December 4, 2011

Running Advice?

Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half-Marathon:  Allison 2:04 and Andrew 2:27!

When we got into running by being tricked by Andrew's sister Adrienne, ("Hey guys... come run a 10 K with me in Atlanta!  2 months later... my bad.... it's a Half-Marathon"), we were under the impression that this was a cheap sport.  How complicated is this really?  Running shorts, t-shirt, sports bra and some shoes.  Bingo.  I have all that!  (Andrew's Note: I have 95% of that.)  Go me.  I'm sporty.

Just like there are band nerds and video game junkies (and both of those at the same time)....there are running elitists.  And at first we made fun of them. 

$50 for a running tank top?  What the frik?  Does it make me breakfast along with wick sweat??

We would go into stores like Fleet Feet or Luke's Locker and be completely overwhelmed.  Budget-wise and practicality-wise.  Do we REALLY need all this crap to run?


And the answer is no.  If your mileage isn't high.  If you're running anything below 3 miles you should be fine with whatever it is you have at home.  Your cotton t-shirt won't hinder you and your super cool Nike shoes will serve their function.... to look super cool but not do all that much for your form/stride.  But to be considered a true "runner," you'll have to made a few adjustments to you overall gear.  (And also be sure to call it "gear").

So here's the rundown nerds.  Get it??  RUNdown?? HA!!!  (Sigh.)  Learn from our mistakes and get these things sooner rather than later.  Otherwise, you'll be keeping the "BodyGlide" company in business for many years.

Top and Shorts:
Repeat after me.... Less is best.  The less clothing you have on, the better.  ( I can just hear Andrew grinnning).  (I.....nevermind.)  So many people go out running early in the morning with a jacket and a few extra layers.  Don't!  Your body heat will increase after you've been running even just one mile and you'll end up shedding most of your outer layers.  If you haven't planned ahead, you'll have to tie them around your waist and this is a big running taboo.  A sure sign of a novice.  In our latest Half-Marathon in Atlanta, we brought along old clothes to specifically shed on the side of the road.  Race workers collect the gloves, jackets etc and donate them to charities.  Mmmmm..... stinky generosity. 
You also need to not wear cotton.  Not only does it stink but it is heavy and doesn't wick sweat.  Yuck.  (Whereas the running material shirts stink worse but but are light and wick sweat.  Decide for yourself what's important.)  My advice?  Go to Marshalls.  They sell all the same stuff as the fancy running stores but for way cheaper.  (Seriously, you'll never go to Academy or Sports Authority again.)

Post 16 mile run.  You could squeeze the sweat out of these clothes and water our lawn for a year. (EW!!)
My first pair of shoes were Nike running shoes.  So cute.  So misinformed.  They worked great until I hit about 5 miles and then I started having sever pain in my heels and ankles.  A few of my students told me to go get "fit" for running shoes.  (Get it???  FIT???  Ahem....sorry.)

This takes guts.  You have to go to the fancy running store.  Then you have to tell a stick-skinny person with absolutely no body fat that you are running.  Immediately when you say this, you feel like apologizing as they kind of give your body a once over and most likely conclude.... "ha!  She couldn't run, her thighs weigh more than my body weight."  (They do!)  (They don't.)  But be brave.  Hold your ground!  You run!  Even if you've only made it to 5 miles, you can run more than most of the United States' population.  And focus, you're here to get shoes.  Bring your old Nikes.  Apologize for choosing a stupid shoe.  Tell them what hurts.  (If everything hurts ((don't tell them that.... be strong!!))  you'll need to really narrow it down to, well, your feet.  Does a specific part of your foot hurt?)  Show them your old shoes.  Then comes the intimidating part.  You have to run on a treadmill for them.  Supposedly they watch your feet.  Your suddenly very conscientious that your overly large thighs and complete lack of running form will be visible to the entire store.  Fantastic.  (It's really hard to run wonder if they're judging your form or your pace or how hard you're breathing.)

They will then find a shoe for you that corrects any problems that you might be having.  The goal in this segment is to not look or ask about price.  Just find what works.  In fact, if you just give them your credit card up front and ask not to hear the price it usually works best.  Ignorance is your best friend.  (It's always a surprise!  Sometimes good, sometimes bad.)

Goo and Water belt:
Once you hit 6 miles or at least an hour to 90 minutes of running, you'll need to consider drinking and eating more.  And before you get all excited and order an extra maragarita, chill.  We're talking water or some type of sports drink like Accelerade, and goo.   

And this is where the fun begins because unlike bikers (**), you'll have to physically carry this crap with you as you exercise. 

Thus, the fuel belt. 
Let's design the most ridiculous looking device ever!

Unless you have a place to stash H2O on your running route, you'll need to strap this baby on and slosh along with something close to pride.  The little zipper pouch on the side is also very useful for keeping your goos and car keys.  Note:  If your car key gets leftover goo on them this gives you major points in the running world. (And major problems starting your car after your run when you are dragging your sorry carcass home.)

(**SPEAKING OF BIKERS...most hardcore bikers are dangerous.  Sorry bikers out there, it's true.  The intense ones (with more spandex than is healthy and quads the size of tree trunks) ride fast and cut you off if at all possible.  They only say good morning to their own (other bikers) and you can tell when they're about to cut you off by the endless string of "On your left!" they scream at you as they whiz by  (Allison's Note:  I like to scream "On your Right!"... It's a little more P.C. than "Your Mom's on your left!!").  That phrase now makes me roll my eyes without even thinking about it.  Resist the urge to carry little sticks to chuck in the wheel spokes as they ride by, that is seriously frowned upon.



Little packets of calories and carbs, essentially liquid encouragement for just when you feel like cussing out your sister-in-law for getting you into this ridiculous sport.  Somehow, chocolate cherry with 2 cups equivalent of coffee seems like a decent substitute for a few choice four letter words.  (Chocolate Cherrys are my favorite!) 

Let's say you do have access to water but still have a load of stuff of carry, you need a Spibelt.  This is like a magical expanding bag that fits way more crap than you should be legally allowed to carry during a race or run.  (Hermione Grainger anyone??)  What if you die of heat exhaustion and have no ID on you?  Or you have a surprising urge to find a Cinnabon store while running but no money?  You need a Spibelt.  It straps conveniently around your waist and carries everything from your phone to your goo.  Very efficient.  And it doesn't move at all when you run.  (Unlike the rest of me.) (I despise having something around my waist when I run and this is not nearly as bad as it sounds.  If you get the Spibelt brand, you forget that it's there after a little while.)   

This person can't go anywhere without his Costco Executive Member Card.

Like Rambo, but less violent
Today I ran my first 16 miles every and tried something new.  I was getting a bit tired of the whole fuel belt with water thing so decided to get a Camelbak.  Like, the ones used by bikers.  It's a backpack filled with liquid.  And it makes you feel like your snorkling, but you forgot to get in the ocean.  Your bad.

Mmmm..... semi warm sports drink. 

I'm really a big fan of my upper back muscles.  (Cough.)

I filled mine with Accelerade, and put an extra 8oz bottle of H2O in the outside pouch.  It was a little weird running with a backpack but super convenient.  And did I feel cool?  Oh yes...oh yes I did.  (It makes her look like she's a Navy Seal and could break me in half if I tried to hit on her.  I approve.)

GPS or Map:
Finally, you'll need a way to keep track of your distance so that you can brag about it later on Facebook.  (Hashtags abound.)  Most runners buy fancy watches that tell them their pace, heartbeat and how many curse words per hour they've used.  I've not yet been able to afford that so I use the old-fashioned method of mapping out my run using  Here was today's 16 miles jaunt:

Good lord.
I started at the Green blob at Fry road, went out to I-10, then back past the green blob to our house.  For the record, the only water available is at the 1 mile marker or the 13th mile on the way back.  Hence the Camelbak. 

So yes, this is my life now.  I feel like my inner nerd gets way too excited about the gear side of running, so much so that running feels less like a sport and more like a Star Trek Convention.  Must have that Klingon costume!  Must!  (This post was nerdy enough without roping that into it.  Oh, wife.  We apologize and we're going to go now.)


  1. Oh my gosh, we were laughing out loud at this as Nick understands all this! It is an expensive sport and I just have to sit back and let him spend the money on all the "necessities." We miss you guys and your clever humor!

  2. Ich Bin Ein Berliner12/6/11, 3:10 AM

    oh no! you guys are being Carson-ized! if this becomes a running blog, i am leaving. i already feel lazy enough with this jar of peanut butter next to my computer.
    glad you guys are doing well.