The Michigan Runner Girl podcast is where you'll find a passion for running, hiking, paddling, and cycling crosses paths with a love of nature and outdoor exploration in the beautiful state of Michigan — and beyond. A mother, writer, gigantic Great Lakes fan, and book lover Heather Durocher, creator of the running and travel site MichiganRunnerGirl.com, hosts the show. Expect to hear informative, engaging, and inspiring conversations with others also on their own health and wellness journey. The Michigan Runner Girl podcast is about finding our way, through movement. Season One of 2022 now underway, with a theme of Reconnection.
250: Just Keep Moving: Heather shares a new path for Michigan Runner Girl
How exactly do you stop doing something you’ve committed so much time, mental energy, and heart to, for so many years? Do you shut it down completely? Can some parts of it remain while others are shelved indefinitely, maybe forever? Is it possible this beloved endeavor can be re-worked, re-born into something similar yet different and new … and hopefully altogether better?
Or are fresh slates and starts the better answer?
These are the questions Heather Durocher, founder of Michigan Runner Girl, has been grappling with in recent time. She has some answers and shares from her heart in this latest—and final—episode of the Michigan Runner Girl podcast, a show she launched in the summer of 2015.
What's next for Michigan Runner Girl? Heather explains more on this, while also acknowledging she's still figuring things out as she explores a new path forward for MichiganRunnerGirl.com and the amazing Michigan Runner Girl community. Some things are changing (the podcast), some aren't (the website remains live and isn't going anywhere!), and some things are to be determined. Isn't this how life can be, after all? It's all a work in progress and an evolution — an evolution Heather is leaning into and even embracing. There are good things happening — and coming down the line!
Heather invites listeners to keep on moving AND to join a new community she's created and has been building for the past few months: Moving Through, a community, newsletter, and podcast on Substack.
249: Sammie Bennett, mental health advocate and SHE RUNS Grand Rapids race ambassador: ‘There’s a place for everybody’
“I kind of just hit this point where I was like, I am not living authentically. What do I even like? I sort of had a relationship with myself but not really. Also, I was kind of battling my own sexuality at the time as well, too. And I just hit this moment where I was like, I can’t do it any more — I can’t live the way that I am living, I am not living for myself, and I don’t feel authentic. And so, I ended up quitting running for a short little bit and then revisited the sport with a different mentality of, how can I enjoy this and still figure out these other areas of life that feel kind of swirly and messy?”
Sammie Bennett, a west Michigan runner and SHE RUNS Grand Rapids race ambassador, grew up playing soccer and started running in 2012. Her first-ever road race? The 25K River Bank Run — a pretty big distance for a newer runner. Sammie and Heather talk about tackling this race (it was Heather’s first-ever race, too), how Sammie went on to race the RBR five times, SHE RUNS Grand Rapids (formerly Gazelle Girl) three times, and various other local races totaling 80+ races over the years. During their conversation, Sammie also is honest about how her relationship with running has changed over the years, and the personal growth she’s experienced in more recent time.
Mental health awareness is incredibly important to Sammie, and her mission is to create an inclusive space for all kinds of runners, so everyone has a safe space to challenge their bodies and minds. As a SHE RUNS Grand Rapids race ambassador, she’s particularly focused on helping create a welcoming, inclusive place for runners of all backgrounds and experience.
“Inclusivity is one of my highest values as a runner myself, and also as helping create space for people to have a place in the running community in Grand Rapids because it can be so intimidating and it can also be a little off-putting when you show up in a community and you’re like, I don’t look like anyone else, I don’t act like anyone else, I don’t run like them, but Iwant to be a runner, or I think I am a runner,” she says. “And it’s like, you know, you put shoes on and you go out for a run, you are a runner and you belong and that is really important for me to help empower people to not necessarily feel deterred because they don’t look or feel or do things like anybody else. But if you are curious about running and you want to run, and a barrier for you is accountability or lack of knowledge or you’re just looking for friendship, there’s a place for everybody in the Grand Rapids running community to do that. And I am really big on trying to create that space for everybody if I can. I am trying. I am trying my best.”
Sammie and Heather also talk about winter running and how signing up for a spring race helps keep us motivated throughout the coldest months in Michigan.
Registration is underway for SHE RUNS Grand Rapids, which takes place April 30, 2023. The all-women’s event includes a half marathon, 10K, and 5K. It starts and finishes in downtown Grand Rapids and features nine neighborhood and business districts on the half course, as well as area highlights including the historical Sixth Street Bridge. The event, now in its 11th year, features a Finish Line Festival, open to participants and the community — this event includes live music, food trucks, and local wines, ciders, and beers. 100% of event proceeds benefit Girls on the Run West Michigan and the YWCA West Central Michigan.
Learn more about SHE RUNS Grand Rapids, sign up for a race, and access downloadable training programs at sherunsgr.com
ALSO SHARED: Race discount code for the 30th anniversary Grand Rapids Public Schools Turkey Trot. Use the code 2022MRG5 for $5 off your registration. Register at GRPS.org/Turkey-Trot
248: Awesome Ideas for Fall Adventures at Michigan State Parks
Fall ziplining along Lake Michigan. Yurt camping. September boating. Equestrian shoreline riding. These are just a few of the autumn and early-winter activities shared by Maia Turek, who returns to the show to talk all things state parks and the many ways we can explore the Great Lakes State over the next several months.
Maia, who works for the parks and recreation division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, has lots of updates for us. After gushing over the gorgeous September weather we've been experiencing — Heather shares a stand-up paddling adventure she recently had with two friends while Maia talks about why boating this time of year with her family is so great — they talk about a number of events and activities taking place at state parks through the end of the year. (Heather also shares save-the-date info on the 5th annual Michigan Runner Girl Winter Weekend Getaway in January 2023!) They also share some laughs about leaping salmon and their impressive "hero's journey" come fall.
Covered during this episode:
- Fall ziplining along Lake Michigan, at Muskegon State Park
- Yurt camping at state parks
- The DNR's new site and the Things to Do section that is Maia's "go-to" resource.
- Renting boat slips through the state parks reservation system — Maia is especially excited about this (and there's discounted rates for this in September!)
- It's the 75th year of the state's waterways program and Maia shares more about safe harborage and how that works all around the state's waterways.
- The first-ever equestrian shoreline ride is taking place in November at Silver Lake State Park
- Fall bird migration news
- Michigan Trails Week, which is this week, Sept. 18-24
- MRG Winter Weekend Getaway Jan. 20-22, 2023
- Michigan state parks photo ambassador program
- These Goods 4 Good for Michigan
- Cambridge Junction State Park in the Irish Hills of Michigan
247: Taking Care of Our Hearts: 3 Women Share Their Stories
“I tried not to dwell on it, I tried to learn from it. And I took care of myself. I looked at it as a new beginning, with new opportunities … and I still do after all these years, try to do something positive with it. I tried to take something that was tragic — I couldn’t have any more children — not only for me, but for my family, and we’ve tried to turn it into something more positive and inspirational and helpful for other people.” — Risa Kirschner, who lives in Farmington Hills and who at age 29 and pregnant with her second child learned she had atrial myxoma, a heart tumor.
“I have treasured every single second spent with Alli [her daughter who was 2 years old at the time of her diagnosis], who is a senior at Michigan State University. I don't take a single day or my health for granted and try to live life to the fullest,” Risa says. “I had been given a second chance and wanted to give back to those who made it possible and to help others who might be going through a similar experience.”
During this episode, you’ll meet Risa as well as fellow Epic Heart Heroes Amanda Allen and Aimee Bingham. They all share their unique heart story — Amanda of Rochester Hills, learned she had a heart defect at age 12, and Aimee had an aortic aneurysm and had open heart surgery at age 35. They’re all dedicated to helping raise awareness of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
As the women share during this important conversation, a common misconception is that heart disease is a man’s disease, when in fact almost as many women as men experience it themselves.
Amanda, Risa, and Aimee serve as spokespeople for the American Heart Association and the Detroit Women’s Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K, and represent the Epic Heart Heroes at the Women Run the D Expotique on race weekend and participate in the races on race day. Race weekend is right around the corner — Sept. 17-18, on Belle Isle in Detroit.
Also joining this conversation: Dr. Audrey Wu, a cardiologist at the University of Michigan, an Ann Arbor triathlete/runner and triathlon coach, and mom of 3, as well as race director Eva Solomon, who is behind Epic Races, a race management company in southeast Michigan. The American Home Fitness Women Run the D Half Marathon, 10K & 5K is an Epic Races event.
There's still time to sign up for this race! Use the code MIRunnerGirl102022 to save on your race entry to the Women Run the D Half Marathon, 10K & 5K on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2023 on Belle Isle in Detroit, Mich. Register here: https://runsignup.com/Race/MI/Anywhere/TheAmericanHomeFitnessDetroitWomensHalfMarathonand5K
246: Quitting Chronic Dieting + Recentering through Running with Dietician Amelia Sherry
“When my relationship with food improved and I started to heal I didn’t let go of the running. I noticed that it was crucial to me feeling more relaxed, centered, more in touch with how I actually felt inside my body. I used intuitive eating as part of my recovery from chronic dieting, which is all about listening and honoring and respecting the senses that you get from your body and I was able to use running as a way … it really calmed me, reassured me.”
Amelia Sherry, dietitian, mother, runner, recovered chronic dieter. Like so many women, Amelia Sherry started her first diet in middle school. Unlike many women, she says, she turned her obsession with being as thin and fit as could be into a full-time occupation pursuing a career working as a fitness writer and editor at several leading women’s magazines.
Eventually, she returned to school to earn a graduate degree in public health nutrition and to become a registered dietitian nutritionist — in retrospect, she says, this was another thinly veiled pursuit to figure out optimal ways to control her weight.
“Becoming a mom in 2011 was the wake-up call that triggered me to get a grip on my chaotic and dysfunctional relationship with food for good.”
As a dietitian, Amelia eventually focused in on pediatrics and now holds a clinical position in pediatric endocrinology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC. She’s also the author of the new book, “Diet-proof Your Daughter: A Mother’s Guide to Raising Girls Who Have Happy, Healthy Relationships with Food and Body.” This book will be available this October, but Amelia is offering a free digital copy when you visit her Nourish Her site.
Follow and connect with Heather:
@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram
@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram
245: Reading, Traveling + Moving Forward with Emma and Heather
The Michigan Runner Girl show returns from its mid-summer break with Heather and her 22-year-old daughter Emma at Emma's new apartment in Grand Rapids, Mich. talking about all things books (they share their top reads this summer), traveling (a visit to Nantucket in July!), and how they're both feeling heading into fall.
They record their conversation the evening before Emma starts her first day of medical school orientation and on her first official weekend in her new place.
Also part of their discussion:
- Their shared (newer) love of small dogs. (Heather reveals big news about a new family member during this portion of the conversation!)
- Why "comfort" books, movies, TV series, and podcasts are so important to Emma (and what a few of those things are)
- The power of writing and journaling (and how Heather is moving closer to writing a book)
- The ways they're both hoping to stay up on their workouts and running in the coming weeks as a new season (in more ways than one) begins for each of them
Be sure to listen all the way through to the end of this episode, when Heather talks about the NEW Michigan Runner Girl Patreon community and how you can support the show AND receive special perks and exclusive content.
Whether you’re running, thinking about running, a wannabe runner, or just looking for a great listen, Heather’s got you covered. She’s organized, sharp, open and empathetic. Great show.
I love MRG podcast!
Loved the interview with Joel Gaff. Always fun to learn the behind the scenes stuff going on with local people and businesses.
Thanks for keeping my mind occupied as I listened on the run! 🏃♀️😀
Love Heather’s conversations and content
I’ve been listening to Michigan Runner Girl podcast for over a year and look forward to every new episode!! I love hearing from elite Michigan Runners like Des Linden or from everyday runners and triathletes sharing their inspiring journeys. Heather is a wonderful host. 10/10 would recommend!