Tag Archives: Runner’s World

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 – Running on “E”

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!

July 2012 – Running on “E”

Yeah, I was totally fooled too. After seeing the title, I was mentally already halfway through a post about how running on ecstasy might interact with the natural runner’s high and what the starting line of a major marathon would be like with thousands of people running their hands over each others silky shorts and exclaiming how amazing they feel. Then I read the first paragraph and was all “Ohhhhh, they meant running on empty, as in no fuel. Riiiight.”

The article reports on a recent training technique whereby the participants purposely drain their tanks and keep running. The idea is that you will teach your body to burn more fat and “boost your body’s capacity for stored carbohydrates” , ie make you more efficient. This would hopefully translate to faster race times, since you would only employ this method while training and would run on a full glycogen tank while racing.

I admit to being a sucker for the latest running trends – I have embraced compression socks like nobody’s business and happily walk around in a pair of Five Fingers (have never made the transition to running in them, but love just hanging out in ’em!). I love coconut water and GUs and ShotBloks and I mix protein with my carbs now, rather than the straight carbs of my youth.  I’ve even been know to don a running skirt. But this one holds zero appeal for me.

First of all, eating is one of the greatest things about being a runner. Food literally never tastes as good to me as it does after a long run – that deep, aching hunger being satiated is such a primal pleasure. Second, the feeling of running while fueled properly is lovely – you effortlessly tick off the miles and your body happily complies, confident that you will keep it supplied with the good stuff. A bonking body is not a pretty sight and a cliff I like to aviod falling off.

One of the methods suggestedto get to a fasted state is to do a hard run in the morning followed by an afternoon run – this is tough enough on its own, but their suggestion of no carbs in between? Well, I think they sum it up best with “that’s a challenging and unpleasant approach”.

So why would I want to do that? I love how pleasant running is. I love the feel of a running skirt swishing behind me, the simple pleasure of  a chocolate mint GU at mile 10, the way my ponytail jauntily bounces along with me, the way my shadow seems to be playing a never ending game of tag with me… and I’d want to change that why? To *possibly* get faster?? I think I’ll stick to my Yasso 800s , thankyouverymuch.

Finally, I question the science behind this technique. Anyone else out there a RadioLab fan? There was a great episode a few years back that I would recommend to every endurance athlete out there called “The Limits of the Body”. In it they discuss the fact that your body gives you signals that it is close to depletion far sooner than when that is an actual issue. It’s like a built-in safety measure to prevent a catastrophe – and probably why scientists have also found that just swirling glucose around in your mouth and then spitting it out gives you a similar result to actually ingesting it (but don’t be stupid and not hydrate, people, this is just to prove a point!). Your taste receptors send a signal “all clear, boss, help is one the way!” and your body can handle a little more pressure without shutting down. Anyway, I wonder how “depleted” you actually are using the fasting technique, making me even less interested in trying it!

What are your thoughts on fueling and running?

Would you try this technique?

What trends are you a sucker for?

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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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