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Michele Yates

“ EMPOWER “ 2023….

You’ve set your goals, you're making your action plans, but have you concluded on a “Word of the Year,” yet?

A word of the year can have a lot of weight with it if it truly means something to you. When challenges arise, (and they will as we all know), you will have this ONE word to refer to. This one word that can pull your mind out of the funk, out of the trash, and empower it into positivity.

For the year of 2022, my word was PERSEVERANCE. Persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

I’d say that is/was pretty fitting considering the multiple health challenges I’ve not only encountered in this year but the several surgeries I’ve had over the years. I’m not even actually speaking of the surgeries themselves, but the life that was left behind once I laid down on that roller bed. Last week with the SheRUGGED blog I touched on how we tend to fail with energy management, not time management. One can’t realistically plan to pop out of bed after surgery and make up work, family time, or hit the weights right away- yet we (yes me too) sometimes fail to see the energy part because society has instilled in us a “hustle” do more, perfectionist part.

Check out my face on that one, persevering after two hip surgeries. I didn't actually finish, I didn't actually persevere that year, I had to pick up the pieces at mile 70 and come back the following year to accomplish the "perseverance."

We then start this cycle of Fear of Disappointment and we tend not to trust ourselves to get the job done, or get it done well, we shrink. Just like training for an ultra, when poop starts hitting the fan, training is not going well or perfectly, we stretch ourselves too thin, run harder, do more and we start doubting. The doubt has a ripple effect over our mindsets and our actions. This can be true the second your tummy turns on you when you are racing (just the same as it may turn on you in life). Doubt creeps in. This state of uncertainty robs us of our confidence despite our physical abilities.

BUT WAIT! You prepared yourself this year. You established a word of the year. One that you now can reflect on knowing that life and ultras aren’t always going to be easy or go the way we planned. You can now pivot, you can make small changes, baby steps towards your ultimate goal without fear of disappointment. You have given yourself permission to be realistic and imperfect. You will finish the race!

All this in a word? Yup, because it’s not the word, it’s the weight of the word that provides the impact.

So how does one go about “finding” their WEIGHTED WORD of the year?

  1. Take time out. Yes, this requires effort and action. (Think 15-30 minutes).

  2. Think about how you want your morning routine to feel, how you want to feel at work or throughout the day, and how you want to feel right before you go to bed. Think about where you want to be with things next year, new career, an ultra runner, a monk! How does that feel, can you smell the stinky compression socks when you finish that ultra?

  3. Take a piece of paper and pen and write down any words that come to mind. (Yes the raunchy, the good and the bad!).

  4. Which ones stir your mind and your heart?

  5. Narrow it down to 3, then think, meditate and pray about it.

Some ideas: My word of the year will be EMPOWER. As I just have made changes to Rugged Running and launched SheRUGGED, my ultimate goal is to empower both men and women to build a healthier, stronger, more confident them! Furthermore, I pray this will have a ripple effect. Rippling over to their children, their friends, community and family…

Determined, Focused, Clarity, Balance, Courage, Gratitude, Belief, Faith, Abundance, Acceptance, Achieve, Awaken, Commit, Consistency, Embody, Foundation, Strength, Inspire, Lead, and Unstoppable!

Notice I didn’t say: mantra. So why not a mantra Michele? Well, for the sole purpose of streamlining your positive thought process, stopping the negativity in its tracks before the doubt can even creep in. So yes, short mantras do work well too, but we all know how quickly our inner critics act. Again, this one word, if chosen correctly, will have more weight than a whole paragraph would!


I’d like to introduce our Rugged Running Ambassadors for the 2023 Year. Although the many OUTSTANDING applicants made it very difficult to choose, we’d like to congratulate

Renee Calvert, Matt Hoholek, and Lynaia South.

Renee Calvert:


Renee knew as a child she wanted to be a veterinarian. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at

Penn State University, and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University, and she’s

been a practicing small-animal veterinarian for the past 27 years. She is co-owner of Centre

Animal Hospital in State College, PA, where she lives with her husband, Jeff (also an ultra-

runner), and her four-legged training partner, Scotia. Their adult son Lucas (yes, also an ultra-

runner) lives in California.

Renee’s running career started on her high school cross-country team, but she didn’t really get

serious about it until she trained for first marathon in 1998, at the age of 31. Twelve years later,

she discovered the rocky trails of central Pennsylvania, and fell in love -- with both the trails, and

the trail-running community. She ran her first 50k in 2012, and has now completed 22 ultras.

Along the way (7 years ago) she also faced and survived breast cancer, a different kind of

endurance challenge that she brought the same strength and tenacity to. She’s now training to

run her fourth hundred-miler, in May of 2023.

Renee loves the trail running community, and the positive impact it can have on people’s lives.

She looks forward to sharing the trails, making new friends and encouraging others to

accomplish great things.

Check out her video here:

Lynaia South:


I started running in 2010 when my friend convinced me at happy hour that I should run the Rock N Roll

Half Marathon in Denver. I was 40 years old and did not have any type of running background other

than a couple of failed News Year’s Resolutions here and there. Despite running ever since and signing

up for longer and longer distances, I always considered myself too slow to join a run group.

Rugged Running has increased my confidence and has offered a place of support. I am a Rugged

Running ambassador because I want to pay it forward welcoming and supporting others as they move

through their running journey. I want to help others discover that they are a runner, they just don’t

know it yet.