In this edition of ‘In the Spotlight’ let’s talk with Dawn Smith. Dawn was a recent finisher and 1st place winner in the Winter 2020 Healthy Running Program’s 6-Week Challenge. Consistency and hard work earned her this title and she continues to put in the work to see really good results with her running on a weekly basis.
Dawn and I first started working together with goals to reduce the likelihood of injury and improve performance out on the road and trail. As a runner who incorporates a variety of terrain, it’s important to possess the resilience and variability needed to be successful in any situation. Strength training is a great strategy to supplement road/trail running when aimed at improving strength, stability, shock absorption, and addressing any underlying weak links. Of course, you also need to be consistent and dedicated like Dawn to see reliable results that trickle into your running!
Without further ado, let’s shine the spotlight on…
Q: Where are you from?
A: “I was born in Flint during it’s best years. It was a great place to grow up with many cultural and athletic offerings.”
Q: What do you do for work?
A: “I am currently a Kindergarten teacher. I started out as a Teacher of the Hearing Impaired at the preschool level and transitioned to “general” preschool when I stayed home part time with my boys.”
Q: When you aren’t working, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
A: “I love to do anything that takes me outside…gardening, biking, skiing, hiking, traveling. I’m an avid reader and practice yoga.”
Q: What are the top reasons you enjoy running?
A: “I started running to improve my physical health. When my children were born, it became a mental health tool. It continues to serve both purposes but has become more social. I have met some of the most interesting, fun and generous people through running.”
Q: What is your favorite race or running memory to date?
A: “This is the hardest question. I ran my first race over 30 years ago…that’s a lot of favorite memories to choose from. My favorite most recent memory would be the Trail Ragnar in West Virginia…camping and running in the woods with my buddies was pretty amazing.”
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be? Why?
A: “I really love the diversity of Michigan…the seasons, the geography and the people. I love being near a ‘cool’ urban area as well. I wish I could add some mountains and ocean… so I might consider Washington but I don’t know it well enough. The Carolinas are attractive… but too humid.”
Q: When you first started working with Garrett, what were the goals you wanted to achieve?
A: “Primarily, I wanted to learn a strength routine that would fit with my running schedule and my ‘life.’ I may have mentioned something about improving my speed but I figured that would be a side benefit.”
Q: What motivated you to work with Garrett and/or start making changes in your routine?
A: “Once you’ve had an injury that keeps you from the starting line, you truly understand the importance of strength training and balance. Yet I struggled to find any programs that brought those 2 elements together. I tried on my own but am not a good self-coach. I can drive right by my gym every day and not feel the pull to go in. Garrett offered a 6-week challenge program that started in January. My plan was to get started and establish a routine that I could carry over on my own. By the end of the 6 weeks, I knew that I needed to keep working with Garrett.”
Q: What is your favorite part about the individualized strength training program?
A: “Well, we’ve got this pandemic thing going on that has put us on ‘lock down’….so all of the things that I liked about the program have taken on even more value. #1 it is geared towards running… the exercises are dynamic, not static, so that they are targeting the muscles that you use when you run. #2 it is specifically tailored for YOU… for your body and your mechanics… I started with 2 trail friends and we all are doing different things. It is also specifically tailored for your ‘life’… My workouts right now are on the back patio so Garrett moved the sets around to make that easier to manage. #3 it is progressive… the exercises start where you are and then as you are ready, the exercises are designed to move you to the next level (thus the need to keep working with Garrett). #4 the app.. having the workouts on an app is great because it enables flexibility AND the app includes videos of each drill so you can’t forget what to do!! #5 the feedback and accountability through the app, Garrett knows how you are doing and responds each time.”
Q: What are the most noticeable improvements you’ve seen so far?
A: “The most noticeable improvement was in my balance. I practice yoga so I thought my balance was pretty good but I was still tweaking my left ankle on trail runs about every other weekend. Not a big deal but annoying. Then I realized one day, about 3 months in, that I had not turned my ankle in at least a month. And overall I feel more ‘solid’ as I traverse technical trails.. everything is stronger and balanced. I also noticed that I don’t have any post-run aches that require foam rolling or stretching. That’s huge! Better bio-mechanics I’m guessing!”
Q: Were these improvements easy to achieve? And, tell us a little bit about any struggles along the way.
A: “Actually yes! I guess because the program is progressive, I never felt anything was beyond my ability and I never felt pain or fatigue that interfered with my running.”
Q: What is that one thing you dislike the most but continue to work on because you know it will help?
A: ”Split Squats!”
Q: How do you feel Garrett’s services may differ from other professionals in his field?
A: “I’ve never tried any other programs. I think the way that Garrett presented the program through the 6-week challenge made it very approachable.”
Q: Looking ahead, do you have any new goals/races you are working towards?
A: “I’m mostly a distance runner and have completed 16 marathons. I took last year off to just fool around on the trails so I thought I’d do a marathon this Fall. With the current health crisis, all my spring 1/2s have been rescheduled to Fall so I’m just sitting back to see what happens.”
Thank you for reading this ‘In the Spotlight’ segment. And, a big shout out to Dawn Smith. To learn more about the Healthy Running Program, please click here.