Knit and Run

Patricia Marik’s mother and grandmother taught her to knit but it didn’t really stick until she was out of graduate school. And it was graduate school that made training for a marathon into a great distraction from stress. Since then, both have been an avenue for forming new friendships with both runners and knitters and knitters who run. 

Because there are a few running knitters (or knitting runners) out in AMR land, Patricia’s most recent project — a scarf that documents her training runs for her first ultra — will catch your attention. 

Patricia managed the impossible: a great mid-course official race photo.

Is this your first ultra? 

Yup, this was my first ultra. Running an ultra had always been a "someday" goal that I wasn't sure I'd ever actually be able to do. Over the last three years I've connected with a great workout group full of the most supportive people you'll ever meet (November Project Milwaukee) who somehow made this back-of-the-packer think that she could actually tackle this distance. I also found the idea of taking on something that I wasn't sure I could do strangely appealing.  My sister (the most BAMR chick I know!) had used the Train Like a Mother Programs in the past (and continues to use them!) and, when she learned that they were rolling out their first Ultra program, suggested that I check it out.

Scarf in progress

How did you get the idea to knit a scarf to commemorate your training? 

I was working on a "temperature blanket" for a friend's baby — you knit one row a day with the color of yarn that corresponded to the temperature that day — and realized something similar could be a fun way commemorate my training — knitting a row for each mile I ran in my training and for the race. I knew I wanted to alternate colors for each training run and have a separate color for the rows of the actual race. I went to my local yarn store and picked the colors that I liked the best (black, white and grey for my training runs and green for the 31 rows of the race).

I had a pattern for the scarf but used my mileage to dictate when I changed colors (eg: if I ran 3 miles on one day and 5 the next, I’d do 3 rows of white, then 5 rows of grey and so on). It unfortunately is not done yet. My holiday knitting has taken over for now! I can't wait to finish and wear it and I look forward to knitting the green!  It will look like a regular scarf to others but will have much more meaning for me. Plus, let’s be honest, anyone who comments on my scarf will likely get the full story behind it!

How did the race go for you? Hard? Easy? About what you’d expected?

The race was everything and nothing like I expected! My training went really well and I felt as ready as I could be on race day. I was more prepared than I've ever felt for any other race both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, my race took place during a fall heat wave. Race day was a high of 88 degrees with a bright sun and not a cloud in the sky. Totally unexpected for the middle of September in Wisconsin!

My race had miles and miles (and miles!) that were on open trails, without any shade at all. I felt great for the first 10 miles, which were all in the shaded woods, but once I hit the more open areas I found my pace slowing to a walk and, at times, a crawl! Leaving each aid station felt nearly impossible. The volunteers were so lovely that I just wanted to stay and hang out with them plus they had an unending supply of ice and every aid station had the option of an air conditioned ride to the finish.

Several significant things and people got me to the finish line. One of my very good friends who currently lives a 6.5 hour drive away surprised me at the starting line. I kept telling myself that she didn't drive all that way to watch me DNF. I literally found myself saying that out loud to myself on the trail! I also thought about the less-than-perfect races Coach Stephanie had during our training cycle and how she got through them. Finally, I knew that I had a whole group of friends waiting at the finish line for me, including one who I knew had one of my favorite IPA's waiting on ice for me, which was something else I reminded myself about out loud on the trail!

Patricia, a cooler of ice, and her IPA.

Congrats to Patricia! 

Have any other mother runners commemorated training with a craft project?

How many of you are now plotting your own “run scarf?”


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17 responses to “Knit and Run

  1. So happy to see this…I will be training for my first 70.3 triathlon and I thought of doing something similar with colours for each of swim, bike and run training. I have no idea how long it will turn out to be???

  2. I love it!! Congratulations on your first ultra. I’m a knitter and an ultrarunner also, I may have to steal this idea. 🙂

  3. I LOVE this!! I’m planning on my 1st Tri this summer. This would be the perfect way to commemorate it!! Great job Patricia on your Ultra!!

  4. When I first started running six years ago, I would knit while icing my knees after training runs. that year everyone had a hand knit hat under the tree. My knees are better so I love you idea as a way to get back into knitting.

  5. I love this idea! I find my knitting tends to drop off the more I run, this would be great inspiration to get in both! I may have to do this for my next marathon.

  6. Congrats on your race Patricia! I love the idea of a scarf commemorating your training! What a clever idea. I’ve heard of the “temperature” blankets before but I like your idea for us knitting BAMRs!

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