What We Want You to Say to Us When We’ve Had a Bad Race

Des Linden commiserates with Kara Goucher at the 2016 Olympic Trials MarathonHave you ever raced with a friend who ended the race feeling horribly disappointed about her performance? It’s the worst. What do you say? What can you do to help her feel better? In the moment, when witnessing your friend experience the crushing feeling of defeat, it’s hard to know what to say or do, even though you know the pain she is feeling and have almost certainly felt it yourself at some point.

I know that pain. I DNF’d my first serious attempt at an ultra. After, I jumped into a 12-hour race on a whim and surprised myself with 36 truly delightful miles. That taste of unexpected success pushed me headfirst into ultras. Naturally, being naive and still high on that accomplishment, I decided to skip the 50 mile distance and jump right into a 100k (62 miles).

I devoted myself to training for the next five months and I was so confident at race registration that I told the organizers that if it took me more than twelve hours to run 100k, they should pull me off the course. I was cocky and, frankly, completely unprepared. Perhaps this exacerbated the devastation I felt when I dropped out and the funk I experienced for two months after.

Looking back, this is what I needed someone to tell me.
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Impact of Russian Doping on Rio and Beyond

Russian dopingDoping scandals are nothing new, but with the news that an entire country’s program condoned and systematically concealed doping among its athletes, we’ve entered a whole new era. While some deem the International Athletic Association Federation’s ban on Russia as a big step towards a clean sport, I can’t help wondering, is it a band-aid on a bullet hole? Are we finally on the verge of fixing this problem or are we on the verge of pretending to fix this problem? Far from feeling like the doping problem is solved, I’m left with more questions.

What about the other doping athletes we know are out there that still are likely to compete? While we’re all staring at the mess that is currently the Russian track and field team, are officials sweeping other problems under the rug, hoping we are too distracted to notice? And what about clean Russians, if there are any, getting caught in the crossfire? Where do we go from here to clean up the sport of running? Read more

Oregano’s Mt. Hood 50K Race Report

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My mom and me before the start.

If you’ve been following my training logs, you know that I have been training for the Mt. Hood 50k since I recovered from the Chuckanut 50k in the early spring. I used Krissy Moehl’s book, Running Your First Ultrato train for Chuckanut, even though it wasn’t my first ultra. And after Chuckanut, I contacted Krissy and she coached me individually for this race. Thanks Krissy!

My goals going into this race:

A Goal: Win or PR (Sub-4:44:00)

B Goal: Top Ten or Sub-5:00:00

C Goal: Finish

Overall Goal: Be mentally tough Read more

Uncoachable

La, la, la, la. I can't hear you!!!

La, la, la, la. I can’t hear you!!!

“Maybe I should get a coach,” I mused as I perused the websites of several personal running coaches who all claimed that they could help me reach my goal.

My husband sighed. Then he said, “You don’t really want a coach. You want someone to validate the choices that you’ve made with your training. You need to tell the coach, ‘Listen, I’m paying you to tell me that every decision I made was the right one.'”

Yeah, my husband knows me.

I. Am. Uncoachable.

I hate it when someone tells me what to do. I’ve had coaches in the past. It always works out the same way. First I’m excited and eager to work with them. I’m fully compliant the first month. I do everything they say. Then I’m less compliant in the second month, but more or less on track. Finally in the third month, I’m checked out of the relationship.

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Introspection and the Online Training Log

imageIt’s the first thing I do when I open my laptop. Before I check my email or look at Facebook or the weather or anything else, I sign into my online running log to add that day’s miles to my weekly total and capture any of the run’s details before I forget.

I started the practice of logging in the spring of 8th grade, when I wrote each date I ran in a small notebook and taped a newspaper clipping of that day’s weather forecast next to the dates. Through high school my logging was sporadic, mostly on index cards or scraps of paper that I quickly lost or forgot about. Finally, when I got to college, I started an online running log and logged religiously. As soon as I finished practice and dinner, I’d go straight to the computer to record the details of the day’s run. (Logging, coincidentally, is a great way to put off studying.)

Most competitive runners keep some form of running log, and I’d guess most of us use online logs. But within this category of logs, there are many different options. Does your online logging platform matter? It does. In fact, the type of running log you use can significantly affect your level of introspection and even impact your training itself. 

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Running Goals & Positive Manifestation

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Can one will her way from a boring job, stagnated running, and general malaise to European bliss?

Approximately one year ago I decided I needed a major change. I was feeling very dissatisfied with many aspects of my life. I hated my job. I enjoyed my city, but I was no longer feeling fulfilled there. My roommate was less than desirable. I was tired of dating men who didn’t take me seriously at all. Even my running goals were stagnating. One night when I was feeling particularly anxious, I took out my favorite journal and I practiced some positive manifestation.

What’s that, you ask? In a nutshell, the main idea behind positive manifestation is that you will your way to success. Not just believing, trying, or saying you can, although those are certainly included. Rather, you use your will to attract positive energy to manifest into your achieving your goals. Some call it voodoo, some call it magic, some call it The Secret, and some call it bullshit.

Regardless of what you think of this strategy, one thing is certain: maintaining a positive attitude throughout difficult patches in life and having goals at the forefront of your consciousness is incredibly powerful.

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Readers Roundtable: 2016 Track Trials Most Inspiring Moments

WOW! What a great ten days of American Track and Field. I think I might still have goosebumps after that 1500 meter finish and also my neighbors might have heard me screaming, BRRRREEEEENNNNDDDDDAAA! when Brenda Martinez (after stumbling how many times?) threw herself over the line for third place in the 1500 meters and a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. I mean, watch the video of the aftermath. Unbelievable.

But that wasn’t the only amazing moment. The rise of the indomitable and adorable Tori Bowie in the sprint events, Stephanie Garcia giving it EVERYTHING. SHE. HAD. in the steeple. Bernard Lagat closing in sub-53 in the 5,000 for the win and a trip to his fifth Olympic Games.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us:

What was the most inspiring moment of these Olympic Trials to you?

5000/1500 Finals #TrialsBingo, Baby!

Womens 1500 prelim

Jenny Simpson crushes in the 1500 prelim with Lauren Johnson hot on her heels. Photo © Miriam Udosenata / SaltyRunning.com

What a week! We’re still in shock after the 800 meter final, but can’t wait for the 5,000 and the 1500 finals on Sunday. Which means it’s time to roll your eyes at stupid announcers and scream your faces off at your favorite runners … and BINGO! But first, we need to geek out a little over the prelims.

Did you catch the heats? While Heat 1 of the 5,000 was relatively uneventful, Molly Huddle made the Heat 2 runners work! And how about college freshman, the darling of Alaska, Allie Ostrander? How’s this for inspiring: Read more

Barley’s Post-Run Summer Beers

imageAs many know, I take my recovery pretty seriously. That also means I take my post-run beers pretty seriously, and no one can expect you to re-hydrate with the same beers year round. It’s summer, so put down stouts and porters and hopefully by now your local store stopped carrying my recommended holiday beers. No one likes the house with Christmas lights in July either. It’s time to stock up on the lighter side of seasonal beers.

As your resident beer girl, it’s my duty to fill you in on your best hydration practices for the summer. Although I did crowd source a bit, as I’m only one beer drinking woman. We call that being resourceful. It also helps to have friends who drink the beers you don’t like, so no craft pack goes to waste in the back of the fridge (IPA’s in the back of my Frigidaire, I’m looking at you). Read more

How to Make And Break Running Habits

A while back, I wrote a story for New Scientist about the neuroscience of habits: how they are formed in the brain and why they are so hard to break. The context matters a lot with habits; when we’re in the same environment, doing the same routine, it can be hard to change things. One of the best times to break a bad habit or start a new one is during a major life upheaval: when you’re starting a new job, going on a trip, or moving. Since I’m making the big move from D.C. to Richmond, Virginia soon, I’m hoping to use the opportunity to change some bad habits.

I take a similar approach with each new training season. Maybe it’s not a major overhaul, but it is a fresh start. If you’re currently gearing up for a fall marathon, with a crisp, clean training plan in hand, consider adding one new good habit along with the miles and workouts. Dedicate yourself to it before you get too deep in the routine of extra long runs and carb feasts. I’ve found that if I can get through the first few weeks, my habit sticks around even through the monster weeks of hard training. Read more

Essential Baby Gear: Choosing a Running Stroller

It’s amazing how much stuff a tiny human being seemingly requires. A minimalist at heart, I tried to buy only the most essential baby gear, forgoing the wipes warmer and other non-essentials, and also re-purposing things I already had, like using a pocket book for a diaper bag. I can’t say the same thing about running strollers. Case in point: my husband now jokingly refers to our garage as the stroller depot.
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Knowing I would use it often, buying a running stroller was one of my top baby gear priorities and I am not alone in that opinion. In a poll of Salty moms, the running stroller ranks as an absolute necessity. For many of us, our running stroller is the only way we are able to maintain mileage in the months and first years after our babies’ births. For others, the stroller becomes a great way to get a fussy baby to sleep and for us to get out and active with our running friends again.

Deciding which stroller to purchase can be confusing and expensive. Whether your first baby is on the way and you are considering a running stroller for the first time, or you need to upgrade to one that carries multiples, read on for factors to consider before you buy and reviews of some of our favorite joggers!

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When Race Directors Make Mistakes and Blame Runners

My awards for winning. Missing: the course record bonus prize.

My awards for winning. Missing: the course record bonus prize.

Picture this. A local 5k race advertises prize money for breaking the course record and publishes the course records on its website. You know you can easily break that published record, could definitely use the cash, and need a good effort for your training, anyway. You go to the race, plan to run under the record, and then execute your plan exceeding the published record by five seconds. Would you expect to receive that prize money?

By now we’ve all heard how hard it is for emerging elites to financially support themselves while training at a high level. Many of them rely on small race prize money to supplement their meager incomes. But, what you might not know, is that many local races are not well-run, do not have clear rules for prize money, and sometimes blame the athletes for the race’s or race director’s mistakes. This is precisely what happened to me.  Read more

On Death and Dying: My Unexpected Journey to the Western States 100

Clove flanked by two men at the ginish line the day before the start of her 2016 Western States

It’s all fun and games until the running starts. And what fun these two guys made it.

When I went to Florida a month ago, I packed running clothes and a dress. She had pneumonia (again), but something didn’t sound right when I talked to her the day before. It was a Wednesday morning.

I said that Thursday night I was going to let her be scared and vulnerable and small, and then on Friday I was going to talk to her doctors first and then have one last “come to Jesus” talk with her about the weight and her health.

I thought I was going to go for an early morning run on Friday and wear a DRESS. I thought I was going to walk into the room with the juice and the root beer she had been asking for for a week, and she was going to look up and say, “Oh Starrie, you look so pretty.”

Forty hours later, I would be on the floor of the ICU in my pajamas, still holding my dead mother’s hand. Read more

Readers Roundtable: What Happened in the 800 Meters?

Brenda Martinez is clipped by Alysia Montano in the Women's Olympic Trials 800

Brenda Martinez (second from left) braces herself after being clipped in the heel by Alycia Montano (vertical in pink next to her).

What happened in the Women’s 800 Meters at the Olympic Trials last night?

Kate Grace, Ajee Wilson, and Chrishuna Williams, made the team! However, moments before they finished 1, 2, 3, the race took an incredible turn.

Alysia Montano went out hard. She appeared a little erratic, swinging wide as she navigated the first 400 in 57. Was it nerves? Then shortly into the second lap, she seemed to pay for her exuberance, but no one could imagine what would happen with 150 to go. Alysia, seemingly trying to claw her way back into the top-three after being swallowed by the pack, clipped Brenda Martinez who was surging for the lead. Did the trip cost Brenda a spot on the Olympic team? The win?

What say you?

What happened? Was Brenda Martinez robbed? What about Alysia Montano? Would she have made the team if she didn’t fall? Some say the race wasn’t fair and should be rerun. Do you agree?

If you missed it, you can view the race here.

Let Freedom Ring: a Reflection on Running in the World Military Championships

US Women's Team; 2010 CISM Marathon Gold Medalists

US Women’s Team; 2010 CISM Marathon Gold Medalists

This Fourth of July, a mere month before the Summer Olympics start and with our national Track Trials in full swing, I’m reminded of how sport brings people together. One of my favorite parts of spending over 10 years in the Army was the opportunity to compete for the US Armed Forces team against other military teams from around the world in both cross country and the marathon. The US team, selected from the top finishers from each of the services at the US Armed Forces Championships, goes on to compete against other military teams at the World Military Championships  (CISM).

This is unique in several ways. Cross-service rivals became my teammates, many of whom became good friends as we saw each other year after year at the Armed Forces Championships and the CISM. What’s interesting, and I think even more readily apparent in a military environment, is the emphasis on the absence of politics at these competitions. We all participated in the same activities, devoid of any status or ranking. Fitting, because the motto of CISM is “Friendship through Sport.”

To get us in a patriotic mood, I thought I’d share a little more about CISM.

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