Monthly Archives: February 2015

49. … a so-so trick

Running tip #49

What to do about all those race tee-shirts overflowing in your dresser drawer or closet?

I say Go Green!   Re-cycle and re-use by making a tee-shirt quilt.  There are many options for outsourcing the work (even a little company called The T-Shirt Quilt Cafe) but I prefer to sew my own.  Back in the 80’s all the race tees were made out of cotton, so my old Kenmore sewing machine with straight stitching (and a fancy zig-zag foot attachment!) was enough to do the job.  But, nowadays, the technical tees require sewing machines with computerized bells & whistles in order to work with the stretchy, high-tech/wick-away material.  Just look at the difference between the two:

SONY DSC  sewing_machine_husqvarna_viking

For my college-bound daughter, I made a dorm-room quilt out of all the t-shirts she had amassed since pre-school … with the inner section from elementary/middle school and the outer frame from high-school:


I also like to make baby quilts for running friends out of favorite old shirts that belong to each parent (and from any other children in the family).  Here is one I made that includes a race tee-shirt from the Philadelphia half-marathon pieced in with all the others from a family of five:


I guess, technically, #49 isn’t a running trick … however, it is a tip about running, “sew” it counts.  I realize it’s just a so-so tip (haha, get it?) but 365 is a LOT, people!  

I’m thinking of stopping at 101.

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48. The 3-minute marker.

Running tip #48

If you don’t have enough time to fully preview a course the day before a race, the next best thing is to include this visualization trick in your warm up:   Head directly to the finish area and jog back onto the course for 5 minutes.  Stop here, then turnaround and look around for a visual marker (also called a “cue” by sports psychologists) that you will be able to see and remember during the race when you are approximately 1,000m from the finish line.  I call this the 3-minute marker because you can do anything for just three minutes, right?  Hold your breath, stand on your head, stay in side plank, endure triple-contractions during labor …side-plank-ex_0

When you come upon this pre-determined, three-minutes-to-go marker near the end of your race (it may be the McDonald’s golden arches, or a rail-road crossing sign, or a red wheelbarrow … anything memorable),  this will be your cue to immediately start your kick.  You won’t think.  You will react.  GO!  NOW!!!!  Even if your legs are dead tired and your pace has slowed to a survival shuffle, once you see that “red wheelbarrow” your body will forget the perceived pain and you will automatically start sprinting toward the finish line.  Three minutes later you’ll be leaning for the tape.


p.s. You may think I did the math wrong, but I didn’t.  5-minute jog = 3-minute kick.

Trust me … and e.e.



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47. It’s okay to run too long.

Running tip #47

Sometimes you just need to run too long.  True, my kids often tell me I hug too long and, once, a friend of mine literally patted me on the head saying, “Put a lid on it, Joanie”  because I tend to overdo EVERYthing … but my advice here is sound.  There are days when life’s stressors demand that you throw your training plan out the window, days when you must lace up your shoes and hit the trail (or the road) with the desperation of a jilted lover throwing back shots at a bar.


You know it’s not good for you, but you do it anyway.  I’m here to tell you (for tip #47) that it’s OKAY to deviate from your prescribed training plan when your soul requires it.  Run and run and run and run until all the demons and cobwebs and angst and frustration and I-don’t-know-what-to-do’s are out of your system.  You can always go back to that training plan tomorrow … and you will, because you are a runner and runners are nothing if not reliable.

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46. Keep your feet warm and your shoes dry.

Running tip #46

When it’s cold & wet outside and you must trek through show/slush/rain on every run, keeping your shoes dry is a top priority.  I’ve already explained how you should rotate your trainers so they’ll last longer … well, during rainy season, you may want to try this nifty trick for drying your shoes between rotations.

First, take your wet shoes off immediately after you run and put your slippers on.


Next, loosen the laces and take the inserts out of your shoes so you can stuff them with old newspapers or paper towels.

wet shoes

Then, overnight, place the shoes and inserts at the bottom of your fridge where the vent blows hot air.


Finally, in the morning (though your kitchen will be decidedly stinkier) your shoes will be dry and ready to run!


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45. Legs up

Running tip #45

Many runners use legs up the wall for recovery after long runs.  This practice is referred to as “inversion” in yoga, but I simply call it “Legs Up.”  I think the best time to do Legs Up is the day before a race for 10 minutes. After your shake-out run and strides, find a comfortable spot (next to your friends is best) and start your watch to insure you actually keep them up for ten whole minutes.


Above ^ are the distance guys from UNC at the steeple water jump, circa 1995.

Below are my boys from CHXC, circa 2015.


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44. Master the farmer’s shot.

Running tip #44

Several of my high school runners have been suffering from winter colds with congestion and seriously stuffy noses this season.  At an indoor meet last week, I encouraged my miler to be sure and blow a good “farmer’s shot” before her race.  Her blank-eyed gaze registered zero knowledge of my terminology … so I demonstrated (or, rather, I mimed) the one finger/one nostril technique for clearing your nasal passages.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 8.55.23 AMI’ve always called this The Farmer’s Shot but when I went online to look for a graphic (ewwww!) I see it is more commonly referred to as The Snot Rocket.  So, for tip #44 I say learn to master The Farmer’s Shot on a run. If you have already established that you are a Fancy Cat, go ahead and stuff those lady-tissues up your sleeve.  Or, if you must, sacrifice a pair of gloves to the laundry pile.  But, please God, NEVER pull up the bottom of your shirt to blow your nose like a giant tee-shirt hanky.  Simply drop back from the group to discretely shoot left and shoot right … then sprint on back to catch up … no harm, no foul.  And no stuffy nose.

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43. It’s important to have heroes … and (s)heroes!

Running tip #43

Once, in college before I began my pro career, I ran a road race against 5-time Olympian Francie Larrieu Smith.  Well, it wasn’t really a race against her;  it was more like I was Little Bear following behind her mother in Blueberries for Sal:


After the race, I eagerly asked for Larrieu’s autograph (and she graciously complied) but my older/wiser? teammate scolded, “Don’t ask for someone’s autograph if you ever intend to beat them.”  I can see his point;  you don’t want to let anyone “own” you or beat you before the race even starts, but I also believe it’s important to have heroes.  Little bear needed her mother to show her the way to the best blueberry patches on the hill and I needed my running heroes to inspire me to keep striving UP that hill.  What does Jack Black sing in School of Rock?  “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.”

I had many heroes along the way (including Francie) but one person stands above all the rest as the matron saint for women runners in the 1980’s:  marathon gold-medalist, Joan Benoit Samuelson.  Here is a (blurry, sorry) photo of me with my 1985 running log where I had clipped and taped the following Benoit quote from The Runner magazine for inspiration:

“Just yesterday in Maine it was windy and snowing hard.  I was in the middle of a run when I said to myself, ‘Do you still want to do this?’  Maybe if a car had gone by at that moment I would have taken it, but I said to myself, ‘Hey, this is what you thrive on, this is what makes you the person you are.'”

Photo on 2-12-15 at 1.11 PM

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42. The spritz-off

Running tip #42 may be my favorite trick of all.  I am reluctant to share it because – like the cheater peel – it’s a trick I have used over the years that really works so I don’t want too many people (cough cough, competitors!) discovering it and using my trick to beat me.  However, since my racing ship has long-since sailed, it’s probably safe to spill the beans on this one 🙂 .


Before every race, right as you are about to suit up in your uniform/race gear, take about 2 minutes to jump in the shower for what I call a “spritz-off.”  Don’t wash your hair or shave your legs or anything, just let the quick blast of water serve as a jolt to signal your body to start producing adrenalin.  I swear it works every time.   Tony Waldrop, legendary miler from Polk county NC, once conjectured, “Adrenalin is the most under-estimated performance-enhancing drug there is.”  Good thing they don’t drug test for adrenalin, because I would have failed every time.

A recent upgrade to my spritz-off trick was to add Dr. Bronner’s “magic all-one” peppermint oil soap for a double-dose of WAKE UP! to my system.


Peppermint is a proven brain stimulant, so the combination of a spritz-off with peppermint soap prepares both my body and my mind for race day … in one quick, 2-minute shower.

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41. Take that rate and double it!

Running tip #41 …


Harkening back to the ACC championships I wrote about in #39, I wanted to give you an easy tip for calculating how fast you should be able to race a 10k if you’ve never run one before.  Anyone who ran cross-country in high school knows his/her 5k PR … so, to accurately predict your 10k time use this simple formula: take your 5k time and double it; then, if you are a male, add a minute and if you are a female, add 75 seconds.

Example … I ran 15:52 for 5k my senior year at UNC before ever trying the 10k.

15:52 doubled = 31:44

I’m a female … so, 31:44 + 75 seconds = 32:59

I ran 33:01 at ACC’s (a near bullseye) because this fail-safe formula helped me predict my time and plan my race accordingly.

“Will you do me a favor?  Will you take that rate and double it!?”

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40 – My System for Choosing What to Wear to Run

Running tip #40 … is brought to you by my husband, Dave, who is {finally!} turning 40 this year.

Joan doesn’t watch the news.  She also doesn’t regularly look at the weather forecast.  When she is deciding what to wear for her run she opens the front door and sticks her hand out to gauge the temperature.  For my analytical mind this seems like absolute insanity.  In the morning the sun beats down on our front stoop making it the hottest location within a 100 mile radius so there’s no way this is a reasonable way to gauge the weather.  I have what I think is a pretty good system for determining the clothing required for my run given the forecasted temperature.

First I consult my favorite weather site, WeatherSpark, to view a graph of what the temperature is going to be when I’ll be running.  I like that site because you see a line graph with temp on the y axis and time on the x axis.  The temp at the start of the run is what I’m looking for.

Here’s a table showing the temp and what I’ll wear:

  • > 70 degrees F: shorts and no shirt.
  • 60-70 degrees F: shirt optional and shorts.
  • 50-60 degrees F: short sleeve shirt and shorts.
  • 47.5-50 degrees F: a tiny window where I might wear a short sleeve shirt, shorts, and gloves.
  • 40-47.5 degrees F: light long sleeve shirt, shorts, and gloves with optional hat (when I do take a hat I know I’ll end up carrying it by the end of my run).
  • 35-40 degrees F: regular (heavier) long sleeve shirt, shorts, gloves, and a hat (could be baseball cap but probably a skull cap that covers my ears)
  • 27-35 degrees F: regular long sleeve shirt, pants, gloves, and a skull cap.
  • < 27 degrees F: regular long sleeve shirt, pants, gloves, and a toboggan plus a vest on top.

Although this seems pretty precise (and probably crazy to Joan) there is plenty of room for adjustment.  For example, if I’m doing a hard workout I will most certainly dress a little lighter since I know I won’t get cold (see post #28 about the Cheater Peel!).  Also, if it is overcast, rainy, or I’m running in the dark I’ll err towards the warmer side.


That’s Dave running for Bull City ^

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