Readers Roundtable: What’s the Hardest Race You’ve Ever Run

Appropriate lounge wear for post-epic-running adventure time. Click the image to go buy the shirt from Sun Frog Shirts (who we are in no way affiliated with. We just like the shirt)!

Appropriate lounge wear for post-epic-running adventure time. Click the image to go buy the shirt from Sun Frog Shirts (who we are in no way affiliated with. We just like the shirt)!

I’m writing with the last ounce of energy I have after an epic Burning River 100 weekend! (I may or may not be exaggerating.) I woke up at 3:20 a.m. Saturday to take Cilantro to the starting line for her first 100 mile race! Then I ran 11.6 miles as part of an 8-amazing-woman relay before high-tailing it out to crew, I met Jasmine around the 50k mark and from there we went from aid station to aid station, picking up Saffron for a little while along the way as we made sure Cilantro had everything she needed to continue on and keep her spirits high. After a rest Jasmine and I came back out to work with Ginger to do everything we could to get Cilantro to the finish.

I’ll let Cilantro tell you the rest of her story (and you’ll hear more of mine later in the week when I get around to writing my training log), except to say that it was an amazing experience to witness her tackle all this newness and the surprises and ups and downs along her 100 mile journey. It was truly epic and I have the complete exhaustion to prove it!

Oh yes! This is a Readers Roundtable! All this does actually bring me to that. Witnessing Cilantro attack this incredible challenge and thinking about Clove getting ready for her biggest one yet got me thinking about my hardest race ever, which got me wondering about yours. So in the spirit of epic running adventures, tell us: what’s the hardest race you’ve ever run?

5 Last-Chance Activities for Your Summer Running Bucket List

fri5Every year, as summer approaches I write a list of all the awesome amazing things I hope to accomplish. And every year, near the end of July I start feeling panicky that summer is almost over and I’ve hardly done anything on the list! And here I am at the end of this particular July and as usual I am trying to cram in all sorts of warm weather fun before fall rolls around. Sure I have things like take my son to the zoo and clean and organize this or that on my list, but I also have a complete list of running items I’ve yet to check off my summer bucket list. I best get cracking!

Here are the 5 things that should be on all our running bucket lists this summer. Read more

Crewing Badwater: The Toughest Race You’ve Never Run

DB's 2013 crew at the Badwater Basin.

DB’s 2013 crew at the Badwater Basin.

There’s a common acronym for the word “crew” in the ultrarunning world:  Cranky Runner, Endless Waiting.  Well, I’m going to be doing my very best not to be cranky (it’s quite rude to the person who’s literally serving you), but the waiting can indeed be endless, especially at Badwater.  So what exactly does a Badwater crew do, and how is it different from “regular” crewing?  All the answers here for our Salty Readers today!

First up, some quick notes on the event itself:  while Badwater and AdventureCORPS, the company that puts on the event, have a top-of-the-line medical staff, a live webcast and social media team, roving race officials, seven timing checkpoints, and photographers and videographers, there is no official aid in the form of food and water offered on the course. This is because of the immense distance of the race, the vast spread between runners, and because, quite simply, volunteers running traditional “aid stations” every few miles would keel over and die from the heat.

Therefore, all of your foods, fluids, do-it-yourself medical and special needs are YOUR responsibility.  Except they’re really your crew’s responsibility, and your crew is your lifeline.  As stated in one of my previous posts:  without your crew, you DNF or die.  Your crew – along with your stuff – travels the entire course with you in a van, leapfrogging you every two or more miles.  Each Badwater entrant is required to have two crew members, and allowed up to four.  Think you can just divide and conquer?  Think again.  Here’s what life is really like for a Badwater crew member. Read more

Summer Running Reads: “Older, Faster, Stronger,” Margaret Webb’s Super-fit Year

Click on the photo to purchase the book!

Click on the photo to purchase the book!

We bloggers at Salty Running, love running and writing, of course. So naturally, we also love reading about running. If you’re looking for one more book to add to your summer reading list, I have a great one for you: Margaret Webb’s book, “Older, Faster, Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All about Living Younger, Longer, which chronicles her quest to become stronger, fitter and faster, at the age of fifty, than her younger self. After years of neglect (including being a smoker and slightly overweight), but with several marathons under her belt, could she become “super-fit?” Could she participate in the World Masters Games at Turin, Italy, in the half marathon, competing against elite masters runners? Could she turn back the clock and enter her “second act” in the best shape of her life? Read more

Are You a Bottom Feeder?

My First Age Group Award - 2nd Place AG for the Fit & Healthy Mamas 5K

My First Age Group Award – 2nd Place AG for the Fit & Healthy Mamas 5K in 2012

You might be familiar with the concept of sandbagging, or when a runner falsely states she’s slower than she actually is so that she can blow away the competition during a race.  A good way to think of bottom feeding is the opposite of that; it’s deliberately finding a race with slow competition in order to get an award.

I am an unabashed and proud bottom feeder.  It was my husband who introduced me to this concept. When we first started racing 5Ks with my husband he would assiduously pour over data to see what he would need for an age group award or better. I couldn’t believe he cared so much about “cheap trinkets!” I was sure his behavior stemmed from a lack of participation in sports and competitive activities in his childhood. I haughtily told him that I felt no need for external motivation and that the intrinsic motivation of pushing myself was enough because I had plenty of medals, ribbons, and trophies from my childhood.

Then he pointed out to me that I could win an age group award at a small race with a sub 25:00 5K, and I lost the hoity-toity attitude!  Once I won my first age group award, I was hooked and began obsessively perusing various sites to find a small 5K with a slow field where I could win another.  I became an unabashed and proud bottom feeder.

Curious?  Perhaps you’re interested in winning your first AG award?  Read on! Read more

Every Runner Needs to Find Her Inner Monster

Yosemite Kari-30s

Staying in the shadows while my inner monster contemplates world domination.

Like most little kids, I was afraid of monsters. The Wicked Witch of the West would give me nightmares for days. And don’t get me started on those flying monkeys! I made the mistake of believing my brother when he told me Chuckie was just an ugly looking doll and what bad things could a doll do? I’ll let you cringe at that one for a second….

But, I’ve learned, despite my Gremlin filled childhood, that monsters can be helpful and powerful when used for good and don’t get fed after midnight. And we all have one inside of us, just hanging out, waiting for you to text.

Did you know that each of us runners has one and that if we feed it and nurture it, this little inner beast can help us make our happiest running dreams come true?
Read more

Reader’s Roundtable: What’s the Deal with Orthotics?

There's gotta be a reason that Dr. Scholl's is still in business, right? Image of Dr. William Scholl from

There’s gotta be a reason that Dr. Scholl’s is still in business, right? Image of Dr. William Scholl from

I was running with my friend yesterday and she told me the saga of her recent bout of foot pain. It wasn’t a terrible pain, but it bothered her on occasion and she decided to go get it checked out. She booked the first appointment she could find with whatever sports doctor was available at the large industrial hospital complex in our city. While she waited the couple weeks for her appointment the pain receded, but since it took a while to get the appointment she decided to go anyway. During the exam she felt no pain as the doctor examined her foot and he could find nothing wrong, but he still gave her shoe inserts and told her to try them out and come back to get fitted for custom orthotics.

I couldn’t believe this! She had no pain, he found nothing wrong and still he prescribed orthotics? This seemed insane to me, like giving someone a pill despite no evidence of illness. Her story got me wondering whether this is normal. So I thought I’d ask you!

Has a doctor pushed orthotics on you? Have you refused orthotics? Or have orthotics actually helped you? We want to know. What’s the deal with orthotics! 

5 Western Trails Worthy of Your Next Running Vacation

Friday 5Traveling is great, but as you’ve probably experienced, it can certainly interfere with training. I planned on spending the summer in Boulder, running along Boulder Creek Trail, Wonderland Lake and Coot Lake, hiking the numerous trails in the Indian Peak Wilderness, cycling on Left Hand Canyon Road, reading books and starting some new writing projects. Instead, we sold our home there in June and have spent much of the first half of the summer on the road.

I love to travel but not so much in a car: my body aches from sitting for so long and unless I’m driving I get motion sickness on winding roads.  But when life hands us lemons… I decided to take advantage of the change in plans and convert some of my scheduled training runs into a way to explore new areas. Running is a perfect excuse to get up early, check out local trails, and get the body moving before getting back into a car.

As we’ve traveled throughout Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and back to California I’ve had the pleasure to run some truly amazing trails, and thought they might make some nice food for thought next time you’re planning a running vacation! Read more

Bricks 101

Stack those workouts! Picture by gill.holgate on

Stack those workouts! Picture by gill.holgate on

In her latest piece, Cilantro touched on “brick workouts” and why they have been instrumental in her training for Burning River, a 100 mile ultra she will be racing at the end of July. It occurred to us that many of our readers might not really know what a brick is or at best, think a brick workout is the exclusive domain of those crazy triathlete people.

Of course, I’m here to explain what bricks are and why you, yes you who is firmly dedicated to competing in only running, might benefit from incorporating bricks into your training plan.  Read more

Jasmine’s Gear Review: Polar M400 GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor

I wish this was a demonstration of the M400 syncing, but it is not. Instead this is a demonstration of the M400 not syncing.

Spoiler alert! I wish this was a demonstration of the M400 syncing, but it is not. Instead this is a demonstration of the M400 not syncing.

Just to change some things up, it is time for a completely unbiased review on the Polar M400 running watch. Polar is looking to change this equation: Polar : Hear Rate Monitors :: Garmin : GPS Watches (translation for the mathematically challenged: Polar, known most for heart rate monitor is looking to crack the near monopoly Garmin has on GPS watches). Should you abandon Garmin for an alternative and is the Polar M400 the alternative to Garmin you should try?

As far as reviews go, usually you can expect me to be highly opinionated on these things. I can be trusted to tell you how I really feel. So how do I really feel about the Polar M400? Read on! Read more

TED for Runners: Should You Announce Your Goals on Social Media?

Ideas worth spreading ... among runners!

Ideas worth spreading … among runners!

Today I’m bringing you our second installment of TED for Runners. Last time Salty shared a TED talk that helped us reframe prerace anxiety. This time I’m sharing Derek Siver’s TED Talk about goal-setting. If you’d like to watch the TED Talk before reading the post, you can find it at the bottom of the post, above the comments.


Imagine that you’ve just come up with a big running goal that you’re super-excited about.

What should you do to ensure the greatest likelihood of success for yourself?

A. Announce your goal to your friends and on your blog so you would be held accountable for your actions.

B. Program it into your fitness tracker bracelet. 

C. Write your goal and the steps you plan to use to achieve your goal in your personal and super secret diary.

The answer is . . . Read more

Readers Roundtable: Non-Running Uses for Your Running Stuff

You don't have to wear old timey clothes to be modest when biking in a dress - I use my running boyshorts and let my skirt fly. img via  CircaSassy on flickr

You don’t have to wear old timey clothes to be modest when biking in a dress – I use my running boyshorts and let my skirt fly. img via
CircaSassy on flickr

So you might have liked our official Facebook page, but did you know we also have a group that you can join?  You can use it to discuss your running questions with the Salty Running bloggers and connect with other readers?  We sure do, and over the weekend I was curious to know what non-running uses others have found for their running gear.

Basil uses a SPI Belt to keep her bear spray handy on hikes, Sage wears her lightweight vest around the house during the chilly winter months.  Vanilla and Catnip use their headlamps during power outages, or just when they need a little extra light for a project around the house.

As for me, I use my running stuff EVERYWHERE.  My favorite use?  I love to wear dresses during the summer, and I usually throw on a pair of tight running shorts underneath to make sure nobody gets a free show during my bicycle commute.

What about you, Salty ladies (and dudes)?  What’s your favorite creative way to use your running stuff outside of running? As always we’ll take your answers in the comments!

5 Simple Snacks for the Runner on the Go

fri5Raise your hand if you like to snack? Though I can’t actually see you, I’m willing to bet that all of you shot your hand into the ether above your head before finishing reading the sentence. We’re runners: snacking is a big part of our lives. It’s in our nature to grab a little something before or after a workout to help maintain our energy levels and repair our worn-out muscles. But constantly trying to think up new snack ideas can be time-consuming and, well, annoying since we need to make sure we’re getting that balance of energy-boosting carbs and vitamin-rich protein. But have no fear! Here are five of my favorite, easy-to-prep, carb/protein-balanced, portable snacks.

Mangia! Read more

Clove’s Badwater Training Log: 6.27.2015

There's way more to running Badwater than just running.  Part of the agenda for the second of four crew meetings.

There’s way more to running Badwater than just running. Part of the agenda for the second of four crew meetings.

As I write this post, I am a mere five working days from taper, with only two key workouts left.  It’s true.  I can’t believe I’m this close to the taper (and race day) – but then again, it’s been such a long, hot road that I believe every bit of it.  And then some.  The idea that I’m going to get up on Saturday morning and have nothing more required than an easy 5 seems the most luxurious thought imaginable.  But until then, there has been and will be lots more work! Read more

How to Train for Badwater: Extra Everything

How to train for Badwater.

How to train for Badwater.

It’s been no surprise to me that people are curious about Badwater – and even more curious about how one even begins to train for it.  There’s certainly not the wealth of “couch to Badwater” training programs that there are for the 5K, 10K, and half marathon distances; even my non-runner friends who are able to get their heads around 100-milers have been stymied anew by this latest adventure of mine.  Extra miles, extra hills, extra heat – well, extra everything.  Which, it turns out, is a pretty accurate description of my training – extra everything.

The elephant in the room:  how much time is this taking?  Two to five hours on weekdays, longer on the weekends.  I break it up between early morning and evening sessions.  I am lucky and grateful to have two fantastic employers and a flexible work schedule.  I am blessed beyond measure to have a husband who supports me, puts up with this, and above all else, inspired me with his own Badwater completion in 2013 – on his 50th birthday, no less.

To my mind, there are four critical components of training:  distance, hills, heat and mental acuity/sleep deprivation.  A focus on those disciplines alone is immensely time-consuming and still omits two very real wild cards:  wind and altitude.  Here’s an insider’s look at what I’ve been doing – and why. Read more