Weird Talents Runners Have

Whether you run 5-minute miles or 12-minute miles you’ve got some talent for running. However, there are certain things runners become talented at BECAUSE they run. Okay, talented might be pushing it, but we at least get better at these things.

  1. Mental Math

Unless you’re the type of runner that doesn’t carry a watch with you or care about race times, chances are that you have to do some mental math from time to time. I know I’ve gotten pretty decent at calculating splits and estimating how far I’ve run. When I forget my GPS watch at home, I’ll try and estimate what pace I’m running at and about how many minutes I need to run in order to run a certain amount of miles. It sounds more complicated than it actually is.

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  1. Planning Details

Although I love running races, there are a lot of little details that need to be thought through in order for things to go smoothly. You need to remember your pre-race packet, all the clothes you need, what time the race is at, what time you need to leave by, the right food and snacks to bring, what time you need to eat them by, etc. Add in coordinating with other people and things can get kind of tricky. Although I haven’t mastered this skill yet, I’ve definitely improved. I still remember the time in high school when I forgot my spikes for an indoor track meet… definitely not my finest moment. There was also that time where my friend and I almost wore the wrong bibs. We were running in a two-person relay at VCM and almost missed the detail that one bib had “LAST LEG” written on the side of it. Luckily, we spotted that standing in line for the porta-potty 20 minutes before the race started! Unless you like running on stress and adrenaline, you’ve got to master thinking ahead for race day to turn out right.

  1. Estimating Distance

Although we still tend to overestimate, we’re definitely better than the average person at estimating how far away something is. We also know strange distances like, “from that mailbox to the top of the hill is .36 miles” because we run intervals on it.

FUN FACT: I think in miles and meters – neither solely metric nor standard. I have no idea how far 50 feet is, but 50 meters I can visualize pretty clearly. I’ll blame this on running track.

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Why I can never fully enjoy downhills.

  1. Knowing the Weather Forecast

We probably are more aware of the weather forecast than the average person. Let’s face it; it’s no fun getting stuck 4 miles from home in a thunderstorm. The only way to avoid these types of things from happening is to look ahead at the weather forecast. Don’t even get me started on the week before a race. We only check the weather forecast like 20 times before race day. The fact that the weather keeps changing kind of drives us crazy. By the time race day rolls around we know the forecast hour by hour.

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  1. Distracting Ourselves

Runners are pretty mentally strong people. It takes a special type of person to enjoy distance running. You can get bored being out there, so you have to be good at distracting yourself. People will often ask me what I think about when I run. To be honest, I think about the strangest things! From “will light up shoes make me run faster?” to “Hello Mr. Six pack. Thank you for running shirtless so I can admire your abs” to “Oh, crap. I need to go to the bathroom. Where’s the nearest patch of woods I can dash into?” I’ve learned that my mind is pretty weird when it’s unfiltered. Who needs music when I’ve got my brain to deal with?! It can keep me occupied for hours.

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Do you have any of these talents? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Doping Problem

Tyson Gay recently returned to track and field competition after a one year drug ban.

Tyson Gay recently returned to track and field competition after a one year drug ban.

I like to think of running as a pure sport. Results are based on time, not subjective scores unlike some other sports. Part of the reason I switched from other sports to running when I was younger was because I got fed up of the coaches having favorites. I felt like there was way too much politics involved in how much game time players got. Although politics can play a role in running (who’s on varsity, who’s on a relay team, etc.) I feel like it plays a much smaller role. You just have to look at the time on the clock to see who won the race.

However, with news stories popping up about elite athletes doping it’s hard to look at running as that same pure sport I saw it as when I was younger. Although I’m obviously not running at a level that peer athletes are doping (at least I would hope not!) I like to follow elite athletics. When athletes are caught, I sometimes feel unsure about whom I should be supporting and who is cheating. In a way, I appreciate when athletes’ performances go up and down. At least then it seems like they are being real. I haven’t watched the Tour de France in quite a few years because it just seems to be laden with cheaters.

One of the biggest problems is that there are many loopholes for athletes to avoid being caught. The scariest part of all is that new drugs and methods are constantly being discovered, which makes drug testing even less effective. It’s hard for drug testing methods to keep up with the new discoveries of doping.

Lance Armstrong got away with it for YEARS!

Lance Armstrong got away with it for YEARS!

Sometimes I find it hard to understand why an athlete would take the risk in exchange for athletic success. They can be risking their health (some substances have negative health effects), reputation (Lance Armstrong sure isn’t loved by many people nowadays), and financial stability (success = more money). I assume that many others wonder the same thing. I wrote a paper in my sports psych class last fall titled “Why Elite Athletes Dope.” I learned that there are quite a few factors that can play a role in deciding whether or not an athlete will take that risk. Here’s the abstract for the paper I wrote:

“A variety of factors play into the decisions for athletes to start doping or using other prohibited methods to improve physical performance. Certain personality traits are linked to an increased likelihood of doping such as an ego-oriented achievement, decreased self-confidence, being extrinsically motivated, and perfectionism (Moran, Guerin, & Kirby, 2009). However, situation can play a large role, if not bigger, than personality traits. External pressure, the culture of the sport, as well as the people that the athlete surrounds him/herself by (coaches, managers, teammates, role models, family, friends) can influence the athlete’s likelihood to dope as well (Wagner, 2008). One of the first steps needed to stop the prevalence of doping is to understand the motives for athletes to engage in this activity.”

 

How do you feel about the doping situation? What do you think make elite athletes decide to start doping?

Dog Poop and Racing Boats

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Yesterday my parents, my dog Samson, and I took a little adventure up to the White Mountains. We wanted to do a short day hike up Mt. Monadnock for fun. My dad and I biked past the entrance on our bike trip and got lunch in Jaffrey a couple weeks back. We thought it would be a fun mountain to hike since it isn’t super far away. So, we packed ourselves some hardy lunches and drove the 2 hours up to the mountain. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go as planned.

After driving into the parking lot and greeting the ranger, he told us that apparently dogs aren’t allowed to hike up this mountain. WTF? Apparently Mt. Monadnock is a very popular hiking spot. He told some story about how in 2008 there were a bunch of dogs that hiked up the mountain and some of the owners didn’t pick up after them, blah, blah, blah. Therefore, no dogs are allowed up this mountain. I’ve never heard of a mountain not being dog friendly, but apparently that’s something I’ll have to research next time I go hiking!

The ranger pointed us in the direction of another trail that was dog-friendly and we headed on over there. We didn’t realize that this other “mountain” wasn’t actually Mt. Monadnock until we got to the top. This other place was Pack Monadnock that only took us an hour to hike up, LOL! There were plenty of people with their dogs on this mountain and many others who shared similar experiences of being turned away from the other mountain.

Nonetheless, we still had a great time! I’ve felt a bit deprived this summer living in a place that doesn’t have those beautiful mountain views. I used to take being able to see Mt. Mansfield and Camels Hump for granted since I grew up with those. Although things didn’t go quite as planned today, it was still loads of fun.

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Mom, Samson, and I at the top

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Dad, Mom, and Samson

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Dad and I on top of the fire tower

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On another note, I thought I’d share a funny story with you guys. I think I’ve mentioned that I’m a pretty competitive person. What can I say? It’s hard to run races without that personality characteristic! Although I’m pretty good at hiding it or keeping it under control in situations that don’t need to be competitive, I had a little bit of fun today.

I was doing an easy run on the Charles when all of a sudden this boat starts to pass me. It wasn’t going all that fast, but just a bit faster than my own pace. For whatever stupid reason, I decided to race this boat. Let me just point out that I was definitely at a disadvantage. We were coming up to a curve and in track talk I was in the outside lane WITHOUT a staggered start. This boat probably had no idea that I was trying to race it, but I had a little fun before stopping at a water fountain and reminding myself that I should be taking my easy run easy.

Have you ever raced a boat? Gotten competitive in a stupid situation? Have you gone on any hikes recently?

Friday Roundup

We made it to the weekend! Hooray! After a long week of physics classes, running, and more physics I seem to have survived. Apparently you did too since you’re reading this post! Just four more weeks until I don’t have to hear another word about chahges (charges), pahticles (particles), and vectahs (vectors). My current teacher has a very strong Boston accent…

Today started out with me coming within an inch of running straight into a sign. No, I’m not joking. Somehow I managed to do this while running up a hill, so I wasn’t going at full speed. Things could’ve turned out a lot worse if I had been running down the hill. Luckily, all I came away with was a bruised ego. I also met a fellow UVMer at the November Project this morning. What were the chances of that happening? It’s such a small world. Luckily, all was made better after getting some high-fives from two little cuties!

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The November Project runs on high fives and hugs!

The November Project runs on high fives and hugs!

To top things off, here are a few of my favorite reads from this week. Check them out!

  • Laurel from “To a 5k and Beyond” wrote a hilarious post about the difficulties of dealing with hair and running. I agree with her that sometimes it is tempting just to shave it all off! Plus, she shares my name so that automatically makes her awesome!
  • Scott from “Piratebobcat” shared a funny discovery about a certain search term someone used to find his blog. It made me take a look at the own search terms you guys have used to find me! None were quite so funny, though.
  • Lauren from “Will Run for Boston” wrote a heartfelt post about her decision to change from the marathon back to the 5k. I appreciate her honesty about her new decision and the insight she shares.
  • Sandra from “So What? I run?” wrote a recap about “The Evolution of Crazy” AKA how she came to love running. It’s a pretty incredible journey, so you should go check it out!

How was your week? Run into any signs lately?

Things are looking up!

Guess what? I won a prize!!!! Fellow blogger runnerunderpressure was doing a giveaway for a Sweatyband and I was the lucky winner. Thank you! I looooove pink, and I already broke in the headband. Unfortunately, I got caught in a rainstorm today on my run and returned thoroughly drenched. At least the rain cooled things down so I didn’t have to deal with the heat. We’ve had a fair share of that this summer!

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I’m loving the pattern!

Maybe my hair isn't just a boring brown.

hmmm… maybe my hair isn’t just a boring brown.

In other news, I wanted to give you a little heads up about an upcoming race since I know that a lot of people that read my blog are in the Jericho/Underhill area. On Saturday, July 26th MMU will be hosting the first annual Cougar Chase at Mills Riverside Park. All ages and all speeds (runners and walkers) are welcome! It’s a great idea – the girls start 3 minutes before the guys to turn the race into a game of chase. There’s a special grand prize for the top three finishers as well as division and male/female prizes. If you’re around and want to run a fun race then go give it a shot.

Happy Running!

The Little Things

a pic I took on my run tonight

a pic I took on my run tonight

Tonight on my run I felt especially grateful to be out there. It wasn’t a particularly fantastic run. My legs felt kind of creaky from being in the car all day, but there were a few miles in the middle that felt so smooth and effortless. I got the feeling only other runners can understand – the feeling where you think you could just keep going and going. I don’t get that every run, but when I do I feel so grateful. It’s the little things in life that matter.

My uncle died unexpectedly last week. Nobody saw it coming. He was a great man – the type of guy that you just couldn’t say anything bad about. He was a farmer through and through. Gentle, yet strong. Soft-spoken and kind.

When something unexpected like that happens it makes me stop and reflect about my own life and all I have to be grateful for. Although my life isn’t perfect, there’s a lot that is going right for me. I’m at a school that I love studying something that I love. My grades are good. I’m surrounded by incredible family and friends that love me. I have stability in my life.

Although my running definitely didn’t go as planned this spring, I’m still so thankful to be out there. I’m thankful for my new 10k PR. I’m thankful to not have any injuries holding me back right now. I’m thankful that my brother joined me for part of my run tonight.

Most importantly, I’m thankful to be happy. Good grades and running PR’s are one thing, but what I really want out of my life is to enjoy it and be happy. Thanks Uncle Stan for making me pause and think about the little things in life. After all, those little things are actually pretty big things.

What are you grateful for?

Bike Mission Accomplished!

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We did it! Around 8:00 last night my dad and I made it back home from our bike trip. Over the course of 3 days we covered roughly 242 miles, fixed some flat tires, and learned a LOT.

The last day we ended up covering the biggest distance. We biked from Keene, NH back to Boston. There were some huge hills in New Hampshire including a 2.5 mile one! Once we got onto route 119 we started to tick the miles off pretty quickly and made a lot of progress, though. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm hit us around 4:00 and we quickly ducked into a Mexican restaurant. At least the guacamole tasted good! All in all, we made it home dirt, grease, and sweat-covered.

stopped for some great lunch!

stopped for a great lunch!

waiting out the thunderstorm

waiting out the thunderstorm

our legs covered in dirt and grease when we got back

Our legs covered in dirt and grease when we got back – check out those sock tans!

My butt and shoulders are pretty sore. I may be in pretty good aerobic shape because of my running, but my body isn’t used to staying in that biking position for hours on end. I’ve got a bit of a sunburn that’s worse on the left side of my body… very strange, and some awkward chafing. All in all, though, I’m doing good considering what we did the past few days.

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My dad is a pretty awesome guy and it was so nice to be able to do this with him. Two qualities of his that I greatly admire are his patience and ability to stay upbeat in a difficult situation. Those are two characteristics that we definitely needed on this trip. I wish some of his patience would brush off on me as that is not one of my virtues! I was so grateful to be able to do this together. Thanks for going with me, Dad!

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