Member Spotlight: Dakota Umbel

Where are you from? What brought you to Missoula or kept you here? 

I am from The Plains, Virginia, a small rural town about 50 miles west of D.C. My mom is originally from Sydney and my sister’s name is Montana. I like to think I’ve always had a connection with the state. In 2012 My childhood friend, now boyfriend of five years, attended UM. A visit to him in 2013 confirmed two things. 1) I loved him and  2) I loved Missoula. We haven’t looked back.

When did you start running and why?

My mom is fond of telling people that I used to run laps around the horse field barefoot and often bare bottomed. What can I say? I was a farm kid. I started running on purpose to stay in shape for soccer, and that lead me to high school cross country and track.

Roads, Trails, or both?

I absolutely love running the winding and hilly back roads of Virginia, but the trails in Montana have my heart.

What is your advice to a new runner who wants to work towards longer or more difficult races?

When I moved to Missoula, I couldn’t walk up the M without taking a break. I had no idea people ran on trails let alone mountains. The Missoula running community was an impressive, fast, and hard core black hole. So, I did what most millenials do. I googled. A lot. I found local running meetups and asked questions. One answer lead to 100 more questions, and each run showed me new trails, routes, and people. Now my best friends in Missoula are people I’ve met through running, and I get excited about laps on Sentinel.  I guess my advice is threefold. Do your homework, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and enjoy the process. 1% better every day means you’ll be 100% better in less than a third of a year. Sign up, work hard, and go for it!

What is your go to tracking method for your runs? What data is most important to you?

Thanks to a great running friend and fellow data nerd, I have a fairly extensive training spreadsheet that tracks everything from mileage and distance to heart rate zones and vertical speed. This isn’t necessarily healthy. I recommend Strava for a more balanced and less obsessive approach.

Do you run throughout the winter, or do you have another go to training method when its cold?

I try, and generally fail. I have a hard time running in the cold and dark. This winter I am focusing on mobility and strength. I am relying on ski touring and Courtney Babcock’s treadmill interval classes to keep my cardio up. I also really enjoy rowing on a rowing machine. The pacing and workout structures are almost identical to running.

Do you have a pre-race meal, and/or ritual?

I try to choke down peanut butter toast and green tea. I generally make it through a few bites before giving up.

How about a post-race indulgence?

Rich Chocolate Ovaltine! It’s a great recovery drink! I also enjoy mac and cheese from The Notorious P.I.G. or a grilled cheese.

What is your go to cross training activity?   

I enjoy crossfit, rowing, and most recently olympic weight lifting. I am a big believer in changing things up for mental recovery.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not running, I’m…

…either at the gym, or cuddling with my dog and bowl of mac and cheese in front of a Harry Potter movie.

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