If You Loved Me You’d Make Me Run Faster

True love waits…for you to finish your run.
running couple
Well, being the forever pathetic runnerchick in the whole love department (can I at least say I try to make up for that last tag-line with doubling up on the running portion?? Hehe.) I can’t exactly off up all too much insight into the topic of whether it’s easier to have both people as runners in a relationship or not. Though I still tend to be able to yammer on about anything regardless, so I’ll offer up some keen words of wisdom.

I’ll say that runners are quirky. In some cases that’s an understatement; now I know everyone, runner and non-runners alike, have their own quirks, but the thing is many runners share the same quirks. If not the exact same quirk, something similar and they can at least see where the other person’s insaneness is stemming from. They may know it’s totally illogical but they can at least SEE the other person’s line of reasoning. (Umm, even the person with the quirk usually knows that just because something isn’t rational doesn’t mean they don’t have to still harbor the desire to do it…mmmmk.)

That said, I’ve heard from couples of the mix-matched running pursution that having a non-runner helps balance out the insanity…so who really knows. I guess in the end “all you need is love, love. Love is all you need.” Before I start tasting that yummy chocolate chip muffin for the second time, I’ll cut to some things that, love aside, I think any kind of partner for a runner addict enthusiast should be able to understand…or at least see the line of reasoning of it.

* I love you but the watch comes first. Now this may sound horrible, but let me explain myself fully before you judge. When you’re on a run, with anyone for that matter, there is an agreement that barring some insane, brutal attack (bear mauling) if one person has to stop or slow down the other person doesn’t necessarily have to do the same. If a person has to make a pit-stop, their running buddy doesn’t need to stop running, they may circle around but it’s not like we are to share a bush! Sometimes on easy days one person’s pace may not be exactly the same as the others and if there comes a point in the run where a person wants to slow down, their partner can of course choose to do so as well, but they can also choose to do their own thing. It’s then understood it’s nothing person.

* You trip the switch I’ll kill you. I harbor this insane amount of fear that for some reason there may be a power surge while I’m in the middle of my run on a treadmill and the machine will stop. I try to zone out if I can and not stare at the screen so I’m afraid that I’ll then not know how far I went and…gasp…will have to guess. I’m also afraid that if anyone is around the area of the cord they will somehow trip on it and it will be unplugged. (This happened once to me, and is my explanation for this ridiculous phobia of mine.) Even worse, if I were in the middle of a hard workout and the cord came unplugged, I’d probably kill the person who did it.
runner legs
* Understand the fartlek. The whole fast slow thing really gets annoying if you’re on a bike path and there are other people, strangers, around you running at a pace that causes you to keep passing them on your fast part and then having them pass you on the easy part. You of course try to get faster on the fast part, and bump up the recovery pace, but through the course of the workout that gets tougher and sometimes the other person is thinking, “wtf” and tries to amp up their pace. I guess I bring this up because if the ‘stranger’ is the kind of person who would do that and not understand what the fartleking running was doing, then said person is stamped un-date-able (maybe un-friendable…jk.) off the bat.

* What’s said/done mid-hard workout can later be ‘taken back’ without explanation. Sometimes that little inner beast of a person can rise up out of nowhere in the middle of a bad run, a really tough workout, heck, just because. I’ve seen athletes actually flip their coaches the bird and scream upon being told they were running another ‘surprise’ interval…they of course ran the interval and five minutes later chumming it up with dear coachie. The episode never needed to be talked out, it wasn’t anything person just one of those things that you run the risk of encountering when there’s suffering (the good kind) involved. The bottom line is the workout got done; if there had been a refusal that’s a totally different story…complain if you want but you know you’re going to do it.

* No pity clap. The only thing that makes a bad workout or race WORSE is the pity clap or ridiculously over-board encouragements. Such as, I was once running a tempo, it was crash and burn stlye and by the end there, running so far off pace the only reasonable explanation would have been that I was running backwards…sadly I wasn’t. My coach offered up the logical form tips and such but another coach standing track-side started pulling the way, over the top cheerleader, “Looking AWESME!!! Great job!! Keep it up!!” He was actually smiling and clapping like a little kid looking forward to birthday cake. The thing is, we all knew the truth and that wasn’t it. In cases like this, please don’t pretend we don’t all know that what is going on is ugly…doing so only makes the workout/race worse.

* If you love me you’ll kick my @$$. There are many runnerchicks blessed with some faster hubbys and can rope them in enlist them for pacing duties. Here is where you couldn’t ask for a better situation, at least from the girl’s perspective. Or if the runnerchick was able to chick her hubs it would be working to his favor there…rock on. Having a pacer right there would be awesome so long as they understood that when the going gets tough they better keep on pushing…true love knows in the quest for our best we gotta get our @$$’s kicked in the best, most painful way. :)
If you like that first picture up there, I just added it to my Etsy store so you can snag a copy there if you like! Feel free to check out the others up too, and let me know if you have any requests for images not already posted!

1) Got any insights into the running couples situation…where do you stand, better to be both runners or not?

2) What’s one thing, a quirk or line of reasoning, you’d like to add here to the list?

3) Do you have a story to share about an infuriating fartlek experience?

4) Trials talk…we’re all open for that here too!

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Running to Race, Racing to Win: Three Important Things to Keep in Mind

Can we just say the Olympic Track Trials action came back with a BANG and it only further backs my theory that the rest days are just as much for the fans who get insanely excited and need a break from the action to rest their adrenal glands and cheering voices.
fast runner
So much to say, and I think the best thing to do is cut to the chase and throw out a few lessons to be learned from today…

* Never forget the importance of a kick. There are two kinds of runners: the ones passing people at the end of a race and the ones getting passed. Sad but true fact, we can’t all win…and while the tricky thing with a kick, and speed, is that to a degree you are genetically predisposed to be a kicker or not. BUT, it doesn’t mean that even us without all those fast-twitch muscle fibers can’t IMPROVE our kicking abilities. It just means that if you’ve got a weakness you need to work on it rather than avoid it and use the excuse, “Well, I just don’t have a kick, oh well.” Work on your base speed (200′s and 400′s) and also work on it when you’re already with tired legs, simulating how you’ll be feeling after the majority of a race already run. To do that, do a workout that is more endurance based (a tempo run or longer repeats) then double back, finishing with some fast 200′s or 150′s.

* Run through the line. Without even bringing up the whole 100 meter tie-snaffu, if you caught the end of the women’s 5k you’ll see my point. How would you feel getting out-leaned for a shot to London…probably not so hot. The thing is it’s one thing to miss out because you got out-kicked and at least were a few seconds behind…but getting out-leaned stings more. Now I’m sure if you sense a runner coming you’ll be high-tailing it and, yes, tired, but never forget that even if you don’t hear someone coming, better safe than sorry. Pretend your shadow is chasing you if you have to and fire all those pistons until you are ACROSS the line.
olympic runner
* Remember the highs and lows. Running has so many ups and downs, and I’ll venture to guess every single athlete at the Trials has hit a point, probably loads more, of times when people around them were scratching their heads and thinking, “Uhh, so you’re going to give up this running thing now, right?” Be it surgeries, horrible strings of races, entire years of set-backs…if you now gathered up the people GOING to London you’d see they all have those lows. They didn’t quit. Now, I’ll argue on the other side and say that yes, there are plenty of runners NOT going to London with those very same lows (those not even at the Trials)…so you want to argue with me. I’ll tell you what all of the people DO have in common, they run because in the end they love running. Their goals and dreams up the ante, yes, and it’s crushing to fall short. BUT, the reason you try is because YOU want to see if you are capable, and to do that you can only know if you try. And if you run because you love it yourself, even if you fall short of your goals you can still ‘fall back’ on that passion…once the sting wears off you’ll still have running for YOU.

The Olympic Trials are awesome peeps…just be careful you don’t cheer yourself to a coronary. ;)

1) What’s a lesson you can take away from the Trials action so far and apply it to your own running?

2) What has been one of your low points, how did you manage it, and how did you keep moving forward?

3) What’s been a high that makes all those lows worth it?

4) All other Trials related fodder…gimmie it!

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The Day of Rest: Runners and their rest days

I think they must schedule the rest days during the Olympic Track Trials just as much for the fans as the athletes…it keeps all us crazy track fans from going into cardiac arrest due to over-excitment. I kid, sort of, but there has been plenty to get excited about, stir up some controversy, and rise to your feet cheering for thus far and there is still more action to come. A part of that action will be the 1500′s and in case you missed it, here is my interview with Jordan McNamara who will be competing in those rounds.
men running
Though the topic of rest days, I think I’ll tackle those for now. The rest day can be a bit of a touchy subject amongst us runners. It seems really black and white, you either love them or hate them; I’ve also found that the people who fall one way or the other seem to feel insanely STRONG…you want to stir the pot right away, find a runner who believes the day of rest is akin to the second coming and merely state you don’t take days off. Try it, it can be fun. :)

That said, and now you probably know how often I take days off, there ARE more than enough, valid reasons to schedule in days off into your workout routine like you would hard workouts.

* Injury prevention: Running is tough on the body, one of the highest impact things you can do, and it’s repetitive. Everyone is different, ever body is different, and the amount of pounding you can take is unique to you. For some that threshold is very low and for others they can safely run 100+ miles a week. You can’t ever achieve your running goals if you’re constantly hurt, so if you know your body can’t handle running every day then, yes, obviously you should take those days off.
* Mental recharge: Running is very repetitive, some of us OCD people don’t find that a negative, but others do and there is something to be said for needing a mental break in the monotony. If you take your running too seriously you can in fact ruin it for yourself, get burned out, and you NEVER want to dread your runs. So if you know that you need a day to go AWOL to stay sane and wanting to run, by all means.
* Refresh those legs: Outside of injuries, some bodies just need a little more TLC or time to recover from workouts; that’s okay, and with running and training it’s about being in tune with yourself, and those legs. If you start to suspect you’re over-training and your workouts are nose-diving without some days off then maybe your legs are screaming for some rest days.
* Younger in years: I bring this up and it is of PARAMOUNT importance…the younger the runner the MORE days off they NEED. Is that clear enough? Running is a sport where patience wins out in the end and there are years of running to be had; outside of physical safety reasons (growing kids need to be careful of how much pounding they are doing) there are the mental ones with young pups. The younger the runner, even those beginning high school years included, the more the focus needs to be on bolstering a genuine passion and love of running…keep it fun. By doing so, you lay the groundwork for when they cross the threshold to being able to up their training volume. Because they have the passion for running coming from within, they will be self-motivated to continue the hard training.


Please, don’t get up in arms over this one either…let’s all remember sarcastic humor is the best humor! :)

So yes, I don’t discount the solid reasons that for some, total off days, or rest days, work for them and are needed. But I’ll tell you why I avoid them at all costs, and mainly for my own sanity…

* OCD runner: Admittedly, it’s probably bitten me in the butt a few times, but I feel my skin crawl on days I can’t get my running fix…I’m one of the people who HATES tapering. I’d do it of course for the sake of a race, but I feel my sanity start to slip. ;) On the other side of that coin you can be darn sure consistency won’t ever been an issue of me. I love running, just doing it, and I just feel better if I get my sweat on. Also, let’s be frank here too, I love eating…and eating a lot…soooo, you do the caloric math there. ;)
* Distance specific mileage: If you’re a 1500 meter runner you don’t need to be logging the same amount of miles as a 10k runner or a marathoner. I like running longer distances and I feel more comfy in a higher weekly mileage zone. At a certain point you can only cram so many miles into 5-6 days a week, so if you’re looking to hit a certain total you may not feasibly be able to have a day off.
* Your ‘norm’: This one is harder to explain but I’ll take a crack at it. Many of my friends are runners and have been for years, and our ‘norm’ or what we consider business as usual is running every day regardless. Though your ‘norm’ could leave you thinking that I am insane or idiotic…that’s fine we all have our own ‘norms’. I guess it can also be explained by your training philosophy, your coaching theory, and group of runners. No one ‘norm’ is better than the other, it just is what it is.

Look there, I’ve offered up a pretty fair argument for both sides, in my humble opinion. There can also be some middle ground too:

* Cross-training days: Maybe your rest day is a rest for running and you still do cross-training for cardio.
* Outside the ‘week’ cycles: Other athletes don’t work off of the 7-day training cycle but maybe 10-day cycles; so instead of a day off every 7 days it’s one every 10.
* Active rest: This one I’m on the fence about including, but what the heck. For some people they make their ‘rest’ day one that they do something that isn’t exactly regimented working out but they still move. I think I’m on the fence about this one because it’s a double edged sword: if you’re reasoning for a rest day is to let your legs fully recover, but you ‘actively’ rest and are walking around or standing in the sun for 8 hours, I sort of think you’ll be zapped but in a different way…and at least if you had run some miles instead of your ‘active’ thing at least you would have had the running training…but just my opinion.

So maybe we can all just agree to disagree…or rather agree that to each their own! Please, all those who worship the rest day don’t come hunt me down, throw rotten tomatoes at me and explain that I’m both wrong and crazy. I mean, I already will agree with you on that second one. ;)

1) Rest days…do you schedule them in, do you embrace them, or do you hate them?

2) Give at least one reason as to why you feel the way you do about rest days.

3) Trials talk…let’s hear it! Some awesome first rounds in both the steeple and the 5k’s yesterday!
I have to say, I like too many people for only the amount of slots that can be filled, just saying…so it’s a bittersweet thing. Isn’t life always like that?

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Interview With Jordan McNamara Part I: The Olympic Trials 1500…Man on a Mission

The 2012 Olympic Trials are underway at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon; among the outstanding athletes toeing the line will be Jordan McNamara. As a professional runner, member of Nike’s Oregon Track Club Elite, he will be running the 1500 meters. the first qualifying round will be held on Thursday the 28th, and if all goes to plan he’ll then have the semi-finals the 29th and the finals on July 1st.
Jordan McNamaraImage Source

For those who don’t already know, Jordan McNamara has had a meteoric year, PR’s across the distances, and PR’s pretty much every time he stepped to the track. Certainly one couldn’t pick a better year with it being an Olympic year. Though, as is the case with many runners, you don’t just fall into years like that or PR’s for that matter; he’s renowned for his dedication and work-ethic, stayed motivated through the inevitable tests of our sport (having surgery on his foot which meant an entire 6 months of no running at all), and believed in himself and his goals throughout.

I had the great pleasure of stealing some time from Jordan McNamara, for an interview as he prepares for the Olympic Trials and what he hopes to be the berth onto his first Olympic Team. How Jordan differs from some of his competitors is that he is genuinely responsive to his supporters and embraces the role model status thrust upon him. It’s him updating those Twitter and Facebook accounts and managing his own site and blog. (Check it out, he’s a phenomenal writer too!) and in speaking with him, he expressed that taking the time to stop for photos and autographs for his fans is important and worth it to him. He remembers being back in high school and reading interviews from his own running idols, so he hopes that today his own answers are able to help the runners now looking up to him. The fact he was talking to me days before some of the biggest races of his career thus far speaks volumes.

Here is Part I of my interview with Jordan McNamara, come back for Part II and be sure to be cheer for him come the 1500!

1)    The Harry Jerome 1500, you had a mad tear down that home stretch, can you take me through that race a little bit? [Editors Note: After Harry Jerome, on the 16th, he raced another 1500 at Hayward Field winning with a time of 3:35.63, another PR and a mere 0.13 off the Olympic A Standard.]

Harry Jerome was a great confidence booster for me. Coming into the race, I knew I was in shape to compete with every big name on the starting list. I also knew that if the opportunity presented it self, I could get below my PR (3:36.48 at the time). The race itself went smoothly. Through two laps, we were on A standard pace. I asserted myself early and found myself along for the ride in fourth position. As is an all-too-common occurrence, the pace lagged in the third lap as everyone began to gear up for the final lap. I felt confident and relaxed, running slightly wide through the penultimate 200, ready to cover any early bids. With 250 meters to go, I felt Matt Centrowitz come to my right shoulder. I instantly reacted, using that warning as impetus to begin racing in earnest. Passing two people I instantly glued my eyes on the tall figure of Andrew Wheating, who was absolute flying around the curve. I jumped into fourth gear around the straight away, around another competitor, and found myself in third with 100 to go. At that point I made a decision, which in hindsight, likely cost me the race. With Wheating in full flight, I decided to slow and drop from outside lane one to the rail. Doing so allowed me to pass second place, and gave me a clear lane for the final 70m. Finally free, I released my final gear, feeling myself pulling in the leader. Sensing a race, the crowd bellowed and I felt my adrenaline spike as the margin between us lessened… 3 meters, 2 meters, 1 meter. Alas, with 30m remaining, I stalled, spent by the effort. I finished 0.1 off the win, rewarded with a PR of 3:36.03. Though it missed the coveted A mark, it showed me that I have the ability to kick with the very best that this country has to offer.
Jordan McNamaraPhoto Credit: Jordan McNamara/Nike Town

2)    Obviously there was the Olympic ‘A’ Standard as a time incentive for you; while you narrowly missed it there, Hayward Field offers you the opportunity. How does the confidence from last week’s PR affect your plans going into the Trials?

It’s a great time to be in the best shape of your life. It’s a rare and special thing, to have things align at such a particular moment. Going into the Trials, my confidence is high, and my fitness is unquestionable. That being said, my competition is equally capable, and I will need a bit of luck combined with flawless execution to achieve the results I desire.

3)    Backing up just a bit here; in speaking of PR’s you’ve been on a similar tear of those across the board. This season, nearly each time you stepped to the line you set a new one. Can you share a bit of your journey through this season? Is there anything in particular you’ve done differently this year than those previous?

My results this year have been the product of consistently hard, intelligent training, MENTAL preparation, and tactical execution. As a distance runner, it’s very difficult to be consistently good. As runners, so many variables are at play: nutrition, sickness, injury, tactical awareness, race-day psyche- all of these factors contribute to a great performance, or to one less desirable. To PR again and again, I didn’t do anything dramatic training-wise, I simply made smart decisions every single day. If I needed to get in a 17 mile day, I did. If I needed to take a day on the couch, I did. I stayed in tune with my body’s signals, and did my best to heed it’s requests.

I visualize my races at all times, because my races are the only times when I can validate the thousands of miles that it’s taken to get to this level. Ultimately, my desire to do great drives me to perfect my craft, to make each and every race count as something special.

4)    Through high school, college and turning Pro you’ve continued to progress; what are some of the key elements you attribute to that and can you share a bit on what motivates you?

As a high-schooler, I fell head-over-heels in love with running. I can distinctly remember running at 5 A.M. before school- long before the sun had risen. My friends would often see me running laps around the school during lunch. After school, I’d often run fifteen miles, all alone- simply for the sheer enjoyment of it. My results were never spectacular, though they certainly weren’t average. My continued improvement through the high school, collegiate, and pro ranks has been attributed to a simple love of running. My motivation is simple: when I’m not running, it’s what I want to be doing. When I am running, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. I crave every aspect of the act of running. I feel truly fortunate to have found such an active, exciting, and rewarding passion to call my own.
Jordan McNamaraImage Source

5)    How has has the shift to becoming a Professional affected your outlook, if at all, on running?

Compared to collegiate running, pro running is an entirely different ball-game. The fact that this is now your livelihood can be stressful, but I enjoy the challenges. Running has always taught me the [depth] of one’s internal strength. Races will never be won for you. Every competitor has sacrificed and will do everything they can to beat you. As a pro, I enjoy the feeling of excelling in such a circumstance.

6)    There is no secret to success, it’s hard work and dedicated training; how do you get yourself out the door on the days when inevitably you’re tired or the motivation may wane for a bit?

There are many days- when I’ve already run 10-12 miles in the morning, and the sky is an ominous shade of gray- days we I feel like my job isn’t so glamorous. During times like that, I control the “controllables”- I lay down for a few minutes, collect myself, caffeinate, hydrate, and get the hell out the door before I can convince myself otherwise. In training, there’s a time to push and a time to pull. Sure I may get run-down from the constant workload, but at the end of the day, I can’t think of a run that I’d finished and thought, “now I wish I hadn’t done that.”

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A Man Finds His Home Track

A baby sits on the track and watches his mom run in circles. To the infant it’s nothing more than splotches of color, the reds and greens, the lights and darks, the shadows growing longer as the sun sets.
track in sunglasses
As a three year old, this child now plays in the long jump pit while his mom runs in circles. This time though he is more concentrated on the shovel in hand and the sandcastle he’s building in the ‘sandbox.’

As a nine year old this boy waits eagerly for his mom to finish up running those fast circles, the part she calls her ‘hard running.’ He watches her cross the line of her last interval, her slender form bends forward for just a moment before she again stands upright. He rushes towards her, she looks to him and smiles, “Ready?” He merely nods the approval and then they both take off running a few circles together.

Now a twelve year old, this boy has his first pair of ‘real’ running shoes. He’s even been able to run a whole mile…which seems like an epic distance in his mind. He now looks to the track not just as a blur or reds set to green, but with dreams and goals stamped between those lanes. He likes to look at the big number ONE in lane one; he likes to think that number is meant for him alone.

At fourteen he’s learned that this running in circles is hard business. There is much more to it than merely wanting to win, and to carry out those ‘secret messages’ calling to him from lane one he’s got to be willing to run even when he maybe doesn’t feel like it all the time.

By seventeen he’s had tastes of success, they’ve made him only hungrier for more. The victories are sweet, the PR’s even more-so but his eyes are focused ahead on what lane one has in store for him.

At twenty this man has moved through the usual levels of running; college has treated him well. He’s not the fastest on the team, but he’s not the slowest either. He is unsure of what the future has in store for him, but with running he is sure. The tracks are always the same regardless of where he is, what he is, and whatever ‘life’ has him doing. Track and running are nice constants.
By thirty this man has been world traveled; though he’s always had his running shoes packed as carry-on. Yet his favorite place to run is the very same track he used to sit and watch his mom run circles around; his home track. When he can he goes there and can still watch his mom run circles, though now at a slower pace. He joins her and does his own ‘hard running’ but they always convene for a few circles together at the end.

Now forty-three this man runs circles around a track; there is the beginning of a paunch on his stomach. When that actually appeared is still a bit lost on him, it seemed like it wasn’t there last year; though he knows this is in ‘runner’ comparison and he still gets called string bean by his work friends. He pants his way through the last interval, crosses the line, bends forward slightly for just a moment, rises and casts a glance at his baby girl sitting on the track.

He is now 80. He runs in circles around this home track of his; he doesn’t run with a watch on, he doesn’t care about the time, just the action. He is drifting far into the outer lanes, it seems over the years he’s felt more comfortable in lanes five through eight, he reserves lane one for the faster runners. The young bucks with dreams in their eyes and heck bent fury in their legs; he likes to watch them and remember what it feels like to be chasing. But he’s the only one at the track tonight. He closes his eyes and then he’s not alone; his mom is running circles around the track, his daughter is zealously chasing after him with shovel in hand, and they are all home.

1) Do any of your parents run, or anyone else in your family?

2) How old were you when you were able to run a full mile without stopping, and did you think it was a distance of epic length?
I was probably in Junior High before I could cover a full mile, and I honestly thought that if a person ran a WHOLE mile a few times a week they could win the Olympics. :P

3) Today’s Olympic Trials related fodder…so it sounds like the tie-breaker for third place in the 100 meters is coming down to a coin toss. What say you, and how would you be feeling if your Olympic Team dreams were dependent on the flip of a coin?
Seriously, a coin toss? In my mind this seems pretty wonky, one of the things I really love about running is that usually you can’t ‘luck’ your way into something like a win, a PR or the Olympics…but dang if you were waiting for a heads or tails in that position you better HOPE you’d have luck!

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A Case of Missing Legs: When ‘dead legs’ show up to your starting line, you still have to claim them as yours

Have you ever shown up to a race…CRACK…and from the first step the pair of legs you were running on felt completely and utterly foreign? Dead legs…strap in you’re in for a long race.
missing legs
The funny, or maybe more correctly maddening, thing about running is that you can’t always predict how you’re going to be feeling on any particular day. You can erect the most scientific training plan in the world, taper like a genius, but still, come the day of the race there is the margin of the unknown. You do all you can to swing the favor of the running gods and them blessing you with the legs you worked your butt off for, that you earned, that you deserve to race on…but there are no guarantees.

Dead legs happen in races, in workouts, in random runs too. The ‘easy’ days after a hard workout you can kind of expect that the legs won’t be feeling so fresh, you anticipate some rougher miles; these days aren’t so much a case of dead legs due to chance but rather hard work of days’ past. What makes this case of dead legs bearable, almost sickly rewarding, is that you know the hard work of yesterday will eventually pay off.

But dead legs on a race are frustrating and can be incredibly defeating if you let them screw with your psyche. If that happens any chance of salvaging at least a respectable performance gets whittled down to near nil and you could bring a horrendous trudge to the finish line upon yourself.

While it certainly SUCKS to come to a big race, fully tapered, expecting a PR and wind up with legs you wouldn’t want to claim as your own it is fully possible to race respectable off of tired legs. You may not PR or race at you fitness level, true, but at the same time there are athletes that have raced phenomenally off of tired legs. Some runners haven’t tapered at all and others just mentally pushed themselves regardless of feeling the dead legs. It may come down to a more ‘survival mode’ race…

Latch on to anyone and everyone. If you feel your dead legs from the gun you would probably be wise NOT to play pace-setter if you can avoid it. Tuck in behind a runner or find a nice pack to work off of; you’d be surprised how sparing the mental energy of worrying about pace early on can leave you feeling much ‘fresher’ some miles later.
fortune cookie
Surge. If your dead legs are leaving you trudging mid-race, while it sounds totally counterintuitive, putting in a surge or picking up the pace for a short bit can sometimes bust you out of a funk. When you switch gears, as in change up the pace, you work different muscle fibers, and it can act as a little ‘reset’ button sometimes.

Counting sheep…errr, miles. Don’t focus on how much further you have to go, instead play mind games and break the race down into small, much more manageable distances. Say you’re only going to run one more mile…just make it to the next mile marker. If it’s on the track, even just promise to make it past one more lap, one more lap, etc.

Focus on controllables. The controllables are your form, your breathing, your stride…anything NOT related to how crummy you are feeling. This also includes zoning in on a spot on someone’s back who is running in front of you; look at that spot and refuse to let a gap open up between you and the spot.

Wait it out. Crazy, yes, but sometimes dead legs can ‘wear off’ over the course of a race or workout. Sometimes, especially if you didn’t do a real good warm-up, once you get into the race your legs can feel much better.

Bottom line, don’t chuck in the towel after the gun due to dead legs. Doing so, and doing so too often, is like giving your mind an excuse to give up…that is a bad habit you don’t want to get into, because once ingrained it’s SUPER hard to get out of. ;)
Olympic Trials: Okay, can we give a HUGE shout out to one Ashton Eaton!! The man is a beast and just set a World Record in the Decathlon…crazier still is that he may be ‘getting used’ to setting World Records by now. ;) Scratch that because I’m certain in the case of World Records they just get sweeter and sweeter every time.

1) Dead legs, when was the last time you felt your missing legs deserved a slot on a milk carton?? How did you manage?

2) Are there times when your dead legs seem to go away? Can you share your theories on how to bust out of some legs putting up a riot or seeming to rebel?

3) Opening up the comments to Trials talk here…
Since I can barely manage the coordination of doing one sport where you just run in circles, I have utmost respect to athletes who become the ‘jack of all trades’ for track and field. ;)

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I’m All About Staying Positive…But Sometimes to Get That Smile You Need to Bust Out the Sarcasm!

Running, and life, can be hard, it can be daunting, it can be amazing, it can be scary, it can wreck you with nerves, leave you inspired to be better, bring you down just as fast, have days where you feel just ‘meh’ and just about all else. I’ve harped a lot on staying positive throughout, even forcing that darned smile even when it feels fake, in order to whether the ‘lows’ so you can reach the ‘highs.’
That said, I’m sarcastic as heck and quite frankly life is too flipping hilarious, even that sick ironic kind of humor, NOT to laugh at it. Sometime it’s okay to indulge in that snarky side of yourself and laugh…even if it’s on the inside. Case in point…

You’d have to live in a box not to know that Olympic Trials are underway. At a gathering the other day the topic of the Trials came up. “When are they starting?” Person A. “Well, the hammer throw is on the 21st but everything else gears up on the 22nd,” Me. “Wait, but I was watching the diving on TV the other day, so it’s already going on,” Person A. “Diving?!?! Seriously, ummm, sorry when I said I’m excited for the Trials to start I thought it was obviously implied I meant the running events,” Me…alas, only in my head though.

On the bike trail doing my cool-down after a workout a biker approaches from behind, “Get the he## off the paved part, runner!” In my head, “Say what?!?! Get off your high horse biker, if I thought I might not get my arm ripped off I’d try and clothes line you.” Instead of saying anything though I just ran in a zig-zag to peeve him off…of yes, I admit to a moment of being the smaller person.

Earlier on the bike trail during a tempo, this time a biker is approaching me, “Great pace, keep it up!” He whizzed past me and in my head, “Dear lord, I’m glad he can’t look down at my watch and see my actual splits, he’d certainly take back that comment!” BOOM…I just gave an example of what not to think when you’re hurting in a workout…bad me! To my credit, I did catch myself and promptly replied, “Eh, take the little ego boost from the compliment and stay focused…shake out your arms, I see from that shadow they are flapping around like hummingbird wings.”
pancake run
I’ve also had people comment to me while running, “Nice stride.” Okay, my snarky thoughts to this one are, “Obviously you have no clue about running because this is about as ambiguous a compliment as it can be. I see you are at least trying to be nice, but seriously, nice stride…you’d be better off just saying, ‘Nice shoes’.”
vibram shoes
For this one I’m just a fly on the wall, details will be withheld to protect the guilty…lol. A man announces he is going for a run…kudos to him. About 15 minutes, maybe, the door bursts back open and the man is back. A person inquires, “Are you done with your run?” The runner replies, “Yup.” This snarky fly on the wall thinks, “What?! Did you get at least two miles in there, I hope so, or else that’s almost a waste of getting suited up for!” :P

A friend recently tried to rope me into running an 800 with them. #thereisnowayinheck #onespeedrunnerwithnofasttwitchmuscles
Track Trials News: Now all of us distance people were super stoked for the first day, talk about busting out of the gates with a BOOM with the 10k’s right away! :) I’m beyond stoked that one Dathan Ritzenhein is off to London; he’s one of the grittiest runners around, and who didn’t share a little heart-break after his marathon? Not going to lie thought I called it that he’d be making the team in the 10k. Galen Rupp won (27:25), Matt Tegenkamp (27:33), and Dathan Ritzenhein (27:36).

For the women, hats off to Amy Hastings pulling off the win and in a similar ‘redemption mode’ as Dathan after her own Olympic Marathon Trials race. Hasting for the win (31:58), Natosha Rogers (31:59), and Shalane Flanagan in third (31:59). Here it’s a little tricky, with the Olympic A Standard Qualifying Time and the fact Shalane won’t run the 10k, the women’s team will be Hasting, Lisa Uhl (4th), and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (7th).

Congrats to all the runners busting their bums out there!!

1) Would you like to add any snarky, sarcastic running related barbs to the list? Or do you have anything else to give us a giggle this Friday?

2) What is sort of your ‘minimum’ distance for a ‘real’ run in your mind? Barring cases like injuries and such.
Four miles, unless it’s a double.

3) Which would be your least favorite event to race? What is your favorite distance?
Quite honestly I don’t feel like my old legs are able to handle the shock of anything less than at least a 5k…it takes some time even after a warm-up for them to wrangle up anything that might be considered a ‘race’ pace. :P

4) Olympic Trials: give me your comments, reactions, thoughts, who you were/are rooting for…I want it all! :)

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Hayward Field 2012: The Olympic Trials Begin as Athletes Scale Their Own Mount Olympus

The Olympic Trials 2012 have officially hit Oregon. Whether you deem yourself a track fan or not (but you really should be!) I would implore all runners to catch a vicarious ‘high’ off of what is about to go down.
hayward field
Running, regardless of the level, is hard. It takes insurmountable amounts of work, dedication, perseverance and perspective. The mental side of running is huge. All of the athletes taking part in the Trials at Hayward Field have been working towards these days, the goals they want to achieve on them, for years.

Of course the Olympics, and the Olympic Trials, are akin to the Mount Olympus of goals to us, mere mortal runners. While every competitor taking part warrants being put on a bit of a pedestal for their athletic prowess, there is much us mortals can glean from them outside of some phenomenal races to watch and cheer for.
Like a Boss. Getting to the line takes confidence; confidence is instilled through all of that hard work, owning those workouts like a boss and knowing that you BELONG on that starting line. Regardless of where that line is, Trials or no Trials, a goal is a goal none-the-less and every runner must build that confidence on their own level. Ironic how bolstering that confidence takes DOING and having the courage or guts to DO takes believing in yourself. So sometimes you have to just dive in and start the doing and KEEP up the doing again and again…the boss-like confidence may just have to follow.

Determination. Every single athlete at the Trials, just as every single runner, has their highs and lows. The running lows have weeded out plenty of runner wanna-be’s. Injuries, set-backs, horrible races, embarrassingly heinous performances, epically long injuries, surgeries, life obstacles…they’ve had them all and continued plowing forward. You can too so long as you just keep running forward…even if that ‘running’ forward is more of a symbolic metaphor.

Face the Mirror. Through the course of life and the trials running will toss your way (refer above), there will be many moments that cause you to question yourself, who you are, why you do things, why you keep running, and learn about yourself. Lessons learned through running apply to all areas in life; but for running, it is something you, in the end, are doing for yourself. You are accountable to YOU, you choose to get the run done or skip it. In the middle of hard workouts and races YOU control whether you dig for that extra gear or you let up. You have to decide if it’s worth doing what it takes to stay running in the direction of your goals. The runners you’re watching at the Trials…they all decided THEY wanted to keep running for their goals.
Cheer. The stands at the Trials should be in a state of unbridled ‘enthusiasm.’ (Shout out, any Seinfeld fans in the house?!) What I mean is people will be maniacally cheering and that’s how the Hayward Field Stands should be. While us mere mortals may or may not be personally tied to any one racer, we should all soak up the inspiration that will be flooding the track. The sweat dripped to the track is not dissimilar to the sweat of any other runner in actual make-up; it is the same salty water that can be shed by any runner if they work for it.

That said, while the sweat flooding Hayward may be anatomically the same as any other runners’ sweat, I can’t stress enough that it is STILL different. It is from one of the dreamers who has made it their dream to scale their way to that Mount Olympus and separate themselves from the mere mortals. It is then, that us mere mortals can tilt our head toward the mountain’s peak as the dreamers climb and cheer for them with…unbridled enthusiasm. ;)

1) Who is making their way to the Trials? To spectate or compete…BUT if you’re reading this and about to compete you better as heck leave a comment and brag on yourself. ;)

2) What events are you looking the most forward too?

3) How will you make sure you are putting out your fair share of unbridled enthusiasm? As in, what is something that you will ‘soak up’ from all of these phenomenal athletes and apply to your own running?

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Run Like a Kid: Retaining some of those childlike qualities could be the best thing for your running

I think we should all start running like children. Heck, I think in some aspects we all could benefit from being more like children in general…maybe that will be my excuse for acting like a six year old. Speaking of, who stole my box of Pop-Tarts, I don’t share those?!

shooting stars

If your goals are on a shoot star, grab hold and ride…errr, run! ;)

Children, the younger the are, the more unshaped they are by their surrounds. Before the world can mold you, beat out a few qualities, put some limits on what you should do, set boundaries and establish rules you’re a ‘raw’ version of humanity. Now not to say beating out a few nasty traits (hello screaming child throwing a tantrum in the middle of the store and let’s all be thankful our parents forced us into potty training!) isn’t called for, BUT there are some qualities I wish were better retained. How does this apply to the world of running?

Children have whimsy. I like looking at ‘little kid art’ sometimes because it typically just makes you smile. Whether it’s the bright colors or the way too perky happy, smiling suns, it has a way of lightening the mood and puuuuulling a smile out of you whether you want to or not. Running has some severe highs and lows; we need to accept that and brace ourselves for the inevitable rough patches. In order to not let those lows break you, or your drive to continue training and come back, you have to stay positive. This can really sound annoying when you’re in the midst of a low, when you have someone telling you to smile you sometimes want to scream, “Yea, and I just saw a unicorn sh##ing rainbows out my window too!” ;) But have your vent and then, in all honesty, maybe crack open a picture book and look for that unicorn. You never know, children dream up crazy stuff…whatever can force a smile out of you and kick your butt out of the poor me rut and get you back on track and moving forward is a good thing.
keep running
Children don’t know limits. Kids, if you tell them it’s possible to jump off the roof and fly will blindly try to go where no man has gone before, make that small step and giant leap off the roof. They don’t over-analyze a goal to death and wonder if they can do it, they literally just go and try. In running, if you out-think yourself from a goal you never end up even trying. You could fall short, you could make it, even surpass it, but you’ll never know unless you try. There is also something to be said for the journey in the trying, regardless of the outcome. Heck, I’ve failed plenty of times but still think I’m better for it in many aspects.

Kids are brutally honest. I love asking kids for an opinion on things. While I do write posts on lying to yourself about how much your hard running workouts will actually be as an effective mental ‘trick’ to getting through the workout…there are times when we should try on our honesty pants. These times though, are usually AFTER the fact, once the work is done and you’re setting your sights forward. After a race, a workout, or even a run, there are things you can learn and apply forward. A bad race can be the best thing in the world if you learn you made a critical error; learn, don’t make it next time, and have a PR. If you have a stellar workout, look back not just at the workout itself but the training leading up to it, see if there is a pattern of WHY you rocked it. This is one reason why having a training log is a major training tool.

Kiddies live in the moment.
A kid can fall flat on their face, scream that it hurts (please, I hope you weren’t the kid who cried over every bump and bruise…put on your big girl/boy Pull-Ups! Hehe), get up and run to the sandbox. Running is an action; once it’s over and you stop doing it, the running part is done and in the past. Good if you’re having a horrible run, a little sad if you just set a World-Record and wish you could live the moment again and again. The bottom line is we can’t get stuck in the past if it stops us from living in the now and looking forward. If you have a bad race (fall on your face), do your vent and learning session (scream), then put your big Pull-Ups on and gear up for next time…don’t dwell on something like that, know you’ll have another shot to try again.

So runners: be dreamers, be annoyingly positive when the unicorn is sh##ing on you during a low, be brutally honest when you’re not lying your way through a workout, admit there will be falls that hurt but in the end pick yourself up because there will be better times ahead too. :)
Reminder: If you’re liking the art you see and would like prints of a certain piece check out my Etsy Store! If you don’t see the one you want there, contact me and I’ll get you squared away. :)

1) What is one trait that children have but tend to lose touch with as they get older? How can that trait be applied to running and could it be of benefit?

2) What is a trait that you are SO glad the world beats out of kids?
True fact, I may be deemed a horrible runnerchick for saying this, but I do not love kids…I’m picky as heck when it comes to kids I like. But that usually has more to do with parents, and I’m not going to open that can of worms. BUT the kiddos I stamp approval of I really adore, so don’t come egg my house. I will say I’m not sad to see kids grow out of the pull your hair and punch you in the gut thing. ;)

3) What is one area that you need to start acting more like a kid when it comes to your running?

4) What are some of your favorite children’s books? Let’s be honest we all look at them for the pictures!
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When Forcing Yourself to Feel Like You Don’t Belong Works: Running and life goals achieved by feeling like a ‘poser’

In life, and in running, there will be times when you feel like you’re in over your head. Or that you are afraid the people around you will certainly sniff you out as the ‘poser’ you feel you are…that you really don’t belong, that you don’t have enough experience, credits to your name, accolades, etc. You can choose to dodge these types of situations, but if you do I’m willing to bet you’ll miss out on achieving something greater than you expected.

runner by tree

Run curious of what you CAN achieve when you force yourself to be in situations where you feel like a ‘poser’…then fake it til you make it. :)

In running, a sure-fire way to get better is to train with people who are better than you. Sure, you can have the ego boost of being the top dog and pace-setter for a particular group, but where is the fun in that? I always loved being the chaser, myself; that makes you hungry for more, for faster times…it’s the thrill of the hunt, right?

Being at the slower end of the company you keep, dare I even say the slowest, can surely be daunting though. If you’re new to the group your knees are probably quaking before the warm-up, anticipating that these fleeter footed runners were certainly sniff out the poser of the group. Maybe they even know your PR’s and in your mind you imagine what they are thinking, “Who in the heck do they think they are…they don’t belong with us…they aren’t good enough to even share the track with us.”

The honest truth is that humans can be pretty self-centered without meaning to or even be aware they are thinking that the world is revolving around them. They can be the most benevolent of people but there are times when we over-amplify the importance of ourselves. What I’m getting at is as you IMAGINE those others are thinking about you, they are probably actually thinking of themselves. those other runners most likely are thinking about the workout ahead and the splits they want to hit…not your presence.

But then again, worse case, even if they are thinking you ‘don’t belong’ then who really cares? If you want the BEST from yourself, toss yourself into the deep end on PURPOSE. You can run the risk of sinking but more often than not, when forced you’ll at least learn to doggie-paddle. That doggie paddle will most likely turn to some semblance of a stroke and eventually you will swim.

team runners

Truth is, runners tend to be awesome company and will welcome you onto their team. :)

With running, when you train smart, push yourself, are consistent, and ask more from yourself you generally improve. You may end up surprising yourself in actually becoming the fastest runner of the very group you once felt you were an idiot for thinking you even belonged sharing the same track with.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary, yes, but goals that demand the kind of work that offer a fulfilling reward aren’t achieved by feeling comfortable. So fellow kiddies, let’s dive into the deep end of the track and get swimming. ;) [Extra credit to those who made sense of this totally mixed metaphor...haha!]

1) What is an instance where you felt like a ‘poser’ when it came to running?
The first day I went to my high school’s track practice…if you were keeping tabs on my Facebook Page I explained it was my dad who helped me get out there and just run.

2) When was an instance where you felt like a ‘poser’ in other life?
Actually, anytime people say, “Oh, you’re an artist!” It’s taken a lot of mental conditioning to not blurt out, “Well, actually, ummm, I dunno, I like doing art, but I’m not sure if I’m an ‘artist’ artist.” :P

3) If you run in a group, where are you typically: front, middle, chaser? If you run alone, how do you ‘stretch’ yourself to run with ‘someone faster than you’? If you don’t try and run with someone better than you for the sake of ‘chasing’ that’s cool too, but do you want to try and state a goal of attempting that stretch??
I’m a bit of a solo runner for the current, but I use the treadmill and force my slow butt not to fall off the back for some tempo runs. ;) Good old tready has enough power to certainly run the belt faster than me!

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