Breaking Rules

For as long as I can remember, I’ve followed the 3-mile rule. Unless I’m warming up for a race or track workout, a run had to be at least 3 miles. I’m not sure where I came up with that number, but it seemed to be a good base. I mean, really, what’s the point of getting yourself all psyched up for a run and then needing to shower if you’re only going to do it for 15 minutes?

After a very busy few days in San Francisco, I returned to New York on Monday night. I dragged my jet-lagged self out the door, intending to do a 3-mile roundtrip run with a brief grocery store pitstop in the middle. After 14 minutes of running, I arrived at the Upper West Side Whole Foods. I quickly grabbed my essentials (yes, shortening for a pie crust is essential) and got in line. And then things went down hill. The curried chickpeas from the hot bar and the ice cold beers lining the cooler caught my eye. Before I even knew what I was doing, I grabbed a 6-pack of California beers (I miss you San Francisco) and a take-out container for dinner. And that’s when I decided the 3-mile rule was going to be broken. Running with beer just wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I walked home, cracked open a beer, and ate take-out while watching TV. And you know what? It was okay.

My decision in Whole Foods also made me realize that I was sorely (haha, what a pun) in need of some rest days. So I followed up that 1.5 mile run with two days of nada. I’m not going to lie – I always feel a little guilty when I take time off (oh hai Type-A, perfectionist personality!), but I think the only way to appreciate something you love is to occasionally take a break from it. This morning I got back in the saddle with a pre-dawn 8-mile run (thanks for the company, Kelly) and it felt good to be back. I was excited and happy to be running again – always a sign that I’m doing something right!

More rest days this week meant more time with friends! On Tuesday, Leslie hosted a blogger-potluck (although I hesitate to use the word “blogger” since I think we’re also “real life friends”, heh).

The eats were delicious, but ladies – next time can we include a few more vegetables?? Hah, kidding, obviously! They don’t call us healthy living/running bloggers for nothing…

  • Kale and parmesan salad and curried cauliflower with tomatoes (made by Leslie)

  • Mint, arugula, goat cheese & pomegranate salad and carmelized onion, fig and gorgonzola tart (made my Kelly)

  • Beet salad with mint (made by Sarah)

  • Black bean dip with carrots (made by Sofia)

  • Chickpeas in star anise and date masala (made by Katie)

  • Apple pie (by me!) Apparently I was too busy eating to actually snap a photo…

Do you have any running “rules”? In addition to my “3-mile” rule, I refuse to wear my glasses when I run (it has to be contacts!). I also need to put my hair into a ponytail. I don’t understand how women can run without tying it back!

  • I could never run with glasses or with my hair down either!
    Um, I tend to stick to one hour or 6 miles on most runs…no more during the week because I’d otherwise end up late to work. 🙂
    I also always make sure to stick to plain water during races until the very end; Gatorade always makes me queasy.

  • I have a similar rule, I try (because I’m healing from a knee injury) to run at least a 5k gearing up for a 10k all together. I’m making it, I’m slowing getting back to normal. Those eats look delicious!!

  • Grace

    Don’t feel guilty! You are amazing! I am relatively new to running and have been really slacking (esp. last week) on my half marathon training. But I decided to cut my losses from last week and not make myself feel guilty and start fresh this week! I don’t think I could ever run without my hair up, I also have to wear these Nike headbands to hold back any stray strands. I also wear my sunglasses even if it’s not very sunny. I feel protected by them for some reason…

  • Katie

    I have the same 3 mile rule! I have no idea where it came from in my mind but I’ll run down the block and back to at least get 3 miles. I took almost the whole week off due to terrible weather and having the flu. Hard to run when you’re getting winded going up the stairs!

  • Funny, I never thought of it as a “rule” but I don’t remember the last time I ran less than 3 miles outside. At the gym, if I’m using machines or doing other things I will sometimes just run a mile or two. I’m sure I have other rules I’m not thinking of right now – but this is a good reminder to be more aware of rigid thinking that can lead to creating “rules” that might not have much of a rhyme or reason. I definitely struggle with the type-A type stuff but try to be more flexible (with working out and in life!)
    The potluck looks really fun – I would love to have one in Boston.

  • Hi Megan,
    I love your blog and I wanted to stop lurking! I totally get the at least 3 miles thing. Health sites/magazines tend to recommend fitting something in, even if it’s a few minutes, but I never do! I need to commit to at least a half an hour.
    Totally on the same page regarding running with your hair down. I always assume the women want to look sexy while running – not an appropriate time for that!

  • you are a rebel. i definitely have rules. my minimum is 4 miles though. because it usually will take me a half hour, which i guess is the real rule. i used to have to wear my hair in a bun but my hair is too long now and i have to have it in a pony. and clippy thingys.

  • Megan

    I have that three mile rule too but I have no idea where it came from…I also 100% agree with the glasses and ponytail. I think even if I had a short haircut I’d try to put like four pieces of hair in a mini ponytail or else the rule would be broken.

    PS Shortening in pie crust, huh? I think we need to do a blind taste test, as a hard core butter fan.

  • I agree with the 3 mile rule and ponytail. In addition, I have to have a headband along with the ponytail to keep my “flyaways” under control.

  • I also have the three-mile rule–and I totally broke it this morning! The ground was covered with ice and snow, and I just knew we would have a two-hour delay for school (I’m a teacher). I procrastinated getting on the treadmill waiting to get the text that we’d have a late start, we didn’t have a late start after all, and by the time I finally got on the treadmill, I only had time for one mile before I had to get ready for school. I’m going to a fitness class tonight anyway, but still. One mile? I dirtied a sports bra for one mile?

    I also have the ponytail rule. In addition to a ponytail, I have to have either a headband or a hat to keep stray hairs out of my face. And even if I’m just getting on the treadmill in my own house or running at 5 a.m. in the dark when no one will see me, my outfit has to match.

  • our run was definitely the best part of my day 🙂 And i want some more of that pie asap.

    I have a similar 3-4 mile and ponytail rule! Another, newer rule I have is to bring $$ and/or a metro card on long runs. and make sure my keys are secure…not that i’ve ever lost my apartment key or anything…

  • I generally refuse to run in my glasses, as well – although one time I had a weird infection and couldn’t wear contacts for like a week, so I ended up sucking it up and running with my glasses on. It’s not as bad as I make it out to be in my head.

    I also refuse to run with my hair down. I don’t understand how other women can let their long hair down during runs. Doesn’t it get tangled?!

    If I run outside, I always do at least 3 miles. If I’m at the gym, sometimes I’ll just do a mile or two in addition to cross-training – but it’s never fewer than 3 if I’m outside.

    One big rule for my outdoor runs is to always bring my ID and metrocard just in case something happens. I run at night in Central Park and even though there are always plenty of people out there running or cycling, it makes me feel safer.

  • yay for real-life friends met via internet. 🙂 i think it’s almost our one-year anniversary, no?

    anyway, i’m so glad you skipped track practice to drink with us on tuesday haha. and i am a firm believer that a couple days off is a sure-fire way to renew your interest in anything – we can even burn out from the things we love if we don’t let ourselves take a break!

    so, people really run without their hair in a ponytail? are we on baywatch?

  • Ahhh I’m not the only one! I too will only run 3+ miles for it to “count.” It’s silly really, but I can’t break the habit.

  • I actually had a 5-mile rule when I was really hard-core. Since I’ve been injured several times, any day I can run at least 3 is a good day. One of my weekly runs these days is usually only 3-4 miles, made up for by the long Saturday run.

  • Felicity

    I totally agree with the 3 mile rule! where did that come from, for real?! another rule of mine is that I wear tights if it’s below 50 degrees and shorts if it’s above 50 degrees (with a few exceptions if it’s sunny vs. cloudy or if i have a hard workout). But I guess that just came from trial and error over the years. 🙂
    Another rule is that I do all my easy runs for time, and always assume 8 min. pace. I like to think that some days I go faster than that, some days I go slower, but for the most part it evens out. Garmins are great and all, but I don’t think I could ever use one… most days I am perfectly happy NOT knowing how fast I’m actually running haha 🙂

  • J

    I go back and forth. Last winter I did this thing where I would just run 2ish miles in the morning then go out for more after work. Some days when I don’t want to get up, I think to myself that its just two miles (or three or four!) and that I can get out of bed to do that.

  • Ashley

    I have a 30 minute rule, the run doesn’t count if it’s not at least 30 minutes, and 35 is better. Not sure where I got that into my head.

  • looks amazing

  • I don’t have any running rules, but my type A personality also makes me feel guilty with days off. I know that it is “healthy” to have rest days, so I force myself to take at least one day off a week!

  • Is it bad that I stereotype and refuse to take people seriously who don’t have their hair back when they workout? No ponytail? Do you not sweat, either?

  • I had such a nice time with you the other night! Your pie was freaking fantastic. I’m glad you’re letting yourself change the idea of what running means for YOU.

  • Dude. A while back I ran 6 by myself on a reeeally cold night. It was right after work and I’d forgotten my contacts. My glasses were fogging up like crazy. It was dark, there were deer ALL over the place and every little noise scared the crap out of me.

  • Oh, you are a rebel. I cannot run in glasses either, though. When I had an eye infection and couldn’t wear contacts, I ran on the treadmill. Funny story about ponytails – one time, I tried to race in braided pigtails. One pigtail fell out halfway through, and given that it was a 5K, there was no time to fix it. After that, ponytails only.

  • I think any run is better than no run. The most important thing is to listen to your body – if after 1 or 2 miles your body is fighting you, you should be allowed to stop without “breaking any rules.” Also, there are slow runners out there that might take much longer than 15 min. to run less than 3 miles – should they not run at all if they don’t have time in their schedules to run a full 3?
    Running will only be fun if each individual does what he/she is capable of.

  • Tara

    I totally have the 3 mile rule too! Probably because it takes me 30 minutes to run 3 miles and I feel like 30 minutes is the bare minimum for a cardio workout. Also, that’s my neighborhood Whole Foods too, and I can never get out of there without spending at least double the $$ of what I intended upon entering!

  • Yeah, if it’s less than three miles, I mentally classify it as a warm up and will not feel in any way satisfied. Seems like a lot of us subscribe to that three-mile mentality!

    As for hair, I used to always, always HAVE to have my hair in a braid ponytail in order to run, but now I just do the pony and let it get tangly.

  • I have a similar 3 mile rule. When I was getting back into running after an injury I would run less, but anything less than 3 miles generally seems meh to me.

    Although less than 3 miles for beer and some take-out sounds great to me!

  • breaking rules is okay when you run like a BEAST as you do. for folks like me who kinda toppled off the bandwagon and are flailing behind, it’s not always okay. but i guess i’m a rebel so i do it anyway :O)

    nah, but in all seriousness, if eating whole foods chickpeas and watching TV will make you happier than pounding the pavement outside, then DO IT. happiness project, right?

    um, gotta say your apple pie was AMAZING. wanted the last bite reeeeal bad. whew boy!

  • Sarah

    Hi! I just found your blog and as a New York native stuck in DC for the duration of her college career, I can say that your blog makes me very homesick. I’ve been reading all your posts from the last month just to hear about running in Central Park and restaurants and grocery stores I recognize!
    I don’t have many running rules, though I can’t even imagine not running in a ponytail. Out of habit, I hardly ever listen to music while I run if I’m running outside. Unless it’s really cold or I’m not feeling good and need motivation, I like using my runs to think and zone out. The other thing is that I hate having stuff in my pockets when I run. I’d rather hold on to my phone and my student ID the whole time than have them awkwardly in a pocket.
    This looks like an awesome blog, and I will definitely be back soon. Thanks!

  • I agree. It’s just not worth harnessing up “the girls” if I am not going to run at least three miles. Sunglasses a must. Since we are always on the road, I now wear my RoadID bracelet with hubby’s cell phone, my age, etc., just in case someone finds me alongside the roads of America. Be safe, sisters!

  • I definitely have to have my hair in a ponytail as well – but I think any type of run is a good one! 🙂

  • girl, you are a running machine! i am always amazing you don’t take more rest days because of how many miles you log a week. i love that you went home and cracked open a burr – you are a lady after my own heart, as is ALL those NYC blogger friends of ours!!!

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