Holiday Gift Guide for Runners, Fitness Buffs or the Wannabe in your Life

If you’re anything like me, I’m a terrible procrastinator for gift giving. Relying on gift guides have saved me a few times in the past and I’m hoping I can share some of my favorites and save you some angst going into this holiday season.

Here are a few of my recommendations for the runner, fitness buffs and wannabes in your life! And grab some for yourself while you’re at it 😉.

For the world traveler (like me):

 

  • Topo Designs

Topo Designs durable bags and outerwear that have a lifetime guarantee. Quality gear that will get your loved one (or you) to and from all your adventures.

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  • Solepack

Solepack is based out of NYC. They have created a novel concept for a bag accessory to carry your kicks. It attaches to the outside of your backpack with a couple simple snaps, keeping your dirty shoes separate and without taking up space inside your bag.

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  • Hello Regalo

Hello Regalo is a wearable pocket that uses one of the strongest magnets to keep all your goods on you and keep you hands free. The pocket is water resistant and keeps your money, credit cards, keys, phone and more, safe and dry so you can focus on your activity with peace of mind.

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  • Janji

Janji based in Boston, MA, designs running activewear with collections that ties back to traveling and running around the planet. And not only do they create unique and inspired patterns, 10% of the proceeds is put towards a clean water initiative for developing countries. Shop and give back, it’s a win-win.

For the Fashionista:

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  • Zella by Nordstrom

Zella by Nordstrom is one of my favorite activewear lines. First, they produce long lasting garments. Second, the products are stylish while at the same time comfortable, you’ll even forget you are wearing them until you are reminded when you get that compliment, “I love those leggings. Where are they from?”

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  • JORD wood Watches

JORD Wood Watches are sustainable watches, designed by artists for the people who have places to be. The modern designs are stunning pieces of work that are eye-catching but also perfect for the minimalist, apres workout.

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  • Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices creates activewear that are simple but cozy and functional. They are perfect for that inner child within the adult who enjoys running, yoga, or just having a mocha latte.

For the one who cares about inner and outer health:

  • FRE Skincare

FRE Skincare has specifically thought of a skincare line for the woman who works out. They have developed a 100% vegan and cruelty-free line for the athletic woman to help maintain a healthy aesthetic. The line consists of a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer that takes into account the process of sweat and helps keep a fresh and blemish free face. I have just recently started using their products and have felt a noticeable, positive difference during and post workouts in hydration and reduced skin irritation. FRE is a MUST skincare routine for women that sweat. GET 25% off on your first FRE set by using my code WANDERLUST, valid only for the next 48 hours!

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  • ApexM

ApexM has created a unique mild muscle stimulator to help naturally build efficiency of female pelvic floor muscles. Hitting my mid-30’s and staying healthy is important to me, inside and out. As a healthcare professional, I know the waitlist to see a women’s health physical therapist can be extraordinarily long for those who suffer from urinary incontinence. This tool can be discreetly used at home while providing effective results for those with urinary or sexual health issues. As a woman and an athlete, I think that is pretty awesome.

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  • Legend Compression Wear

Legend Compression Wear  I’ve talked several times about my love for the Legend Compression Brand. They provide Graduated Compression Technology that helps to improve efficiency during activity and recovery following. Use this link to get $15 OFF!

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  • Invisii

Invisii has developed revolutionary workout underwear. Light-weight, breathable, comfortable and hygienic, essentials for sport underwear. They allow workouts to happen without riding up or embarrassing smells, which are real problems any woman who is active is aware of and now no longer has to suffer from.

 

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  • Roll Recovery

Roll Recovery designed out of Boulder, CO by a runner and cyclist, has developed award winning massage and recovery products for endurance athletes. I’m obsessed with my R3.

For the one who needs a little extra motivation:

  • Mind Over Matter Athlete

Mind Over Matter Athlete out of Houston, TX, brings the inspiration and motivation to life with their leisure wear and tri-kit catch phrase concepts like Mind Over Matter, I’m All Heart, and Leave No Doubt. Use the code MMKRISTY to get 10% off!

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  • Momentum Jewelry

Momentum Jewelry creates some of my favorite jewelry that can be worn during athletics. Each with a motivating tag-line or one that can be custom made, they are little reminders of strength. During the Berlin Marathon my “Run and Be Happy” wrap bracelet was right next to my Garmin watch to remind me to smile despite the pain and to keep a positive outlook on my race, it was a literal reminder for me to keep going. I’m adore with my wraps! I also have two 30% discount codes and two 40% discount codes that I will giveaway on Instagram @thefitwanderluster later this week. Be sure to follow to be kept in the loop for your chance to win!

OK…on your mark, get set, go SHOPPING!

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The Boa System: Fit to go Further

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been selected to be part of #TeamBoa. If you aren’t aware, The Boa System has branched into the running world to combine their innovative technology with top brand shoes to enhance your running experience.

Best known in the cycling world with over 16 years experience and used by over 100 of the Tour de France cyclists, The Boa System has made a name for themselves. Their technology has also been widely used in golf shoes, snowboarding boots, utility boots and even in advancing medical bracing systems for preventative and post-operative care. Most recently while working closely with several top running brands, they’ve put their system to the test in the running world. They are a brand I am proud to stand by and run with.

What is The Boa System?

It’s a patented system combining 3 integral parts…

1. A micro-adjustable dial

2. Super-strong lightweight laces

3. Low friction lace guides

The system couldn’t be easier to use. You push to engage, turn to tighten, and pull up for quick release.

The system provides a noticeable comfort across the front of the foot that isn’t found with typical laces. That is a nice feeling to run without worrying about irritation or your laces coming untied. The Boa System provides peace of mind to really let you focus your attention to the purpose of why you put the shoes on in the first place: running.

The best part about this company is how they back their product up. The Boa System dials and laces are guaranteed for lifetime on the product they are featured on. That’s customer service at their finest!

Combined with The Boa System, I’ve been fortunate enough to also receive the most comfortable, highest quality running kit from Outdoor Voices, sports underwear from Invisii, and a classic duffel bag from Topo Designs to carry it all in. Outdoor Voices materials are the softest I’ve ever felt while providing long lasting materials for performance enhancement and durability. I could live in my Outdoor Voices joggers, no joke.

While looking good on the outside, Invisii underwear works undercover. Providing hygienic, breathable and comfortable underwear, Invisii allows you to workout without thinking about panty lines or scrunching up in uncomfortable places while trying to perform at the top of your game.

My Topo Designs Classic Duffel Bag got me and my gear to Budapest, Hungary last week to celebrate my birthday (future blog on my trip there to come)! The durable bag is large enough to get me through the weekend with day, night, and workout outfits, but also compact enough to get me on my flight with just a carry-on. Thanks to Topo Designs, I was ready for my destination. Being a tourist is no excuse to not get a workout done!

I can’t wait to sign up for 2018 races now and begin training with Team Boa!

What are your thoughts on The Boa System gear? Have you heard about them or tried them out? Let me know!

How It Feels to Run My Tenth Marathon (and the 44th BMW Berlin Marathon Review)

On September 24, 2017 I ran and surpassed my finish expectations for my tenth full marathon by completing the 44th BMW Berlin Marathon in 4:19:58.

Berlin Marathon Finisher

Berlin Marathon Finisher

My marathon “career”, hobby, passion, self torture began in 2006. Here’s a running list (while mind you there have been dozens of half marathons, 10km, mud runs, and fun runs and thousands of miles from training,  also in between):

• Boston Marathon x3: 4:13:15, 4:24:43, 4:30:45 • Cape Cod Marathon 4:15:54 • Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon 4:21:07 • Walt Disney World Marathon 4:19:12 • Chicago Marathon 4:36:30 • Paris Marathon 4:49:59 • Rome Marathon 4:38:05 • Berlin Marathon 4:19:58

While my times stay somewhat, relatively consistent within 30ish Minutes, I’ve definitely become slower over the course of time. I’m ok with that and had started labeling myself as a 4:30 marathon runner. 

I don’t like sprint work, I don’t like the feeling of my heart pulsating out of my chest, and I don’t like not having a fun time, being able to talk to others and take in the atmosphere and experience of my runcation. These are the main reasons I’ve never felt to push myself to obtain a personal record with each of my races.

Running for me, personally, is something I do for relaxing my constantly running mind (if that even makes sense) and a way to stay healthy. No more, no less. For some running is about being the best they can be every time and for others it’s learning how to complete the impossible. Running is a personal sport that can make some feel self love or self hate. The gigantic community of runners can make you feel big and small at the same time. Everyone is allowed their own reasons of why or how they run and no one has the right to judge or criticize someone’s journey. 

Berlin, particularly for me, was a huge goal to knock off my bucket list. It would be my 3rd Abbot World Major and the lottery or qualifying system to get into one of the 6 majors (Boston, Chicago, Berlin, NYC, London, Tokyo) is a huge long shot. So when I applied last November for this race, I assumed I wouldn’t get into it as I’ve been rejected from NYC and London several times in the past. I even signed up for the Rome marathon at the same time for April because I figured I wouldn’t get into Berlin. Well, luck was on my side and I made it! But I then realized I had to run 2 full marathons in 2017.

I’ve been in training since November 2016 meaning I was running 5-6 times a week, including 2x a week doing speed and hill workouts because in the back of my mind I was thinking maybe I could get a personal best on this acclaimed flat and fast course. But after Rome in April and two half marathons this summer, my body was beat. The training cycle for Berlin, specifically, was brutal. I was tired, sore, mentally drained. I wasn’t hitting all my distance targets nor completing most of the sprint work. Personally for me, more than one marathon a year tends to shut my brain and body down. I honestly was not looking forward to running Berlin about 10 weeks into my training. But then I had a mental shift to remember that having fun is more important to me than a time goal and I learned to forgive myself for having a legitimate reason to feel tired. Then the mental game clicked and I was super excited to get to Berlin.

The atmosphere of a world major marathon is one of the best experiences. The city is swarming with people from all over the world to each take on the same task. The Expo always gets you ramped up when you grab your number and buy a souvenir or two. One disappointment was that finisher shirts were not included in the entry fee. If you wanted any piece of memorabilia besides a medal, you had to spend at least 45€ and the cool jackets were closer to 90€ but that’s a rant for another day. That evening, btw my dad and most loyal spectating supporter had flown in for the marathon as well, we made our way over to Checkpoint Charlie and saw some pieces and read about the history of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Marathon Expo

Berlin Marathon Expo

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

Dad and the Berlin Wall

Dad and the Berlin Wall

 

Any disappointment from the overpriced merchandise at the Expo was quickly wiped away with the free Saturday morning breakfast run. The laid back 6km run started at the Charlottenburg Palace and ended on a lap around the track of the 1936 Olympic Stadium with a breakfast included. One of the best parts of the weekend plus I got to meet up with a fellow Run Janji ambassador and my favorite British couple that I met at the Virgin Sport British 10km in July. 

Lauren and Jonathan from U.K.

Lauren and Jonathan from U.K.

Run Janji Corps Ambassadors

Run Janji Corps Ambassadors

Jennifer and I running around the Olympic Stadium

Jennifer and I running around the Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium Olympic Stadium
Olympian in the Making

Olympian in the Making


Saturday afternoon we did a 3 hour Bike Tour of Berlin. It was leisurely and educational plus we got to spectate a little of the inline skating marathon that was taking place. After our bike tour we made our way to the sombering Holocaust Memorial and Museum.

Bike Tour

Bike Tour

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

 

Sunday I was scheduled for the 3rd wave slot that had a 10am start, with an elite start time of 9:15. Easy subway transportation allowed me to sleep til 7am and head over around 8am. I chose not to bring a drop off bag but the organization at Tiergeten Park was well defined, although you did have to walk about a mile and a half from the closest metro stop to get towards the start. Plenty of porta potties, lots of musical and video entertainment on several big screens helped the 40 thousand of us stay occupied til the gun. 

The race went off without a hitch, The temps were cool (10C/50F) with a little rain to start. The race was crowded, honestly, in its entirety. The crowd support was awesome with live bands every so often along the way. Because Berlin is built on mostly water, there aren’t many skyscrapers and the buildings are all about the same height making everything look the same with little standing out, so it was nice to have the entertainment as a distraction. The course itself is exactly as they say, fast and flat, and my starting times were, for me, quicker than I was planning. But I felt good, so I held onto the 9:15-9:30 pace up until the half way point when I was looking for my dad. I thought to myself, “if you go fast now that means you can slow down later”. Which, btw, is opposite of what pros would tell you to do. After seeing my dad I maybe had a mile at about 11 min pace but felt good enough to go back to my original pace. The volunteers and aide stations were fantastic and I really felt energized by the crowd and cool temps. So I pushed on at this pace comfortably through the second half. Upon hitting the Brandenburg Gate, I was sprinting and smiling towards the finish knowing I would have one of my best times since 2009!

The Start of the Berlin Marathon

The Start of the Berlin Marathon

Some Motivation

Some Motivation

My new Baby

My new Baby

All Smiles

All Smiles

#10 in the books

#10 in the books

 

I’m so elated and proud to have completed my 10th marathon with my 4th best time after having a crappy training cycle. My enthusiasm is renewed and my goal will be to push forward and complete all the world majors! But first a break from racing for the rest of 2017 😉.

A Review: Legend Compression Wear 

I’ve recently become an ambassador for Legend Compression Wear and was given a pair of Compression Perfomance Socks to try during my marathon training runs.

I’ve never been one to think about running accessories that could provide benefit during and after my runs outside of proper footwear, chafing cream, and a good sports bra. However, I’ve learned I’m behind the times and have found these compression socks to be game changing.

Legend Compression Performance Socks are designed with comfort in mind. Their slogan is #rightnottight. With the runner and athletes in mind, the compression enhances power and endurance while supporting the lower leg and foot. Their unique Graduated Compression Technology assists to improve blood flow and oxygen levels. When those two systems work more efficiently, you have the increased ability to train harder and recover faster.

Before Legend compression socks, I’d have sore, achey calves with intermittent left plantar fascia following runs even as short as 30 minutes. Now, after using Legend Compression Performance Socks, I notice an efficient improvement in recovery after all my long runs. As an added bonus, I’ve had a reduction in my left heel pain as well. These socks have become part of my long run program. 

Are you like me, a late compression user? Take it from me, don’t wait any longer. They come in classic, solid colors, fit accurately, and are more affordable than some other name brands out there. As a physical therapist, I not only recommend these for athletes but for those of us who work or stand on our feet all day or those who frequently travel. An added bonus, as your ambassador, my lucky readers get $15 off their first order! Click Here for your discount!

Summer “Time”

I wanted to quickly recap my day trip to London. I had won an entry to participate in the Virgin Sport British 10k from an Instagram giveaway by @themarathonmarcus.

I was excited to get a little getaway with a shorter distance run while taking in all the attractions of London. At the same time, I was meeting up with a few runners from the Instagram community as well.

I found a cheap flight with Ryan Air and made my way over. After taking a bus into the city at 5:30am, I found I almost had the city to myself. It was quiet, after the Pride celebration, with empty streets. I had an instant moment of tranquility, feeling like I had the place to myself; it was nice thought. It quickly vanished as I made my way to the start of Virgin Sports, who were putting on this event. The win not only got me a bib into the race but we had special VIP treatment as we were assigned a special place with the media center. At the media center, we were allowed to have a meet and greet with Mary Wittenberg, the CEO of Virgin Sports. Her enthusiasm and passion to get a movement of people getting involved in sport was absolutely contagious. She was humble, friendly and made each of us feel like we were making a difference by participating, with a sense of calmness during such an important day that she was directing. I don’t know how she does it but I want to be like her when I grow up!

The race was big with over 12,500 participants filling the streets near Green Park. There were bands and spectators along the entire route which brought us winding through the city and past sites like Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, along the Thames, up past the London eye and Big Ben. And although it was hot, there was shade for the first 5k and bottled water along the course. The best part was the runners I met up with (@themarathonmarcus, @xpatrunner, @runyourmindfree, @confi_x, @jonathan.barr) stuck together. For some, it was a quicker pace and others it was slower but together we made this a fun run!

That’s the best part about running, you can do it for competition and there are times you do it to motivate others. It’s your sport! 

Today I’m relaxing at home with my new kitten, Brady and reveling in the Sunday Funday I had. It inspires me to stay motivated for my marathon training towards Berlin. Time will tell if I set a personal best or not. 

Speaking of “time”, in the meantime, you can treat yourself and take advantage of  the Amazon Prime sale tonight and tomorrow and get this Jord Wood Watch Frankie Series at 30% discount!

JORD Wooden Wrist Watches for Women – Frankie 35mm Series / Wood Watch Band / Wood Bezel / Analog Quartz Movement – Includes Wood Watch Box (Zebrawood & Champagne)

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Recap: ING Night Marathon of Luxembourg 

This past weekend, I ran the ING Night Marathon of Luxembourg. The race included a half marathon distance, full marathon, and a team relay marathon. I opted for the half while Julien did the full. 

Me and Julien at the start

Me and Julien at the start

First off, as I mentioned in last week’s blog Tips for Hot Race Weather, it was going to be a hot one. And it was so incredibly hot. At race time which was a 7pm start (remember it’s a night run, however the sun was still blaring up for a good hour and a half into the run), the temps were at 88F/31C. Holy Moly.

Getting to the start was a little chaotic. The highway closed the ramp to Kirchberg from the French side, making everyone detour with poorly visible signage, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the area. Once making our way back to the city, we discovered most parking was brought to a single lane entrance to the nearby shopping center. This was slow and frustrating dealing with parking for 15,000 runners.

Leading up to race day, I was drinking 4L of water. On race day, the steak continued and then some. I initially wanted to wear shorts, basically wear as little articles of clothing as possible, but even on the walk from parking the car with 2x application of chaffing gel, I knew my thighs wouldn’t let me run in shorts. So I switched quickly into some Capri leggings in the bag drop off area.

The start and finish of the race is at the LuxExpo in Kirchberg, Luxembourg. It’s a huge hall to fit the finish line, which was indeed inside, food court, bag drop off and even temporary showers were brought in on trucks. 

My corral

My corral

A little sign of encouragement

A little sign of encouragement


The start had 7 corrals mixed with the two distances plus team relay, I was in 5th and it took me close to 15 minutes to cross the start from the gun. The race organizers reminded us to take it easy with the temps and actually introduced an additional water stop starting early at the first mile instead of at the first 5km, then they were placed approximately every 2km. Each station was mostly well stocked with water, electrolyte drink, energy bars and oranges. Here is where I saved myself, besides starting about 30 seconds slower pace than usual, I took always two waters (one to drink and the other to pour on top of my head) and at every other stop I took an electrolyte drink. And with this routine, I saved myself from cramping or worse heat stroke. 

Thanks to my friend JJ for capturing my triple fisting

Thanks to my friend JJ for capturing my triple fisting

The course is relatively wide open through Kirchberg, running through the main roads that were blocked off to traffic and stayed mostly flat. Heading over the bridge towards Glacis Parking, we caught a glimpse of the elite making their way back. I heard that even the elite were up to 15 minutes off pace due to the temperature too. 

The atmosphere at Glacis was a big party with flamenco dancers, drums beating, drunk spectators everywhere screaming and cheering you on. It seemed like an awesome time! We then made our way through the luxurious neighborhoods of Limperstberg, where the one way streets became a little narrower and fresh legs were turning over for the first exchange in the team relay. The neighborhood really gets into the spirit though and so many kind neighbors brought out water hoses for the runners while they laughed and casually sipped Champagne. Again, if I wasn’t running, this seemed like a really good time! 

Heading back towards Glacis we made a turn into the Public Park. Here the race track got super narrow and made it impossible to pass other runners, so you were stuck for a bit with a controlled pace, which I didn’t mind all that much as I already adapted to not setting PRs and just to have fun. 

Then we made our way into the old city center. This was easily my favorite part of the race! We split off from the marathoners at Place de Guillaume by the town hall and the half marathoners took a turn towards the palace and city bars where people yelled, cheered, and even did the wave. Really next year I may seriously need to consider being a spectator, it was such a party. 

Passing by one more time through Glacis, we made our quiet exit back over the bridge towards Kirchberg again. Here I started to see several runners starting to crash and burn, requiring serious medical attention with still 5km to go. It was eerily quiet as we lost a lot of the spectators and the course started a slow, progressional incline back to the finish. I can see why this could play havoc on dehydrated individuals. With about 2km left to go, we saw the first male marathoner making his way back at about 2:06. Its astonishing what these professionals can do. Finally, I made my way back towards the expo, where a crowd surged again right before the finish. The actual finish line was 200m inside the expo with a big blue carpet and disco lights and loud music. It was super interesting and helped me get inspired to sprint my tired legs in for a 2:12 performance. With easy access to finishers medal, drinks, showers, and bag access, the race organizers really thought of everything. 

Course map courtesy of ING

Course Map courtesy of ING


After the finish, I met up with my friends Lindsey, who finished her first half marathon, and her husband and another friend Aline, who participated in the team relay, for some celebratory beers while waiting to cheer on Julien in the full marathon. 

Finishing half marathons deserves a beer or two

Finishing half marathons deserves a beer or two


Overall, a moderately challenging race that got a bad rap due to the heat.

Julien at the finish

Julien at the finish

Me at the finish

Me at the finish

5 Reasons Why Runners are Technically Insane

I’m sure you’ve heard the definition of insanity from Albert Einstein stating that, “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. It’s also defined as extreme foolishness.

I’ve come to discover how I might be portrayed as loopy, crazy or nuts when I talk to people outside of my running community. 

Here are some examples of reasons why runners (or maybe just me) can be perceived as technically insane…

1. We pay to run

Last time I checked, you can step out your door and start running. I mean if Forrest Gump did it, so can I. But of course we drop anywhere from $15 to sometimes up to $200+ (Boston 😳) on a race, because of a mass produced medal, pride for finishing, and taking the priceless Instagram photo.

Gelato and Rome Marathon Medal

Gelato and Rome Marathon Medal

2. We talk about goo, poop, losing toe nails, and bleeding nipples

Running terms can sound like we’re talking baby chatter or lines out of a horror movie. Perhaps our conversations might even dumb us down a bit. Take your pick. 

Notice the goos and tube of body chaffing cream: runner essentials

Notice the goos and tube of body chaffing cream: runner essentials

3. We love to support each other with inspiring quotes, pats on backs and virtual high fives but we’ll easily tear someone a new one if we’re hangry 

Ok maybe this is just me, but my boyfriend is fully aware of what he calls “the black eyes”. This is when I haven’t had food in 2 hours when I’m marathon training, or not training for that matter.

I'm only happy because there is food in front of me

I’m only happy because there is food in front of me

4. Our idea of R&R includes deep tissue massage and bringing our sneakers and workout clothes on vacation 
Sports massage can be a combination of deep tissue, active release, Graston, and/or trigger point therapy. The best way I like to describe it is a hot knife cutting through you. You’ll sweat, moan and groan, and think your muscle is being ripped away from your bone. These are not a day at the spa. And to top it all off, I take several runcations. If it’s not running; it’s hiking, biking, paddle boarding, wake boarding, snowboarding, swimming, golfing, paragliding, etc. Even if I’m at the beach, chilling and reading, the book is about running. 

I even get my friends to run when on vacation, suckers

I even get my friends to run when on vacation, suckers


4. We have a tumultuous relationship with running

Our running relationship can have the highest highs and the lowest lows. We laugh, cry, have fear, crash and burn, sometimes sh*t ourselves, and say never again, yet we still comeback. We always come back.

 Pretty much how I feel after every run

Pretty much how I feel after every run


I know some of my runner friends will have a chuckle. Others will continue to ponder my sanity. I may have even deterred some of you from running, but if we can’t have a sense of humor how can we laugh at life’s absurdities?