Category Archives: Runner’s World Reviews

Runner’s World Review – New Year New You

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website. It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat. So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

rw jan 2013

January 2013- New Year New You

I know by the end of January most people have had it up to here with year lists, resolutions and proclamations of all kinds, so fear not, that is not actually the point if this post. Although it is a nice ‘lil article detailing specific things that you can do over the course if the year to improve your running and I do recommend it.

What this article sparked in me were thoughts about change- what precipitates it, how capable of it we are and how likely it is that we will.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tended to think that people just are who they are and that instead of trying to change someone, you should just accept them. It’s far easier to just let people fly their freak flags than try to convince them that they should swap it out for a  sensible decorative flag,  perhaps something with autumn leaves on it.

But the flip side of me thinks that no one should settle for an unsatisfying status quo, especially when there are so many resources at all of our fingertips to make those good changes- everything from therapists that can get you back on course to finding a support system that encourages positive changes to tiny things like having the luxury to go for a walk to calm your spirit.

The situation is made murkier by looking at my own life, where some things have remained the same and some have wildly fluctuated. Let me take you on a Kashi Tour of the last 20 years:

Age 15 – I am cheerful the vast majority of the time,  a runner who hates racing, someone who eats a  Honey Bun (or more often nothing) for breakfast,  with a messy bedroom and a pretty flexible attitude. I dream of a life outside of Elmer where I’ll be a businesswoman living in the city and  married by my late 20s to a man equally successful. No kids, thanks.

Age 25 – I am cheerful the vast majority of the time,  a runner who rarely races, someone who eats a honey granola or French toast bagel for breakfast,  who dreams of a full-time job as a biologist and can’t imagine living in a city.  No marriage or kids, thanks, career is where it is at!

Age 35 – I am cheerful the vast majority of the time,  a runner who now loves racing, someone who eats oatmeal for breakfast,  who is grateful for the life I have and dream of a day where GD and I live long and happy lives as snowbirds (I seriously cannot handle the cold anymore!) . No kids, thanks. I thrive on routine and get discombobulated when things go off kilter.  I prefer things neat as a pin, but there are exceptions in places like my office and my car’s trunk.  My marriage is the most important thing in my life.

My life is filled with different “me’s” peeking out at each corner.  You can always count on me to be enthusiastic and supportive, which has never changed, but I have gotten more rigid as the years have passed (perhaps that is why I have remained so cheerful – the rigid side of me respects and maintains the consistency, lol). I feel that I have to constantly work on that side of myself so I don’t go full-on robot. It’s as if over time, my personality traits (for better or worse) just get more entrenched and harder to change.

Which is why I am always so taken with stories of people who break their mental bonds and come out on the other side more closely resembling the person they want to be. People change careers, lose weight, start running, stop smoking, beat depression and anxiety every day. But what makes the day they decide to do it become the day they do do it?

I really don’t know and your thoughts on this are what I am interested in hearing. I have gone through different changes in my life, but they generally happened organically, over time. There are not too many instances where I can point to and say “that was the moment and here is why”. The ones I can identify are often on the heels of feeling like “enough is enough, time for a change!”

So tell me, have you undergone major changes? Know people that have? What gets them cranking? Is it a something small like a RW article or a big epiphany?

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Runner’s World Review – Does Social Media Mean Better Running?

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month  I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website.  It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat.  So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

December

December 2012 – Does Social Media Mean Better Running?

My, my, what a germane topic for a blog! I finally got a chance to read the December issue on holiday break and was immediately drawn to this article. Before even reading a single word, I was already thinking “yes!” and by the end I was still sticking with my answer.

As the article points out, there can be drawbacks – perhaps a person is spending so much time attending to their social media sheep that there is less time to actually run.  Many runners also use their time out on the roads or trails to disconnect and by updating various sources – like dailymile, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and forums – they lose that precious downtime. But you know what I say to that? Hogwash! Or at least I would if this were the early 1900s!

For me, running brings such intense pleasure that I cannot imagine that Facebooking/blogging about running would ever deter me from actually getting out there (and so far, that has not been a problem!). For that matter, there is very little that deters me from running – injury is probably the only thing and even that I accept very reluctantly. Furthermore, I feel more connected because of these outlets – I don’t take my iPhone with me when I run and spend plenty of time communing with nature/talking to real people/getting lost in the madness that is my mind while clicking off the miles. But before and after? Big fan of chatting it up online about plans of what is to come and lowdowns of what came.

I am one of the masses that feels that social media brings another dimension to the experience that is running – it’s  sea salt on a caramel chocolate (mmmm, can you tell I am still thinking about Christmas goodies?). For a sport that by its very nature can be a meditation on solitude, social media allows us to connect to one another in ways that would otherwise not be possible, especially among far-flung friends.  As much as I enjoy sharing my running adventures with you all on the blog, what I heart even more is hearing about yours. It’s why I started Cape Island Runners in the first place.

I love the dichotomous nature of running and its shape-shifting ability to be both a group activity and an individual one, sometimes at the same time.  It is not a coincidence that every single Cape Island Spotlight interviewee has answered the question of whether they prefer running alone or in a group with the response “both”. The running alone part is easy – lace up, hit start on the Garmin and away you go. But the social aspect? That can be a tougher nut to crack. You have to find people to run with, figure out where, when and what pace you will go and fight anxiety that you will hold your new running bud back. It’s not as if you can just see someone running on the opposite side of the street and sidle up to them with a clever pick-up line – although maybe I will muster up the courage to try that one day! Because it might be worth the risk – running buddies add color to my world that I would not trade for anything.

This is where social media comes in handy. Just looking at my Facebook feed, I see a number of examples – the Lady Runners of Parvins, the Zoomers Running Club, the Jersey Shore Running Club – of groups that post on a regular basis about events where they encourage people to join. I have rekindled friendships with people on-line because of our joint love of the sport (Hi Sherry!) and formed completely new relationships that have translated to real-life meetings (Hey Bel!).

The timing of this article was also a neat coincidence because I recently have had conversations with a few friends who are in the process of building their own little houses of running. They have expressed some concerns that their posts on FB and elsewhere might come off as bragging or fishing for compliments. Based on the number of positive responses they get to their posts, I think they need not worry! But just to drive the point home, let me please be clear that I LOVE reading your posts about workouts, races, what went right and what went wrong. I love hearing how your bodies and minds are changing and responding  and how you felt at the end of a run – be it elated, relieved, exhausted, invincible or anything in between. I especially love how you all say you are not “real runners” despite logging miles week in and week out. New flash – you are as real as it gets!

As anyone who has run a big race knows, encouragement from spectators (friends or strangers) can fuel us to our best running  selves. I think the same is true of social media – your real-life and virtual friends are here to encourage, cheer you on and help move you forward to the person you are striving to be.  We are social creatures, dependent on one another for love, support and feedback. I applaud you for even taking the initiative to get out there, because I remember how hard those early days were, and am here for you every step of the way of your journey. It truly warms my heart to see people try running on for size, see it fits and decide to take it home.

So, yes, I do think social media means better running in that it makes it more enjoyable, which is the whole point to begin with! We can more easily exchange information (about gear, nutrition, races), be part of a super fun community and feel inspired by others successes to overcome our own challenges. Plus, how else can we share, uh, interesting photos of our hard-earned blisters (*cough*, Lil Sis,* cough*)?!?!

What do you think? Does social media make us better runners?

Have you had any negative experiences or see any drawbacks to social media that outweigh the benefits?

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Runner’s World Review – Perfecting Your Pre-Race Food Strategy

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month  I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website.  It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat.  So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

rw nov 2012

November 2012 – Perfecting Your Pre-Race Strategy

This may seem an odd pick, since I have no races (oh, hell, even running!) on the horizon, but I think it is a great topic for a number of reasons.

The first is that the rest/recover season (which many of us are in, and I would be regardless of the leg) is an ideal time to look back at our race season and figure out what worked (multiple 20 milers DID make me feel more confident going into the marathon) and what didn’t (running a race made what could have been a blip of an injury into a more persistent son of a gun. whoops).Nutrition is often at the top of these lists, an area that we are all always tweaking and working to improve.

Second, I love hearing about what people eat before/during/after runs, so I encourage you all to comment on what works for you (and also what doesn’t! my list includes a fiber hearty day that was topped off with a marathon training session after work – so I start this 26.2 mile run at 430 pm in March – not the balmiest time of year!- with not enough warm clothes and by mile 8 my stomach was already rumbling. 4 bathroom trips and countless tears later, I finished that run completely petrified that I would not be able to handle an ultra. bad times).

Finally,  I wanted to highlight this article to get your take on it. This one (and a few others I have read of late) recommend way more food than I know my body can handle before a race. After carb loading in the day(s) before (which does not mean an insane amount of food, just a higher percentage of carbs – but all those carbs make me feel very full!), they then suggest this race-morning for a 150-lb person (before a full or half-marathon, so don’t get any ideas 5-kers, lol!):

3 to 4 hours prerace
1 cup cooked oatmeal with 2 tablespoons honey 62 g of carbs
6 ounces yogurt 17 g
1 large banana 31 g
2 tablespoons raisins 16 g
4 ounces juice 14 g
12 to 20 ounces water 0 g
Total Carbs = 140 g

90 minutes to 2 hours prerace
1 slice bread with 1 tablespoon jam 28 g
24 ounces sports drink 47 g
Total Carbs = 75 g

30 to 60 minutes prerace
1 energy gel or serving of energy chews 25 g
8 to 12 ounces water 0 g
Total Carbs = 25 g

I’m sorry, but those 2 tblsp of raisins will put me right over the edge! I am lucky if I can choke down a bagel, nevermind juice and sports drink and a banana and all the rest! Of course, the way they make the carb calculation is individual, with the magic number being 1.5-1.8/pound body weight. The above tally is for a 150 lb runner and 240 carbs. I would need about 190, so you can scratch the sports drink – and that still seems like too much (volume and variety) for my belly. The dairy-heavy yogurt alone is a recipe for disaster!

I have learned that eating a few hours before I run is very helpful for digestion – but that presents its own challenges when races start as early as 7am. If there are a lot of participants, it means you need to be at the start 45-60 mins before. Nothing like a nice cup of oatmeal at 3 am!

So what about you? What works when you race? Do you count carbs/calories or just go by feel? Do you eat at a certain time? Please share because when I read your comments I can pretend like I am researching for a race I am about to do instead of dutifully donning my goggles for yet another swim session (which to be fair, is quite lovely in its own right but decidedly not the same!).

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Runner’s World Review – Tapering!

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month  I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website.  It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat.  So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

October 2012 – Tapering? Wrap It Up With A Burst

I was super tempted to pick the article about pancakes this month since they are one of my favorite meals (I somehow managed to convince GD to eat them once a week for dinner for a glorious stretch in 2009, but he eventually got pancaked-out. This was a period where I really questioned whether we were meant to be or not).  BUT since the Philly marathon is 16 days away (freak out: ohmygoditcantbehereyetiamnotreadyineedmorespeedworkandhillsandGULP!) and I am smack dab in the middle of taper, this really appealed to me and my obsession with all things marathon right now (not to be confused by my regular obsession with all things marathon – this one is more specific to just my race and Philly versus a more broad one. It’s like specialist versus generalist species– normally any old plant will do, but right now I need eucalyptus and only eucalyptus!).

Anywho, for those that are not in the throes of tapering and have no idea what I am talking about, it is the period before a race when you reduce mileage in an effort to rest your body and mind for the big day. The longer the race, the longer the taper. For a marathon, it usually begins 3 weeks before the run. The first week you usually run 80-90% of your normal weekly mileage, second week do 60-70% and the final week about 30-50%.

It’s a tough period for most runners because at this point in training you have gotten really used to long, hard weeks. You reduce mileage and think it will feel great to rest – but instead you often just feel restless. The closer you get to race day, and therefore the less you run, the more you convince yourself that you are an out of shape mess destined to blow up on the course and barely be able to finish, much less  reach any of your goals.  And this is where the article comes in to save the day!

In my first marathon and even in Chicago, I was under the impression that tapering meant less miles at a slow pace. This did lead to me feeling lethargic during taper. A few years ago (while training for the Philly Half 2010) I read that tapering should be a reduction in volume, but not intensity (I find this especially true for me in weeks 1 and 2 of taper). This article reinforces that idea and I have found that still doing some speedwork and marathon pace workouts REALLY help me keep my shit together during these “tough” weeks.

I usually prefer to take it super easy during that last week – my body does respond really well to rest and slow/no runs in the few days before a race and I probably won’t mess with that too much on this training cycle. However, I am planning on trying a few short intervals/striders on my Tuesday workout of race week. I also came across this video on Competitor.com (great website, I am a fan) that talks about carb loading and a quickie Saturday (day before the race) 3-minute workout that supposedly makes the most of your glycogen orgy. I am not sure if I am going to try it – anyone out there have experience with this or is it voodoo marathon madness?

How do you taper?

What does your race week training look like?

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Runner’s World Review – Redemption of the Runningman

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month  I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website.  It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat.  So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

August 2012 – Redemption of the Runningman

The August issue offered many an interesting read,especially for all of you that may be training for a half-marathon, contemplating training for a half-marathon, or would never dream of running that far but are interested in what makes the people do something so seemingly uncivilized 🙂 However, the story that moved me to write this month was Redemption of the Runningman, which touched on some of the ugliest parts of the human psyche. Unfortunately, as I went add a link to the article, it turned out that RW did not put it online! Gah! So I guess this will be like a one of those book club months where you ran out of time to actually read the book but show up to the meeting anyway (um, hello, free cookies and tea!), BS your way through discussing it and mentally high-five yourself when it appears no one is the wiser! If you are one of those Type A’s who need to complete tasks so as to check it off your list (ahh, the check mark – gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it!) alternate options include reading your own copy (if you are a subscriber), reading it at the library or clicking on the link above, which leads to the Wiki entry about the runner at the center of this story and gives most of the information presented in the article.

Looooong story sorta short, this article tells the tale of a Brit named Robert Garside, who on his third attempt ran across the globe (just the fact that he kept trying impressed me!). He set out on October 20, 1997 in New Delhi, India and completed his 40,000 mile ( let’s take a second to contemplate that. Pick any distance that is manageable in your head, divide it into 40,000 and see what you come up with… for me, that would be 1,527 marathons or 1,291 commutes to work or running up and down the street I grew up on 200,000 times!) trek almost 6 years later on June 13, 2003 in the same city. This should be cause for major celebration, a huge binge on ice cream and at least a few recovery days, right?

I’d probably believe him based on the accent alone – gets me every time!

Not so fast. Turns out that during that time, there were quite a few bloggers and media folk in the running world who questioned his every step and whether he was completing the route as he claimed he was (in their defense, Garside had lied about a portion of an earlier attempt, so that did not help matters). This article is the story from the point of view of one of those journalists, Dan Koeppel.

You know how some people seem to be running from something (like me)? Well, the author of the article, Dan Koeppel, is running from himself – the Dan Koeppel of late 1990s that is. He joined in the runner’s version of a witch hunt (tangent: I wonder what the punishment would be in the runner’s version? No Body Glide on a humid day? Run  marathon with no water? And do the witch hunters wear breathable fabric as they set out in the night with Amphipod water bottles and headlamps instead of torches in hand?) and helped condemn Garside as a fraud.

Koeppel started writing an expose on Garside in 2004 but as he got to know the man and saw the evidence that he DID complete the run he ultimately wrote the RWarticle to help undo some of the damage he inflicted on Garside’s reputation. What damage? Although the Guinness Book of World Records eventually accepted his run into their archives, his accomplishment is tainted with the word “rested”, Guinnessese for a record that stands, but it not officially “promoted or published”. His reputation was permanently sullied by the unrelenting criticism and it was mentally taxing for him to handle. Imagine completing challenge like this, only to have every step picked apart by complete strangers.

The story is an excellent meditation on what happens to us mentally when we unfairly and wrongly accuse someone of an act when we have little proof of what actually happened. The reader is left with the impression that Koeppel will never fully forgive himself, no matter how many miles he runs or words he types to right the wrongs.

And this is what I (finally!) want to talk about today – what is it that drives us to criticize, condemn and accuse, especially in regard to things that do not directly impact us, or for which we have no actual evidence? It is such a peculiar, but common,  human characteristic and one that I thought about long after the story was over. I think part of it is because we have an innate sense of fairness and we hate seeing people “get away” with something. But I think there is more to it, since our attacks on one another can be quite savage and “righting a wrong” does not need to be so. Is it a residual behavior from our ancestral struggles for power among the tribes we roamed in? Or is it an integral part of being human that will always be with us, no matter how far we travel from our cradle in Africa?

As a person who looks at life through a science-tinged lens, I tend to think that all these behaviors have some thread that links them to our evolutionary history. Perhaps it is because we need these behaviors to attack people when they actually ARE in the wrong and an English gentlemanly conversation simply will not do. Perhaps it is to boost our own egos, which can be so critical in the fight for survival (and I mean that both in days gone by and today, where there are so many other types of “predators” to take us down). Maybe it is just Newtonian and for every action there must be an opposite and equal reaction – and in the emotional world of humans, that means for every bit of love, there is hate. For all the gratitude there is ungratefulness, for all the support, there is knocking down. It might be just be part of what makes us the messy, complicated species that we are.

The second part of the equation is what happens to us when we find out that we were wrong, that our actions hurt someone else and that there is nothing we can truly do to undo the damage. My impression is that Koeppel will live with his guilt for the rest of his life. Maybe this guilt is the check valve that is meant to keep our accusations fair – we know that if we are wrong, we will have to live with this unpleasant sensation which can be avoided as long as our accusations are true.

What do you think?

Does the idea of running around the globe appeal to you?

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Runner’s World Review: Eat Vegan and Run

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month  I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website.  It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat.  So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

June 2012 – Eat Vegan and Run

This was a tough month to pick from as there were a few other articles I loved from this issue.  If you want to read the runner’s up, check out this one about the nostalgia running can elicit or this one about the power of the human spirit. However, in the end, I thought the best discussion would come from Scott Jurek’s new book, Eat & Run, about his transformation from a meat and potatoes kid to a fully vegan adult ultramarathoner.

As a one-time vegetarian who never went back to red meat and pork, I find veganism highly appealing, on quite a few levels. As an tree hugger, I like the idea of the least amount of energy possible being put into producing my food. As someone exquisitely aware of my family health history (rife with heart disease and stroke) I love the idea of taking the seemingly terrible hand my genes dealt me and fighting back (take that thymine!).

More than just reading about the benefits of this diet, however, was the enjoyment of reading about Scott Jurek.  The man is a machine! Having recently completed my own ultra, I am ever more fascinated by these seemingly impossible distances and the speed at which some people can complete them.  If this article whet your Jurek whistle, quench your thirst with this great interview  from Ultra Runner Podcast.

So let’s get to the meaty stuff – veganism and the emotions it evokes in people.  It does irk me when people say “but we are meant to eat meat! look at these canine teeth!”.  First of all, the “meat” most Americans are eating today is hardly that of our ancestors – back then everything was organic, wild- caught and free of antibiotics and other drugs.  People are eating commercially produced meat from one of a handful of companies and the cows are feed delightful things like poultry litter

Aaaaand this is where I have to stop myself to comment on my own musings. Veganism seems to bring out two sides of people (though I do think SJ does a good job of staying neutral) – either the folks who are “no meat? no dairy? what kind of hippie dippie voo-doo is this?” or the folks who become quite smug pointing out all the health benefits for themselves and the planet, patting themselves on the back with a “oh, you poor uneducated dear” look at the carnophiles. I admit to falling more in this second category, and this realization generally sends me into a self-loathing internal monologue that goes something like this:

“Really? You are going to lecture people about protecting the environment? Because even though you work to conserve wildlife, drive a small care, recycle and buy organic, you love to travel. On jet planes. Which have an enormous carbon footprint that no number of small, cute cars can make up for. And you aren’t willing to give up traveling, so who are you to ask someone to give up meat?”

The general conclusion I have come to is this – the best we can do is make the changes that work for us, hope others do the same and that our species doesn’t run itself into the ground any sooner than necessary. For me, driving a little car and staying away from meat is easy, giving up traveling is not.  So I know that is where my line is, but I don’t know how I feel about that.

What did you think of the article? Would you/have you tried veganism?

Did the way you ate as a child change when you became an adult?

What are your predictions for the future of the human race?

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