On the 2nd Day of Christmas, Running Gave To Me: Instant Community

With some of the other volunteers at the Twilight Ultra in 2014. Photo credit: Ben Swee

Running is a funny thing. It’s kind of like eating. You can do something that’s purely functional, doling out the exact nutrients you need to survive or the exercise you need to stay mechanically fit. Or you can do that thing as a social activity, in a manner that feeds your heart and your soul.

And that’s how I found myself manning the special-needs-bag-check of an ultra on a humid April night, high-fiving sweaty runners on their fourth or fifth or 12th punishing 10km loop back and forth along a beach path, and horsing around with a plant sprayer the size of my head.

This was one of the annual overnight ultra races put on by local Singapore running group Running Guild: as many 10k loops as you can manage, or wanted to manage, in 16 hours. As I chatted with the other volunteers, common themes kept popping up over and over. “I’ve done Running Guild races before and I love them so I wanted to give back.” “We know what runners need.” “I wanted to support (runners).”

The refrain sounded familiar. Here’s why. Read more

On the 1st day of Christmas Running Gave to Me: a Ton of Dirty Laundry

It’s time for one of our favorite features of the year: Our Twelve Days of Christmas!  Leading up to our holiday break from regular posting (December 24 – January 2), some of us Saltines will be sharing our personal stories about what running has given us. You can check out last year’s series here


Housework is usually far down the list of “things I want to be doing right now”. My attitude toward it can range from totally indifferent to really bad. No matter how often I clean the kitchen, scrub the bathroom, or put my running clothes in the washer, I’ll be doing exactly the same thing again this time next week … and the week after that … and so on and so forth.

It took me about 25 years to realize that running’s constant laundry offering is not, in fact, annoying, or a burden. It’s a gift!

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Hilary Dionne on Pursuing Excellence in Running and Life

Hilary Dionne at the 2016 USA Olympic Trials MarathonWhile she holds blazing fast PRs of 16:41 (5k), 34:50 (10k), 1:14:01 (half marathon), and 2:34:45 (marathon), you may know Hilary Dionne as the runner who held hands with Meb at the 2015 Boston Marathon. Needless to say, she’s so much more than that! She’s a Dartmouth grad and a Boston-based runner who competes for Craft Concept Racing, works full-time for Jobcase Inc., and competed in the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Hilary and I ran together back in 2011 through 2013 when we both ran for Boston Athletic Association. More than just a great runner, she’s also very driven in her career, and is someone who can inspire us all. I spoke with her shortly before and shortly after she competed in the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon where she finished 20th with a time of 2:45:31.

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Club and Ambassador Opportunities for Sub-Elites

sub-elites warming up

Runners prepare to make a go at an Olympic Trials Qualifier, each wearing her club’s kit.

And I’m back with more information for sub-elites. Way back when, I explained who sub-elite runners are. Then I told you about the many benefits races offer for sub-elite runners, and last week, I explained all the ways that USATF supports sub-elites. Now it’s time to discuss how brands can help you reach your big running dreams! Yes, your favorite running companies do more than sponsor the best in the sport; they are eager to help emerging athletes, too, through elite development clubs and brand ambassador programs!

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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!