Today is the last Monday of July which means that this will be the last post in the month-long Monday Fun Run Day Series (check out previous posts here).
I am excited to conclude this series by posting the recent Q&A session that I conducted with a fast runner (aka, my husband). I’m not sure if any of you have ever interview-style bombarded your spouse with a list of questions NOT created by you, but if you haven’t, I strongly recommend it. I learned new things. Fascinating things.
Let’s get started.
Setting: While carrying a handheld recorder and a clipboard, I interviewed my husband while walking through our neighborhood. I’m pretty sure he felt famous.
(Deep breathe) Mr. Un-nutralicious. Wait, no. That’s probably a bad idea. Just call me Mr. Nutralicious. This is weird. Will you please hold the recorder lower? Wait, stop the recorder, that car is about to drive by us. I don’t want them to see the recorder.
Ok, fine. I’ll hold the recorder lower and I will wait 10 seconds after asking you a question before I push record so that you have time to think out your answer.
Cool. That would be better.
How did you get into running? (10 second pause.)
I don’t remember when I started running, but there is photo evidence that I was running races as early as 2nd grade. I used to run everywhere. Legitimately everywhere. When I would go to my aunt and uncle's house down the street, I would run. When my family went on bike rides, I would run along. I would run to the mailbox daily to retrieve mail.
When I was about 8 years old, I started to do two races per year; I did a 1 mile race hosted by the high school cross country team, and a 1 mile 4th of July “Firecracker” fun run.
Eventually, my parents let me enter the Hershey Track and Field Series which had state, regional, and national divisions. I remember knowing that the top 2 runners in each event qualified for regionals and I thought if I won, I would be able to travel around the country. I did the 800 meter run and the softball throw (this event represented the shot put, but actual shot puts were prohibited as a safety precaution to protect the children). I had no strategy for the 800 meter run, and I was crushed when I came in 3rd place. I later found out that I qualified to travel out of state for the next round of the shot put, but I told my mom that I wanted to stay home and focus on my “running career”.
In 7th grade, I joined my school's cross country team. On the first day of practice, the coach said to me ‘I applied to be a football coach, but the position was taken. I don’t know anything about cross country, but I know that you have an older brother who runs, what do you think we should be doing at practice?’ And from that day forward, I called all the shots for my middle school team. From there, I ran in high school, and then college.
I always took the mile time trial in gym class seriously. In 6th grade, I ran 5:54. In 9th grade physical education, I spiked up for the mile run and ran 5:19. I remember being angry at people for not moving out of my way. I WAS top 3 in my high school’s history for the gym class 1 mile time trial, but then all of the other nerdy cross country guys like me started to take the gym class mile too seriously. The current record was set by a high school state champion/Foot Locker finalist who ran 4:47 in gym class as a freshman.
What are your thoughts on running gear?
I think that running equipment is a luxury. If you have it, great, that is cool. If not, that’s fine too. A lot of runners have been running for years, so they have a huge plethora of equipment. People know that I run, so I have been getting running equipment for years because it is everyone’s go-to Christmas/birthday gift for me. A nice running jacket, shorts, and good socks are nice, but not necessary. If certain gear makes you more comfortable, go ahead and use it. More power to you.
What gear do you make fun of?
I make fun of a lot of things, but my politically correct answer is, that if it makes you more comfortable go ahead and use it. I don’t understand why people take a fuel belt and a Camel bag (I’m pretty sure Mr. Nutralicious meant CamelBak) on a 20 minute run, but if it makes you more comfortable, go for it.
So, in terms of running gear, I make fun of all things, but if you like your stuff, you should use it.
What running gear do you recommend?
The only think you need is a good pair of running shoes. I recommend going to a specialty running store where they know what they are talking about. Get a pair of shoes that they recommend. Don’t run in 6-year-old lawn mowing shoes.
Do you wear compression socks?
No. I usually don’t even wear socks. I used to train in racing flats without socks because when I was competing I never wanted to have any extra weight on me. Some people swear by things like compression socks, and if they work for you, then you should wear them, but if you don’t like them, it would be stupid to wear them.
What is it like to run 110 miles per week?
When I increased my mileage to 110 miles per week, I was training to run a marathon. So, in my mind, running 110 miles was just something that I needed to do. Every morning I would go for a 6.5 mile run with a few friends, and then after class, I would go for another 10 to 15 mile run. There were times when I would run 105 miles by Saturday, so Sunday I would just go for a really easy 5 mile run and it felt like I was taking the day off. When I look back at my training logs and see months where I ran 435 miles, it seems crazy, but at the time it was just what I needed to do.
Do you have any suggestions for preventing boredom during long runs?
-Go for a run without wearing a watch and don’t bring an I-pod.
-Run with a friend. Don’t have a route planned out, and take turns alternating which direction to turn. Go wherever.
-Do a variety of different types of runs. For example Monday do hill workouts, Tuesday do fast runs, Wednesday do foot speed drills, Thursday do long runs, etc. Do something fun and different each day.
-Monday go north, Tuesday go east, Wednesday go south, Thursday go west, Friday take the day off, Saturday drive somewhere to run, and Sunday go in your favorite direction.
-Run hard for 30 seconds every 5 minutes.
-Run hard from mailbox to mailbox or phone pole to phone pole.
Please clarify the confusing running terms that you always use! (This is a “question” submitted by me. I realize that it’s less of a question and more of a command.)
Running: Running means, like, ‘just out for a run’. You are just running.
Workouts: A run with a purpose. In other words, you are focusing on increasing foot speed, or maybe strength. A workout has a set distance, time, and pace. If you go for a 7 mile run without a purpose, you are running but you are not working out.
Easy run: An easy run doesn't necessarily mean a short run. It just means that you are running comfortably. This could mean fast or slow, short distance or long distance, as long as you are comfortable.
Racing: If you are racing, it means that you are out to win. You don’t care about time, just the fact that you win.
In Shape: If you are in shape, you can go out and run without any problems. You can accomplish whatever you challenge yourself to accomplish during a run. You don’t get out of breathe, and you can finish your run without any problems.
Fit: You can go out and run a race at your personal best pace. It's your absolute top level of performance.
Thank you for clarifying these terms. Next question.
Do you like to run in the rain? Yes. Why? Runners are different. Like, I mean, they are a different breed. No one joins their high school cross country team to be cool. It’s not like football where you get recognized for scoring touchdowns, or basketball where you can make a game winning shot. No one cares about runners. Runners are weird.
Most runners take pride in how well disciplined they are. Running in the rain is one way to show other people you are disciplined while at the same time embracing your weirdness. Running in the rain also breaks up the monotony of running in the same conditions day in and day out.
Running in the rain is just fun because it is different.
Describe your ideal running conditions?
For me personally, I like when it is cooler. I like when there is a mist in the air. Maybe even a little bit of fog to add to the mystique. I don’t run well in the heat. My body doesn't respond well to heat. Extreme cold and windy conditions are fun to me.
What does it feel like to be fast?
I have never felt like I was fast. I could list a number of accomplishments that I have achieved in running (e.g. sub 4:20 mile, sub 2:00 half mile, 4 years of college running, and a 6:04 minute pace marathon) but I can count on one hand the number of races that I have won. I’m pretty sure that the last race that I won was an 800 meter race during my senior year of high school. Before that, it was a middle school race.
I’ve won one race in the last 16 years, so I have never considered myself fast. It has always been fun to scope out the other competitors and wonder how fast people are, and I hope that I have intimidated other runners, or at least had them guessing whether or not I could be fast.
I have always been consistent, but I have never been the fastest guy. I wasn’t the fastest guy in my high school, on my college team, or in any race post collegiately.
Do you have any tips for beginner runners?
I would say the most important tip is don’t do too much too soon. Don’t overdo it, be smart, and listen to your body. If you have a really big blister on the back of your heel, don’t go out and run 17 miles along the beach without shoes when it is 95 degrees outside. No one is telling you that you have to be a runner, so just do what you can do. If that means you can run 1 mile, run 1 mile. If you can run 5 miles, run 5 miles. If you have to walk, walk. Read your body, and don’t do too much too soon.
What are some common mistakes that runners should avoid?
Don’t compare yourself to other people because you aren't someone else. There will always be someone that is faster and more talented than you, just like there will always be someone who is slower and less talented than you. Every person is different, and everyone is running for different reasons. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on gear. Just do what you can do without comparing yourself to others.
Ok, that was my last question. This has been fun. I am a little bit embarrassed that you wore spikes to run the 1 mile time trial in 9th grade gym class, and that you like to run in fog because of the mystique, but nonetheless, thank you for letting me interview you for my website. Maybe one day, I will interview you again.
A big THANKS goes out to everyone who submitted questions for this interview. Also, thank you to everyone who followed along for the entire Monday Fun Run Day Series. It has been fun! Now, get outside and go for a run!