Readers Roundtable: Who Cares About USATF?

Dani Miller at the 2016 Olympic Trials

Runners sweating it out at the Olympic Marathon Trials sure cared about USATF. Do you?

Each year runners, race walkers, field athletes, coaches, volunteers, and officials convene for the USATF annual meeting. The 2016 USATF annual meeting closed yesterday. Highlights include establishing the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon standards and qualifying window (more info after the jump), the election of a new President, Vin Lananna, as well as the election of out-spoken USATF critic Lauren Fleshman as one of the athlete representatives on the USATF Board.

There is a lot of good news coming out of the meeting, certainly, but as you’ve likely heard, this progress is dwarfed by reports that Max Seigel’s compensation includes regular flights on private jets and stays in five-star hotels, that whole Rule 40 thing, and other bad-press. At this year’s annual meeting alone, renewed criticisms about the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon and controversy swirling over the treatment of members of the Youth Executive Committee who were banned by USATF CEO Max Siegel last May.

A few months ago we explained what USATF is and how it affects the sport, but does it affect you?

Do you care about the USATF? Are you an active member? Why or why not?  Are you alarmed by the scandals and controversies? If so, tell us what your beef is. 

And join us every Monday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on Twitter for #SaltyChat where we’ll discuss the Roundtable topic and so much more!Read more

Why IUDs are F*ing AWESOME for Runners

iud-heartI have two kids, so I guess it’s no secret that I have sex (sorry Mom, it wasn’t immaculate conception!). My two kids, however? Enough for me. I’m good. Our family is complete! Never again.

And rather than leave it up to God, The Universe, pulling out, knowing my body so well that I can chart the second an egg pops out of my ovary, or whether today’s political headlines turn me off or on (will any babies be born 10 months after November 8, 2016?!), I make damn sure that my chances of being surprised with an unplanned child #3 are very, very, VERY low.

Once upon a time, for a long time, I used a version of the Pill, and lived with the side effects and the stress of needing to remember every day to take it. About six years ago, I was bemoaning my love/hate relationship with the Pill to my gynecologist, when she mentioned a different form of birth control that she herself used and that she credited with revolutionizing her life: the IUD.

A low dose of hormones placed directly in my uterus that has less side effects, is good for five years, is nearly 100% effective, covered 100% by my insurance, AND with the bonus of probably making me never have a period?! SIGN ME UP.

I am currently on my third IUD, and I effing love it, for running and for life in general. And I think you might, too.

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In Defense of the Half Marathon

Semehar Tesfaye edging out Kelsey Bruce and Esther Atkins for 7th place at the 2016 USATF Half Champs.

Semehar Tesfaye edging out Kelsey Bruce and Esther Atkins for 7th place at the 2016 USATF Half Champs. Tell them the half is not an impressive distance to race.

Tell any non-runner that you’re a distance runner and they’ll likely ask, “So have you run a marathon?” Having run two myself, I understand the allure and prestige of the marathon. It’s the only race distance not set by a nice round number, but by an ancient Greek legend. Pheidippides ran 26.2 miles to warn of the Spartans’ arrival and when he finished he kicked the bucket.

It’s like the Kleenex or the xerox machine of road races, and a metaphor warning others of how long and tortuous something will be (Take your time! It’s a marathon, not a sprint!). The marathon is the holy grail of long distance running, and for good reason.

But in the shadows of the bombastic marathon, is another lesser-appreciated, albeit just as awesome race. It’s the Cady Herron to her Regina George: newer, growing faster in popularity, and friendlier. I’m talking about my personal favorite distance, the half marathon. Thirteen point one miles is long enough to be challenging, but short enough that the training need not consume your life. Running one well requires the perfect blend of speed and strategic pacing.

Here are my top reasons to put some half marathons on your race schedule this coming year! Read more

On Disappointment and Trust in Running and Life

Barley struggles with trust after disappointmentsRunning our best requires trust. We have to not only trust the training, we have to trust our mind to hang on, our body to know what to do, and that we won’t break.

The last few years I saw many breakthroughs in my running, and I assumed that had to do with consistency and better training. While that’s certainly a big part of the success I’ve had so far, I’ve also realized that learning to trust myself might be the main ingredient to that success. Whether it was trusting my own race plan even when others questioned it, trusting myself to rally and do back-to-back marathons, or trusting my body to do what I knew it could do. At times it meant trusting myself when I felt like I could trust no one else.

In fact one of my greatest breakthroughs, my first sub-three marathon, came when I had to trust all the training I put in and then trust myself to execute a smart race plan, as my coach disappeared out of my life a few short weeks before the race. After I smashed my goal, I saw how the loss of my coach helped me realize how much I appreciated my own good judgment, work ethic, and physical ability. Read more

USATF Support for Sub-Elites

2014 U.S.A. Trail Half Marathon Championship My teammates at the 2015 USATF National Trail Half Marathon Championship

Two weeks ago, I explained who sub-elite runners are. Last week I told you about the many benefits races offer for sub-elite runners. This week, I want to explain the ways that U.S.A. Track and Field (USATF) supports sub-elites. Sure the USATF is not without controversy, but with part of its mission to promote the pursuit of excellence, from grassroots to the Olympic Games, the organization’s job is to help you reach your goals.

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So Many Metrics for Runners!

img_8951This morning, 57.7 percent of me was water. My resting heart rate was 57. And I averaged 184 steps per minute on my run.

Fitness tracking and wearables are a huge market, and you might even have a device on your holiday wish-list. Pretty likely when I mentioned resting HR, you thought about checking yours on the device on your wrist.

I’m a data junkie: most of my training is heart-rate based, and I have a Garmin Forerunner 35 plus a Garmin Index Smart Scale. But a lot of that data is logged, recorded, archived … and never used for anything.

So what the heck do all these numbers mean, and which ones matter? I talked to two guys named Matt who helped me sort through the data I’m collecting to help make me and YOU better runners.

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Olive’s Chosen Half Marathon Race Report

When I signed up to run the Chosen Half Marathon, I was burned out with a capital B. I’d finished a string of disappointing races with a string of injuries that left me frustrated and feeling like I’d done a lot of training for nothing. I planned on breaking 1:30 in the San Antonio Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon, but I’d ended up running 1:34 and shuffling through the last 5k.

I decided to take some time to run for fun, and casually entered this race just to stay motivated. I’ve been teaching group fitness a lot this fall, and though I followed the Hansons half marathon plan pretty closely, I didn’t stress about training. I even did all my speedwork on the treadmill and chose a pretty conservative goal time of 1:33.

Needless to say, my expectations for race day were pretty low, but *spoiler alert* in the end, my “run for fun” attitude paid off in a BIG way!

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Why You Should Include Negative Splits in Your Race Plan

turmeric uses negative splits to PRSix years ago, I ran my first marathon. After racing on the track or cross-country, running a road race, particularly one so long, was a shock to my system. I ran like a deer in headlights for the entire 26.2 miles. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. In fact, it took me three marathons before I figured out (the hard way) that going out hard as I was taught to do in college, is a death-march sentence in a marathon. I knew there had to be another way of achieving my time goals. But what was it?

I looked to my training log for the answer and there I realized that some of my best and favorite workouts were progression runs, runs that finish faster, sometimes much faster than they started. So I decided to apply what I found to be successful in my training to my road-racing. Why not? If it worked for my workouts, racing negative splits might work well for me too in the marathon and maybe even other distances.  Read more

The Sagittarius Runner

file_000-9Happy birthday greetings to our solo Salty Sagittarius runner, Chicory! And a happy birthday to Paula Radcliffe, Flo Jo, Sally Kipyego, and Carmelita Jeter as well.

Sagittarians are strong, graceful, and energetic, making them natural athletes. Their strength extends beyond the body to the brain, making their mental game strong too. This combination makes them perfect candidates for running greatness.

One handy characteristic Sag runners have is that they know how to set boundaries. After all, many Sagittarians have been subject to the birthday-or-holiday gift dilemma their whole lives. They know how to get what they want, and they are not afraid to ask for it!

What other traits do Sagittarius runner share? Read on!

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Readers Roundtable: Running Commando

salty runs in salty running hoodie and plaid tightsThanksgiving is over and many of us survived heated political debates with our relatives or are feeling lucky to have avoided sending Uncle Joe into a red-faced finger-wagging tizzy as he passed the mashed potatoes. And with the turkey trots in the rearview mirror, it’s not Christmas lights we’re looking forward to. It’s tights season! It’s finally here and along with it, the cold late autumn winds blow back another age-old debate: to go commando or not to go commando under our spandex. And thus we ask you:

Do you wear underwear under your spandex tights or shorts? Why or why not?

Keep the talk on this hot topic civil folks! And join us later tonight on Twitter for #SaltyChat. At 7:00 p.m. Eastern, we’ll have an in-depth and fun conversation on this and other topics. 

Readers Roundtable: Gratitude

salty and ginger laughing

Grateful for all of the wonderful people running has brought into my life, like Ginger!

Runners complain a lot. From the weather to hills, to our aches and pains and hard workouts, we like to vocalize both the things that cause us extra pain and sometimes even the most minor of discomforts. But all this complaining can bring us down and encourage us to forget why we log all these miles in the first place.

Yes, we love to run; it makes us feel alive, more than just about anything else we do! And many of us could stand to exercise a little gratitude and remember all the other little and big things about running that make us feel grateful to have the sport in our lives.

Tell us three things that you’re grateful for about running right now.

Then join us tonight (Monday, Nov. 21) at 7:00 EST for #SaltyChat live on Twitter where we’ll be sure to get you good and ready to enjoy your Thanksgiving feast!

We’ll be back on Monday, November 28 with brand new posts. Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers!

I F*ing Hate Essential Oils

Pouring oil over your head

Same thing, right?

Runners are people who value health and wellness, so naturally there’s always a magical health trend trying to worm its way into runners’ lives and social media feeds. Of course, there was yoga and green smoothies. There was myofascial release and eating paleo. Coconut oil had a moment, although in retrospect it seems to have been undeserved. We’d be remiss if we forgot the stylish healing powers of KT-tape.

But now, on trend ladies and gentlemen runners, get ready to douse yourselves in essential oils. Like Gatorade tried to tell us we needed their special products before, during, and after running or else we’d fail miserably, as we laughed in its passé face, so, they say, we must slather different oils on ourselves to magically prepare, perform, and recover.

Before it goes too far, I’m just going to nip this trend in the bud and hope the entire industry floats away in an incense cloud. Read more

Nick Symmonds is Leaving the Sport Better than He Found It

Nick Symmonds

Nick Symmonds is a guy who knows how to get attention. If you don’t know him as the guy who auctioned off his skin as ad space twice, or the guy who passed on joining the U.S.’s World Championship track and field team because he wouldn’t sign the contract limiting his ability to promote his sponsors, then you might know him as that runner guy who dated Paris Hilton, that runner guy who was rumored to star on a season of The Bachelor, or that runner guy who was on American Ninja Warrior.

More importantly though, those stunts, as many people have called them, have helped make Nick Symmonds as close to a household name as any American 800 meter specialist could be. Despite his 2013 World Championship silver medal and making it to two Olympics, even placing 5th in 2012, Nick argues that corruption at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and U.S.A. Track and Field (USATF) make it almost impossible for many top-level track athletes to earn a subsistence living, let alone pay to train at the level necessary to compete with the best in the world.

Nick, himself, has made it his mission to clean up the sport he loves, but also to be personally successful whether on the track or off. As he approaches retirement from his own professional running career, he’s shifting his focus to the company he started with his former coach, Sam Lampray, Run Gum.

I was eager to talk to Nick about Run Gum, his feelings about doping, the Olympics, USATF, his future, and to get to know the real dude behind the “stunts”. Read more

Race Offerings for Sub-Elites


Behind the elite athletes on the front of the line of races like the 2016 U.S.A. Half Marathon Championship at the Cap City Half are sub-elites trying to chase them down.

Last week I explained who sub-elite runners are, but now it’s time to tell you what is available for those of you who are currently in that group and those of you with the goal of making it into that group. As you get faster and as your goals become more lofty, you will likely need more and more support to reach them. That support can come in many shapes, such as family, friends, training partners, and flexible jobs, but today I want to explain what some races offer in the way of support for sub-elites like current or future you. From major marathons to shorter road races to national championships, there are many races looking to help you reach your dreams.  Read more

Pesto’s Fall & Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Recap

file_000-5Salties… I am a marathoner!

After making it all the way to the taper in my spring training before being diagnosed with a severe tibial stress fracture, training for Indy was much different. This past weekend went off without a hitch, although it was wildly unconventional.

This summer (whilst still in a boot) I realized that in order to be successful, to avoid my history of overuse injuries and perhaps most importantly, to keep other aspects of life in tact I should probably look into getting a coach. James McKirdy came highly recommended to me from fellow Salty, Barley, to whom I owe a huge thanks! When we initially spoke I was already registered for Indy, plane tickets were purchased and I so desperately wanted to run hard to make up for the anguish of the Spring.

“Sure, we can have you run the marathon, but it’s not going to be a goal race by any means.”

Hmmmm, he seemed fairly set on this, but I didn’t let it bother me. It was only August and I figured that I had months to charm convince him to change his mind and to let me race.

*Spoiler alert*: none of my tricks worked, he did not change his mind.

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