Last month, our sponsored professional marathoner, Thessaly Nicolaysen, set down the law when it comes to running etiquette. She's ran 20+ marathons, and anyone who runs that many marathons is considered a professional to us. Now, read the extended version of Thessaly's M.O.

 

Blog #2.2 Thessaly's Modus Operandi (Extended).

By Thessaly Nicolaysen

NEO Thessaly2Okay, full disclosure, I know that there are a million articles out there that claim that by following the advice you will learn about “how to be a better runner,” but this article is a bit different. I say that because I won’t really delve into technique, nutrition, how to utilize your Garmin (of which I don’t have), picking the right shoes, calculating splits, etc. I am an anomaly in ALL of these areas because, quite frankly, I couldn’t care less about what other people swear by. In the spirit of remaining authentic, I’ll share what I have found works for me. Getting bogged down by making everything SO technical takes the joy out of the sport for me. While I love a good run as much as the next person, I have found that the definition of “good” varies from athlete to athlete. Let me start by saying that the most important element of running, and really of life, is to BE NICE. Never ever shame another runner, or another athlete. I would be amiss to neglect to express my opinion about how important it is to be nice to others, and to #alwaysseektoedify and encourage people. In my time spent at the gym, at my running club, and at races, I have come to learn how much a kind word does to help people, and how damaging critical looks or remarks can be. For example, when I am running on *my* treadmill (it belongs to the gym, but I claim it at my own since we have spent hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours together) I notice people around me. Oftentimes, there are people who come in, walk for 15 minutes, and go home. There are also other gym-goers who hop from machine to machine. There are those who utilize the gym to socialize. And there are others who spend a solid hour or two on one machine without much variation in their day-to-day routine (I’m not the only one that does this, but I definitely fall into this category). What I have observed is that in all of these categories, people are having their needs met. Each person has different goals, and is at a different place in their fitness journey. To judge (even internally making harsh or conversely jealous remarks) is potentially damaging to them, and is definitely damaging to you. I’m not a huge “karma” fanatic, but I AM a huge believer in the thought that when you are kind and optimistic, people notice and everyone benefits.

Before I offer my “modus operandi” I would strongly encourage you to be wise enough to know that your perception of “correct running” is different than others. What works for you is not what necessarily going to work for someone else. It is okay to offer advice when asked (receiving unsolicited advice is one of my biggest pet-peeves), but shaming how/why/when/how much someone else runs or works out is never okay. I would encourage you to learn about someone’s story and running history (or lack thereof) before spewing off unwarranted advice or “corrections” that they should make to their athletic endeavors. That being said, the following offering of tips is not the “best” or most correct list of suggestions for everyone. I know this, thus my disclaimer that what I am sharing is what I have found work for me.

  1. Learn what your “Mise en Place” is. What steps do you need to take in order to transition from non running mode to running mode? In my day-to-day running, I have a set routine that I follow in order to mentally prepare for that day’s run. There is a term used in professional cooking, that I relate to my pre-run routine. “Mise en place” is the “proper planning of equipment and ingredients for a food preparation and assembly station. (dictionary.com). This isn’t confirmed, but in my mind I think it means to have your miscellaneous things in place before you start what you’re doing to avoid unnecessary hangups. In running, I have utilized this to make the start of my daily run more effortless. For example, I have a routine that I follow before every run so I am able to switch from driving mode to running mode, and signal to my brain that it’s time to run.
  2. Learn the art of pairing. Create a positive connotation by pairing something you enjoy with running. For me, this means running while reading, listening to music, listening to a podcast, or watching TV (when I run is pretty much the only time I can watch Shark Tank, Survivor, or the news).
  3. NEO ThessalyMtRainer2Remember your reasons for running. Know why you run. When you are in a slump, consider your primary (or secondary) motivation for running. When you are running with a purpose, your desire to slack or skip a workout dissipates.
  4. Set and share your goals. A similar motivational strategy that I have found to be useful is to set a goal (or a few) to keep yourself excited about running and being physically active. When setting your goals, share them with people who you can trust to keep you enthusiastic and accountable. No one wants to give up and gain a public reputation as a quitter.
  5. You were designed to run. Confidence is so important. If this is your first run or your 10,000th run, remember that you are a human, meant to move. From an article posted on NBCnews.com I have gained a better understanding that I am built to be run and be active rather than sedentary. From the article we read, "’Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to do one thing: move,’ says James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic. In Rochester, Minn.” So, if you ever doubt your bodies ability, know that you were designed to run.
  6. Consistency is king. I have found that it is easier to do something all of the time rather than some of the time. What does this mean? When planning my day, I always factor in running. It is as important to me as going to work everyday. At this point, planning my daily run is second nature, and I always have a plan (and trust me, I know the best laid plans sometimes fail, so there is a contingency plan for a potential missed run factored in as well) for when I am going to run that day.
  7. NEO ThessalyAlways be kind and #alwaysseektoedify. Be nice. Negative self talk, shaming of other athletes, and harsh criticism is the kiss of death in a workout. As soon as you start with the negativity, it spirals, and everything becomes exponentially more difficult. Set yourself up for success by being positive, and by thinking and saying motivating and kind things to yourself about yourself and others.
  8. Before you quit, remember why you started. Push past the temptation to give up. When you quit, you learn how to quit. Once you give up once, it is easier to give up again and again and again. A quitter mentality is difficult (not impossible, but difficult) to overcome. Push yourself, and remember that when you quit, you aren’t just losing the progress you made that day, but you are setting yourself up for future failures because it will be easier to justify quitting the next time you are faced with discomfort or the desire to cut a workout short because it’s “too hard.”
  9. A fast marathon is easier than a slow marathon. Physically, it is tough to run fast, but prolonged time on your feet is more exhausting and painful than running a bit faster. My best races are run when I remember (and constantly remind myself when I am tempted to walk too much) that “the faster I run the sooner I’m done.”
  10. Slow progress is better than no progress. Slow progress is still progress. If you are just getting into running, or just coming back to the sport, it can be super discouraging to feel as though you aren’t improving at all. However, as previously noted, giving up is a major risk to your success. Push past the temptation to become discouraged and feel as though you aren’t making “quick enough” progress.
  11. Setbacks happen to all of us. The difference between a great runner and everyone else is your ability to become a #comebackqueen. Bad days happen. Injuries happen. Setbacks and unforeseen circumstances happen. When you are getting back into the habit running after a hiatus, have confidence in yourself. You’ve done it before, and you can do it again! Recall past victories and successes and hold on to those memories of good workouts, knowing full-well that you can make a comeback.
  12. NEVER shame another athlete. Ever. Remember, that running is supposed to be something you enjoy. If you find yourself hating everything about running, then maybe it’s not for you (as painful as it is for me to come to terms with, not everyone loves running). After giving your best effort for a consistent amount of time (at LEAST a month or two), if you hate the thought of running, hate it while you’re doing it, and hate it after you’ve finished, it might be a good idea to find a different sport/workout/exercise. My advice is to find something that makes you happy, challenges you, and keeps you active. For some people, maybe that means finding a group exercise class, or biking, hiking, swimming , or walking… Or perhaps rock climbing, yoga, or gymnastics is where you feel “at home.” Whatever it is … NEVER shame another athlete because their sport isn’t as ___________ (awesome, difficult, inspirational, praiseworthy, etc.) as yours.

I hope that something in this list resonates with you and encourages you to be the best athlete you can be! If nothing else, I hope that you remember that it is most important to be kind and #alwaysseektoedify those who are pursuing their fitness journey. As for me, it’s about time to jump on *my* treadmill for an awesome run.


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