease, release and freedom, just might be what it’s all about.

Wha’SUP? The growing sport of stand up paddling!


Stand Up Paddleboard, or Stand Up Paddling, or simply SUP, may be here to stay. Skeptics dubbed the sport another passing fad, but that was sometime around 2001 or 2002. Here we are, more than a decade later, and we see boards strapped to car roofs, beached on shorelines, and, of course, on the water.

Here in Vermont, most SUP paddling is done on flat water, though Lake Champlain, power boats and even a windy day can give the paddler rock and roll. In other areas, SUP is more closely connected to its surfing roots from places such as Hawaii and with names such as Laird Hamilton.

Standing up to paddle can be traced back for centuries. Old paintings and a multitude of anecdotes suggest SUP possibly dates back far more than the early 20th century. Of course it’s probable that Native Americans stood in their canoes to paddle up river, but the claim that in Peru as long ago as 3,000 BC, and possibly even Pharoah’s daughter, the one who found baby Moses in the rushes, was standing up to paddle, necessitates unsubstantiated acceptance. (To read an intriguing and short history of SUP go to

Assuming you find the sport of SUP interesting and would like to give it a go, there are many ways in which to do so. By all means, rent a SUP or borrow a friend’s, and get on the water before you decide to purchase. However, remember that when you do, you may not be on the board that is most appropriate for you. It’s a good way to taste but not to digest. And, to be sure, a SUP lesson is a great way to begin.

SUP - a family adventure photo by L. Freeman

SUP – a family adventure
photo by L. Freeman

Once hooked, you will want your own board, paddle, leash and pfd. (Note that a Type 3 USCG approved personal floatation device is mandated by law. If you are over 12 years old, you do not need to be wearing, but must have one easily accessible on the deck. Twelve and under must be wearing.)


How do you choose your board? The best answer is to visit a water sports store where an informed associate can give you good advice, not just sell you a board. Finding the right board is not rocket science, but it really does matter and must meet your individual needs, fitness level, body type and budget. Buy the right board the first time and your purchase will be cost effective in the long run.

For more information I visited Umiak Outdoor Outfitters on South Main Street, Stowe ( where Mike Strojny, assistant retail manager, spent unhurried time answering my many questions. Here’s what I learned.

What do you want to do with SUP? Is it for fun and fitness or touring or maybe even racing?

There are basically two types of hulls from which to choose: planing and displacement. A planing hull is flat and wide like a surfboard, costs a little less money to build and therefore a little less money to buy, and “is the board that most recreational customers come into the store looking for,” Strojny said.

“We think most people should buy a displacement board because Vermont lakes and ponds are flatwater.” And why is that? A displacement hull is straighter and faster. The front and back (bow and stern) are slightly pointed allowing the board to be moved forward with less effort. A displacement board is a good choice for the recreational paddler who wants the option to spend his or her hours and effort touring. Displacement boards are far more stable than one might think and versatile in their use be it fitness, cruising or even yoga.

SUPs are built from the inside out, whereas a kayak or canoe is built from the outside in. Foam inside is wrapped in a fiberglass sock. While there are many kinds of boards, and some are extremely attractive, Strojny suggestions caution. “They’re like a nice sports car; it’s what’s under the hood that counts.” The variables are the materials (a plastic board will weight 45-50 pounds while its carbon fiber equivalent only 20 pounds or less), board length, width, thickness and volume. A textured mat or surface on the top of the board provides stable footing.

Put in simplest terms, the bigger the person, the longer the board needed. Also to be taken into consideration is where you will paddle, the size of your car roof, where you will store the board when not in use (an inflatable SUP folds up into a wheeled suitcase), and perhaps how far you will need to walk to the beach. Width affects stability. A board 31-36” wide will be more stable; one 29 or 30” will be faster. Volume is a mathematical equation of length x width x thickness. The answer suggests the board’s ability to float with a certain amount of weight on it. All boards have a fin to help tracking. Paddling skill aids in keeping that straight line while wind factors present problems of their own. Roughly speaking a smaller person, woman or child, might shop for a 10-11’6” board while a larger or taller person might move up to a 12’6” board. Athletic ability and fitness definitely play a role as well.

What else do you need? In addition to your SUP and PFD, you need a paddle leash. “Four people drowned a few weekends ago,” Strojny said. “Not around here. Lake Tahoe and elsewhere. They didn’t have a PFD and they didn’t have a leash.” Strojny went on to explain that a SUP can also function as a large floatation device. It’s unlikely that you will hit your head when you pitch off of one. You are, after all, standing. Most likely you will land in the water and, with your board attached by a leash, can reel it in and clamber back on, or at least hold yourself up until help arrives. Wearing a PFD (there are some that can be worn unobtrusively around the waist), is, of course, the ultimate safe way to paddle.

Finally you need a paddle. Yes, you use only one and it is very long. A quick measure is to stand on land with the blade tip next to your feet. With one arm extended straight up towards the sky, the end of the handle should be at your hand. On the board in the water, you will hold the top end with one hand and partway down the shaft with the other. Some paddles are adjustable, others are custom. Less expensive paddles are heavier and can cause stress to joints, fatigue and just maybe take away from the joy of paddling. Small, narrow blades and light, stiff paddles made of fiberglass or carbon fiber allow for more dynamic paddling, a faster cadence if desired, and a less tiring experience that can make racing, yes, but even touring more enjoyable. Sometimes it takes surprisingly little effort to move forward, but equally significant is the core workout you will get.

Oh, and one more thing. You will need a roof rack on your car, usually the bars already there will do. Hoisting the board to the roof is as easy as your board is light. Simple straps usually get the job done.


Burlington SUP Festival 2016, photo by L. Freeman

Burlington SUP Festival 2016, photo by L. Freeman

I met Roxanne Scully at the 2nd Annual Burlington Paddleboarding and Windsurfing Festival, June 25, 2016, on one of those perfect Vermont days: sunny, breezy, lots of people eager to participate, vendors happy to answer questions and hopefully make a sale, kids, dogs, and boats and more boats. Festive indeed.

Roxanne and her husband, Russ, began with The Spot, a “surf style restaurant” near the Burlington waterfront. Along came a new sport, paddleboarding. “My husband and I started this whole venture,” Roxanne said. “There was an article in the NY Times about Russ. After that he became the go-to person for paddle board.” The Scullys mixed business and pleasure. Russ became a rep for Starboard paddleboards and soon the couple started selling out of their restaurant. It was not long before they opened WND&WVS (say it quickly and you’ll get wind and waves, of course), a SUP, windsurf and other types of water sports store. ( ). When asked about the popularity of SUPs, Roxanne said: “I think it’s just the beginning. There are so many different ways to use it from enjoying the sunset with your family or dog to racing. There’s a large spectrum of what you can do.”

Though the festival was for SUP and windsurfing, I saw only SUPs. And I saw many. Juxtaposed against the backdrop of sailboats and cruisers, boats of mixed size and use, some moored and some in action, were dozens of people of all ages on a huge variety of boards. Some were adept, some a bit anxious. Some boards were slim, some were large enough for a family, some short, some long, some hard and some inflatables.

I noticed a woman wearing a dress, but holding a paddle. When I asked her if she was having a good time she told me that she was down to three boards. She had tried the inflatable and was surprised by how hard it was, not rubbery at all. But she did find it a bit “bouncy” on the water. She then tried one that was more sleek and a better performer. Finally she tried one somewhere in the middle, a board that was stiff on the bottom but had a soft covering on top. She was still uncertain. But one thing was for sure, she was going to buy one of these boards and SUP on Lake Champlain.

As noted above, paddles are important. But let me introduce you to Steve Berson of Oblio Paddles. ( When Berson first explored the world of SUP he loved standing on the board, but was uncomfortable with the concept of a single paddle with a single blade that had to be switched from side to side and sometimes caused balance and/or tracking problems by its very nature. Why not design a long paddle with a blade on each end with a rotating grip that would serve as an aid to balance (much like the tightrope walker and his pole) and would provide rhythm and symmetry to smooth the rough edges of an otherwise seamless sport? So he did. The process began in March 2014 in Morrisville. The first year was spent in development and prototyping. Today there are different models available ranging in price from $229-$429 and made of fiberglass, a composite, or top of the line carbon fiber.

Even this Welsh Corgi enjoys SUP on the Lake. photo by L. Freeman

Even this Welsh Corgi enjoys SUP on the Lake. photo by L. Freeman

Over the years we’ve learned that stand up paddleboarding is not limited to the big surf of Hawaii or southern California; or, in the State of Vermont, to larger lakes like Champlain or Bomoseen; or even Vermont’s smaller lakes and ponds, surrounded by summer camps and home to both motorized and non-motorized water craft. In fact, one may not really know just how much this sport may grow. SUP is one new kid on the block who may have moved in to stay. Perhaps this IS just the beginning. Perhaps in years to come we will see many variations on the SUP theme.

This story first appeared in the Rutland Herald & Times Argus Sunday newspaper,     7-3-2016 written by Linda Freeman, Field Editor and Contributor to Active Vermont.

John Spinney – Triathlete and Coach



John Spinney wears two hats; both are professional and both represent life-long passions.

John Spinney at 2015 Ironman Mont Tremblant Ironman Hawaii Qualifier

John Spinney at 2015 Ironman Mont Tremblant Ironman Hawaii Qualifier

The first, some might say, is his real job. As post-secondary transition coordinator at the Vermont Agency of Education, Spinney works in the field of special education, helping students transition from high school to college to career, forming partnerships between schools and business.

His other hat might be better identified as a baseball cap or cycling helmet. A competitive triathlete, Spinney has made his own transition, from podium to coach.

Spinney, who lives in Waterbury with his wife, Lindsay Simpson, grew up in Guilford, Vermont, in a closely knit family who lived and worked professionally and compassionately with individuals with special needs. Spinney’s present was clearly informed by his past. His parents modeled lives based on education, embracing disabilities. Furthermore, he spent his childhood with four siblings; two of whom were special-needs adoptions with Down syndrome.

Add to that a varied and competitive enthusiasm for athletic activity, and it is easy to see how Spinney became who he is today. After a lifetime of running, riding, swimming and skiing, he may have found his calling as a coach whose vast competitive experience fuels his ability to connect with athletes of all levels and at one of many stages of their athletic growth and performance.

BACKSTORY  In 1993, Spinney graduated from Brattleboro High School, where he had run cross- country and bike raced. Tim Chock and Barbara Walsh, then and now owners of the Brattleboro Bicycle Shop, “taught me everything I know,” Spinney said. It is under the wings of this small, local bike shop that Spinney first experienced team racing of a surprisingly good quality — public-school kids in a prep-school league.

There was a Time Trial series out of West Hill Shop in Putney, a program for aspiring youths from the New England Cycling Association, and maybe 50-65 bike races a year for the 16-year-old Spinney. He began to burn out.

Interestingly, while in high school, “alpine ski racing was actually my first sport,” Spinney said. But there also lurked the “inner ski bum,” he said. During his years at Johnson State College, Spinney ran cross-country, bike raced, coached Mitey Mites at Smugglers’ Notch, and finally found his way onto mogul fields.

With teaching license in hand, Spinney headed to Waterville Valley Academy, where he did what so many young ski academy instructors do, combining several jobs in one as house parent, classroom English teacher and mogul instructor, integrating dryland training in the academy’s program.

TRIATHLON  Today Spinney is identified as a triathlete, but it took awhile for him to realize the personal impact of the sport. “I did my first triathlon at 14,” he said. “I was mostly a bike racer but dabbled in triathlon.”

A ski injury in his senior year at college kept him off the hill, but nudged him in another direction. “It took a couple years,” he said. “My back was killing me.” “You know what?” he said to himself, “I’ll just do a bunch of triathalons; riding isn’t that long.”

And then fate stepped in. The Vermont Sun Triathlon series has been in existence for over three decades. On July 22, 2000, Spinney entered and subsequently won a Vermont Sun sprint triathlon. More importantly, at that event he met Lindsay Simpson. Spinney unabashedly states “It was love at first sight.”

Their story is one of connection: personal, professional, athletic, and certainly a mutual commitment to values and ideals.

Though they went their separate ways for awhile, daily communication and a good bit of creativity eventually brought them together again where Lindsay taught and served as house-parent at the Lowell Whiteman School, now Steamboat Mountain School, in Colorado. They never looked back. In 2001, the couple drove to Burlington and in 2006 were married.

John Spinney and Lindsay Simpson, PIneland Farms trail festival 2014. In 2016 Simpson returned to Pineland Farms to win the Women's 50 Mile Race.

John Spinney and Lindsay Simpson, PIneland Farms trail festival 2014. In 2016 Simpson returned to Pineland Farms to win the Women’s 50 Mile Race.

Conventional wisdom might suggest that it is unwise for life partners to coach or be coached by the other, but in the case of John and Lindsay, it works. “Lindsay never loved swimming and cycling,” Spinney said, “but she loves to run.” Over the years he has coached his wife to become a highly successful ultra-distance runner, qualifying this year for Leadville, the ultra race that separates and distinguishes them all. Lindsay, in turn, acts as John’s support crew, whether in Hawaii for the Ironman Championships or in his day-to-day efforts. They live, work and train as a team.

“I love what I do,” he said. When speaking of his work, “These are two jobs I am passionate about.” When speaking of his life, it is his marriage that brings a smile to his face. QT2 systems coach

For Spinney, in 2008 it all came together — competition, athletics and education — when Jesse Kropelnicki, founder and managing director of QT2 Systems, coached him through a pivotal year of Iron Man training.

For Spinney, teaching and competition morphed into coaching, drawing on personal experience in practice, performance and recognizing the need to understand how people learn. Under the umbrella of QT2 Systems training are five cornerstones. Preparation (training and nutrition/rest) combines with execution (race-fueling and pacing) and the fifth cornerstone, mental fitness, to produce the race outcome.

QT2 logic refers to the model that helps build programs across lines dividing endurance sports, makes the principles applicable to multiple sports, and with appropriate adaptations to multiple athletes with varying skills and body types.

QT2 training involves the whole picture. Which energy system is needed for a key race? What is the current fitness level of each athlete, his or her strengths and weaknesses? How should one explore conditioning, diet, recovery and the all- important mental component? What is the athlete’s limiter, and how does that inform training and ultimately results? “If your coach can’t tell you why you are doing a particular workout, then get a new coach.” (Jesse Kropelnicki, It must all make sense; and it must work.

Spinney is serious about what he does. He is a numbers guy. His work is structured, not restrictive. He stresses the need for balance. He will alternate a hard year of intense competition with a year that is perhaps equally demanding, but more for fun.

When coaching, Spinney looks for the 1 percent rule: “Where are all the little 1 percent things you can improve as an athlete? Look for the little dials. That’s my job,” he said.

The bottom line is endurance. “It’s all about long-term success,” he said. “Mobility, body work, nutrition, maintaining muscle mass,” all are critical. But perhaps the most critical of all is one’s Daily Performance Environment.

Active Vermont: Spinney on Daily Performance Environment

This is the glue that keeps the athlete together — and leads to the ultimate fitness developing tool: Consistency. You get injured or sick or burnt out and you lose consistency and lose fitness.

Key items for the DPE:

Daily bodywork. (self-myofascial release work followed by targeted stretching, 3-5 minutes twice a day) I have all my athletes think of this in the same way as brushing your teeth a.m. and p.m. The goal is mobility and limit soft-tissue adhesions which often lead to inflammation in joints which can lead to injuries.

Stay mobile, stay healthy, stay consistent. The other thing I always say to my athletes is: Bodywork should be commensurate with training load. If you’re training really heavily, then the amount of time given to bodywork should be increased; while less bodywork is needed when training load is light. There should be a quick and easy way for the athlete to do this. Items should be kept in one place for easy and time-efficient access. At minimum, I recommend firm-foam roller (bonus points for spiky-foam roller), softball (an actual softball), and a golf ball or Foot Rubz ball.

A mutual acceptance among the parties in your household of overall fitness goals and also a successful balancing of the spousal-approval units (SAUs). This is a big one and arguably the most difficult one to achieve, but it is a cornerstone of any highly successful athlete. There is an agreement and a balance in the household around the commitment needed to perform. The athlete also is committed to keeping the SAU bank full and knows when to fill it. It is all a balancing act. Diet and meals, daily logistics, dividing up of chores, supporting each other, and being in a true partnership. I am in no way an expert at this, but constantly trying to get better and be a better partner.

An acceptance of the type of diet the athlete needs to be successful. In our household we use the “The Core Diet” ( This is essentially a diet based on specific timing of macronutrients and micronutrients. We use “core” windows of time and “noncore” windows. Core windows are when we are not training — we eat only core foods: lean meats, veggies, nuts, seeds and lowfat dairy — no processed sugars of any kind; all nutrient-dense foods that promote overall health and recovery from workouts. Then before, during and after workouts are “noncore” windows. In the noncore windows we eat fuels designed for performance like sports drinks, gels, powerbars, recovery drinks, etc. The whole diet is very dynamic and depends on where you are in terms of the timing of your workouts.

Maintenance of gear and fuels. Keeping your bike in top-performing order, making sure to replace run shoes when they are getting broken down (stay healthy), making sure you have fuel for your workouts. No bonking allowed (it is super catabolic and hurts immune system — stay healthy).

Healthy supplement routine aimed at robust health. A good multivitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D. (For supplements, I recommend Klean Athlete — all of their supplements are third-party tested by NSF and free of any banned substances). Visit:

Prehab routine. This is a specific strength routine aimed at areas of sport-specific weakness. Usually twice a week.

Other notes. I currently coach 14 athletes ranging from Pro triathletes to age-group triathletes, one elite masters marathoner, and three Ultra runners. I am self-coached, which is pretty cool. I can modify workouts and customize on the fly, based on my recovery status.

Sleep. Sleep is easily the most potent recovery tool available to athletes. Aim for eight hours a night consistently. (Maybe sneaking in a nap here or there.) Many people struggle with this one due to the logistics of their life with kids, intense job, etc.

If there are any ways for the family to work on this together, the dividends can be huge, with better overall health and recovery, thus improving their athletic performance. You can track your sleep with a great app called “sleep cycle” in the App Store. I’ve used it for years and swear by it.

John Spinney is a competitive triathlete and training services specialist, QT2 Level 3 coach, USAT Level 1 coach. He can be reached by email john@qt2systems.comIMG_4323

All of the above appeared June 12, 2016 on the ACTIVE VERMONT page, Linda Freeman, Field Editor, Rutland Herald & Times Argus Sunday paper.

Wearables v. Unplugged



Unplugged  Jeb Wallace-Brodeur;  Winter hikers from Vermont unplugged as they descend from the summit of Mount Flume in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Unplugged Jeb Wallace-Brodeur; Winter hikers from Vermont unplugged as they descend from the summit of Mount Flume in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Time to deliver the mail, to deliver you on target in this new year and make the most of your time. Before we do that let’s take one step back and ask a key question. Could you go one day a week unplugged? That means not plugged into a device of any sort, but plugged into the moment, plugged into reality, instead of virtual reality. If the answer is no, you could not go a day without your device, maybe that is your new year’s resolution. To plug back into you and those around you!

If the answer is no, then let’s figure out why. Or, as this is a fitness article, let’s figure out if your devices are serving you or are you serving them? We know from brain imaging that a ping, ring or vibration for most people activates a dopamine squirt in the brain. Simply put, dopamine is a chemical created in your brain that is generally released and is associated with a reward response. However, too much “reward”, like too much of any good thing, can quickly become not a good thing. That is why we’re now seeing more and more digital addiction as devices surround us every day. Hence, the pressing need to unplug on a regular basis.

But let’s go back to the first sentence. Mail delivery; how does that relate to what the fitness world and to what marketers are calling wearables? Before wearables, we relied on training by feeling, or what exercise physiologists called RPE, rate of perceived exertion. There are a variety of RPE scales, 1-10 and 6-20 tend to be the most common scales used. The scales correlate on the lower ends with exercising easily, and as the scale progresses, exercise increases from moderate to hard at the top end of an RPE scale. Training by feeling is like delivering the mail to the right street. It generally gets you close to the destination of exercise that is on target.

One of the first wearables, in a consumer sense, is now known as the ubiquitous heart rate monitor (HRM). A heart rate monitor simply does that, measure your response to exercise, which is generally associated with an increase in heart rate as exercises becomes more difficult. Training by heart rate will show several patterns over time, but I would argue that training by heart rate is like delivering the mail to the right block on a street. It gets you close to the intended address, but not to the exact house all the time. The house you’re trying to deliver your mail to is the house that has the right intensity of exercise at the right time. The danger with heart rate training is generally most people just play the high heart rate Olympics, seeing how high they can get their heart rate up each workout. This isn’t a system that will support sustainable fitness. Rather it is a system that will ensure that the mail will get farther and farther away from the intended address as time goes on, farther from becoming a fit, happy and healthy person.

Perception and heart rate are fickle responses to a variety of stressors. They are affected by many variables. The key ones are generally sleep, nutrition, stress, hormonal variation and hydration. Often those five are interconnected. Each (and other “stressors”, including positive stressors) has an impact on perception and on heart rate. For example, if you haven’t slept enough or ate a big meal the night before exercise you might feel sluggish the next day. That means, what was an easy workout yesterday might feel hard the next day and your heart rate might be higher or lower than usual. Again, your fitness mail won’t be delivered to the right address and you won’t be making the most of your time.

That is where wearables and measurement come into play. Many of you likely received Fitbits, Garmins, Misfits or Jawbones (or one from a host of other companies), power meters or another type of GPS devices or apps over the holidays. Or you’ve already been using one or many of them. The real question is, are you using them or are they using you? Do you know what that data overload means and why you’re doing what you’re doing?

The key functions of devices like Fitbits (the most common wrist wearable) are to measure steps, purported calories (which in most cases when compared to lab results are highly inaccurate), heart rate, and sleep. There is other data you can mine from these devices, but those are likely the key metrics. A power meter (usually associated with cycling or rowing) measures watts – just like the power a light bulb uses. A power meter measures the power one produces while exercising. Finally, a GPS usually is used for outdoor exercise and measures pace per mile. In the very near future we will be potentially wearing oxygen measuring devices and accelerometers are already being used in the commercial marketplace to measure speed of movements.

Whatever device you’re using, the key becomes the use of the information to create positive change. If you’re not using the information (inferring meaning) and tracking progress then you’re likely using the wearable as a toy, a digital distraction that is eliciting a digital dopamine response. Some are calling this digital cocaine.

However, if you are using a wearable to create a better sleep pattern for example, or to increase your pace per mile, set steps goals every week, or increase your wattage output with the same or lower heart rate, then you are on the right path. If you are doing these things (or other strategically tracked and utilized metric), using the data to create change, then you are delivering your fitness mail to the right address every time you use your wearable or device. You are using a feedback loop called assessment (data) to inform instruction to create change. That change will be a newer, stronger, fitter, and faster you in the year ahead. And a smarter you by unplugging from your devices once a week and plugging into your life. Wishing you miles of safe smiles in 2016 and a fitness quest that is dialed in. 

Joey Adams, M.S. Exercise Science, Intelligent Fitness, Metabolic Specialist, VO2 assessments and performance analysis.

WHAT ARE WEARABLES?  Fitness gadgets flood the market. Becoming more and more easily accessible, these gadgets run the gamut from Fitbits to power meters measuring everything from calories burned to oxygen processed.

You see them on your coworkers’ wrists. You wear them in your Spinning® class, on your cross country ski, even in the pool. You sleep in them at night to determine your resting heart rate and you check in with them to see how you’re feeling.

What we call wearables is high level technology that may even surpass that of computers and smart phones. Narrowing the topic to fitness, wearable tracking devices do just that, and more.

Of course there’s the element of GPS that can find your location, plot a course or record your travel. Fitness tracking devices can also give you immediate access to pace, speed, distance, time, altitude, heart rate, watts, calories and oh so much more.

Furthermore, this data can be uploaded to a computer program used to record and store workouts or compare with previous training sessions, assessment and sharing with others such as a coach or training partners or competitors.

Wearables, as opposed to hand-held or equipment mounted, come in a staggering variety of styles and models. The technology in each is similarly efficient and reliable. The difference is primarily one of individual needs and preferences.

For example, are you a runner, cyclist or swimmer? Do you want to record your effort during weight lifting of your heart rate in the pool? Do you want to know where you’ve been when snowshoe touring or where you need to go to find the next shelter on the Long Trail? Do you want alarms to notify you if you are leaving a training zone or reminders to get up out of your chair and move a bit? Are you fine-tuning your competitive performance or simply wanting the motivation to lead a more active daily life while you check to see how much you are sleeping? You could, after all, just be looking for a fitness watch as some new bling.

Yet wearables have stepped far outside the restrictions of watch design. Leading wearables include Jawbone, Garmin, Fitbit, Microsoft Band, Moov Now, Misfit and Polar. Wearables are found on wristbands, clip-ons, glasses, shoes, helmets and even socks that tell you when to buy new ones or headbands that interpret dreams.

For years runners have worn chips to clock their race time and other micro chips have been implanted in pets for identification.

Those uses are tame compared with some of the more weird devices such as Ping garments that allow social networking on Facebook, digital tattoos, pet pac collars that transmit bio data directly to the family veterinarian, and a tweeting bra that, yes, allows the wearer to use Twitter. (And we thought amazing the early tracking devices worn by seniors who tend to get lost.)

Mind you, I do not condemn the use of wearables. I confess that I am an athlete heavily reliant upon my heart rate monitor and power meter. Both have helped me train more effectively and given me confidence to push to the next level. Perspective, however, is an important tool in our training toolbox. Balance is, as always, imperative.                                 Linda Freeman

These articles first appeared on the Active Vermont page of the Rutland Herald & Times Argus on January 29, 2016.


Motivation is one of those words so broadly defined as to be almost useless. It is useless, that is, unless you find a definition that works for you.

Let’s consider a few of the synonyms of motivation found in the reliable world of the Thesaurus: catalyst, desire, encouragement, impetus, incentive, reason, wish.

Okay, motivation is what gets you started. We get that. It is the catalyst, the impetus, the incentive that begins feebly with a wish and more positively with desire and reason. Furthermore it is supported by encouragement.

Delving more deeply, we find that motivation is about action, drive and hunger. Now we’re talking. Motivation leads to passion and passion is what fuels our spirits as well as our actions. Of course, this is the piece of the motivation pie in which it is possible to overindulge.

Motivation is also referred to as get-up-and-go or the right-stuff.

Goodness knows we do not want to venture into the dark side of the word, the antonyms. Hatred, discouragement, depression and above all dullness are not where we want to live our days.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” 

Jim Ryun won a silver medal in the 1968 summer Olympics in track and field. Did you know that? Possibly not. However, you may well have read the above, one of his often quoted and pithy sayings. It’s quite true. Try it.

Find motivation and then seek ways to stay motivated until what you have begun, putting one foot in front of another, like it or not, becomes habit; and habit becomes what you like, and putting one foot in front of another becomes what you really want and choose to do.

Consider the word encouragement. It works both ways. You and I can encourage each other to be or do something, but we must be equally open to receive encouragement if it is to be useful. Encouragement offers support, helps to build confidence and bolsters an attitude of hope. Encouragement is far more than rah-rah cheering. On one hand, it is kind, while on the other promotes boldness and audacity. When we offer encouragement to another, we do so because we believe in him or her, we have faith that another individual is capable, strong, resilient and worthy. Again this works both ways in giving and receiving, offering and accepting.


By now we have settled into a new year. 2016 is official. The sprint to the finish of the old year is a thing of the past. We’ve had time to reboot and are now running smoothly into the winter months. Seasonal events, snow sports, winter carnivals, taxes and an onslaught of ads for spring and summer clothing and gear blur visions of the immediate future.

Whatever momentum was built or destroyed in the previous month must be reset as well. It is time to consider personal progress towards health and fitness. It is here that the concept of DAILY is significant.

Fitness is not something acquired by going to a class, maneuvering through a weight circuit, or hitting the treadmill once a week. Fitness is cumulative. It is something that needs to be addressed daily. By doing so, bit-by-bit you will enjoy progress and reap the rewards.

If you are a competitive athlete or already engaged in strenuous physical training, you know that you need to balance your hard days with easy days. You know that intensity must vary and you know that there are multiple elements to fitness.

For those seeking health, increased strength and well being as part of their everyday lives, exercise is a key component, but does not need to be overwhelming.

What is needed, however, is to exercise DAILY. Some days your workout, or training session, will be short and some days long. Some sessions will be intense and others easy. Sometimes you will emphasize flexibility or balance or endurance while at other times you will simply walk the dog or stroll with friends. What is important is to make the HABIT of exercise a DAILY habit. Soon you will look forward to your time even if you cannot imagine doing so right now.

Let me share some examples with you.

I am new to the practice of yoga. I have learned that to practice yoga at home, preferably at the start of the day, is a good habit to acquire. Since my days are full of professional training, I dismissed this concept, until recently. I have learned that as little as 20 minutes spent with my notes and yoga mat transform my day.

Four days a week I work with a group at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont. Our 45-minute, lunchtime sessions are a testament of what small group personal training can do in the corporate setting. Some dedicated employees are able to attend all four sessions per week and others do so as work permits. Over the years the energy, enthusiasm, education and training has reached a high level. What’s more, in addition to increased strength, fitness, flexibility and balance, these athletes (and, yes, each and everyone has become an athlete) have gained the confidence to try new things and have much fun while doing so.

While many find it best to address their exercise needs in the morning before the day begins, others find the evening the time most do-able. There is no right or wrong. There is no one form of exercise, one piece of equipment or one sport that is better than another. The bottom line is always that the training that you will do is the training that is best.

Above, I alluded to education. For most individuals, exercise science is interesting, enjoyable, and provides a sense of purpose to one’s efforts. While it is not necessary to be able to recite the names of all the muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves in the human body, it is very helpful to understand the muscular-skeletal system and how it works.

It is easier to strength train, for example, in a balanced manner when you know that the biceps are the opposing muscle group to the triceps; that when you work the quadriceps, you should also train the hamstrings, when you stretch the shins you should also stretch the calf muscles, and so on.

Learning more about your cardiovascular system and aerobic exercise helps you to understand the value of active exercise and to assess intensity to appropriately enhance the strength of the most important muscle in your body, your heart.

Now I refer you back to the word DAILY. I hope you will consider taking the challenge and making exercise a deliberate and purposeful part of each day of your life. Of course you must do so in a way that accommodates family and work, a way that provides for sickness, injury, weather conditions and all the other obstacles to a smoothly executed daily plan.

I invite you to record your efforts in whatever way you choose. Perhaps what will support your plans is to join a class, buddy up with a friend or work with a fitness professional. Perhaps you have the time to explore the internet or browse through one of the many exercise books on the market. Hopefully you will take advantage of the many steps you can add to your day by choosing options to the elevator, remote, auto and chair.

Admittedly it takes a bit of gumption to get outdoors when the temperature is chilly and the air damp, but go ahead. Bundle up. Give a companion a nudge. Open the door and walk out. See what happens.

Energy creates energy. Rather than fatiguing, moving muscles stimulates more action. Activity promotes positive effects to body and mind. It’s a wonderful give and take, an excellent continuum.

Does it all go back to the hypothesis of motivation? Recently I read that one of the top ten resolutions for cyclists (also applying to athletes of any sport) is to be sure that each ride, each training session, has a purpose, structure. Don’t just exercise to get it over with. Think about why you are training and prepare to reach the eventuality you desire. No more junk miles.

On the cover of a magazine that arrived in my mailbox yesterday is the title of an article, “Harness the Power of Intention” steps to make lasting change. These steps have universal application and appeal. It all begins with finding out what you want. Learn more about what you need to do to achieve your goal; become an informed participant. Commit to your goals, your dreams and persevere. Be diligent and disciplined enough to give yourself the opportunity to achieve. Finally look ahead and envision yourself as you wish to be. (Yoga Journal, February 2016, Make this your year, by Elizabeth Marglin.)



Yes, intention, motivation, a new year. They are gifts to be used. May we all do so and do so daily.

Maintain Fitness and Weight during the Off Season

Holidays 2015

Holidays 2015

STAY ON WHEN YOU’RE OFF – Unfortunately most active people, at some time, are derailed by illness or injury. More painful than the condition is the fact that these folks, who love to be up and about and pursuing their sport or exercise, are forced to take a break. Sentencing an athlete to sedentary rest is not what anyone wants.

It happens; though with the enormous strides made in medicine, physical therapy and training, alternative exercise is more often available. But these are alternatives. Facing 4-6 weeks away from exercise routines or sports specific training is daunting. The challenge is to remain optimistic and logical when feeling overwhelmed. The trick is to maintain what is safe, fuel appropriately, snag some extra sleep and be positive.

What is referred to as the “off season” for sports or conditioning, is that period of time just following the final race or event of the season stretching all the way to the start of the equivalent of pre-season, usually 4-8 weeks. An injured athlete faces down time much the same as a competitive athlete in his or her off-season or a recreational athlete whose favorite sport is seasonal and done for the year. The smart individual will look at this mandated time off as a significant part of training. In fact, some suggest that it is the most important piece of the whole.

Off-season is not the time to reduce all conceivable levels of fitness to zero. Though an initial week of zoning out and doing not much of anything might be called for depending on the previous season’s stresses, the remainder of the time should be devoted to activity that first heals and then prepares the body for what is to come.

Off-season is an excellent time to assess one’s overall strength and flexibility. Are there any problem spots, any weaknesses, any imbalances? Correct these now and help prevent overuse injury later. As you resume exercise, pay particular attention to working opposing muscles groups and a balanced mix of moderate cardiovascular exercise.

Off-season means you DO have time to play. You want to maintain about 50-60% of your conditioning and active play will help you do so as you relax your mind and loosen your tight hold on discipline.

Off-season is a great time to take some classes, work with a personal trainer who understands your sports and conditioning needs, make friends with a Concept2 rowing machine, explore new areas on foot, snowshoes or skis, and buddy up with friends or family for active hours that will remind you why fitness is your personal choice.

A word about the holidays – Apply the same skills that you apply to your training. Pace yourself. Finish strong.

Holidays 2015

Holidays 2015

While you’re at it, remember to reach out to others. A helping hand offered to those running the race, so to speak, along with you means a boost to your own energy, capability and, yes, joy.


by Kimberly Evans, MS, RD

Many active people are challenged to figure out how to eat when training stops. And let’s face it at some point in time training does stop. There are many obstacles to training even under the best of circumstance. For one thing, seasons change. That is how things work in Vermont, and unless you are an athlete with a year round training program, sometimes this means a pause in training.

And then, even the best athletes get injured. So you see, for one reason or another despite best intentions sometimes training stops.

When a change in weather or an injury stops an athlete’s training program they often struggle to figure out how to eat in response. As a dietitian who works with a variety of athletes, I have seen things go one of two ways. Training stops but eating remains unchanged, or training stops and so does eating. The writing on the wall is pretty clear here; neither of these scenarios leads to good outcomes.

When training stops and eating remains unchanged this typically leaves behind a deconditioned athlete with unwanted pounds. This makes it difficult, emotionally and physically, to bounce back. And, on the flip side, when a change in training results in an overly drastic decrease in eating, this too leaves an athlete deconditioned, with little energy, and in less than prime shape to jump back into the game.

So, while it is true a decrease in activity means you need fewer calories, it may not be quite as few as you think. Many formulas used to calculate calorie expenditure during exercise, for example the standard 600 calories per hour, grossly overestimate calorie burn. As a result, this leaves many injured athletes needlessly cutting excess calories during down time.

This is one of the most common mistakes injured athletes make, not eating enough for fear of unwanted weight gain. An overly restricted diet can result in prolonging an injury by not giving your body what it needs to heal.

This means that when the ice melts or that injury heals you are more deconditioned than you expected to be because of muscle loss that comes with an excessive calorie deprivation.

Here is the word of caution to sidelined athletes, please be diligent in continuing to take in adequate calories, especially from nutrient dense foods. Some foods you will want to make sure to continue to include on your plate are sweet potatoes, kiwi, salmon, walnuts, eggs, and berries. Bottom line, athletes need to eat well when training, and when recovering.

Injury aside, when workouts become less demanding eating needs to be adjusted. Continuing to eat like you are training intensely, while your are actually at rest during the off season will only result in one thing, unwanted weight gain. But not so fast. Weight gain does not need to be an unwanted side effect of changes in a training plan if you plan correctly.

First of all assess the duration of your off time. If your training will be sidelined for a week or less, it is likely that no real changes need to be made to your eating. When it looks like things will be off track for a week or more a modest reduction of about 300 calories will likely keep things in check.

Secondly, now may be the time to reduce your carbohydrate intake slightly. It is true that most athletes can get away with, and need, more carbohydrates. During off season pull back a bit and create more space on your plate for protein rich foods such as tofu, chicken, eggs, salmon, Greek yogurt and high protein grains like quinoa. This will keep both your tummy and your body happy at the same time.

Another great strategy can be paying attention to the timing of your eating while in your down time. Keeping eating limited to nine to twelve hours of the day at three- to four-hour intervals, as opposed to the graze-all-day plan, has proven to have positive impacts on weight according to some recent research.

In addition to following this nutrition advice, regardless of why you are less active, this might be a great time to try something new. Weight training, yoga, and meditation all show great benefits for the active person.

Yes, injury, weather related hibernation, family commitments and holidays could be a little bit of a game changer for the active person. However, a sensible approach that is not too extreme will keep you on the right road to successfully getting back on track to being your awesome active self.


Kimberly Evans, MS, RD, co-owner Peak Physical Therapy Sports and Performance Center and Whole Health Nutrition, Williston. To contact Evans, go to

To view the newly published e-book, Breast Cancer Superfoods, coauthored by Evans, go to




Cross Training is the name of the Game.


Variety is more than the spice of life; it’s good for you. It happens to just about everyone. Exercise finally becomes a habit and you regularly go to the gym, walk or run your loop, take the same exercise class three times a week or make it through some sort of exercise plan at home before you drop into bed at night. You get the job done. You feel better afterwards (usually) and you can check off another day on your calendar. It’s routine.

Or you are hooked. You love your sport. You can’t get enough of it. You put thousands of miles on your bike outdoors and then come indoors to ride more intensely all winter. You run more and more outside and when the Vermont winter comes along, you run some more (if you must, on a treadmill). You’ve dropped your other exercise to focus on “your” sport, be it golf, tennis, swimming, basketball or whatever activity has appealed to you.

Outdoor sports have their indoor equivalent so that, heaven forbid, you should miss any training. You may have already marked races or events on your 2016 calendar and are stressing over how to continue your current level of fitness. Or you may be closing in on your winter snow season and eager to do nothing but ski or board or climb or whatever.

If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, congratulations. You have already reached a level of health and fitness that is admirable. You have made exercise or your sport an important piece of your life.

But let’s take this a step farther. In an age of specialization, it is important to keep breadth and depth in exercise and training. It is important to cross-train.

Simply put, cross-training is participating in more than one sport or training activity. Cross-training helps to prevent overuse injury, burnout and accommodation that diminishes performance. Playing a variety of sports or training in a variety of ways keeps the program fresh, bolsters lagging motivation and enhances skills, strength and performance while building confidence. Cross-training often means trying something new and moving beyond one’s comfort zone. Cross-training is better than good for you.

So much is about balance. Physical balance is both about centering and making certain that opposing muscle groups are strengthened similarly. Playing only one sport can cause imbalance in muscular strength or joint stability that often leads to injury.

A recent report on youth sports speaks to all ages.

“With the increased emphasis on competitive success, specialization in one sport and greater propensity for specialty sports camps, weight training programs or speed schools, risks are on the rise related to overuse injuries. Researchers for the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) found an excessive focus on early intensive training and competition rather than skill development can lead to overuse injuries and burnout in young athletes.” (Posted on September 8, 2015 by Train for the Game LI in Sports Performance No Comments)

Baseball, softball, tennis, volleyball and swimming are sports that can lead to overuse injury to the shoulders or elbows. (Similarly, excessive computer use can lead to carpel tunnel syndrome).

Using pitchers as an example, the report suggests that a player “Rotate playing other positions besides pitcher, avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons, not pitch with any elbow or shoulder pain and never use a radar gun, as it encourages over-throwing.” Furthermore the report states “Prior injury is a strong predictor of future overuse injury.”

New runners often complain of shin splints. Increasing training too quickly, running on a hard surface or inadequate flexibility are cited causes.

On the other side of the leg, Achilles injuries are again attributed to the strain of too much, too quickly.

“Hip injuries may be common among gymnasts and runners, due to the repetitive motions and large amounts of training in a single sport, which leads to strength and flexibility imbalances.”

You get the idea. Just as a budget, schedule or diet needs to be balanced to function at the highest level, so must your exercise or training. Besides, it’s much more fun.

Have you noticed that you can become adept with one set of skills and fitness level and then move to a different sport and need to begin again? If you have been running long distances or cycling steep hills, or maybe playing baseball or soccer in adult leagues several times a week all summer, did you perhaps choose to hike one of Vermont’s excellent trails and find yourself more challenged than you had anticipated?

Do you remember the beginning of last ski season when your quads and hips burned on your first run and caught you off-guard? Did your first swim in open water last spring, or your first paddle, leave you with unexpected soreness?

There is no argument that training specifically for one sport can be efficient, but if that efficiency is not balanced, it can lead to over-training, a reduction in performance and lagging motivation, not to mention pleasure. While excellence is desirable, it should not be bought at a cost to mental, physical or emotional well being.

While it is important to balance the workload on muscles, it is equally important to move in a variety of directions, speeds and intensity. If your sport emphasizes quadriceps strength, (large muscles in the front of the upper leg), you must be sure to balance hamstring and gluteal strength (muscles in the back). If your sport always moves you in the sagittal plane, (moving front to back as in running, walking, classic skiing or cycling), it is important to find a sport that will move you side to side like skating or skate skiing. If your sport is earthbound, include plyometrics or jumping exercises in your practice.

Then there’s the matter of speed and intensity. Within your week of exercise you should have hard days and easy days, long days and short days. Include hills and sprints to shake it up and remind your muscles that they need to perform in a variety of situations.

One thought is to let the season dictate your cross training. Some like to focus on hiking in the fall, snow sports in the winter, an early jump on the outdoors in the spring with walking, running and cycling, and perhaps paddling, swimming or team sports in the summer.

Sometimes simply changing the venue provides cross-training benefits. If you typically ride or run on paved surfaces, get out on the trails to find new challenges. If you are normally in the lake or pool, be sure to cross-train with weight bearing exercises on terra firma. If you pound the ground with one sport, glide on snow or ice with another. If you spend hours in a boat in the summer, spend more hours going vertical. If your exercise is rhythmic and measured, choose cross training that requires quickness and agility such as team sports like soccer, basketball or ice hockey.

Another thought is to cross train within a given week by combining or alternating sports, gym workouts, classes and family time.

Balancing strength and cardiovascular or aerobic training is always the way to go. Never get into a rut.

In the gym lift weights, step or jump on a Bosu, use your own body weight on a TRX suspension system, or practice core exercises on a stability ball, wobble board or Aerex pad. Work equally the upper and lower body, but spend extra time on the core.

To add interest to your core and flexibility workouts, join a yoga or Pilates class. Guidance and good form are always essential.

And, of course, if your sport, training or exercise is solo, try joining a team. It is difficult to focus on an endurance sport for hours on end. Share the responsibilities with teammates and friends.

In recent years triathlons have become increasingly popular. Once the sport of only the “iron” men and women of the athletic community, triathlons now come in several distances offering training and competitive opportunities to a range of individuals. Because the three sports of the triathlon integrate so well, (swim, bike and run), triathlons may be the perfect example of cross training with the additional benefits of balanced conditioning and the happy stimulus of competition.

So, mix it up. Play the field. Compete. Relax. Keep it sharp. Challenge. Have fun.

From the Rutland Herald & Times Argus Sunday Magazine, Active Vermont, by Linda Freeman, October 18, 2015.



Sarah Bothfeld, 2015 (photo Larry Gilbert)

Sarah Bothfeld, 2015 (photo Larry Gilbert)

There was a time when the word massage conjured images of steamy locker rooms or steamier massage parlors. With the rising popularity of spas and costly pampering that only those with deep pockets and free time could afford, massage assumed a privileged space in which touch performed the task of pleasant soothing.

Today massage therapy is recognized as an effective tool to be used for those suffering from a multitude of physical and emotional problems and by those who seek overall wellness.

Taking this a step further, massage therapy is integral to fitness and athletic performance, preparation, recovery, and injury rehabilitation.

To learn more, I spoke with Sarah Bothfeld, a massage therapist who grew up in Northfield, currently resides in East Montpelier and practices in Montpelier.

Bothfeld offers this definition of massage therapy: “Massage is a gift to the self. It works on the physical, emotional and mental aspects of our being. It can relax, rejuvenate and rehabilitate soft tissue. For the athlete, the person living with chronic pain, the stressed and the recovering, touch with the intent to balance, heal, and support can be a great addition to one’s life.”

Bothfeld lives an active lifestyle and understands the importance of her work. As a child she dared to keep up with her two older brothers as they swam, biked, explored the woods and skied. The outdoors has been important to her family, especially her dad who led the way and continues to bring the family together to sugar each spring.

Bothfeld’s diverse background underpins her ability to relate to her clients. She taught school in Camden, Maine where she acquired a love of sailing, and a boat. When she “needed to get out of town and wanted to do something drastic,” she joined the Peace Corps and spent more than 2 years in Costa Rica where she was able to snorkel, swim, commute by bike and run, “until it was too hot.”

It was in Santa Fe, NM, where Bothfeld transitioned to her profession. Having completed a 1,000 hour program at the New Mexico Academy of Advanced Healing Arts, and with over 500 hours of continuing education during her 25 years experience, she continues today to practice her craft.

On weekdays Bothfeld can be found exercising daily in a gym before her first client arrives. On weekends she is outdoors hiking, paddling and gardening in the summer; skiing Nordic, back country, Alpine or telemark when the snow covers the ground.

Among other things, a massage therapist must be fit for the profession. There seems to be an average of 7 years in the work before a therapist moves on due to the stresses involved.

Is there a licensing procedure for therapists in Vermont? “I think it’s inevitable,” Bothfeld said. “We are one of only a few states where licensing is not required. It will come about as concern for the profession grows.”

Bothfeld is a member of the Amerian Massage Therapy Association, AMTA and a board certified massage therapist. “The AMTA is a professional organization that you join as an active member after graduation from an approved school or with approved credits,” she said. “They provide liability insurance, lobbying and funding toward research and information to the public.” Renewal every four years requires proof of continuing education credits.

A board certified massage therapist has met the standards of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, NCBTMB, by passing a test and reapplying every two years with appropriate CEUs, indicators of continuing professional excellence.

Exercise and performance involve much more than simply going through the motions, pounding the roads to run, turning the pedals or the paddles, lifting weights, and increasing muscular and cardiovascular strength by whatever means works for you or for your sport.

In Active Vermont you have read of the importance of nutrition, balance, flexibility, recreation and recovery. Today, we add another component, especially useful for those coming off an active summer season and moving into an autumn offseason.

If you do not already include massage as a part of your regular training schedule or wellness program, you might want to consider doing so. Don’t wait until you need it, though massage therapy is an excellent addition to recovery from injury, illness or surgery.

Stress relief through massage is valid, though not the entire picture.

Massage therapy comes in a variety of packages: deep tissue, Swedish (basic techniques that most learn for therapeutic or relaxation), shiatsu, Rolfing®, neuromuscular therapy, medical massage to address needs of oncology, lymph system, scar tissue, orthopedic problems, hypertension, chronic pain and more. As with medicine, the changing landscape of massage mandates specificity for individual needs.

Sarah Bothfeld, 2015 (photo by Larry Gilbert)

Sarah Bothfeld, 2015 (photo by Larry Gilbert)

Athletes gravitate towards a form of sports massage that is functionally a composite of techniques.

A therapist massages muscles to reduce pain and fatigue, increase flexibility and circulation, blood flow, and broaden joint range of motion.

An athlete, for example, may complain of knee pain. Frequently the condition is diagnosed, somewhat surprisingly, as not difficulty with the bones in the knee joint, but as a tight illotibial band or IT band syndrome. IT band and even shin splints, are often caused by connective tissue that needs enhanced blood flow that massage stimulates.

Injury, tears, trauma and over use make a muscle group so tight that it can actually pull bones out of alignment and cause further complications, possibly preventable through massage.

While massage therapy used for recovery is a no-brainer, systematic inclusion in a training program helps preventatively by keeping the body nourished with blood which in turn enhances performance, releases toxins, reduces mental and physical stress and brings to the individual an increased self-awareness and knowledge.

How do you choose a massage therapist? Word of mouth or a referral from another trusted professional is one way to find a massage therapist, and perhaps the best way. Remember, however, that what works for one person may not work as well for another and you may want to try several different techniques and therapists.

Interview the therapist before scheduling your first appointment. If you are referred by a medical professional because of an auto accident or workman’s compensation, be sure to check with your insurance company as some treatment is covered.

Frequency of massage depends on individual budget, schedules and needs. Regular massage does, however, encourage consistent and continuing results and benefits.

Sarah Bothfeld, 2015 (photo by Larry Gilbert)

Sarah Bothfeld, 2015 (photo by Larry Gilbert)

Massage is a therapy of touch. Touch is physical and has been a practice of healing arts for much of history. In a negative world, touch can be invasive and inappropriate. Used within the context of massage therapy, touch, gentle or powerful, is the means to an end. The technique of touch provides a way to enhance strength and energy, release tension and open the door to quality of life.

10 Tips to Get the Most From Your Massage

American Massage Therapy Association (

  1.  Be receptive.
  2. Don’t eat just before your massage.
  3. Be on time. Take a few minutes to settle, de-stress, before you enter the massage therapy room.
  4. How much clothing do you need to remove? Speak frankly with your therapist, who will in turn offer you privacy to undress and dress. Most are comfortable removing all clothing. The technique of draping is a part of the practice of massage. Your body will be covered except for the area being massaged. Modesty is always respected.
  5. This is a big one. You will meet with your therapist before the massage begins to discuss your treatment. You must speak freely of your condition, what you bring to your massage on that particular day. You should let you massage therapist know if you have a problem with the lotion used, the music, or even if you’d prefer to talk or not to talk during your massage. Let your therapist know if you have concerns or anxieties or if something is uncomfortable or insufficient during the massage. He or she wants to make certain that you receive effective work and is dedicated to that purpose.


GET OFF THE TREADMILL AND HIT THE DIRT:  Gotta run. That’s us. Always in a hurry. In fact, that sense of urgency surfaces in one definition of the verb run, to “move about in a hectic or hurried way.”

Then there’s “moving at a speed faster than a walk, never having both feet on the ground at the same time;” or even running for political office. (google search)

There are wonderful quotes about running as a metaphor for life and how life is a marathon and not a sprint. Running clubs proliferate, as does running- specific gear, books and even movies. Running is touted as the best possible form of exercise. Running is dissed as the worst possible exercise.

To run is cheap (except for running shoes), requires no special equipment (except for running shoes and a water bottle), and, as Christopher McDougall and Bruce Springsteen say so eloquently, we are all “Born to Run.”

That being said, running and any or all repetitive sports and activities place a strain on the body. Good form and intelligent management help to reduce the potential for overuse injuries.

One way to enhance the running experience is to get off the treadmill, leave the pavement, and head for dirt. Running on country roads or trails is good for the joints and good for the spirit. What’s more, unless you get distracted and fall over a root or stub your toe on a rock, you add to the experience a substantial element of safety.

TRAIL RUNNING:  Trail running begs definition. At, there is this: “And so, you step off a road, into the wilderness, single track, double track…whatever, you are a trail runner. If there is some form of raw earth underneath, you are a trail runner. The rest is personal. It can be competitive. It can be spiritual. It can be for body or for mind. Whatever it is, trail running is yours.”

From newest newbie to gnarly veteran, trail runners approach each run as something new and different, an experience that supersedes the workout. There is no wrong way to go.

In 2014, Jeff Galloway, Olympic runner, coach and prolific writer, added his book, Trail Running, to the mix. While there may be no “wrong” way, there are better ways to enjoy and grow in the sport.

As is popular to do these days, Gallway begins a chapter with the words, “We are hard-wired to be trail animals.” More important than the action is the journey itself, the social component, the variety, the joy of getting away and into the natural world.

As always, Gallway espouses his walk-run training recommendation, a technique that works particularly well on the trail.

Often one finds runners obsessed with heart rate, pace, training plans and negative splits. On the trail, a runner is just as likely to find sprints fired by terrain or pause for a beautiful view, something a seriously training road runner might not do. Furthermore, trail running is not always about speed. Conversely, the racer who cross-trains on the trail will find that doing so shaves time off the paved events.

While Gallway discusses finding venues from Rail Trails to parks and hikes, he also shares advice on gear (do you really need to buy trail running shoes?), skills, training plans and injuries.

Safety precautions are the same as any other outdoor sports. Layer for changing weather conditions, pack fuel and water and wear sunscreen. Do carry a cell phone, but also tell someone where you are going and your estimated time of return. Better yet, run with a partner. Know about where you are going. Stay alert and keenly aware of your step and your surroundings. Do not allow yourself to become overtired or underfed or dehydrated. Plan a run that matches your fitness level or is designed to help you improve safely.

Whatever your trail running expertise or experience may be, you might want to check out a great little book published this year: TRAILHEAD, The Dirt on all Things Trail Running, by Lisa Jhung. Small enough to fit in your pack, it is large on information, helpful tips and humor.

While you may know that running typically results in a higher level of fitness, did you know that trail running , because of varied terrain, is both more forgiving and more challenging to a wider variety of muscles, ligaments and tendons than running on a flat surface? Even your core is more fully engaged when navigating the twists and turns, ups and downs, of the trail, as well as balance and coordination tested.

Running, partly due to the consistent rhythmic nature of repetition, smooths and soothes stress. Trail running adds the mental, emotional and spiritual elements of nature.

Since trail running is often termed “natural,” it follows that when you’re out there on the trail, communing with nature, you need also respect her.

Learn to adapt to and deal with rain, snow, wind, heat, cold, bugs, poisonous plants, wildlife and sun. Adjust your pace, stay focused and on course.

Run with your friends, run with your dog, respect trail etiquette. Finish your run better for having spent another day on the trail.

ULTRAS:  In recent years, unable to want more, runners have transitioned from marathons on pavement to distance events on trails and ultimately to multi-mile, multi-day ultra-distance events. Ultra runners are a breed apart. They embrace pain, ooze grit and define determination and survival. It’s not pretty, but it works for them. The rest of us read about their struggles, applaud their success (which is ultimately all about finishing), and revere their accomplishments.

Remember back in July when Vermont was about as wet as it gets? During the soggiest of days Scott Jurek, ultra icon, was slogging his way through our state on the Appalachian Trail, on his way to significantly breaking the previous record for fastest thru-hike. Jurek and his support team began his run from Springer Mountain, Georgia. Averaging 50 miles a day, the 41 year old Jurek traveled 2,189 miles in 46 day and a touch over 8 hours. He crossed 14 states with elevation changes of 515,000’ and finally kissed his wife at the top of Mt. Katahdin in the early afternoon of Sunday, July 12th.

In 2012, Jurek’s book Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness was released. Maybe he’ll write another one, give himself a break.

Moving beyond the press-grabbing Jurek and Karnasez and their ilk, close to home, we find the Vermont 100 Endurance Race. This event is one of the original 100-mile runs in the USA and a part of the Grand Slam Series of Ultrarunning. It’s hilly, of course, and though the route includes back roads and trails, running under a 30-hour cut-off leaves little time to sightsee.

Do ultras signal the running elite or simply those who have the tenacious resolve to always reach beyond where they are? If you can run a 5k road race, must your goal be a marathon? If you can enjoy an hour or so running a trail with your dog or your friends, are you failing if you decide against an ultra?

One thing is clear, however: running on dirt is here to stay. Each year more runners, walkers and hikers become part of the larger community of trail runners, those who choose to exercise, tour, visit, or race off road.

Furthermore, a second thing is clear. Vermont offers a smorgasbord of unpaved roads, trails, single track, technical, climbing, hiking, privately owned, community and state supported, drop-dead beautiful trails on which to run. More likely than not, you, too, can become one, a trail runner.


Because trail running is fun, you will be more inclined to repeat the experience.

Trail running shoes may, in fact, be worth the purchase as they often offer more stability, better traction, more sidewall protection and toe bumpers (you will, after all, stub your toe).

Wear what works for you. There’s no stylin’ on the trail.

Rocky, rutted, overgrown, snow, ice, mud – know the conditions and plan for them. (preferably stay off muddy trails, but if you find yourself on one, run through the middle and not the sides)

Always pack food, water, layers, light and that sometimes invaluable cell phone. If you’re in bear country, carry bear spray (and know how to use it). Remember that bears are climbers so don’t waste your energy climbing a tree.

Interesting fact: your dog, running off leash in bear country, might attract a bear and lead it back you.

Speaking of wildlife, a common denominator seems to be to remain calm and never turn your back and run away.

Here is Vermont you might come across a moose or multiple moose (the plural of moose, that is).

Jhung writes:“They are not particularly interested in humans, but if a moose feels threatened or is trying to protect its calf, it may charge. (It’s the hooves you need to worry about, not the antlers.) They don’t want to eat you as they’re herbivores, and besides, many moose attacks are bluffs. “Do not,” however, “stand your ground. Just get the heck out of there.”

Ticks present an increasing risk of Lyme disease. Check carefully for ticks after each run and, if found, remove the tick properly. (You might want to keep the tick in a Ziploc for future reference if you become ill.) Be sure your dog is well protected.See your veterinarian.

Trail etiquette is mostly about courtesy and thinking of the other guy. There are a few basic quasi-rules:

Bikers yield to just about everyone including pedestrians and horses.

Mountain bikers and trail runners yield to walkers, equestrians, rock climbers, families, birders and the like.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of being nice: “Older couples holding hands on trails,” Jhung writes, “should always have the right of way.” (Yeah, right, if an older couple is still holding hands, they deserve the right of way.)

Momentum is a factor either needing to remain in constant motion to make it up the hill, or traveling downward when stopping is difficult. Defer.

Passing requires mutual cooperation. If you know someone would like to pass, make it easier for him or her if you can. If you are the one wanting to pass, don’t surprise the party ahead but generate some sound or a few words. Though we are taught to shout out “on your left,” this could be abrasive so use with care.

Finally, preserve the trail that you are using by not “rearranging nature” or taking it with you. Don’t feed wildlife, stray off the designated path or leave even your energy bar wrapper behind.

Of course your trail running experience will be more enjoyable if you have trained properly. And if you train well, you may decide to enter some of the many trail-racing events held annually throughout the state.

Jhung concludes: “If you raced, any distance, any type of course, congratulations. Be proud.

“And if you didn’t race but enjoy your non-racing miles on trails, congratulations. Be proud.

You’re a trail runner.”

This story appeared on the Active Vermont page of the Rutland Herald & Times Argus, Sunday, August 16, 2015, by Linda Freeman.