Runner of the Month

Amanda & Brandyn Naro - February 2019

This month we feature another husband and wife team who had great racing seasons, were honored at the Awards Dinner, and give a lot to the club as members of the GCS Executive Board.  They can also look forward to some benefits offered by Peak Recovery and Health Center - thank you for your sponsorship!

Amanda & Brandyn accepting awards at the Annual Awards Dinner in January 2020
Amanda & Brandyn accepting awards at the Annual Awards Dinner in January 2020

Why do you run?  (e.g. health, fitness, mental/stress relief, competition, etc)

Amanda: A little bit of everything: to see what I can accomplish, to show my girls exercising should be part of life, to be healthy, and certainly to deal with the range of emotions life throws at you. Also, racing! Setting personal goals and friendly competition between team mates and running friends can help make each training cycle a little different and races are just plain fun.

Brandyn: I don't think I know anything else! Running started for me in high school with Spring track to "stay in shape" for soccer in the fall and by time track was over I was hooked. One of the things that keeps me going now, in addition to competition, is fear of "getting fat". When I was younger I was always on the bigger side (and my siblings made sure I remembered that) so I think that has stuck with me mentally as I have this back of my mind fear if I stop running I'll blow up over night.

How many miles do you run in an average week both during peak and off peak times?

Amanda: I'd say bout 35-40 during peak half marathon training, about 25-30 in general.

Brandyn: Mileage has varied a lot over the years. When I first started my weeks probably averaged around 30, nowadays the average hovers around 60, often time though with weeks into the 80s. I try to keep mileage pretty consistent throughout the year (as I am basically a 10 month a year racer).

What is your next race?

Amanda: Besides the bi-weekly FYB races, the first NHGP race, the Shamrock Shuffle 5k in Lebanon.

Brandyn: I intend to focus on the Mountain and NEGP series in addition to the NYC marathon this year. I am just getting back to running after a month long break to try and fix some things (update- NOT FIXED) so although New Bedford Half is my next race, my focus is a bit further out, likely with Sleepy Hollow.

How has your training changed to meet your goals over the past several years?

Amanda: Initially it was about just making it out the door for 10 - 30 minutes to find some joy in running. Once that happened it was about what my body would allow me to accomplish and getting to the half marathon distance. Just putting in miles on the road and time on my feet. I had never done a workout until my first day at track at Nashua South. I didn't even know the distance of one lap! Now I love doing workouts (most of the time) but prefer to do them on the road. Now at I have a few years of running under my belt it's about staying injury free and getting stronger as a runner so I can run long into old age. I try to add strengthening exercises, yoga, stretching, and foam rolling into my routine as much as possible but it comes and goes in waves.

Brandyn: Personal Bests have been a big motivation for me over the last few years. Most of my best times were from high school when I was not fully developed and mileage was still pretty low. I did not take running too seriously in college, so I am in the unique spot of setting PRs almost 20 years after I started running. Those better times have driven me to take my training to the next level, which has meant a bigger emphasis on mileage, and more recently weight and diet.

How do you motivate when you don't want to run?

Amanda: I tell myself that I only have to do one mile. It's a little mind trick as I know at the end of the mile, I'm going want to do at least three. Getting out the door is the hard part, once you're out, it gets easier. I also like to tell myself that you don't get results if you don't put in the work.

Brandyn: As I stated earlier, motivation to run comes fairly naturally for me because I have that fear that I will "get fat" if I am not running! That said, I struggle to put forth big mileage weeks and/or workouts if I don't have a race on the horizon so I generally keep my race schedule pretty full to keep that motivation going.

Amanda running Kingman Farm Trail Race in 2019
Amanda running Kingman Farm Trail Race in 2019

What is your favorite race?

Amanda: This is a tough one! I probably have a favorite race for every distance I've completed. Big Lake Half holds a special place for me as it was my 2nd half marathon but was the first time I felt like I actually raced well and had solid training coming from New Bedford Half a couple months prior. If I can throw another in, it'd be Loon. It's hard but in the most awesome and badass way.

Brandyn: Distance or event? I really enjoy races in the 10M - Half Marathon range as they are basically "sit at lactate threshold and run". That said, Vermont City Marathon is one of my favorite events. Over the last few years I have also grown to enjoy the mountain races, perhaps Sleepy Hollow most of all (even though I've had issues both times I ran there).

What foods work best for you pre-race?  What did you find didn't work for you?

Amanda: Oatmeal made with milk, peanut butter, cinnamon, flax, and chia seeds (and maybe some banana). It's my go to before races and most long runs. For a regular run or workout, if I eat, if will be a combination of banana or peanut butter and toast or a rice cake. I've found that I can eat almost anything before a run, even shortly before, and I do okay. The only time I ever had a bad run related to food was when I had a giant piece of birthday cake after dinner and went for a run about 10 minutes later. My stomach was all over the place and it was such a slow run! Worst part was that I was running home after Brandyn dropped me off part way. I had no choice but to move one foot in front of the other!

Brandyn: Before almost every race I have a peanut butter and jelly toast sandwich as it is a nice mix of quick acting carbs and long lasting fats.

Do you prefer to run in hot/humid or cold temperatures?

Amanda: COLD. I definitely prefer single digits and layers to 90 degrees and humidity!

Brandyn: Cold

Brandyn on an ascent during Cranmore Mountain Race in 2019
Brandyn on an ascent during Cranmore Mountain Race in 2019

Outside of running, do you cross train and how?

Amanda: Not nearly enough, but I try to do yoga and simple exercises at home. This past year I've also tried to get the girls into hiking hoping it becomes a family affair as they get older. We also just bought some snowshoes this January but haven't used them too much yet.

Brandyn: Not really (although recent injuries have had me doing more of it). Lately I've been focusing on general strength work in hopes of assisting with the issues I've been having.

Outside of running, what other hobbies do you have?

Amanda: Does cooking count? I love to cook and bake.

Editor's Note: Baking counts!  Please bring extra baked goods to Hollis on Saturdays or maybe Pennichuck on Wednesday nights!

Brandyn: I am pretty boring overall so running consumes a lot of my time even when I am not running (parsing through results, creating record databases, etc.). That said, I do also like board games so I try to explore more of those when I can. Kids take up the rest of the time!

What is your favorite flavor of gel/GU?

Amanda: I actually don't like or use gels/GU. I prefer to chew something. My go to's are dried cranberries and larabars though lately I have been loving honeystinger waffles (salted caramel flavor) too.

Brandyn: I take pretty much any flavor, but prefer the gels as opposed to the Gu!

What made you decide to start running?

Amanda: I started running through couch to 5k at Runners Alley back in 2013. Brandyn was running and I'd go to the occasional race, I figured if I paid money for a running program, I'd stick with it. After the 5k, I decided to participate in the Runners World Streak from Memorial Day to July 4th. By the time Independence Day rolled around I was enjoying it and wanted to see how much I could increase my mileage by the Fall. By then I was hooked and asked Brandyn if he wanted to join a running club with me. Enter in the Gate City Strides and the rest is history!

Brandyn: Answered above

How many pairs of running shoes do you currently own?

Amanda: I have 2 that I rotate, a 3rd that are trail shoes. I also at least 4 other pairs that are retired and are now used for walking or yardwork. Brandyn takes the win here though.

Brandyn: A lot! I don't know how many I have "on reserve" but I typically have a rotation of 3 training shoes, plus 4-5 different racing shoes.

Do you like running in the rain?  In the snow?

Amanda: As long as it's not too cold for it (below 30 degrees) I LOVE the rain. Same with snow. Early morning or late evening snowy runs when everything is quiet are amazing.

Brandyn: I prefer snow over rain typically. Rain can be a lot of fun if it is warm enough, but the trick is just getting yourself out there!

Have you ever been Furler'd?

Amanda: Somehow, I have pretty much managed to avoid this, so far.

Brandyn: Not sure...recently that's a possibility, but I do a pretty good job of Furlering Furler so I count that as a win!

Crunchy or creamy peanut butter, and what brand? 

Amanda: Crunchy and of course, Teddies brand.

Brandyn: Creamy (although I don't hate crunchy like I use to). We buy Teddy's