Runner Creates New Challenges with Off-Road Running

June 29, 2016 by Kavita Sherman, writer

Runner Creates New Challenges with Off-Road Running

Mark at the 2015 Big Sur Marathon

In recent years, trail running has grown more popular. People like going off road on softer surfaces to challenge themselves on nature’s obstacle course.

Mark Humphrey, web content producer in the public relations and marketing department at Akron Children’s, understands the appeal of running over rocks and roots. For him, there’s nothing quite like it.

“It’s a different atmosphere,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s rainy or muddy, you keep going. If you think trail running is a sport where you’ll keep your shoes clean, that all goes out the door. It challenges me in whole new ways.”

Mark admits he was in search of adventure when, in 2009, he joined a trail running group. After all, with nearly 3 decades of running under his belt, he had covered his share of asphalt and cement.

Runner Creates New Challenges with Off-Road Running“To me, it’s easier to run on a road than a trail, where you have to be ready for what comes your way,” he said.

By going off road, he’s constantly testing his skills and expanding the distances he covers. In fact, in 2015, Mark participated in a 100-mile ultramarathon. Ultramarathons are any racing event with a distance exceeding 26.2 miles, the traditional marathon length.

Over the last 7 years, Mark’s trail running friends have grown from running buddies to traveling friends.

“It’s a very social group and a way to network with other runners,” he said. “I now travel to races with friends that I’ve made. We participate in runs then tour the areas were we’re visiting.”

In April, Mark and several running club friends ran in the Boston Marathon. Last year, they were part of the Big Sur Marathon in Monterrey, Calif.

“From a racing standpoint, I’ve done a bit of everything,” he said. “In the early 1990s, I ran 5Ks and 10Ks, and in 1994, I ran in my first marathon.”

However, Mark’s racing events came to an abrupt halt in 1997 when he welcomed triplet daughters.

“Being married and having triplets, I didn’t run as much during that time,” Mark said.

And when he did, he didn’t always start the race on time.

“I remember during one race, I was 200 yards from the starting line helping to change diapers when the race started,” he said.

As his daughters grew and his commitments changed, Mark resumed running further distances. Now, he runs 4 to 5 days a week, and averages between 40 and 50 miles a week. He also races regularly because it gives him training goals.

Runner Creates New Challenges with Off-Road Running

Mark and Karen pose with their triplets at their recent graduation

“I usually do between 15 and 20 races a year,” he said, “and I try to work in a marathon race at least once a year now.”

He hopes to race in this year’s Akron Marathon, an event in which he’s participated 4 times.

One thing Mark has noticed is that he doesn’t recover from races as quickly as he once did. To counter this, he added an extra rest day and now cross-trains.

His expanded fitness routine includes yoga one day a week for flexibility, focus and breath control. He also bought a bicycle.

“But when I’m biking in place of running, that feels like exercise to me,” he said. “When I’m not running, I miss it. I’ve been doing it for 27 years and I still enjoy it as much as when I first started.”

Learn more about the 2016 Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series.

This story is part of a series called Mile in My Shoes that features Akron Children’s Hospital employees who are participating in the Akron Marathon Race Series.

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