Tips for becoming a runner: Vol. 2…Listen to interesting things while you run.

Tips for Becoming a Runner

As a result of my unrealistic desire to turn everyone into a runner, I’ve decided to share some tips about what helps me keep running. While I’m no expert, I’ve been running for seven years now, which, at the age of 29, is 25% of my life. Thus, I’ve accumulated a few ideas for how to go from running-is-miserable-torture to running-is-freedom.

These tips are in no particular order of helpfulness, and may not work for everyone. But I hope they help a little!

Tip #2: Listen to interesting things while you run.

Now, this is a controversial one, because there are a lot of people out there who say you should run just for the pure joy of running. Be in touch with your body, pay attention to your surroundings, listen to your own thoughts, and all that.

If you’re one of those people who can run this way, I am extremely impressed. Keep it up.

I, however, am not one of those people. I don’t like listening to the sound of my labored breathing, and I get so bored focusing on my mind replaying the day over and over again. When I don’t have headphones to distract me, I end up dwelling on little aches and pains in my body, or the extreme level of humidity, or any other excuse to stop running. Thus, I am a big proponent of bringing along your ipod (or whatever) and listening to interesting things to help you get through the run. Such as…


I make my own playlists, and always keep at least one playlist on my phone titled “Running.” The songs are usually upbeat, dance-y type songs, or else epic instrumentals that leave me feeling motivated. I also have playlists titled “Training,” (for really long runs) “Mellow,” (on those rare days when I can run to slow music) and “Life” (for nostalgic purposes).

Sometimes I listen to playlists that people have made on Spotify, like this one and this one. Also, Spotify just came up with a new program that tracks your steps per minute and makes a mix for you! I haven’t tried it yet but it looks pretty awesome.

I also love the podcast called Music that Matters, from Seattle radio station KEXP. They put out an hour of new music each week, and sometimes have ones called Runner Powered Podcasts. I love these and keep them on my phone even after I delete other episodes. The DJ plays perfect running songs and intersperses them with inspirational running quotes. The latest one is my current favorite!


It took me a long time to realize how genius it is to listen to podcasts while you run. It’s like reading, my favorite thing in the world, only you can do it while running! There are a million different podcasts out there, but I find the ones that work best for me to listen to while running are the story-telling podcasts. They keep me focused on the story, rather than my desire to stop running, and sometimes minutes (whole minutes!) can go by where I don’t think about how my body feels, but instead think about what will happen next in the gripping podcast story. Some favorites:

I also love ones that are more focused on teaching you something (rather than telling you a story), but are still engaging programs, like…

And last but not least, I often defer to my dad’s favorite show when I need some humor to distract me: Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.


Okay so I had to include this, because it would seem logical that if I love podcasts, and reading, I would also love audiobooks. But for some reason, no matter how hard I try, I can NOT seem to get into them. I have successfully made it through probably five audiobooks in my lifetime, which is not for lack of trying. (My dad has an incredible list of hundreds of audiobooks that he has listened to, organized alphabetically, that puts me to shame.)

Anyway, I think some people do like running while listening to audiobooks, because it’s something to engage your mind on the trail. So I found some lists on the internet that seemed helpful. Who knows, maybe some day I will discover a latent love for audiobooks…

12 Audiobooks for Runners (these all sound awesome)

Read While You Run

Listening to Audiobooks While You Do Something Else is the Ultimate in Multitasking


Tips for becoming a runner, from a former non-runner

In news that makes my soul very happy, my mom has started running! And so have two of my very favorite friends who are also baby mamas (thus making the accomplishment of running even more amazing since they are raising children at the same time).

Now, I realize that running isn’t for everyone. But it has done such wonders for my life that I feel like I want to convince everyone who ever lived to become a runner. Having trouble sleeping? Try running. Want to lose weight? Try running. Feeling sad about life? Try running. Need to feel powerful or motivated? Try running. Need some alone time? Try going for a run.

Now, I realize this is obnoxious, so I keep it to myself. In fact, I almost never talk about running unless someone brings it up first. (But if they do, I usually can’t shut up about it.) I remember exactly how it felt to be a non-runner, and see people I knew going for an effortless three mile run in the morning. They were lean and muscular and also very zen about the world. And they made it look so easy! I was an unhealthy, slightly sedentary college student, with my longest daily exercise being a 15 minute bike ride to campus. Running even one mile was like torture.

But fast forward to today, and I have done one marathon (whoa), quite a few half marathons, and lots of little races. I also run three miles a day regularly. As a result, I feel happier, healthier, better at sleeping, better at eating, better at life in general. And I want everyone to have this feeling! But it’s a huge uphill climb to go from being a non-runner to a runner.

(As a side note, the word “runner” is loaded and in my head people take it way too seriously. I think you’re a runner if you sometimes choose to go for a run. Or when you decide you want to be a runner. But it took me a long time to be comfortable calling myself that.)

As a result of my unrealistic desire to turn everyone into a runner, I’ve decided to share some tips about what helps me keep running. While I’m no expert, I’ve been running for seven years now, which, at the age of 29, is 25% of my life. Thus, I’ve accumulated a few ideas for how to go from running-is-miserable-torture to running-is-freedom.

These tips are in no particular order of helpfulness, and may not work for everyone. But they work for me!

Tips for Becoming a Runner

Tip #1: Read inspirational stuff on the internet.

Blogs help motivate me to do lots of things. I have a ridiculously long blogroll that I read each week. And while reading about running doesn’t make you actually go out and do it, I find that it helps me when I’m wavering between “I am really exhausted and would much rather lay around watching Game of Thrones” and “Maybe I should just get up and go for a run.” Fortunately there are so many inspirational things written about running on the interwebs! Here a just a few of my favorites:




Like these ones on running and hiking and yogis and self improvement and happiness.

{photo credit}

Inspiration for the weekend.


The flowers are blooming like crazy around here, and I never can decide which I like better, the spring bloom or the summer. I’m grateful for both. Here are some links to help start a beautiful summer weekend.

Food packaging materials contain a lot of iffy chemicals. Yikes.

Any idea how much water it takes to grow ONE almond? A gallon. Crap.

A beautiful tribute to dragonflies, my mom’s favorite insect.

There’s a lot of junk food at the School Nutrition Conference. I used to work for an organization that promoted healthy school lunches, and articles like this make me cringe.

How to ride a bike in a skirt! So awesome!

11 TED talks to give you wanderlust (as if I need more help in that department).

One of my favorite genres to read, as a non-scientist, is fiction books about scientists/naturalists and the adventures they have (think Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett). Turns out a lot of other people do too. Here’s a whole podcast on it.

On having one priority to help organize your life.

On living the simple life.

Inspiration for the weekend

allthegoldenlandsI travel to feel lonely…on purpose. What farm-to-table got wrong.

A fascinating idea of how we need to cook with the whole farm. (Farmers spend years making healthy soil by growing cover crops, but most of those cover crops just go to animal feed. If there was a market for buying those crops, farmers would make more money.)

What you think “organic” means may be different than what it actually means. (Basically, it means the food is only 95% pesticide-free. For the other 5%, they can use any chemicals approved by the USDA. Of which there are quite a few.)

40 of the best science podcasts for mobile learning. Having never studied science, I’m always looking for ways to improve my science knowledge so I can teach it to my students.

My current obsession for lunches: Kale avocado wrap.

One of my favorite radio programs has two awesome shows this week: Rethinking Schools and The Secret Language of Plants.

I used this book a lot when I was teaching at a nature center, and I forgot it existed! So now I want to get it. Growing Up Wild: Exploring Nature with Young Children.

Podcast inspiration: On Being

ImageSo, I am slightly obsessed with podcasts. As in, I subscribe to far more podcasts than any human could possibly listen to in one week. Lately, I’ve been trying to be more selective about which ones I try to keep up with (it’s like trying to watch all the show series on HBO – there are just too many good ones and you have to let some go, unless you want to be glued to your television all weekend long). But I came across one that is totally worth following, and I just had to share it.

It’s called On Being, and listening to it has made my mornings so much more peaceful and thoughtful. The central question for each show is: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? The host, Krista Tippet, interviews some incredible people and asks them really thought-provoking questions about mindfulness, spirituality, knowledge, and imagination. So far I’ve listened to ones featuring Thich Naht Hanh, Brian Greene, and the Indigo Girls. The most motivating one of all for me was featuring Brene Brown, on the courage to be vulnerable. The picture above is a graphic recording of her interview. I highly recommend it.

{If you haven’t discovered the joy of podcasts yet, here’s a guide to what they are and how to get them. They’re basically free, downloadable radio shows on any topic you can imagine.}

The way human beings learn.

Another wonderful tidbit I learned from the book Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway is the importance of math talk! Teachers often encourage quiet during math time, in order to allow little math brains to work. But so much of learning, especially in the primary grades, comes from talking and thinking aloud! Math learning is no exception. The book included this quote, from Ralph Peterson, author of Life in a Crowded Place (another book on my to-read list!). I’m going to print this and put it up in my classroom!


“Yoga is for self-obsessed control freaks”

Just discovered Marika Richoz’s food/health/life blog. First post I read, “Yoga is for self-obsessed control freaks,” made me laugh out loud. It basically captures exactly how I feel about yoga. My favorite part:

Focus on my breath? Boring.
And I go to the gym everyday, why am I not as flexible as this guy in his 50s who is 20 pounds overweight?
I bet I could get a better work out doing Pilates.
I hate camel pose. I feel like I am being strangled.
When is this class over? 
There are some of us who go through life with self-confidence and a good grasp on who we are, what makes us tick and how to get there.  
Then there are some of us who are constantly looking for answers. Answers to why the hell we are so sensitive and how we can fix all our perceived character flaws. We are usually eccentric perfectionists .We play amateur psychologist to ourselves and everyone around us.
And then we get into yoga. 
It offers up the prescription we have been looking for.

Why I run, again

Whenever I tell someone that I like to run long distances [I don’t like calling myself a “long distance runner,” even after completing a marathon – I think I reserve that title for ultra runners or triathletes or people who are much more hard core], I usually get one of two reactions:

  1. “Me too! When is your next race? I just did my first half marathon!” or some other excited, I-run-too type of response.
  2. “That’s insane. I could never do that. Yuck. That sounds completely miserable.”
There’s usually never anything in between those two! Sometimes I feel like I have both of those reactions, though, inside my own brain, when I think about stepping out for a run in the morning. So it was nice to read this post from one of the inspirational blogs I’m currently obsessed with, A Life Less Bullshit. The post was called Why I Run. Below sums up perfectly how I feel on any given day when deciding to go for a run:

There are the days you get blisters and the days you don’t, the days you sweat like crazy for no reason, the days you eat and hydrate properly and feel incredible, and the days when you’re 10 miles from home and your blood sugar is totally fucked up and all you want to do is collapse on the side of the road and hope someone comes to find you and give you a cookie. 

There are the days when every step feels like pure magic, the days when you cross a finish line in front of hundreds of people and shake your head, knowing you could have done better, and the days when you break your own personal record on a lonely bike path near your house in the early morning sunshine without a single witness, your eyes filling up with tears as you realize just how far you’ve come from the day you first laced up your running shoes and could barely make it around the block.
And then there are the most important days of all, the days where you understand that running is saving your life. Maybe not in a dramatic way where the alternative to life is death, but in a way where the alternative is just… existing, you know? Going through the motions of your life, but not really feeling anything at all. And believe me, there’s a big fucking difference between just existing and truly living.

“Growing your own food is like printing your own money”

Although spring has been elusive here in Wisconsin (it’s mid-April and 37 degrees out with snow in the forecast), there are some signs of hope – the farmers market has finally opened! I spontaneously bought some seedlings from a farmer to plant outside in my little earth box (earth boxes by the way are awesome transportable garden beds good for people who live in apartments or have limited space). Here they are!

two types of lettuce, plus two Swiss chard

I’ve been meaning to get back into planting my own food for a year now, but all I’ve had the time and energy to do was sprout my own lentils. But now that spring is here, I can’t wait to plant stuff. I was partially motivated by this TED Talk, by Ron Finley, who helps plant gardens in South Central LA. He says that where he lives (and I would argue lots of places in the U.S.), “drive thrus are killing more people than drive bys,” so planting gardens is his effort towards combating obesity and food insecurity. So inspirational. My favorite quote is, of course, “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”

Inspiration for the weekend: Quiche, mental health, and amazing Olympians

one of the images posted on I.A.M.

I’m staying with my family this weekend, and my mom is making a quiche for dinner. I haven’t had a quiche since I lived with one of my college roommates, who would make a version of this delicious potato-crust quiche!

This badass college student fought his insurance company, via Twitter, to pay for his cancer treatments, and he won.

I came across this project called Internal Acceptance Movement (I.A.M.), put together by a 20-year-old who struggled (and still struggles) with an eating disorder. She posts inspirational quotes, images, and stories for people who are struggling with their body image, depression, or other mental unhappiness.

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastic Team member McKayla Maroney causes a judge’s jaw to drop. You go girl.