No you don’t actually resemble a Manatee

Maybe you can outrun a manatee, but how about your preschooler?
Maybe you can outrun a manatee. Can you outrun your preschooler?

Today is the day people all over the region will vie for a spot in what’s billed as the toughest half marathon in the Northwest. Because I have weird issues about absurd challenges, this particular half marathon was also my very first. If I get in this year, it will have been my ninth consecutive Race to Robie Creek.

Since that first race, I’ve run eighteen events of half marathon length or more, but I only seriously got back into running about three years ago, when I realized it took far less effort to pop out the door for a quick 5K than it did to convince the kids that they should peel themselves away from the Xbox long enough to come with me to the Y for my spin class.

Because I know I’m not the only one who looks at entry into the Race to Robie Creek as a good motivation to amp up a lackluster running regimen, I have a few tips for people who don’t want to suck at running:

You don’t have to run all the time, even while running. You can walk if you get tired. It’s not cheating. It’s called ‘interval training.’ Or ‘recovery.’ It’s totally legit. Sometimes I can’t even get off the couch unless I tell myself I’m going to let myself walk as much as I need to during a run.

You don’t really look like a manatee. Stop being so hard on yourself. I know some runs you’ll feel like you’re plodding, your feet barely clearing the ground. But you could still totally outrun a manatee. You have a much smaller schnoz and no flippers.

Then again, you don’t look like Steve Prefontaine either, or Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Sorry. If this is going to bum you out, and sap your motivation, don’t look at the race photos afterward. Just look at your shadow while you run – you know, your unnaturally long, slender, fast-looking shadow.

Beths_phone 195You can run as much as you want, but you still can’t eat everything. That’s the downside of running: you burn a bunch of calories, but not as many as you think. A person of my size will burn about 1,000 calories in an hour: enough for an IPA, a slice of veggie pizza and some dryer lint.

Running might make you want to punch someone in the head. Especially if they’re bigger and male. They’ll burn about twenty times more calories than you for the same amount of running, which means they can eat a bacon double cheeseburger with their IPA and full order of French fries while you enjoy your dryer lint.

You should invest in those shoes that are so gaudy, they look like they came from the fish bait and fly tying section of the sporting goods store. And you’re going to spend as much as you did on your first car, so suck it up.

Does this skull make me look fat? (Shakespeare themed Race to Robie Creek with actors Dwayne Blackallar and Stitch Marker)
Does this skull make me look fat? (Shakespeare themed run with actors Dwayne Blackallar and Stitch Marker)

Feet are important. There are 7,200 nerve endings in each foot, and some people say they’re linked to every function of the body. Get a professional to help you find the right fit for your shoe, and spend some money. Oh, and those fifteen dollar socks will be your favorites because they won’t slide down in your gazillion dollar shoes and give you blisters. You could run totally naked and be fine if you take care of your feet.

Don’t run naked, you’ll get arrested. Besides, there are some really cute running clothes. And you don’t have to spend as much as you did on your first car on cute running clothes. Shop the sale rack, but still get the good, technical gear that wicks away moisture. You’re not doing this to look good. Technical gear will dry faster when you pee down your leg.

Yes. You read that right.

Track yourself. At first you’ll be slow enough you’ll wonder if you actually could outrun a manatee. Or maybe you’ll be super fast. Maybe you’ll be one of the many would-be runners who just jump out of bed and find they can actually run an eight-minute mile. In which case, this will serve as fair warning: I will push you down when I finally catch up to you in the beer line.

zombie_runWhatever. Just know your only real competition in running is yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others, just try to do better than you did the last time. You’ll find this is really motivating.

What’s totally not motivating is when you enter events with twenty four thousand people and you actually finish and feel really good about yourself … until you talk to your ten year old.

“Did you win?”

“No. I finished.”

“Well what place did you come in?”

“Um, twenty four thousand nine hundred and ninety six.”

“Oh. Well, maybe you’ll do better next time.”

Kids are jerks. And here I was feeling awesome to have beat at least four people.

We don’t call it jogging anymore. This isn’t the eighties and you aren’t Olivia Newton John. Or Jane Fonda. Lose the legwarmers.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between jogging and running, I heard this once: ‘joggers’ will run in place when they have to wait for the light to turn. ‘Runners’ just stand there and look pissed.

A good sense of righteous indignation is essential for runners.


Voting actually burns calories too. Do it at least once a day, every day.


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  1. I love this! So glad I found your blog. I am a runner, too. I just signed up for 2 more half marathons in the next 3 months, so I\’m working on a post about them. Of course, it won\’t include any useful tips; just stupid sh*t my neighbor has said to me when trying to give me unsolicited advice since he did one RIGHT BEFORE I did my first one. 🙂

    1. You\’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but have you ever seen a Manatee run? They do, in fact, suck at it. They\’re certainly much better at not running (as am I, but I keep doing it for some reason).