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Gazelle Sports

  • How to train while traveling


    The Gazelle Sports Activator Blog Series is written by a group of passionate individuals, willing and eager to share their personal stories of trial and triumph. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is filled with ups and downs, lessons learned, successes and failures. Get to know them as they share their journeys—you might learn something new!

    By Phil Dirkse

    When I signed up to run my first marathon earlier this year, I expected a few long training runs on the weekends, but I didn’t realize just how many miles I would be logging each week. My job requires frequent travel, and it’s a rare week that I’m not driving across the state or flying across the country. How was I going to balance my work and sleep schedules while steadily increasing my weekly mileage totals?

    Here are five practical tips that I’ve learned while training for my first marathon from airports and hotel rooms:

    Find a New Route: When traveling to a new city, I love to use the MapMyRun “Routes” feature to find a new route. Strava’s “HeatMap” is also a great way to find popular paths and roads that are safe for pedestrians. On a recent trip to Paris with my wife, I used Meetup to connect with a local running group and learned about a 10k race that was taking place during our trip. Although we already had plans during the race, I ran the official route earlier that morning and enjoyed a beautiful run from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower along the River Seine.

    Leverage the Time Change: When I fly for work, I often travel west into earlier time zones. I take advantage of this by waking up at the same time that I would at home and using the extra time in the morning to run. Similarly, my friend from California who regularly travels to the east coast enjoys a “happy hour” run after work and before eating a late dinner. Wherever you travel, make it easy on yourself.

    Switch Up Your Routine: If the weather turns sour while you’re traveling, head to the hotel gym for some treadmill time or cross training.  If you prefer a better equipped facility, check if your hometown gym has a reciprocal use agreement at other locations. For example, Planet Fitness allows Black Card members to use any facility across the country, and YMCA members can check out a new location for a minimal daily fee. Many yoga studios and CrossFit gyms have similar drop-in policies.

    Eat Good Food: At home, I try to limit how often I eat out, but when I’m traveling, I don’t have much choice. Instead of grabbing a greasy sandwich or burger at lunch, seek out a restaurant with fresh, healthier options. If you can expense your meals, don’t worry about splurging on a protein-loaded, organic fruit smoothie. For road trips or family vacations, bring healthy snacks or hit up the grocery store when you arrive to avoid being tempted to eat out for every single meal.

    Get Some Rest: Instead of catching up on television shows in the evening, catch up on sleep! Use this time away from your typical weeknight responsibilities at home to give your body what it needs most: rest. This works particularly well if you made use of tip #2 and kept your regular sleep schedule. After a long day, it is important to listen to your body and be realistic with your training goals.

    Safe travels, and keep running!

    Phil works in West Michigan as a Product Designer & Mechanical Engineer.  When he’s not running, Phil can be found building furniture in his wood shop or sailing on Lake Michigan with his wife, Kelsi, and four-legged child, Bo.



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  • Gazelle Girl goes green with zero-waste event

    Gazelle Girl Half Marathon organizers continue to maintain a zero-waste event by keeping trash away from landfills, this year achieving a 98 percent diversion rate. Every year, the Gazelle Girl Green Team invests in sustainability efforts and strives to be an example to other races by hosting an environmentally responsible event.

    “Gazelle Girl values our community, and our team works hard to protect it by putting on a green event," said Chelsea Brehm, Gazelle Girl Green Team Lead. “We’re grateful to our local partners that assist us in this important effort, and we’re proud of the hard work that contributed to the success of this year’s sustainability initiatives.”

    The official weight slips from the City of Grand Rapids showed that a total of 980 pounds of recyclable items such as plastic jugs and water bottles were collected at the event. An additional 940 pounds of compostable items such as food waste, course cups, and Vivant cups were collected; and 15 pounds of GU packets and wrappers are being donated to Terracyle, which converts difficult-to-recycle materials into new products. This left only one, 37-pound bag of non-recyclable items such as Styrofoam cups, diapers, tablecloths, and heatsheets for the landfill.

    This remarkable achievement was a fitting conclusion to the 2017 Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, which took place the day after Earth Day.

    For more information, please visit:

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  • Becoming a Gazelle Girl

    By Eva Reiter

    For all of us, Gazelle may elicit various associations or images. For some, Gazelle means a custom-fit shoe experience or stylish running gear (with all the fun hidden pockets), or if you’re like me, you associate Gazelle with their presence in the community through races like Gazelle Girl. In 2015 and 2016, the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon marked a very significant transition in my life. I first heard about Gazelle Girl from a friend while I was living in Charleston, SC. I was seeking a fun race to do in Michigan while visiting family and interviewing for a new job. Around that time I was working through a pretty gnarly breakup and was actively using running as a coping method to process my thoughts and feelings while systematically trying to burn up the bearings on a very special treadmill at my gym. My 2015 race hurt, emotionally and physically, but it was a beautiful day and I was lucky enough to run the race in the vicinity of the wonderful gal who would decide the next day that she needed to hire me.

    Fast forward to 2016, I was now a Grand Rapids local, had lost over 20 pounds, and had finally filled a lot of the gaps in my life that really challenged me during that 2015 race. In 2016, I had awesome running partners, including a co-worker who was running her first half marathon (!!!), and I was finally working towards happiness. After a year of continuing to put one foot in front of the other, I managed to shave 13 minutes off my time overall. So while you may see Gazelle and think, “It’s shoe time, y’all!”, I think of mile 12 of the Gazelle Girl race where, in 2015, I cried in desperation and in pain; but in 2016, I cried with joy and love for the choices I had made that brought me there that day.

    I challenge all of you to think about what Gazelle means to you or to find a way to allow them to positively contribute to your goals of finding balance, health, or happiness.

    And don't forget - there's still time to sign up for the 2017 Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5k (10k is sold out!). Learn more here. 

    My name is Eva and I will be one of your friendly neighborhood Gazelle Sports Activators for roughly the next year. When I’m not marauding through the streets of Grand Rapids in obnoxiously bright high-vis gear that could melt the retinas of Medusa herself, I’m a just a “normal” young professional and a profoundly proud mom of a goofy dog named Howard. I’m excited to share some of my experiences with you over the next few months and hopefully provide some form of inspiration. If nothing else, I hope to at least leave you with a laugh or two. Because who doesn’t need a laugh?!


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  • Giving Back: Supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters in Kalamazoo

    Ten-year-old T’Sean has experienced a lot of loss in his short life, starting with the murder of his father in a gang-related shooting when he was just 3. T’Sean is doing well but as his teen years get closer, his mother wants to do everything she can to make sure her son doesn’t experience the violence that ended his father’s life.

    It seems that the odds are stacked against T’Sean, and he isn’t alone. While their stories and backgrounds may differ, there are hundreds of local children who all have one thing in common: because of factors out of their control, they will have a more difficult time succeeding in life than their peers. These children would benefit from having a mentor – an additional caring, consistent adult in their lives.

    In response to the large number of local children who need a mentor, Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring has set an ambitious goal of serving an additional 250 Kalamazoo County children in 2017. Funds raised at the St. Patty’s Day Pub Run will assist the agency in recruiting new Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Big Families, and Big Couples.

    Research shows that a mentor improves a child’s chances of succeeding in life. The most recent data available from surveys of children served by our agency show that after having a Big for just one year:

    • 96.6 percent have improved self-confidence;
    • 91 percent are less likely to engage in risky activities that could limit their future success;
    • 90 percent perform better in school.

    Increasing a child’s odds of staying in school to prepare them for further education or entry into the workforce is key to breaking the cycle that limits their future possibilities.

    Here’s how you can help make this happen:

    1. Can you spare as little as four hours a month? Can you commit to this for at least a year? Then we need you! Bigs spend time with their Littles two or more times a month, usually for a couple of hours at a time. Don’t want to take away time from your own family? Then volunteer together as a Big Family or Big Couple!
    2. If you can’t volunteer as a Big, skill-based volunteers are always needed to assist us in and around the office.
    3. Donations (such as those received from the Pub Run) are essential and always needed!
    4. You can advocate for us by encouraging friends and family members to become Bigs.

    Regardless of how you get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, you will be helping local children change their lives for the better, forever.

    For more information:

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  • Day 31 - Congrats on finishing 31 days of fitness!

    Congratulations on sticking with us through our 31 Days of Fitness! It's been fun! We want to leave you with one last thought: "health is not about the weight you lose but the life you gain." Each of us at Gazelle Sports has a story about movement and fitness and what it means not only in terms of our overall health and wellness, but also how it has enriched and improved our lives. It's about friendships formed and horizons broadened. Keep going on your fitness journey - you never know where it will take you!


    Day 31-07

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  • Day 30 - Calling new mommas

    "I am a young mother of a 13 month old, and I want to share with other mamas that you can still do what you love and be active and healthy with a little one! Just incorporate them into your activities and workout! It's great bonding time and workout!" - Gretchen, Gazelle Sports Birmingham

    Day 30

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  • Day 29 - Top 10 for new runners

    "Here are the top 10 things I try to impress upon new runners:
    1. If running were easy, everyone would be doing it!
    2. Running with friends is cheaper than therapy.
    3. Running is recess for adults.
    4. Cotton is rotten.
    5. Yoga is an excellent companion to one's running regimen- it helps immensely with breathing and stretching.
    6. Run safely and defensively: wear reflective gear, let someone know where you are going, carry your cell phone, be aware of your surroundings and always run against traffic.
    7. Running is nature's Prozac.
    8. You may have to trick yourself out the door, but you will always gain from your run more than you bargained for!
    9. Running will improve your outlook on life, your confidence, your relationships with others as well as yourself.
    10. Never ever feel your running is a selfish thing because you need to take care of yourself for those that you love. If you happen to be a parent, you are setting a healthy lifestyle example for your children and don't be surprised if they one day decide to join you--Priceless!"
    - Robin, Gazelle Sports Birmingham

    Day 29

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  • Day 28 - Schedule your movement

    "My advice: schedule time for movement and fitness, just as you would anything else. Otherwise, it's too easy to let other things crowd them out. Setting time aside each day to roll out your yoga mat, walk the neighborhood or hit the trails is essential to wellness. Planning these things with family and friends and having them join you in these activities helps you to hold each other accountable. It's a win, win, win for body, mind and spirit."
    - Jeff, Gazelle Sports Grand Rapids

    Day 28

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  • Day 27 - Listen to your body

    "My advice - listen to your body. I ran the Detroit Marathon at 36 weeks pregnant. I had to live by the "listen to your body" mantra daily. It is so important when following a training program under any conditions to do just that. Your body will let you know when you need a rest day or need to slow it down. Listen. Listening to your body will keep you healthy, happy and running injury free."
    -Angela, Gazelle Sports Northville

    Day 27

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  • Day 26 - Don't be stupid, be visible

    "My advice: don't be stupid - be visible. I learned this lesson from a co-worker and close friend (we have a habit of turning coworkers into close friends here at Gazelle Sports) when I was training for my first race ever which happened to be the very first Gazelle Girl Half Marathon.

    Being new to running, I had no practical idea what I should do while running outside in the dark. I was set straight very quickly by Jessica, who used her "mom" voice on me and scared me into basically turning myself into a Christmas tree every other time I've hit the streets in low-light conditions.

    It's crucial and LIFE-SAVING to be visible. And don't forget to light up your dog, too, who so often ends up running slightly ahead of you. Drivers don't see you, as you think they do, and even on sidewalks you still cross the path of cars at intersections and driveways." - Aleksandra, Gazelle Sports Grand Rapids

    Day 26

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  • Day 25 - Try a new route

    "My tip: try running a different route! Getting out on trails is a great way to break up the monotony of road running. It's also a lower-impact surface and works different muscle groups. This helps make you a stronger runner." - Evan, Gazelle Sports Grand Rapids

    Day 25

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  • Day 24 - Leave no time for "what ifs"

    "My advice: leave no time for "what ifs" when it comes to getting active. Put yourself out there and enjoy the places it carries you.

    Heading into my junior year, my great friend Audrey had convinced me to join our cross country team. I hadn't really been interested in running before, however I was looking for a new activity to get involved in. Over the summer, I ran the two mile loop around my neighborhood to prepare for the season.

    It became apparent during our first week of captain practices that this sport would require a lot more rigorous training. In the beginning, I really wanted to quit after the extensive hill suicides, boot camps and intervals. My mom encouraged me to stick with it and told me it would get a little bit easier every day.

    My teammates were incredibly supportive and helped ease my transition onto the team. My first race was the Melon Run in Howell. During my last mile a major storm came in, however it was the most incredible experience seeing my teammates at the last stretch in the torrential downpour.

    Needless to say, I joined track and returned to XC this year. My favorite part of the experience has been the amazing people I have gotten to know along the way. I enjoy running because it is one of those sports where you do not need to compete against anyone but yourself and personal record. It does not matter how fast you go, or what place you come in. I was never a varsity or JV runner, however I am sure that I have enjoyed the season just as much as my fellow teammates." - Sabrina, Gazelle Sports Birmingham

    Day 24

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