The race to the Broad Street Run is picking up pace. In an attempt to channel your inner Steve Prefontaine, you have taken the initial steps necessary to successfully reach the finish line. You awkwardly galloped outside of Philadelphia Runner while Stu the sneaker specialist assessed whether you would benefit from a Brooks or an Asics shoe, (as if it will crucially affect whether you perform like a Cheetah or a Cheeto). Not to mention, your savings account is taking a beating due to exorbitant subscription expenses to every magazine that has the word "run" on the cover. Don't get me wrong, the importance of having a quality running shoe, and taking the time to research the proper way to train for a long distance event cannot be overstated — but there is one other aspect of the event that deserves equal attention: How to avoid tripping up on proper running etiquette. These offenders deserve hard time at Shawshank for disrupting the ebb and flow of the race. Here are the top three Broad Street Run bonehead blunders (Cue Morgan Freeman narration):
Mend Fences. Running can be a euphoric experience. However, the heavenly highway to the finish line can be paved with dummies, which has the potential to make the experience a personal hell. If you registered to run with a group of buddies, do the rest of us a favor and don't form an impenetrable friend fence. This behavior is a great way to become a bad neighbor to your fellow runners. When participating in a race, my objective is to run linearly, not like a maze meandering Pac-Man using all my energy to dodge Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. Running with a friend is a great way to stay motivated and on track, however try to be courteous by allowing enough space between you and your pals so other competitors can pass by with ease.
Give Me a Break. You are a pavement-pounding machine, enjoying the crisp air and seamless flow of your feet. Everything is going great until you are completely blindsided by the girl in front of you, who has come to a complete, unannounced stop. Now the girl's ponytail is in your mouth, and she's giving you an angry stare because you came a shoelace away from knocking her over.
The rules of running are similar to those of driving. Running behind a competitor that constantly jams on the brakes reminds me of the time I sat in the passenger seat as my grandmother drove us to her mahjong mixer — a horrifyingly heavy foot on the break pedal, and a left turn signal that had been blinking since we pulled out of the garage that morning. The same concept applies when running; stay in your lane, check before switching lanes, and try your best to keep pace with runners in your assigned corral. Your allotted corral is intended to group you with runners of similar ability and speed. Which reminds me, don't lie about your predicted pace! The only person you are giving the runaround to is yourself. So remember, if you must come to a stop consider putting your hands up to alert other runners around you and then moving to the side of the road first in order to avoid being rear-ended. Geico does not cover Broad Street Run related claims.
Chatty Cathy. I can personally attest to 10 miles being a challenge, but it becomes especially frustrating if you are running in close range to our next offender - the self-doubter. During my last race, I spent several miles in the company of a woman that was spewing out caustic, cynical sentences that would melt any runner's hopes of going the distance. If you make friends along the course, or you are participating with a friend or family member, always be supportive and encouraging. Here are a few examples of what a runner should never say to a fellow competitor:
1. "What were we thinking when we signed up to do this?" Sure, you paid money for a bib and are running 10 miles without signing a million dollar sponsorship from Gatorade. However, you are going to finish what you started, so put a cork in it and enjoy the race.
2. "We're only on mile two? I'm already exhausted!" Again, no one needs a constant reminder of the small distance covered and the long haul ahead. That is what the markers are for, but thanks Father Time.
3. "My (insert any body part) is aching." If you sign up for a long distance run, expect some part of your body to be sore. We are road warriors here, not road worriers. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Keep moving.
When going the distance, avoid running with the wrong crowd.