Runners Of Vermont is an ongoing series here at the VTRunCo where we get to meet and start to get to know some of the amazing people that call Vermont home and share our affinity for running. So, sit back and enjoy. The people profiled here are the main reason Vermont is such a great place to live and run. Also, if you know someone that lives and runs in Vermont who you think should be profiled here… Let us know. We’d love to be introduced and give them the opportunity to share their perspective on Vermont’s running scene.
Name: Devin Littlefield
Occupation: Marketing Professional
Location: South Burlington
Hometown/Birthplace: Farmington, Maine
How did you first get involved in running and what was it that kept you coming back? Did you develop your habit easily, or was it something you had to work at?
I first started running because I had to…all extra-curricular activities involved some kind of running training. Over time though, I discovered that running provides the opportunity to break away from the noise of life and get more connected with myself. The habit became fairly easy once I discovered that.
Racing… Did you start racing right from the beginning? What has been your favorite or best racing experience… Your worst… Why?
I started racing back in the early 2000’s with many shorter running races (5 – 10K) or with mixed sport events (Spartan races). My most recent (and fun) racing experiences have been recently, with Vermont City Marathon (VCM) this past year being one of my favorites. From a training perspective, I was in the best running shape I’d ever been in, so the race was far more enjoyable (as I wasn’t totally suffering like I had been the year before). The most challenging race was actually VCM the year prior (2016), which was largely due to the extreme heat. I felt like I was going to pass out most of the race!
Do you have a favorite distance…Why?
Half marathons are my favorite at the moment, because they are just long enough that you get quality running in, at the same time (at race pace) it can be done in a little under an hour and a half.
Any pre-race rituals or superstitions?
With the exception of listening to intense rock music, I don’t have any rituals prior to racing.
Non-racing experiences… Besides racing and training, what are some other ways you enjoy running, or running has improved your life? Your favorite non-racing experience… Your worst?
Running actually gives me a chance to escape from the normal grind and focus on myself. It sounds selfish (because it is), but it allows me to take the time to focus on what’s on my mind while enjoying the outdoors of Vermont. Running creates a sense of peace and fulfillment in my life that I couldn’t get any other way.
My favorite non-racing experience was a moment a few years ago on my lunch-time trail run when I just felt compelled to stop and take in the surrounding area. There were no noises, no movement, just myself and the surrounding trees. At that moment, I felt in peace, and that made for a life-changing feeling.
Running in Vermont… What do you love about it? What do you wish was different?
I love the people that run in Vermont! They are always very friendly and love to share their passion. I do wish that there were more sanctioned running trails further north from here – there are plenty of trails the further south you head, but I do with more trails were accessible in the NEK (or at least made public).
Do you have a favorite route/trail here in Vermont?
My favorite running trail is actually the Saxon Hills network in Essex. I used to work right across the street, so I would go there for my daily lunch run. Designed as mountain biking trails (but still can be hiked / run on) the trails have a lot of great twists and bends with some steady climbing and descents. It’s a blast to be out there!
During a typical New England winter what do you do to stay in shape, keep motivated, and have fun? Do you continue to run? Do you engage in any other activities?
I do often continue to run, even through winter. In fact, my favorite time to run is at night while it’s snowing. I know, it’s weird…but it’s just amazing knowing I’m (likely) one of the only runners out there. Outside of running, I do often go snowboarding or skiing (depending on what I feel like doing that day) or I go Nordic skiing for a great cardio workout.
Can you provide some advice for running during the cooler months then into and through winter?
Layers – can’t go running in the fall / winter without them. Choosing the right layers really depends on your body type and how much heat you generate during a run, which all comes with time and testing. It took me a solid winter to figure out what worked and what didn’t. And outside of layers, the other most important piece of equipment is knowledge: knowing where you’re going and having set return times with a spouse / SO or a friend will help keep you safer while running, in the event you do end up lost.
Do you have a mantra or strategy to get you out the door when you don’t feel like running, through those tough moments in training, or during a long event?
I don’t necessarily have a specific strategy. In tough times of training or during events, I often try to ignore the pain in favor of thinking about why I chose to run in the first place, which is to be in great shape, re-connect with myself and most importantly to be outdoors.
Favorite/best piece of running gear you own or wished you owned?
My favorite piece of gear is my Salomon RS Softshell jacket. It’s a designed Nordic jacket, but really helps block the wind / weather on cold-weather runs.
Favorite thing to eat during a long run/race?
I’m definitely not a picky eater, so really anything with good calories, sugar, and a bit of protein, I’m game for! Except meat…
Favorite aid station food?
I LOVE bananas with peanut butter or PB&J sandwiches (quarters). Or really anything with peanut butter on it…
Favorite reward (do you do anything to treat yourself… food or other) after a long training cycle/race?
A couple slices of pizza and a beer. Those are what I really enjoy after a long race!
Next season what event or events are you are most looking forward to… Why?
I’m making a big switch from road to trail-based events this year, so I’m really looking forward to the Catamount Ultra and Trapp Mountain Marathon. I think those will be a great way for me to take it a little easier on my body (think feet and legs pounding pavement) while still continuing to level-up the distances.
What are 2-3 Vermont running events/races that people should check out?
Personally I’m a huge advocate for Vermont City Marathon, as well as the Rolling Irish Half Marathon. Both events give you a true sense for the huge running community / support in Vermont. VCM is a huge event that draws big crowds and great morale, while the RIHM is a locally-supported event that gets you into the backroads of Vermont. Both are really fun!
What’s the best piece of running or training advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I’ve received on running is to really make sure you’re eating adequately during those long runs. I don’t always feel like eating during the runs, but I’ve forced myself to eat appropriate amounts and that’s really helped during and after the event.
Do you have any running/training tips or tricks you’d like to share?
I think the best piece of advice I can offer is for people to really find that one reason that makes them get out and run every day, and hold on to that. Let that be the driving force that keeps you going.
Who is a Vermont runner that inspires you… Why?
RJ Thompson – He is actually a good friend of mine, and his motivation and grit that drives him to push harder on every run is a reason why I feel inspired. He is a great representation of what Vermont running is all about.
Anyone out there you want to give a shout out to? Sponsors/Friends/Partners/Coaches/Etc… Why are they important to you?
I do want to give a shout-out to all running partners out there. Without you, long runs would be no-where near as enjoyable or fun. Thank you!
Thank you for taking the time to read this far. Stay tuned for our next installment of Runners Of Vermont. Our goal is to post a new interview every week until we’ve profiled everyone that lives and runs in Vermont! If you know someone that runs and they live in Vermont… Please connect them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Train Smart. Run Well. Do Good.