Thursday, October 23, 2014

Runner Types!

It seems to me there are 2 types of runners (Well. This isn’t really true, but let’s face it, playing which-group-of-people-is-my-group-of-people is fun.): 
1. Those who find stress stressful 
2. Those who find boredom stressful

1. THOSE WHO FIND STRESS STRESSFUL.  (We can call these people “TWFSS” for short).

     Traits of TWFSS group:
They value relaxing.

These are the people that work hard so they don’t have to work hard. An ideal vacation would be lying on a beach sipping Pina coladas and not getting caught in the rain. 
Imagine them as cheetahs. Cheetahs laze around until it’s time to work. And then they run faster than any creature in the entire world, catch some grub, eat it, and veg out trying to stay stress free until the next mealtime.

They are loads of fun unless they are overwhelmed.

Perks of being TWFSS
These people are usually laid back. They get through life using what I have just-now-this-second coined the “punctuated productivity method.” They are stressed, work hard to fix it, usually get overwhelmed while trying to fix it, and then return to a long period of homeostasis (Which consists of Netflix and nap-nap time, mostly.)

Common Problems of TWFSS:
They get overwhelmed at the small tasks. Especially if said tasks that cut into Netflix and nap-nap time. Those tasks are interfering with the job of being a professional runner! They do not compartmentalize their stress easily and let it affect their running.

Advice for the TWFSS:
Try not to let those unexpected problems throw off your mojo.
Compartmentalize some of that stress—don’t let it affect your workout!
Don’t overcommit to activities.


Traits of TWFBS:
These people are the ones who go backpacking as a “vacation.”

I imagine these runners as Australian Shepherds (dog).  I was watching my friends Shepherd. It did this weird thing where it just did laps around the coffee table. I thought it was having some type of meltdown. Or a short circuiting of the brain and was stuck running in circles in my living room for the rest of its life. I called friend to apologize for breaking her dog. Apparently this is “normal” for the dog when it gets bored, and I was to give the dog tasks. That way the dog wouldn’t get stressed out from the boredom. 

Perks of TWFBS:
These are your go-getters.

They are intense, insanely hard to get a hold of, and may be viewed as “space cadets” since they are bouncing around from idea to idea.

If these people were a workout, they’d be 20x400 at mile race pace with 1 min recovery. (Meaning: They go hard, they don’t stop, and they don’t seem to notice how tiring the workout is).

Common Problems of the TWFBS:
If they do not find ways to be productive, they self-destruct. They will create problems just to fix them.

Advice for the TWFBS:
SCHOOL! And/or a career outside of your life as a professional runner!

It may seem like you are not taking your running career seriously if you have “distractions” like school…but sometimes distractions create balance.

And that’s why going to Pharmacy School is the best decision I could have made for my running career. I am that Australian shepherd (figuratively, not literally. I don't do laps around my coffee table).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Will You Be My Training Group?


I get this a lot question a lot. And considering I just make serious life decisions all willy nilly and this has seemed to work out, I think this makes me an expert in helping you make life changing decisions!

Answer these simple questions. And don’t answer them with how you want to be, answer them with how you actually are.  For example, I want to enjoy really deep movies, but I don’t. I enjoy those crappy, superficial, mind numbing movies. Like 28 weeks later. And this is embarrassing for me when people are all like: Hey Phoebe. What did you think about the character development in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly? And I have to say: Well. I fell asleep for the middle hour and a half. And then turned on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
But I know this, and have accepted it, and now excuse myself from any super deep movies. Especially ones with subtitles.

    1.     Do you want a training partners?
Really think about this! There are serious perks to training solo. You get a guaranteed individualized training plan. You can tailor workouts to how you feel. You get one-on-one time with a coach. You don’t have to worry about your ego being destroyed on days you don’t feel well.  If this is you, that’s great! You want to choose a team that lacks people in your event specialty.

Personally I find that being on a team is awesome. Mostly because I am an emotional basketcase solo. I can make a 6 minute mile feel hard without people to witness said mile. I need bodies around me to keep me relaxed. Not only that, but who the heck would I talk to during the day if I didn’t have teammates? I’d probably be at home, alone, discussing religion and politics with my dog.  If this is you, that’s great! You want to choose a team where there are other people with your stats or stats slightly better than yours.

    2.     Do you jive with the team?
There are two times in your life where you get to choose your family. The first: Marriage. The second: Your team. Could you spend weeks with them talking about your deepest secrets in between games of Charades? These people become your lifelong friends. Most college kids have college friends. And then the college friends turn into college memories. In running, these college friends turn into your adult friends. The type of adult friends that you tell your deep dark secrets to in between games of charades.

    3.     Do you jive with the coach?
Your coach not only is going to (hopefully) make you ridiculously fast, but they are going to be with you as you grow up. Running exposes all your personality weaknesses. It forces you to be patient--mostly by being incredibly frustrating at times. It forces you to let go of that intense ego of yours. You coach is your personal cheerleader and advisor during this process.
Also, coaches see it all. So you have to be comfortable enough to have really embarrassing and/or hard conversations with them. Like, “Hey coach. I am having explosive diarrhea, and need to miss today’s practice.” Or “Hey coach. I got mad at Sally, and punched her in the face in my emotional rage.” They see you at your best and worst. So make sure it’s someone you are okay with doing that.

    4.     Do you believe in the training system?
Hey! If you believe doing 1000 pushups is the key to success and your coach thinks that doing one pushup would lead to your demise as a runner, you should probably reconsider that plan. 

    5.     The environment.
Most of the environment is dictated by your coach and training partners. But the other part of the environment, i.e. the trails, the track, the facilities, the training room, the city, and the weather, should be taken into consideration. Do you hate cold winters and treadmills? Minnesota might not be your jam. Do you have one of those bodies that in hot humid climates shrivel in dehydration while you run geriatric pace? Florida will probably be your mortal enemy.

Quick list of questions to ask on a recruiting visit!

1.     Where do you run?
2.     What is a typical day like?
3.     Are a lot of people on your team injured? If "yes" ßRED FLAG
4.     Do you hang out a lot outside of practice?
5.     Do you train together as a team?
6.     Do you get along with your coach? If the majority says “no”, ßRED FLAG
7.     What are the coach’s training philosophies?
8.     Why do you think I would be a good addition to this team?
9.     How bad is the winter/summer?
10. What are your interests outside of running?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to Pick a Karaoke Song!

This seems unrelated to professional running. But it’s not because professional runners love karaoke. Plus, we are almost good at it.

The key to karaoke: Picking a good song.
I, personally, have a knack for picking the WORST songs. And therefore, I am an expert on knowing how not to pick a song. And therefore, because of the transitive property, I am an expert on how to pick a good karaoke song.

Common Pitfalls:

      1.     Know your song! Not just know part of it. Or just know it when it comes on the radio. Be able to sing it a cappella right now this second. Related note: Know the version of the song you are singing. Just because you know all the words to Gin and Juice because of that Gourd’s cover does not mean you can do a good Snoop Dog impression.

      2.     No instrumental breaks! There is nothing more terrifying than rocking out during a karaoke performance and looking up to your lifeline teleprompter, and it says “50 bar instrumental break” Interpretive dancing usually does not go over well. Example: "Dust in the Wind" Kansas

      3.     Female pop groups should be avoided. I too, love reminiscing about the days where we would get together and perform Wannabe for my Beanie Babies. “AND I KNOW all of the rap part by Scary Spice!” I would chime in. These memories are best left as memories. I don’t care how good of a Ginger Spice you are, 5 overly excited girls together singing Spice Girls sounds like a bunch of screaming chickens.

      4.     Alanis Morrisette should be avoided. She sings off key. You singing off key trying to imitate Alanis Morrisette singing off key sounds like you are on stage whining about your really bad cold. The same can be said for Katy Perry.

     5.     Michael Jackson warning. I get it. I love every song that has ever come out of MJ’s mouth. The problem: almost all Michael songs have a 2 minute segment consisting exclusively of “yeah!”s. And every MJ song come with an intense urge to dance like MJ. Newsflash. No one can dance like MJ except MJ. If you don’t believe me, film yourself dancing and watch it. You will be shocked at the difference between what you think you look like and what you actually look like. While background music can hide bad singing, it can’t drown out those bad dance skillz. That being said, I have seen a few good MJ performances. Usually by a man who clearly spent too much time practicing in the mirror.

      6.     “One Week” warning. You don’t know the words to Bare Naked Ladies “One Week.” Don’t try it.

     7.     Don’t pick YOUR favorite song. Just because it’s YOUR favorite, does not mean it is everyone else’s favorite. I’m looking at you, Arcade Fire fanatics.

      8.     Don’t Stop Believin” must be timed perfectly. Think of it as the Queen of Spades in the game of Hearts. The queen secures victory if played perfectly. If mistimed, it will bite you. This is the song that should be sung and only be sung just before everyone gets too drunk to function as normal human beings. This is a trump song and guarantees success as long as it is not sung too early or too late. Everyone F’in loves Journey! If you are the second person to sing it during the night, you are a bad person and should be banned from karaoke.

Things that guarantee success:

      1.     Songs with a range of less than half an octave. These will make you sound like a profesh singer, no matter how bad you are. Everyone can sing Jingle Bells. Example: “Sweet Caroline” Neil Diamond
      2.     Songs the audience will sing along. Even the worst singer in church gets drowned out by the masses. The same is true for karaoke. Crowd participation covers up bad vocals! Example: “Country Roads” John Denver
     3.     One hit wonders are usually gold mines.  Example: “Africa” Toto
     4.     The songs of the 80s were written for karaoke. They are easy to sing, promote crowd participation, are upbeat, and unite a group of drunk people like no other. Example: The Cure, Pat Benatar, Cyndi Lauper.
      5.     Oldies are crowd pleasers. They don’t start the party quite like the 80s ditties, but everyone can sing along to a good ole Beatles jam.

Weird tips!

    1.     Don’t scream in the mic. We can hear you fine.
    2.     The less people the better. You know what they say: 3’s a crowd.    
    3.     Practice Practice Practice. In the mirror. In the shower. With a video camera. In the car. Really have no shame here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Baseball Could Teach Track a Little Something

Last week, I went to a baseball game (Mariners, DUH, because I root root root for the home team). I don’t even like baseball, and I still paid $7 to sit in the nosebleeds and cheer. As I sat eating my hotdog and getting the scoop on the latest baseball gossip from my baseball guru friend, Karl, I was thinking about why baseball is so successful and why track is so “boring.”

I came up with a few ideas.

   1.     Baseball is a team sport. It is a lot easier to get behind a team than it is a player. Year after year, star players come and go, but the team doesn’t change. As an I-only-go-for-the-hotdogs fan, keeping up with star players sounds like a lot like work. But I can always have my team: The Mariners. And I can root for them with knowing almost nothing about baseball.

   2.     EVERYONE played baseball. It’s the thing to do.  Go play catch with your dad in the front yard to get ready for the Saturday game. At the game parents would obnoxiously cheer from the sidelines (side note: dad did less “cheering” and more “PHE! Quit picking the flowers in outfield!” He was also shirtless). And then afterwards you’d grill out at the local park and reminisce about that time you hit a line drive straight out of the park to secure your team as the 8-9 year olds Division II Town Champions.

   3.     Food is involved. I don’t know about you, but when I hear baseball, I think Food. Not just any food, but the best food: Hotdogs, Ice cream, Pretzels, Peanuts, and Beer.

   4.     Singing is encouraged. That Peanuts and Cracker Jacks song, Hey batter batter batter SWING, and general heckling of the batter. Everyone likes cheering.

   5.     Jumbo Tron. Everyone’s life goal is to take a selfie of themselves taking a selfie on the jumbo tron. This goal cannot be achieved without said jumbo tron. I squeal with excitement just thinking about me being out there for the rest of the Mariner’s fans to see.
   6.     Gimicks. There is no downtime in baseball, just time for weird games with the audience. Spinny bat races are always a crowd pleaser. And everyone goes gaga for a free T-shirt, regardless of the size or aesthetics.

   7.     Baseball Caps. This marketing ploy is brilliant. It’s simple, useful, classy, and says: I’m-a-for-real-fan-because-I-spent-money-on-apparel. Plus you can collect them if you don’t show monogamous loyalty to one team.

How do we apply this to track? Track is more constant entertainment than baseball. Horseracing and Nascar are wildly popular. It is not the fundamentals of the sport, is the sporting event itself that is the real problem.

   1.     Make teams. Elite track and field should have teams. These teams should have a home stadium where half of their meets are held. This team should have a color and mascot that doesn’t change. Simple is better for the non-runner-nerd fans. We are starting to see teams forming with the Nike Oregon Project, The Bowerman Athletic Club, and The Brooks Beasts—these teams just need some hype and identity.

   2.      Everyone runs track. But it doesn’t have that nostalgia feeling because youth track meets are a nightmare. I love track, but I would rather pull out my hair than sit through a 6 hour disorganized shit show of 1000 heats of the 100m. Make youth track the enjoyable thing families do on Saturdays.

   3.     Get food involved. Everyone loves an excuse to eat food and drink beer. Just like hotdogs and baseball are a happy marriage, track needs a hand held food to claim. And, no, a Kale chicken wrap, does not cut it.

   4.     We need track cheers! Like the “Whoop! Whoop!” but more of them.

   5.     Jumbo Tron. There should be a jumbo tron in every major stadium, and fans should be on it. Plus I’ve heard kissing-cams are excellent relationship starters.

   6.     Gimicks. Winners should give out T-shirts. Why isn’t there a MPH radar detector on the track? And the crowd should be allowed to try to run top speed past the radar detector, so they can test their skills against the pros. And a Granny shot put toss—where you have to throw a shot put granny style--sounds fun.

   7.     Apparel. Accessories seem to be more successful, but hats and scarves are taken. We may have to settle for singlets.

   8.     Road Races. With increasing participation in road races, we should capitalize on this. Every meet should start with a general public road race. Winners of each age group (plus friends) get to cheer from the infield.

Lastly, like all sporting events, it should only last at most 2 hours. It should not be amateur hour out there.

I just want everyone to love track like I do.