The Capricorn Runner

image-uploaded-from-ios-1It’s been nearly a year since we rolled out our #runsigns feature, starting with the Aquarians and now ending with the Capricorns, simultaneously the last sign of the old year and the first sign for the New Year. Happy birthday to our solo Salty Capricorn, Zest! Other notable Capricorn runners celebrating birthdays include Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Dathan Ritzenhein, Kathrine Switzer, and Nick Symmonds.

Many of us use the New Year to start anew with fresh goals and keeping the symbol of a stubborn goat in our heads might help us accomplish them. Kathrine Switzer’s sheer determination and ambition allowed for her to become the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon wearing a bib number, helping pave the way for the rest of us. In true Capricorn style, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, known as the Pocket-Rocket, has single-mindedly pursued her goals to become one of, if not the best, sprinters in history.

Read on for more insights into any Capricorn runners you might know!

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Traci Falbo: From Couch to World Record

11141194_10205590355335677_2752560387642747399_nOne of the country’s top ultra runners walks through the parking lot of a Panera Bread in Louisville, Kentucky on a Thursday afternoon. She has a faded tattoo around one ankle, sunbleached hair, the type of tan one gets from spending hours outdoors, and most of her toenails, at least for now.

Traci Falbo is well-known in the ultra-running scene, but can have lunch at this restaurant completely undetected, despite the fact she’s earned a place on four U.S. national teams. Traci, 44, specializes in races of 100km (about 62 miles) and up. On Nov. 27, she was part of the bronze-medal winning women’s 100km road race World Championship team, comprised entirely of master’s women. In 2017, she’ll be representing the U.S. at the 24-hour World Championships in July.

You might think she was always a gifted athlete, and that a long list of athletic achievements started during her childhood. But Traci, like several of our Saltines including myself, is an “adult-onset” runner, and her story is an inspiration.

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Run de Wereld: Running in Amsterdam!

sauc-3Whether traveling for business or pleasure, Vondelpark to the Olympisch Stadion in Amsterdam is an incredible route you’re sure to fall in love with on foot. It’s short enough in distance that you can walk it, and capable of being looped or added to, to create a nice middle-distance run. As Amsterdam is so compact, it’s likely you can access this route and one of the park’s several entrances from your hotel, Airbnb or VRBO.

In September 2016, two friends and I traveled to Europe, with Amsterdam as our first stop. Staying in the Oud-West area, we were able to access the park from our Airbnb, passing braided trees arching over cobbled streets, street vendors selling produce, and incredibly aromatic cafes.

What other treasures might you find on a run if you find yourself in this area of Amsterdam? Read on!

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5 Fun Challenges to Improve Your Running Mind

sports bra with tights and corndogsEveryone knows there are no shortcuts to running success, or at least they should by now. If we want to race our best, we have to work hard training our bodies and our minds. When it comes to mental training, most of us think of things like visualization exercises and mantras. These are great, but they get boring. I want a way to train my running brain that’s fun and effective!

I was inspired to write this post after listening to the Final Surge podcast with Steve Magness. He mentioned a study that compared the pain levels and emotional responses of athletes to that of Buddhist monks. The study found that when both an athlete and a monk were exposed to the same pain variable, the monks’ MRI scans showed a less emotional response to the pain than the athletes’ did. Magness then talked about how he started incorporating little things, like ice baths, into his athletes’ programs to help train their minds. As the Official Salty Running Mindfulness Expert™, I beamed as I pictured all the fun and different challenges we could take to train our brains. Here are five! Read more

Which is Harder: Labor or a Marathon?

imageWhich is harder: going through labor or racing a marathon? Why is this an age-old question? Maybe people compare them because they seem like similar events. Both require dedication, as well as physical and mental stamina. They take months of preparation and are an accomplishment to finish. Now that I have run over a dozen marathons and given birth to three kids, I realize there’s no comparison!

Birth is a pretty common occurrence and apparently, we humans were born to run. Billions of women around the world have delivered throughout time, it can’t be that hard, can it? My sister, who is not an athlete, delivered three large babies without pain medication. My dad, who has obviously never had a baby, is running ultras in his 70s. Both advised me labor wouldn’t be an issue compared to my running experiences.

Not everyone can run a marathon, and certainly not everyone can run a fast marathon. So that must be the harder physical event, right? Oh, I was so wrong! Read more

Readers Roundtable: Running in the New Year

Happy New Year!Have you committed to your New Year shake cleanse yet? Riiiiiiight. While the rest of the world needs a new year and intense, meme-induced motivation to do  … well … anything, apparently, what does the New Year mean for runners?

Some of us use the new year as a challenge to try something new or to make a drastic change. Others, like Pumpkin, who ran over 1000 miles in 2016, will use it as an opportunity to double down on a long-standing goal. But there are plenty of runners for whom January 1 is just another day on the training schedule.

How about you? Is it a time for big change resolutions? Is it a time to be better about that daily core work and foam rolling? Or is it simply the start of another year of badassery?

Tell us: What does a new year mean for you?

And join us every Monday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Twitter for #SaltyChat where we’ll discuss the Roundtable topic and so much more!

On the 12th Day of Christmas Running Gave to Me: That Runner’s Perspective

Writing notes at christmasNon-runners don’t always get us. We use acronyms, like MPW or GMP, that only make sense to us. We run at all hours, spend time and money on races that sound insane to any outsider. We get side-eye for skipping out early due to an early morning run date. What’s more, they don’t see how running imitates life and vice versa.

I find a way to relate everything in life to running. And while the non-runners in my life might think me obsessed, I think this perspective is the best gift running has given me.

Some days the runner’s perspective manifests in little ways, like when we run our normal route in the opposite direction, and see all the same things, but in a different way. Other times it enables us to feel gratitude we otherwise might not feel. It’s like smiling and laughing during the second half of a race that’s not going well, because even without a new PR, you’re really living.

No doubt you, like me, have read a million articles about running that leave you nodding your head along in agreement. And as I’ve read through the previous 11 days of this year’s Salty 12 Days posts, I wasn’t shocked to find myself understanding even the most different experiences than my own. We runners all share a similar perspective – we get one another. It’s that runners’ perspective that allows me to feel the gratitude along with all my fellow Saltines for all that running has given to me, has given us. Like …

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On the 11th Day of Christmas, Running Gave to Me: Patience of an F’n Saint

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Patience has never been a virtue of mine. When I identify that I want something, the period of time between that decision and obtaining it is … minuscule. I purchased my car less than one day after I decided I needed a new one. I decided to go to graduate school on a whim. I even started running this way. I woke up one morning and said to myself, “I think I’m going to be a runner now.” And within a day or so, I plotted out my Couch to 5k training plan and the rest is history.

But thanks to running, you can now address me as St. Pumpkin, the f-ing patron saint of patience. Read more

On the 10th Day of Christmas, Running Gave to Me: Relief from the Stress of Nursing

Being silly with one of my great co-workers, this was probably around 2am!

Some days, I wish I had an office job where I could walk into work in a cute skirt and blouse, coffee in hand, hair done, makeup on, knowing exactly when I was going to take my lunch break, when I had my first meeting of the day, and maybe even when I could pee.

That is not my job.

I typically arrive at work with a coffee that rarely gets finished until 1am, my hair half-wet, and I don’t bother wearing makeup, since I’ll probably sweat it off anyway. I don’t usually get to pee until six hours in, and well, let’s be honest, I take a nap on my lunch break, usually around 3:00 a.m.

I am an ICU nurse. I work from the time most people are finishing up dinner to the time they leave for work. And running helps me cope with the stresses of my job so much better.

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On the 9th Day of Christmas, Running Gave to Me: 9 Weeks of Resting

Screw you, Santa.Last Christmas, I cursed running for giving me a stress fracture in the midst of an unseasonably warm Ohio winter perfect for running. Well, it’s been a year. I survived, and I didn’t simply survive, my friends. My stress fracture managed to make my running life better. I know it sounds sacrilegious. Who wants a stress fracture anyway?

Mine was in my heel, powerfully painful, and almost a full break. It drove me to tears in the office bathroom the day before I was scheduled for the MRI that would confirm the dreaded injury. I had a long, rocky recovery that I am actually thankful for, looking back on 2016. My stress fracture didn’t directly make my running life better, but it gave me the break– no pun intended– that I needed to step back and focus on what I was doing wrong, or rather, what wasn’t working for my body. What lessons did I learn from my time off, you ask? Settle down for my holiday tale…

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On the 8th Day of Christmas, Running Gave to Me: The Great Outdoors

Raspberry OutdoorsI didn’t start running expecting to have any sort of epiphany about my place in this universe, or even to learn lessons about resilience, confidence or ego. I started running to be a little more healthy, and because I thought running a marathon sounded cool. True, my life needed a little shaking up, but I didn’t realize it at the time. What I realize now, seven years after my first marathon, is that running a marathon is fun, but that’s only just the beginning. It’s cheesy, yes, but ‘tis the season: running has changed my life.

As other Saltines have written, running has given me community, strength, and perspective, but as I reflect on a weekend of fabulous trail running, a Saturday morning half marathon in the sideways rain with a great friend and a Sunday morning “church” run on my favorite trails with my favorite people, I’ve realized that the greatest gift running has given me is a sense of wonder, appreciation and adventure in the outdoors.

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On the 7th Day of Christmas, Running Gave to Me: Overtraining Syndrome

I still can’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened. I don’t remember a specific day or run where it hit me. There was no voice in my head, no doctor or coach or friend telling me what was happening. It just happened. I was burnt out, overtrained and sick of running.

It all happened gradually, a slippery slope. I had come off an amazing 2014, when I had several podium finishes at ultras and even a win at my first 100K. It was Christmastime and life seemed pretty good. I was starting to bump up the mileage again in anticipation for the Sean O’Brien 50 mile in early February. It was going to be my first time in California and first time out west. I was pretty excited to crush it. Then at our annual waterfalls run, a local trail run in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park along which runners take photos with waterfalls and enjoy the day after Christmas running with friends, I was finishing up the run and started feeling a sharp pain in my right hip. By New Year’s Eve, I could barely walk, sit, stand, put on pants or do anything without pain. It should have been a sign; I needed a break. Worse still, I was on the brink of overtraining.

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On the 6th Day of Christmas, Running Gave to Me: Friendship with my Sister

I am seven years older than my sister, which is kind of a big gap, especially when we were younger. Growing up, we always got along well, but we had a pretty typical big kid/little kid dynamic. When I was in high school, she would come to all of my field hockey games to cheer me on. After I moved away for college, I would hear all about how she was following in my field hockey footsteps over the phone. As we got older and the age gap seemed less significant, we became closer, and I started thinking of her as my friend in addition to my little sister.

But the one thing that really brought us the closest was running. Read more

On the 5th Day of Christmas Running Gave to Me: Hu-mil-i-ty!

snow-leadAfter dabbling in my younger years, I immersed myself in competitive running as an adult. But as anyone who has been running for a long time knows, running is like a model for the rest of life. So, while I was 29 years old when I started running, I was a 29 year-old baby runner. When, at 31, I raced my first marathon, there I was smack-dab on the precipice of my running adolescence. And like those teenaged people are wont to do, as a runner I vacillated between self-loathing and cockiness with metronomic precision.

I’m impossibly slow! One day later: I’m going to qualify for the Olympic Trials!

Without knowing how the real running world works, how not all progress is linear, how shit happens, at the point I qualified for Boston in my first marathon, I thought I could achieve anything with running. Shoot! It was a foregone conclusion. Baby, I’m going to be great!!! Read more

On the 4th Day of Christmas, Running Gave to Me: Food Curiosity

Pictured are Nutmeg, Tumeric, and Paprika with my reusable Salty Running Camp bag

Pictured are Nutmeg, Turmeric, and Paprika with my reusable Salty Running Camp bag. The spicy Saltines have increased my awareness of the array of spices available, too!

Running gave me an interest in food but not in the form of a trendy t-shirt that says something like, “I run to eat cake.” Sure, cake is good and I’ll never pass up a piece, especially if it’s chocolate, but I don’t run to eat it. I’d much rather eat to run.

My eating habits weren’t always this refined. I grew up on Spaghettios and Doritos and the weekly Sunday dinner at Grandma’s. Like many busy households, we sacrificed quality for convenience. But if I had not started out with such eating habits, I may not have known just how good some whole foods taste and how good they can make one feel.

I have running to thank for that enlightenment!

In high school during the late 90s, low-fat living was all the rage. As soon as I started running, I took an interest in weekly carbo loads via pasta dinners with a salad thrown in there for good measure. Sure, it was a simple recipe, but following the instructions on the box and producing something via the stove versus the microwave was energizing. Read more