To say Janet Voelpert is passionate about running is an understatement.
“I call it an obsession,” she said.
Voelpert, a Shelton resident who’s co-owner of Warner’s Hair Design in Huntington Plaza, has been running since the 1970’s when she began jogging alongside her husband, Warner Voelpert, on long walks they would take.
“I couldn’t keep up,” she said.
Soon, running became part of her life, and her first race was the Shelton Sunset 10K, which has evolved into the Sunset Run for the Warriors that took place this year on Aug. 23.
Voelpert’s first race proved to be physically demanding, even though she had trained for it.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said.
Since then, she’s developed a competitive urge to beat her own times and push ahead of other runners during races.
“I’ve done 18 marathons,” she said, and recalls that in her early days of running, there “weren’t a lot of ladies.”
Now just over 50% of competitive runners are women,” she said.
Voelpert ran the 2006 Boston Marathon with a time of 4:15, after qualifying by running the Marine Corps Marathon in 2005.
She’s run the New York Marathon five times and also competed in the Philadelphia and Steamtown Marathons.
“Since February, I’ve run seven half-marathons,” she said, as well as 5K and 10K races.
In May, Voelpert completed a “three-way” in the “Flying Pig” race in Cincinnati, Ohio. She competed in a 10K, 5K and a half marathon and came in first in her age bracket in all three races.
“We have our own triple-crown runner right here in Shelton, CT,” her husband said. Over the years, his wife has accrued more than 150 first place wins in her age bracket, he said, and has come in first in her age bracket in all Shelton sunset road races.
“I came in first in my age bracket in the Fairfield Half Marathon in June and finished second in the New York City Half Marathon in March,” she said.
Support network is key
Voelpert credits her “best buddy” and fellow runner, Dotti Lupariello of Shelton for providing impetus and inspiration.
“We like to be competitive,” said Voelpert, who also competes against herself to better her record.
Voelpert does weight training and indoor cycling under the supervision of Patty Taylor of Taylor-Made Fitness in Shelton.
Tim Livingston, Taylor’s husband, helps her with Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) to keep her body in balance.
She does nightly exercises to strengthen her back, hips and core, and when injuries crop up, Livingston gives her “planking” exercises to strengthen the muscles around the injured area.
“Last year, I ran a marathon while injured,” Voelpert said. “It was mind over matter. It was the worst race and the best race.”
Voelpert ran with Team Taylor-Made Fitness in the Sunset Run for the Warriors, and she’s a member of the Housatonic Women’s Running Club, a team that competes in USA Track and Field (USATF) championships.
In terms of diet, Voelpert said she eats gluten-free, “quality” carbohydrates that don’t include pasta.
“I don’t need pasta loading before a race,” she said, and substitutes rice products instead.
She’s currently experimenting with a product called Generation Ucan Superstarch to keep her blood sugar level stable.
When she begins to lose energy during a race or during training, she eats “goo” packages made up of simple carbs.
Voelpert runs up to 20 miles daily training for marathons, and normally runs 30 to 35 hours a week on trails in Shelton and Trumbull.
She works part-time five days a week as a staff coordinator at Warner’s Hair Design, but often travels in and out-of-state to races.
“I do it for the friendship and the social life, and for the T-shirts,” she said, smiling.
She often runs races with Smart Chicks Connecticut, a group of six women who train together. Often, the team will take a limo to a race and enjoy brunch afterwards.
“That’s what it is, a lot of fun and the social life,” she said, and being with people “who have the same passions.”
Voelpert is now training for the upcoming Lehigh Valley Marathon, and as usual, she’s working with Lupariello, Taylor and Livingston to achieve her goals.
The message she often conveys to them summarizes the way she feels about winning races.
“Give me another year. I don’t want to quit.”