they’re more like guidelines really

Just read this article in Runner’s World by writer Mark Remy. Everything in black is pulled directly from his article. Everything in purple is my humble opinion. Allow me to go through item by item and tell you why I disagree with almost everything he says:

“Have Fun”
“No other fact is so fundamental to running: Done properly, running is fun. Even when you do it improperly, running is still inherently, liberatingly fun. If you doubt this, just spend a few minutes watching a child or a dog in any wide open space. Their glee is instinctual and undeniable. I believe it was Aristotle who said, “Tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.” Enjoy it. After all, there aren’t many animal impulses that we can act on in public without getting arrested.”

Rebecca: Bullshit. Fun is definitely the wrong word. Do not run because you think it’s going to be fun. You are neither a dog nor a 5 year old child. What makes running fun for them is that they think they might actually catch that darned squirrel this time, or catch that butterfly. Runners, we ain’t chasing butterflies. It’s hard. It hurts sometimes. You should still run. Because you’ll feel the best you’ve ever felt in your life. Because your molecules will all work in harmony and you will feel electric. Because every once in awhile that elusive runner’s high will make you feel like if you run just a tiny bit faster, you will actually take off and fly. Because crossing that finish line after you’ve been training for months will instantaneously and exponentially increase your self-worth and might just move you to tears. That’s not fun, it’s euphoric. Fun. Pshaw. What a silly word to describe running.

“Expand Your Sense of Fun”
“As a runner, your definition of fun—which might once have included water parks, screwball comedies on DVD, and scrapbooking—must be, well, let’s just say broadened and might include:

Waking up at 5:30 a.m. to run 10 miles
Running in blistering heat
Running in the rain
Running in 400-meter circles
Feeling as if your lungs are about to explode
Paying good money for the privilege of turning your toenails black
Any combination of the above”

Rebecca: Yeah, see? Not fun. I agree that everything on that list becomes totally gratifying for we runners, but don’t just expand your idea of fun, get rid of it altogether. See previous response. Next:

“Black Toenails Are Badges of Honor”
“Run long enough and you’ll wind up ruining a toenail or two. Whether it’s because yourshoes are too big or too small or because you’ve run a race with punishing downhills or the toenail gods happen to be in a foul mood, someday you will peel off your socks and see black where once there was pink. Congratulations! These bruised nails are tiny trophies conferred upon you for toughing it out. Just don’t flash them in public.”

Rebecca: Totally. One of the best running t-shirts I ever saw said “Toenails are for sissies.”

“Run Like a Dog”
“My dog, a shepherd mix named Cooper, doesn’t care where we are or what time of day it is, or even what the weather is like. He doesn’t know what his resting heart rate is and rarely bothers to wear a watch. He just loves to run. And every time he does, his face and his body telegraph one simple message: This. Is. AWESOME. I’m runningrunningrunningrunning!”

Rebecca: Will this guy drop the whole dog comparison! You are never going to feel like a dog. Never! Ancient warrior running from a dangerous adversary? Maybe. Olympic legend coming out of seclusion to show the world that runners never retire, yep. Dog. Come on. I’d rather feel like a warrior.

“Let Angry Motorists Go”
“I understand the impulse when a driver has just pulled out in front of you or turned directly in your path or otherwise behaved like a jerk. I know how much you’d love to slap the trunk of that driver’s car, or shout at the person behind the wheel, helpfully suggesting that he or she “learn to drive.” Or extend a certain digit in a certain direction. Do yourself—and all runners—a favor and fight that impulse. Smile. Your lashing out isn’t likely to change the driver’s behavior, and may, in fact, worsen it. For all you know, the still-seething guy may drive extra close to the next runner he sees, just to make a point. Let him go.”

Rebecca: No kidding around here, I totally agree. Be the bigger person. Brad is so good at this. I am not. It’s worth it though. Just move along.

“The Open-Ended Question Is Your Friend”
“Running with someone who’s faster than you? Is this person oblivious to your gasping? If so, it’s time to deploy that surefire weapon of struggling runners everywhere: Ask the offending speedster a question so broad, he or she could spend 10 minutes answering it. And just might! This is particularly useful on long hills.”

“Say, how’s the job?”
“Any vacation plans this year?”
“Popular culture: How about it, huh?”

Rebecca: This one totally maddens me! In my opinion this is in complete violation of the runner’s code. If you’re running with a buddy, especially one who is generally faster than you, do not hold him or her back! Yes it’s nice to start the run together, warm up, share battle scars and war stories of that last time you puked at a marathon. If this running buddy is just flat-out faster than you, and you can feel her wanting to pull ahead, deal with it. You MUST kindly say “Hey go ahead and run ahead of me. I’ll meet you at the finish.” If you hold her back, she’s going to secretly resent running with you. Meantime, you’re going to kill yourself trying to keep at her pace and you’re going to be so wiped out, you’ll curse your running shoes and never run again. Do not get your friend to tell you a long winded story about his or her job. That is mean. People are different. People have different paces. It’s not a personal judgement, it just is what it is. Get out of denial and let your running partner have the workout that will best serve him or her. Running is after all an individual sport. You’re competing against yourself. Holding someone back from pushing him or herself is so against all that running stands for. Don’t do it. Every time someone asks to run with me, I tell them, sure! But I’m slow. If they’re still interested, I make it clear that they are welcome to run ahead of me at any time to keep their personal best going. No worries. We’ll grab an icy beverage after. Save the chit-chat for that.

“For Pete’s Sake, Stand Still at Red Lights”
“Sharks die when they stop moving. Runners do not. Keep this in mind next time you encounter a don’t walk sign at a busy intersection. There’s no need to jog in place or dance from foot to foot like you have to pee. Just chill. Wait a few moments. Note: If a nonrunner waiting with you at the crosswalk is dancing from foot to foot, he or she may indeed have to pee. Give this person wide berth.”

Rebecca: Again, totally disagree here! As I’ve stated ad infinitum, running is a personal sport. You have to figure out what works for you. When Brad and I run our 6 mile route together, we invariably hit a stop light that we never seem to make on a green. We always have to wait. I just stop and wait, and take the opportunity to chill for 20 seconds or so. Brad can’t do that. He can’t stop or he’ll lose momentum and he won’t get it back. We hit that light and he runs in circles, he doubles back for a bit, anything to keep moving. That’s what works for him. It’s totally misguided to make a blanket statement like the one above.

“Learn and Love The Farmer’s Blow”
“Mastering the farmer’s blow (or snot rocket) is a must for any runner. Here’s how to do it right: Breathe in through your mouth, like you’re gasping. Lay a forefinger against one nostril and compress firmly. Purse your lips. Cock your head slightly in the direction of the open nostril and exhale forcefully through your nose. Repeat with opposite nostril, if needed.”

Rebecca: I love the snot rocket! Got confident with this when living in London. The UK is down with the snot rocket.

“”Lookin’ good!”…and other runners’ lies”
“Lying is not something we normally endorse. But it’s perfectly acceptable to tell a runner that he is looking good at mile 19 of a marathon when, in fact, he looks like an insomniac who’s trying to sneeze, and is confused because someone has switched his running shoes with replicas made of concrete. The go-to lie is “Lookin’ good!” Or you could say, “If I weren’t so awed by the apparent ease with which you’re navigating this course, I might be angry with you for nearly knocking me unconscious with your very awesomeness!” The key is to say something. Even a zombie appreciates encouragement.” 

Rebecca: Wrong. Look, if you’re on a long run with someone and she is looking like every breath is a gift, just leave her alone. That person does not want to waste extra energy listening to your transparent compliments. The run may be affecting her body, but it isn’t making her stupid. Don’t bullshit. Chances are that your mere presence is enough comfort to this struggling runner. When I hit Mile 11 last year at the Disneyland Half, I didn’t need to hear from Brad. I just liked having him by my side. Whenever he talked to me, I felt obligated to respond, and that takes energy! A runner at the tail end of a long distance will need every atom of energy left to focus on gait, breath and pace. Don’t make her waste it.

“Running Rules of Thumb”

1. If you see a porta potty with no line, use it. Even if you don’t need to. Umm, why?
2. If you have to ask yourself, Does this driver see me? The answer is no. Wise words. Can’t be too cautious.
3. If you have to ask yourself, Are these shorts too short? The answer is yes. Dude, wear whatever you want. Runners have no shame.
4. 1 glazed doughnut = 2 miles True. 
5. You rarely regret the runs you do; you almost always regret the runs you skip. Best thing I’ve read in a long time.
6. Not everyone who looks fast really is, and not everyone who looks slow really is. Confucius?
7. Nobody has ever watched Chariots of Fire from beginning to end. Not even the people who made it. I have. Love it.
8. You can never have too many safety pins on your gym bag. Wtf? Don’t get it.
9. Running any given route in the rain makes you feel 50 percent more hard-core than covering the same route on a sunny day. True. It’s like a rite of passage.
10. If you care even a little about being called a jogger versus a runner, you’re a runner. So true.

“Pass Gas, Not Judgment”
“Runners ingest a fair amount of healthy foods, which produce gas in the GI tract, where it cannot stay forever. Especially when that GI tract is bounced and jostled. Passing gas while running is excusable and inevitable, but… You may not mock another runner for having passed gas, unless he has previously mocked you for the same or unless he mocks himself. If a runner has taken pains to mask flatulence, pretend nothing happened. It’s fun to pretend that the gas you expelled is propelling you forward, like a little booster rocket. That isn’t really a guideline, though, is it?”

Rebecca: Love this. Fart away. Although preferably not as you’re passing Billy Blanks who is in the middle of training someone on the beach. Pretty sure Brad did that a few months ago. Yeah. It was Brad. Stop looking at me!

“Never Leave a Man Behind… Unless He Insists He’s Okay with It”
“It’s fine to ask once or twice if a straggler is okay or if he wants you to slow down for him. Asking three or more times, however, is more likely to annoy than to help. Take the straggler at his word and run accordingly.”

Rebecca: As I said before, it’s fine to leave a man behind! (Especially if you’re a woman). Just be honest. If you’re running buddy is pulling ahead a little but you want him to stick with you (first of all, you’re a jerk), but just say so. Or vice versa. Tell him he can run ahead, but mean it! Don’t get all passive aggressive and mad that he ran ahead.

“Smile at Your Critics”
“A few people will never miss a chance to tear running down, or jab its adherents in the chest with a rhetorical finger. Oddly enough, the most vocal of such critics are often in terrible health themselves.”

“Bad for your joints,” they’ll jab.

“You’ll get arthritis,” they’ll jab.

“Running marathons?” they’ll ask, jabbingly, between sips of their Big Gulp. “That’ll kill ya.”

The best response is to continue running and loving it. Meantime, try inviting these critics to join you for a short run. Who knows? Maybe someday they’ll accept your invitation.

Rebecca: Ah yes, the critics. I agree with this one. Many people will try and tell you that “running is so hard on the body.” Just smile and tell them “not mine. I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life.” Not everyone takes to running. That’s a fact, and that’s fine. The folks that try to convince you, though, that you’re doing something wrong by running, ignore them. They just want to justify why sitting on the couch and watching another hour of the Kardashians is “better for their joints.”

“Runners Do Not Shave Their Legs”
“Exceptions include most North American women; runners about to undergo some sort of leg surgery; runners who are competitive swimmers, cyclists, or triathletes; and runners who don’t care what anyone thinks because they just like the way smooth legs feel, especially against cotton sheets, and anyway, what’s the big deal?”

Rebecca: What? I’m totally lost on this one. Anyone?

“A PR Is a PR Forever, But…”
“You may advertise a personal record (PR) time, or otherwise claim it as your own with no further explanation for two years after setting it. After two years, however, it becomes uncool to tell people, “My marathon PR is 3:12” without providing a disclaimer–e.g., “My marathon PR is 3:12, but I ran that 63 years ago.””

Rebecca: Agreed. It’s like leaving that co-star credit you have from Columbo on your resume. Get back in the game, or let it go.

“Remove Your Hat For The National Anthem”
“Manners and common courtesy apply, even during a race and even if your hat is made of technical sweat-wicking fabrics.”

Rebecca: Uh, sure. Patriotism. Why not.

“When Elastic Is Gone, Man, It Is Gone”
“Men, this one is for you. You paid good money for those shorts. You love those shorts. You’ve raced in those shorts. But sooner or later you will pull them on and feel roomy gaping where once there was a snug liner. This means that the elastic down there has gone slack. You will be tempted to wear them anyway. Don’t.”

Rebecca: Can’t say as I’ve ever remotely had this problem. I’ve got a built in belt in the form of my Italian birthing hips.

“Never Miss a Chance To Thank a Volunteer”
“Even if you’re running the race of your life, you can still manage a bit of eye contact and a nod as you grab a cup of water from an outstretched hand. Even if it feels like your quads are quite literally on fire, you can manage to sputter a short “thanks” to the course marshal standing in the intersection. It will make the volunteer feel good. And you, too.”

Rebecca: Agreed. Those volunteers are your lifeline in a long race. Be nice.

“5 Topics Guaranteed To Get a Runner’s Dander Up”

1. Walking in Marathons: Good or Bad? Personal preference, but to me it’s bad. If you walk, you’re not really “running” a marathon are you? There, I said it! Don’t hate me.
2. Running with Headphones: Good or Bad? Personal preference.
3. Dean Karnazes: Good or Bad? Who is that? I guess I don’t know everything after all.
4. Barefoot Running: Good or Bad? Personal preference but mostly I say GOOD! 
5. Charity Runners: Good or Bad? GOOD! How could this EVER be bad? What? Meanwhile, please DONATE 🙂

“Before You Remove Your New Running Shoes from The Box, You Must Smell Them”
“Open the box. Peel back the tissue paper. Behold those pristine shoes. Then lift the box to your face and breathe deeply. Mmmm. Smells like potential. And possibly toxins. But mostly potential.”

Rebecca: Whatever man.

So there you have it. My snarky responses to a world class running journalist and his silly list of runner’s tips. I do, after all, know way more than a world class journalist. Feel free to hire me, Runner’s World. For the full article click HERE


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