Out There: The 6 Deadly Sins Of Running

Technology offers lots of great tools for runners, but you don't necessarily need fancy gadgets to be fast.

Here are some common runner transgressions, and how to repent.

Some say that running is akin to a religious experience. After all, runners have rituals (you know you have at least a few) and observed holy days (Boston Marathon, anyone?). Runners also sin, and that can upset the Endurance Gods. Here are some common runner transgressions, and how to repent.

SIN: “I just made the biggest mistake of my life. I signed up for my first half marathon.”

Confusing hemorrhoid cream with toothpaste is a mistake. Getting drunk and flashing your former high-school principal at a bar is a big mistake. But signing up for your first distance race? That’s not a mistake – that’s freakin’ awesome.

REPENT: No one held a gun up to your head and forced you to sign up for the race. You did this all on your own, buddy. No one’s taking pity on you. In fact, they’re secretly admiring you. Now stop whining and start training – you’ve got a race coming up!

SIN: “I could be a lot faster, if only I had (insert name of fancy gear).”

A tricked-out watch and silver-lined shorts can make you look fancy and make you a lot more comfortable, but they won’t make you faster. The only thing that makes you faster is hard work. Don’t use your clothing and gear as an excuse for not improving.

REPENT: Google images of old-school runners and check out what they’re wearing (Cotton! Terry cloth! WOOL!). Once you’re done giggling, thank the Endurance Gods that most races give out moisture-wicking tech tees these days.

SIN: “#livetweet #marathon mi 15. My MP3 is playing Pitbull and OMG I am TIRED! Catch you at mi 18! LOL! #thisishard”

Running is a great thing — your body is accomplishing something amazing! Rather than be distracted by all your technology, soak in the full experience of your race. Stopping in the middle of a race to take a photo or shoot off a text is not only distracting you from the true race experience, it’s dangerous to the runners behind you who are moving forward when you’re -ahem- not.

REPENT: During your race, delegate the photo-taking-Twitter-updating role to one of your spectathletes. Post-race, take back your phone and tweet pictures of your black toenail and celebratory beer (whether or not they’re in the same photo frame is up to you).

SIN: “I only do flat and fast courses.”

Why, why, WHY would you deprive yourself of the variety of terrain that running has to offer? Sure, hills can be challenging, but they’re also in some of the most beautiful places the world has to offer. Besides, as Frank Shorter said, “hills are speedwork in disguise.”

REPENT: Pick out a hillier race and train for it. Have fun and feel extra-badass at the finish line. Write me a thank-you note. When you’re recovered, go back to your flat-and-fast race. Set a PR. Write me another thank-you note (include gifts of money, beer, and/or cupcakes this time).

SIN: “I signed up for a marathon in six weeks! That’s enough time to get ready, right?”

You can’t fake a marathon, kid. Don’t even try. You’ve got to respect the distance. People who try to attempt the 26.2 without adequately building up to it in the weeks and months beforehand quickly find that Madam Marathon knocks them off their feet, stands on their chest, spits on their neck, and hollers, “SAY MY NAME!” Ahem…Madam Marathon’s a wee bit of a dominatrix.

REPENT: Forfeit your bib number and volunteer at a water station instead. Start training for next year’s marathon with base miles, tempo runs, and hill runs — it’s the running equivalent of taking Madam Marathon out for dinner and a couple glasses of wine before suggesting you both go back to your place.

SIN: “I don’t have time to run.”

You had time to read this column, don’t you?

REPENT: Put down the magazine and go for a run. I’ll still be here when you get back. Promise.

This column first appeared in the June 2012 issue of Competitor magazine.

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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