guidelines to make running a little bit happier, healthier, and more fun for everyone
because the first rule of running = HAVE FUN
No other fact is so fundamental to running: Done properly, running is fun. Even when you do it improperly, running is still inherently, liberatingly fun. If you doubt this, just spend a few minutes watching a child or a dog in any wide open space. Their glee is instinctual and undeniable. I believe it was Aristotle who said, “Tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.” Enjoy it. After all, there aren’t many animal impulses that we can act on in public without getting arrested.
Run Like a Dog
My dog, a shepherd mix named Cooper, doesn’t care where we are or what time of day it is, or even what the weather is like. He doesn’t know what his resting heart rate is and rarely bothers to wear a watch. He just loves to run. And every time he does, his face and his body telegraph one simple message: This. Is. AWESOME. I’m runningrunningrunningrunning!
The “Run Like a Dog” Workout (Including Warmup and Cooldown) Walk 8 seconds. Trot 4 seconds. Stop. Sniff. Sprint 7 seconds. Freeze. Walk 5 seconds in any direction but forward. Stare 9 seconds. Lunge at rabbit. Double back, walk 3 seconds. Urinate. Repeat six times. Collapse on rug.
For Pete’s Sake, Stand Still at Red Lights
Sharks die when they stop moving. Runners do not. Keep this in mind next time you encounter a don’t walk sign at a busy intersection. There’s no need to jog in place or dance from foot to foot like you have to pee. Just chill. Wait a few moments. Note: If a nonrunner waiting with you at the crosswalk is dancing from foot to foot, he or she may indeed have to pee. Give this person wide berth.
Learn and Love The Farmer’s Blow
Mastering the farmer’s blow (or snot rocket) is a must for any runner. Here’s how to do it right: Breathe in through your mouth, like you’re gasping. Lay a forefinger against one nostril and compress firmly. Purse your lips. Cock your head slightly in the direction of the open nostril and exhale forcefully through your nose. Repeat with opposite nostril, if needed.
“Lookin’ good!”…and other runners’ lies
Lying is not something we normally endorse. But it’s perfectly acceptable to tell a runner that he is looking good at mile 19 of a marathon when, in fact, he looks like an insomniac who’s trying to sneeze, and is confused because someone has switched his running shoes with replicas made of concrete. The go-to lie is “Lookin’ good!” Or you could say, “If I weren’t so awed by the apparent ease with which you’re navigating this course, I might be angry with you for nearly knocking me unconscious with your very awesomeness!” The key is to say something. Even a zombie appreciates encouragement.
Running Rules of Thumb
1. If you see a porta potty with no line, use it. Even if you don’t need to.
2. If you have to ask yourself, Does this driver see me? The answer is no.
3. If you have to ask yourself, Are these shorts too short? The answer is yes.
4. 1 glazed doughnut = 2 miles
5. You rarely regret the runs you do; you almost always regret the runs you skip.
6. Not everyone who looks fast really is, and not everyone who looks slow really is.
7. Nobody has ever watched Chariots of Fire from beginning to end. Not even the people who made it.
8. You can never have too many safety pins on your gym bag.
9. Running any given route in the rain makes you feel 50 percent more hard-core than covering the same route on a sunny day.
10. If you care even a little about being called a jogger versus a runner, you’re a runner.
Never Leave a Man Behind… Unless He Insists He’s Okay with It
It’s fine to ask once or twice if a straggler is okay or if he wants you to slow down for him. Asking three or more times, however, is more likely to annoy than to help. Take the straggler at his word and run accordingly.
Smile at Your Critics
A few people will never miss a chance to tear running down, or jab its adherents in the chest with a rhetorical finger. Oddly enough, the most vocal of such critics are often in terrible health themselves.
“Bad for your joints,” they’ll jab.
“You’ll get arthritis,” they’ll jab.
“Running marathons?” they’ll ask, jabbingly, between sips of their Big Gulp. “That’ll kill ya.”
The best response is to continue running and loving it. Meantime, try inviting these critics to join you for a short run. Who knows? Maybe someday they’ll accept your invitation.
Remove Your Hat For The National Anthem
Manners and common courtesy apply, even during a race and even if your hat is made of technical sweat-wicking fabrics.
When Elastic Is Gone, Man, It Is Gone
Men, this one is for you. You paid good money for those shorts. You love those shorts. You’ve raced in those shorts. But sooner or later you will pull them on and feel roomy gaping where once there was a snug liner. This means that the elastic down there has gone slack. You will be tempted to wear them anyway. Don’t.
Never Miss a Chance To Thank a Volunteer
Even if you’re running the race of your life, you can still manage a bit of eye contact and a nod as you grab a cup of water from an outstretched hand. Even if it feels like your quads are quite literally on fire, you can manage to sputter a short “thanks” to the course marshal standing in the intersection. It will make the volunteer feel good. And you, too.
Adapted from The Runner’s Rule Book, by Mark Remy (Rodale). To order your copy, go to runnersrulebook.com/mag.