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Out There: A Runner’s Letter to Santa

Columnist Susan Lacke isn't looking for material gifts this year.

Columnist Susan Lacke isn’t looking for material gifts this year.

Dear Santa,

I know we haven’t been on speaking terms for about 25 years, when you failed to deliver a pony on Christmas. I said some pretty harsh things back then about you and your waistline, and in hindsight, I probably could have dealt with the situation a little differently. Consider this my apology. I still think you could lose a few pounds, Santa, but now this sentiment comes from a place of love and support, not judgment.

My nieces and nephews tell me you’ve got a pretty good track record these days with filling Christmas wishes, so I figured I’d give you another go-around. My pony phase ended back in 1990, so that’s off the list now. To be honest, I don’t have much to ask for—I’ve got a roof over my head, a job I love and a handsome husband waiting for me at every finish line—so I’ve got it pretty good, Santa.

But there are still a few gifts I wouldn’t mind finding under the tree this year. They’re not material things; I guess you might call them gifts of fortitude. I know it’s an odd request, but the kids tell me you can make anything happen (except a pony, apparently … no, really, I’m over it now) so I figure it can’t hurt to ask. Here’s my wish list, Big Red:


I’m told I lack this virtue, and my impatience has gotten me in trouble on more than one occasion—mostly with my coach. Speaking of Coach Dude, if you have a little extra patience lying around, wrap it up and send it to him. I think he might need it more than I do, but for different reasons.


My friend Carlos tells me the only way I’ll improve as a runner is if I stop overthinking and stay out of the comparison trap. As he puts it, I need “a healthy dose of I Don’t Give A F***” before I hit the track. I’m not sure how IDGAF is administered—do I spread it on the skin like sunscreen, or is it consumed in gel form? I trust you’ll package my IDGAF in a suitable delivery method, though after all the doping scandals in track and field this year, it might be best to stay away from syringes.

RELATED: The Holidays, A Time To Eat

Core strength

Contrary to what I have long believed, my doctor says I do not have a soft, nougat-filled center like a Milky Way. Apparently, I have “core muscles,” and they are supposed to be “engaged” at all times. I struggle with this concept. When I try to engage my core muscles, my abs don’t do anything while my face looks like I’m pooping. I’m not asking for six-pack abs, Santa, but If one of your elf mechanics could flip the switch to “engage” these “core muscles,” that’d be rad.


Has anyone in your workshop figured out a way for me to do form drills without looking like I belong in a Fatboy Slim video? I know these drills are important, but the neighbors look at me funny when I silly-walk on my front lawn.


I’m usually a positive person, but this year has been a rough one. I only did one disappointing race—only one!—this year before an injury and surgery ended my season. I’m finally beginning the process of rehabilitation, but my aforementioned lack of patience really isn’t working in my favor. Starting over feels daunting—even impossible—and I slide into self-loathing pretty easily when things get tough. A positive attitude would really make rehab tolerable. At the very least, it’d keep me from knocking over the 95-year-old granny with her engaged core muscles at physical therapy. Nobody likes a showoff, right?

RELATED: Help, I’m a Stubborn-holic


This year, many of my non-running friends followed the Boston Marathon for the first time. They laughed. They cried. They Twitter-stalked race coverage. They yelled at the TV. This was the first time they actually cared about a running event, and were even inspired to talk about taking up running “someday.” Can you finagle a little magic to turn them from watch-ers to do-ers? I’d love for them to experience finish-line euphoria firsthand. Gaining more running buddies—well, that’d just be icing on a very delicious sugar cookie.

Thanks for reading, Saint Nick, and I hope I haven’t taken up too much of your time. Tell the wife I said hello, and give Rudolph a scratch behind the ear from me. If you’re looking to take up some light exercise to burn off those Christmas cookies, you just give me a call in January. Merry Christmas!

Susan Lacke


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke