Some people consider me to be a risk-taker. My adrenaline-seeking activities through the years have included sky diving, rock climbing, and riding dirt bikes and ATV’s. I try to embrace life, in part, by confronting my fears and refusing to let them hold me back (for example, I’m afraid of heights, so it only makes sense that I’d rock climb and sky dive, right?).
An incident that has always stuck with me took place in the early 90’s in Russia. I had the opportunity to go outside on a high parapet with views of the city, but my fear of heights stopped me. I still regret missing the opportunity and determined after not to let fear stand in my way. I’m not always successful, but I do my best and have had countless unforgettable experiences as a result.
Despite this, when it comes to running I have a lot of superstitions – some may border on paranoia. My dissertation advisor used to remind me that there’s a fine line between paranoia and good common sense. That line is fine, indeed, and I’m not always sure which side of it I’m on.
I’ve been known to wear charms on race-day or during tough training runs; not so much for good luck, but to remind myself of what I’m made of. Sometimes it’s jewelry, sometimes it’s a mantra written on my arm; having something tangible when the run gets tough can focus me and get me through.
As I prepare for a big race things can get even more crazy … or maybe I’m just focused on being more-than-usually sensible. It can be so very hard to tell.
I’m a huge fan of kinesiology tape – I buy it in bulk rolls and tape anything that’s been troubling me before heading out for a long run, or prophylactically for trouble-spots before they start to hurt. This always seems to help, but I’m not sure how much of the improvement is real and what is just a placebo-effect. Honestly, it doesn’t matter – it helps and I’ll keep using it.
Running shoes are another issue entirely. I started running in Brooks Launch not long after they were introduced, and was devastated when they announced in 2012 that they were discontinuing the shoe. Fortunately, they listened to the outcry and re-introduced it shortly thereafter.
I’ve tried a couple of other shoes, but with one exception the results have been disastrous. I flirted with a more minimalist shoe and shortly thereafter tore my plantar fascia. More recently I tried another brand and strained my achilles just as my marathon training was scheduled to ramp up. I got online to order another pair of my standby Launch shoes and found them on sale – never a good sign. I looked, and sure enough they were releasing a new version – the Launch 2. I got online, chatted with a customer service agent, and got full information on the specifications. They seemed comparable, but for insurance (and assurance) I bought another pair of the original launch along with the new version. So far, they’re both doing well, though I only take out the new version on short training runs, still not fully trusting them.
My trust, it turns it out, is measured in terms of millimeters of midsole drop. Which might be paranoia. But with 50 days until my first Boston Marathon, it seems closer to good common sense.