Go FAQ yourself

Happy Tuesday!  I am blatantly stealing the idea for this post from the venerable Runner’s Kitchen.  Here is a smattering of questions I have been asked by bloggers, readers, and other assorted people over the last few months, along with (mostly) honest answers.

When did you start running? Cross-country season of my freshman year of high school.  I was thirteen when I attended my first pre-season practice.  I wore mens’ boxers from The Gap, tube socks and a pair of Vans.  Thankfully my attire has evolved in the ensuing seventeen years, but I’ve been running pretty much nonstop ever since!

How many marathons have you run?  Which one was your favorite? I’m counting eight, although I feel like there should be nine: Providence, Phoenix, Vegas, Seattle, Cleveland, Tampa,/Gasparilla, Marine Corps, NYC.  NYC is hands-down my favorite so far!  (As I noted in that race report, it’s the only marathon I’ve run to date that I would gladly do a second time.)

Do you have a goal for Chicago? Yep.  I want to come in under 3:30.  Failing that, I’m hoping to smash my PR (3:42) and of course qualify for Boston.  Although I’ve run many marathons, I’ve never really trained for one as I have over the last few months.  Eight-minute pace feels far more comfy than it has in years, so we’ll see.

What’s your favorite distance to race? 5K.  I love them.  And recovery is quick, so you can do one every weekend if you want to.  I keep telling myself that I want to put the whole marathon thing to bed for a while and focus on shorter stuff.  And then I sign up for another marathon.  Sigh.

What do you eat/drink before/during a long run? I would call myself a moderate believer in the Washington Ran Here Approach to Running Fueling.  I don’t typically bring food or water on runs under two hours long (~14 miles).  For a twenty-plus-miler, I’ll eat one or two Gus and take in about 20-40 oz of fluid, depending on the weather.  I guess that makes me a bit of a minimalist by today’s standards.  But I try to listen to my body and not to take it if I don’t truly need it.  It takes practice to get there though.  Running is hard, and it’s tricky to distinguish between a genuine need for calories/electrolytes and general discomfort or boredom.

Before heading out for a long one, I usually slam down a bar of some sort (Larabar, Kind Bar, Balance Bar) along with some water and coffee.

Where are you from?  It seems like you’ve moved around a lot. True dat.  We have indeed moved around a lot.

I grew up in Washington State and lived there until I went to college.  In the twelve years since, I’ve lived in SoCal/LA, Cleveland, Boston, New York and now Raleigh.  It’s been quite a circuit.

Most of the moves have in one way or another involved the hubs’ professional or educational needs.  It’s been a wild ride and I’ve loved living all over the country, but I am definitely ready to settle down for a few years.  And all the moving has left me with some career malaise and general confusion about my path in life.  Which brings us to…

What do you actually do all day? This is really a great question.  Sometimes I wonder the same thing.

Up until a couple of years ago, I had a normal-person job and went to an office every day.  I liked the work and the people I worked with, but when we moved to NYC in the summer of 2009, I decided that ultimately I didn’t want to be on that path.  So I decided to become a “freelance writer.”

In case you didn’t know: the “free” part stands for “working for free.”  At least according to my tax return.

But I scraped together some odds and ends: an article here, a consulting project there.  It kept me marginally busy and I generated a microscopic amount of income.  After a few months I also picked up a part-time gig at a local running store in NYC, which I loved.  (And am actively seeking something similar here in Raleigh…heeeeey, running stores!  Hire meeee!)

So that’s what I do.  At the moment I am working on a couple of writing projects that I’m pretty excited about – but we’ll see how things flush out.  As a practical matter, I spend 90% of my time in either running shorts or yoga pants and I converse with my cats regularly.  It’s a pretty sexy lifestyle.

Do you feed your cats steroids? They’re enormous. Well….yeah, they’re not small.  Emmy is 15 pounds and Parker is pushing 20.

I don’t feed them that much.  Really, I don’t.  They get a high quality canned cat food (Wellness) and I administer less than the recommended daily amount.  They’re just big.  But the vet says they’re healthy in spite of their girth so I’m not too worried about it.

Do you really drink a bottle of wine every night? Yes, but not by myself!  The hubs and I typically open and split a bottle of wine with dinner or while watching TV.  That works out to about 2 generous glasses each.  If I’m not a huge fan of the wine, I usually stop at one.  We chuck the remainder (or use it for cooking, or save it for another night when we’re feeling less picky).

Sometimes I’m in a beer mood and have a couple of beers instead.  I go in phases on the wine-versus-beer thing.

But yes, we generally have a drink or two in the evening.  Call it a vice, but I’m not really a huge sweets person so I think of my wine/beer as a dessert equivalent.

Do you really only wash your hair twice a week? Yes!  Well, sometimes three times.  But I only wash every second or third day.  Yes, even in the summer humidity.  Yes, even when I sweat all over myself.  Washing your hair daily is a pain in the ass.

I want to run a marathon!  Where should I start? Well, honestly first I would start by asking yourself: are you sure? Like daily hair washing, marathon training is a pain in the ass.  Expect….moreso.  Way moreso.  Seriously, it’s a pretty big time commitment.  And there is nothing wrong with shorter races!  5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons are all great distances to race.  (And I truly believe that a well-executed 5K is every bit as challenging as a marathon, albeit in a totally different way.)

But okay, you really do want to do 26.2.  First, you need a decent base.  Can you easily run five miles?  Are you logging 20 miles a week consistently?  In my (completely unqualified, but plenty experienced) opinion, that is where you need to be to think about a marathon.

If you have a good base, seek out a training plan: Hal Hidgon’s plans are popular.  Runner’s World also has a great tool called Smartcoach which will customize a plan for you based on several inputs about your experience and goals.  Then: stick to the plan.  Well, mostly.  I never follow training plans to a T.  But if you pay attention to only two things each week, look at the total weekly distance and the long run.  Follow the weekly mileage guideline (don’t increase more than 10% each week!) and get the long run in (no, you cannot split it up) and you’ll be fine.

And if possible: find people to run with.  Seriously.  And this is a lesson I’ve learned myself, in a big way, over the last year.  Running with other people is a lot more fun than running alone.  Join a club, ask your local running store about meet-ups, post a note on your gym’s bulletin board.  I know it can be intimidating, but it’s worth it.  Trust me.

How much time do you spend blogging every day? Way too much.  And this post is getting way too long.  So I’m gonna call it a night.

Got a question?  Feel free to email me: eatdrinkrun [at] gmail [dot] com.

Today’s EAT: Tonight was a throw-it-in-a-skillet dinner:

Shrimp, sugar-snap peas, rice noodles, scallions, scrambled egg, cashews.  Soy sauce, sriracha, brown sugar.  All good stuff, but…it was just okay.  Good considering its halfhearted preparation.  But it could have used a little more flavor.

Today’s DRINK: I’m not on the OMG PUMPKIN bandwagon (seriously – I like it too, but isn’t it just another squash?  Can someone please explain the pumpkin craze to me?) but one fall food that I do get stoked about?  Cider.

And if it has some ABV, so much the better.  This JK’s Scrumpy (awesome name!) Hard Cider was perfect – earthy, delightfully cloudy, not too sweet.   At 6% ABV, it’s not a lightweight cider, but not ridiculous either.  Thoroughly enjoyable on the first truly cool evening (rejoice!) of the year.

And what a sunset to have as a backdrop for a good cider.  I love having a balcony and a view.

Today’s RUN: A short track set: 9X400M with 200M recovery.  I was positively giddy about this workout.  One thing that I really enjoy about tapering is workouts like this: you get to open up a bit on fresh legs and finish workouts feeling like you have a full tank of gas left.  Doing light speedwork while in taper mode is a huge confidence builder!

After a 3-mile warm up, splits looked like this: 91, 88, 96, 91, 95, 92, 95, 91, 92.  If only low-six pace could always feel so….bouncy!

I tacked on a 1.5-mile cool down for a total of ~8 today.  A solid workout and a fun one, to boot.  Seriously, it’s days like this that make those long weeks of mileage worth it.

Today’s QUESTION: FAQ you! Share something random about yourself!

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19 responses to “Go FAQ yourself

  1. I wash my hair once a week. With ethnic hair it is bad to wash it daily and dry it out. So don’t feel at all bad about your hair washing schedule.

    • It’s bad for white-girl hair too! Haha. But mostly I just hate spending too much time with the blow-dryer. And also, I use less shampoo which gives me an excuse to buy expensive shampoo.

  2. Hi! I am a pretty new reader of your blog, but wanted to tell you that I love it. I didn’t realize you lived in Raleigh until this post (hi neighbor! I live in Raleigh too). I am a new runner (just finished a women’s beginner 5K program and completed my first race this past Saturday) but I am determined to keep doing more. Can you recommend some routes around town on the 5-8K side?

    • Hey there – congrats on your 5K! That’s awesome!

      I’m still discovering running routes here too, but so far I like Johnson Lake – the 3-mile paved loop is hilly, but pretty. And I run a lot in the neighborhoods around Cameron Park/Five Points. I’ve also heard good things about Shelley Lake but haven’t made it out there yet!

      If you’re near downtown, the Nog Run Club has their 3 and 5 mile routes mapped out here: http://www.nogrunclub.com/route/the-route (And also, if you’re looking for people to run with, this is a huge group with a wide variety of paces – it’s pretty fun!)

  3. i wash my hair once a week although i need to start washing it twice a week since i moved and the water here in TERRIBLE!

    my goal for my next marathon (whenever i sign up for one that is) is to break 3:30 too! good luck with that — not that you’ll need it 😉

  4. BRILLIANT! I loled all over this.

    Great advice on the marathon training too – spot on. I was still injured from my last 13.1 when I signed up for the marathon (stupid, stupid, stupid) and it was really tough getting started again.

    I’m not a big fan of the pumpkin ales either — they all seem to taste like someone put a Yankee Candle in my beer. But the Dogfish Head Punkin is actually really good – it’s more Thanksgivingy, cinnamon/nutmeggy rather than just all-out pumpkin. If you like ciders you might give that one a try.

    Cheers!

  5. Great post! And THANK YOU for sticking up for the shorter races. They totes get the short shrift sometimes, which makes me le sad. You ran a le great workout. Man. Love 400s.

    Here’s my random, kind of gross fact for the day: I can fit my fist in my mouth.

  6. I also wash my hair just once a week. And I workout at least five days a week (running and Crossfit).
    My hair doesn’t look greasy – promise! I had a hair colour disaster three years ago. The only way to save my hair was to wash it as little as possible. After a few greasey weeks your scalp produces less oil. And you start saving time and money:)

  7. I love all things pumpkin dessert – but pumpkin in beer or drinks just seems wrong to me. I also 100% agree with your sentiments on having a decent base before doing a marathon, even though I’ve never done one so I’m not qualified to comment 😉 I’ve spent the last few years re-establishing a decent base (and setting some 5K PRs) so I can train for a marathon someday. Maybe next year?
    Random facts = I like cows. I think farm chores are about my only cross training. I want more hours in the day.

  8. I don’t wash my hair at all, but I use conditioner every day.

    AS SHAVING CREAM! HAHAHAHAH!

    (Us bald dudes have to get our laughs however we can.)

  9. You grew up in Washington state? My random FAQ is that I was born right near Seattle! Born on one coast, raised on the other — hooray, military.

    Sounds like you are…. no!… enjoying your taperworm a little bit? The 9×400 leg of it, at least.

  10. I love FAQ’s!! Are you still planning on coming back to NYC for marathon weekend? I miss you, wheee!

    Random fact: I repeated kindergarten. Don’t want to discuss it…

  11. I’m taking a break from running right now but when I do start back up again I want to focus on running 5k’s. I think they are a great distance too and you can practice speed and improve performance without being crippled for a week!

  12. Nice workout-9 is a lot of any length interval! I commend you on not washing your hair often-if word got out how seldom I showered (I assume you shower more than I and just wear a shower cap) I wouldn’t have many friends 🙂

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