Rules for runners: Skip the ice bath and other secrets
A Q&A with "experienced runner" and author Mark Remy. His witty collection of unspoken rules of running is in his book "The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a runner needs to know — and then some."
Runner's World.com executive editor Mark Remy is the kind of guy you'd want to go for a run with. A veteran marathoner with a childlike love for the sport, Remy would not judge you for wearing a cotton T-shirt, he thinks the whole pasta thing is overblown and he might offer a trite slogan just when you need it most.
Best of all, Remy loves running. To spread the gospel and to help non-runners and runners coexist peacefully, Remy has created a witty collection of the unspoken rules of the sport. They can be found in his new book "The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a runner needs to know — and then some."
Remy was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about "The Rule Book" and running culture.
Q: Which rule do you always end up breaking?
A: I wouldn't say I always end up breaking it, but ... probably Rule 1.47: Let Angry Motorists Go. When I have a close encounter with a driver — e.g., he or she rolls through a stop sign or blows around a corner without looking my way — it's awfully hard for me not to express my displeasure. Especially if that driver is on the phone. This is why I don't run with a large stick.
Q: Are runners a misunderstood group, and if so, why?
A: I think we are, sometimes, to non-runners. If you're a non-runner and you see some poor sap out there in searing heat and humidity or driving rain or a snowstorm, running hill repeats or a 20-miler or whatever, you're bound to find it puzzling. And actually, for a lot of runners, I think that puzzlement is a source of pride.
Q: Which rule or rule of thumb generated the most debate at Runner's World?
A: I would say Rule 1.20 — the one suggesting that ice baths are bunk. I know that many of my RW colleagues swear by ice baths after a long run or race. Not me. I still maintain that ice baths are an elaborate practical joke being played on runners: "Dude, you know what you should do after your run? (snicker) Go sit in a tub full of ice water. (snicker) No, seriously, it'll be great." I'm not falling for it!
Q: The running tips speak to experienced runners, novices and non-runners. How hard was that to pull off?
A: Well, that's gratifying to hear, because it's just what I was aiming for. Not that hard, really. As a former non-runner and novice, and current "experienced runner," I like to think I can relate to all three groups. Although I'm apparently still unable to refer to myself as an "experienced runner" without putting that phrase in quotation marks.
Q: Are you tempted to kindly tell people running in place at stop lights to relax?
A: Sometimes. Then I remember Rule 1.13: Keep Unsolicited Advice to Yourself. And I move on.
Q: What is the most annoying running habit?
A: Oh, boy. That's a subjective thing, I think — a dozen runners will have a dozen different answers. For my money, though, the most annoying habit has got to be overall obliviousness — runners who, for whatever reason, behave as if they're running in a vacuum. That's a broad, catchall habit that manifests itself in all sorts of annoying and even dangerous ways: sudden stops during a race, weaving around, cutting other runners off, etc. Pay attention to your surroundings!
Q: Why do you love running so much?
A: Where should I start? I love running's simplicity. I love the fact that it hurts sometimes. I love that our sport's stars are so accessible, and so down-to-earth. I love how a 45-minute run on a bad day can act like a "re-set" button, leaving me refreshed and energized. I love how each time I run a marathon, I swear them off forever — then keep signing up for marathons. I love that when I ran my first Boston and made the final turn onto Boylston Street to the finish, I cried. (What other sport packs that kind of emotional punch?) I love being part of such a fantastic global community; as a group, runners are the nicest bunch of people I've ever met. And I love being able to eat ice cream pretty much with impunity.
Q: Finally, thanks for the Farmer's Blow (aka Snot Rocket) instructions. I can never quite get it right.
A: You're very welcome. Just give me some distance until you've perfected it.
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.