We previously covered how to make amazing race signs a few years ago. Since then, the times have rapidly changed, which called for an update. If you’re in the market for a new race sign or two, have no fear. We’re here to help!
I write about mindfulness, mental health, and the professional sport of running with the occasional poking fun at the sport. When I am not running, I'm either helping people as a counselor or trying to make them laugh as an amateur open mic comedian.
Hi guys! I’m here. But a lot has changed, which resulted in fewer posts. The last time I shared about my running was last year, after my spring marathon. Around mile 24 of that frustrating race, I had a thought that maybe I was done with competitive running. I ended up taking some time off from training after that. In the process, I took up a new hobby: stand up comedy. It was something I was always interested in doing and it seemed the perfect time to explore it. So I did, and it led to even more changes.
Karen Abutnuttin, a 35-year-old mother of none from Canada, recently surpassed the record for least amount of social media posts during a training cycle. The record was previously held by the local Beardy Guy, Jack Ingoff, at two posts, both of which featured Ingoff complaining about the rising cost of local 5ks.
“Jack set the bar pretty high,” Karen said. “But I wanted to test the boundaries of what it means to not only be a runner but a woman runner as well.”
Karen went an entire 16-week training cycle without sharing a single post about her training.
“It was tough some days when I had a really good workout and wanted to shout it from the rooftops,” she said. “There were times when I sat staring at my phone, debating whether to hit send on a long post I had just written. In the end it was worth it to hit cancel instead.”
Karen’s biggest challenge came halfway through the training cycle when Twitter announced it would increase its character allowance to 280. It was at this point in the training cycle when Karen decided to commit to chasing the record.
“It was a difficult time when that happened and then when I decided to continue forging ahead, I was tempted to tweet about my attempt to set the record but figured it would go against the Guinness rules if I inadvertently mentioned running in a tweet.”
At the culmination of the long and quiet 16 weeks, Karen ran her local marathon and continued to extend her record by not even posting a picture of her medal the following Monday. The internet only learned of her feat after her mother posted a proud congratulatory message on Facebook. Friends started texting her immediately asking if her mom’s claims were fake news.
“Some were hurt that they didn’t know I had been training for the race,” Karen said. “They felt deceived. But when I told them about the record, they were fine.”
Karen recently submitted her record to the coveted Guinness Book of World Records. Her attempt was met with some criticism from internet threads such as Letsrun.com, who felt that if no one was watching her not post to social media sites, should the record still be ratified?
“Who’s to say she didn’t post a picture of her watch in a weak moment at 3 a.m. and then delete the post?” asked one poster.
Others tried to research her activity on less-known social media sites, such as Google+. A “Karen Abutnuttin” was found to have a profile on the site and as a result posters attempted to friend her to view the private profile. When asked why she didn’t accept the requests Karen responded, “Google+ is still a thing?”
In the meantime, Karen began posting pictures of her post-long run meals and foam rollers as soon as she started training for her next race.
“All that hard work and I still didn’t qualify for Boston,” she said. “I guess it doesn’t matter whether or not you post about it on social media.”
On Nov. 5, 2017, Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman in 40 years to win the New York City Marathon, sparking a Twitter storm of accusations over the use of the Superhero Muffins from her Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook as a performance enhancer. The muffins first faced more scrutiny than just a taste test when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency launched an investigation in late July.
Running experts including Steve Magnificent, Ted Mebflezighi, and Gara Koucher weighed in with their opinions.
Magnificent tweeted he thinks better testing measures are needed in order to recognize the use of performance-enhancing baked goods.
Mebflezighi found it difficult to get excited because the investigation into the muffin’s superhero powers is still being conducted by USADA.
Meanwhile, Koucher seemed unfazed by the possibility that the muffins helped Flanagan’s performance because her U.S. course record was still standing after Sunday’s race.
Leaked documents revealed by the Ugly Teddybears hack showed “significant increases in one’s ability to recover through the use of healthy fats and no gluten — the key components of the recipe featured in Shalane’s own book, Run Fast, Eat Slow.”
The research conducted discovered that the fat is likely the performance enhancing ingredient. Runners are constantly told fat is bad; thus, most avoid it.
“Runners are so used to being told by Runner’s Planet magazine that they should be eating a low-fat, high-carb diet. We believe these muffins go against that notion, thus increasing the possibility of a performance enhancement by about 2,500%,” a snippet from the report read.
Others are now calling into question other recipes from the book, in particular the “Can’t Beet Me Smoothie,” “Don’t get Beet Hummus” and “Runner’s High Peanut Sauce.”
Currently, USADA does not test for muffin levels — but after Sunday’s performance, that may change.
What’s your favorite “performance enhancing” food?
P.S. Y’all know this is satire, right? Okay. Good. Just checking. We love Shalane — and her muffins. ;)
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a loud ego. If I put on some hardcore rap while I get warmed up for a tempo run, I feel like I’m ready to set the world record in the 10k. Add some caffeine to the mix and I’ve decided that I know the cure to cancer and I’m ready to assume duties as the first female president of the United States. For most of us, our egos are loud but we do a good job of taming them so that we can be fully functional adults in society.
All Freudian theories aside, the ego is all about our feelings of self-worth or self-importance. A so-called big ego is the result of an overabundance of self. To have a healthy ego involves taming the voice inside that wants to be seen, heard, and loved by all. It’s not a bad thing to want all of these things — that’s human. The challenge for us runners is that sometimes our egos are so loud that we lose insight into the consequences of listening to them when we’re better off telling them to hush. Read more >>
The down time continues, although this past week I started to think about the possibility of a winter marathon in a warm climate. It’s been in the back of my mind for some time but I think my approach and goal would look quite different than the past few training cycles. Instead of an aggressive goal and training plan, I am considering a lighter plan with the goal of getting to 20 miles in one piece and then finishing strong. The idea behind it would be to get a good running marathon under my belt regardless of the time.
For the present circumstances, I continue to run about 4 days a week (except this week was 3 days) with daily yoga and one weekly swim. I’m starting to notice some small improvements doing the Jasyoga in addition to a once a week in person class. These improvements include slight increases in flexibility and strength. The only downside is that I have to keep an eye out on some poses, such as down dog, which seem to aggravate my achilles. In the spring I overstretched it and every once in a while if it gets too much pull, it hurts on a run.
The best news of all is with the swimming and my attempt at mastering a flip turn. I’m happy to report that I can now officially flip with the help of a noodle! I will attempt step 3 this week which is basically doing a flip sans noodle. I really look forward to my Thursday night sessions.
Monday: 20 minute Jasyoga core video.
Tuesday: Off/rest due to some scheduling issues. But this was likely good for my Achilles.
Wednesday: 5 miles and Jasyoga calf reset.
Thursday: 35 minute swim and Jasyoga hip reset.
Saturday: 4 mile trail run with James and Chris and 45 minute hike afterward. James and I are planning to do Rim to Rim at the end of September so I’m starting to brush up on some hiking in preparation. Jasyoga back reset afterward.
Sunday: 7 mile “long run” and Jasyoga hamstring reset.
Total: 16 miles running and various cross training
Heart rate, pace, mileage, cadence — we runners are data junkies! But with our (over?) reliance on gadgets to measure all these things, are we losing our internal navigation systems? When we’re staring at our watch with all its bells and whistles and thinking about what it’s going to post on Strava, can we ever run mindfully? Are we capable of feeling easy pace, tempo effort, strides, or even race pace?
We’ve talked a lot about easy pace. And by now we probably all know to use that age-old mindfulness trick called the talk test: can I carry on a conversation without major huffing and puffing? If so, then the pace is easy. But what about running hard? How are you supposed to know when we’re pushing ourselves hard enough, but not too hard? What does it even mean to run hard? Read more >>
It’s late at night and you’re curled up in bed with your beloved smartphone. You open up Instagram to watch some stories, mostly of your favorite runners, the ones you follow out of genuine interest and the ones you follow with morbid curiosity. And then the thought pops in your head: how do these people continue to train for race after race? Why is everything about running? Don’t they ever take any breaks?
The short answer is yes. Many runners take breaks, and these breaks often look different from runner to runner. Even pros take breaks after intense training cycles. For some, a break can be as short as a week or two off. For others, it may be longer, lingering into months-long hiatus territory.
Even so, some people continue to run during breaks, but focus less on structured training and more on running for enjoyment. Like many things, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. And, it’s true: it’s often difficult to take time off from running. But I’m here to reassure you that’s it’s not only possible but can also be done in a way that preserves both our fitness and our egos. Read more >>
I think it’s safe to say I’m taking some time off from training. I’m still running but the days become less as the weeks go on. And I’m ok with it! It feels nice to take a break from the daily grind, chasing goals, and giving my mind and body some rest. My longest break from structured training was nearly four years, after I had graduated from college. Oddly enough, I started back up when I went back to grad school in 2009.
I’m not sure how long this break will be but I can say there will be a post about taking time off soon. And in the meantime, running has been different but still good.
Monday: 90 minute yoga class and an easy 3 mile run. I went to the Hudson Spiritual Life Society’s classes a few years ago when I was going through a rough time emotionally. I remember the classes being different than a typical yoga studio class. The teacher spent more time assisting and even incorporated some Thai Yoga Massage techniques. The pace and poses are prefect for challenging my body in a different way. I will be back!
Tuesday: 4.1 miles, mostly on trails with James.
Wednesday: 1 hour hike/jog and Jasyoga calf reset.
Thursday: 30 minute swim. I attempted to start working on a flip turn but just trying to flip in the water. Um, wow. My tension and anxiety surely runs deep! I couldn’t even get my head to move toward my legs without freaking out. This coming week, I’m going to try this noodle trick. It looks like it’s step 1 of 5. Baby steps for sure! Jasyoga shoulder reset after.
Friday: Did some biking/jogging with James during his workout. Also did a Jasyoga hamstring reset.
Saturday: 3.3 mile trail run and Jasyoga balance series. I’m really digging the Jasyoga if you couldn’t tell! The simplified, sport-specific approach is a great way to learn yoga basics that can applied to all areas of life.
Sunday: 6 miles easy on the bike path, focusing on driving from the hips. Speaking of applying Jasyoga, I realized one good way to practice running from the hips (and not the lower body) is to imagine the legs on a wheel (or in bicycle position lying down) and being sure to lift from the hips first. It’s hard to explain but that little tweak went a long way. I tend to think changes and movements need to be big when really a tweak could be as simple as a slight movement. I did the Jasyoga 9 minute core video in the evening and it explains the importance of small movements. We’re talking millimeter adjustments!
Total: 16.4 miles running, 1 hour hiking, 30 minutes swimming.
I’m coming off of a long road trip and holiday weekend. It was nice to get away and explore some new places with James. Part of that exploration included meeting up with fellow Saltines Pumpkin, Oregano, and Pimento. I got to run with all three of them!
I averaged 4-5 days of running on the trip and some of those runs were at a quicker clip but never a workout pace. I even got to run at altitude in Salt Lake City, UT and Boulder, CO. The run in Salt Lake felt pretty hard but that was after traveling all day. The Boulder run wasn’t as bad and I even averaged sub-9s! We arrived home on July 1st and I did a short run at midnight to shake out the car-laden legs.
On July 4th, we ran our hometown race, The Aurora Fun Run 5k. It’s one of my favorite races because it’s accurate, I know the course well, and I ran my PR on it in 2014. It wasn’t anywhere near a PR run this year though. I knew it would be a slow one this year but it still stung a bit post race. I ran 23:40, which did land me first in my age group, but I thought I may be able to run at least a minute faster.
During the race, I didn’t feel very sharp. It felt more tempo-y yet at the same time, I felt like I couldn’t go much faster. Although maybe I didn’t want to go any faster. As the day went on, I felt better about my performance because it was honest. I’m not training for anything right now and I’m enjoying running for pleasure. Running in the 23s is what I ran a lot in high school so I guess it’s cool that I’m able to still run those times off little training. If this is the fastest I can be with such an approach, I’ll take it. I don’t have plans to train for a PR any time soon. Right now, it’s about putting one foot in front of the other because I enjoy it.
I’m also focusing on incorporating more cross training for a healthy balance. This includes yoga. I’m really enjoying the Jasyoga videos because it ties in nicely with my meditation practice. I’m going to explore an in person yoga class next week for a more hands-on experience. So far, yoga has helped me to get re-acquainted with my body, the one that tends to be lopsided and tense.
Monday: Afternoon 3.1 miles on trails with James and Chris. Jasyoga hamstring reset afterward.
Tuesday: 6 miles with Aurora Fun Run 5k. Jasyoga core in the afternoon.
Wednesday: 4.2 miles at night with James.
Thursday: 30 minute swim and Jasyoga post-swim reset.
Saturday: 3.3 mile trail run with Chris and James and then Jasyoga glute activation video. I had a massage before the run. I finally found a local massage therapist who specializes in working with runners and it’s been great! This was our second session and she mentioned working on firing more from my glutes. So, I’m focusing on that consciously during runs but if anyone else has any tips, send them this way. I tend to run from my knees down which explains the lingering achilles pain and tight calves.
Sunday: 4.7 miles with James and his coach on a cool down from the Johnnycake Jog 5 miler race. Jasyoga core in the evening. James’s running is going well so far this summer. It’s been nice to be able to be more of a sherpa/agent for him while I’m taking some downtime.
Total: 21.3 miles running, 30 minutes swimming
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked with Julia Webb. You may remember reading about her here when she was chasing and breaking world records for stroller runs. Since then, she had another child and is now mom to daughters Joanie (4) and Paula (1), added the half marathon to her list of stroller world records (1:22:57), and is now the CEO of Elite OnSite Fleet Services. Despite a name that might suggest the business is running related, it’s not — it’s a truck repair business!
However, just because van and truck repair aren’t runnery, doesn’t mean Elite OnSite isn’t flavored with the favorite pastime of both Julia and her American Record Holder husband, Alan Webb. In fact, you might catch Alan signing posters to give out to customers on Julia’s Instagram stories.
Julia started the small business together with Alan and they’re both excited to see it succeed. We decided to check in with Julia, not only to see how she’s doing since we last spoke, but also to get a peek into the life of a very different kind of runtrepreneur than the ones we’ve featured so far. Read more >>
Howdy! I haven’t posted since my Cleveland Marathon race report. I’ve been running since then but I’ve been taking a more relaxed approach this summer. By lowering my miles and running for fitness, I’ve been able to do some other cool things. It’s amazing how much more time frees up when you are not focusing so much on just running!
I signed up for Jasyoga and have been really enjoying the videos. I’ve done yoga in the past but not enough to benefit my body. I like the focus on athletes, tailoring moves to benefit running, biking, swimming, or just functional movement in general. It moves at a good pace for a beginner like me and Erin describes the moves in ways that make sense. Plus, there’s a ton of mindfulness with the movements – like yoga should be!
I also bought a membership to a local lap pool to get back into swimming, an activity that has a burn almost as good as running. I’ve been focusing on easy swimming, my form, and eventually getting the guts to try a flip turn. If you have any tips, please send them my way.
As for my running, I took a week and a half off after the marathon on May 21st. Since then, I’ve been doing mostly easy running but looked into a Hal Higdon 5k plan for some structure. If I don’t have any structure, I feel aimless. His intermediate plan is similar to what I had been doing so I’m experimenting with it. It’s light enough to not be overwhelming but still has some challenge to it to keep things fun. I may eventually go back to formal training with my coach but for now we both needed a break!
James and I leave tonight for a 14 day road trip out to the Pacific Northwest and back through Colorado so running will become more adventure based the next two weeks. We will then put our fitness to the test when we return at our favorite local July 4th 5k, The Aurora Fun Run. I’ll check in after that.
Tuesday: 3 miles easy
Wednesday: 3.5 miles with 5 x 400 at the track and Jasyoga core video. These 400s actually went better than when I ran 400s during marathon training! The rest was 400 jog, something I don’t usually do but found that was better than a standing rest. Splits were 93, 94, 91, 92, 90.
Thursday: 30 minute swim and Jasyoga calf and hip reset videos.
Saturday: 3.5 miles steady (9:30 pace down to 8:06 pace). James and I cheated and went to the treadmill for this one. It was just too dang out in the afternoon. Jasyoga core video afterward.
Sunday: 7 miles at 9:48 pace in the heat this time. It was hot but also a little quicker than last week’s 7 miler. I’ve run the same 7 mile route the last three Sundays. It’s funny to think that double that was my long run only months ago. 7 doesn’t seem like much but I’m not training to be an elite or even sub-elite. For most of us, less is more. I feel good.
Total: 17 miles running, 30 minutes swimming
I’m sure you’ve heard the quote, “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was meant to be.” Often it shows up as a meme on Instagram with the backdrop of tree branches blowing in the wind or the ocean gently lapping the shore. Often it’s used to commiserate about letting go of an emotionally unavailable person while holding out hope he’ll return, but a person we all know, but are afraid to tell the poster, will never actually come back.
Could this trite old saying apply to running? What happens when we hold on to a running goal too tightly? Read more >>
Here we go! The first week of taper went like any old taper – started off fine, good actually, wondering when the panic, stress, and irritability would set in. Oh, and can’t forget the niggles! Rest assured, toward the end of the week this all started to occur with the inevitable and probably most painful experiences – doubting myself. This is where the mindfulness stuff came in handy.
The thing with goals is that we tend to see it first, fall in love, and then try to hold on tight because it’s so beautiful. Focus, they say! But the other thing with goals is that they are merely that. They are not a guarantee. We can put in all the best of work, only to have it not happen. Making a goal is taking a risk. Usually this kind of talk is stressful but I’ve been embracing the uncertainty of it all. I can only control so much – really, it’s just my relationship and emotional reaction to things. The rest I shall embrace. As Des says, worrying about all that is “just extra stress”. So, as I head into the final week of taper and this training cycle, I am embracing the uncertainty, trusting my fitness, and sitting with the discomfort of tapering, doubt and all.
Most importantly, I believe that before you take on a goal/risk, you have to be ok with not reaching it. This doesn’t mean you don’t think you will reach it. Nope, it’s a very fine, delicate line of believing in your ability but knowing it’s not guaranteed. The biggest accomplishment this week is coming to terms with both succeeding and not succeeding. Cleveland, here I come!
Monday: 50 minutes on astro turf under the moonlight. The crisp, cool air felt so good!
Wednesday: 52 minutes with 3 x 1 mile at 7:30 pace (1 minute rest). Upon warming up I felt like crap but after the first rep I was surprised at how easy it was to dial into this (half marathon-ish) pace.
Thursday: 60 minutes, felt kind of sluggy. The doom of taper setting in!
Friday: Off/rest. Took an extra day off because it’s taper baby! Ugh…
Saturday: 90 minutes with 3 miles at 8:20 pace. I kept this on the treadmill for even terrain and no cambers. Physically, it was easy but my mind was all over the place – “What’s that pain? Why is my Achilles talking so loudly? I didn’t do any back exercises, why is it sore? I hate marathons. If I don’t qualify this time, I think I’m just going to give up. Ooh, I feel good right now. This, right here. This is how I shall run. Envision the finish. Oh, I’m tearing up. I got this. Do I? Ughhh, running sucks!”
After the run is when I labeled all of this racket merely tapering. This is what tapering feels like. If I try to fight it, it will only get worse and the doubt, louder. So, I stretched and foam rolled like crazy and told the taper to get comfy as I was going to allow myself to experience it all – all of it. The good and the bad.
Sunday: Woke up feeling pretty snappy and not as sore! And my mind was a lot more quiet than Saturday. See taper, I invited you in and you (kind of) shut up. Thank you for using your indoor voice. I ran with James in the evening, mostly on a gravel path and golf course. It was slow and I focused on just experiencing it. Afterward, I actually did some visualization (if you know me, you know I’m not the biggest fan of it). I imagined my body being ready to go come next Sunday. Sure, I’m feeling little niggles and doubt but once I line up with all of the other runners, my body will know what to do. Historically, it is amazing how the magic of a race erases all of the madness of a taper. And then you get to JFR.
Total: 5 hours, 15 minutes running, approximately 32 miles
I made it to the official taper! This week we started to take things down a notch ever so slightly but now, the real taper begins and I’m very excited. This time around, I’m just looking forward to running this race, as if it were a performance of sorts – one where all of the hard workouts and challenges and good times get to be put on display. When we began the cycle, I was focused more on running a time (specifically 3:32) but as training went on, it became more about performing a solid race (no matter what time that may be). Certainly, I feel in really good shape! But this focus on the process has shifted my perspective. Time is secondary. Performance is where it’s at.
That said, I move up an age group (age on race day will be 35, yikes!) and so I have to run a 3:40 (or slightly faster) to qualify for Boston. Qualifying has been the goal in my last three attempts and it’s what motivates me to run these long races. I think I can do it this time. I just don’t know what the time will be. My plan is to go out between 8:24-8:30 pace for a while. I’ll know in the moment if/when to adjust pace but I feel confident going out at the 3:40 pace for this race.
More importantly, this race has historically had crappy/weird/oddball weather over the years. Last year it snowed! The year prior (when I ran the half) it was incredibly humid. So far, I’ve had a few weekends of training in hot weather and also some very rainy weekends in which to practice but it would be foolish to not have to keep in mind that a more conservative approach may be needed for this race. If that’s the case, I will oblige.
So, taper begins. Things are getting very, very real.
Monday: 60 minutes and didn’t feel as sore as I expected!
Wednesday: 76 minutes with last 800 workout on the track – 10 x 800 @ 3:30 with 1 minute rest. When coach first mentioned early on in training that this would be the goal to work up to for 800s, I shrieked at the sound of it. I never did that many 800s and I never did with that little of rest. But alas, the day arrived and I felt strong and surprisingly in control. I took a rep to warm up (3:40- oopsie!) but after that I consistently hit 3:30s and 3:25 on my last one.
Thursday: 58 minutes easy on the treadmill with lower body strength training (one of the last heavier lifts before the race).
Friday: 47 minutes late afternoon run in the rain, legs were feeling decent post-lift.
Saturday: 82 minutes with 3 x 2 mile (1 min rest) at 7:47 average pace. My legs were not feeling decent on this one, post-lift. The 48 DOMS seemed to set in which made for one of the last good practices of running with fatigue. Aerobically, I felt great but the leg soreness lasted the entire workout! I kept it on the treadmill to give the legs some rest from the roads but it seemed to not matter. I also did upper body strength training after the run.
Sunday: 2 hours, 4 minutes – 14 miles with 5 at marathon pace (8:29, 8:25, 8:23, 8:21, 8:17). The weather was gorgeous and I got to run most of this with James (during the daylight!). On the 5 mile portion, I felt in control and just kept envisioning the race.
Total: 7 hours, 27 minutes (approximately 49 miles)
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