A Q&A with "experienced runner" and author Mark Remy. His witty collection of unspoken rules of running is in his book "The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a runner needs to know — and then some."
Originally published Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 3:10 AM
Runner's World.com executive editor Mark Remy is the kind of guy you'd want to go for a run with. A veteran marathoner with a childlike love for the sport, Remy would not judge you for wearing a cotton T-shirt, he thinks the whole pasta thing is overblown and he might offer a trite slogan just when you need it most.
Best of all, Remy loves running. To spread the gospel and to help non-runners and runners coexist peacefully, Remy has created a witty collection of the unspoken rules of the sport. They can be found in his new book "The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a runner needs to know — and then some."
Remy was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about "The Rule Book" and running culture.
Q: Which rule do you always end up breaking?
A: I wouldn't say I always end up breaking it, but ... probably Rule 1.47: Let Angry Motorists Go. When I have a close encounter with a driver — e.g., he or she rolls through a stop sign or blows around a corner without looking my way — it's awfully hard for me not to express my displeasure. Especially if that driver is on the phone. This is why I don't run with a large stick.
Q: Are runners a misunderstood group, and if so, why?
A: I think we are, sometimes, to non-runners. If you're a non-runner and you see some poor sap out there in searing heat and humidity or driving rain or a snowstorm, running hill repeats or a 20-miler or whatever, you're bound to find it puzzling. And actually, for a lot of runners, I think that puzzlement is a source of pride.
Q: Which rule or rule of thumb generated the most debate at Runner's World?
A: I would say Rule 1.20 — the one suggesting that ice baths are bunk. I know that many of my RW colleagues swear by ice baths after a long run or race. Not me. I still maintain that ice baths are an elaborate practical joke being played on runners: "Dude, you know what you should do after your run? (snicker) Go sit in a tub full of ice water. (snicker) No, seriously, it'll be great." I'm not falling for it!
Q: The running tips speak to experienced runners, novices and non-runners. How hard was that to pull off?
A: Well, that's gratifying to hear, because it's just what I was aiming for. Not that hard, really. As a former non-runner and novice, and current "experienced runner," I like to think I can relate to all three groups. Although I'm apparently still unable to refer to myself as an "experienced runner" without putting that phrase in quotation marks.
Q: Are you tempted to kindly tell people running in place at stop lights to relax?
A: Sometimes. Then I remember Rule 1.13: Keep Unsolicited Advice to Yourself. And I move on.
Q: What is the most annoying running habit?
A: Oh, boy. That's a subjective thing, I think — a dozen runners will have a dozen different answers. For my money, though, the most annoying habit has got to be overall obliviousness — runners who, for whatever reason, behave as if they're running in a vacuum. That's a broad, catchall habit that manifests itself in all sorts of annoying and even dangerous ways: sudden stops during a race, weaving around, cutting other runners off, etc. Pay attention to your surroundings!
Q: Why do you love running so much?
A: Where should I start? I love running's simplicity. I love the fact that it hurts sometimes. I love that our sport's stars are so accessible, and so down-to-earth. I love how a 45-minute run on a bad day can act like a "re-set" button, leaving me refreshed and energized. I love how each time I run a marathon, I swear them off forever — then keep signing up for marathons. I love that when I ran my first Boston and made the final turn onto Boylston Street to the finish, I cried. (What other sport packs that kind of emotional punch?) I love being part of such a fantastic global community; as a group, runners are the nicest bunch of people I've ever met. And I love being able to eat ice cream pretty much with impunity.
Q: Finally, thanks for the Farmer's Blow (aka Snot Rocket) instructions. I can never quite get it right.
A: You're very welcome. Just give me some distance until you've perfected it.