An American Runner in Paris

buda-runningAm I still Bergamot if I don’t run a race this year? Am I still … a runner?

Dun, dun, dun!!!! Cue the horror music.

I asked myself these questions, sitting on the couch in sweatpants at 3:00 p.m. Oh, the life of a freelancer, or rather, my current life. Over the summer, Cilantro covered the impact of changing identities and how she dealt with her evolving identities as an academic and a runner. This year, I’ve experienced some major shifts too, and my current location and occupation in Spain has helped me remove cultural expectations of myself, especially regarding running.

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Readers Roundtable: Running Fashion

A collage of Salty getting frustrated as she attempts to put on a complicated shirt

Since we were kids, fall has always been a time to shop for clothes. Fall also happens to be the season for runners, so, naturally, running apparel companies are eager to take all our money. In catalogs and ads everywhere, we’re seeing the hottest trends. Some, like the all grey footwear or cozy cowl necks we can get behind. But others leave us saying, “Hmmm.”

Shirts that are so complicated you can’t figure out how to put them on. Puffer jackets when it’s not -20 degrees. Vests and shorts ever. A complete ensemble of sports bra and tights, capri or full-length. Who wears this stuff?

So we want to know:

  • What’s the weirdest running ensemble you’ve seen in an ad?
  • What’s the weirdest or most fashion forward article of running clothing you own?
  • What circumstance if any would you run in just a bra and tights? 
  • On what level do you care about fashion over function when it comes to your running clothes?

✪And don’t forget to tune in at 7:00 p.m. EST for #saltychat on Twitter!✪

5 Things Bob Dylan Can Teach Us About Running

fri5Last week, the Nobel Committee announced that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Although this announcement provoked substantial controversy, I was thrilled. My love for Bob Dylan knows no bounds, so much so that his songs make regular appearances on my iPod playlist during my casual runs. At first, Bob Dylan seems like a strange choice to include on a running playlist, but if you listen closely, you just might think he was singing about running!

Here are just a few of my favorite pieces of sage running advice, a la Dylan.

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North: The Conference Championship

The North team warms up at the final meet where they'll all be together

I just ran.

– Hannah

In race after race, she struggled with anxiety. This anxiety caused the girl with the long lithe legs and a killer stride to close up her fists and shuffle. Occasionally, though, she could break through and we would see a sneak-peek at the runner she could be. Often this occurred during the first mile of a race when she’d run with her teammates Natalie, Lydia, or Ashleigh before giving in and shuffling again. The worst of it came in the first meet when her nerves completely engulfed her, but over the next few races she seemed to be winning her fight, only to once again seem consumed by worry over these last few weeks.

On this, the Conference Championship, the last meet of the regular season, Hannah came roaring out of the woods hot on Natalie’s and Ashleigh’s heels, not a quarter of a mile into the race, but with a quarter mile to go. Read more

Raspberry’s First 50: Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile Race Report

Raspberry runs in her first 50 mile raceSince joining the Salty team last spring, I have been training for my first 50-mile race, the Dick Collins Firetrails 50, using Krissy Moehl’s Running Your First Ultra training plan. I had just completed Boston-to-Big Sur, and knew I had the foundation for a strong training cycle. During summer vacation, I armed myself with a new book, Trail Runner’s Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area and adopted an adventurer’s mindset. That, combined with mild weather and strength-building trips to the mountains, provided ideal training conditions.

However, as with all training cycles, it wasn’t perfect. I struggled with my hill workouts, I neglected my core, and vacations prevented me from hitting all of my miles. But, I knew I prepared as best as I could, and upon reaching my final taper, my left knee and hip screamed at me that I was done, and it was time to get the show on the road. Read more

Introducing Sriracha!

Sriracha raises her arms with excitement during the 2015 NYC MarathonHello Salty Running readers! It is such a privilege and honor to be part of such an incredible community budding with knowledge, humor, and support. I was introduced to Salty Running by a former contributor and needless to say I have been hooked since day one.

I have been an athlete from a young age. Born the youngest of three and the only girl, I was potty-trained on the sidelines of a soccer field. To this very day, sports and athletics remain an essential part of my core. As a child it was not unusual to see me leave my soccer game, grass stained and all, to trade in my cleats and shin guards for a tutu and tights. It was through my love of soccer that my love of running was born.

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Glory Days: the Role of a Runner’s Past in Her Present Success

College-age Barley sits on a number 1 podiumOnce upon a time I was a college track athlete, a heptathlete specifically. I had a good amount of natural talent for it, I enjoyed it, and I succeeded thanks to my beyond-stubborn streak. Notice I didn’t mention anything about working hard, being 100% dedicated, or making sacrifices for my sport. That’s because if I said those things, it wouldn’t be true.

A decade later, while I gave up the javelin when I graduated, I am still a runner and a successful one at that. I still possess the attributes that led to my collegiate success, but I attribute my post-collegiate successes to other things I didn’t have back then. Dedication. Sacrifice. Knowledge. Perspective. The Little Things. The paths college-me and adult-me took to get to success are intertwined but also distinctly different.

Who would I be now if I had today’s work ethic back then? How much better would I have been in college had I approached running with the same intensity and purpose I do now? Should I regret those naive and carefree years and wonder what if?

Are then and now linked, or are they two separate stories of success?

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Chasing the Best-Race-of-My-Life Feeling: Coriander Returns to the Roads

Ready for my next marathon adventure!

Two years ago, I ran the best race of my life, but since winning the Oil Creek 100K in 2014, a lot has changed. Over the last two years I’ve longed for the same race experience, but I also met my now-husband, moved in with him, adopted a cat, started graduate school, got promoted at work, got married and bought a house.

Before all of that, running was something I was getting to be pretty good at, and when I went to a race, I went there to win. But at the end of 2014, I was injured, and then couldn’t manage a good race through 2015 or most of this year. I was burnt out, tired, still slightly injured, and unable to deal with the fact that my life did not and could not revolve around running anymore. After another DNF at the Indiana Trail 100 in April, I ran my next two races with one of my best friends in May, then decided to drop from Mohican 100 and take some time off.

Early this summer, I decided to do something really crazy: train for my first road marathon since 2013! Read more

How to Give Advice to New Runners

Yoda says "to become a runner you want?"As soon as people know you’re a runner — possibly even before you call yourself one — they will want your advice. This is inevitable. Your charge is also inevitable: ensure they become part of the runner-fold and never want to leave.

Usually, it starts like this: “I want to start running. What is the key to success?” Or, “I started running and now my ____ hurts.” Or, “I signed up for a half-marathon in two months. How should I train?”

I spent five years working in a running store, so I answered these questions a lot.

Okay. You’re now the resident expert, and you have the floor. Time to make them a convert.

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Reach the Beach 2016 or How to Win a Ragnar Relay

Close-up of runner wearing a headlampHave you ever wanted to do a long-distance overnight relay race? Have you ever done one? I’ve been intrigued by overnight relays for a while, but only recently had an opportunity to participate in one. With a team of 11 former teammates and friends, I ran the Reach the Beach Ragnar Relay covering approximately 200 miles of New Hampshire roads. During the 24 hours and 44 minutes we were out on the course my experience ranged from weirdly fun to wildly unpleasant.

Now that I am more removed from it, and the extreme soreness in my quads has dissipated, I realize how spectacular the experience was. I highly recommend it to any runner seeking an adventure! But one thing is for certain: with a race involving 12 people per team and covering 200 miles, it would help to know as much about what to expect as you can beforehand! Hopefully, my experiences and the little tips I picked up will help you either decide to do an overnight relay or be better prepared when you do one. Read more

Readers Roundtable: How Do You Handle Running in the Rain?

Cinnamon running in the rainWhy is it always on the day that I passed up running in the beautiful crisp morning that it starts pouring right before I finally manage to head out the door? Ugh.

Running in the rain happens, and while the meek may run screaming for the nearest treadmill or even skip a run altogether, some of us don’t have any option for packing in the miles except sucking it up, regardless of precipitation. Still, back when I started training for my first big race, I used to panic at the first sign of a dark cloud! What do I wear? How do I manage? Oh, the horror! If you wear glasses, like your electronic gadgets or even if you just hate having wet socks, rain can put a damper on any runner’s day. Heyo.

With experience, I’ve discovered that I will not melt à la the Wicked Witch of the West. Not only can a good downpour turn an otherwise boring run into a great story, it can also be a lot of fun. I have my own tactics, but I’m curious to know yours. Do you have special gear? A particular shoe strategy? A mental tactic?

How do you approach running in the rain?

*** Want to discuss this in real time? Join us tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST on Twitter for #saltychat, where your favorite Saltines and readers will discuss today’s Roundtable topic and more live! ***

5 Runner Fuel Alternatives You Can Steal From Children

Mango steals an animal crackerListen up, parents of Salty Running. Oh, we know you make your children’s snacks from scratch each day from fresh, all-organic, hand-selected fruits and vegetables. Of course you’d never countenance giving Junior any of those packaged, pre-processed packets or pouches. White sugar and refined flour? Will never cross her lips.

As for yours, dear runner, gels, bars, and beans are expensive and often only available at stores not along your regular path. Also, they’re basically expensive candy with a couple of electrolytes. Aha! Here’s what to do with those five kid items you absolutely, definitely don’t have somewhere in the back of your kitchen cabinet.

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North: Into the Woods and Out Again

Caitlin changes her shoes alone in the tent

Alone in the tent, the other girls having completed the varsity race and left to cheer for the boys’ race, Caitlin changed her shoes.

She had been counseled to see this as an opportunity, and she was trying to focus on the idea that she could break free from just hanging on to whichever teammate was in front of her and really run her own race, but it’s never easy when you’re alone. Especially on a cross country course as wooded and idyllic as this one, it can feel like you’re in a fairy tale: you’re heading into the dark woods by yourself and you don’t know what’s going to happen out there. You don’t know if you can handle it, how you will confront the challenges ahead of you.

Caitlin jogged the lonely quarter mile to the starting line, where she awkwardly walked out among the thick packs of the other schools’ JV teams for drills, reaching down to touch her toes every three steps. As they chatted vibrantly and veteran runners led skips and lunge walks, she put on her brave face and moved with purpose, determined to pretend she was confident. For a moment, she forgot which drill she was supposed to do next. Visibly panicked, she stared ahead toward the thick forest of trees.

When she came out of those woods, who would she be?
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The Virtues of Casual Running

Me, being not-so-casual.

Perusing women’s running logs, blogs, or social media posts on the internet, one might be left with the impression that constantly training at a high-level is the norm. All of these impressive women with day jobs, blogs, normal lives, and adorable, well-adjusted children somehow manage to fit in 50-plus mile training weeks year-round, while nabbing PR after PR in race after race.

But is that reality? And even if it is reality for some women, does it need to be your reality? And is it the best approach for you? Must we always be in a state of serious training to really be runners, or does running for fun and fitness have its place, too?

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Running with Wheels: How to Train with Your Running Stroller

Parsley pushes a double stroller as she trains for the 2016 Olympic Trials MarathonOver the past 4 years, I’ve done most of my training pushing a running stroller. On average, I’d say about 85% of my running is with the stroller. While at first I resisted (ugh, how can anyone get in a workout with this huge thing?), it’s now so natural I don’t even question it. Even while training for the last Olympic Trials, every run except long runs and track workouts was with my kids. Along the way I’ve learned some things that may be helpful to others in the Salty community. Read more