Sarah Torok, an avid runner and exercise enthusiast, recently won the opportunity to appear in the December edition of Runner's World after entering the magazine's "How Has Running Shaped Your Body?" contest.
Torok, 34, of Cuyahoga Falls, was handpicked from over 400 submissions, and was just one of 22 who made it into the magazine.
Patch sat down with Torok to talk about how nine years of running led her to New York City for the experience of a lifetime.
Cuyahoga Falls Patch: What prompted you to enter the Runner's World contest?
Sarah Torok: Since the title of the contest was How Has Running Shaped Your Body, and since I had just lost a considerable amount of weight because of running, I decided to submit a professional photo that was taken of me at a duathlon I competed in earlier this summer. Surprisingly, it was selected by RW!
Patch: Out of 400 submissions, why do you think Runners World chose you? How did you react after getting the good news?
Torok: I honestly don’t know. When I submitted my photos, I also indicated that I was planning on doing my upcoming sabbatical research on the relationships between ultra-running, self-regulation, and motivational orientation (Torok is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience at the University of Mount Union in Alliance). I don’t know if that sparked their interest, or if it was the fact that I have what runners call an “Athena” body type, meaning I am a bit curvier than the stereotypical runner. I was e-mailed with the news that I was selected. I was beside myself with excitement and immediately told my fiancé and parents.
Patch: Please describe the experience: How was the photo shoot? Did you meet the other winners?
Torok: I had to pay my own way to NYC, which I knew I would have to do up front. Considering the opportunity, and considering it resulted in me getting featured in the magazine, it was worth it! The experience was very cool! The photo shoot was in the fashion district, Chelsea. There was actually a shoot for Vogue going on next door. Everyone from RW was really nice and I met one of the other winners. Both the make-up artist and a member of the film crew were originally from Northeast Ohio. José Mandojana, the photographer, was very reassuring. I was pretty nervous because I had to wear a sports bra and running shorts! (The experience) did reiterate my beliefs that running has truly become an inclusive sport. Anyone who races knows that there are a variety of body types, ages, races, and abilities that cross the finish line. Running is accessible to anyone who wants to give it a try.
Patch: Take us through your daily workout. Since you're relatively new to Cuyahoga Falls, do you utilize Cuyahoga Valley National Park or Metro Parks Serving Summit County?
Torok: I have a few running buddies that I see on a weekly basis. I also work out at the Natatorium with my trainer, David Lessig. We do a number of things, including TRX workouts, rowing, cycling, strength training, and stretching. I do utilize the CVNP! I was introduced to it when I started running with Sheila Avsec, who leads the Towpath Turtles. It’s a great group. Now I’m training for the Buckeye Trial 50K in July 2013 so I’ve become pretty acquainted with a lot of the trails.
Patch: What would you say to those who want to pick up running as a New Year's resolution. Any tips you have to get people started and committed to working out?
Torok: Go for it! Start slow and be realistic about your goals. If you don’t meet your own expectations at first, don’t get discouraged. It wasn’t until my 4th half marathon that I ran a strong race. Also, cross training is vital to avoiding injury.
If you’re looking to meet new people, this area has a number of great running groups, like Summit Athletic Running Club (SARC), the Crooked River Trial Runners, The Ohio Runner’s Network (TORN), and the Towpath Turtles. All of these groups have FB pages, so check them out!
For her Runner's World video profile, click here.