Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Interview With Mark Remy From Runner's World

Mark Remy is a writer at large at Runner's World and has been writing his popular column "Remy's World" since 2007.  He has been a runner since 1994 and has run seven Bostons. His PR's include: 16:29 5K, 1:16 half marathon and 2:46 marathon. He is an author and his books include "The Runner's Rule Book", "The Runner's Field Manual" and "C is for Chafing", which according to his website, "is the first picture book ever to include both an illustration of a runner vomiting and an illustration  of a child doing a 400-meter repeats on an outdoor track. " His motivational posters are also very popular and I have been known to post them a time or two.
Do you remember the moment you felt like a runner?

That's a tough one. If I had to pick one, it would have to be the moment during a certain 15-mile race that I nearly pooped my pants. And by "nearly pooped," I mean, "pooped, a tiny bit." Fortunately I was wearing tights – it was a winter race – and it was very late in the race. So I ran right through the finish line and into the nearest bathroom. "Well, this is it," I thought. "I am a runner."

What is your weekly mileage? Are you training for a race?
Horrible timing! I just took a month off. (Actually I wrote a column about it, published this morning in Runner's World) But in general, I don't go crazy with mileage. Never have, even back when I was "competitive" (however you define that) and shooting for PRs. Probably the most I've ever run in a week was 70 or 75 miles. Lately it's closer to 30 or so, on average, depending on what, if anything, I'm training for. Not currently training for anything.

Do you have any rituals or superstitions?
No superstitions, per se, but I always do re-tie my shoelaces on the starting line.

Do you have a philosophy on diet and nutrition?
Not really. I eat whatever I'm craving, within reason, and try to keep portions under control. I also try hard to avoid "mindless eating" – i.e., plopping down in front of the TV with a bag of chips and just shoving handful after handful into my mouth as I stare at the screen. Also I don't drink soda. Ever. Not even the diet stuff. I just think it's awful. Other than that, I try not to stress. I think way too many people overthink diet and nutrition. It's become a sort of religion. And way too many "diets," to me, seem really grim and joyless.

What was your most memorable race? Tell me about it.
Probably my first Boston Marathon. I'd trained hard to get there, obviously, and it was everything I'd been lead to believe. It sounds hokey, but Boston really is magical. I'll never forget that final left turn onto Boylston Street, seeing the finish line and hearing the roar of the crowd. I cried.

I love Remy's World because of your unique humor. Why do you think Remy's World is so popular?
Well, it's right there on the homepage, which can't hurt. But seriously, to the extent that some people enjoy it (and, trust me, not everyone does), I think it's because it's so unexpected. Usually when someone writes about running, it tends to be dry and earnest. Which has always struck me as odd, because in my experience, runners themselves have a great sense of humor. So when someone sees my column, which is anything BUT dry and earnest, it seems like a nice change of pace. If you'll forgive the pun. I like to think that my stuff evokes that feeling you get on a long run with your favorite running friends – sometimes it's serious, but more often than not it's silly and weird and funny. Or at least tries to be.
There is always a debate about being called a "jogger" or a "runner", what is your take?
My position, which is well documented, is that you call yourself a jogger at your own risk. Bad things happen to joggers. Bad, bad things.

What was your lowest point in your running career, what did you learn from it?
Probably DNF'ing at Grandma's Marathon. (2006? 2007? I can't remember exactly.) Only race of any kind or distance that I've not finished. Ever. I walked off the course at the halfway point, because I was sweating profusely but also had chills and goosebumps. That was the only time I've really feared for my health during a race. What did I learn from it? I guess just that you can prepare all you like, but the marathon sometimes has plans of its own.

If someone asks you, "Why do you run?", how do you respond?
I tend to think, hokey as this sounds, that if you have to ask you'll never understand.

What is your advice to runners who are just starting out?
BE PATIENT. Yes, in all caps. So many people dive head first into running, and want to go from zero to marathon as quickly as possible. Which is a huge mistake. (And often a path to injury or burnout, or both.) Slow down. Take your time. Build a base. And try to have fun along the way. If you loathe running every time you do it, you're doing it wrong.

Have you been to New Hampshire? If, so, what did you like about it?
You know, I don't think I have. Sad, right?


Race: Boston Marathon

Running shoe: I don't have a single favorite. I like racing flats in general, or simple, lightweight trainers.

Running store: Since I moved to Portland, OR, with my family a few months ago, I have to say Portland Running Company.

Way to relax: With the Sunday Times crossword and a cup of coffee (before noon) or glass of IPA (after noon).

Athlete: You probably mean "runner," but I'll throw you a curve ball and say Greg LeMond. Before I was a runner, I was a crazy-devoted road cyclist. This was back in the mid-'80s, when LeMond burst onto the scene and began beating the Europeans at their own game, in the Tour de France, against all odds. Then he got shot, and everyone counted him out. And he came back to win the Tour again. The thing about LeMond was that he wasn't only a supremely talented, gutsy athlete but a genuinely nice guy.

Recovery meal: Cheeseburger and beer.

TV show: "The Simpsons."

Movie: There are so many, I can't pick just one. But I'll tell you that I've seen "Goodfellas" and "Glengarry Glen Ross" more times than I can remember.

Book: Again, can't pick just one. How about "anything by Kurt Vonnegut"?

Singer/Band: Pound for pound, you can't beat The Pixies.

Mantra: "Relax."

Guilty pleasure: I don't believe in guilty pleasures. Just pleasures.

City: Portland!

Country: Apart from the U.S.? Iceland. I've never even been there, but I'm obsessed with it. I want to visit Reykjavík. No idea why. I just do.

Racing Memory: Running with my daughter in her first "race" last fall. As I described it in a column, it was "my best, and slowest, race ever." Hands down.

Thanks to Mark for putting his busy schedule aside to answer my questions, I appreciate it! Mark has written some great books and you get an autographed copy at his website. You can also follow him on FaceBook. Don't forget to check out his column, Remy's World, in Runner's World. It is highly entertaining!