The Casual Runner


With all of our coverage of marathons and half marathons, we have been told maybe we aren’t casual enough. We also get a lot of reader questions, and we try to answer as many as we can (you check out past editions of our CR mailbags).  So, drawing inspiration from Rosie Ruiz, we decided to cut some corners and address both of these with our first ever CR FAQ (that is short for Casual Runner Frequently Asked Questions). However, we still want to hear from you, so please let us know any other questions or comments you may have, and if there is anything you want the Casual Runner Team to discuss in future features please contact us by leaving a comment or emailingReserve - Mike - Animal Encounters Pic3    us using the links below.  To ensure that you do not miss all of the great content from Casual Runner, please be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and add us to your circle on Google+

Now, without further ado, here are some questions to answers you have not asked us yet.

I am not fast, can I still be a Casual Runner?

Yes! Part of the Casual Runner ethos is that each runner gets to define what it means for him or her to be a Casual Runner.  You decide what distances and paces make you happy, and you use that knowledge to define and enjoy your Casual Running adventure.  You do not need to race against anyone else, only your own expectations and notions of enjoyment.

What are bling racks, ninja dog walkers, and those other phrases you always use?

Ok, we have been known to use our own jargon at times. But you can check it all out in our list of CR’isms and soon you will be talking like one of us.

What are the best running shoes to buy?

It depends. There are a wide variety of shoes to fit a wide variety of types of Casual Runners.  The biggest differences are in construction, and they are significant. Some Casual Runners prefer additional support and cushioning, while others prefer a minimalist shoe, and there is a wide spectrum in between.  The only 2 things we can say with certainty are: (1) do not buy running shoes based on looks or style, you should select the shoes that best work for you, your body type, and running style; and (2) go to a reputable running store to have yourself fitted for the right pair of shoes by someone who knows what he or she is doing.


How long is a marathon?

We already told you this. Please look at Mike’s piece on the history of the marathon.

Just tell me, I’m lazy and don’t want to read?

Fine, its 26.2 miles.

How long is a half marathon?

It is half the distance of a full marathon.

How long is that? Math is hard.

Sigh. Its 13.1 miles.

Should I bring fluids with me on a training run?

For shorter runs (30 minutes or less), it may not be necessary. For runs over an hour, you definitely want to bring fluids with you.  Anything in between you should do whatever feels comfortable and works the best for you. While maintaining proper hydration is always important, it is even more so as the temperatures get hotter and you sweat more.

Can those fluids be alcohol?

Yeah, we’d recommend against that one.

Why not?

We are not going to go there.


Do I need to bring my own fluids with me during a race?

This is all about personal choice. If, after reviewing the race materials, you are confident that there are sufficient hydration stations located along the course, then you do not need to carry fluids with you during the run. However, some Casual Runners prefer to have their own fluids with them so they can control what they drink, and when and how much they drink. Also, do not forget to thank the volunteers manning the hydration stations. They are awesome, work hard, and most race events would not be possible without them.

How far is a 5k?

It is 5 kilometers long.

Dude, I’m American, that means nothing to me.

Sorry, 5ks are 3.1 miles long.

Jen New Shoes Pic 4

Then how far is a 10k?…and don’t you dare say 10 kilometers.

Fine, it is twice as long as a 5k.

A little more help here? Again, math is hard.

10ks are 6.2 miles long.

What are these gels everyone talks about?

Gels are compact nutrition supplements that athletes consume during endurance events. There are a wide variety of brands, flavors, and consistency, but they all are designed to deliver quick calories and energy (and sometimes caffeine) to you during the event. These are usually packaged in compact, easy to open packages that can be opened and consumed without breaking stride.  But be careful, they can be messy.

I don’t like messes, and the gels mess with my tummy. Are there any other options?

Yes. Products that offer similar benefits also come in “block” (think of square gummy candies) and bean (think of jelly beans) form.  You may need to try different brands and types out to find out which works for and tastes best to you.

My local race is on a public street, can’t I just hop in and run without paying?

No. No. No. No. Not ever. No. Are we clear enough? Races are expensive events to stage, race banditting is not only wrong, it is illegal and constitutes theft of services.  See our piece on race bandits for more information on just how wrong this is.

What are SMO’s?

We talk about this and other terms in our CR’isms page, but this stands for Shiny Metal Objects, the awesome medals races award for finishers.

Hi, my name is ____, and I have an SMO problem.

Not really a question, but we know how you feel. SMO’s are awesome and a physical reminder of what we all accomplish during our Casual Running journeys.  They can and should be worn and displayed with pride, you earned them.

When is Cheryll’s birthday?

Oh come on! That has nothing to do with the running.

The dress is definitely blue and black.

Now you are just being ridiculous, that is not even a question.

I cannot run the full distance of a race, should I not sign up for it?

Goals are good to have, especially aspirational ones. Just because you may not be able to run the full distance of a race now, does not mean that you should not sign up for it.  Committing to the race distance can serve as a valuable motivational tool to help you push yourself father while sticking to your training plan. If, come race day, you find that you still cannot run the entire distance, adjust your race plan accordingly to allow you to finish the total distance using a combination of walking and running without putting yourself at risk of injury.

I do not have time to run the full distance called for by my training plan today, should I just take the day off?

Adjustments to training plans will be necessary as life will sometimes get in the way.  You should do what you can to stick to your training plan when possible, but if you have to deviate from it, it is not the end of the world.  If you only have time to get out and run for 30 minutes instead of the 60 minutes the plan calls for, then go out for as long as you can. Remember, in the end, the point of this all is to get physical activity and exercise, and to enjoy yourself.  So why take an entire day off just because you can’t stick to what the plan calls for on that day?  Do what you need to enjoy your own personal Casual Running experience.

What is the Galloway run-walk method? What is a Gallowalker?

Not long ago people had this notion that if you could not run an entire distance, you were not a “real runner.” That is garbage.  Jeff Galloway, and Olympic marathoner, popularized a training method which codified walking and running intervals to help runners develop greater endurance.  It goes one step further and incorporates these run/walk intervals into race plans.  With this, many Casual Runners plan to walk a significant portion of their races, and some colloquially refer to them as “Gallowalkers.”  There is a wide variety of paces using the Galloway run-walk method, and many Casual Runners have even used it to qualify for the Boston Marathon. You can check out Jennifer’s series on training with Jeff Galloway’s program here.


What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

What do you mean? An African or European swallow?

Can I run races in costumes?

Absolutely! You will find that many Casual Runners love enhancing their race day experience by putting together creative costumes.  The spectacle of fun costumes on the course helps to provide additional entertainment for your fellow Casual Runners.  So have fun with it, enjoy, and don’t forget to share your race costume pictures with us.

My training has been lacking, should I not enter a race because there is no way I will PR it?

Look, you should never enter a race because you have to, but only because you want to. And that means setting goals for yourself based on what you want to get out of that race. There is nothing that says that you have to, or even can, set a PR every time you toe the line at a race. So be realistic about your goals and your conditioning, and above all, go out and have fun with the race day experience.

The Casual Runner Team wants to hear from you. If you have any questions about anything we cover here on Casual Runner, if you have any questions regarding running gear or training for your own Casual Running needs, or if there is anything that you would like us to cover on Casual Runner, please leave a comment or email us using the links below.  To ensure that you do not miss all of the great content from Casual Runner, please be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and add us to your circle on Google+.  See you out on the running trails!   



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