Iowa runners on running

Shelly Melton/Little Village

Since the pandemic began, more people are running than ever. It is one of the most popular, and for many, accessible forms of exercise there is. Little Village asked a range of runners from Des Moines, the CRANDIC and the Quad Cities areas to comment on their experiences: advice for beginners, motivations to move, injury recovery stories and more. Plus, guides on upcoming races, running groups that will keep you moving, interesting books on running — they do exist! — and an Iowa music playlist to keep you on pace.

What advice do you have for new runners?

START SLOW. Running feels great, but injuries are almost guaranteed when you start taking on too many miles at once. I used to run just for weight loss two miles every day and slowly inched up to four miles a couple of times every week. But once I started pushing into eight, nine and 10 I could tell I needed more training before I could move on. Even now, instead of “bumping up” my long run each week, I tend to repeat the same distance and just tweak the effort by either adding runs the days before or after the long run to mimic running the same distance on tired legs, running certain parts of it faster, on harder terrain, or split it into two runs at different tempos. I want to make sure I feel comfortable with that distance before moving on. It’s kind of like learning a new mathematical method to me. You don’t just learn it once and move on to the next method. You have to try it a few times under different conditions to really feel confident about it. Buy new shoes before you need new shoes. For me, I like to have some overlap time where I am breaking in new shoes with shorter runs but can still run longer runs in a different older pair. If you wait until your shoes are just trashed, then you are stuck running longer runs in the new ones, and that can be painful — very painful. Cross train. Lifting weights has always done me good. I focus on hips, glutes, quads, my underdeveloped hamstrings, core on all sides, shoulders, back, triceps. If I ever get injured I turn to weight lifting. Find running friends. Everyone else around you will be so annoyed to hear you talk about running 24/7. Your running friends won’t ever get tired talking about chafing, blisters or mid-run potty breaks. Speaking of which, run with wipes. —DeShauna Jones

It is OK to walk. You are still a runner if you walk. And listen to your body, do not push it based on a training plan. Go at your pace to avoid injury, especially early on. —Haley Johannesen

This is your personal journey, take it day by day and progress each week. If you need to walk while running, so be it. You are still moving forward and improving your mental health and fitness. Enjoy the journey and the wonderful benefits on what running provides to us. We are blessed to have two legs to run, so enjoy! —Ara Ispentchian

I still consider myself a beginner runner, but if I were to offer advice to myself a few months/years ago I would say: invest in leggings with pockets. If you’re uncertain whether you want to run or not, put on your workout clothes and see how you feel. Don’t try to do too much at once, build a steady routine. Consistently drink water throughout the day before running. Wear a hat when running in the cold. —Shelly Melton

Make sure you get proper running shoes. This is so incredibly important, not only for comfort, but for injury prevention. Usually your local running stores will help you get properly fitted for a shoe. Start slow. Don’t start expecting to knock out a four-to-five-mile run. Start with a few miles every other day, and then gradually increase your mileage as you feel ready. Running is like any other sport or exercise; it takes time to build up to where you want to be in terms of strength and distance. Most importantly, have fun! Running outside, especially, can be so liberating. Soak up nature; the sounds, the sights, the smells, the sun. —Carrie Lembke

No matter how long you’ve been running, there are just days (and weeks) where it feels hard and discouraging. I recently did a nine-mile run and was so excited to go out on such a beautiful day, but every step ended up being pure torture. It was such a struggle every step of the way. When everything is said and done, that’s one of the things I kinda like about running though — it takes grit and dedication. It makes you stronger physically and mentally. Some days I thoroughly enjoy it and feel amazing during and afterward. Some days I just feel glad to have it checked off my list, but it makes me feel like I accomplished something. Like I can get through tough things when all I wanted to do was throw in the towel, but I slogged through anyway and completed my goal. I’ve definitely shed some tears on the hard days. My advice is just keep powering through — you won’t regret it. —Keely A’Hearn Melchert

Fall in love with the process. If you do, running becomes more of a release or meditation, and races, PRs, etc. can come and go but the process will always be there. —Kevin Lines

Courtesy of Tasha Moon, from Leprechaun Chase

Meet Your Runner: Tasha Moon

Age: 26
City: Des Moines
Running for: 10 years, 7 years consistently
Averaging: 35-40+ mpw
Upcoming Race: Whiterock Ultra 50m

Frequency and preferred time of day: Pretty much every day, it is hard to take rest days. For me, running is like brushing my teeth, I don’t feel right if I haven’t done it. I like to run in the afternoon or evening.

Preferred terrain: Trails, the rougher the terrain the better.

Favorite courses: I like the Sycamore trail system just outside of Des Moines. Either that or Moffit Lake near Norwalk. Both are long-ish trails, not too difficult but difficult enough to feel it.

Most memorable run: Probably my first 50k attempt at Whiterock last year. I ended up DNFing (did not finish) after having to be pulled at mile 29 (50k is around 31 miles). The course was long due to using an alternate due to storms, so if I had kept going I would have ended up at around 35 miles for the race. The storms came back, and it would have been dangerous for me to go on so the race director had to pull me from the course.

Alone or with friends? Both! I am so slow that I feel like I hold others back. I do go to social runs at my local Fleet Feet though, and I love all the different people and paces there are. My husband also likes to ride his bike next to me sometimes and that makes the time go fast.

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Seasonal strategy: Dress appropriately and just go. I have run in -50 degrees in February, and 110 degrees in July.

Favorite shoes: Hmmm, I kind of like On Cloud shoes. Though right now I am wearing a comfy pair of Asics. I am broke all the time so I only have one pair of shoes at a time.

Essential winter gear: Reflective vests, lights and ice cleats.

Essential summer gear: Anti-chafe balm

Nutrition tips: Find what works for you, and always know where the next bathroom is.

Follow: Adventures of a Slow Goth Runner on Facebook

Shelly Melton/Little Village

What motivates you to go for a run?

I know that if I don’t, I will be a crab and no one will want to hang out with me. —Tasha Moon

Getting glimpses of parks, neighborhoods and trails that I haven’t yet discovered and knowing that I’ll get a nice serotonin boost motivates me to go for a run. I always feel more at peace with myself and my surroundings (nature, outside critters, people in my community) after a good run so I prepare for my adventures with that as my end goal. Also, my job involves a lot of sitting for long periods of time so when I’m done with the workday I’m usually itching to move around and release the energy that I’ve built up. —Shelly Melton

It definitely helps with relieving stress, and honestly, it’s a great time to think, especially about new ideas, like when you’re really in a mode for it, it generally helps me with recalibrating. If I’m ever stuck on a paper or research project, running will always get the gears back turning. Otherwise, it’s great exercise, and keeps me in shape! —Chad Rhym

If I don’t do X, I can’t do Y (which is usually x = training, y = race that I signed up for). —Melinda Urick

My biggest motivation is sense of accomplishment and how you feel post run. You get a natural high that gives you an extra spring in your step. It is a mood enhancer for sure. —Ara S Ispentchian

The act of running has become an ingrained habit at this point and there’s almost this automatic internal pull that gets me out the door most days. There will be times when I’ll take a few days off (it’s important to do that and recover!), but I ultimately am back at it! In terms of motivators that I would pinpoint, my desire to stay healthy, enjoy the outdoors, and experience new environments/terrain rank up there in terms of motivators. You can’t beat the runner’s high after the fact, either! —Matthew Russell

Having Cerebral Palsy and Autism, it keeps me healthy and sane. —Kevin Lines

I enjoy the “runner’s high,” but mostly [I run] as an easy method of exercise — you can start and end at home. —Doug Hoyng

How I know I’ll feel at the end of the run. Energized. Like I accomplished something. Sometimes just so I can enjoy beer and pizza after those long runs. To be out in nature. To go on an adventure and try new things. To be with people I enjoy. —DeShauna Jones

Knowing that I get to go out and be in nature where there is beauty all around me, the endorphin release, and then there’s that feeling of being accomplished when you crush a run. For me, it also serves as an antidepressant and way to cope with life’s stressors. —Carrie Lembke

The feeling of accomplishment and a restored sense of well-being afterwards. —Angel Banks-Adams

DeShauna Jones runs Run CRANDIC 2022 — Jason Smith/Little Village

Meet Your Runner: DeShauna Jones

Age: 37
City: Coralville, IA
Running for: 14 years
Averaging: 20-40 mpw
Upcoming Race: Kettle Moraine 100k

Frequency and preferred time of day: Four to five times a week. I really like running any time after 7 a.m.

Preferred terrain: Trail!!

Most memorable run: I attempted to run a 50-mile race…untrained…in a thunderstorm. It was Whiterock Ultra in 2021. I didn’t actually “run” a lot of it and ended up walking because I was way undertrained and not very good at running in mud or thunderstorms or starting a race at midnight with poor nutrition. I did everything wrong and almost quit around mile 42 but I pulled it out with a lot of walking (some barefoot) and tears (literally).

Alone or with friends? It depends on my mood. Sometimes I like to be alone to work through a problem or just have quiet time. But I also like a group since it makes the miles fly and is easier on my mental game.

Seasonal strategy: Winter – avoid ice at all costs! I focus on building slow base miles on trails when I can and get interval work on treadmills. I also try to run in the afternoon. Spring – all the trails except when overly muddy. It’s my favorite season to run because the trails come alive. Summer – a lot of loops for longer runs so I can get all the hydration I need in the heat. I avoid afternoon runs unless I’m training for a summer race. If I’m running a summer race I’ll run some hard efforts in the middle of the day to get used to it. Also my favorite season to camp and run at new parks. Fall – similar strategy as spring, but leaves add another trip hazard because they hide roots on trails. I tend to visit the treadmill again on frigid days.

Favorite shoes: Road – Hoka Clifton & Rincon, Brooks Ghost, Saucony Ride. Trail – Nike Pegasus Trail, Altra Lone Peak, Hoka Speedgoats

Nutrition tips: I’m an ovo-vegetarian and I didn’t grow up that way so I had to reimagine my diet big time. I try to eat a good lean, high protein and carb dinner the night before a long run. The night before my first marathon I decided to go to an all-you-can-eat German sausage restaurant and it was the worst idea ever. In the morning I just now started eating oatmeal with nuts and fruit. I am ashamed to say I used to eat a Snickers bar before running. If I have a good oatmeal breakfast, I can last seven to 10 miles without a solid snack, but I do drink Body Armor or apple juice for calories. Strooper waffles, Luna bars, Huma and fruit snacks. I don’t do well with GU packs — they are bad for my stomach. If I’m on the trail for a long trail race (like 30 miles or more), more substantial and savory foods like PB&Js, cheese sticks, mashed potatoes, pickles and the rare cinnamon roll. I love, love, love the food available at trail races.

Shelly Melton/Little Village

What keeps you going?

I gotta get home! —Chad Rhym

I go out and purposefully get lost so that it doesn’t matter if I want to quit, I have to get back home. Plus I maintain a page on Facebook called Adventures of a Slow Goth Runner, so I have to make new content for that! —Tasha Moon

I have an Instagram account for the things I encounter when I go for walks and runs, so I’m always looking to collect and document more fun things I find. I’ve got a small circle of friends following the account and they share a similar enthusiasm for these finds so the possibility of discovering something fun or interesting motivates me to keep going. —Shelly Melton

Hot shower, chocolate milk, electric blanket are all at home. —Melinda Urick

There are days when I’m out on a run and feel like a million bucks and could keep going in perpetuity whereas other days I’m a slug and am lucky to eke out three or four miles. When I’m training for an event, I remind myself that the preparation will make the day of the event that much easier because all of the work has been done and now I just need to show up and execute. I also like to break up long runs into segments and focus on completing the first portion of the segment, then the second segment, and so on. This really helps keep me motivated and makes the total distance seem less daunting. —Matthew Russell

It’s become so much of who I am anymore that getting out there is all it takes. Sometimes my mind wanders to times I couldn’t be out there and it reminds me how important it is. —Kevin Lines

Once I get going, it only becomes a question of how far I want to go—three, five, eight, 10, more. —Doug Hoyng

A good playlist! On the treadmill I am guilty of mouthing the lyrics of my favorite songs while I am running. I like to sing karaoke, so I multi-task by reading the lyrics to songs on my phone while I’m running. I also like to rewatch my favorite shows on long runs. When I am outside running I like to pick an object in the distance and guess how long it takes to get there. I also like to look around at the scenery and really get lost in it (which is probably why I trip so often). Conversations with people also motivate me to keep going if I am running with others. But mostly it’s that I know I am going to feel proud when I’m done. I’m going to feel good and I never regret a run! Even when I fall, I only regret not paying attention while I was running. —DeShauna Jones

Music. Some really, really good music. Also, I’m probably odd in the fact that I like to “challenge” myself. If I say I’m going to run three miles, I always make sure to run four. I always add that extra mile just to push myself. Running is 80 to 90 percent mental. Your body can do it, it’s you that you have to convince. —Carrie Lembke

Remember my number-one why: my family (my wife and two kids) and also the journey to better health that started with a walk. —Ara S Ispentchian

The eventual runner’s high — sometimes you have to finish the run to get there. —Angel Banks-Adams

Courtesy of Angel Banks from Yosemite Half Marathon

Meet Your Runner: Angel Banks

Age: 33
City: Des Moines
Running for: 8 years
Averaging: 3 runs per week
Recent Race: Yosemite Half Marathon

Frequency and preferred time of day: I prefer mornings, but in this season of life, I run in the evening on the treadmill after my children have gone to bed. Looking forward to longer days and more outdoor runs in the summer.

Preferred terrain: Paved trails

Favorite course? Capital Pursuit 10-mile in Des Moines

Most memorable run: My solo 20-miler in preparation for the Des Moines Marathon. I was in my late 20s and ran after an eight-hour workday. I have NO idea how I did that back then! My life was quite different.

Alone or with friends? With friends; the miles fly by!

Seasonal strategy: Summer heat translates to fall speed.

Favorite shoes: Brooks Glycerin and Brooks Ghost

Essential winter gear: Gloves, tights, vest, base layer

Essential summer gear: Shorts, skorts, dri-fit tanks, water

Nutrition tip: Fuel before you need it for anything longer than two hours.

Mariah Hurley and her dog compete in Run CRANDIC 2022. — Jason Smith/Little Village

Is running fun?

Yes, once you get the routine of running down. Being outside in nature is my happy place. The best part though is when you get done, those endorphins and the feeling of accomplishment is what I live for. —Carrie Lembke

Until 10 years ago, distance running was something other people did, not me. I ran short distances in basketball games, baseball games, etc., however, I decided to train for the Des Moines half in October one year. I found a training program on the internet and followed it. I built up my long mileage and discovered during that training what the “runner’s high” was and how enjoyable it was to just take time to cruise at a comfortable pace, even if by myself. Sometime the next year, I was invited to join a running group. That was my first group running experience. That made the running even more enjoyable, to have conversations while getting the exercise done as well. In short, running is fun. We just may not look like we’re having fun while doing it. —Doug Hoyng

I really believe running is fun. It’s one of the few sports that allows a person to alter to their liking. If running on a hard surface like roads or asphalt is uncomfortable, there is the ability to trail run and be surrounded by nature which to some is very therapeutic. There are fartleks, sprints, strides, hill runs, stair runs, and the ability to listen to a concert or a podcast. All these varieties keep running not only interesting but fun. —Ara Ispentchian

Running is fun… kind of. I recently read that people who enjoy running are people more interested in the result of a thing rather than the daily practice of a thing. So the daily grind can be painful and unrewarding but the feeling of the end result is enough to keep you going. I enjoy running most of the time, if it is cool, not cold, sunny, not warm, and my music is in the right order. —Haley Johannesen

Generally yes, especially with other people. I find that some days the idea of running can be daunting but once completed I feel a great sense of accomplishment and in a better head space. —Alexi Schlesinger

No. Ask me tomorrow. I might have a different answer, but likely not. —Katrina Benning

My answer is, of course! Yes! But not always. I have made incredible friendships running — the kinds of conversations that happen with my running partners just don’t always happen in other social situations. I love being outside and exercise is a great way to enjoy the weather and your surroundings, as well as a great way to see the sights when you travel. I often love the way I feel when I am running, strong and happy, and if I don’t, I at least can mostly love the way I feel afterwards. I am also a person who loves the way it feels to set a goal and accomplish it — the key is to set meaningful and attainable ones so the process can be (at least sort of) fun. The honest truth is that it isn’t always fun. Some runs suck, no matter where you are in your fitness, and it really can be un-fun to have to restart after injury. BUT, when you have good running friends who will support you through the process and hold you accountable, the fun peeks through and does return. —Robin Kopelman

When I immediately think of running, the word fun does not come to mind. However, there are times that I’ve had fun running or made it fun or at least a fun experience. This happens usually by listening to music or a podcast that interests me or is intentionally fun or funny. I find myself laughing out loud or smiling big. When I do that, I take a moment to appreciate how I’ve made something like running, which is challenging for me, feel fun, or experienced a moment of joy in the process. —T.J. Dedeaux-Norris

Absolutely. —Angel Banks

Yes! It is one of my favorite things. —Tasha Moon

Running went way beyond fun a long time ago. I don’t know if obsession would even fit anymore. It’s become my lifestyle. Through injuries, setbacks, bad weather, I always try to get out everyday — even if it’s a short walk. I’m always looking forward to getting out there. —Kevin Lines

Depends on the circumstances! I’ll have some days where I’ll knock breakfast out of the park, I’m talking protein, fruits, water, maybe even a smoothie, I get all my work done in the afternoon/early evening, maybe I’ll see a funny tweet, and then boom, I think wow, a 7 p.m. sunset run would absolutely rock out this terrific day. That is a fun run. On the contrary, I would say a lot of the runs from the half-marathon training were not fun whatsoever; I would wake up in night sweats thinking about the Nike run app yelling at me about the five miles I needed to knock out later that day. Those sucked for sure. So yes, if I’m having an outstanding day, my runs are typically very enjoyable! —Chad Rhym

Courtesy of Ara Ispentchian

Meet Your Runner: Ara Ispentchian

Age: 48
City: Cedar Rapids, IA
Running for: 14 years
Averaging: 15 mpw minimum
Recent Race: Marion Arts Festival Half Marathon

Frequency and preferred time of day: Four times a week and early morning is preferred.

Preferred terrain: I prefer trail as it is better on the body and also builds stronger legs for paved races.

Most memorable run: Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon which was my first ever marathon. What made it special was that it was on the anniversary of mom’s passing and she was with me each step to that finish line.

Alone or with friends? I like both; my longer runs I like to be more alone as it allows me to reflect on my goals and journey.

Seasonal strategy: I am a year round runner but do decrease my weekly miles from mid Nov to January to do other cross-training routines and add in an additional day of strength training.

Favorite shoes: New Balance 1080s

Essential winter gear: Warm Hat and Gloves

Essential summer gear: Breathable socks and comfy shorts

Photo by Tyler Erickson

What’s your mantra?

“It’s not running away from your issues; it’s running through them.” (Courtney Duawalter) —Tasha Moon

It doesn’t matter how fast or slow or short or long. Just go run! —T.J. Dedeaux-Norris

I try to remind myself that running should be an opportunity to appreciate what my body can do and the amazing places that it can take me. If it’s no longer serving that purpose, I have to reflect on my expectations and make a change. —Shelly Melton

I can do anything for two minutes. —Melinda Urick

It is amazing and invigorating what you can do with your body when you put your mind up to the task! —Matthew Russell

“It’s not about today” is what I tell myself when I’m feeling off. It’s OK to walk home, cut it short, go out again, change shoes, etc. I try not to push through pain that feels damaging. —Kevin Lines

Run at the pace that is comfortable for you. —Doug Hoyng

I make mantras that rhyme with the mile I am on. “Feeling divine on mile 9,” “We can do this again in mile 10.” (The teens are hard to come up with mantras but I tend to zone out in the teens). “Mile 21, the fun has just begun,” etc. —DeShauna Jones

“Make sure to slow down and enjoy your run.” I used to be so focused on speed, but I’ve coached myself to listen to this. I’m so glad I did! —Carrie Lembke

“The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.” (Bill Bowerman) —Ara Ispentchian

My philosophy on running is to simply be present and if I’m lucky, connect with that inner-child feeling of play. It’s really become an integral tool for my creativity and mental health. No matter how I’m feeling going into a run, I’ve never returned feeling depressed. That’s a really impressive statistic for me. —Tyler Erickson

Discomfort (not injury!) is temporary. Running never takes away more than it provides, if your training approach is smart. —Angel Banks-Adams

I have never finished a run and went, “wow, that was a terrible idea.” —Chad Rhym

Courtesy of Chad Rhym, from Brooklyn Half Marathon

Meet Your Runner: Chad Rhym

Age: 24
City: Iowa City
Running for: 10 years
Averaging: 12-15 mpw
Recent Race: Brooklyn Half Marathon

Frequency and preferred time of day: Three or four times a week. In a perfect world, I would run as soon as I woke up. But because of inconsistencies with my own scheduling, I tend to run more than often in the evening.

Preferred terrain: Anywhere that’s not a treadmill, and I mean that with all of my heart. Ideally, I would love to do a long run in Hickory Hill.

Favorite courses: The City Park trail that leads to Coralville with that huge waterfall dam thing? Y’all know what I’m talking about.

Most memorable run: Although it was certainly a recent core memory, running the Brooklyn half marathon this past April has got to be number one on the power rankings, that was a #movie.

Alone or with friends? I have to run alone. I under no condition run with the homies, the run is hard enough, I do not need to be shown up by my comrades as well! Slightly kidding? But, the first time I ran with a friend in like a year was with my dear friend, Hannah, a few weeks before my half marathon. We did a Sunday morning 10-miler, and that built a lot of comradery for our relationship, so maybe as I mature, I am indeed a run-with-friends type of guy. I think it all depends also on how in shape I am, I have to protect my brand first and foremost.

Favorite shoes: Hokas!

Essential winter gear: As a grad student, I’m pretty bad at investing money into gear. But honestly: I always go sweats, socks over the bottom of the pants, hoodie, another shell-jacket; (I use this Columbia bomber I stole from my dad like in 9th grade,) uh, and then most essential… the knit beanie and GLOVES. You’re not making it more than a mile without the gloves, I’ve, like, ran with my hands under my shirt when I’ve underestimated the wind/cold. It’s vicious out here, y’all, stay safe.

Essential summer gear: I honestly bring a mini towel with me on every summer run, I am a profuse and exuberant sweater. Dri-FIT shirt for sure. Short shorts, personally; sky’s out, thighs out, those are the rules. I have convictions, yes.

Nutrition tips: Water and bananas, staying hydrated and stretching are literally my only rules in the wild. But hydration especially? That’s for real, no joking matter whatsoever. I think the banana is for energy or to help alleviate cramps? That’s one of those nutrition traditions I read about like seven years ago and just held as gospel, I have legit no reason why though.

Shelly Melton/Little Village

What’s in your ears during a run?

Music. I like a variety, but EDM gets me through the really good/long runs! —Carrie Lembke

Music and podcasts — it’s like running with my own little soundtrack. —Angel Banks

Music! I don’t like podcasts. I have a hard time following along in a conversation and running at the same time with people who are not in front of me. I also have an inability to do math while running. It’s really odd. —DeShauna Jones

Nike Run Club: it has a feature where you can play your Apple Music or Spotify along with the coaching and run. —T.J. Dedeaux-Norris

During the week it’s typically music, but on long runs I break out a podcast. My favorites are from Parcast, they have a great variety of different ones. I love trivia, so I typically pick Historical Figures or Unsolved Mysteries. —Tasha Moon

I could never do the podcasts on runs, I genuinely wish I could, because I love the pods, and I reserve those for my long evening/morning strolls instead. It’s just that the talking totally destroys my pacing, I can’t explain it, but the banter psyches me out. I mostly listen to like southern rap, Jay Z, or Beyonce. “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” is by far the greatest running song of all time. Go try that out on your next jog around the city, like, the power that song has, I don’t know the science behind it, but it should be studied in a lab for decades to come. It warps your reality and teleports you into an early Y2K music video, it’s an epic… and odyssey. —Chad Rhym

Most runs, nothing; usually chatting with others. Though when I’m running by myself, and I need a boost/am struggling, I will listen to dance music. —Melinda Urick

I listen to music and podcasts all throughout the day so going on a run is my chance to appreciate the sights and sounds around me, without distractions. It helps me feel safer and more aware of my surroundings since I run alone. If I’m running indoors (where the scenery isn’t as great), I put on some EDM to keep me pumped. —Shelly Melton

Never listen to music or podcasts during my runs; I reflect on my journey or how I can better help someone who has reached out to help in starting their journey. —Ara S Ispentchian

Nothing. I want to be able to hear traffic. —Doug Hoyng

I don’t listen to music when I’m out there. I’m kinda old school that way. —Kevin Lines

Nothing at all; the world is busy enough when I’m not running with too much “noise.” When I’m out on the trail, I love to take in all the sights and sounds of nature unperturbed by music or podcasts. When I’m running on paved trails or sidewalks, situational awareness is a big thing for me and I just feel that the best way to maintain that is to not have music or a podcast running in my ear. —Matthew Russell

Courtesy of Kevin Lines,
from 2018 Distance Classic

Meet Your Runner: Kevin Lines

Age: 39
City: Davenport
Running for: 12 years
Averaging: 70-100 mpw
Upcoming Race: The Hennepin Hundred

Frequency and preferred time of day: Nearly every day, dusk/golden hour

Preferred terrain: Mostly pavement

Most memorable run: Mines of Spain 100k

Alone or with friends? Mostly alone, but enjoy group runs too

Seasonal strategy: Winter: time outside. Spring, summer, fall: mileage

Favorite shoes: Road – Brooks Ghosts for roads. Trail – Hoka Speedgoats for trails. Walking – Salomon XA Pro v8s and Salmon XA wild GTX

Essential winter gear: A Buff, mostly wool socks (60/40 injinjis are my fav)

Essential summer gear: A Buff! I wear them year round.

Nutrition tips: Don’t be afraid to eat what you need to.

On running with Cerebral Palsy: My mom likes to say that right after I learned how to walk, I started to try and run. I’d fall down all the time and keep getting up. I don’t think much has changed since then. My right foot loves to drag and I can trip on anything! I’ve fallen more times then i can count. I’ve ended up getting X-rays, bumps, bruises, you name it. I’m not sure where my drive comes from, but I always get back up and keep going. A unique problem I have with cerebral palsy is finding the right shoes. I have two very different feet. My right one is a full size smaller and wider than my left. I go with what my longer foot enjoys. It was a bit weird at first but my right one doesn’t mind being in a shoe that size. It slides forward anyway and ends up in the right spot. There’s about a half inch of open shoe at my heel but whatever works!

On running with Autism: The saying “cheaper than therapy” couldn’t be more accurate with my autism. It’s been the best thing I’ve found for it. Walking works too but there’s nothing like a good run. Since I don’t listen to music or mess with my phone much anymore, it becomes almost meditative and always brings me back to my center. Other runners can relate but it seems to go deeper for me. Maybe that’s why I’ve so driven to keep it up. It’s nice to have goals and try new things that scare me, but beyond any races or achievements, I love the grind most of all. I’ll keep doing this until I can’t, and honestly, I have no idea when that’ll be so I don’t take it for granted.

Shelly Melton/Little Village

Have you had any injuries?

I have on and off plantar fasciitis, it is slowly getting better now that I am more consistently taking rest days and adding strength training. —Tasha Moon

Achilles tendinitis in 2017ish. I also had a stress fracture in my back in 2019 (though that was also likely due to roller derby). —Melinda Urick

The first year I started running, I experienced IT band pain, mostly exacerbated by adding in too many miles too quickly and not having a body that was yet adapted to running. I worked with a physical therapist and was able to build a more sustainable plan and began some strengthening exercises to better support the demands I was placing on my body by running. When I was training for the Zion 50K last year, I did experience Achilles Tendinopathy a few weeks before the run. I got things checked out at Steindler Orthopedic in Iowa City and was given the green light. I worked on strengthening exercises heavily those last few weeks and continue to ensure strength training is practiced more consistently. —Matthew Russell

My first injury was shin splints because I went from running virtually nothing at all to a half marathon too quickly for my body. Then I had IT band problems on and off. Then trochanteric bursitis largely from running the same direction on a track for months. (Switch direction!!). I also had a ankle sprain twice. I fell on an icy sidewalk trying to outrun a train and bruised my knees pretty bad. And this year I slipped on the ice again and hurt my hip. But nothing too terrible in a couple of years. Fingers crossed. But I do fall A LOT. I fell four times during my last race. But I have a new light outlook on falling after a fellow runner suggested that I take a picture from the vantage point of my fall. —DeShauna Jones

A lot. Last year’s fall (hip) took a month. Broken foot in ’09 was bad. I had a knee problem in ’18 that sidelined me for awhile. I think I’ve had tendinitis more than I’d like to admit. The list goes on and on… —Kevin Lines

Over the years, hamstring and back injuries have caused breaks in running. Most recent was lower back in November 2021.—Doug Hoyng

I had a gastrocnemius strain and tibial stress fracture most recently. That particular injury put me out of running for a solid 9 months, but I’m happy to report I am back at it. If you choose to be a runner, my best advice in avoiding injury is to spend money on a shoe that properly meets your running needs. There are a multitude of running stores that can help you get fitted with a proper shoe, and it will be worth every penny. Most importantly, change them out every 3-4 months. Your body will thank you. —Carrie Lembke

Four years ago I injured my hamstring at mile 14 of a marathon, I should have stopped but was stubborn and walked the last 12.2 miles. Since then I have not had any lingering pain on that side but finally have found proper PT and therapy to help bring it back to proper health. —Ara Ispentchian

Running again after having children has been my longest recovery to date. It has taken about six months to run middle distances (6-13 miles) fairly comfortably (for completion, not for speed) again after each birth. —Angel Banks

Not from running! Wow, honestly wild in retrospect that I haven’t, because I am clumsy as all get out. More injuries from walking for sure. I broke my Iowa record this past winter of seven cartoon-character-esque falls on the ice. —Chad Rhym

On the last day of winter, March 19, 2022, runners partake in the Des Moines St. Paddy’s Day Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K. Many participants dressed in costumes and festive attire for the annual race. –Tyler Dean Erickson/Little Village

Upcoming Races

Lace ‘em up! Here are 27 races on the horizon, ranging from 5Ks to ultramarathons. Consider hitting a route, as a runner or spectator.


Saturday, June 4
Anamosa: Jones Co What’s Your Natural High Fun Run (5K run)
Madrid: Iowa Trail Runs – Ledges (10K, 5K trail run)

Friday, June 10
Robins: 5K Twilight Run (5K run, kids run)

Saturday, Jun. 18
Davenport: Schuetzen NEIN! Hour (9H trail run, 9H relay)

Saturday, June 25
Ames: Iowa Trail Runs – A Midsummer Night’s Run (10K, 5K trail run)


Saturday, July 2
Coralville: 4th Fest 5K (5K run, kids run)

Monday, July 4
Ames: Friendship Ark 5K on the Fourth (5K run)

Saturday, July 9
Ames: Midnight Madness (10K, 5K run)

Saturday, July 9
Coon Rapids: Whiterock Ultra (50M, 50K trail run)

Saturday, July 16
Mt. Vernon: Glyn Mawr Wine Run 5K (5K run)

Sunday, July 17
Des Moines: Polk County Clover Dash (5K run)


Saturday, Aug. 6
West Branch: Hoover Prairie Run (5K trail run)

Saturday, Aug. 13
Adel: Adel Sweet Corn Festival 5K (5K run, kids run)
Tipton: Buchanan House Wine Run (5K)

Sunday, Aug. 14
Le Claire: Olathea Creek, Wine Run (5K)
West Des Moines: Summer Sizzler (10K, 5K)
Indianola: Summerset Wine Run (5K)

Saturday, Aug. 20
Lisbon: Lisbon Kraut Route (5K run)

Saturday, Aug. 27
Des Moines: Get Your Rear in Gear – Des Moines (10K, 5K run, kids run)
Clive: Iowa Brewery Running Series – 515 Brewing (5K run)


Sunday, Sept. 4
Cedar Rapids: NewBo Run (13.1M, 10K)

Saturday, Sept. 10
Cedar Falls: Scott Sterrett Memorial Race Weekend (13.1M, 10K, 5K run)
Palo: Pleasant Creek Trail Run (45K, 30K, 15K trail run)

Sunday, Sept. 18
Des Moines: Greater Des Moines Women’s Half Marathon & 5K (13.1M, 5K run)


Sunday, Oct. 9
Solon: North Shore Distance Classic (20, 10, 4M run)

Friday, Oct. 14
Dubuque: Mines of Spain 100 (100M, 100K trail run)

Sunday, Oct. 16
Des Moines: IMT Des Moines Marathon (26.2M, 13.1M, 5K run, 26.2M relay)

The Iowa City Trail Sisters hit the trail. — courtesy of Kelly Teeselink

Running Groups

Capital Striders
Des Moines
Incorporated in 2003, formed in the mid-’80s, open to all

Capital Striders Turkeys
Des Moines
Since 2013, open to all

City Park park run
Iowa City – Meets every Saturday at 5 a.m. at Lot 3 in City Park
Since April 2022, open to all
The first official Park Run in Iowa, among 50 events in the U.S. and 1,500 worldwide: a free, weekly, timed 5k run/jog/walk

Girls on the Run
Eastern and Central Iowa since 2007, Quad Cities since 2016
Open to all students who identify as a girls, non-binary, gender-fluid or gender expansive

IC Trail Sisters
Iowa City, North Liberty, Coralville, Solon
Since 2018, Meets 1-3 times per month
The Trail Sisters community welcomes and encourages inclusion from all who identify as women
Facebook: Iowa City Trail Sisters (private group)

Trail Sisters QC
Quad Cities
Facebook: Trail Sisters Quad Cities, IL (private group)

No Regrets Running
Cedar Rapids
Since 2015, open to all
Group runs Tuesday and Sunday mornings, up and down the IC/CR Corridor. Wednesday Trashmore runs will begin soon.
Facebook: No Regrets – Running (private group)

The Runner’s Flat Run Club
Waterloo/Cedar Falls
Since 2012, open to all (plus a junior high/high school summer group and an elementary school fall group for cross country)
Thursday night coached workouts, Saturday morning long runs

Zoe Mullins finishes the Run CRANDIC marathon, April 2022. — Jason Smith/Little Village

Runner reminders

Develop a habit! Turn your run into a routine by setting and following a schedule. Before you know it, you’ll actually want to go!

Drop your shoulders! Every so often, take note of tension you may be carrying on your run and try to relax it away.

Mix it up! Running the same route again and again can be a slog. Incorporate new routes into your routine, set an interesting landmark as a goal, add speed intervals or wear a new outfit. Running isn’t boring if you learn how to make the most of it.

Make the most of downtime. Being injured sucks! It’s not uncommon for depression, feelings of isolation, and even a shaky sense of personal identity to set in but, not all is lost. Taking a break from running can be a wonderful opportunity to diversify your movement portfolio and re-focus your mind on other fitness practices. Low-impact cross training (cycling, swimming, eliptical), strength and flexibility work (weightlifting, yoga and pilates), and actually just resting for a bit, for crying out loud, can do you and your eventual return to running a lot of good.

This article was compiled by Jordan Sellergren, who ran her first half marathon in April and is now swimming laps due to a sprained ankle. It was originally published in Little Village’s June 2022 issues.