Sticks and Stones

When I was running the 2011 Divas Wahine Half Marathon in Honolulu, there was a portion of the course where people had written words of encouragement and drawn funny pictures in chalk on the road. Pretty similar to what Nike did for the Tour de France a couple of years ago. It was unexpected and helped to pass the miles as it was part of the course that didn’t have much in the way of scenery.

Most of the “chalk talk” was encouraging, “You can do this!” or funny, “Donuts at the finish line!” But then there was one that almost made me stop in my tracks. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but it was along the lines of “You bitches got this thing.”

I’m not against swearing – I can swear with the best of them, thanks to 6 years of working in a manufacturing company. And I realize that words that were considered naughty when I was growing up have become more mainstream over the years. But here’s the thing – when I was growing up, our moms were ladies, we aspired to be women, and bitches were female dogs and girls who tried to steal our boyfriends. So despite the ubiquity of the word “bitches” I was a bit taken aback that some random stranger would (1) call me a bitch and (2) think that it was encouraging to me.

As if to reinforce the omnipresence of that word, on campus last Thursday, a young man in front of me called out to a young woman, “Hey there, Melissa, my little bitch.” I can only assume that they were friends as his tone seemed friendly enough and she responded to his greeting.

My goodness. How the world has changed. How the bar for civility and courteousness has dropped.

On Facebook I created an interest group of running and fitness pages that are a mix of fitness articles, motivational quotes and pictures, health and nutrition articles, etc. Imagine my surprise on Thursday morning when I saw this picture posted by the MotivateHopeStrength page:

Namaste My Bitches from the MotivateHopeStrength Facebook Page

Namaste My Bitches from the MotivateHopeStrength Facebook Page

In that same group, there’s a page called I❤ to run. Again, there are a lot of fitness-related (mostly running) posts, article links, and motivational memes. A few months back, I browsed the website and was on the verge of buying one of their running calendars and a 13.1 sweatshirt for my brother and then I saw this:

Namaste, bitches

Namaste, bitches


These things struck me as discordant because to me, “Namaste” does not belong anywhere near “bitches.” To me, as I was taught in my yoga practice, Namaste is a word that means peace, honor, spirituality. According to, “Namaste” is a greeting that means, “The God/Goddess Spirit within me recognizes and honors the God/Goddess Spirit within you.

How does “Namaste my bitches” honor anything about me, about you, about any human being? How does calling someone a “bitch” honor that person? According to –

Screenshot of's definition of "bitch"

Screenshot of’s definition of “bitch”

There is nothing in that definition that even hints at the word being honorable or positive.

If that post had been on a humor page, I might have had a different reaction – grimace and move on. But the fact that the post was on a fitness page that is meant to motivate, inspire hope, and strengthen people made me react differently. We don’t motivate each other by calling one another “bitches.” We don’t inspire hope by calling someone else a “bitch.” And you certainly don’t strengthen someone by calling them a “bitch.”

Remember that rhyme we used to say when we were growing up? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We’ve learned over the years that it’s not true – words can hurt. Words do matter. Choose them wisely.

And the thought processor churns on…


What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Picture of a rose


You know the standard distances:

  • 5k (3.1 miles),
  • 10k (6.2 miles),
  • half-marathon (13.1 miles),
  • marathon (26.2 miles), and
  • ultra (anything over 26.2 miles).

And the not-so-standard distances – 5-miler, 12k, 15k, 10-miler, and more.

But what the heck is a mini marathon?

Apparently some people are trying to get others to call the half-marathon distance a mini marathon. According to wikipedia, a mini marathon is any distance less than a marathon, from a half-marathon all the way down to a 5k.

I don’t like the idea of calling a half-marathon a mini marathon. “Half-marathon” is descriptive. “Mini marathon” is diminutive.

I like the idea of calling a 5k a “mini marathon” even less. A 5k is a 5k, not a mini marathon. A 5k is 3.1 miles, a marathon is 26.2 miles. A marathon is nearly 8.5 times the 5k distance. Don’t diminish the marathon distance by calling anything with less mileage a mini marathon.

The Rock-n-Roll race series, which I love, has developed the annoying habit of calling the shorter distances that they add to a marathon or half-marathon event “mini marathons.” The San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon added a shorter distance race in 2012. It’s a 5 mile course and the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series calls it a mini marathon. The Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon also has a shorter distance race that it calls a mini marathon and it’s not even 5 miles, it’s a 5k. The Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon has a mini marathon event, as well, and – you guessed it – it’s a 5k.

What’s wrong with calling it a 5k? What’s wrong with calling it a 5-miler?

Is it so runners can call themselves marathoners without having put in the sweat, tears, and miles that goes into marathon training? Is this another sign of society dumbing things down in an effort to level the playing field for everyone? Trying to drive out every vestige of competitiveness? In elementary schools now, everyone gets a trophy or medal for something, even if only for showing up. Is this the adult version of that? Call it a “mini marathon” so that people who don’t want to commit to a marathon can call themselves marathoners?

If you run a 5k, be proud that you’ve run a 5k. A 5k is a tough little race, whether you’re running to place or to set a personal best. A 5-miler is nothing to be ashamed of, either. When I reach the 5 mile long run in my training plan, it’s a huge milestone. Running a 10k or any of those other distances is nothing to hang your head about, either. There’s no need to call them “mini marathons” to dress them up and make them seem more than they are. Your non-runner friends might be impressed because they don’t know any better. You runner friends…well, I don’t know what your runner friends would say, but I know what I would say.

Be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t be deceptive.

Happy running!

Is There Middle Ground in the Treadmill vs. Outdoors Debate?

Dark Outside

It happens every year, like clockwork.

With the onset of fall, as darkness falls earlier come the obligatory posts about running safely when it’s dark outside. And the running websites, magazines, and  Facebook groups throw out the question – Do you bring your run inside when it gets dark outside? The answers fly fast and furious, ranging from the tame, “No, I hate the dreadmill,” to the self-righteous, “It’s only a run if you run it outside.”

You know it's cold outside when you go outside and it's cold

You know it’s cold outside when you go outside and it’s cold

Now, as the country is in the throes of the “polar vortex,” we are going through round 2 of runners’ self-righteousness. Once again, the running websites, magazines, and Facebook groups are pitting the “real runners” against the “hamsters on the hamster wheel.” The question takes the form of – It’s X degrees out today, did you run outside or did you break down and hit the treadmill? Once again, the answers fly left and right, ranging from the weather-immune, “Of course I ran outside, just threw on an extra layer,” to the Eeyore-esque, “Call it what it is, the dreadmill,” to the haters, “Yes, I ran on the dreadmill, hated every second of it, and kicked it when I was done.”

picture of a treadmill


Every time these questions pop up or I read comments or posts about the “dreadmill” or people who proudly crow that they run outside exclusively no matter the conditions, I get a visceral reaction. “How dare they put down my beloved treadmill?” I ask myself. “Who are they to judge me or anyone else who runs on a treadmill?” I fume. “I’ve run marathons and half-marathons, too! Why are they bashing one of my training aids?” I rail inwardly.

Is this what a "real" runner's leg looks like?

Is this what a “real” runner’s leg looks like?

I‘m not sure why I have such a strong reaction to those posts, but I do. I’ve actually not renewed a running magazine subscription because one of their editors – yes, an editor – mocked treadmill runners. Why would an editor of a running magazine put down anyone who is running, regardless of where they’re running? Of course, I was accused of not having a sense of humor but what people don’t understand is that the little jabs here and there start to add up and pretty soon, anyone who runs on a treadmill will start to think that they aren’t runners. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it treadmill bullying but if the shoe fits…

Running Shoe

Running Shoe

The treadmill vs. outdoor runner debate will never get as heated as the runner vs. jogger debate. Yes, I saw one running group had resurrected that old saw recently, too. Why will it never get as heated? I can think of 3 reasons:

  1. Treadmill runners are intimidated by the “real” runners and feel inadequate after seeing all the vicious, hateful rhetoric about treadmills. These people don’t want to get flamed by the “real” runners when they make a comment that they run on a treadmill.
  2. A lot of treadmill runners probably don’t consider themselves real runners, which is an incredible fallacy. I’ll bet a majority of treadmill runners are gym-goers who are fit people. They probably crank out 3 to 6 miles 3 to 5 times a week as part of their workout without blinking an eye. But they may not consider themselves runners because they’ve never signed up for a race or because they’ve never followed a training program or because – heaven forbid – they run on treadmill instead of outside.
  3. Treadmill runners are not exclusively treadmill runners. We prefer the treadmill, but we also run outside. We are capable of finding the benefit in both.
No Haters

No Haters

Here’s the interesting thing to consider if you’re one of those outdoor-only runners – a run is a run is a run, no matter where you run it, no matter how fast you run it. We cheer the beginning runners who gasp their way around the block, but we denigrate the runners who have the mental toughness to slog out their runs on a treadmill. Why is that?

And if you’re one of those runners that thinks it’s cute to call it a dreadmill, consider this – if you name it, you own it. You call it a dreadmill and so you’ll dread every minute on it. You’ll never come to terms with how beneficial a treadmill can be. For a mother without childcare, a treadmill in the home could be a god-send. For a woman alone in a strange city, a treadmill in the hotel fitness center may be the only safe option. And the list goes on.

I’m a treadmill runner. I once ran a virtual half-marathon on my treadmill with nothing but music to keep me company. I learned my lesson after that run and now, the biggest television in the house is in the garage in front of my treadmill! But treadmill running has helped my focus, my mental toughness, and my consistency. Do I run outdoors? Of course I do! The fresh air, the sights and sounds, the social aspect of encountering other bikers and runners – what’s not to like? But at 5 o’clock in the morning when it’s still dark outside or after a long day at work, the treadmill is my friend.

My wish for the new year is that we runners support each other. Stop putting each other down. Stop making other runners feel like less than a runner because of where they run, how fast they run, or how they run. In my book, you’re a runner if you run. I don’t care if you run on the sidewalk, on a trail, on a bike path, on the beach, or on a treadmill – to me, you’re a runner. I don’t care if you run a 14 minute mile or a 10 minute mile or a six minute mile – to me, you’re a runner. I don’t care if you run, jog, run/walk, or walk/run – to me, you’re a runner.

In the meantime, wherever you run – Happy running!