This Runner's Trials

Relatively speaking: How to deal with annoying family questions this holiday season

Posted by runnerstrials

Talk about a case of the Mondays. I did not have a good day.

  • I stayed up way too late last night watching my team lose to a disgusting opponent.
  • My work internet connection would not work.
  • I had to cancel a date with a friend to check out a new cupcake store because I learned they had no dairy-free options :(
  • I had to back out of running and yoga plans with myself because my back is really sore from my trip down the stairs the other day.

Don’t worry about me. I showed Monday who’s boss by downing an entire batch of Diana’s spectacular dough balls in fewer than 24 hours. No lie.

Since I’m cranky and in a carb coma, you’re not going to get the holly jolly “what I’m thankful for” post I had scheduled. Instead, you’re getting this ;)

How to handle intrusive family members

Let’s face it: the holidays can be packed with just as much angst as cheer. Unfortunately, November and December are not just about gingerbread lattes, snowflakes, and glitter. There’s plenty of over-spending, travel headaches, and unwelcome questions from family members, too.

Now in my case, this is not completely the fault of said family members. I live far away from my family so I only get to see a lot of them once a year. And I don’t talk to many of them more often than that one time each year. I doubt these questions are meant to be rude. People are just at a loss for what to talk about.

You can answer these questions in a few ways:

  • Be honest. Then go complain to your significant other about the rude question.
  • Be vague or outright lie. Then go complain to your significant other about the rude question.
  • Turn it around so the questioner feels awkward. Then go brag to your significant other about how awesome you are.

I’m sure you all know which one is my favorite ;)

Here’s how I handle my most favorite intrusive questions about marriage, infertility, and running:

Q: Still enjoying married life?

A: “No uncle Jim, and I’m so glad you asked me. I’ve been meaning to talk to someone about it. Our sex life has just gotten so stale. Any advice?”

Ok, so I’ve never really said this. I usually answer:

“It’s ok. He’ll do for now until someone better comes along.” Then hang your head and walk away. Time how long it takes for your mom to ask you about your marital problems.

Q: Any human children in the near future? I get “human” because I always refer to my dog as my child.

A:I’d like them, but how does one go about getting them?”

The questioner usually throws her head back (it’s always a her), laughs, and follows up with “are you two trying?”

This is my least favorite question. Respond with something similar to “yes, I have sex with my husband. Do you have sex with yours?” This really throws them for a loop because the questioner thinks it’s inappropriate to talk about sex over turkey dinner. But somehow discussing baby-making is perfectly fine.

Q: Oh, I heard about your infertility. (there will be a sad face, a whiny tone of voice, and you may be touched). I know someone who suffered from the same thing. And guess what? As soon as they stopped “trying”, they got pregnant!

A: So maybe this is actually my most hated question. And it only warrants one response. “Ohmygosh, no way. Thank you for the awesome medical advice! All we have to do is stop trying?! Hey (insert husband’s name), aunt Carol says all we have to do to get pregnant is stop having sex!”

Q: Are you still running? (usually said with an disapproving look)

A: “Umm yeah, are you still sitting on the couch/drinking too much alcohol/ not helping your siblings care for your aging parent?” Or a simple looking the person up and down and responding “yeah, are you still not running?” works, too.

Q: I heard you did a marathon. How long was this one?

A:26.2 miles, like all the rest of them.” They often don’t detect the sarcasm in your voice because you lost them as soon as you said “26.2”.

The, the may follow up with “26.2 miles!? 26.2 miles? I don’t even like to drive 26.2 miles! I couldn’t imagine doing that.” Respond with “there was a time I couldn’t imagine doing that either, uncle Jim. It took a lot of time and determination to get to where I am today. And there’s no reason- unless a doctor says otherwise- that you couldn’t one day be a marathon finisher.” Plug the couch-2-5k program and maybe even offer to run a 5k with uncle Jim in the next few months. Being snarky is fun, but sharing your passion for your sport and recruiting another runner is much more fulfilling :)

What’s your favorite intrusive question? How do you answer it? Happy Thanksgiving!


Filed under: Uncategorized 45 Comments

Making a new behavior a habit

Posted by runnerstrials

So it looks like more of you want me to race. A lot of you made some great points.

For the cons: Meghan, Alex, Shanknitsnyc, Lauren, and Becky thought I shouldn’t give the race my hard-earned money after my last experience.

For the pros: Crystal- a mother- encouraged me to race while I can. Ida said I should race to see how my new diet affected my tummy.

All great points. But I did say whether or not I raced depended on the sheer number of yes vs. no, not the strength of the arguments. It looks like I’m racing…

…Unless I decide to drive to NJ that day. Driving myself in a car for 10+ hours post-race does not seem like a good idea. And safety is always my top priority :)

Make a new habit stick

Here’s your daily dose of health education. The whole point of my field is to make people healthy by replacing “bad” behaviors with “good” ones. We design programs and messages to help Joe Schmo go from being sedentary to getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. Got it? Good.

Here’s the catch: Behavior change is the hardest thing in the world. I’m sure if you’ve ever tried to diet, quit smoking, or stop biting your nails you agree with me. And telling someone else they need to change their behavior and getting them to listen is even more challenging. Hence the obesity epidemic in our country. A lot of people know their behaviors are unhealthy, but they lack the motivation (and often the ability and resources) to change them.

Another snag: changing a behavior takes a long time. How long? Possibly ears.

This is the transtheoretical model of behavior change. According to experts, you can linger in each phase of behavior change for about 6 months and you can relapse back into previous phases. Once you reach the maintenance stage, it takes 6 months of doing a new behavior to make it a habit. (source)

Another important part of behavior change: start small. Your new habit is more likely to stick if you make one change at a time. Plan to cut out sugar and become a runner? Not a good idea. (source)

Where am I going with this? (isn’t that always a popular question? ;) )

1. New Year’s Resolution time is just around the corner. Knowing a bit about behavior change can hopefully help you stay on track with your resolutions.

2. I am working at changing a behavior. And it’s arguably a healthy behavior, but I still need to do away with it. Since August 2009, Saturdays have been long run days and Wednesdays have been tempo/ interval run days. This is supposed to be my non-training time, yet I cannot banish this habit.

My back felt a bit better yesterday so I went on a long run. I know, I said I wouldn't. I ran 5 miles out and turned around. At mile 6, everything started to hurt. The last 4 miles home were miserable.

There is no reason I should have went on a long run yesterday. In fact, I didn't want to. But it was Saturday. I need to change this behavior or I’m just going to end up burnt out or injured :( One step at a time.

What behavior are you working on changing? Have you been successful or unsuccessful with behavior change in the past?

Filed under: Uncategorized 14 Comments

To race or not? You decide

Posted by runnerstrials

Thank you all for the support on my lactose intolerance-ness (yes, that’s now a word). I’m still in the denial phase of grief which is why I haven’t talked about it much. But I promise to share my journey with you as I inch closer towards acceptance. I’m sure that’s just around the corner because Christmas cookie season is quickly approaching :)

Onto more pressing topics. I need your help.

There’s a big race here in Charlotte in 2 weeks: Thunder Road.

I don’t know if I should race the half-marathon. (There’s also a 5k and marathon option, neither of which is up for debate.)


I ran 13.1 miles of Thunder Road in 2008. I did the marathon relay, so I ran the first 13.1 miles, someone else ran the 5k, and the other relay member did the last 10 miles.

I hated this race, and vowed never to run it again. Why?

  • The temperature was somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-30 degrees with 20 mph winds.
  • The course was super hilly.
  • It was my slowest half marathon ever: 2:01 something.
  • When I finished, at the relay point, I had to walk 1 mile back to the race finish area. I was not given a mylar blanket or even water at “my” finish. Once I got to the “real” finish, I was denied entry even after I explained to two people-and showed them my race bib- that I just finished the relay. They would not give me a mylar blanket or water, so I had to buy water when I went back into the convention center.
  • We didn’t get medals for finishing the relay. Granted, we didn’t want 3 medals, just one. It was our 5k runner’s first race and I told her she could have our relay medal at the end. What a let down.
  • I emailed the race director about these issues and he just replied “there was water at the relay finish”. No, there was not. He didn’t even apologize or address the medal issue.

Obviously, Thunder Road left a very sour taste in my mouth. But there are some reasons I’m considering running it. And some reasons I’m not.


  • It’s 20 minutes up the road. I run races in the middle of no where and get up at 4am to do so. Why not run the one in my backyard?
  • It’s a big race. It even has an expo! Most races I do are small, so this would be a nice change.
  • A lot of my friends are doing it. And yes, if my friends jumped off a bridge, I’d follow them. They’re that cool ;) I could totally see myself regretting it if they all had a good time.
  • It’s not that hilly. When I ran this race in 2008, I was living in Atlanta, and only ran in a flat park. Now I’m used to hills, and I haven’t run a non-hilly half in the past year.
  • The half-marathon is my favorite distance. It’s the perfect challenge of speed and endurance for me. And it’s a treat any time I get to race it.
  • I want to get knocked up soon. So shouldn’t I race while I still can?


  • It may be that cold again. But it probably won’t be. This Fall has been warm… so far. And guess what? Cold weather exercise doesn’t affect performance like hot weather, unless you waste energy by shivering (source).
  • I won’t PR. When I line up at a starting line, I’m there to race. I always want to PR. For the past month or so, my speedwork has been non-existent so a PR is not in the cards.
  • It’s pricey. It costs $65 which isn’t that expensive for a race. But it’s the holiday season, so funds will be limited.
  • I may be driving to NJ later that day. And do I really want to sit in the car for 10 hours after running a half marathon?
  • I vowed never to do it again. I was really upset by how the race director blew off my concerns instead of apologizing. Yes, I know I’m immature. I should move on…
  • I probably can’t do a long run this weekend. Yesterday, I thought it’d be fun to fall down my stairs and land on my back. I’m ok, just bruised and sore. I’d rather fully heal than do a long run in pain, though. I ran 10 miles last weekend, and will aim for 12 next weekend. But I wonder if it’s enough?

Here’s the deal, beloved readers, you decide if I race. I can’t make up my mind. The pros and cons really seem to be even. So vote below. I promise to go with whatever choice the majority makes.

I also considered volunteering for this race because it’s something I want to do more. I’m a wimp and really don’t want to stand out in the cold at a water station. Selfish? Yes. But, I’m just being honest.

Do you ever have trouble deciding if you should race?

Filed under: Uncategorized 43 Comments