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Runner of the Month – Summer Cook, Ph.D.

Summer and I ran together, briefly, in college at East Stroudsburg University. She was a quick runner then, but I’m not as impressed with college athletes/runners as I used to be. But find me someone who is a full time professor, mother and wife and STILL is winning races, running sub 3:20 marathons and 19:00 5ks, now you have my attention.

Summer recently placed 1st female in the Green Lakes Endurance Run (50K) in Syracuse, NY. I heard about that and that’s what made me interested in how Summer trains. She lives in New England as well, so she is blasting through these winters. How do you stay motivated to train like that in New England? That is one motivated runner!

Then she tells me she ran 19:38 for the Bobcat Bolt 5k in Durham NH and 3:16:25 at the Boston Marathon! If she were a singer we would say “That woman got range!” To be fast in such diverse distances is admirable and amazing, and a little envy provoking!!! I can either run far, or be (semi) fast, but not both!

But my favorite answer was to the question “how do you keep from burned out?” She basically said “…If I’m miserable stop running for a while.” Boom. A completely healthy running attitude. So see for yourself!

1. How did you get started running?
I started running competitively when I was 12. I really have no other sports skills and the only thing I enjoyed was running.

2. What is your most valued workout – what do you feel gets you the most prepared to complete or run well?
The best marathon workout I do is a 3x5K. The 5Ks are done at 10K pace with a mile recovery around marathon pace. It’s a high volume, fast workout and I’m usually totally spent afterwards.

3. How do you fit running into your busy life with work, family etc.
Running is a major part of my life. I find that I’m a better mother, wife and professor when I’m training hard. Long runs give me time to organize our lives and plan ahead. I often come up with research studies or lesson plans when I’m out running. I believe running increases my productivity and keeps me sane all at the same time .

4. What do you do to stay fit during the winter season?
I run all year round. I find it funny running through New England winters that in November when it gets to 20 degrees I am so cold and question my ability to continue running outside in February. By the time February comes, I get excited to run outside when the temperature is above 0 degrees. Our bodies are excellent at adapting to the environments we live in. I will run outside most of the time in the winter and will supplement with a treadmill when the conditions are really bad. I also started snowshoe running last year and found that that is amazing workout. I am often more tired after one hour of snowshoe running than I am after a three-hour run. I am hoping to gain the courage to do a snowshoe race this winter.

5. How do you keep from getting burned out with running?
I have only been burned out with running a couple of times in my life. When that happened I would just stop running for a while. If I don’t love it, why should I do it? I seem to always want to run, but on days when I don’t think I feel like running, I will convince myself to just go run 3 miles. If I’m miserable, then I can go home after that. I don’t think that I have ever gone home because I didn’t want to run after starting.

I must say, for those of you runners wondering, snow shoe running is an AMAZING workout. And anyone brave enough to try the 3 x 5k…. let me know how that goes!!! WOW! I might not be “runner enough” for that!