Tag Archive | running tips

Dear Tinker Bell, I’m Just Not Feeling It

Last month I ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon to kick off the 2014 race schedule. I pretty much had a terrible time. I mean it’s Disneyland and Neverland and family fun times so all of the elements of fun were there but when it comes to the running, I had a terrible time. Due to circumstances sort of beyond my control I got a total of 6 hours of sleep in the two nights leading up to the race. That’s 3 hours of sleep the night before a half marathon. I don’t recommend it.

I love waking up with Brad on a race day. While making coffee, Brad makes jokes about how painfully early it is and I flit around the hotel room like a demented fairy, getting nervous for the impending 13 miles ahead. But this morning I just felt tired. SO tired. Deliriously tired. It was difficult to flit around. Pixie dust meter on empty. The thing about waking up at 3:30 am to run a half marathon is that no matter what time you went to bed the night before, you’re always going to be tired. Looking at your alarm clock at 3:30 am will always make you very very sleepy. So on this particular morning I didn’t register that I was more tired than usual. I just felt a malaise. The thought that entered my head was “I’m not really feeling it.” That thought is kryptonite to someone who’s about to run a half marathon. You have to, at the very least, feel it.

We got dressed. I decked out as Smee and Brad my Crocodile (the hat for the Croc being the culprit for my staying up until midnight. Stupid Krazy Glue!)

smee

Stumbling out of our hotel room at approximately 4:15 we make our way to the starting line. The energy surrounding me is as per usual for a runDisney event. Electric. Thousands of runners surround me, many seemingly first time half marathoners. I’m excited. I am. A detached sort of excited. I register my detachment and try to brush it off. This is exciting! It is! Next to us I see a runner dressed as Rufio from Hook. How awesome is that?

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The coolest!

5:00 am approaches. The national anthem is sung. The singing of the national anthem usually brings a tear to my eye. This morning it does not. Fireworks ignite the air. The announcers inspire. All of the elements of a fantastic runDisney morning are there and all I can do is continue to suppress the little minion in my head repeating the mantra “I’m just not feeling it.”

Ever feel like you’re in a fog? Like you’re going through the motions of your life, surrounded by things that should make you happy yet they fall upon numbness? Like you have a front row seat to observe your life from the outside? Inside you feel, just, nothing? I’m fortunate that I’ve never been seriously or clinically depressed, but I’m told the sensation is similar. If that is in fact the case then I can tell you that running 13 miles through Disneyland at 5:00 in the morning on 3 hours of sleep is much the same as being clinically depressed. Add to the mix some guilt. Guilt for not being happy at a runDisney race (it feels like sacrilege). Guilt that I paid so much money to run an event that “I’m just not feeling.” Guilt that I coerced Brad into running the same event. Though luckily Brad looks pretty happy. Brad appears to be having a good run. Phew!

Around mile 6, about the time when I’m just wishing the whole damn thing would be over, I start to panic. Am I falling out of love with running? Am I falling out of love with Disney? Are runDisney and I going to have to break up??? No!! Sheer panic. Why do I feel so terrible? Why isn’t Tinker Bell making me happy? What is this malaise? Why am I not feeling it? I still had not put 2 and 2 together that 3 hours of sleep the night before miiiiight contribute to my lack of excitement.

Brad runs with gusto. He is, as I said, having a great race and clips along at a good pace. I can’t hold him back in my fog. He takes off around mile 9 and continues on to have a fantastic final 4 miles. I just try to make it through.

There is one characteristic emotion of mine that can’t seem to be anesthetized, no matter my state of exhaustion or malaise, and that is my lovely stubbornness. Even though I’m tired and struggling and should really just take it easy if I ever want to enjoy running again, for some reason I decide that I want to finish in under 3 hours. I push it hard the last few miles to ensure that will happen and I cross the finish line feeling, for the first time, pretty damn good. What I soon discover is that since I hadn’t really been feeling anything the entire race, not excitement or joy or determination, I mistook these final emotions (extreme pain) as “pretty damn good.” I suppose I was just relieved to be feeling anything. Since a popular runner’s motto is “my sport is your sport’s punishment” let’s just say it’s not uncommon for a runner to mistake pain for pleasure.

I cross the finish line, find Brad, take our picture, get some water, and feel relieved the race is done. About 10 minutes later I feel everything a runner dreads. Nausea, extreme exhaustion, dizziness, chills, irritability. Damnit. My stubbornness caught up with me. Lactic acid comes rushing in.

Somehow I make it through to the other side of this episode. We find Mom and Dennis and head to Denny’s for breakfast. The thought of food makes me feel like I want to die whilst vomiting, but Mom insists that it will make me feel better. I suspect she’s right so I go with them to Denny’s even though all I really want to do is collapse. Mom orders me a chocolate milkshake and you know what, it was like magic. That magic guilt-free chocolate milkshake I downed at 8:00 in the morning perked me up and settled my tummy. Ice Cream really is the answer to everything. Best chocolate milkshake ever.

After breakfast we walk back to the hotel for a much needed nap, and now that my brain feels a bit more attached to my head I can start to think clearly again. I start to ask questions. Why does this happen to me? Why is it that sometimes I have a great race and sometimes I feel like shit? It can’t just be training. I’m actually pretty well trained for this race. Why does lactic acid seem to attack me only on some runs, and takes pity on me others?

By this point I’d gotten smart and realized that sleep deprivation no doubt played a major role in my malaise. After the milkshake cleared my head I had a light bulb moment and said “Ooohhh. THAT’S why I wasn’t feeling it.” Amazing it took me that long to figure out. I took this as a comfort, knowing that it’s something I can control. Next time I’ll just get more sleep. But this lactic acid question lingered and bothered me. I don’t feel as though I have control over its presence in my running. It seems to rear its ugly head when it wants to, other times a sleeping dragon. After our nap I set out to do some research on this evil foe. I want to understand how lactic acid really works in the body. Why in the world does our body produce anything that would make us feel so terrible right at the time when we need our body to work FOR us, not against us? The answers I found astounded me.

I discovered that lactic acid is actually meant to work for you, you just have to know how to use it. Mind blown. Suddenly I feel like if I can understand this villain of mine, perhaps we can be allies. It’s just as Honest Abe Lincoln once said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Lactic acid and I are about to become bffs.

I’ll impart my research on lactic acid at a later date. Before you roll your eyes, I promise that it’s interesting! I’ve got more studying to do however before I can write a worthy article. As far as Tinker Bell Half Marathon 2014 goes, I found myself in a foggy runner’s malaise and turned it into a teachable moment. And that’s why I run. Because although I briefly panicked that running and I were falling out of love, the great thing about a healthy relationship is that you can always work it out. Running and I, we’re working it out. We’re learning about each other.

Sunday afternoon I went for a breathtaking 5 mile run on the beach. I pushed myself. I philosophized. I worked through some mental cobwebs that had been bugging me. I felt centered. I felt grateful for my feet.

Running and I. We’re rekindling the flame.

Happy moments on the course

Happy moments on the course. A couple of people thought Brad was a dinosaur or an alien shark. This amused me.

If 14,000 excited runners can't get you in the mood, you're in for a long run.

If 14,000 excited runners can’t get you in the mood, you’re in for a long run.

rekindling the romance

a long walk run on the beach is just the ticket for rekindling the romance

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your half-marathon must haves, a checklist

The date is fast-approaching! There are about 15,000 runners out there who in just 12 days will be gearing up to run a half marathon!  I’m no pro, and I don’t have a degree in physical therapy or any professional experience with athletics, so I rarely feel like I can give proper advice about things like injuries or technique. I’m just a girl who’s been running for 15 years, some years more robustly than others, and the only advice I have to offer is what has worked for me. It may work for some, won’t work for others. Every runner is different! Today I offer such advice as you prep and pack for your trip to Disneyland! I’d like to share with you some of my must-have items for Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. This checklist should apply to any half-marathon really. I’m sure you’ll be able to pick out the Disney specific items 🙂 (e.g. you probably don’t need to bring your Mickey Mouse Ears to the ING NYC Marathon).

Let’s start from head to toe:

1.  Hats! I never know when sunglasses are going to give me a headache, so it’s best to have a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. My runDisney hats are my favorite of course:

running hat from 2013 Tinkerbell Half Marathon

running hat from 2013 Tinkerbell Half Marathon

You’ll want a hat that’s lightweight and has some mesh along the sides that breathe.  Case in point, don’t just go running a half marathon in a regular old baseball hat. After a while you’ll start to feel like you’ve got a winter cap on your head! Visors are a great option because they don’t trap the heat (heat escapes from the top of your head so hats can be tricky on a really hot day). Visors aren’t so much my style but I could learn to embrace them. Maybe they’ll have some at the Health & Fitness Expo!

2. Sweaty Bands. I loooove sweaty bands! I first discovered them at the Dland Half Health & Fitness Expo a couple of years ago and they’re kind of like magic. If you don’t need or want to wear a hat or visor but still want to keep your hair out of your face, you must invest in some Sweaty Bands. They are basically just headbands but the underside is made of this magic velvety material and they DO. NOT. SLIP. I wore one last year when I ran as Alice in Wonderland and the thing didn’t budge once. Nor did it squeeze my head or bother me in any way. Love these things!

proud with our medals

black sparkly Sweaty Band

sweaty-bands3. Hair Ties. This one is for the long-haired ladies and gents. The first year I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon I completely forgot to bring hair ties! You probably wouldn’t make the same glaring oversight but I wanted to mention it juuuuust in case. I was scrambling at 10 pm the night before the race trying to find some hair elastics!

4. Sunglasses. This one is particularly important for the Disneyland Half Marathon. The way the course is laid out, you exit the parks and run east into Anaheim RIGHT as the sun is coming up. The timing is worse depending on what corral you’re in and what time you actually start the race, but for MOST runners you’re going to get stuck right in the eye line of a rising sun. The first year I ran I had to borrow Brad’s sunglasses for this portion. My eyes are super sensitive and his aren’t so much, so he took pity on me. One year we ran the race it was really overcast for most of the morning (as it often is in SoCal) and it wasn’t as much of a problem, but you just never know so it’s better to be safe than sorry. You want to be sure and get athletic sunglasses specifically, and test them out on a run beforehand. A lot of glasses will bounce on your face or fog up when you run and trust me, both are very annoying. Find a pair that work with your stride. Sunglasses.

check

check

5. Sunscreen. Speaking of protection from those UV rays, don’t forget to lay on some sunscreen. You’ll be outside running for 3+ hours. Skin cancer is bad! Brad and I really like the Neutrogena sunscreen shown below. There is nothing worse than sweating sunscreen into your eyes during a run (ouch that burns!) and this one doesn’t seem to do that. It works for us. Also, here’s a pro-tip for you: don’t be fooled by a high SPF number. Anything over 30, i.e. SPF 50, 75, 85, is negligible and is just a marketing ploy put in place by manufacturers to get you to buy their product and charge you more. True story. You’re good with SPF 30. Also make sure to get a broad spectrum sunscreen which blocks both UVA and UVB rays. That is much more important than a high SPF.

neutrogena-ultimate-sport-lotion-sunscreen-broad-spectrum-spf-30

6. Chapstick. I hate running with chapped lips! It makes me feel like I’m running through a desert and desperate for water. I’m usually fine if I put some on before the run. I don’t need to bring it in my fuel belt; but if you’re particularly prone to chapped lips, go ahead and bring a stick on the run.

7. Vaseline. Chafing is no joke people. This is an important one you don’t want to forget! Weak spots for ladies tend to be under the ta-tas right where your sports bra sits. Men, it’s more so on the nips. I personally also get chafing spots on my tricep area, which I’m sure means I need to work a little harder to get rid of those chicken cutlets I’ve got dangling (we can’t all be Michelle Obama!). A lot of people buy fancy athletic anti-chafing stuff like Body Glide, but I’ve never tried it. I’ve heard mixed reviews so I’ve never sprung the extra dough for it. There are a lot of options out there. This article from an ultra-runner gives a great breakdown of different products you can try. You have to see what works for you. Me, I use Vaseline. Works like a charm. I don’t love the idea of smothering petroleum all over my breast area but it’s better than chafing. A lot of people don’t like to use Vaseline because they say it stains their clothes. I guess it depends where you need to apply it. So far I haven’t noticed any staining on my sports bras or running shirts, so I’m going to stick with Vaseline. It’s cheap and easy to find.

8. Clothes! An obvious and very important item. You may be so excited to prep and pack your awesome running costume that you completely forget to pack the athletic clothing that goes with it. Also make sure you bring running clothes that you know don’t bother you. For example I have a couple of sports bras that are way more comfortable than others so I’m going to be sure that they are laundered and ready to be packed. Plan ahead. You’re going to want your most comfortable sports bras, undies, socks, etc. I also like to bring a spare of most things. You just never know! Don’t forget to also pack a swimsuit so you can luxuriate by the pool after your race!

Relaxing at the Grand Californian pool after our 1st half marathon

Relaxing at the Grand Californian pool after our 1st half marathon

The good news is that if you forget anything, there is a Target right down the street from Disneyland so you can pick up pretty much any clothing item you may need.

9. Fuel Belt. Everyone requires different amounts of water at different times on a long race, but I’m just going to tell you from my personal experience, I really don’t think you need to bring water on your fuel belt. RunDisney races are so well fueled. I’ve never ever been thirsty. Every time I feel like I really want a drink of water, there’s a water station right around the corner. Also, through the parks you will run past several water fountains. Water on my belt weighs me down and slows me down. I only wear it when I absolutely have to, like times that I know there won’t be a lot of water along my route. All that being said, I do still wear a belt, just minus the water, and I’d recommend you wear one too. It’s a must for holding various things you probably will need like an iPod, phone, earbuds, ID, gels, etc. The hard part is trying to find one that will match your running costume 😉

10. Phone/Camera. You will most likely want to snap at least a few pics along the course. Especially if it’s your first runDisney race! The parks look so lovely with all of the runners racing through, and they have so much entertainment along the course. Even the city of Anaheim provides a lot of great entertainment throughout the city. I just bring my phone which doubles as my music and camera. It’d be a bit much to have an iPod and a camera, though there are those who do it. Snapping pics with your phone will drain the battery faster, so there’s that.

11. Earbuds. You’ll be so sad to reach for your iPod to start your kick-ass running playlist only to discover you forgot your headphones. Wah wah waahhh. My absolute favorite brand is Yurbuds. I have been on a quest for YEARS to find earbuds that don’t fall out when I run. Never really found a winning pair, until now. I’ve been wearing my pink Yurbuds for a year and they have never ever fallen out while running. Not even once. They are awesome.

Yurbuds-Ironman-Series-Pink-HSDyurbuds1

12. Compression socks/sleeves. I really love to wear compression socks on a long run. I don’t know if it’s in my head, but I feel like I recover much quicker when I run long with compression socks. Pro Compression socks are nice. They’ll also have a good selection at the Health & Fitness Expo if you want to wait and buy some when you get there.

pro-compression-purplehigh-compression-socks-from-pro-compression

13. Shoes! It would be pretty silly to forget your running shoes on your trip to a race, but I’m sure it’s happened! And you know what, it’s totally something I would do. I haven’t yet, but there’s a first time for everything. So I’m saying it here, don’t forget your shoes! And make sure you bring a pair that you’ve already broken in. You may be tempted to buy a brand new glistening pair of sneaks to commemorate your half marathon, but you do NOT want to run 13.1 miles in new shoes. Blisters! You’ve got to give yourself a few weeks to break in those puppies. Make sure to pack your race shoes, as well as whatever shoes you’re going to wear AFTER the race and in the parks. Your feet might be pretty swollen from running 13.1 miles so you might want to bring some comfortable walking sandals to wear on the following days. Give those ol’ dogs a chance to get back to their normal size 🙂

14. Running Fuel. You’ll get a Clif Shot, which is basically Gu, at mile 9, but if you’re like me and the mere sound of the word Gu makes your stomach turn, you’ll need to bring your own fuel. At Jeff Galloway’s suggestion, I use gummy bears! They work like a charm. Recently I tried a Honey Stinger Waffle on a 12 mile run and it was actually quite delicious and didn’t upset my stomach, so I recommend those as well. You can also try Clif Shot Blocks. They are nowhere near as gross as Gu, but they still provide replenishing electrolytes. Sometimes I’ll have one or two of these on a long run and they don’t bother my tummy too much.

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15. First Aid. Hopefully you won’t really need any first aid from running your half marathon but you might get a blister or two and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll be sore. Really smart to bring the essentials: band-aids, ibuprofen (or whatever pain reliever you prefer), antibacterial wipes. If you want to get more advanced, throw in an ACE bandage, some neosporin, an ice pack, or even some biofreeze. If you’re struggling with a running injury, I HIGHLY recommend you get some KT Tape for the run. It’s kind of like magic. They’ll have a booth at the Health & Fitness Expo and you can have one of their reps apply it for you. In short, it’s a very flexible synthetic tape that works optimally with your body movement. As you move, the tape lifts your skin away from your muscle allowing for more flexibility and circulation to the injured area, while also providing support without constricting movement. It kind of helps your body heal itself.  You remember Kerri Walsh in the Summer Olympics:

the-kt-tape-story

15. Park stuff. Are you going into the parks after your race?? I hope so! The best part is parading around in your awesome runDisney bling and/or race shirt so all of the cast members and guests can say congratulations to you! Also, Disneyland, duh. You didn’t travel all this way to run past Radiator Springs Racers but not RIDE it! So make sure to pack your park stuff. Comfy walking clothes, shoes, hats, and a backpack or fanny pack or comfortable bag you don’t mind lugging around all day. And of course, don’t forget your Mickey Mouse ears!

In review, here is your list:

  • Hat/Visor
  • Sweaty Bands or other headband to keep hair out of your face
  • Hair elastics (for the long-haired runners)
  • Running Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Vaseline or other anti-chafing gel
  • Running clothes: your most comfy
  • Swimsuit
  • Running belt
  • Phone and/or Camera and/or iPod
  • Earbuds/headphones
  • Compression socks
  • Broken in running shoes
  • Extra socks, undies, sports bras
  • Walking sandals
  • Running fuel: Gu, sport beans, gummy bears, Clif Shot Bloks, etc.
  • First Aid: band-aids, pain relievers, antibacterial wipes
  • Park gear: backpack, Mickey Ears, comfy walking clothes, etc.

There you have it. Your basic checklist of things to pack for the Disneyland Half Marathon. Did I forget anything? Add on to the list by commenting below. Help other runners prepare for this awesome weekend!

new year, new RUNNING goals

Hello there faithful readers! Been awhile. I need to force myself to get back into the habit of writing more often because when I don’t, I miss it, and I feel all ooky and empty inside. Just like anything else it takes discipline to sit down and write everyday which is exactly what writers need to do if they are serious about their craft. I guess I just haven’t been feeling particularly inspired lately. The antidote to that problem is certainly not to spend hours in excess on social media while ingesting multiple episodes of The Walking Dead, although if you guessed my logic to curing writer’s block based on recent behavior, you may think so. Nope, the couch is a killer to creativity and I’m getting off of it. Today I want to talk about the opposite of laziness that is currently permeating the running community. Goal setting time!

The start of a new year brings a wave of eagerness and optimism. We runners sit down and set our running and racing goals for the year with enthusiasm and gusto. We reflect on goals missed and/or met in the previous year and make plans to either exceed those goals or to do better to accomplish them. It’s a time of high expectations and while it may be easy to write down in a journal that “I’m going to run 15 miles per week,” the reality sets in quickly that it’s far more difficult to actually accomplish. So how do we avoid this trap? How do we not only make running goals for the year but take action to meet them? Some runners simply have the discipline needed to do exactly that. They say they’re going to do something and they do it. I need more accountability or the couch and my favorite television shows slowly but surely suck me in to their grasp. May I offer my favorite tool for accountability as a tip to all you runners starting off the new year with a long list of goals? Sign up for a race. And one that happens soon.

Ideally I would have posted about this a few months ago and advised you to sign up for a race that happens in January. This is the first year I’ve done just that and man has it helped me to start the running year off right! Normally in January I’m slowly easing out of holiday mode and maybe getting in a few 3 mile runs a week if I’m lucky. This year I’m signed up for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on January 20 and I need a lot more than 3 mile runs to get ready. Admittedly I’m behind on my training but I knew that coming into the New Year. I knew that I would need to make these three weeks before race day count. The challenge would be to put in enough miles to be ready for the race without injuring myself. So far, I’m kicking butt.

The reason I say either run a race in January or one that happens as soon as possible in the new year is because if you don’t, you’re not really avoiding the trap. Don’t get me wrong, taking that step to sign up for a race and challenge yourself is always a good thing but if the race isn’t until October then you’re not really lighting the fire under your butt to get out and run NOW. Don’t allow procrastination to present itself as an option. Immediacy is everything. Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t think you should sign up for a distance you’re not ready for. You can’t go from holiday slug to marathon runner in a month. If you’ve been sluggish the past few months, sign up for a 5k that happens in February. Not quite a slug but still emerging from a slow holiday pace? How about a 10k before March 1st? You know your limits and your abilities. The most important thing right now as we start the new year is just to get out there and run, and for me a countdown to a race that I’m excited about really holds me accountable to that.

There are other ways to hold yourself accountable if your bank account is a little dry after the holiday shopping season and those entry fees are just a bit too much. Why not get a running partner and schedule runs together? You’re more likely to get up out of bed when that alarm goes off at 6:00 am if your friend is waiting for you outside. There are many ways to creatively motivate yourself. The most important thing is to figure out how to make your running goals a priority. For me, accountability comes in the form of pixie dust.

I can state with almost certainty that I won’t be setting any PRs at the upcoming Tink Half. The relief is that I’m totally OK with that. This is another important New Year’s lesson. Not every race has to be a record-setter. Sometimes it’s more important just to finish than to finish first. That’s my goal for this Half Marathon. I want to have fun. I want to finish. I don’t care about my time. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know that’s a strange thing for me to say. I’m just excited to get 2013 off to a running start! 🙂

Speaking of running at Disney, it’s an exciting time of year for we runDisney fans! Not only is the Tinker Bell Half Marathon coming up in just a week and a half, but bigger news is that the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon is happening this Sunday! I still haven’t found it in me to sign up for a marathon but I know that when I do I want my first to be the WDW Marathon. I love connecting with all of my runDisney pals on Twitter and it’s been very cool to see the feeds exploding in excitement for this weekend’s upcoming events. I’m thinking of all of you! Especially everyone running the Goofy Challenge. If you don’t know what this is, check it out: if you sign up for the Goofy Race and Half Challenge then you run the half marathon on Saturday AND the full marathon on Sunday. It’s called Goofy for a reason! Have fun out there and I can’t wait to read all of your race reports in the blogosphere!

One more bit of quick business about the upcoming Half Marathon. I need a costume. Now, it’s called the Tinker Bell Half Marathon so there is an obvious costume choice built right into the title. I’m certain there will be literally thousands of Tinker Bells running the race. My instinct is twofold. On the one hand I want to do something different to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, HOW CAN I TURN DOWN AN OPPORTUNITY TO DRESS UP AS TINKER BELL? Yeah, I don’t care if I’m one in 10,000, I gotta dress up as Tinker Bell.

an afternoon in Neverland

an afternoon in Neverland

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 🙂  http://www.crowdrise.com/runningforwonderlust

“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