Subtitle: Running is for Everyone! (Intro)
Posted on July 3rd, 2023
By Olivia Baker
Martinus Evans was told by his doctor nearly 11 years ago that he had two options: lose weight or die. It was on that day that he decided that he was going to run a marathon. He walked out of the doctor's office, bought a pair of running shoes, and stepped onto a treadmill that very day beginning his running journey. To be clear, though sparked by the grim prognosis of his doctor, Evans has stated that this is not a weight loss journey—since that fateful appointment he has run more the 8 marathons and over 100 races at varying distances in his 300lb+ body—rather, it is a journey toward the achievement of goals through running and the enjoyment of the many physical, mental, and social benefits that come with it…benefits he hopes to help make more accessible to everyone.
I chose Slow AF Run Club by Martinus Evans for the 17th installment of Runners Who Read because I love his message that running is for everyone and further believe that his story is incredibly relatable. Often times we've read this message from elite athletes and other people who fit the traditional archetype of a runner. Written by someone who doesn't fit that mold, this practical handbook contains specialized advice for everyone to make getting started less intimidating, covering everything from gear and nutrition to training schedules, recovery tips, races, and finding a running group. This book is designed for anyone who wants to run simply for the joy of it and explore the many benefits of running. If you are someone, or know someone, who wants to run but doesn't know where to start, this is the book for you! As someone who is always advocating for the joy of running, it is certainly the book for me too.
1. Where did your running journey begin?
2. What are you looking forward to about reading this book?
Subtitle: Tips for Getting Started (mini-blog #1)
Posted on July 13th, 2023
By Olivia Baker
In running, as in many things in life, sometimes half the battle is just taking that first stride. Throughout the first few chapters of Slow AF Run Club by Martinus Evans, he lays out step-by-step what it takes to get there.
Step 1: Believe. You are a runner (say it again if you have to)! No matter whether you feel like a runner, believe you look like a runner, use mechanical assistance, or hold any other beliefs about being a runner, the moment you go faster than a walk (per the Meriam-Webster Dictionary), you are a runner. However, changing the perceptions that hold people back can be difficult. If fear is the roadblock, rather than wait for it to subside, do it afraid and show yourself that it is truly False Evidence Appearing Real (pg#16). Fight feelings of imposter syndrome with the facts of your reality. Lastly, constantly check your self-talk. Replacing the negative comments you may make to yourself with neutral self-talk or positive affirmations can go a long way in getting your mental game right.
Step 2: Get the right equipment. Shoes, clothing, and sunscreen are the bare minimum essentials. The right shoes won't necessarily make you faster, but the wrong ones can derail the running journey before it starts. Be sure to get a gait analysis (usually free at run specialty stores) to guide you and never buy a pair that is even slightly uncomfortable, no matter how fashionable it may be. Wearing technical fibers boasts the similar advantage of comfort while running in any conditions and compression wear specifically helps beat the chafe monster on longer runs (pg#42). Sunscreen is always a must when going out, but it is especially relevant on runs which can involve spending over an hour in direct sunlight. Protect your skin!
Step 3: Plan to start slow. It is always better to go far than fast to start. One way to do this could be through interval work (run 20 seconds, walk 20 seconds). A run doesn't always need to be continuous. Another way is to commit to running at conversational pace, otherwise known as "sexy pace" or "the pace you'd go if you were running in slow motion on a beach, Baywatch style." (pg#29) Both of these tactics can help a new runner pace themselves through a run.
Whether you are just starting out as a kid or an adult getting ready to run for that first time, this advice applies to all who are looking to take that first step.
1. If you are a seasoned runner, what advice would you add for someone who is just getting started?
2. How do you prepare for a run?
3. What is your "sexy pace"?
Subtitle: Prepare Like a Pro (mini-blog #2)
Posted on July 20th, 2023
By Olivia Baker
Believe it or not, many of the ways that Martinus Evans describes preparing for his road races throughout the middle chapters of Slow AF Run Club involve the same elements that are used by professional runners as well. From training to recovery, mental preparation, and the management of race day jitters, many of the facets of race preparation are similar amongst runners. As a professional runner myself, it's interesting to notice the points of comparison.
To begin with, I was surprised to see that Evans' weekly training follows the same general pattern as mine: 1 long run, 2 workouts, 3 active recovery/easy days, and a day off. While our workouts are vastly different, it seems that this weekly flow is common. When it comes to recovery, stretching, foam rolling, using a massage gun, and cross training (for active recovery) are staples in both of our routines. Lastly, we both experience race day nerves and have mental mantras that we fall back on to help center us and put us in the headspace to run our best through it.
Now, if you'll let me wax poetic for just a moment. Reading through these chapters and seeing the similarities reminded me of my favorite quote from a book I read last winter: "Love and laughter and fear and pain are universal currencies," (The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, pg#277). A lot of people may see professional running as something that is so special and different from recreational running and it is in the sense that pros are operating at the highest levels of human fitness in running. However, it is not so different in the experience we all have doing it. The nerves, lactic, runner's high, and joy are all things we can experience through running no matter our goals or our pace.
Perhaps running is such a relatable sport to so many because whether you're a novice, professional, or anything in between, there's a solidarity when seeing a fellow runner in knowing that we're all sharing in a similar experience.
1. What mantras do you tell yourself to deal with race day nerves?
2. What does your weekly running schedule look like at this time?
Subtitle: Finding Your Community (mini-blog #3)
Chapters 8-10, Afterword
Posted on July 27th, 2023
By Olivia Baker
"If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together." - African Proverb
If you had told me 5 years ago that I would not only enjoy running 10+ miles for a long run, but be able to do so at what was my current 4-mile run pace and hold a conversation the whole time, I would have laughed in your face. As someone who had grown up through high school and college as a low-mileage, speed-based 800m runner, the idea of running so far and having it feel like anything but a chore was outrageous to me. Fast forward to present day and Monday morning long run conversations with my teammates are a highlight of every week. Finding the right community completely shifted my perspective on running far and has pushed me to new levels of endurance in training and joy in doing so. It can do the same for you, whatever your running goals may be, you just have to find the right group. Fortunately, in the last chapter of Slow AF Run Club by Martinus Evans, he breaks down how we can find the right group.
To begin with, reach out to friend, family member, or co-worker. Running is so common that chances are, we all know someone who runs or is looking to start and it is always easier to get out of the door with people you already know rather than a group of strangers. Even in the event that you have different goals or are at different ability levels, this friend may be able to recommend a group or training buddy who is more compatible with your needs.
Ask around in run specialty spaces. Next time you go to get a pair of shoes from the local run specialty store, ask about local running clubs. Most local running stores have their own run clubs or have run clubs meeting there (pg#207).
Join a virtual run club. These online clubs provide the social support of a run club from home. A bonus perk is that many virtual groups have members in many different locations. If you travel for a race, you could meet others in the group who are attending that same event.
Start your own running group. If all else fails, why not start your own club? If you've searched your community and still can't find a group that meets your needs, maybe there is a gap in your community and this is your sign to start a group that fills it!
The running community is a special place that welcomes all and has a niche for everyone and when we find the place that suits us, we can all reach for our goals and experience the many joys that come with pursuing running together.
1. What running-related groups (outside of Runners Who Read of course) are you a part of and how did you find them? Feel free to tag a group or running buddy in the comments below if you'd like!