Back to Basics …

The secret to running well is simpler than you think.

[note to reader: this is an excerpt from a column in the current issue of Runner's World. If it pleases you, replace the words run, runner and running with the word scrap, scrapper or scrapbooking -- and then see if you don't join me in some enlightening parallels]

… more and more I find myself becoming a running pragmatist. As I hear about the latest gadgets and apparel, I wonder, what difference will it truly make? In my early years as a runner, I was so excited about my newfound passion that I got caught up in the trappings, and lost sight of the bigger picture. I only cared about what difference I thought something would make. Take my first real pair of running shoes: The Saucony Jazz. I like jazz music, played jazz music, and knew jazz musicians. So, surely, these were the right shoes for me. And I’m sure they were fine shoes. It’s just that I never paused to ask whether they would  help me achieve the transformation I was after.

And running apparel? Give me a break. I didn’t ask what difference it would make. I only cared how it looked. I tried tight shorts and loose shorts; singlets with snaps to hold your race number and others with capped sleeves; thick socks, think socks, no socks. If anyone made it, I bought it.

When it came to nutrition, my approach was no different. I tried every
energy bar on the market. There had to be one that would fulfill the
promise–or, in my case, fantasy — of making me faster. I ate high
protein and high carb. I ate two hours before I ran. I ate 20 minutes
before I ran. I drank whatever concoction I thoguht would improve my
race tines. Vitamins? Tried them all. Supplements? I can’t even tell
you all the prescription, nonprescription, herbal and semilegal stuff I
ingested or rubbed on  my body. I guess I was fortunate that old men
finishing marathons in more than five hours are never test for durgs.
But all that time, I never questioned whether the shoes, socks, or
energy bars would make the difference between an eleven-minute pace and
a seven-minute pace.

Then I remembered the doctor who taught me that important question, and now i challenge the claims and promises held in front of me. Sure, shoes, gear and sound diet are valuable. But the only thing that has ever made any difference in my running is my running.

If I run with a goal, with or without the latest shoes on my feel and materials on my body, I improve. If I train with enthusiasm, with or without the supplements, bars, and gels, I improve. And if I race with passion, I am rewarded with a satisfying performances, even if I look like a pudgy old man with graying hair and an awkward stride.

So the next time you’re tempted to put something on or into your body rather than working to get something out of it, ask yourself, what difference will it make? My guess is you will find, as I did, that you already have what you really need to be your best.

Waddle on, friends.

[check out to read more running wit and wisdom]

I also have to give a shout out to my brother Cougar.

Cougar, an awesome teacher, has taught at an alternative  high school for years (he has just completed his PhD and is now a professor at BYU — my little brother, a professor!) in any case, last fall Cougar challenged one of  his PE classes to run a marathon. These students were not runners — most of them had never run before. Most of them could not run two miles. Well, fast forward to last Saturday … and check out this link to the Salt Lake Tribune (you have to read down a little bit until you see Cougar’s name) and see how it all turned out — it’s worth your time!

Way to go bro — I am so proud of you and your students.


  1. One of my ultimate goals in life is to actually become a runner-I have tried, and failed, and I need to try again & not give up!! I need some running wit & wisdom….(-:

  2. Cindy B. says:

    This is so inspiring. A great reminder to get back to basics and just do it. I am also excited to meet you on August 1 at the Valley Forge, PA CKC- I just signed up for 2 of your classes today! Thank you for being so happy!

  3. I always love John Bingham’s articles—he’s got this way of being funny and insightful all at once. And, congrats to your brother—having taught high school I understand thoroughly what a great accomplishment he made and the impact he must have had on his students.

  4. Fabulous!! See you in Detroit!

  5. Beth Smith says:

    Taking your LOM class has taught me so much and has been such a personal journey… much more than I ever thought. You are so right about the parallels here between running and scrapping — or many of life’s great endeavors. I’m thinking particularly about how much stuff we registered for before our 11-month-old was born. It’s not the STUFF that’s important or the STUFF that makes you better. It’s the DOING. It’s the scrapping, the playing, the loving, the living… the running. What a wonderful way to start my day! Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Jen McGuire says:

    I love this and I recognized that this was the Penguin talking right away! I am a Penguin. Half-marathon coming up on May 3rd. I’ll be waddling my way through it!
    And, Stacy, you are right. What he said applies not only to running but to scrapbooking.
    And how awesome for your brother and his students!

  7. What a wonderful article Stacy! As a read it, I replaced the word runner with scrapbooker and WOWZERS! did that ALL ring true!! This will definitely make me stop and think before I walk into another store. I’ve been doing more and more of that lately – actually THINKING before I purchase. I have so much STUFF already that I think it’s sucking the creativity out of me! It’s taking TIME to wade through all the patterned paper to find just the ‘right one’, it’s taking TIME to wade through the embellishments to find just the ‘right one’…I am spending all of this TIME just searching for stuff that I’m actually wasting the amount of TIME I get to CREATE!! And you know what?? I am getting SO FREAKIN’ FRUSTRATED instead of having FUN CREATIN’ PAGES!!!!!!! Ugh!!! And this article comes at another interesting time as I have just printed off an article about being a Couch Potato and within 3 months running 3 miles a day. Think that’s a sign?? :-) Have a WONDERFUL day! peace and blessings, Cindy

  8. Debbie (kitleen) says:

    I’m a runner and what you posted here hit home. I get caught up in the same thing sometimes…both with running and scrapping. I have been making an effort lately to get away from that. And I thank you for the reminder.
    Run, people. Run, run, run. Then run home and scrap. Scrap, scrap, scrap. =)

  9. Jeannette P says:

    Call me a HUGE sap but I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face after reading that article. Not b/c I think it was sad by any means but to read of the accomplishments that each of these people did was amazing to me. It’s really cool how each of them set a goal and through hard work, perserverance, and determiniation they reached that goal. Not necessarily to be the best but to finish and that speaks volumes to me. I am by no means a runner, in fact, I don’t really like running at all but I do enjoy many other things including walking, spending time with my family, reading, movies, scrapbooking, crafts, organizing etc. And I agree that setting a goal for each of these things and looking at the small stuff can make everything so much better. It’s not the ‘stuff’ that will help me reach my goals but what’s inside of me and how I utilize it. Thanks for reminding me to be content with what I already have and utilize my talents that God has blessed me with to the best of my ability.
    Stacy, you are always so insightful & that’s one of the reasons I enjoy visiting your blog so often. :D

  10. What an accomplishment for your brother! My mother has been in education her entire life so I can understand what an impact he has had on those students lives. This will stay with them forever.
    MMcNeill (LOMer)

  11. Love John Bingham… he’s a funny, insightful man. And yes, what he says of running is true… and substitute in fancy scrapbook supplies, and it’s true of scrapbooking… or anything in life, really. It’s all about making the most of what you have to work with. Thanks for posting this, Stacy.

  12. Very cool! I copied it and sent it on to my running buddies too! Some good info in there! Thanks so much!

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