Monthly Archives: February 2015

32. Clock wise.

Running tip #32 … take a day off without taking a day off.


Here’s a sneaky trick for those of you who can’t bear the thought of skipping a day (because of a consecutive-days goal, a running streak, or simply because you have OCD).  Run early in the morning on one day, then run late in the evening on the following day.  Your log-book still shows that you ran on BOTH days – that you didn’t miss – but your body feels like it has taken a day off.

If day 1 =  a 6:00am run

and day 2 = a 6:00pm run

then your legs and lungs and heart and head will have had a break … a bonafide rest … for a full 36 hours!

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33. Run, though your heart is breaking.

Running tip #33

I’ll never forget the exact moment my mom told me that my father had cancer. It was on a Sunday evening long before cell phones were invented.  I had just finished a solo track workout in Wallace Wade stadium at Duke University and there was a pay phone at the top of the bleacher steps that I sometimes used to call my folks.  I would dial zero and then their number to ask the operator to make a collect call “to Joan Nesbit” (me) and – of course – I wasn’t there, so my parents would respond, “Joan’s not here; is there a number where she may return the call?”  The operator would then give out the pay phone’s ten digits and they’d dial me right back for free.

On that particular Sunday night, there wasn’t another living soul at the track so my mother telling me of the C-word was not only heart-breaking but bone-chilling.  Having just run some fast 200’s, I was physically chilly from cold sweat … but that was not why I was frozen after I hung up the phone.  I couldn’t speak.  I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t think.  I didn’t know what to do.  My whole system was out of order.  But then I did something many may interpret as unfeeling.  I pulled on my track sweatpants, zipped up the sides, and headed out for my “normal” cool down on the moon-lit intramural fields.  It was just me with the heavens listening as I ran and cried and cried and ran for 20 minutes around and around that field.   Nothing anyone could have said or done could possibly have comforted me that night, but somehow the simple sacred act of running saved my heart from being permanently broken.


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34. Pella Windows

Running tip #34

Have you ever heard of Pella Windows whose motto reads, “Go from cold to cozy”?

Their windows offer expert insulation through the use of double panes:


For tip #34, try my Pella Windows plan for optimal day-before-race-day prep.  If your race is on a Saturday, on your Friday pre-race, easy 3-mile run wear long tights with a pair of heavy-ish sweatpants overtop.  Run the entire 25 minutes with both layers (creating a third heat-producing layer of air in the middle) so that you are nearly sweating bullets by the end of the run.


At the end of 25 minutes, strip down to just the tights for 6 X 80m strides with your legs feeling really warm and loose.  Then, pull the heavy sweats back on for a final 5-minute jog to feel practically perfect in every way  going into race day!

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35. Sturdy stock

Running tip #35

I often tell people the reason I never get sick is because I have the constitution of an Irish potato farmer.  I also believe I have a freakish immune system that works triple-time to zip through any bug or virus I encounter.  It’s kind of a joke in our family that I go to bed sick and wake up well with an illness that laid everyone else low for a week.  On the rare occasion a good night’s sleep does not knock out my cold, I drink my friend Kim Certain’s special brew to crush the spirit of any resilient germ.

Gently boil all of the following in one cup of water for 3 minutes:

  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Strain mixture before drinking.


Warning: sphincters beware the morning after!

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36. immovable feast

Running tip #36 … Establish at least one hard day in your training week that is fixed.

Ideally, you should have two fixed days (one for speed and one for tempo) but let’s get started with just one immovable day.  I refer to any non-fixed day as *a moveable feast because you can maneuver recovery runs, swims, weights and morning runs around that anchoring workout, like a basketball player must keep his/her pivot foot planted.  Schedule every other workout around this pivotal day as the top spike in the heartbeat of your week.


After having raced on Saturday, week-end warriors often choose Tuesday as their “spike night” (haha, b/c its often a track workout), but I like Wednesdays because it gives me the option of adding a Monday hill or interval session to my work week.  Once you designate and commit to your fixed day, you can start inviting others to join you every ______ day at the ________ location.  Fill in the blanks and stick to it until the end of time, or at least until your heart stops beating.

* A Moveable Feast is also the title of a memoir by Ernest Hemingway, who would certainly have understood the importance of executing one true day, one true heartbeak spike, every single week.



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37. Track magic.

Running tip #37

If ever you need to clear your head or settle your soul, drive to a track after dark and shine your brights down the straightaway while you run “straights and curves” (fast on the straight, float the curve) for 2 miles.


After 8 laps with 16 pick-ups, turn off your headlights and take a moment to look up at the stars with fresh eyes.  Now, don’t you feel better?


The track will never let you down.


It’s sort of magic that way.

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38. Spinning carousels.

Running tip #38

One of the few essential tools-of-the-trade for runners is a reliable running watch.  Garmins and other “activity trackers” are all the rage now, but I prefer the simplest watch at the simplest price … partly b/c it’s a pain to get a new battery (I treat my watches as disposables), partly because I’m too cheap to spend $250.00 to track my activity (now there’s a euphemism George Carlin would have loved!), but mostly because I don’t want or need all the modern bells and whistles.  Start, stop, reset will do me just fine.

Here’s a trick for my fellow cheapos essentialists out there:  purchase your watch in the kids’ section of your local Big Box store.  I learned of this trick when I was spinning watch carousels at Walmart and saw the exact same watch in the women’s section for $34.00 that was in the kid’s section for only $14.00!  The online photos show slightly different watches, but you get my point.  If you go into the store, you will see the same watch marked at two different prices.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 6.45.10 AMScreen Shot 2015-02-07 at 6.37.02 AM

p.s. If you have 9:41, take the time to watch George Carlin’s hilarious bit on euphemisms.



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39. Pulling a message out of a shoe …

Running tip #39

Eamonn World

Last night while sitting trackside at a high school invitational boys’ mile, I was transfixed by the churning legs of the slightly barrel-chested runner in 4th place.  He ran just like a young Eamonn Coughlin and I wondered if he was Irish (4:10 mile as a junior, Adam Barnard from Tennessee … likely of Celtic heritage) and then I got to remembering the time I met Eamonn at the Toronto Star Indoor Games – good gosh – back in 1984!  Of course, being a big “star” himself, the chairman of the boards wouldn’t recall meeting a little Tarheel, but his advice stayed with me forever. Eamonn told me to write down my goals on a piece of paper and put the paper in a place that only I would know of (like a secret I was keeping with myself).  He said in college, where he won four NCAA titles for Villanova, he taped his to the back of a bureau mirror so every morning he would be reminded of his goal.

That spring after meeting Coughlin, I chose my racing spikes as a secret hiding place.  A few days before the ACC championship 10k, I wrote down my goal on a little piece of paper (with an inspirational quote by Rod Dixon to help me through the 25 laps:  “You’ve got to totally believe in yourself so you are oblivious to whatever limitation your present situation puts you in”).  I placed the note from me to me inside my spikes on a Tuesday, then forget about it until I was lacing up to race on the following Friday.  Pulling a message out of a shoe (from me to me, or from you to you) is a powerful trick … more magic than pulling a rabbit out of a hat.


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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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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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