If you are new to Casual Running or just want to know how our brains work, here are some Casual Runner’isms so you know what the heck it is that we are talking about.
For Casual Runners, shining medal objects (SMOs)are a source of pride, and we want to show them off. Casual Runners work hard to get their SMOs, so throwing them in a closet or a shoebox simply will not do. Whether it be a purpose-built display rack purchased at a race expo, store, or online, a re-purposed curtain rod, or the ubiquitous nail in the wall, a Casual Runner’s bling rack is a personal reminder of what one has accomplished, and all that one can still yet accomplish.
As runners we plan and research everything about a race. We even do it for training courses. No matter how much planning we may do, during all great races we discover exciting surprises that we did not anticipate, and these surprises enhance our running experiences. Whether it is an unexpected view of a city, a surprisingly enthusiastic collection of fans, or the entertainment of your fellow runners, these Easter Eggs will have you talking about a race long after the medal is hung around your neck.
The First Mile
Do you remember your first? Your first love? Your first kiss? Your first…whoa there, let’s keep it clean. Certainly nobody remembers the first step they took as a baby, but what about your first step to becoming a runner? If you are not a life-long runner, the first mile is the memory you have of the first steps you took to becoming a runner. If you are a life-long runner, perhaps you remember your first middle school track practice or meet. Regardless of the memory or the circumstances, each of us has our own first mile that is a part of our own unique story, and part of who we are and how we came to enjoy running and to become Casual Runners.
Interval training consists of a planned approach to building endurance and duration in a running program. Each interval consists of a set amount of time during which you walk or run, and then alternate to the opposite method for a set amount of time. For example: I-1) run two minutes; I-2) walk 1 minute; I-3) run two minutes; I-2) walk 1 minute. Interval training is a great way to build stamina and, for new runners, to introduce themselves to the sport without exposing themselves to injury. Interval training can also be used for speed work. For example: I-1) fast run two minutes; I-2) moderate jog 1 minute; I-3) fast run two minutes; I-2) moderate 1 minute.
Ninja Dog Walkers
We Casual Runners encourage everyone to find a way to exercise that works for them. But we want you to do it safely, for you and for others. One of the lesser-known hazards of running at night (or even driving your car) is coming upon those dog walkers who do not quite understand the concept of making themselves visible to oncoming traffic or other pedestrians. Not only do they not select clothing that will make them sufficiently visible or even carry a flashlight, but they seem to go out of their way to dress head to toe in the darkest clothes that they own. It is as if they are following a ninja code of dog walking that seems to place stealth above safety. Watch out for these ninja dog walkers, they are sneaky sneaky (and dangerous).
You will hear people refer to races as a “PR” or a “PB.” No, they are not suffering from dehydration or exhaustion, it means that they just did very well and are excited about it. PR is short for “personal record” and PB is short for “personal best.” The terms are essentially interchangeable, though runners may have different meanings that they apply to them. A PR or PB can refer to one’s best time at a particular distance, for a particular course, or even under a particular set of conditions or challenge. However you wish to define it, it is, after all, a personal achievement, so you can go ahead and define it any way that you want.
All great cities have icons; those recognizable images that instantly evoke and embody the spirit of a city. New York has the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street. Sydney has the Opera House and the majestic Harbor Bridge. Likewise, all great races have their icons. The Boston Marathon has Heartbreak Hill and Boylston Street. Some RunDisney races have Main Street USA and Cinderella’s Castle. Let’s be honest, forget the course, forget the swag. It is these race icons that are the “hook” that convince you to sign up for a particular race.
Whether you realize it or not, every runner – Casual or otherwise – has a race plan for each and every race. A race plan is how a runner approaches a race. This includes the pre-race morning routine, sleep, nutrition, hydration, clothing, and pacing. Whether your race plan is to start slow and gradually increase speed every mile, start fast and taper off, hang back the whole time chatting with a running buddy, or just “go out and see what happens,” your race plan embodies your approach to running and what you want to get out of your race experience.
We are not all fortunate to live close to the best races. As such, travel will be necessary to participate in these races. While running does not have to be the sole purpose of a trip, running a race can certainly add purpose and enjoyment to a vacation.
Those who come to running later in life are lucky because they get to discover this new and exciting endeavor, and they can remember the day in which they began this new endeavor, the day on which they logged their first mile. Like all significant milestones in life, this deserves to be celebrated. Hence, one’s running anniversary becomes one’s runnerversary.
Not all race plans have to be “Start. Run fast. Finish.” Runners do not have to have actually run an entire race. A race plan that consists of the run/walk method allows runners to enter and successfully complete races of distances longer than they may feel comfortable running the entire distance. Instead of running until they become tired and then walking until they feel comfortable running again, run/walk race plans allow Casual Runners to know, before they toe the line, that they will be walking a substantial portion of the race. They plan their running and walking intervals in advance and stick to them throughout the entire race.
Many training plans call for runners to taper their mileage the week before a run. Some encourage runners to take a day or two, or more, off from running before the race. Some Casual Runners find that doing so makes it harder for them to start the race as the time off makes their legs feel stiff or “cobwebby.” In order to avoid this, they work a short shakeout run into their routine the day before the race. The shakeout run is not designed to help one build endurance or speed. Frankly, the day before the race is too late as that ship already sailed. The shakeout run, which can be anywhere from 2 miles to a 5k at an easy/relaxed pace, is meant to work out the kinks, avoid injury, and to keep a Casual Runner’s legs fresh for the big day.
SMOs/Shining Metal Objects
SMO’s are the “shiny metal objects” that races give away to those who endured and finished the challenge. These are badges of pride and honor. Although everyone who finishes receives an SMO, they are not to be mistaken for the ubiquitous “soccer trophy” or participation ribbon. SMOs are earned, not given. You toiled and endured through countless solitary training hours, running in rain, snow, sleet, darkness, heat, and when that was all over, you still needed to find the will to finish the race. You deserve to wear that SMO with pride.
Ok, running is not only about cool running gear, there are some, well, less than attractive parts to it. Unfortunately, some people do not like to talk about those aspects. Folks, there is a reason that every marathon has spectators holding signs referencing the loss of toe nails and, yes, pooping. There are two types of runners: those who have peed by the side of the road during a race or training run, and those who lie and say they haven’t. You do not want to be in a position where one of these situations catches you by surprise, or worse, you injure yourself because you did not know to be prepared. So yes, we will discuss these aspects of running, but we promise to do so, shall we say? Delicately? And if that is not possible, we will do so with a healthy dose of humor.
Toe the line
Most runners will never actually “toe the line” in the race. Toeing the line literally means to place your toes adjacent to the starting line at the beginning of race. Generally, runners refer to the time when they are in their corrals awaiting the start of the race as “toeing the line.”
Pieces of unexpected magic are the moments that you witness along the race course or training trails that are just, well, perfect. They usually cannot be planned, as they are the result of being in the right place, at the right time, and in the right frame of mind. Perhaps it is a particularly awe-inspiring sunrise or sunset, an enthusiastic fan, or a fellow runner. Whatever it may be, a bit of unexpected magic will add a little bit of extra pep to your step and remind you that only running can give you such unique, memorable moments of joy.
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