Categories
Training

CROSS COUNTRY ANKLES: HOW TO DEAL WITH ANKLE INJURIES

Cross Country Ankles

Guest blogger Victoria Junious is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and exercise enthusiast. 

I am pretty sure that my ankles are being held together by the anatomical equivalent of playdoh at this point. My ligaments have the structural integrity of string cheese, and the vigor of a decaying tree.

Now, they weren’t always this way. About ten years ago, my ankle ligaments were doing their thing. The robust, tough straps of collagen and elastic fibers held my ankle bones together with the best of them. I completed active warm ups and plyometric drills without a second thought. I had no idea what ligaments even were. I miss that ignorant bliss.

Now, to tell you how that changed, I have to set the scene. Imagine, me, a high school sophomore, who just wanted to play basketball in the fall being forced into cross country for “endurance training.” Mind you, I was a 400 and 800-meter runner in the spring, so it made sense, but I barely had any interest in running half a mile, let alone 3.1.

However, after being harassed by all of the coaches, basketball and track alike, to join the team and due to a predisposition to people please, begrudgingly, I woke up to make every 6AM practice for the next 3 months. 

Victoria Dealing with Ankyle Injuries

My first meet of my cross country career was a disaster. I found out in the most embarrassing way that it is possible to get lapped on a cross country course. I don’t know what possessed me to keep doing it, other than a mixture of spite and embarrassment, but I ended up running a massive new PR every meet that season.

It felt as though I had transformed into the main character role from a high school anime that no one asked for, one in which I summoned the power of my own will to run faster than my or my coaches’ wildest dreams. I managed to go from the basketball girl that no one really cared about, to third on varsity in one season. To everyone’s surprise, at the end of that season, I even went on to make regionals. 

How does this relate back to the straggling floss that are my ankle ligaments now you ask? Because  at every meet at which I got faster that season, I had a proportional increase in the number of times my ankles decided to wiggle and wobble. It felt like I misstepped into every hole, every deviation in the ground, and every pebble on every course. At times it felt like the earth itself had a vendetta against my talocrural (ankle) joint. However, although I felt like my ankles were giving way left and right, I was never “hurt,” so I just went about my business.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my poor ankles were experiencing repetitive microtraumas that ultimately led me to spraining my right ankle for the first time two days before the regional cross country meet that year. It swelled up to the size of a small grapefruit and it was incredibly painful. I ran on it anyway. Eventually, the swelling and pain went away, but the structural integrity of the ligaments had changed. A few months later, I re-sprained it playing basketball. Then I re-sprained a few more times throughout the school year for good measure. 

That season of cross country set a precedent for what would become a cycle of injury. Working through the pain, quickly trying to return to play/running, and reinjury would follow me through the majority of my athletic career, through college, and beyond. In spite of my high school athletic trainer’s best efforts I never took the time to address the deficits I had in ankle strength and stability until college, when at one point, I was re-spraining my ankle about every three weeks.

I say all of this because my story is not uncommon. What I was experiencing in the physical therapy world is called “chronic ankle instability.” Basically, I never gave my ankle the time it needed to heal, nor did I fully commit to the rehabilitative measures to make it better.

Even now, ten years later, I recognize the differences in balance, ankle mobility and strength between my left and right ankles.  I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to chill out and take the time to fix it, but since I can’t go back in time and warn myself to take ankle injuries seriously,  I will tell you. 

My Tips for Preventing & Dealing with Ankle Injuries

  • Take preventative measures to avoid injury/reinjury – If I would have addressed the “wobbliness” that I felt at my ankles before I sprained it the first time, I might have avoided, or at least reduced, the number of headaches that my ankle gave me over the course of my running career. Even if the ligaments at the ankle are compromised, the muscles at the ankle provide support to the joint as well. The stronger they are, the better the support. In my opinion, if you are in the business of running, a few heel walks, toe walks, intrinsic foot muscle strengthening, and single leg balance activities are in order. Although preventative/maintenance strength programs can feel frivolous and time consuming at times, an injury will suck up way more time and energy.
  • Give yourself time to heal – Ankle sprains can take anywhere from a few days, for a mild sprain, to about a year, for a complete tear, to heal completely. As your body works to repair itself, it’s in a fragile state. Modifying your exercise routine to reduce stress at the ankle will decrease your chance of reinjury. I know that this one is a tough one for runners especially. With cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track I never had time to give my ankle a break. I would cross train on a bike or in the pool for two or three days, then go right back to trail running because I felt like if I was not running, I would lose too much fitness. However, when I look back on all of the times that I repeated the cycle of injury I realized I probably spent at least 2-3 weeks cross training over time. If I would have given myself adequate time to heal in the beginning, the amount of time I spent cross training might have been the same or even less. By taking it easy, I could have avoided the cycle completely. 
  • Use external support. – Realistically, I cannot imagine any athlete sitting out of their sport for weeks to months to allow their ankle sprain to fully heal. However, if you do have to get back to training or competing, consider doing so with some extra support. Ankle braces, ankle sleeves, and support taping can provide your ankle with external support when the internal support, the ligaments, need a little extra help. 
  • Go see a physical therapist! – Although many ankle sprains will heal on their own, without lasting deficits, PTs can help you identify and address any lasting effects from an ankle sprain and help speed up the recovery process. PTs can also identify any vulnerabilities in terms of weakness, balance, running form, shoe wear, and give you the tools and direction you need to address them and mitigate the chance of injury or reinjury.

Victoria Junious

Victoria Junious ran track and cross country at the University of North Texas where she got her Bachelor of Science in kinesiology. When she is not in the clinic, she spends her time eating doughnuts, lifting heavy things up and setting them down at the gym, and writing.

Categories
Fun Runs Races

4 ON THE 4TH SUMMER FUN RUN

Let’s celebrate our Independence 🇺🇸 to govern our country… to run… to celebrate LIFE! 🙌🍻

This 4th of July, we are partnering with Saucony and Michelob to make your summer even better with some sweet prizes.

How It Works:

  1. Sign up for this event
  2. Run 4 miles on the 4th of July
  3. That’s it! You are then entered to win the following prizes to increase your summer vibes. No need to upload results.

SIGN UP NOW

The Prizes:

GRAND PRIZE:

FULL head-to-toe kit, provided. by Saucony (includes the new Endorphin Speed 2, apparel, and more) + a FitBit provided by Michelob Ultra

2nd Prize

Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 + a Michelob prize kit, including a cooler, Brumate slim can coolie, running socks and a performance hat

3rd Prize

Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 + a Michelob prize kit, including a cooler, Brumate slim can coolie, running socks and a performance hat

MORE!

We are giving away 7 other prize packs, which include Michelob and Saucony merch and $15 in Jackrabbit Run Rewards

*prize winners will all be picked at random from the list of everyone who sign up — Once we pick the winners we will ask for a screenshot to be sent to us to show proof of running/walking on July 4.

**winners will be contacted via email and can expect prize shipment no later than July 31st.

Now lace up & show your American Pride on the 4th + be sure to post, using the hashtag #4onthe4th for your chance to be showcased on Jackrabbit’s Instagram during the event

SIGN UP NOW

DISCLOSURE:
ULTRA BEER RUN GIVEAWAY.  No Purchase Necessary.  Open to US and DC residents (excluding AL, CA and TX residents) who are participants of the “My Cooler Rewards Program” who are 21+.  See Program Terms and Conditions at Mycooler.com/beerrunrules for prizes and details.  Message and data rates may apply. Void where prohibited.  Prize is a $5 virtual card that can be used to purchase one (1) Michelob ULTRA.

Categories
Reebok Reviews

REEBOK NANO X1 REVIEW

THE BUZZ

In its 11th version of the training shoe, the Reebok Nano X1 is back and better than ever! This year Reebok took a step away from its cross-training roots to create the new – Shoe of Fitness. We tested the Nano X1 during strength and cardio workouts to see how it measured up. 

Reebok Nano X1 Review

WHAT’S NEW

Reebok Nano X1 changes make it a more well-rounded shoe. It can be used for light lifts, training classes, and light cardio work

The Nano X1 feels like a feather compared to the previous version dropping 2 oz from the Nano X. Nano X1 moves quickly during tempo and interval training.

Reebok added 4mm of drop more well-rounded High-Intensity Interval Training shoe. The new stack height aids in getting into a better position for squatting.

Reebok bumped the cushioning with its new running-based Floatride Energy foam. Use these on your next HIIT or sprint session without sacrificing comfort.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The curved heel on the Nano X1 & added cushioning provides a “locked-in” impression when setting up to squat. The Nano X1 flex weave knit upper makes the Nano X feel sluggish in comparison.

The Nano’s has a wide toe box making it true to size. If you enjoy a little extra room, go a half size up.

Nano X1 Review

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

The Nano X1 is the best overall fitness shoe on the market right now. If you need a shoe that is up for any workout, this is the style for you.

Runners who like to combine running with plyometric training will love this shoe because of the added running-friendly features such as float ride foam and added stack height.

Orange Theory-type workouts and gym class enthusiasts will love having the Nano X1 in their lineup. The lighter feel might even give you the edge you need to make the leaderboard.

Nano X1 Review Pros

PROS: REEBOK NANO X1

One of the best aspects of the Nano X1 is its weight. The Nano X1 is lighter than most training shoes on the market.

The added stack height and Reebok’s flex weave tech make it the most runnable version and a very versatile shoe for athletes with a variety of workout types and intensities on their schedule.

Nano X1 Review Cons

CONS: REEBOK NANO X1

The shoe’s collar height and rigidity may cause some issues if you are a low-profile sock fan. We recommend pairing these with some high cushion running sock-like Balega.

TECH SPECS

Reebok Nano X1 Tech Specs

 SHOP REEBOK NANO X1

Mens Reebok Nano X1 Review
SHOP MEN’S REEBOK NANO X1
Womens Reebok Nano X1 Review
SHOP WOMEN’S REEBOK NANO X1

 

Categories
Diversity hoka one one

HOKA ATHLETE INTERVIEW: CE’AIRA BROWN

Former NCAA All-American and 2016 Olympic trials qualifier, Ce’Aira Brown joins Ali on the Run to talk about her running journey and her career.

From the Podcast: Ce’Aira Brown wants you to know that she’s still running. She’s still training (alongside Ajeé Wilson), and she’s still staying true to her “talk less, grind more” mentality. (And when she’s not on the run training for the 800m or 1500m, she’s on the runway, modeling.)

HOKA Ce'aira Brown | Ali on the Run

So why don’t people think she’s running? Because you’re pretty unlikely to see a lot of running “content” on her Instagram feed. But Ce’Aira promises, she’s more in it than ever.

In honor of International Women’s Day, she talks about the women who inspire her, and she talks about being a role model herself. She explains why, after running a 2:02 season opener in Austin two weeks ago, she’s “not satisfied, but hungry,” talks about the power of positivity and hard work, and talks about how she’s built mental strength and confidence.

Listen to the Podcast below

Listen to the full Ali on the Run Show Podcast

ABOUT ALI : Ali is the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. Ali is also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia!

Ali on the Run

NOMINATE A WOMEN WHO INSPIRES YOU TO WIN A FREE PAIR OF HOKA RUNNING SHOES

HOKA Mach 4 Review

SHOP HOKA ONE ONE

Categories
Gift Guides for Runners Gifts for Runners Running Gear Uncategorized

GIFT GUIDE: TOP MEN’S ATHLEISURE WEAR

Whether you’re lounging on the couch, exploring the great outdoors, or (safely!) embarking on some urban adventures, refreshing your wardrobe with top men’s athleisure wear is a great way to stay comfy and stylish this winter.

Check out top athleisure wear for men on JackRabbit.com – they make great gifts for the guys on your list, and they also are great for treating yourself!

Take a look as resident style guru Chase walks us through three of his favorite athleisure outfits for the season.

Chase standing out in the Sand Dunes national park with text saying 'my top athleisure outfits by chase hawes'

Hi there, I’m Chase, the creative director at JackRabbit.  Aside from being creative in front of my (three!!) monitors all day, I love having fun with my wardrobe and putting together fun and fashionable looks.  Athleisure is having a big moment, and as someone who enjoys some outdoor activity and (a lot) of downtime relaxing, it’s the perfect mix of modern style and couch-to-outdoor comfort.

I love mixing my personal pieces and jewelry with high-quality athleisure gear to create unique looks that express my personality.  I’ve put together three looks I love, and have plenty of recommendations for gear that you or that special guy on your list are sure to love.  I hope you find some inspiration!

A Pop of Color!

For obvious reasons, those of us at JackRabbit LOVE the color red!  There’s a lot of red gear out this season, and I’ve used it to add some head-to-toe pops of color in my fun and cozy outfit.

For starters, I’ve grabbed a red Adidas beanie from my personal (and very large, I might add) collection of hats, and I’ve layered a long-sleeve Rhone shirt with red sleeve details over a bright red Alo yoga hoodie. 

two stacked photos of chase with his arms crossed showing the color details of the sleeves, and one of him unzipping the red nike hip pack

I’ve slipped into some super comfortable heather grey Vuori Ponto Performance pants (and cuffed them, because I’m short!).  Add in a red Nike Heritage Hip pack, and a bright red pair of the Nike Infinity React, and we’re ready to roll!

A Cozy Autumn Look

Fall is my favorite season – the temperatures begin to drop (great for my love of layering), the leaves change colors, a nice hot cup of tea every morning, and the occasional firing up of the fireplace.

I’ve started with (yet another) Adidas beanie from my collection in a burgundy color, and paired it with a fall-colored On Weather Jacket, layered over a cozy heather white tee from my closet.  I’ve added a pair of dark charcoal gray Vuori Sunday Performance joggers, and my personal favorite sneakers, the On Cloudflow 2.0 in a fun fall colorway. Granted, they’re next to me on the couch – don’t want sneakers on my table! So I’ve got on a cozy pair of JackRabbit No Show Tab socks as well.

two photos side by side - one of the On cloudflow sneakers, and one of the chest detail of the On weather jacket

I’ve thrown on some of my personal gold jewelry, and we’re on our way!  I recently wore this outfit out to the Sand Dunes National Park here in Colorado, but I also love to wear it lounging around the house cuddled up with a good book.

A Warm Winter Wardrobe

It’s getting cold out there!  However, it’s still a great time to be outdoors – and you can layer up and be stylish at the same time.

I’ve started with (you guessed it – an Adidas beanie!) in a muted orange color that I picked up from my local Boulder Running Company store, and paired it with a modern Nike graphic tee.  

two photos side by side - one is a detail shot of the Terra Kiger shoes and the other is a back view of the hood of the jacket detail

I’ve layered a New Balance Heat Tech jacket on top, slipped into some warm and sturdy Rhone Guru Pants, and paired it with a seasonally-colored pair of the Nike Terra Kiger 6 trail shoes – great for hitting your local trails or crunching leaves in the city.

Be Yourself!

I love to mix brands, colors, styles, and gear from my closet with hot new gear from JackRabbit – and I feel like I’m comfortable, stylish, and putting my unique style and personality on full display (even when it’s just me at home alone – remember to socially distance!) I highly recommend these pieces and many more we have available – either spruce up your own wardrobe, or get some great gifts for the guys on your list who value being cozy and stylish at the same time.  They’ll be sure to love it.

Happy lounging!

animated gif of Chase throwing leaves at the camera
Categories
Gifts for Runners Running Accessories

GIFT GUIDE: SUPPORTING HEALTHCARE WORKERS

Healthcare workers have been working overtime to deal with the overwhelming cases caused by the pandemic. Everyone is giving back to help support and make their time on the job more comfortable. If you have a healthcare worker in your life, make their holiday by giving them the gift of comfort. 

Here are our top five gifts recommended by our UX Designer, Destini. Before she started her design career, she served as a Medical Technician in the Air Force, caring for military members and their families at Travis Air Force Base. 

RECOVERY FOOTWEAR

I remember working twelve hour shifts on my feet all day in the hospital. Today, pandemic workers are putting in countless hours to support their community. Their feet are literally on the front line holding the load.

My recommendation is the OOFOS Fibre Recovery Shoe ($140). The closed-toe design is best to give your feet a break during your long hours. 

Supporting Healthcare Workers - Oofos

COMFORT SOCKS

Socks are always the butt of holiday jokes. Imagine kids rushing to their trees and ripping apart wrapping paper only to reveal a pair of basic socks. To a healthcare worker, a set of comfortable socks while running from patient to patient can make a big difference. 

My recommendation is Balega Silver, No Show Socks ($15). The antibacterial properties and performance is the ideal option for front-line healthcare workers. 

Supporting Healthcare Workers - Balega Socks
BALEGA SOCKS

MASSAGE GUN

You can easy away aches and pains after a long day with your chosen message gun. Standing, walking, and repetitive moments for long hours can cause your muscles to cramp up.  

My recommendation is the Hyperice Hypervolt Plus Bluetooth ($399). The 30% more power, paired with the Hyperice App, you can follow guided massage routine that will help to knock out all of your aches.

Supporting Healthcare Workers - Hyperice Hypervolt
HYPERICE HYPERVOLT

CBD LOTION

In addition to a massage gun, I also recommend following up with a CBD Lotion. CBD has come a long way. This completely non-psychoactive treatment can help relax your muscles after using a massage gun. 

My recommendation is TheraOne CBD Lotion ($55). 

Supporting Healthcare Workers - Therabody Lotion
THERABODY CBD LOTION

HYDRATION

Last, but certainly not least, is a good water bottle. Being hydrated for all of us is essential, but keeping your health when working with at-risk patients is crucial. Our HydroFlask water bottles help keep the temperature of your water consistent throughout the entire day. So, no matter what, you can get a refreshing sip when you need it. 

My recommendation is the mother load version of the Hydro Flask, the 40 oz Wide Mouth ($59). 40oz are better than 39oz!

Supporting Healthcare Workers - Hydroflask
SHOP HYDROFLASK
Categories
Gifts for Runners Training

GIFT GUIDE: TOP CROSS TRAINING GEAR

When you don’t want to run, switching up your routine with cross-training helps to keep you active. This year for the holidays, pivot and try different things when it’s too cold for a run or other outdoor sports.

For a wide selection of ideas for the essentials for cross training, we asked our UX Designer, Destini. She loves lifting weights and trying different things in her active lifestyle – from powerlifting to triathlon, she’s done it all.

Destini the Cross Trainer

ESSENTIAL FACE COVERING

If you’re going back to the gym this season, Most places are requiring a face covering. With my weight training wearing a mask was very difficult for me, especially during my lower-body days. Finally, I found a face-covering that didn’t tire me. 

My recommendation is the JackRabbit Bunny Chute ($15). It’s lightweight, breathable, and can wear in many ways. 

Bunny Shoot
SHOP BUNNY CHUTE

TECHNICAL HOODIE 

In the winter, I love a transitional piece to be able to layer up and take off in the gym. When I leave the gym body is still hot from my work out, I prefer outerwear that’s not too heavy or too light. It’s soft, versatile, and great for the gym. I would recommend going to your local store because I found more colors and size options. 

My recommendation is Women’s Vuori Performace Hoodie ($90).

Cross Training Hoodie
VUORI PERFORMANCE HOODIE

ATHLETIC TANK

No matter what you are doing, a good tank is great for any workout. I prefer a looser tank so I can maximize my range of motion during workouts.

My recommendation is Nike Yoga Luxe Tank ($45). It’s highly breathable with great iconic Nike material. 

Women's athletic tank
NIKE LUXE TANK

RESISTANCE BANDS

During quarantine, I kept up my strength training by using resistance bands and hiking outdoors. They are great for when I don’t want to get into the gym but still want to get a pump in. I found the Adday Resistance Bands in the store. 

My online recommendations are the JackRabbit Pro-Tec Resistance Band ($15) & Nike Resistance Band Light ($18).  Having these two sets allows you to perform various exercises at home or the gym. 

Exercise Bands

CROSS TRAINING SHOES

Often, I see people lifting weights in cushioned shoes. I can’t help but cringe. A flat base gives you more stability to push off of the ground when your performing squat, lunges, and deadlifts in particular. The largest barrier for someone getting flat shoes is comfort.

I find the Reebok Nano X ($130) to be a very well rounded cross-training shoe. It’s a cushioned flat sole training shoe that can transition from the gym, cross-training, and light running. I love using it for workout days when I am squatting, deadlifting, and doing overhead presses. 

Cross Training Reebok Nano X
Categories
Gifts for Runners

GIFT GUIDE: BEST WOMEN’S ATHLEISURE WEAR

If there’s one thing 2020 hasn’t deprived us from, it’s the ability to enjoy not wearing “real” pants as often (if at all…), wearing the same outfit for multiple days in a row, and honestly, we’re here for it! Here’s our top women’s athleisure wear available at the JackRabbit ‘Athleisure HQ’.

Now that colder days are upon us and we’ve been wearing our casual favorites for months now, a refresh or a new, quality athleisure piece is a perfect gift that any woman will enjoy.

We’ve broken down a list of top casual “comfies” for the deserving woman in your life.

Athleisure Wear - Shop Vuori

LEGGINGS & JOGGERS

A go-to legging or jogger (or both) is an essential staple to any girl’s athleisure wardrobe. We need a soft and cozy, yet durable fabric for any activity, from working out, to running errands, to strolling between the couch and the fridge… anyone else?

TOPS AND TANKS

Tank tops are a key item in her casual closet, regardless of the season. She can layer them, exercise in them, even sleep in them if she so chooses. You can’t go wrong with getting her a versatile tank that she can throw on and conquer anything the day brings.

LONG SLEEVES & PULLOVERS

The days are getting darker and colder at the JackRabbit HQ, so we love a cute and light long sleeve or pullover hoodie to go under the winter layers. Vuori has stylish long sleeve tops and their material is unbeatable!

RUNNING SHOES

A cute shoe completes the outfit, and there are so many options. If she loves white sneakers or classic sneaker fashion like me, Saucony x Prinkshop’s collaboration graced us with a Jazz Vintage Shoe that makes a perfect addition to her collection. Even better, it supports the nonprofit She Should Run.

If she’s more into modern style, On Running stands out with their unique design and combination of textures. Check out their women’s On Cloud Terry Shoe.

RUNNING SOCKS

Matching socks, anyone? They have been among my top gifts for family and friends, and it never goes unappreciated. We all need quality socks, and yet, they fall down the priority list or get eaten by the washer. JackRabbit carries an amazing selection of quality socks and fun prints, perfect to round up your athleisure wear collection.

Categories
Gifts for Runners

GIFT GUIDE: SUSTAINABLE GIFTS FOR RUNNERS

Runners are looking to find the right sustainable products for their active lifestyle. See the JackRabbit recommended sustainable gifts for runners.

Shopping for gifts for the sustainable runner in your life? Look no further, we’ve got some great environmentally friendly suggestions below!

We’ve all looked at the world in a different perspective this year, and we know finding the right sustainable products is more important than ever. Our Team Member, Ike Tucker, has put together an excellent selection of gifts for you.

SUSTAINABLE FOOTWEAR

Let’s hop right into it with arguably the most important part of running – footwear!

How much better can you get than a plant-based performance running shoe? It checks all the boxes for sustainable gifts for runners! :Look no further than the Reebok Forever Floatride; it has you covered.

This forward-thinking running shoe is made with eucalyptus bark, bloom algae, castor bean oil and natural rubber, this shoe is crafted with both your run and our planet in mind.

SUSTAINABLE RUNNING APPAREL

Now that you’ve laced up the person you’re shopping for, let’s look at the next layer for some additional shopping ideas, and no need to look too far, as icebreaker brings in a perfect complementing sustainable running top. 

What’s that, stylish, comfy, and biodegradable don’t mesh? Think again, as the yarnmasters at Icebreaker have perfected all three. They’ve brought all three categories together without a second thought. Their 250 Vertex Long Sleeve Half-Zip ($140) incorporates style, while also being naturally renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable. 

HYDRATION

Let’s take a minute to pause from shopping and remember to always hydrate. Oh wait! We also have the perfect gift to stay hydrated and also give back, why not check out our Hydro Flask products.

Hydro Flasks are perfect reusable bottles for any outdoor enthusiasts, but what’s even better, the company contributes to Parks For All. Consistently Hydro Flask has committed to giving back and have donated over $1.5 million to date.

NUTRITION THAT GIVES BACK

If you’re Hydrating you should probably grab a snack as well to keep those energy levels filled. Well, guess what? I bet I can find something yummy for you. And yes, it’s healthy, tastes good, and sustainable…checkout the Honey Stinger Organic Cracker Bar. It really is as good as it sounds.

Plus Honey Stinger is always committed to having the most authentic and organic Honey nutrition products through their True Source Honey Pledge.

Sustainable gifts for runners Cracker Bar from Honey Stinger
SHOP HONEYSTINGER

SOCKS THAT WALK THE WALK

Now that you’re stuffed, let’s finish with a great “Socking” stuffer. As I mentioned we’re all trying to be as environmentally conscious as possible, and so is Balega. They’ve taken huge strides at providing a comfortable sock, while keeping sustainability in mind. That’s why all Balega packaging is printed on partially recycled boards and their manufacturing facilities use water recycling purification systems that recover up to 50% of wastewater. 

SHOP BALEGA RUNNING SOCKS

We hope our eco-friendly trip through the JackRabbit virtual shelves helps you add a sustainable lens your holiday shopping this year.

We wish you all a meaningful holiday season and we wish you many happy miles of running ahead.

Categories
Diversity Interviews Trail Running

SACRED SPACES: LEARNING THE LAND OF THE NAVAJO

EMBRACING THE LAND WE RECREATE ON WHILE PROTECTING OUR ELDERS AND THEIR STORIES

By Tiona Eversole

I begin to walk up the rough road on the edge of the Sangre de Cristo mountains through the darkness. A few faint lights from the nearby town Alamosa, Colorado, are visible below in the vast San Luis Valley. I look down at my watch — the time is 3:23 a.m. I’m not typically this early of a riser, but I want to reach the summit of Sisnaajiní, or Blanca Peak, by sunrise. With a few friends by my side, I quicken the pace as the minutes move toward dawn.

Sacred Spaces: Dibé Nitsaa or Hesperus Peak 13er in the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado near Sharkstooth trailhead
Summer views from the summit of Dibé Nitsaa, or Hesperus Peak. The author plans to return to this summit in a few weeks as long as the snow holds off. Photo by Matt Yeoman

THE FOUR SACRED MOUNTAINS

Sisnaajiní, also known as the Dawn or White Shell Mountain, is one of the four sacred mountains of the Diné, or Navajo people. This impressive, 14,345-foot mountain signifies the eastern boundary of Diné Bikéyah, the traditional homelands of the Navajo.

I have chosen to begin my journey across Diné Bikeyah with Sisnaajiní because of the reverence my people hold for the dawn, signifying the beginning of a new day. It was the first mountain created by the Diyin Dine’é, or Holy People. The Diyin Dine’é stir in the early hours of the dawn, which is why our hogans — traditional houses — are built with the door facing east. It is why I always try to start my morning runs heading east. 

I reach the summit of Sisnaajiní, and facing towards the sunrise, offer a prayer to the Diyin Dine’é with corn pollen from my medicine pouch. I am in a sacred space, so I tread lightly and do not overstay my welcome. The wind carries the chill of late September. We take each gust as a word of caution, and begin our retreat to the basin below.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will travel across Diné Bikeyah to summit the three other sacred mountains, which include Tsoodził (Mount Taylor) to the south, Dook’oosłííd (San Francisco Peaks) to the west, and Dibé Nitsaa (Hesperus Peak) to the north. 

Tsoodził, also known as Blue Bead or Turquoise Mountain, is next. This is the mountain that watched over me as I lived out my adolescent years in the tiny New Mexico town of Bluewater Village. Despite growing up a short distance away, I have never stood on the top of Tsoodził.

Next is Dook’oosłííd, or Abalone Shell Mountain, an area that I am unfamiliar with. I’ve traveled through Flagstaff, Arizona, but have not spent much time in these prominent peaks easily seen from town. I plan to summit Dook’oosłííd close to the same time as Tsoodził, as the snows of the coming winter will soon arrive (one storm already has this year), which could put my mission in jeopardy.

The fourth and final summit of Dibé Nitsaa, or Big Sheep Mountain, is the summit I’m most concerned about. In my current home of Durango, Colorado, Dibé Nitsaa is, debatably, the tallest peak in the La Plata Mountains at 13,232 feet (some argue that nearby Lavender Peak is slightly taller). This mountain is also known as the Jet Stone Mountain for the dark, heavy rain clouds that reside among the peak. This late in the season, snowfall has the potential to make this ascent tricky. Only time will tell.

Sacred Spaces: Summit of Dibé Nitsaa or Hesperus Peak 13er in the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado
Looking at Dibé Nitsaa from the trail. Photo by Tiona Eversole

TYING THE LAND TO CREATION STORIES

Many of our creation stories are tied to the four sacred mountains and the land within their boundaries as well. The mountains are home to the Diyin Diné’e, and demand the most respect when one visits these spaces. Tread lightly through these breathtaking landscapes, respecting the plants and animals that call this place home while also practicing leave no trace ethics. 

Prominent landmarks such as Tsé Bit’a’í (Shiprock in northern New Mexico) and Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii (Monument Valley on the Arizona/Utah border) tell their own unique stories of monsters and warriors, with the rock monoliths serving as reminders of the slain monsters that once walked the earth. 

Other places such as Tséyiʼ (Canyon de Chelly in Arizona) are the settings for stories that include key deities such as Spider Woman, who is known as a protector and advisor to the Diné, and gave them the gift of weaving. Her home is Spider Rock in Tséyiʼ.

These stories tell of who we are, of where we came from and how to live our lives in hózhó, in beauty and harmony. This is why we are meant to stay within the boundaries of the four sacred mountains. Everything we need is right here: water, food, herbs for medicinal purposes and ceremony, shelter and our people.

Sacred Spaces: The Mittens of Monument Valley Tribal Park on the Arizona/Utah border at sunrise
The first glimpse of sunrise at Monument Valley. Photo by Tiona Eversole

PROTECTING OUR ELDERS

The Diné are a people of oral tradition, with many of the creation stories passed down from one generation to the next. Our songs reverberate through our traditional ceremonies, and are tied to the creation stories that help to remind us of our existence in this world. The stories of our ancestors live in the voices of our elders. However, our elders need our help.

While the land within the four sacred mountains is beautiful, abundant and diverse, the living conditions for Diné living on the reservation are similar to those of a third world country — and it’s happening right in our backyard. Many families do not have access to running water, healthy food options and immediate medical care.

My journey to the top of the four sacred mountains across my homelands is not only for myself and to deepen my understanding of the land — it is also a means to raise money for Navajo elders ahead of the winter. Pre-COVID, Our elders were already struggling to make ends meet. Now, COVID-19 has added another threat to their overall health and well-being, and has wrecked the entire Navajo Nation. I have teamed up with nonprofit, Adopt a Native Elder, to help bring supplies to elders in need.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The Diné stories of these lands are nizhóní, beautiful. So are the elders that keep these stories tucked away in their hearts, waiting to share them with those who will listen. These tales and folklore are deeply embedded not only in their memories and traditional upbringing, but in the rivers, canyons and night skies of the Southwest as well.

Many areas of Diné Bikeyah are now considered public lands. Public lands are defined as “land owned by a government.” I urge you to gain a new understanding of what public lands are, and to learn about the history and creation of public lands. Spoiler alert: It’s not pretty. Many of these public lands we know today came into existence through wars, displacement of tribes from their homelands and broken promises. These lands weren’t “saved” by the government; they were stolen.

On this National Public Lands Day, I encourage you to reevaluate your perception of the lands that you recreate on. Who lived here before the government stepped in? What stories are tied to common landmarks and popular destinations you visit in the Southwest? The Diné were not the only ones who inhabited this area. Many other tribes such as the Ute, Pueblo, Hopi and Zuni all roamed these lands, and have their own stories to tell.

Listen, and you will find that these lands are rich with culture and history.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ya’ah’teh’ shi’ keh’ do shi’ Dine’. Chishi’ nishli. Bilighaana bashichchiin. Tl’aaschi’i’ da shi’ cheii’. Bilighanna da shi’ naali’.

Hello my relatives and my people. I am Apache born for Anglo. My maternal grandmother clan is Red-Cheeked People. My paternal grandmother clan is Anglo.

Ti lives in Durango, Colorado, and spends her time romping around the Southwest. She is an avid runner, mountain biker, rafter, hiker and snowboarder. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @run.wander.ride.