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Out There: From The Mailbag…

Humor columnist Susan Lacke takes reader questions.

Humor columnist Susan Lacke takes reader questions. 

A couple weekends ago, I did Escape from Alcatraz with my partner, Neil. That run was simultaneously the hardest thing I have ever done and the most fun I’ve ever had. Sadistic, I know.

But now I’m paying for it, because I’m pretty sure I left my legs and most of my brain cells on that course. If you live in San Francisco and you see either of them, please mail them back to me. I miss my legs! My brain parts, not so much, but that’s only because I don’t really need that to qualify for Boston.

While I’m waiting for that package to arrive, let’s open up the “Out There” mailbag and look at some of your questions:

Due to the recent rash of face-eating incidents, I’m convinced there’s a zombie apocalypse about to happen. How do I train for it?

When I get questions like these, I’m reminded that I could have chosen a more “normal” career path.  Thank you for validating my choice to pick the cool job. I will never, ever get bored here.

To answer your question: I’m told that interval training and upper-body workouts are key. Also, to quote the great zombie hunter, Theodore Roosevelt: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” (Historical texts often edit out what followed, which was “Aim for the head.”)

It’s HOT outside. How do I keep up with my workouts without dying in the heat?

Apparently, humans are supposed to be good at running in extreme temperatures. It’s some sort of evolutionary advantage we have – back in caveman days, we developed the ability to run down all sorts of animals in the heat until they collapsed from exhaustion. It’s how we got the antelope to throw on the gas grill. Do you think they let the cavemen defer their entry to next year’s Boston Bison Hunt in those days? Hell, no.

But, you know, there’s Subways and Whole Foods now, where they chase the antelope for you, so it’s kind of a moot point now. Unless you’re training for the Badwater Marathon, I’m hard-pressed to find a reason to run outdoors in 111-degree heat. It’s too risky. Get up early in the morning, when the temperatures are cooler, or run indoors on the treadmill.

Stay safe out there, folks. I like y’all too much to want anything bad to happen.

Any tips for running while breast-feeding?

Okay, I’m not a mom, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But PUT…THE BABY…DOWN while you run. And I thought carrying a water bottle was annoying. Sheesh.

You mentioned in a previous column that you’re trying to drop a few pounds to make race weight. What diet are you following?

Forgive me for sounding cliché, but it’s not so much a diet as a lifestyle change. With the work of my nutritionist, I’m making little, tiny tweaks to what I eat to get the most nutritional bang for my buck: Less bread, more veggies. Less cake, more fruit. And “Wine” is not a food group, apparently. I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around that last one.

I’m currently in the middle of tapering for my first Ironman. Between the lack of exercise, crazy nerves, and excess time on my hands, I’m antsy. My husband is driving me crazy and I may kill him before race day. Help!

Look, I’m guessing Ironman training took up a lot of time and brain cells over the past few months, so I’m just gonna spell it out for you: put on something pretty, take the poor guy on a date, and remember that your bike has probably seen more action than he has for the last few months. Ah! It’s starting to come back to you now, isn’t it? I can’t help you with the rest. This ain’t Cosmo magazine, you know.

On that note, I have a shameless plug: I’ve got a new monthly column over at where I write about life in a household with two endurance athletes….go check out “Triathlete Love!” Don’t worry. I’m still here every week, too.

Thanks for sending your questions, and for reminding me I’m not the only crazy person in a pair of race flats. You make my day, week, month, and year.




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