Meet Jared VanderHook – Resident Trail Running Expert
Continuing in our series, “Meet the Authors,” today we talk with Jared. As a single dad and a web systems consultant, Jared VanderHook is busy. However, his list of hobbies is far from short. He enjoys backpacking, camping, traveling, cross-country skiing, yoga, home brewing, reading, and writing. You can also find him running ultra-marathons, trying local beer, and hiking in the mountains.
Jared is the brain child behind our Twin Cities Trail Map, and our resident trail expert. I was lucky to chat with Jared to dig deeper into one of his many hobbies – – – running!
What is your proudest running moment?
My knee-jerk reaction is to say either finishing the Superior 100 race last September or taking 2nd place at the Tuscobia 75 mile winter ultra last month. But if I step back and look at the bigger picture I think the proudest moment wasn’t really one moment in time. I was never a runner until about 4 years ago, and until I became one it seemed unlikely. The process of becoming a runner and continually trying to improve myself is what makes me the proudest. It has changed, and continues to change me and my life for the better in countless ways.
What is your worst running experience?
Getting injured right before my first marathon, and then again right before my second marathon. I had stress fractures in my foot both times. Injuries are bad enough as it is, but to happen a month before my first two marathons seemed cruel. I still finished both of them, but needless to say it was painful, slow, and frustrating.
What is your favorite thing to eat before a run?
I always drink coffee, and I usually eat peanut butter and dates on toast. Before a big race, I usually eat a giant cinnamon roll.
What is your favorite thing to eat after a run?
After a weekend long run nothing is better than a good brunch. After big races I usually splurge with some Pizza Luce, peanut butter M&Ms, and a tasty beer.
What is your favorite running route in the Twin Cities?
This is always changing, but the route I’m running a lot right now goes up around the Columbia Golf Course and along St Anthony Parkway. There are a lot of nice rolling hills in that course.
Do you have a favorite trail outside of the Twin Cities?
My favorite trail right now is the Ice Age Trail near St. Croix Falls, but that’s about an hour away so I don’t get out there as much as I’d like.
Are you part of a Running Group?
I spend a lot of time running with Mill City Running. I enjoy their group runs along the Mississippi between Downtown and North East Minneapolis.
What advice do you have for beginner runners?
One piece of advice is to be curious. Talk to other runners, read books and blogs, and listen to podcasts about running. Also finding a group to run with is a great way to meet other runners and to push yourself more than you might when you’re running by yourself. Lastly, training plans have always been really valuable for me, especially when I was just getting started. Most importantly, enjoy yourself!
What has helped you become a stronger runner?
I have become a stronger runner by adding variety to my runs. Sometimes I run fast on flat roads, other times I run hard up hills. Sometimes I run long and slow on really technical trails, other times I just run slow and easy on the road. Lately I’ve even been doing a lot of incline running on the treadmill to help me prepare for a race I am doing in the mountains later this year. Mixing it up seems to help me stay strong and avoid injuries.
How does running help you lead a happier life?
Running makes me a happier person for so many reasons, but ultimately it helps me stay grounded. It gives me a place to meditate and reflect. It reduces my stress and has taught me how to handle difficult situations in life with equanimity.