Running While Nerdy

Spring time in Montana can be a challenging time of year when it comes to figuring out what to wear for a morning run. As I got ready this morning it was chilly and windy with impressive gray clouds in the sky. I couldn’t be sure whether it would rain or not. I found myself wishing for one piece of running gear that I just don’t have: a jacket with removable sleeves. Since I warm up pretty dramatically on a run, a jacket with removable sleeves would be perfect on a day like this.

Then I had a stroke of genius. I could wear my Star Trek cycling jersey with my black arm sleeves and it would be just like having a jacket with removable sleeves! So I threw on a singlet, zipped up my Star Trek jersey, rolled on my sleeves and off I went.

You’d be surprised how many nerds there are in the running community. I know the stereotype suggests otherwise, but there are quite a few nerds who run, cycle or otherwise work out. Think Geek sells nerdy cycle jerseys now (I wish they’d get running shirts too!) and Fitocracy is like a big RPG only instead of a character or toon, you’re actually running around earning points, doing quests and leveling up your real self!

Possibly the nerdiest running selfie ever taken.

Possibly the nerdiest running selfie ever taken.

Just to give you some idea of my level of nerdiness, you can see a bit of it here in this photo. Here I am wearing my Star Trek jersey (which was a gift, btw. Thank you James!). Behind me you’ll see a giant photo mosaic of Yoda made from tiny pictures from the original Star Wars trilogy. Below that you’ll see my Firefly DVD set and some of my Buffy DVD set. I also have Angel, Serenity, The Avengers, Doctor Horrible, the extended edition of all three Lord of the Rings and quite a few other things. I have all of Red Dwarf on VHS for goodness sake. I also read a lot of nerdy books and am a huge fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson among other things, but if I start listing off all of the things I love, we’ll be here until next year.

The thing about being a nerd is that we love things. We don’t all love the same things. Some of us love Star Trek or Star Wars (or both) or Buffy or the works of Isaac Asimov or Robert Heinlein. The list goes on. Whatever it is that we love, we love it passionately and deeply. In this video, Wil Wheton (yes, Wesley Crusher from Star Trek the Next Generation) explains why it is awesome to be a nerd and he explains it much better than I ever could. Give it a watch. It’s short.

So here I am, a runner and a nerd, and I love who I am. But I noticed something today that got me a little bit down at first. While I was out today there were some folks who looked at my jersey and then scowled at me. Some people still think nerds and trekkies are bad. What’s up with that? But each time that happened, I’d run or walk past someone else who would see my jersey and light up and smile. So I realized something. Wearing my jersey out in public today made it really easy to sort out my fellow nerds and and other nice people from the jerks. Why people would judge me and scowl at me for showing my love for something is just beyond me. But some folks did.

Now that I know that wearing nerd gear helps sort out the nice people from the jerks. I think I’ll wear my nerd gear more often!

So if you’re out there and you see folks in their Star Trek gear or wearing an Avengers t-shirt or whatever it is, smile at them. Even if you’re not a nerd yourself. Don’t give them a dirty look because they’re showing their love of something. That’s a jerk move.

I have one more Sunday recovery run before my next long run, which is planned to be 27 miles. That will be the farthest I’ve run yet, and I’m a little intimidated. Check back after June 3rd to see how it went.

Keep running happy nerdy!

Here's my jersey with the sleeves that you couldn't see in the Selfie. They did not come with the Jersey, but I think they go well!

Here’s my jersey with the sleeves that you couldn’t see in the Selfie. They did not come with the Jersey, but I think they go well!

The Things People Say

How many times have you heard the following?

“Why would you want to do that?” – said in a snarky, judgmental tone rather than a genuine query, usually after hearing about a race you’ve entered or a goal you’ve set

“Ugh. Running is hard. I’d rather play video games/read/watch tv.”

“Yeah, I’m sure that’ll last!”

“You’re crazy!”

“I could never do that!”

“I’m sure that you’re not interested in joining us for [activity] now that you’re a runner.”  (Full disclosure, nobody has ever said that to me, but a runner friend of mine heard it a lot at one point.)

Most of the time, I think people think they’re being funny and self deprecating when they make these comments. In fact, I am pretty sure I said things like this to my runner friends before I joined their ranks. Now that I’m on the other side I’ve learned that it doesn’t really come across as either funny or self deprecating. It comes off as judgmental and discouraging. I can’t speak for any other runners, but it makes me not want to talk to the people who say that sort of thing.

On the other hand, some people are really supportive. My boss is a former runner and regularly tells me how great she thinks it is that I can run longer distances and how much she misses it. My sweetie, who is not a runner, regularly tells me how proud he is of my dedication and discipline. Several of my friends who don’t run ask often about my next race and tell me how awesome they think it is that I do what I do. Some really cool friends bought me a really amazing (running related) super-secret-gift, which I’ll show you as soon as I can.

Some people are just naturally supportive and encouraging. I value those people in my life a great deal and I imagine that other runners do as well.

But what makes people say snarky, discouraging things? It’s almost as though their self esteem is threatened, which really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Back before I was a runner, I think I was just really intimidated by what I thought my friends were doing. I’m still intimidated by what some of them are capable of, but now I feel more awe and admiration. It’s amazing what people can do when they decide to.

But when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what goal your friend or loved one is striving for. It doesn’t matter how difficult or intimidating you think that goal is. Being kind and supportive will endear you to them while being snarky and judgmental will probably make them not want to talk to you about it (or much of anything else, in some cases).

I’m curious, runner friends, what other strange comments have you gotten from friends, family or coworkers? Please share them in the comments.

Quick shoe update: My 24 mile run on Sunday went great. I think my new shoes are going to work out wonderfully!

Prepping for a Long Run when You’re a Nervous Nelly Like Me

First off, I have been a bad, bad blogger. I’ve been busy and honestly haven’t had a lot to say. But here I am and today I’m going to talk about some changes to my goals and my prep for a long run.

Shifting Goals:

You may recall that I had planned to run the Pengelly Double Dip this year. I’ve changed my mind and am putting it off until next year. My concern is that it is timed poorly for me with respect to the long runs scheduled for my class, and I would feel like a very bad Pace Group Leader if I injured myself out of the class at this point. I still do want to do the race very much, and hope that next year will be the right year for me.

Instead, I’ve decided to try to run the Blue Mountain 30K. It’s in October, so it will give me something to work toward after the Marathon, and it seems like quite the challenging race. It is a very limited race, though, so hopefully I manage to get a spot.

I’ve also decided to train up to 30 miles instead of just 26.2 this year. Jeff Galloway recommends training up to 29 miles for a speed boost, and since I really dislike speed training but feel really good about distance, I decided to give it a try. At some point I realized that I’d better just plan to go 30, because the truth is that I like round numbers as milestones.

Prepping for a Long Run:

Our Galloway class has a 20 miler scheduled tomorrow, and I plan to do 24, to stay on track with my training goal. I really am a bit of a Concerned Constance when it comes to these long runs. I tend to overpack my nutrition belt. I fret about what to wear, what to bring and so forth. I bet there are others out there like me, so I thought it might be fun to talk about.

For about 5 to 7 days before a long run I pay special attention to my diet and hydration. I make sure I drink plenty of water and limit my coffee and alcohol intake.  For about 4 or 5 days beforehand I also drink a bit of coconut water each day (I really don’t like sports drinks). Since I have a wheat sensitivity I take extra care with what I eat for the week before any run over about 15 miles. An accidental exposure to wheat would make a long run really miserable and potentially embarrassing.

This is my basket of goodies. What shall I take?!?

This is my basket of goodies. What shall I take?!?

Sometime during the week before the long run I take stock of my nutrition supplies and make a stop at Runner’s Edge to buy more. I nearly always end up with way more than I could possibly need, but I’m okay with that.

Wednesday, Thursday and part of Friday before a Sunday long run I make sure to eat plenty of fiber. Lots of vegetables, salad, fruit and so forth. Dinner on Friday is when I start to dial back on the fiber, but usually it’s pretty balanced. Saturday, however, is a low fiber day. Different people have different strategies to keep from having to make urgent bathroom stops during a long run. Restricting my fiber the day before seems to work well for me, so that’s what I do.

The day before the long run I also trim my toenails. I cut them as short as I reasonably can to keep them from rubbing in my shoe. My toenails have never actually bothered me during a run, but I’ve had some terribly sore toes after a long run when I forgot to trim them.

And as I’m sure everybody does, I check the weather forecast and decide on what to wear, based partly on how hot it is supposed to get. I might try running in a singlet tomorrow, which would make it the first time I’d run long without sleeves. Last spring was cold and wet so I never actually went for a long run in a singlet. This year is shaping up to be a hot one, so now is the time to try, though I worry about chafe. I’ve got a tiny tub of Body Glide as well as other chafe prevention I can bring along, so I should manage just fine.

I usually remember to charge up my watch. Today I also changed the battery in my run/walk timer since I couldn’t recall when I last changed it.

My Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13s. Aren't they pretty?!?

My Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13s. Aren’t they pretty?!?

For this particular run I’m also worried about my shoes. I’ve got a new pair of Brooks Adrenalines that I bought on 4/19 and have worn for all of my runs since then. So far, the shoes feel great and I’m very happy with them, but all the runs they’ve gone on have been short runs. It should be fine to run in them tomorrow. They’ve gone about 25 miles so I should know by now if I was going to have trouble. But, as I mentioned I am an Anxious Annie. So I made arrangements for a friend to hang on to my second choice pair of shoes in case I have a shoe-mergency during the run and need him to bring them to me. I think that is mostly just a mental security blanket, really.

The morning of the long run, I eat a filling breakfast. Not everybody does this, but I really dislike the feeling of being hungry during a run. It distracts me and makes me grumpy. For tomorrow I’m planning on a hard boiled egg, a small slice of gluten free bread with peanut butter and a little bit of yogurt with blue berries. I’ll eat as early as I can manage to, to give my body time to digest a bit before the run. I’ve had good luck with this method and it’s never caused me stomach upset. I will also be drinking a cup of green tea. Staying away from coffee is another way to prevent urgent bathroom stops or embarrassing accidents. I love coffee, but not the morning of a long run.

Look at all that! The tub on the right is a maybe.

Look at all that! The tub on the right is a maybe.

In addition to my usual water and nutrition I will have along some Body Glide, my phone, blister tape, sun screen, lip balm, and if there’s room I might bring a little tub that has a mix of bug repellent and a creamy chafe protector in it.

I really am a Trepidatious Tanya, and I think you can probably tell. On the positive side, though, I will be prepared for just about anything.

The Missoula Marathon is in 63 days and some hours. We only have a few long training runs left. Can I make it to 30 miles? Check back after our last long run on June 23rd to find out!