5 Things I’m Currently Hating On

By May 20, 2016 Rants
thigh gap jewelry, thigh gap, Anastasia date, tough baby names, A4 waist challenge, Samford Alpha Delta Pi

Until yesterday’s post about Sasha, I haven’t blogged in a minute for no other reason than good, old-fashioned laziness. The words float around my head but never land—they’re essentially a flock of annoying horseflies. Like the song Sail by Awolnation says, “Blame it on the ADD.”

But what better way to come out of a writing funk and sad mood than with a senseless Tanya Rant? You’ve all missed those, right? Right. And we all need a pissy party every now and then. Here goes.

Alpha Delta Pi Racist Shirt—This happened in Birmingham last week. And then this week,  they announced this. So let’s dissect this from the beginning—can someone please explain to me how someone at Alpha Delta Pi used The Google to find an image of Alabama, “borrowed” it, and it just so happened to have a racist image on it? And then everyone was like, “Yep, looks good to us!” And no one at Samford thought to tell the racist girls, “Hey, cut that shit out.” And clerical error my ass! I bet the vendor got paid big bucks to take the fall for this. This story stinks to high heaven of designer perfume. Damn it, Alabama! Quit making it so fucking hard to defend you to the rest of the world! The entire Greek system just needs to vanish, please.

thigh gap jewelry, thigh gap, Anastasia date, tough baby names, A4 waist challenge, Samford Alpha Delta Pi

What says “end-of-year formal?” This state map, of course.

Anastasiadate.com—All of a sudden, my TV has been blowing up with Anastasiadate.com commercials. The first time I saw the commercial, I nervously giggled, thinking it was a joke. Then by the 100th time it aired, I wanted to punch the actors in the throat. “What will she look like this time?” Human. “What will she be doing?” Human stuff. Is buying mail-order brides a thing again? Or is this site the 2016 legal version of prostitution? Fellow Ukrainians and Russians, come on now! Have some self respect! You’re making the rest of us look bad! For shame. This Tatiana is one angry Eastern European.

thigh gap jewelry, thigh gap, Anastasia date, tough baby names, A4 waist challenge, Samford Alpha Delta Pi

I am yourrrrs forrrreverrrr (in heavy Russian accent)

Thigh gap jewelry—Loyal readers know how much I abhor thigh gaps. If not, you can catch up here and here. So it should come as no surprise that thigh gap jewelry would set me over the edge. What the actual fuck is this? I mean, really. It’s glittery jewelry to accentuate your lack of thigh meat. For the low, low price of $200, you can own a shiny jewelry penis that sways gently in the breeze that blows in the chasm of your thigh gap.

thigh gap jewelry, thigh gap, Anastasia date, tough baby names, A4 waist challenge, Samford Alpha Delta Pi

How…sophisticated

#A4waistchallenge—I thought I had seen everything with the aforementioned cavalcade of craziness. Then I stumbled upon the #A4 Waist Challenge. Read it. Absorb it. Did your brain just explode? Paper is for writing. Waists and hips are for storing food and baby-birthing. Not for hiding behind a stupid rectangle! If that’s not some fucked-up body image issue, then I don’t know what is. Sigh.

thigh gap jewelry, thigh gap, Anastasia date, tough baby names, A4 waist challenge, Samford Alpha Delta Pi

Oh man, can you see me behind that itty bitty piece of paper? No shit you can!

Tough Baby Names—I happened upon this article the other day (as a “You May Also Like,” not because I was searching for baby names). As I read it, my blood pressure slowly rose. How incredibly, disgustingly sexist is it to assume the name you pick for your child will determine their personality? Your son will be whoever the fuck he wants to be, whether you name him Jagger, or William, or Angel. And I’m not even going to touch on the fact that a boy has to be “tough.” I hope with all my heart that baby Axel turns into a fabulous, sweet, loving little boy. And his parents weep over the lost dreams of their leather-clad child who eats snails and pulls puppy dog tails.

thigh gap jewelry, thigh gap, Anastasia date, tough baby names, A4 waist challenge, Samford Alpha Delta Pi

Just look at this little shit-kicker – bet his name is Rambo

Your turn—what has your panties in a bunch recently?

A Husky Only A Mommy Could Love

By May 19, 2016 Positive Thoughts
siberian husky, husky, husky death,

IMG_9468Last Friday, we had to put our Husky, Sasha, to sleep. It was very sudden and unexpected, and I’ve spent the past week living in a numb shock. Mixed with bouts of ugly crying.

I feel the urge to write about Sasha and share her stories—writing is how I process the world. But how can you sum up a decade of life with a Husky? Impossible. So I’m just going to blurt out some memories, slap on some photos, and hope it’s coherent.

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

Sasha and her trash bag raincoat

There aren’t any adjectives to properly describe Sasha. My go-to was always, “She’s just…Sasha.” And if you had ever spent even a few moments with her, you understood what I meant. Sasha was completely off her rocker. She was smart as a whip and knew right from wrong—deliberately choosing to do wrong every.single.time. Always while wearing her shit-eating grin. Because life was more fun that way.

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

“Bet you can’t find what surprise I left you today!”

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

Crazy face

Sasha was my first real responsibility. My first unsolvable challenge. My first mistake. Right off the bat, she taught us that college kids moving across the country had no business getting a Husky puppy. We were reminded of that over, and over, and over, and over. Every day I’d slowly approach the garage door with one eye open, bracing myself for whatever destruction she had inflicted upon the house.

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

How she got past that enclosure is a mystery

But like any “oops baby” (oh yes, grief does not suddenly make me into a better person), she was ultimately my best decision and worth all the heartache and drama. From Day One, we were the best of friends. Partners in crime. Bonnie and Clyde. She was my personality trapped in a furry body.

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

Sasha loved selfies

It was Sasha’s mission in life to cause mischief. As a puppy, she would greet us with a variety of practical jokes—standing on top of countertops, bringing 5-lb sacks of potatoes to her bed, biting the caps off an entire case of bottled water. Even at 10, she personified an ADHD child with sugar coursing through her veins. Always stomping, always talking, always wanting things exactly her way. Or else.

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

Leaving not-so-little presents

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

Creepin’ on Thanksgiving dinner

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

Rolling in dead things during a party

Sasha also had a heart of gold. She loved everything and everyone. Especially me. Every evening between 8 and 9 was “kiss o’clock”—she’d hunt me down and bathe me in sandpaper-tongue kisses. When I’d come home from trips, she’d climb into my lap and cry inconsolably. She really was a Husky only a mommy could love, and she loved me hard in return.

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

So

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

Many

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

Kisses

Losing Sasha has been harder than I imagined—but in a weird way. The pain of realizing she was sick and having to put her down was terrible. It was fast and sharp and knocked the breath out of me. But the times I’ve blissfully forgotten what happened and come home expecting to see her bounding around the corner with that gigantic grin—that pain has been much worse. Putting away her food bowl forever. Finding her fur on my shirt. Rescuing her broken tennis ball from under the couch one last time. That pain is deep, agonizing, and terrible.

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

Sasha and her flying saucer in a rare, quiet moment

I know everyone thinks they have the best dog. And that may be true. But I had a Sasha, and she was The Best.

If there is a doggie heaven, I hope you’re up there raising absolute hell, good girl.

siberian husky, husky, husky death,

My silly Husky

Practicing Portion Control with Chobani Simply 100 Crunch

By April 18, 2016 100 Miler Training, Advertising/Branding, Nom Noms, Products
Chobani, Simply 100, Simply 100 Crunch, Greek yogurt, portion control, trail runner, ultra running, Cascade Crest 100, 100-miler training

Y’all. I have a (not so) serious problem. I love food. I am incapable of portion control. I clearly need to always be actively training to run stupid-long distances, because I always eat as if I am about to run 100 miles.

This is fantastic when I’m actually training for ultras, because I properly fuel with enormous amounts of vegan and vegetarian goodies. And nachos. And coffee. However, while my body may take breaks between races, my appetite doesn’t. I cannot seem to stop myself from eating all the things, all the time. 

Chobani, Simply 100, Simply 100 Crunch, Greek yogurt, portion control, trail runner, ultra running, Cascade Crest 100, 100-miler training

Story of my life

You’d think that cooking with only veggies and grains, this wouldn’t be a huge problem. And you’d be correct. Except that I also pay no attention to serving sizes. In Tanya’s world, there are two serving sizes—zero food, lots of food. There is no middle ground. “This meal serves 5-8.” “Healthy dinner for the whole family.” Ok, get in my belly. I mean, they call them serving suggestions for a reason. Right? My personalities and I can count as a family, so let’s dig in!

Chobani, Simply 100, Simply 100 Crunch, Greek yogurt, portion control, trail runner, ultra running, Cascade Crest 100, 100-miler training

…a family of four with hearty appetites…

Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in me trying (but not really, if we’re being honest) to lose the same pesky 10 post-Pinhoti pounds since the holidays. Pounds that had once been solid muscle have since melted into cottage cheese-y cellulite goodness. Topped with freshly ground black pepper and a dash of sea salt.

Full disclosure—I’ve always been insatiable. I’ve won food-eating competitions, been cut off at all-you-can-eat restaurants, and can pack away ungodly amounts of mashed potatoes. Alas, I was young and had a decent metabolism back then. Now I need to do silly things like work out and run for days on end to counteract my caloric intake.

Chobani, Simply 100, Simply 100 Crunch, Greek yogurt, portion control, trail runner, ultra running, Cascade Crest 100, 100-miler training

#truth

So since my stomach and my brain aren’t in agreement on what constitutes proper portion control, I jumped for joy when Chobani asked me to check out their Simply 100 line of Greek yogurt. A cup full of Greek yogurt and crunchy things that’s already portioned out for me? Ch’yea, Chobani!

Chobani, Simply 100, Simply 100 Crunch, Greek yogurt, portion control, trail runner, ultra running, Cascade Crest 100, 100-miler training

Shame that smell-o-vision isn’t a thing yet – this mango yogurt smells delightful

There are some foods I just can’t give up forever (looking at you, mac & cheese and pulled pork), which is why I consider myself a convenient vegan. Greek yogurt is also one of those non-negotiable foods I always have on hand. I love me some plain, full-fat, Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream, mayo, milk, cream, cream cheese, etc. It has a boatload of protein, which is a huge win if you’re not always eating meat—I assume because Greek cows produce more protein-y milk? Must be that Mediterranean diet.

Chobani, Simply 100, Simply 100 Crunch, Greek yogurt, portion control, trail runner, ultra running, Cascade Crest 100, 100-miler training

When I eat these, I basically become a Greek goddess

Luckily, Cascade Crest 100 training kicks off any day now, so my eating habits will once again be warranted. But despite running a billion miles a day, I’m going to try to make a conscious effort to keep my eating under control. Noshing on Chobani paired with some fruit will help keep the midday hangry away fo sho.

Chobani, Simply 100, Simply 100 Crunch, Greek yogurt, portion control, trail runner, ultra running, Cascade Crest 100, 100-miler training

Tested and approved by dogs everywhere

Though who am I kidding? Next I want to search for Birmingham’s best tacos. Stay tuned and send me your suggestions!

What to Pack for an Ultra Marathon

By March 17, 2016 100 Miler Training, 50 Miler Training, 50k Training, Running, Ultra Training
How to Pack for an Ultramarathon, ultra running drop bags, what to bring to an ultra marathon, trail running, ultra running,

The unofficial kickoff to trail running season is only a few days away in the Deep South. Birmingham has the Oak Mountain 50k, and Alabama’s first 100 of the year (and 50 and 27-mile “fun run”) will be at Lake Martin. So, basically, this weekend we will have ALL THE ULTRAS!

With a new racing season come new ultra runners who are probably trying to soak up every ounce of advice they can. Or at least that’s how I was.

After a few years of trial-and-error and “Oh shit, I forgot X” and “Ugh, why did I bring Y,” I feel like I have my ultra packing list pretty much set in stone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about what to bring to your ultra (and I didn’t piss you off with my post on how to ultra), here’s a peek at what I pack inside my drop bag:

Diaper cream—Slather your feet in this butt salve to ward off blisters

How to Pack for an Ultramarathon, ultra running drop bags, what to bring to an ultra marathon, trail running, ultra running,

I swear up, down, and sideways by this

Batteries—A dim headlamp is dangerous, and a dead phone battery is demoralizing (for me, at least)

How to Pack for an Ultramarathon, ultra running drop bags, what to bring to an ultra marathon, trail running, ultra running,

Chris and Rachel gifted me the best thing ever – this external battery pack

Needle—Pop those nasty-ass blisters if they become too troublesome

VaselineFor when your special bits start to chafe

How to Pack for an Ultramarathon, ultra running drop bags, what to bring to an ultra marathon, trail running, ultra running,

Unsterile safety pin and duct tape for the inevitable infection said pin will cause

Wet wipes—Way more gentle on your aforementioned chafed bottom than leaves or grass

How to Pack for an Ultramarathon, ultra running drop bags, what to bring to an ultra marathon, trail running, ultra running,

Only the best for your ass

Extra socks—Trust me—take those extra few moments and change your socks

How to Pack for an Ultramarathon, ultra running drop bags, what to bring to an ultra marathon, trail running, ultra running,

Lately I’ve been obsessed with Bridgedale and Hilly socks

Scissors—For any wardrobe malfunctions or extraneous limbs that get in the way

How to Pack for an Ultramarathon, ultra running drop bags, what to bring to an ultra marathon, trail running, ultra running,

Headless Helen will gladly help rid you of unnecessary appendages

Favorite snack—Nothing lifts your spirits like a morsel of your favorite food in the middle of the race

Caffeine—Espresso beans, Red Bull, caffeinated Gu are worth their weight in gold at 2 a.m.

Ziplock bags—Toss some aid station food into these suckers to create your own custom trail mix and keep moving during the race

How to Pack for an Ultramarathon, ultra running drop bags, what to bring to an ultra marathon, trail running, ultra running,

Running an ultra, or nursing a curious case of the munchies?

Ginger chews—Settle an upset stomach before it derails your race

Sodium—S Caps, Tailwind, McDonald’s salt packets, ocean water—stay salty, my friends!

Whiskey—I have found that sipping on the good stuff both during and after races is quite enjoyable

How to Pack for an Ultramarathon, ultra running drop bags, what to bring to an ultra marathon, trail running, ultra running,

Something sweet, something spicy, something sodium-y, and an alcoholic pup

Seasoned racers—what do you think? Anything I’m missing?

How to Pack for an Ultramarathon, ultra running drop bags, what to bring to an ultra marathon, trail running, ultra running,

All the other things that live permanently in my trunk/drop bag

The Exodus from the Road to the Trails

By March 11, 2016 Running, Trail Running, Ultra Training
road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

I’ve noticed a recent phenomenon that I feel compelled to address, because it’s a topic near and dear to my heart. And because I have an opinion about everything. But it may sound like I’m being an elitist bitch (if the running shoe fits…), so I brought my Colorado-based ultra running superstar runabler, Heidi, into the fray for a slightly different perspective. Warning: we’re both talkers – snag some coffee before settling in!

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

We also both love to act like children

There appears to be a mass exodus from the roads to the trails. More importantly, there seems to be a significant increase in the number of runners wanting to do ultra marathons.

Which is great! There is always room for one more in the woods (if not, we kill them and leave them for the coyotes) [#truth], and I’m so glad that runners are expanding their goals and wanting to run previously-unfathomable distances.

And, how can we blame you. The trails are awesome. They aren’t the end-all-be-all of running, but they do come with nature and mountains and dirt and cool people and Rice Krispie Treats and more dirt and scenery and hot chocolate and rocks and wild critters and…a lot of awesome things! Get your butt out on the trails, take it all in, enjoy every moment you have out there [except the ones that suck…wait until your selective memory kicks in to truly enjoy those moments]. Mother Nature is the bomb dot com, scope her out on your feet. You [probably] won’t regret it.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Heidi is a true Mountain Ultra Napper

I love the trails. I want you to love the trails. I also want you to survive on the trails without hating me or yourself. More selfishly, I absolutely do NOT want you to make any silly mistakes or over/under calculations that will keep me off the trail, for any reason. Trails will rock your socks off [literally, if you’re lucky] but they are NOT easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Ultras are not nearly as simple as they appear to be on social media. Don’t be fooled by the cheesy grins and finish line leaps—it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Ultras command a lot of time and dedication and blood and tears and respect. Mostly respect. We work our asses off  to make it look (somewhat) easy. Like those new Under Armour commercials circulating right now. We do it for the Insta.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Lisa and I crashed to the ground and cried after this epic leap

Don’t quite believe me? My buddy Chris has one of my favorite “trail newbie” stories—he’s become kind of a legend in town for his innocent ignorance and idiocy on his first trail run. Long story short, here’s how he described his run:

Ran up hills like I thought I was some sort of King and then bonked hardcore mile 12. Howard Greg was out there too. Nursed me back to life with water & Gu.

I think I ate a pickle before the run.

I had done Tough Mudder before, so obviously I was ready for ultras.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Trail runs still tire Chris out

Boom. That’s the mentality that is a no-no in the woods. That’s what will get you hurt, or worse, laughed at. That’s what I want to try and fix.

So, being one of the ultra-loudmouths in the ‘Ham, I decided to bring you this handy cheat-sheet/wake-up call/come-to-Jesus moment:

Change your mindset

If you’re used to a serious training regimen, pay close attention. Trails are a totally different animal. Yes, it’s still running. But it’s not about mileage or pace or PRs. It’s about effort and time on feet and having fun. You may bust your ass for two hours and only get 7 miles. That’s ok! That’s two hours on your feet and a healthy dose of reality about how trail miles + road miles are NOT the same thing!

Also, it’s perfectly fine to walk. In fact, practicing power hiking is encouraged, and will often allow you to blow past stubborn slow runners on a race course. Walking on hills isn’t weak, it’s smart because you know you need to save energy for those remaining 40 miles of hills ahead.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Seasoned trail runners walking a hill in a race

Unless you’re an elite [if you are…I can’t help you, I’m so far from an elite I don’t even get to admire the asses + hamstrings of the slow elites!] you’re not going to give a flying fuck about your numbers when you’re out on the trails. Okay, that’s a slight lie—you might care in the beginning, but when things go awry, [don’t worry, they eventually will] the only number you’re truly going to care about is the cutoff time at the next aid station or the percentage of battery you have left on your headlamp when you’re in the middle-of-nowhere at dark o’clock.

This is very different from the average road runner’s view on running—and yes, I think I’m allowed to make that generalization; I ran exclusively on roads for years and every single 0.02 counted, damnit! At first, it was weird to ignore the numbers, but now the lack of regard I have toward the numbers is a huge part of how + why I love the trails. Plus, the best part of trail running how easy it is to become a plain ol’ hiker if the trail is kicking your butt when there’s someone there to see you struggle…a great cue to reign it in + perfect the power hike!

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

This.

Choose trails wisely

So while your weekly runs may look different than what you’re used to, you still have to train. Arguably way harder than you train for road races. But it’ll be a different kind of hard. A harder hard. A morning wood hard (blah, road running) vs drunken wood hard (yay, endurance trail running!).

A road is a road, whether it’s hilly or flat or cambers to the right or has potholes. However, not all trails are created equal. Dirt ≠ trail. Gravel roads ≠ trail. Unless that’s the type of terrain you’ll be racing on, then it actually does = trail. But you get the gist of it. Select a variety of trails that best mimic the race course you’ll be running, so that come Race Day you’ll be confident in your abilities to not kill yourself.

And if you’re not training for a race but just trying to get your booty out on the trails because it sounds badass…wander around on the trails close to you; you’ll find a few that really challenge you. Those are the trails that’ll change you as a runner! Or so I’m told; I’m still running down technical, rocky trails in an attempt to become a faster descender. The jury is still out…

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Heidi also adheres to SOTO (Skies Out Thighs Out)

Get uncomfortable

Let’s be honest—outside of purposely-tough workouts and races, road running isn’t all that uncomfortable. It often allows you to blissfully zone out for the duration of your run, where nothing matters but the sound of your breath and the pounding of your feet and the sleepy chatter of your friends. We have all shuffled our way through early morning runs without being fully awake. Hell, half the time I’m able to crawl back into bed as if my run had never happened.

But try doing that on a trail, and you’ll be eating a mouthful of dirt for breakfast. Trails require you to be hyper-present in the moment, with your mind going full speed watching for every single rock and root and snake that can roll your ankle. They require you to problem-solve as you’re figuring out the best way to power-hike a hill while taking in calories while not throwing up your intestines. They take your body to an entirely new level of discomfort. Your legs scream and your upper body aches in ways you never thought were possible, and you’re hungry and nauseous and delirious and more tired than you have ever been in your life. Yet you keep moving forward toward that finish line, because that’s what ultra runners do. They suffer through the most miserable conditions and emotions, and come out on the other side alive. Barely.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

What happens when you don’t pay attention and then need to go 2 miles back to your car

Well, now Heidi wants to know what the hell she’s doing wrong with this marathon training thing she’s attempting. My brain gets so bored on road runs that my feet fall asleep + give up on life! Okay, slight exaggeration, but seriously, since I started running more trails, I seriously struggle on the roads…and I’m pretty sure this is a two-way street. You’ll also struggle with the aspects of trail running you don’t get on the roads. That’s okay! Own the struggle, strengthen those stabilizer muscles [or own those trail-tumble scars] + cut yourself some slack! Oh, and open your mind to the sufferfest; it’s a painful bitch but it is precisely what keep us coming back for more. The human mind is weird. The ultra mind is a tiny bit broken.

Put in the time

Yes, physically you can tackle the mileage of an ultra. No one doubts your abilities. But can you handle it potentially taking twice as long as you’ve ever been on your feet? Do you know what to do when your legs say, “Nope. I’m done.” but you still have a long way to go? The secret to ultra running is that it’s 80% mental. You need to build confidence out there in them woods. Where to put your foot. How to navigate roots. How to bomb a downhill. How to eat without puking. How to finish when every fiber of your being wants to sit down and quit. And you can’t learn that any other way than with a shit-ton of practice. It requires countless hours and miles of successes and failures and trial and error to train your body both physically and mentally.

Revise your hydration and fuel plan

You will eat approximately 5 times the calories and drink 5 times the water on the trails. Plan accordingly. A single Gu tucked into your pocket won’t cut it anymore. You’ll find yourself either munching on a handful of those Hunger Games berries or sacrificing your calorie-depleted body to a pack of wild turkeys. Who apparently eat humans? Embrace your inner sherpa, invest in a water bottle or hydration pack, and stuff it full of enough food and water to survive two weeks in the woods. Yes, aid stations look close on a map, but it may take you 1.5 hours to go those four miles. And you’ll be happy you carried all the things when you bonk in-between said aid stations.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Snow counts as hydration, right?

Buy the shoes

Yes, you already have a closet full of smelly sneakers. Yes, you should get another pair. A trusty pair of trail shoes will drain quickly and efficiently after your water crossings. They’ll offer you the right amount of stability and cushioning. They’ll make you strong like a bull. Do you need them to successfully run an ultra? No. But your banged-up and swollen piggies will thank you for your purchase. Especially since as a noob you’ll be looking more like a newborn fawn and less like Sage Canaday out there.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

I always entrust my feet to Brooks Cascadias

Get muddy

You’re running in the woods. Woods have dirt. When it rains, dirt becomes mud. What do you do? Run through the mud! Outside the fact that being covered from head-to-toe in mud makes you look badass, running on the trail itself instead of tiptoeing like a ballerina around the puddles prevents trail erosion. Because, believe it or not, these trails didn’t just appear. People worked hard to create them, and by stepping off the trail itself you’re both damaging the delicate forest ecosystem and giving those trail volunteers a big Eff You. If you don’t want to get dirty, stay out of the woods.

Don’t even get me started on this one…I have no room for cutesy sass here. Stay on the damn trail! I don’t care how new your shoes are or how prone you are to blisters [this is where that pack-all-the-things mentality comes in handy – throw in a pair of extra socks or blister pads…yes, you have room!]. I don’t care what the 10 people in front of you did, do NOT be that person. Instead, show the 10 people behind you how feasible it is to preserve the trails + respect the wilderness by going THROUGH the mud. It’s a basic Leave No Trace principle and, quite frankly, if you’re committing to spending time in the wilderness then you need to commit a little time to perusing lnt.org. #endrant #sorrynotsorry

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

That goes for obstacles, too. Climb over them!

Don’t litter

This hurts my insides to write. It seems so obvious, but yet apparently it isn’t. When you’re out in the woods (or anywhere, for that matter), practice Leave No Trace principles and do.not.litter. Don’t leave your banana or orange peels on the ground. Don’t throw your Gu packet over your shoulder. Don’t leave your poopy toilet paper under a rock. Don’t hang onto your cup of Mountain Dew and then drop it when you’re done drinking. There is no magical Trash Fairy flying around picking up after you. There are volunteers, but they’re keeping you alive, not picking up your shit. Shove your trash into your handheld, vest, pack, bra, shorts, socks, and toss it as soon as you can.

Or, make yourself a “bio bag.” It’s simple—snag a resealable bag from your kitchen + a roll of fluorescent green duct tape from the junk drawer then force them to become besties. Wrap the duct tape around the resealable bag and blammy, you have a place for your TP + tampons + gross things and no one is the wiser. Well, I’ll know what it’s for but I’ll also know not to touch it because I’m only cool with my own gross when it comes to bio bags. Just keep it easily accessible and use it, always!

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Heidi’s “Come on! Pick up your shit!” face.

Respect the sport

The trail community as a whole comes across as being pretty chill. And hell, we are chill. But don’t mistake that for laziness. It takes a lot of fucking hard work.

On paper, the jump from a marathon to a 50k is fairly simple. More of a hop, really. And the difference between a 50k and 50-miler looks more difficult, but manageable. But stop for a moment and consider the actual distance you’re about to embark on. You wouldn’t tell a new runner it’s “easy” to go from a 10k to a marathon, would you? You’re putting your body through a hell of a lot physically and mentally with each passing mile. Respect the distance and go in as prepared as possible.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Sometimes “running” means descending slick, narrow stairs on the side of a mountain in a downpour

And if you’re a seasoned runner looking to go from a 50-miler to a 100-miler, that’s a whole separate beast. And blog post. Because something happens at mile 51 where your body goes, “What the actual fuck, dude?” and starts to fight you in every way possible. So when you start thinking about a 100, you better pull up your britches and get on your sufferfest, because it ain’t going to be pretty, kids.

Don’t forget to keep in mind ultras have their own set of “norms.” For example, miles. Sure, you signed up for a 50K which is technically 31.06 miles, but do not be surprised when you end up running 32 miles. Or 34 or 35 or 36 miles. When you’re running on trails, you can’t just stop randomly when you hit the “finish” distance, you have to go to the next trailhead…so courses run long. And what about that time you took the wrong turn and got lost? There is no lead biker or cheering spectators to keep you on course; you’ll be on your own more than once and getting lost is a real possibility. Be prepared for extra miles, both mentally and physically. Really, it’s just one more excuse to buy that running pack you’ve been eyeballing…

Run these races

Man, if only there were some way to train for an ultra safely and locally…Oh wait! There is! David and Marye Jo Tosch run the Southeastern Trail Series from April to November, where the races increase in distance and difficulty, culminating in a 25k, 50k, and for the first time ever this year, a 50!

I love these two to death, and I love their races in a sadistic way. I’ve been running and writing about these races for the past three years, and they don’t ever get easier. David is a seemingly innocent-looking man with flowing white hair and rosy cheeks. Who also happens to revel in making runners suffer as much as possible in as few miles as possible. But just when you’re using your last ounce of energy to curse him, you cross the finish line and come upon Marye Jo’s smiling face and cheerful demeanor. And you forget how much the race sucked. And you do it again next month.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Birmingham’s favorite running couple

So if you want to build up to 25k, 50k, or 50 miles by the end of the year, do this series. It’s the perfect gateway drug into ultra running.

If you’re a badass female in the Southeast and want to dip your toe into trail running, come on out to our Women’s Trail Running Retreat on April 16th. It’ll be a full day of all-you-can-digest trail running madness. With the coolest gals in town.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Come join us!

Trust me, I get it. Road running is hard and competitive and mind-numbing. Trails are relaxed and fun and breathtaking. And hard (and sometimes dangerous) as fuck. Don’t ever forget that. This all comes down to one thing—safety. You are no longer in Kansas, Toto. There is no air conditioning to escape to and no one to flag down and drive you back to your car. Most of the time there’s not even cell service to call your knight in shining armor for help. I have seen multiple times what happens if you have an emergency in the woods. Spoiler alert—you are royally fucked. And accidents happen to the best of us, me included, but not being prepared is a bad reason to send EMTs looking for you.

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Shit happens

 

At the end of the day, you be you be you be you, but for the sake of everyone else out there, please be a responsible, self-aware version of you when you’re out on the trails living up life. Make mistakes, but learn from them. Be that person that does that thing, but acknowledge it. Poop behind a tree, but don’t leave TP. Puke on a hard run, but hydrate + eat after resetting that pissed off tummy of yours. Set some kickass goals, but be realistic when your body plays its nope card. Have fun, but don’t be a jerk. No one likes a jerk. (Especially not Tanya, who may purposely try and trip you).

road running versus trail running, how to become a trail runner, how to run an ultra marathon, Heidi Kumm, runaroundroo, trail running, ultra running, Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, Southeastern Trail Series,

Don’t be the guy we all laugh at

So check your ego at the trailhead, and we’ll see you out there!

Top
%d bloggers like this: