Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Review: Run the World by Becky Wade

Imagine that you were told you could travel anywhere to explore running. You have a year to complete your journey. Where would you go?

Becky Wade, named "America's Best Young Marathoner" by Runner's World in 2013 after winning the California International Marathon, got such an opportunity. After graduating from Rice University, she applied for a Watson fellowship, which provided funding for a year of "purposeful and independent exploration and travel". Becky wanted to plan her journey around running and different cultures. She was curious about how runners around the world lived and trained.

Becky shares her stories in her book Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe.

When I first heard about this book, I was really anxious to read it. I had other books lined up for the book club and considered moving them around to put this one at the top of my list. That didn't seem fair to my readers or the authors of the scheduled books, so I had to put on my patience hat. I'm not a patient person.

Spoiler alert: It was worth the wait. In fact, like a good runner, I paced myself steadily through this one so I could savor every minute of her adventure. As I write this, I can hear Johnny Cash singing "I've been everywhere man, I've been everywhere man..." in my head...
With apologies to the man in black...
....Crossed the deserts bare, man, breathed the mountain air, man, travel I've had my share man, I've been everywhere. I've been to England, Ireland, Swtizerland, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden, Finland. I've been everywhere...
Becky's journey took her through 22 countries (she shares her stories about 9 of them), 3504 miles, and 11 pairs of running shoes. She researched and joined local running clubs in the cities she stayed and was able not only run with some top runners but also able to secure housing with friends and friends of friends. By doing so, she not only experienced firsthand what it was like to live in those countries, she was able to use her money for other things, like food and travel.

Throughout the book, she shares her thoughts and experiences on and off the track. In particular, what stood out to me was the difference between the way we train for races and how runners in other parts of the world train. The Japanese runners are incredibly disciplined and serious. They also run mileage that is unheard of. I thought Sarah Crouch's 160 miles per week was ridiculous until I read that the Japanese elites run upwards of 200 miles per week, some logging 750 miles per month! The Ethiopians, aka the "Yaya girls" that Becky ran with run single file, randomly--no speed or distance predetermined--in a "follow the leader" style. They don't wear watches and aren't really sure of distance or time.

Not only does Becky share her running experiences, she shares a lot about the culture and lifestyle of each country she visits. I found this fascinating. She shared tea with the cross country runners at Cambridge, drank Guinness with runners in Ireland, and unwound in the Japanese onsen (baths), even a "fish dip". There's discussion about food--yes, she had a sandwich with Vegemite in Australia. The Kenyans she ran with in England eat a lot of white carbs, as do the Ethiopians. Becky returned to the US, rejuvenated and excited to incorporate some of the things she had learned and experienced on her journey, and won that 2013 California International Marathon.

More than anything, this is a book about running.  While I love reading about adventure travel, it was fun to read a travelogue about the sport that I love. This may be one of my favorite running books that I've read so far. It's an easy, joyful read about one woman's running journey. I hope she takes us on another.

If you want to read more about her journey, Becky Wade kept a blog, Becky Runs Away, chronicling her adventures. Runner's World wrote a recap of her journey back in 2013--it's worth the read as well.

Have you read the book? What was your favorite story? Where would you go for your dream running destination? 

Here's the link up badge! You can find the link up at the end of this post. The link up stays live for 2 weeks. You can link up your blog post, Facebook post, or Instagram post here. No post to link? Comments stay live forever! Please remember to link back to this post. Try to read and comment on the other reviews. If you want to review a different fitness-related book, please feel free to link those posts up as well. I'm so grateful to all of you who participate in the book club.

Next month we are reading Jason Karp's The Inner Runner: Running to a More Successful, Creative, and Confident You. I'm really interested in this one. Karp explores using running to harness your creative powers. I think we all can agree that running has made us better people--sounds like this book takes it a step further. This one got great reviews! The review and linkup will go live November 18.

An InLinkz Link-up

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

You Might Be A Runportunist...

You know, most runners are decent people. To a fault. We report our runs, our race times to the second. Share our distances to show that we didn't cut the course. We set goals and share our trials and tribulations as we try to meet those goals. We talk as much about our stumbles as we do our triumphs. We overshare some of the details. Because that is the nature of our sport.

Yet, there are runners who aren't quite so forthcoming. Runners who cut corners to advance themselves. Runners who take advantage of opportunities.

Shocking? Well, this week my Wednesday Word prompt is opportunist and while I struggled to come up with a post to fit the word--I like to keep things positive--after some thought, I realized that yep, runportunists exist everywhere! And yes, I made up that word. It needed to be done.

Are you a runportunist?

Taking the Long Way Home

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy....

You might be a runportunist....if you run only for the bling. Would you run a race if there were no medals? Don't get me wrong...I like a medal after a half or a full. But is bling a deal breaker?

Taking the Long Way Home

You might be a runportunist...if you've passed kids in a race and felt good about it.

You might be a runportunist...if you leave a race with a big bag full of post-race treats.

You might be a runportunist...if you've banditted a race...and even worse, if you've taken a medal...

You might be a runportunist...if you've cut a race short but claimed the finish time. If it was a BQ, you're not only a runportunist, you're a thief and an asshole.

Taking the Long Way Home

You might be a runportunist...if you shamelessly self-promote on social media. Yes, I'm thinking of those of you who beg for votes for the Runner's World Cover Contest. Yes, you runner, relentless braggart of miles! Yes, you, that runner who PMs everyone who likes their page, their IG, trying to sell seaweed wraps, nutritional supplements, or training programs.

You might be a runportunist...if you apply for every ambassadorship possible. I may have been guilty of this back in the day when I first started my social media journey. Lesson learned. I don't want to be committed to one brand of clothing or socks. The brands that I'm loyal to? I'm happy to promote.

You might be a runportunist... if you have a running blog but write nothing but sponsored posts. Do you even run? It's fine to do product reviews but if that's all you might be a runportunist.

You might be a runportunist...if you've told a blogger she's a top 100 running blog but actually it's a ruse to get more people to your blog. Or you've offered to write a guest post even if she didn't ask you. Offered to help her grow her blog, and when she doesn't respond, clog her email with messages? Spam her blog with comments with a link to your naked page? Runportunist much? Stop me, I'm on a roll....

Are you a runportunist? You know awareness is the first step to action. Don't be a runportunist. I started my blog almost 3 years ago as a way to connect with other runners. It's been a fun journey. Mission accomplished. In these three years, I've made some amazing connections. I've also seen lots of blogs come and go. You get to know who's the real deal. I've learned a lot of lessons as well. I'm still trying to figure out Twitter, though...

Those runportunists? Do you even run, runportunists?

Are you a runportunist? How do you connect with other runners? 

This was probably one of the toughest Wednesday Words I've had to write about! I like to keep things positive on the blog and this word made it tough for me. Sadly, there are a lot of opportunists in the running world. If you want to read more, go to Marathon Investigation, which is devoted to exposing the worst runportunists in our sport.

Besides linking up with Deb Runs, I'm linking up with Coaches' Corner: Debbie, Lora, Rachel, and Susie!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Reflections on the Long Run

I've been working on building up my mileage again. Having suffered from plantar fasciitis for the past year, I took some time off and seriously reduced my mileage after I ran the Big Sur Marathon in April. While I can't say I'm 100% recovered, I'm pleased to report that my foot has remained mostly quiet since I've started running more again. I've become cautiously optimistic.

This morning I had a 12 mile run to do. I never formally train for a half marathon but I do work on upping my miles from my base and adding in some speed work to make sure I have enough endurance to go the distance. I woke up to thunderstorms and pouring rain. I was also feeling a little sluggish after indulging in an amazing pasta dish last night for dinner. The restaurant was very generous with its wine pours and I may have had more than I should.

So my motivation to complete this 12 mile run this morning was around zero. I laid in bed for a while and pondered the mysteries of life. Not really. I just did some mental gymnastics to convince myself that I needed to run. After a cup of coffee, I reluctantly filled my Tailwind bottle. I shared my itinerary with my husband, told him I'd be back in about 2 hours, and headed to the bike path.

Reflections on the Long Run

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Gift of Running

We all run for different reasons. But I bet if you polled a large group of runners, you'd learn that most of us run for at least one reason besides fitness. I'm fairly sure that most of us recreational runners run for stress relief.

That's why I started this journey over 25 years ago. Running has been the best medicine for me. My type A personality lends itself to feeling overwhelmed. Running has always helped me sort that out. Nine times out of 10, I end a run feeling much better than when I started.

Until I don't.

But there's always something good in every run.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

When Running Rubs You the Wrong Way

While spectating Sunday's Chicago Marathon, Marcia commented on a guy running by with bloody nipples. I was busy scanning the crowd for our runners and of course, missed that spectacle.

"It's only mile 13," she commented. "He's going to have a tough race!" Indeed.

I thought about this. So many jokes have been made about bloody nipples that I didn't think it was a thing anymore. Apparently, that guy didn't get the memo about prevention.

Of course, if you are a long distance runner, you've experienced some sort of chafing. Sweat +friction=chafing. Hopefully, for most of us, it's not bloody nipples (ladies, am I right?). But it's the rare runner who hasn't experienced some sort of skin irritation in areas unknown.

Unknown, that is, until the post-race shower....

When Running Rubs You the Wrong Way

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Chicago Marathon Weekend: Perspective from the Sidelines

You know how I have that tagline at the top of my blog? The one that says "because sitting on the sidelines is no fun"? After this past weekend, I may need to issue a retraction. Because this weekend, being on the sidelines was a blast!

Last spring, I made the difficult (for me) decision not to enter the lottery for the Chicago Marathon. With Big Sur ahead of me at the time and my struggles with plantar fasciitis, I didn't want to get a spot and have to give it up due to injury. I thought it would be a good idea to take some time off and let my foot calm down.

Marcia and I made plans to spectate the marathon and the experience didn't disappoint. I may have to be a sideline sitter more often!

Friday, October 7, 2016

How the Friday 5 Messes with My Head

I have to start this post first by saying how much I love the ladies of the DC Trifecta. Today's post is not a slight at them at all. Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia host a fun and successful blog link up every Friday called the Friday Five. Their fitness-based link up has a loose "fitness-related" theme every Friday, but is built on the premise of writing about 5 things to fit the theme.

I've been participating in the link up for as long as I've been blogging, which is almost 3 years. I've met a lot of bloggers through this link up and the link up has sent a lot of traffic my way. I've also learned a lot about the art of blogging--both writing and interacting with other bloggers.

The funny thing about writing all these posts with 5 things in them is that it's started to get into my head. I'm all about those fives...