A running adventure … and a new friend

I love running when I’m away from home because it gives me new experiences; different terrain, sites, sounds, smells, and weather turn each run into a refreshing break from my old routine.

The other day, I had a very unique experience running while traveling. The weather reports had been talking about a tropical hurricane for some time, but it had been continuously downgraded and eventually became what we thought was just some rain and a bit of wind. A few kilometers into my run, the drizzle turned into rain which then became heavy rain. As I continued it started to become fairly windy. I was about 5 kilometers along a road lined with sugar cane fields when I noticed a dog standing in the middle of the road about a hundred meters ahead of me, just staring at me. I had to think about what action to take. It was early in the morning, there was very little traffic, and most of the dogs here have some Pit Bull mix in them. There was no sign of anyone else around. I slowed down so that I didn’t appear threatening. As I walked up I realized it was not a menacing looking dog at all but a cute floppy-eared Pointer. I looked around and asked him where his people were and then decided to continue on. The wind was picking up and the rain was starting to hit me sideways. The dog seemed a little nervous and disoriented, bounding from one field, across the road, to another field and back to me as I continued along my way. A lone car drove by and the dog clearly had no traffic sense as it just missed being in the road at the same time. I tried not to engage him as I did not want him to follow me – I was almost at the halfway mark of my loop and would end up 6 kilometers from where we were. The dog had other ideas however, and bounded along beside me as I turned down a more remote cane field road. I began to think this was no ordinary storm as the wind gusts were blasting rain sharply into my face and at times would blow me sideways nearly off my feet. My buddy was clearly terrified of the storm, as every blasting gust would drive him either into the cane fields only to return behind me a few seconds later or directly into my body as he sought comfort. (I later learned that the wind was blowing at 50 km/hr with gusts up to 80 km/hr.) At this point I realized we were in it together and there was no getting rid of him, so I patted him and offered him some comforting words as we continued along. Tree branches and debris from the storm were littering the road, and I ran the last few kilometers with my arms at my head to protect myself from whipping debris.

my tree-lined route on a nicer day

my tree-lined route on a nicer day


status of many branches after the storm

status of many branches after the storm


We finally made it back to our rented cottage and I left my poor shaking friend outside while we called the animal rescue shelter.
waiting trustingly - he'd clearly put his faith in me to get him safely home

waiting trustingly – he’d clearly put his faith in me to get him safely home


It was a bit sad to drop him off – we’d shared an adventure together, but I knew his people were probably anxiously looking for him.

saying "good-bye"

saying “good-bye”


Sure enough, within ten minutes of leaving the shelter we received a call that his owners were on their way to pick him up. I’m happy that my friend found his home, but strangely, even though I was with him for only a couple of hours, I miss him. Maybe it’s time to get a dog…

Role modeling running values

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the lessons and experiences I’ve gained through running have shaped much of who I am. I see much of the world through a running lens and it follows that I want to share that perspective with my children. I have a seven year-old son and a five year-old daughter. Of course I want them to share in my love of running by doing it alongside me and learning and benefiting from their own experiences in it. So no problem, right? Just encourage them to run, sign them up for kids’ races and kids’ running clubs and away we go. Ha!

It turns out kids (at least mine) have minds of their own. My kids have gone for runs with me (of their own accord) and have participated with varied success in kids’ events. My son also enjoyed going to his track club practices which I’d encouraged him to sign up for – it is a fantastic club with great coaches who introduce track and field to young kids in a very fun way. My son was always sweaty and smiling at the end. But then one day out of the blue he said:”Mom, you just want me to run because you do it. I have to find my own thing.” And that was it.

A few weeks ago when he still enjoyed running

A few weeks ago when he still enjoyed running

Looking back, I know that my passion for running as a teenager came as my own form of rebellion and self-discovery. My parents knew very little about the sport and took a detached interest in my passion. Throughout my high-school career where I trained with a club two times a week and raced often, they never once came to a practice and I think they may have come to a race once and only because it was in the neighbourhood. I liked it that way. Every time I raced my mother would ask how I did. I’d respond with my time and she always had the same response. “That’s great! What’s your PB (personal best) again?” Because she had absolutely no reference point and had to be reminded of my personal benchmark every single time. I could say I ran the 1500 m in 4:36 or 5:36 (vastly different performances) and she’d be just as happy and proud of me. I ran only for me – there was absolutely no judgement or pressure from the people who mattered most in my life. I truly believe that’s why I’m still doing it more than twenty years later.

Now back to my kids. I want them to benefit as I did from running, but I understand that I cannot force it. I can only be a role model in the best way I can and keep doors open if they happen to decide to get into it. So I’m watching my son skateboard and play basketball in the same detached manner my parents watched me run. I respond to his delighted shrieks of “Mom, I did an Ollie!” with a smile and a “That’s great sweetie.” I don’t know what that is but he seems to be happy with it.

How could a 7-yr old boy find this more fun than running?!?

How could a 7-yr old boy find this more fun than running?!?

My daughter is still a bit young to have found a personal passion, but I like to think she’ll find one that doesn’t involve make-up and fancy clothes. All I can do again, is try to be a positive role model. I was floored a while ago when out of the blue she said: “Mommy? Beautiful girls don’t like to show their muscles”. Gulp! I guess her Barbies don’t have very much muscle definition. I quickly showed her the cover of my latest running magazine and said, “Don’t you think this girl is beautiful?” She agreed and changed her mind. Whew! Then a while later she was fussing over which dress to wear to a party and I said “It doesn’t matter. Look what I’m wearing!” My daughter’s response:”Yes, but Mommy – you’re not a pretty girl.” Some people might take offense at this, but I was proud. No, I am not a pretty girl. That is not what I DO. (I may have played her some Ani DiFranco after that).

Kate VanBuskirk - a better role model than Barbie!

Kate VanBuskirk – a better role model than Barbie!

I will continue to run and show my kids how it brings a positive influence to my life. If they do ever want to get into it, I will try to let them discover it on their own. I guess what I really hope is that they pick-up on some of the values which I’ve learned along the way; the importance of perseverance, determination, enthusiasm, a sense of fun and the self-confidence that comes from being yourself. Whether they learn these lessons through running or something else, I will be happy and proud of them.

The ugly side of running

Not to be vain, but for the most part I think running tends to make people better looking. It increases blood flow, giving you better skin, decreases body fat, increases muscle tone and gets you out in the fresh air giving you that “healthy glow” appeal. However, I have noticed one extreme aesthetic downside to all the running I do, and that is the appearance of my feet.

I do not want to turn anyone off of running for fear of getting feet like mine, so I will tell you that it has been a slow and almost imperceptible change over 25 years of running. I used to rather like my feet. I thought they were well proportioned – toes neither too long nor too stubby, nice arches, normal shape. I basically felt confident walking around in bare feet or sandals anywhere. These days however, when I go swimming, I have no problem wearing a bikini in front of strangers but I feel I should keep my feet covered up!

So what do they look like? Basically they have very large callouses along the sides and bottoms (areas that protect them from miles and miles of intense pressure and pounding.) There are a few misshapen toe-nails which have been lost and grown back a few times. Plus the ends of two toes (the longest ones on each foot) are all dead skin and callous – not really sure why this is. Most of the time now I just try to ignore the fact that these appendages are attached to the bottoms of my legs. Generally I cover them with socks and shoes when I can, but as we entered our third or fourth week of sandal season, I realized I could no longer live in denial. I had to do some house-keeping.

So, the other day I took my four-year old daughter (who has encouraged me to stop running so that my feet could get “un-ugly”) to the salon so we could both get pedicures. You see I thought I could bring her along for the cute factor and distract them from the horror they were being asked to fix. I have heard of runners asking them not to remove callouses because they’ve built them up for protection, but I was feeling adventurous and wanted to see an “extreme makeover” so I said nothing and left the challenge in their professional hands.

She had her work cut out for her here

She had her work cut out for her here

The outcome? They were very professional and acted like I was “normal” while removing pounds of dead skin. My feet became presentable and I felt almost confident walking around in my flip-flops.

You can barely tell which ones are the runners' feet

You can barely tell which ones are the runner’s feet

Then I went for my first post-pedicure run. It felt…. the same as usual. I think my callouses are so ingrained they would actually have to be surgically removed at this point. They had returned to their pre-pedicure form within one run.

These were petal-soft one week ago

These were petal-soft one week ago

Oh well. I think I can live with this side-effect from running. I’m sure in another 25 years I’ll look back and think that these were baby callouses! Oh dear…

My running friends

I am lucky to have many good friends who have been with me through different phases in my life, from going to school in a new town, traveling, getting married, having kids, starting and changing careers, etc… Every now and then I start thinking about a friend or relationship in my life, and I trace it back to its origin. Most often, the origin began with running.

I don’t consciously choose friends because they are runners. In fact, many of my friends who became friends through running no longer run, or at least not with me. We get together now for other reasons like play-dates for our kids, book clubs, coffee, dinner. Running is rarely what we talk about, but it’s a background of common knowledge. We basically understand each other.

How I hang out with many of my running friends these days

How I hang out with many of my running friends these days

One of my earliest formed “running friendships” began in grade 9. I was at a track meet waiting for my race and so was a curly-haired girl from a rival school and track-club. We started jumping on the high-jump mats (as one does in preparation for running 1500m) and it was instant friendship. Twenty four years later she is still one of my best friends.

Throughout high school and university I developed different interests and different sets of friends. The ones which have stuck however are mostly the ones which were formed around running. This seems strange to me as there are so many variants to my friends’ personalities and interests apart from having once been (or still being) runners. Some love to party, some are more reserved, some are funny, some are quiet listeners, some are numbers people, some are poetry people, some are parents, some are pet-lovers, some are peace-makers, some love personal drama. And don’t even get me started on the differences in their careers!

So why do I like all these very different and interesting types of people and why do they like me? I have NO IDEA! The only thing I can think of is that we were all once (or still are) runners. Somehow there is something in each other that we all GET.

Luckily I married one of these runner types. We met on the track team at university and used to run together a lot. Every now and then we’ll still go for a run together, but that’s not our main thing anymore. There are many different things that we do together these days, but I like to think it was all built on a foundation of running.

Marrying my best running friend

Marrying my best running friend

I hope to continue to make friends in life as I genuinely like people and benefit greatly from their friendship and company. I don’t know which friendships will continue to grow and last until old-age, but if my trend holds true, the ones which I’m continuing to make through running will be among those still there when we’re old and grey!

Running friends gamely learning to surf at my wedding

Running friends gamely learning to surf at my wedding

Running jargon for every day life

As someone who runs every day, is often training for a race, and coaches others to run, I find myself thinking about running a lot. In fact, even when I’m not thinking or talking about running, my running language somehow still seems to permeate my conversations. This doesn’t bother me, as I hardly notice it, but I wonder if non-runners are able to understand me perfectly. Some examples:

Bell Lap – A while ago I was attending a series of meetings over four days. It was a long and tiring week for everyone involved. On the last day as everyone was having lunch, preparing themselves for the final two-hour meeting I said “okay guys, Bell Lap!” I’m sure most people understood the term, but for me, Bell Lap means more than just the fact that we’re close to the end. It means pick up the pace and finish strong – no slogging through – you can turn a bad race around here or make a good race even better. Hearing The Bell gives you a shot of adrenaline, and you need to give it all you’ve got.

Tuck in – Sometimes in life, as in running, you just have to tuck in and let the pack and your momentum carry you. When a friend is going through a rough patch in life or work, the best advice I can give is to just “tuck in” and conserve energy. It means you don’t quit or stop, but you don’t have to be at the front charging ahead and doing all the work. Sometimes in life, as in running, you just have to tuck in until you feel ready to push again.

Bonk – I don’t bonk that often in runs as I try hard to prevent it by fueling and training smart. However, I regularly ‘bonk’ while doing other things. For instance: the five errands I was supposed to run on my way back from my meeting? I bonked after number three and just couldn’t get the rest in. The three loads of laundry I told myself I’d fold? Bonked after the first. It’s just so perfectly descriptive of my state of completely running out of energy and mojo for a task.

Kick – In running I’ve never been known for my kick, but I have managed to pull off a few well-timed finishing kicks. I hold a great kick in high regard. It’s such a dramatic and precisely planned way to come out ahead. The same is true in anything. It’s the short but effective burst of energy which brings you from behind to finishing first. Behind the rest of your class in getting your term paper in? A well timed kick the night before it’s due can fix that. It’s Christmas Eve and you haven’t done any shopping yet? Just kick it in, baby – if you’re good you may still be the hero. Hosting a dinner party in two hours and your house is a mess and you have no food? Good thing you have a great kick!

Running jargon is just so perfectly descriptive for every day use. I may get some quizzical looks from people who don’t quite understand, but personally I can understand and describe life better through a running point of view.

This says so much to me

This says so much to me

Dressing according to my running mood

Most people put a fair bit of thought into what they wear every day. Style works best when your clothing reflects your mood and what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you have a big meeting or presentation, you should dress sharply to remind yourself to bring your A game. On Fridays, however, when you’re a bit more relaxed, you might wear jeans as you ease into your weekend. As a runner, running clothes represent my wardrobe for a large part of each day (sometimes I linger in my running outfit a little too long before or after a run), so that is exactly how I choose which running outfit I’m going to wear each day; I mix it up depending on my mood and what type of run I’m heading out for.

When I’m doing a workout that involves speed outside in negative temps, I will always, always wear tights instead of something heavier, baggier and perhaps warmer (for example, windpants). Even if I start out a little chilly – wearing tights means I’m running fast. The tone for my workout is set from the beginning.

Hanging out pre-workout

Hanging out pre-workout

The same goes for when I’m doing a hard tempo on the treadmill. No baggy shirt and soccer shorts – it’s my racing outfit all the way baby.

If I'm wearing this, I'm trying to run fast

If I’m wearing this, I’m trying to run fast

I even have fast socks:

Obviously a speedwork day

Obviously a speedwork day

Most of my runs however, do not involve speed or hills or tempos. Often times I’m just putting in mileage. For those runs I like to feel cozy and relaxed. I’ll even go as far as to wear sweatpants and a hoody for a run to remind myself that it’s an easy effort.

Not me, but the type of outfit I wear to remind myself to relax

Not me, but the type of outfit I wear to remind myself to relax

Sometimes I need to mix it up a bit, and I’ll pull out some retro running clothes like I did for some runs to show my patriotism during the Olympics.

Heading out for a run during Olympic Fever

Heading out for a run during Olympic Fever

There are days when I feel like blending in and not have anyone look at me.

Feeling generic

Feeling generic

Other times, I feel like dressing up a bit, and I’ll run in a tennis outfit instead of running gear (because, sometimes I like to pretend I look more like a tour tennis player than a runner – no offense meant to anyone!)

Channeling my inner tennis diva

Channeling my inner tennis diva

I think you should be able to match any mood you’re in with your running outfit – it makes the most of your mood and your run. You’re a runner – you have many different sides, so let them show!

Running while hurdling the small obstacle of having kids

Most runners I know are resilient, optimistic people who don’t back away from a challenge. Whether they became this way because they are runners, or became runners because of these traits, I’m not sure. What I do know is that although we may like to complain the odd time (like in training through this winter – OH MY GOD!), we very rarely allow an obstacle to prevent us from running long-term. This includes the “obstacle” of having kids. Yes, they make it less convenient, but if you manage your expectations and your energy, it is entirely possible to keep up your running regimen with small people in the house. Being a competitive runner, mom of a four and six-year old and a business owner, I consider myself to be in the trenches of trying to make it all work. If you have small kids and are considering taking up running, or are a runner and are considering having kids, here are a few gleanings I’ve gained and will share so that you can be prepared when the time comes.

1. Always leave yourself a tiny bit of energy after every workout for your post-workout workout. It is not wise to run yourself into a comatose pulp, as I learned last Saturday. I had just come in from a 20 mile run in deep snow and freezing winds to two kids who had been sitting inside for the past three hours and needed fresh air and exercise. So instead of spending the rest of the day napping and reading, I spent an hour on the toboggan hill and then another two at the outdoor skating rink. While this may sound exhausting, you’ll soon find it is less tiresome than pretending to nap while WWIII erupts around you. Suck it up and go and your post-workout-workout beer will be even better deserved.

Trying to tire them out post 20-miler so we can all finally nap!

Trying to tire them out post 20-miler so we can all finally nap!

2. Don’t be surprised when your kids get all competitive and throw your “running speak” back at you. My six-year old challenged me to a skating race the other day. I was cruising along beside him when suddenly he took off for the finish catching me off guard. “Mum, I sat and kicked”. Of course. Next time I’ll remember to box him in going around the last turn.

One kicking for the finish while the other two don't know they're racing

One kicking for the finish (the other two may not know they’re in a race)

3. Be prepared to have to buy a lot of food. This applies if you’re a runner or if you have kids, so if you are in both situations you just go through a LOT of food. Somehow I’m still shocked when I notice we’ve gone through the two loaves of bread, two litres of milk and bunch of bananas I bought three days ago. Sometimes it’s just survival of the fittest. Running makes you hungry, and there are times when you’ll have to sneak the last granola bar and hide it from your kids. Just remember that they have a keen sense of smell – like hyenas, really – so don’t talk too closely to them when you’ve just finished it or all hell will break loose.

Down to our last 4 boxes of granola bars - time to go shopping!

Down to our last 4 boxes of granola bars – time to go shopping!

4. You should invest in a heavy duty washing machine. I’ve blogged about the laundry requirements of winter runners before, and if you add kids to the equation it is almost impossible to keep up. If you’re in potty-training mode, god help you. You’ll just have to get used to the piles sitting around your house. Try to think of them as modern art so as not to feel constantly behind.

Will somebody PLEASE fold this?

Will somebody PLEASE fold this?

5. Try your hardest to coordinate sleep schedules. This is a must for me. I love my sleep. I try (with varied success) to get everyone to bed early. Warning: kids who go to be early wake up early. Therefore so will you. If they go to bed late they may sleep in, so if that works for your schedule and you can sleep in as well, great. But if your kids don’t go to bed until 10 p.m. and you have a 5 a.m. run scheduled you will be short-changed. I have no idea what happens when they turn into teenagers. Stay tuned – I’ll blog about that in ten years.

If this is happening at 9 pm, you're probably not going to be asleep by 9:30.

If this is happening at 9 pm, you’re probably not going to be asleep by 9:30.

None of these things are game-stoppers in terms of preventing you from running. They are just small additional obstacles, but you’re a runner – you love a challenge. If you manage your expectations properly, running and having small kids can be a delightful combination. Good luck and enjoy!

A refreshing break in the winter running routine

I know I’m not the only runner who is finding this winter a little more challenging than usual for training. Convincing myself to wake up at 5 a.m. for a tough workout is one thing, but when it’s twenty below zero it takes a whole new level of dedication. I can force myself, but I know when it’s starting to wear me down more than build me up, so this past weekend I didn’t run. I did something completely different. I went with my husband, sister, brother-in-law and another couple of friends to our summer cottage which is on a lake a few hours north of Toronto. We had always wondered what it would be like in the winter, so after some planning and child-care arrangements were made, we headed up to the lake to ski and snowshoe across to the island. I had fun, I didn’t stress about running or not running the whole time, and I came back rejuvenated and ready to get back into my running routine.

I also learned a few things which I think will help me put things in perspective and get through the rest of the winter running happily:

1. You can always add more layers. I’m sure I set a record with seven (!) layers on top, but if I managed to stay warm and happy in a frozen cottage on a frozen lake where is was -26 C, I really should not complain about being cold when running if the temperature is anywhere near that. If I’m cold, I’m not wearing enough layers.

Feeling toasty

Feeling toasty


2. Going for a run in the cold is no problem when you know you have a warm house to warm-up in afterwards. That wasn’t quite the case up north, so I now have a renewed perception of what I can endure while still having fun.
Wearing less than when outside, but still toques, gloves and jackets

Wearing less than when outside, but still toques, gloves and jackets


3. Don’t sweat if you don’t have water. We thought we’d have water all around us and all we’d have to do is melt snow, but you’d be surprised how little water a giant pot of snow makes. We were all slightly dehydrated by the end but luckily we were able to keep our sweating to a minimum.
Washing dishes while melting snow on the stove

Washing dishes while melting snow on the stove


4. When it’s cold, you need to eat (and drink) well. I’m not really sure if there is scientific backing to this, but I do find that I get more hungry when I’m cold. Now is not the time to eat salads-as-meals or try a cleanse. It’s all about hearty, delicious food. My brother-in-law devised the menu and cooked three amazing Scandinavian themed meals, and our friend decided that bringing an extra beer or two was worth the weight on his sled. We were all grateful to both of them and enjoyed great food and drink!
Precious cargo of food and drink

Precious cargo of food and drink


5. I’m glad I’m not a cross-country ski racer. We runners endure a few rough weeks (okay months) of winter. Many of us have access to a treadmill or indoor track to break up the cold training while others treat it as their less intense down-season and do a little less. Cross-country skiers train hard in this weather ALL THE TIME. This is their season! They must be some really hardy people.
Fun adventure, but glad these aren't my year-round training grounds

Fun adventure, but glad these aren’t my year-round training grounds


6. I’m really glad I’m not a cross-country ski racer. By about 20 minutes in, as soon as my fingers started to thaw out thanks to my upper body effort, my elbow started to develop an over-use injury. I’m telling you – cross-country skiers are hardy!
Either warming my hands or resting my elbow

Either warming my hands or resting my elbow


7. Give yourself a mental and physical break when you need it. I had just lost my excitement for running and rather than continue to grind through it, I did something else to take my mind off it. When I came back after three days off I had renewed enthusiasm and had a great run in the cold. Which somehow after last weekend, didn’t feel so cold.
The cold trek home

The cold trek home

From minimalist to excessive – I do the extremes

I’ve changed. I’m no longer a minimalist. I can very clearly recall a different time in my life when I would put on a bra top and shorts, sometimes tights and a shirt, go for a run, return, and hang them over a railing to be re-worn on the next run. Generally those were the times that I was either traveling or living on my own on a shoe-string budget and no laundry facilities close by. I back-packed for a year and I think I must have carried at least two different running outfits, but here is the only one I have documented of me wearing throughout that year (!) and I ran pretty much every day.

Finishing a race in Australia in my only documented outfit of the year - 1999

Finishing a race in Australia in my only documented outfit of the year – 1999

Today the running gear laundry situation in my house is a different story. It doesn’t help that the weather has been freezing cold and soaking wet, so I generally wear about four layers on top and bottom, all of which have to be washed afterwards. I think I set a dirty running laundry PB the other weekend; I had a long-run of about 17 miles on schedule, but just could not get myself up early enough to get it done before 8 a.m. (when my husband had to be out the door). So I split it into a 7 miler and a 10 miler with an hour and a half in between. Of course I didn’t stay in my wet running stuff for the ‘pause’, so within one morning of running I went through: 2 pairs of shorts, 3 pairs of tights, two bra-tops, three long-sleeved shirts, two t-shirts and two pairs of socks. At any given time, the top of my washing machine has my latest running gear on top, waiting patiently for the next load to go through.

gear from my last two runs

sweaty gear from my last two runs

There is always a load in the washer, or dryer, or waiting to be folded and put away, or most often all three at once. We have four laundry baskets in rotation, but as you can see, sometimes that’s still not enough.

my dryer exploding clean clothes onto the floor

my dryer exploding clean clothes onto the floor

I agree this seems excessive, and the me from 1999 is rolling her eyes, but I really do not know how to get around it. Call it maturity, but I just spend too much time in my running gear to have it be smelly, wet or crusty. I will however slack in the compulsive laundering in two areas: running jackets and accessories.

Here is a combination of what I wear every day to receive some mix of sweat, snot and slush.

dirty running accessories ready to be re-worn

dirty running accessories ready to be re-worn


running jackets in varying states of cleanliness

running jackets in varying states of cleanliness

Maybe in ten years I’ll look back and wonder how I was able to go that long without washing those things. For now though, this is all the laundry I can handle!

Filling up on junk

Some people are very anti-junk. I’ve been lectured on consuming too much. I don’t always add junk to my running diet, but when I do, I really enjoy it. Right now I’m in a junk phase and loving it. I’m talking about junk miles.

Junk miles can be described as any running that does not serve a specific purpose in moving you towards your running goals. During some specific training phases, (especially when I’m working on speed) I don’t include any junk miles in my training. At those times, my runs take the form of either tempo runs, intervals (long, short or hills), recovery runs, long runs and race pace runs, and between those specific runs it is all about resting and recovering for the next effort. That’s a pure diet with no junk.

Right now however, a lot of my runs do not have a specific training purpose, and many are full of what people might call junk miles. For example, many of my runs look like this:

– I’ve been at my desk for too long and need to get out so even though I ran that morning, I run an extra two to three miles mid-day to clear my head.
– I need to run some errands, so I decide to literally “run” them, with no idea how far it will be, and it can include upwards of four stops of varying lengths.
– My six-year old wants to run with me, so I do – adding two to three miles of stop/start running extremely slowly.
– I make run dates with friends who are pregnant or returning from injury, and don’t worry about the pace or distance – it’s all about the company.
– On a weekend I find some rare time to myself so I think: “I’ll take advantage and go for a second little run just for fun.”
– I just can’t muster the courage to brave the cold for too long, so I break my run up into morning and afternoon three mile sessions.

Enjoying some junk miles last summer with slower running buddies

Enjoying some junk miles last summer with slower running buddies

Although they’re not specific for training, I do think junk miles can help in the off season by making running more enjoyable.

During some training phases, I may also add junk miles to reach weekly mileage targets. It is debatable whether these snippets of 2 and 3 mile runs sprinkled around the rest of your training really help your running, or whether they just serve to satisfy compulsions. I have experimented with running 100 mile weeks in the past (for no other reason than to hit that number – slot me into the compulsive group!) and I definitely relied on some junk to get me there.

I’m nowhere near those weekly numbers now, but I am definitely enjoying my diet of junk. There is some quality sprinkled in, but mostly I’m running unplanned, unstructured and often untimed miles whenever I feel like it. ‘Tis the season I say – enjoy your junk guilt-free!

Not quite two delicious junk miles

Not quite two delicious junk miles