Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cheap Tricks: Runner's Edition

I'm getting ready to run my 3rd half marathon this Spring.  If you're a distance runner- I would love to hear about your crazy tricks!  Here are a few of mine...

1.  Nasal Decongestant:  When I lived in MN, I ran in cold weather quite often.  The cold often caused my nasal passage to get blocked.  On a few scary occasions, when I was miles from a water source, I ate some snow out of the ditch to clear my throat.  This works.  What works even better is two nasal decongestant tablets prior to a long run.  I recommend this for any long distance you plan to run in chilly weather.
2.  Peanuts, Popcorn:  These aren't just for baseball spectators.  Salty snacks the night before a long run will keep you hydrated the next day.  I picked this tip up from a lady I used to work with.  She, her husband, and her son have done dozens of marathons.  Anyone that has ever run a long distance knows the amount of sodium your body loses during a long run.  I can see it and brush it off my arms and my face.  If you think is loopy talk, you can read more about this here:
3.  Forgo the "out and back" route by using public transportation:  I have to admit, a lot of my running routes have been out and back type of patterns.  The trouble with these is the temptation to give up before you really get "out".  To avoid this "give up" option, make a plan to run somewhere and then take the bus home.  I find it easier to follow through when you're not constantly tempted to alter the route.  I have to caution you against using this trick without checking the weather though:  I got really cold and wet on one occasion.
4.Vasaline:  To avoid "skin burns" or discomfort due to friction:  Vasaline does the trick.  I put this on the inside of my arms above my elbows.
5. Tunes:  Music will keep you moving and make your run more fun.  It's funny when I think back to running with a personal CD player not too many years ago.  I had to replace the batteries every time I went to the gym.  God bless Steve Jobs and the IPod- it changed my life.  I get new music all the time and I'll listen to whatever I just bought on repeat until I start to hate it a little.  If you're looking for some good music, I recommend downloading Girl Talk "Feed the Animals" and "All Day" albums. These are free albums that are made up of all kinds of songs that are mixed together.  Think The Jackson 5., playing on top of a Black Eyed Peas song, with a guitar riff transition from the Grateful Dead.  It's a brilliant hodge podge and the best running music I have ever had. 
6. Training Plans:  Hal Higdon is where it's at.  Everyone I know that runs uses his training plans.  You can find Hal here:
7.  Caffeine:  I hate running in the morning.  But, road races mostly take place during this time. When I drag myself out of bed for these, I drink something with caffeine + cereal.  I always end up going back to bed after races- which is annoying to me, but anyway...
8.   Running buddy:  I used to think I wasn't a chatty runner:  but it turns out, I am, as long as the other person is too.  I can't maintain a constant stream of talking.. but taking turns telling stories makes a run go by pretty quick.
9.  Roadblocks:  For non-Runners or Beginners:  I used to think I hated running... turns out I hate sprinting.  Some people confuse the two.  If you feel like you want to die while you're running, you need to take it down a notch and work your way up to something quicker.  For Beginners/Intermediate:  Never run less than 2 miles.  The first two miles is always the hardest.  You need to tough it out to mile 3.  At this point, enough time has passed that you body has both warmed up and muscles have naturally numbed themselves.  Enjoy the buzz.
10.  Mind- Body Connection: Your mind comes up with amazing thoughts and novel ideas while you're running.   When you're running, you have nothing better to do but to figure out your life.  Realizing this will make running your addition, but also your therapy.

Anyone else have a crazy running trick? 

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