Minnesota native and 2004 Olympian Carrie Tollefson knows a thing or two about running. In addition to being one of the most decorated harriers to emerge from the state (she is a 13-time state champion in track and cross-country), she continues to give back to the sport. Through her eponymous training camp held at St. Catherine University in St. Paul every summer and hosting the C Tolle Run weekly podcast covering running and fitness, she has her finger on the pulse of runners locally, nationally and internationally. In a recent interview, Tollefson gave some of her top tips for prospective runners in advance of myriad race possibilities, including a first-ever Star Tribune race, the Ugly Tie 5K on June 18, Father’s Day, to help celebrate the newspaper’s 150th anniversary.

Get the right gear

I think the most important thing to start with is a good pair of shoes and a few pairs of socks that prevent blisters. Obviously we need shorts and shirts too, but the next item you should get is a good running hat. A hat protects your face from the bright sun and more importantly, sun damage. It is also so nice to have in the rain. The last two pieces are your splurge pieces: a nice rain-resistant jacket and a pair of running sunglasses. The less squinting, the less wrinkles!

Prioritize running

I think the best tip I have is to just put your shoes on. I know for me, once I get my shoes on, I will eventually go. With three kids and a job that requires a lot of travel, I find that if I don’t do it right away in the morning, it doesn’t happen, or my energy is so zapped by the end of the day that I just can’t get out the door. So sometimes I sleep in my running clothes so I can get up and get out there even faster.

Ease into training

I like to do two-week segments for beginners or someone coming off a break. Run every other day for the first two weeks, then add a day with a day off. So the first two weeks you would run every other day, then weeks three and four would be two days on, one day off, then weeks five and six would be three days on, one day off. By then you will know what rotation fits best in your life and if you can walk or run four to six times a week then you are doing pretty well.

Don’t give up

I like the couch-to-5 (kilometer) plans online that basically get people going, but I also emphasize that people have to give running three weeks to get into it and then another three weeks to make it stick. Don’t give in once it starts to get hard, because that is the moment that all of the sudden it will click.

Connect with other runners

I love our running community. We have so many nice groups, and they are all very easy to join. Life Time Fitness, MDRA, Moms on the Run, the November Project, the list goes on and on, but also our awesome running stores have great running groups. Most have two to three group run/walks a week. Some even have pancakes afterward. Having a group or a training partner is one of the main reasons I run and I highly recommend it.

Find joy in the miles

Enjoy the process. Running and walking are two of my favorite activities. My perfect day always has a run in it, and I enjoy my family, work, and most definitely my food even more after the run. Can’t wait to see you all on Father’s Day!

More information and registration for Tollefson’s camp, July 6-9, at ctollerun.com and carrietollefson.com.

Register for the Star Tribune Ugly Tie 5K at startribune.com/uglytie5K.


Running by the numbers

This isn’t the definitive list when it comes to the running world in the Twin Cities, but it is essential. (By Mackenzie Lobby Havey)

9 summer races

-Girls on the Run Twin Cities 5K, June 3, Normandale Community College, Bloomington, bit.ly/ontheruntc

-Star Tribune’s Ugly Tie 5K, June 18, Father Hennepin Park, Minneapolis, bit.ly/uglytie

-Run for the Roses 5K and 10K, June 24, Roseville, bit.ly/rosesrun

-Red, White & Boom! TC Half Marathon, Relay & 5K, July 4, Minneapolis, tcmevents.org/events

-Urban Wildland Half Marathon and 5K, July 29, Richfield, urbanwildland.com

-Gopher to Badger Half Marathon & 5K, Aug. 12, Stillwater


-Mendota Bottoms Trail Run 10-mile & 5K, Aug. 19, Mendota


-Minnesota Zoo’s Tiger Tracks 5K & Kids’ Run, Aug. 26, Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley, bit.ly/mnzoorun

-Milk Run 5K, Aug. 27, State Fairgrounds, bit.ly/mnmilkrun

8 locally owned stores

-Mill City Running, 411 E. Hennepin Av., Minneapolis, millcityrunning.com

-Fleet Feet Marathon Sports, 2312 W. 50th St., Minneapolis, fleetfeetminneapolis.com

-Gear Running, 4406 France Av. S, Edina, gearrunningstore.com

-Run N Fun

 3252 West Lake St., Minneapolis

• 868 Randolph Av., St. Paul

• 779 Bielenberg Dr., Woodbury


-Twin Cities Running Company

• 6405 City W. Parkway B 5

Eden Prairie

• 12862 Bass Lake Road

Maple Grove


-Excelsior Running, 400 2nd St., Excelsior, excelsiorrunning.com

-Gear West 1786 E. Wayzata Blvd., Suite B, Long Lake, gearwest.com

-Startline Running, 12979 Ridgedale Dr., Minnetonka, startlinerunning.com

7 running clubs

• Minnesota Distance Running Association (runmdra.org)

• Calhoun Beach Running Club (calhounbeachrunningclub.com)

• Club Run Minneapolis (clubrun.org)

• Life Time Run Club (lifetimerun.com)

• North Star Running Club (northstarrunning.com)

• Twin Cities Track Club (twincitiestc.com)

• ALARC Running Club (alarc.com)

6 off-road trails

-Minnesota River Valley Bottoms

Situated along the Minnesota River between I-35W and Hwy. 77 in Bloomington, the River Bottoms offers a variety of distances for every runner. Start at the Lyndale Avenue South trailhead off I-35W.

-Theodore Wirth Park

The biggest regional park in the Minneapolis park system, there are nearly 20 miles of trails around water and gardens.

-Fort Snelling State Park

Fort Snelling offers terrain of every variety on grounds of great historical significance.

-Hyland Lake Park Reserve

The park in Bloomington features gorgeous prairie trails. Part of the 2,565-acre Hyland-Bush-Anderson Lakes Park Reserve, there’s no shortage of real estate to explore.

-Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Lebanon Hills in Eagan is known for its 19 miles of wooded trails, making it a good place to run on a hot day.

-Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Go for the peaceful wilderness. Located in Savage, the park reserve is undeveloped but for the trails, so it’s a great place to catch wildlife in their natural habitat.

5 paved running trails

-Minneapolis Chain of Lakes

If you love running near water, you can’t beat the Chain of Lakes. Start your run on the shoreline of any of the lakes: Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet.

-West River Parkway

Situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River, this trail takes you along tree-lined boulevards with impressive views of the river below.

-Midtown Greenway

This 5.5-mile long former railroad corridor travels from the Chain of Lakes between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles and the Mississippi River. Not only is this a favorite among commuters, but runners like it because it is traffic-free.

-Minnehaha Parkway

For a shaded expanse of trail in south Minneapolis, check out the scenic Minnehaha Parkway, which runs from Lake Harriet to Lake Nokomis to Minnehaha Park.

-Summit Avenue

Comprising the final miles of the Twin Cities Marathon, Summit Avenue between University of St. Thomas and the Cathedral of St. Paul offers a gorgeous run past stately old homes and the governor’s residence.

4 pieces of local running gear

Fly Feet Running MPLS trucker hats

Available at Fly Feet Running


“I (heart) the Lakes” shirts

Available at Fleet Feet Marathon Sports (fleetfeetminneapolis.com)

Mill City trail running shirts

Available at Mill City Running (millcityrunning.com)

Run MSP apparel

Available at GEAR Running Store (gearrunningstore.com)

3 nonprofits

-Bolder Options, mentoring youth (bolderoptions.org)

-Girls on the Run, programming for girls 8-13 (gotrtwincities.org)

-Twin Cities in Motion, organizes events such as the Twin Cities Marathon, fundraises toward community outreach (tcmevents.org)

2 running meetups

Flapjack Fridays

Pancakes are always a good motivator to get your run out of the way early on Friday mornings. Meet at Mill City Running in northeast Minneapolis for 2, 4, 5, or 7-mile routes, followed by free flapjacks. Open to runners of every level. (millcityrunning.com)

Fly Feet Running

The new kid in town, Fly Feet Running is capitalizing on the popular running studio trend sweeping the country. Similar to a spin class with treadmills, Fly Feet’s high-energy workouts are a great way to sweat with your running buddies. (flyfeetrunning.com)

1 running weekend

Twin Cities Marathon, 10 mile and family races

Few things capture the inclusive nature of running with the vibrancy of fall in Minnesota like the Twin Cities Marathon weekend (this year Sept. 30-Oct. 1). The marathon is in its 36th year. It’s popular sister race, the 10 mile, is in its 19th. Not to be overshadowed are the shorter races Saturday morning in St. Paul that finish on the Capitol mall when the joy of running reaches its height in the faces of the little tykes huffing down John Ireland Boulevard.

Mackenzie Lobby Havey is a freelance writer from Minneapolis.