I am a runner, as I’ve declared on countless occasions. Indeed, I am a varsity runner, as evidenced by my varsity letter from my high school running days. But now, I am a rebel runner – with a badge to prove it. OK, I don’t have an actual badge, it’s more of a sticker. But it’s near enough to a badge and I’m counting it. And I do have my varsity letter and XC emblem, which is a badge on steroids!
Indeed, over the years I have earned countless medals (and a couple of trophies) for my running endeavours. And because “participation medals” seem to be standard for most fun runs and half/full marathons these days, I’ve accumulated a lot more in recent years.
I’ve also been really racking up the Garmin badges since they began “awarding” them a few years ago. And when they started pushing out more and more badges (and more and more challenge badges) at the start of the COVID lockdowns, I began chasing badges to motivate myself outside. From step counts to walking to running, the badges motivated me to move more.
But this post is about my newest running bling: My “Rebel Runner” badge! The badge is one of the 52+ badges I am working on from the Rebel Badge Book. The “rules” say I can claim this badge based solely on past actions, but I have combined a bit of “past” with some new stuff and some reflections of my running.
Rebel Runner Badge (Wellness Category)
There are five clauses for this badge, and you must complete all of them to claim the badge. As I mentioned above, I used some of my previous activities to claim this badge.
Clause 1: Over a period of 2 months, attend a parkrun at least 4 times. If there isn’t one near you, walk or run 5K at 9 am on a Saturday.
This was an easy win for me because I am a regular runner. There isn’t a parkrun near me, so I opted to run on my own (as I almost always do). However, my weekend runs tend to be longer runs (5-13 miles, on average) so I keep my 5Ks to weekdays and ran longer runs for this badge.
As for times, I rarely ever run “at” 9 am. However, I have completed countless early morning runs – including ones that begin before sunrise – of varying distances. Whenever possible, I like to be running by 8 am at the latest, because the later in the day it gets, the more excuses I’ll come up with to not run. I also enjoy early runs because it means I can watch the sunrise as I put in the miles. There’s something so wonderful about watching the world wake up whilst I’m running along…
Clause 2: Depending on your level of experience, sign up for a 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, or Ultra Marathon and follow a training plan to train for the race over at least 3 months. Complete the race.
Oh, I do love a good race! From my school days on the cross-country team to “homemade” races in the homeland to memorial marathons in the heartland – and everything else in between. The last time I planned for a “real” race was a series of half marathons and marathons throughout 2020. But COVID shut the world down so that didn’t happen. Whilst I am considering returning to “organised” races in 2023, I am not committing myself to anything at this point (see below).
Rather than planning and training for organised races, I planned for individual runs. I mapped out courses specifically for this badge – both around my home here in Scotland and around my hometown in America. These plans included mapping out appropriate distances as well as planning out my hydration for longer runs so that I didn’t have to carry all my fluids with me.
As for “training”, I don’t really “train” for races anymore because I just run. For real medical reasons, I can’t safely manage more than a marathon and because I can easily run a half marathon without really “training”, it’s not a stretch to run a full marathon. However, I am always “training” for improvement in my running techniques and pace so in some ways I suppose I am training all the time. I treat my training runs a little differently than a normal run because I am specifically focusing on a running task instead of letting my mind “run” on its own as I normally do.
Clause 3: Research different nutrition options for your race. Can you change what you eat during training, in the days running up to a race, during a race, or after a race? Which products work for you? Which don’t?
I never gave much thought to running nutrition until my distances began to increase from the 5K and 10Ks of my teens and 20s to half-marathons and marathons from my 30s onwards. And, indeed, most of that was because my late husband was keen to make nutritional changes and to try various “goops” and energy gels to energise himself mid-run.
But I have observed what works and doesn’t work for me, even though I’ve made very little effort to “create” a nutrition plan. What I learned was that my body does “run” better if I have a good carb-rich dinner the night before a run. I don’t generally eat “differently” after runs, except for half marathons or marathons when I treat myself to a bit of salty junk food. Otherwise, I just eat “as normal”.
I also learned that I absolutely despise goops and gels. They gum up my mouth meaning I need a lot of extra water to clear away the goop and the horrid taste. Because of my dislike of goops, I decided I would try gummy sweets for running marathons. A few jellybeans in my pockets to re-energise at 12 and 20 miles. But because I knew they were in my pocket all I could do was think about them. Meaning all my jellybeans would be gone before I hit 12 miles.
But what I realised after my second marathon is that I don’t need to consume energy along the course – I just need water. And maybe a bit of sports drink at one of the hydration stations. But I certainly don’t need anything other than water for a half-marathon distance.
The key for me is to make sure I have enough water on a run. It is likely the most important nutritional choice I can make, and I drink a lot of extra water on long-run days – and the day before, too, if I know in advance that I’m running a longer distance. (It’s not unheard of for me to go out for a 5-mile run and extend it to 13+ miles.)
Clause 4: Research future challenges – are there any longer runs, triathlons, or run-swims that appeal to you?
There are so many running challenges that look appealing to me, but my chronic health conditions make it difficult to undertake them without completely re-imaging my life. So, I have decided that I will stick to marathons as my longest distance – and I will just challenge myself to do better each year. Better with my overall mileage; better with my overall pace; better with my personal bests.
(As an aside: I am trying to kick up my hiking challenges these days… but that’s not this badge.)
I am hopeful, however, that 2023 will mean a return to the race circuit. I am going to keep an eye on things in the winter months and if I feel confident from a COVID standpoint, I will register for a few half marathons and another running of the Loch Ness marathon. So… watch this space!
Clause 5: Are there any changes you need to make to your kit? What works well? What doesn’t?
My running kit is quite sparse for how much running I do, and it’s quite old and tattered, too. So, I guess it’s fair to say that there are a lot of changes I should make to my kit. However, what I have works for me so any changes will come from necessity rather than desire.
My running wardrobe includes a pair of long running tights and another pair of cropped ones that go just below my knee. I also have two pairs of shorts (one black, one neon yellow/green) and two running tank tops with built-in support. In addition, I have a light (white) running jacket and several pairs of white ankle socks.
All of the above are more than 10 years old (some are more than 15 years old) and are in various stages of tatters. And some have undergone several repairs.
Other bits of the kit include my late husband’s old running gloves and waist belt and a couple of old headbands and hats from pre-widowhood, too. At times, I also run wearing little camisole tops (hot weather) or I add a long-sleeved t-shirt (cold weather) from my everyday wardrobe.
The exception to my collection of old, tattered running kit is my shoes. Those are regular purchases (at least one new pair each year) and I select my shoes for their comfort and support over and above the cost. Yes, whilst I am happy to scrimp on my clothing, quality running shoes are a priority so that I can stay injury free (as much as possible).
I don’t have intentions to “change” my running kit, but I do know I need to add to it and (at some point) replace some elements as they become unusable. But for now, I’ll just keep wearing the stuff I have, and I will find a weird sense of pride in knowing I am making things last as long as possible.
And that, Dear Reader, is my long and rambling post about my Rebel Runner badge.