Hello Reddit!

My name is Patti Dillon, formerly known as Patti Catalano. I started running March 28th, 1976 to lose weight. A few days prior to that, I was working M3 at the Quincy City Hospital, and I saw a girl I went to school with. She had cut her hair, was wearing a navy blue suit, heels, and I was struck at her poise, her confidence. Whatever quality she had, I didn't have. I didn't know who I was. And I recognized that instantly, and I wanted whatever she had. She was just beautiful, and I thought "I was on a holding place." I wasn't going anywhere. I was letting other people and events rule me, and I just went with the flow, but not in a good way.

So I took stock, and I said to myself, "I just want to be happy." That was as simple as I could put it.

I went home to my apartment and I made a clock, on paper. I filled in the times I was working, and saw what I was doing with the rest of my time, and I wasn't happy about it. So I developed something I called "The Be Nice to Patti Campaign", meaning that I wanted to be nice to myself, and try to be happy. I thought back to when I was happiest, and it was when I was a kid, when I had free time from working, or taking care of the kids (I was the oldest of nine). When I had time to myself as a kid, I would just get on my bike and ride, or jump in the ocean and swim. I was a good swimmer, I could swim for an hour or more without stopping, and I loved it, I missed it.

So that's what I did. I tried to go back to my childhood. I bought a bike, and on one of my first few rides, a STUPID, stupid guy drove up beside me and whacked me hard on the butt, and I flew over the handlebars. I wasn't going to have people dictate to me what I could or couldn't do, and so I tried something else. I went to the YMCA, and tried swimming again--the fourth or fifth time I went there, the Y was locked. No lifeguard.

That was that! I didn't want to rely on anyone. I wanted to get this for myself, to make this myself, to not have to depend on other people or things.

On one of my walks, eating a Baskin Robbins baseball nut ice cream cone (part of trying to be nice to myself), I walked past a bookstore and saw a book called Aerobics, by Dr. Ken Cooper. I actually went in and bought the book. (Who buys a book about running?) I read it. Not all of it. Just the parts I liked. I found out that you could burn 700 calories in an hour by jogging, and there were 3500 calories in a pound. I thought by the end of the week, I'd have lost 20 pounds!

(Didn't work that way.)

My very first run, I got all dressed up. Cooper said to wear your most comfortable pair of shoes, so I wore knee socks and my Earth shoes, by Thom McCann (they were knockoffs, really). I wore cutoff jeans with fringe ('cause I wanted to be fashionable), and my father's neoprene belt, so I would sweat. And three sweatshirts. Heavy sweatshirts, they didn't breathe at all. Over a 152 pound body. I'm 5'4". I looked like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. (LOL!)

I went for my first run around the Quincy cemetery, on the outer loop. Turns out one lap is a mile, I didn't know it at the time.

I ran seven laps. I only stopped because a police officer pulled up beside me, slowly, and stared at me.

"What are you doing?" the officer asked.

"Jogging," I gasped. Nobody ran in these days, especially a woman, unless they were being chased.

He just looked at me, and I got wicked scared. I stopped, looked back at him, and after awhile he went, "Okay," and drove away.

I went back to the Y to take a shower, weighed myself, and discovered I had lost three pounds! Hallelujah! I was going to be skinny by the end of the week.

I saw myself in the mirror and I looked horrible. I was white, with blotchy red patches, and black maroon circles under my eyes.

I looked awful.

I felt great.

I had never felt like that before. I was euphoric. I cried in the shower of the Y, because whatever it was, nobody had given it to me, and nobody could take it away. That was my thinking—I had it, I gave it to me, and I loved it. I wanted it.

And if what it took was running around a cemetery, and looking like this, then I was fine with it.

I did it again as soon as I could walk, which was two weeks later.

This started my career in running. I went on to set a world record in the 5 mile (25:48). I set the American record for the 10k, I think four times, ending with a 32:08. I was the first American woman to go under 33 minutes in the 10k, and the first American woman to break 50 minutes in the 15k (49:42). I set a world record in the 20k, 30k, and half marathon. I won the Newport marathon 5 times, setting a course record each time. I won the Honolulu marathon 4 times, also setting a course record each time. I placed 2nd in the Boston marathon three times, and also placed 2nd in the NYC marathon.

I was one of the first American women to sign a pro-contract with Nike. In 52 weeks, I ran 48 races, winning 44 of them. I would regularly train 120+ miles a week.

I was one of the few athletes at the time who didn’t have a background in pro-running. I didn’t run in college (didn’t go to college, they told me I wasn’t smart enough, boo Sister Madelon), I didn’t run in highschool.

I won these races and set these records, not to win races and set records, but to be nice to myself, and be the best I could be. I ran sick, or injured, or tired, with no excuses, because I wanted to be the best, and feel the way I had in that locker room in the Quincy YMCA.

I am now married to Dan Dillon, 6-time world XC team member. We have two children (Aaron and Raven), and we live in Connecticut. Today, I run with my faithful companion, Wilson, a golden retriever, and am finally restarting my career. I’m a motivational speaker.

Ask me anything.

(p.s. Proof! http://imgur.com/a/ecidT)


Thank you for all the questions! I'm going to take a break to run some errands...eat some dinner. Maybe run. This has been so wonderful! Thank you all so much, I hope to spend more time on Reddit, maybe in some fitness subs!!

Comments: 327 • Responses: 90  • Date: 

dustinomartino225 karma

When were you introduced to the histories of other Native American running greats like Louis Tewanima, Tarzan Brown and Billy Mills? Have you ever felt like you were carrying on their legacies?

pattiboston227349 karma

Hmm, great question. You'll shame me with my answer. I met Billy Mills at the start of the NIKE Oregon Marathon is Sept 1981 {?}. A Nike Rep brought me over from the starting line to introduce us. I hadn't heard of Billy....I know, I know...shame on me. There was so much for me to learn and learning about the men's events and runners at the time were not high on my list, lol.

Billy said "Hi Patti, nice to meet you and good luck to you today." I asked the NIKE rep, "Who's that?" I was given a brief rundown: Gold medalist, 10km, Sioux. WOW! I thought a Native...I was so happy to have met him. The only other Native American I was aware of was Tarzan Brown.

Billy Mills and have done speaking engagements with him over the years and I have huge respect.

I didn't feel like I was carrying on legacies while I was running, only after my career had ended...I was so involved doing what I was doing that making a legacy wasn't very high on my radar. These days I understand that I was representing my family, my community, my gender, my tribe, but most importantly, myself.

Edit: I should add that I wasn't raised with a Native American identity. It was frowned upon...when I was in the first grade, we went around the classroom and said what we were. "Irish, Scottish, Irish" (everyone was Irish). I said I was Indian. I got war whoops and got teased for the rest of the day...I went crying to my mother and said "Mom, the kids are teasing me!" She smacked me and said "What did you say that for? Serves you right. Keep your mouth shut." It wasn't until I got older that I started to embrace my heritage.

dotcorn65 karma

Great example of what to others are just seemingly benign, "harmless" actions (e.g. war whoops), but to us are reminders of what all happened to many of us as children - or even adults - and can take us back to a bad place. That's hard to explain or properly convey sometimes, because it's always more than that.

Can you tell us more about your heritage, or what you know? Sorry if answered; I haven't seen it yet.

EDIT: Answered below - Mi'kmaq. Thanks!

pattiboston227101 karma

My heritage..hmm.

My mother ran away from the reservation at 11. She made it to Maine and worked as a nanny for kids that weren't too much older than her...she had to learn English. She spoke Mi'kmaq and French and learned English pretty quickly, she was a fast learner. My mother was smart, she was a seamstress and a knitter. (She only spoke Mi'kmaq to her sister on the phone, too.)

She didn't want us to present as Indian, she wanted us to be "American"...funny how culture sometimes skips a generation that way. My daughter is finding her identity, what being Native means to her...it's hard, because my mother never taught me what my culture was, I had to learn it myself, so she's struggling too. It's a personal journey.

El_Minadero9 karma

I can identify so much with this. My family is Mexican-American, with my Grandparents being the ones to immigrate from Chihuahua to Los Angeles. My Grandfather was especially adamant on talking to us in english, not allowing us to mix Spanish and English, and raising us as good 'ol 'muricans.

Now that I'm older, I can tell that I don't quite fit with most places in the US; everything from food preferences to cultural attitudes shifted me and my brother's personalities quite clearly. Yet, none of us speak Spanish, there are no old recipes to draw on. We don't know anything of contemporary Mexican culture. Our music tastes are decidedly early 20th century Spanish bourgeois (even though we grew up extremely poor).

As a result, neither my brothers nor I fit in with our American friends. Nor do we fit in with our Mexican-American, or Mexican friends. The cultural divide has, in a sense, left us on a metaphorical Island, surrounded by an uncomfortable Sea.

Depending on circumstances, us 2nd and 3rd generational people can face a continuing identity crisis. I'd be curious to hear more of how you dealt with this.

pattiboston2275 karma

All I can say, is what I did. I didn't really get a hold of my heritage until I had my own children. It became apparent to me how important it was for me to teach my children more about their grandparents than their mom and dad.

I told the all the stories I knew about my mother and father. However, a couple of years ago my daughter started her own research and added to the stories. I was simply amazed upon hearing them. And when I did, things made more sense to me and explain quite a bit about my mom for me. And I got a better understanding of who she was and why she was the way she was.

If you want to find out about your heritage , I suggest you go for it. It may help you understand more about yourself. Why you do things the way you do, the way you ay think and expres yourself. I suggest to, start cooking. Wonders happened in the kitchen. Smell the aroma's let them wash over you. Taste and feel where it brings you. You may be surprised.

Give yourself a chance to learn more about your history. I think you may surprise yourself. .

webkinzoverlord134 karma

What advice do you have for aspiring runners?

pattiboston227255 karma

Have a goal! Stick to it. Even if that goal is just running a mile a day...but dream bigger. If I could do it over again, I would have dreamed bigger.

dustinomartino103 karma

During your meteoric rise as a world-class athlete, did you ever get the cold shoulder from runners that took the more "traditional" route to the podium? If yes, did that help put a chip on your shoulder to beat those that thought they were the best?

pattiboston227183 karma

Ohmygoodness...yes...Oops. Yeah, ok, I said it. Lol!! Thankfully I had a strong sense of belonging to the running community. The New England runners, a hardy bunch, mygoodness, they are and were terrific to me and for me. They never gave me an inch. I had to fight for every single step to beat them. That was the guys...lol they guys were tough and the women.... Joanie gold medal winner, Lynn Jenning 7 time World Cross Coountry Champion. I cut my teeth.

It was only when I started to get outside of NE that I had a few brushes with being dissed,, not so much as disrespect like they were mean to me. More like, if I beat them, they were disappointed in themselves that somebody like me beat them. Whateer that meant. Which didn't make sense to me.

And yes, it did give me a stiffer chin. A chip on the shoulder probably. Though I did imagine drawing a line on the starting line and daring somebody to cross it. "Go ahead"...LOL (In my mind, not verbally.) It was a something I did. I had no idea of the hierarchy in running. Who beat who at a college meet, who was expected to win and who would lead. I more or less rocked the boat so to speak.


Hey there, thank you for answering our questions! Having dealt with harassment when you were out exercising, what advice do you have for women who want to do these things but are worried about people catcalling them/harassing them? My wife is an avid runner but because of an incident a few years ago sometimes she feels like it's unsafe for her to go running outside.

You're an incredible inspiration, thank you!

pattiboston227174 karma

I was concerned then, I'm concerned now, especially with my daughter...I run at different times. I run different loops. I run defensively. I try not to set a pattern that people can follow, I know that can be tough with schedules. I run with a dog (or two...or three!).

Most importantly, I tell people my loop and where I'm going. I run a lot in residential neighborhoods or in the trails surrounding my house, so usually I only see deer. I get honked at sometimes.

My daughter deals with it a lot. She wears headphones (listens to Hamilton all the time...) and ignores them, that seems to work for her.

It's sad to say that I think I'm desensitized to it now, because I dealt with so much of it. The only thing I can do is be as safe as possible, as defensive as possible, and educate my son and husband about their behavior. My son is wonderful, a wonderful man, and my husband is just the sweetest. (his nickname is Saint Dan.)

I wish the world wasn't like this. I'm so sorry wife doesn't feel safe. It's an awful feeling. I went through most of my career not feeling safe. I was chased, I've been stalked, I've dealt with verbal and physical harassment, and nobody said anything. It was just something par for the course, like something expected that I and women was supposed to deal with by ourselves.

We need to stick together and educate each other to try and make the world safer for girls and women.

Beer_N_Cookies15 karma

Reading this has made me so sad. I'm a woman and I want to run, but I'm often reluctant to go outside alone because of everything you've said. It's infuriating that this is just the way things are for women in this day and age. If you're a male runner, think about it- have you ever thought twice about running the same route at the same time over and over? Have you ever been worried about running in the dark? Alone? What the hell? Why do modern women still have to worry about this?? This is truly sad.

pattiboston2275 karma

Oh my...please don't let fear stop you. Run on a busy road or part of the town you live in. Run with a friend.

Yes, it is sad.

duckgeek69 karma

You are an amazing role model, Patti! I love it when you and your peers pop up on letsrun to offer wisdom and commentary.

Do you think track & field "needs" to be more popular as a spectator sport?

pattiboston22757 karma

Thank you so much! I enjoy letsrun. Rojo and Wejo have done a great service and made a wonderful resource for runners.

Oh, YEAH! I would love to see people like Jordan Hasay and Allie Ostrander get more attention, I'd love to meet them and watch their meets. I think it should be more of a spectator sport. I love watching running, I don't know why people don't like watching track and field...people just don't get it, I guess.

pahasapapapa51 karma

How has age affected your running? My SO was a runner, but had to slow down because of heart and foot problems (currently healing). You wrote that you pushed through as a competitor, but how differently would you have approached this if it was just for your health and enjoyment without competition?

pattiboston22794 karma

Well, as a competitor, I pushed through. That's what you did, push. But now as an older person and running again to be competitive. Right now I am not pushing through even minor soreness. (Ok, that's a fib. I am pushing through...but not so hard.)

If I have to push through three runs, meaning three runs not three days, then I will back off and take stock. That's me though. At times I'm an idiot.

Right now, I am not pushing...I've missed several days of running due to foot and ankle weakness. I am doing stretching and strengthening exercises for ankle and lower leg.

I have a long term game. It'll take a few years to come to fruition. But that's ok. I'll enjoy great health, camaraderie at races and the companionship of my beloved Wilson on my runs. Hubby runs at different times due to work schedule otherwise I'd run with him. Though he is much faster than I (at the moment).

When I was coming up through the ranks at the time, all of the elites, I believe were the guinea pigs for injury treatment and prevention. All or most of my success was done prior to pro running. I relied on the goodness of peoples heart and shared knowledge about injury prevention. LOL! Though not always heeded.

Now, if I was an up and coming athlete today, I think I would have had more available. However, I don't know if the spirit of things would be the same.

Age has effected me greatly. What was once so slow for a training ace that I wold never consider even a "jog" pace. My age group calls it racing pace.....lol!!! I laugh...but I I'm in the boat of slow paced runner and I fear my race pace is not going to be much faster....Good thing I've given myself time. And look forward to great health and an enthused life.

Oh dear, good thing I run on time. An hour is an hour no matter the pace. I just got for it. I push now...well, the only push I can really say I can do ...is push myself off the couch, and push myself out the door. That has become easier the past month. I've been running since April of this year 2017.

seashells_hi34 karma

Did you ever pair your running with weight training or anything outside to help gain strength? What do you do if you find yourself in a negative headspace during a run? How can I encourage people on my cross country team to keep running and not walk so much or give up easily?

pattiboston22758 karma

WOW!!! Wonderful questions! I'm excited to answer for you.

I am now heading up my own training sessions including weights, body weight and gulp (stretching). If you knew me ..you would know for me to even mention stretching is not the norm for me. I'm doing mediation now starting with 5 minutes per day.

I do have a long term goal that relies on short term goals. I'd love to be able to 25 push ups. But I can only do a half one...shameful, but I will end up doing 25 in time.

Persistence is a key along with goals. Did I mention goals. Goals. and more goals are important. Talking to somebody that you trust about y our goals. Having support is a key.

I've had and been in bad headspace. But not for long. I've always been able to find a way out. One by talking to somebody about a goal. "Why can't I....Or when will I ___ fill in the blank ...to do whatever it is you wanted. The small daily short term goals are what keep me going. I have improvements all the time. Now I am faster running easier and doing a double on some days.

I read inspirations stories. I love to read interviews about how people did things or how they are doing things. I don't usually get negative headspaces during running...running has always been my escape, my way to blow off steam.

When I coached and I don't know if this will work for you. To be on the team a runner had to run 30 minutes without stopping to be able to run for the team. My husband and I founded and coached The Connecticut Homeschool Harriers for several years. We had 65 kids in our team, and keeping them running every day was a challenge. We relied on parents until the kids started motivating themselves and things clicked.

I was never on a team though, all of my work was done by relying on myself. I wasn't on a highschool or college team...experiences are different. Thank you for your questions! :D

Sketchbook_girl18 karma

I read your post and that reminded me a bit of myself. My whole life I have had low self esteem and for some reason I thought I was an awful person. Many times I went to the gym because I wanted to be fit but always leave it, I wasn't feeling great even if I had a very nice body, I kept thinking bad of myself.

Stuff happened and I am almost 20 lb more than my lowest, started going back to the gym because I wanted to love myself, I had to take care of my body, because I deserved it. Everyday I woke up, run for an hour, I do weightlifting and run away and I think I feel exactly what you felt after your first run, I look awful, I smell, I am a mess but I feel invincible, I feel loved and each time I can run faster or lift more weight I feel great.

My mental health has improved 1000000% these last 2 months than my whole life and I am grateful for that. And it's funny because I am like you with pushups and other "simple" exercises, I can only do one so far but my goal is to be able to do 30 and then 40 and so on.

It's inspiring knowing a fellow sister did the same and actually got a career about it! I could feel your happiness while reading your post and I felt so identified. I am actually thinking of participating next year on my first marathon!

EDIT: please stay here! :D I am sure Reddit will appreciate your wisdom, positivity and knowledge so much!!

pattiboston2272 karma

LOL!! Ya'know while working you don't have to look pretty. And after a workout and feeling smooth is above what ya look like. LOL!

I sorta glad I looked in the mirror because feeling good isn't about looking good.

aewillia30 karma

First, I would like to thank you for helping pave the way in women's athletics. I just started running about three years ago and have been nothing but supported by my friends, family, and the running community, and I feel very thankful that I didn't have to face the same kind of challenges to competing that you and other leading women did.

Second, I was wondering how many years it took you to build up to 120 mpw. Obviously at seven miles for your first run, you've got a solid head start on most of the population. Did you jump pretty quickly into the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and then take a longer time to build up from there or did you find yourself well-suited to high mileage very early on?

If you ever find yourself on reddit again, we'd love to have you hang out with us over at /r/advancedrunning!

pattiboston22728 karma

I was always pretty well suited to long distances...I've been working hard since I was a kid, it just...happened, lol! Your MPW was a badge, and you broke up into groups of what miles you were doing per week...I wanted to be one of the people who did 100+ miles a week, they seemed so cool and respected.

I did a lot of 150 miles a week. I think the most I ever did was 215. I'm not an ultra-marathon runner, I wish I had known about it during my career...I wanted to do a 50 miler, but my coach said no...why did they always say no? I was a little concerned about my recovery because I had races on the books that I needed to perform well in.

These days, a marathon is just about as long as I'll go. I'll train hard to prepare for a marathon, but I'm not interested in racing distance higher than that.

I'd love to be a part of your subreddit! Thank you for letting me know! Today was my first day on reddit and my daughter showed me all the different fitness subreddits there are...I think I'll be here a bit! I can learn a lot! :)

aewillia9 karma

215 miles? That's amazing. I can't even fathom that. It seems like all of the big name marathoners and track people these days don't tend to go that high mileage anymore, I guess because it's so hard to recover from that much training stress. Did/do you keep running logs?

I wanted to be one of the people who did 100+ miles a week, they seemed so cool and respected.

Even at my level, I totally understand that feeling. I remember that when I started running, 40 miles a week seemed unattainable. Now that's where I sit pretty regularly and I see people running 60-70 mpw and I'm just waiting for the day that I can run that much (hopefully).

Ultramarathons definitely seem really appealing. Even just a 50k would be cool to try just once. The trail and ultra community seems like one of the most interesting subcultures in the sport and I'd like to experience it just once. I figure that waiting until after I've done an actual marathon might be best, though.

pattiboston22724 karma

Roads and trail running are definitely two different things. Trail running is easier on your legs, but you're more prone to falling (which I have done. many times). Can't really run with fatigue, you have to pick up your feet. You won't really trip over a tree root in the street. I just watched a documentary about a woman running The Long Trail in VT, it's on Netflix, she ran 273 miles in five days! Crazy! Super kudos.

I don't keep running logs. I used to keep them when I was with Nike, they wanted access to all my records (health, running, etc.) I had to do a weekly log. I didn't really care for it. I keep track of my mileage in my head these days--I'm more concerned with time and the way I feel after my runs.

pattiboston22719 karma

By the way...thank you so much! I'm so glad you're a runner...the running community can be so wonderful and supportive. :)

__artifex29 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

I think the beginning of your story, where you took stock of how you were feeling and what you were doing with your life and decided to change it is something a lot of people could stand to read and reflect on - myself included.

Your story reminds me a bit of my mom, who's a Native woman and the first to graduate college in her family. She describes racism (including from members of our tribe, e.g. being called an apple) and sexism she felt when she was younger, and how it effected her sense of identity.

How did you eventually come to appreciate that part of yourself and connect to it? How does it inform who you are and what you do nowadays? Do you feel any pressure to advocate for Native Americans, either at large or for your tribe? I would love to embrace that part of my heritage but I feel like an imposter and struggle to do so authentically.


pattiboston22762 karma

So does my daughter. When recently asked what tribe she was from, she replied "Mi'kmaq and Chickasaw!" To which a man laughingly corrected "Mi'kmaq and Chickasaw? More like Mi'kmaq and Miracle Whip!" (She's very pale, her grandfather is Irish.)

I hated my nose and wanted to fix it for eons...until I went to a women's conference for Native Americans in Green Bay Wisconsin. I was thirtysomething. All I saw were people with my nose. It was insane!! I had long dark hair, split in the middle, with this long nose, and that was the first time I felt like I loved my nose, and it was part of who I was.

I didn't fully embrace my heritage until I had children. Before it was in passing. I more or less "forgot" who I was. When I became involved in the Native American Indian Community of Boston (NAICOB) things started to make sense to me. MY thinking, my talk, my walk, what made me ...well me.

I worked there as an Assistant Director of Job Training and Placement and served on the board of directors later. Because I had children, it became important that they knew who they were and what was flowing in their blood and in their spirit.

I don't feel pressure, but it's something I love to do. I'm Mi'kmaq and I'm proud and I love it.

It sounds like you need to discover what being Native means to you...embracing your culture and tribe is a process. Contrary to what most Americans think, most Natives don't live on reservations, we just exist in everyday life. People think we're invisible, and being proud of your heritage is so important today.

Be still. It will speak to you.

kinkakinka26 karma

Who are your running heroes? Any women you look up to or respect a lot?

You said you have a daughter, did you have her before or after you started running? If after, how did you deal with running and pregnancy and new motherhood and all that? Any words of wisdom for a pregnant runner who had to stop and is waiting to get back to it?

pattiboston22745 karma

1) Greta Waitz. Absolutely hands down my most respected and admired female runner. 2) Evelyn Ashford, the sprinter. 3) Lauryn Williams. 4) Allison Felix. (I like sprinters...lol!) I love all these women for different reasons. To me, I found them to be gracious, humble, honorable, high integrity, and just great athletes. Definitely something to aspire to be.

I had my daughter after my running career, at 44. I had my son at 40. I ran all through both pregnancies, lifted weights (carefully), and did a 10k race in Arizona at 8 months pregnant. I'd love to be able to do that now!! At altitude, 8 months along...now I get out of bed on the wrong side and my shoulder hurts. LOL.

After my delivery of my first child (Aaron), I had a long recovery. Same thing with Raven. I couldn't carry my kids after birth for a long time...I used to drag them along behind me on a blanket. It hurt to bend over, to lift.

As for advice, an overall good tonic I drank all the time is nettle's tea. I still drink it today. (I'm Native American, I drink lots of tonics and teas, haha.) Every moment that you run, celebrate! Your baby doesn't care if you run or not, but it's important to take time for yourself. It's not only important for you, but your family, because you have time to yourself, and for yourself. I pushed my kids in a double baby jogger for years, until they were old enough to run with me.

I always went for time, not distance. An hour worth of running is an hour still of running, regardless of pace, and that's what matters. I used to run Brushhill Road in Milton...I miss it sometimes.

kinkakinka10 karma

Thanks for your response!

I had a really interesting conversation with one of my running idols (she is a local woman who started back into running at 35 and wins a lot of local races) and she talked about how winning can suck sometimes, because when you DON'T win people think there is "something wrong". Do you ever find that?

pattiboston22730 karma

I understand your question, and your friend is right, but I never cared. Winning was only important to me in the sense that I was beating someone...if I didn't win, I usually set a PR. People forget that I never won the Boston Marathon, I placed 2nd three times...they were all so broken-hearted they just changed history to fit their memory.

Other people have their goals too, and my motto was "If you can't beat them, make 'em spit blood." I always put up a fight, whether I placed 1st or 30th.

otra_gringa1 karma

How long were you in labor with your kids?

pattiboston2273 karma

YUP! No way around that....

First one...forevaaa.......like forevveaaaa. Crazy...like foreveaaa

36 hours...

Second child...not much...a split second..no really about 15 minutes. Short and sweet.

I was full of fear though....I was ready..lol!

MysticadelaSierra24 karma

I'm glad I read your story, it's amazing how it all started with wanting to "be nice to yourself". So many of us, especially as young girls, we are often pressured to be a certain way, because of society, that we get to stuck in what others want from us. You broke through that, and it's so inspiring!, and incredible. It reminded me that it's been years since I've been really nice to myself, and then I stop. Being over weight I know it's something I need to be healthier over all but it's sooo incredibly hard, and even embarrassing to go workout at the gym, thinking, how did I get this far?. Anyways, it was delightful, and motivating to know of you Mrs.Patti, may you you be an empowerment for women/girls always!.

pattiboston22726 karma

MysticadelaSierra Hi.

I'm glad I inspired you. Because it is you that just inspired me.

I thank you.

Stay true to yourself and everything will fall into place. Don't let other people make your decision on what and when to be happy.

Please don't let the unkindness of others stop you from being a good person at the gym. I know, I know..Please continue towards your march of health.

The fitness is 80 percent in your kitchen. I found that out.

I have had a

Soapnutz18721 karma

What tribe are you from? Do you ever go to reservations and speak to the children/people?

I think this is so inspiring. We have a womens running group on my reservation and we participate in many runs. From 5ks-100 milers.

pattiboston22735 karma

I am Mi'kmaq, my tribe is in Maine and Nova Scotia! My kids are Mi'kaq and Chickasaw. I just recently was in Santa Fe speaking at the W.I.N.G.'s of America Coaches Conference, at the American Institute for Indian Arts. I love to go to reservations and talk to an encourage kids. I've been traveling since my daughters was 8 weeks old, she went to her first reservation in Bemidji, Minnesota, we went to Red Lake.

I'm so glad you have a group!! 100 milers...WOW! That's so awesome. It's so necessary for our communities to be active. I carry diabetes and heart disease in my family, it's such an issue...we need to be proactive.

kinkakinka23 karma

Upvote for Mi'kmaq!!! I'm from NS!

pattiboston22727 karma

HI!! My tribe is from Antigonish! Paq'tnkek First Nation! :)

Soapnutz18720 karma

We don't all do 100 milers but I think a couple people in our group have. We all participate in a variety of runs. Especially trail running. We would love to have you come to Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota!

pattiboston22724 karma

Really? I would love to come! I can put you in touch with my daughter, she handles my schedule. (lol!)

comehomedarling16 karma

When you started the Be Nice To Patti Campaign, how did you go about setting personal boundaries and not giving in to those, especially in personal and professional relationships?

pattiboston22718 karma

I loved running so much, and how it made me feel, that by not going out after work for a drink with my coworkers, I didn't miss my run. I used to go out every night and drink Schlitz...I didn't let other people dictate my happiness. My run and the feeling I got during and after my run was the most important thing. I wouldn't let anything or anybody jeopardize that.

baddspellar15 karma

I started running in 1977 as I was entering High School, and I remember reading about your running exploits in Runners World. For fun, I just dug up this old cover, from the days when the magazine featured top runners like you.

My questions:

1) Are you still running? If so, do you ever race anymore? What's your training like. I've taken to alternating running days with swimming/lifting days as an accommodation to my age. I'm slower than I was, but I've been able to stay healthy well into my 50's

2) What was the biggest change in the state of women's running during your peak years? How about between then and now?

pattiboston22719 karma

(Oh, the L'Egs Mini! I got 2nd there. Thank you for finding that cover! I love it.) I was sorta bummed though. When I heard I was on the cover, Magazines don't tell you. I was in Atlanta airport. And I was out of mind excited. I went to the newsstand...nada...not me. I then went to a running store in Atlanta for an appearance, and there it was...moi...I was floored..I was tickled pink...but soon was a tad deflated. I was not on the cover for the supermarkets...subscribers only...Oh well, at least it was the first cover just for subscribers...lol!!

Yes, I am still running, thank you for asking! I am working towards some long term goals and am just starting to train again. I have never stopped running. Right now, I'm building a foundation, so I'm having body work done (30 year old scar tissue torn up, thanks Art Jaffe). Spiral technique body work has been helping me immensely...my feet aren't strong enough yet to do burpees, but I' going to include pushups and situps and things like that back into my regimen.

I'm going to be racing the Johnny Kelly road race in August, thank you for asking!! It's one of the oldest free races in the United States, it's 11.6 miles, and my family and I have been going for 17 years. This will be my first time running it, and I'm so pumped and excited!!

As for the biggest change, I would say Title IX happened. I vaguely remember the big hoopla about it. Lots of people weren't happy (mostly men). Which was always surprising to me, because in the running community, it was men who usually encouraged and supported me...but they were all bent out of shape, LOL.

As for between then and now...money. $$. Money happened. It was okay for women to make a living in sports, especially running...especially LONG distance running. The floodgates opened when Joanie won the first gold medal in the marathon, and the races were on. It's improved the sport, in my opinion.

gdan9514 karma

What's on your workout playlist?

pattiboston22767 karma

I didn't listen to music until my daughter helped me with Spotify...lol! She made me a playlist. I listen to the Beach boys...Queen..."We Are the Champions" was my song back in '80 and '81, I still listen to it today. I also play Pokemon Go a lot, and the background music is pretty fun to run to. (I like to hatch eggs while I run...Wilson loves the music, he gets so excited whenever he hears it.)

followcat17 karma

I let my jogging habit lapse when I moved away from the park I ran in, but today I got out of bed and jogged half a mile because I saw a Pokemon I wanted. Pokemon Go is one of the best things that ever happened for my motivation!

pattiboston22739 karma

YES!! I love Pokemon Go! I'm getting candies for my Snorlax to power him up (he's so cute). I'm a level 30, my husband is a level 33, and my daughter is a level 25. We're all Team Valor! What team are you? :)

wambamwombat6 karma

Are you enjoying the new summer solstice Pokémon event? How do you think it compares to the other events?

pattiboston2272 karma

I hasn't it hit yet...is it out? Hmm, I only got Shellanders today. Four in a row. And not good ones.

TheodoraRex12 karma

Hi Patti!

Thank you for this wonderful AMA! I've really enjoyed reading your inspirational story and genuine replies.

My question is what has been your most memorable or favorite race?

pattiboston22749 karma

Ok…ready..most memorable race ever. Pull up a chair…settle in.

I couldn’t get invited to a race at all. Nada. Nobody wanted me…I called every race in the back of Runner’s World. Nope…was all I got. “Heard you’re injured”…”Not this year, Patti.” (That really means “Never.”)

I was at my wits end. I truly didn’t want to stop competing, but as things in life snowballed I couldn’t manage “life” without it. I didn’t know how else to live or express myself. I was not in the best of shape, but I was still running and with proper notice could pull something out.

I turned my attention towards another column in Runners World International section. I called the Rio Marathon race director. We chatted for a bit. He too heard word of my downfall. I begged him for an invite. (which means airfare and accommadations). I was turned down.

I cried.

Then I called him back. I made a promise. I told him if he brought me out I’d win the race.

“Ok…..but if you don’t win it, you swim home.”


Though there was a string attached. Run a 10k and prove fitness…break 35. Ok. I found a race, Choaset road race…tough course. Didn’t break 35. Close but no cigar.

I called back. Told him I won the race but didn’t break 35…but was close! I pleaded.


I had two months. I ran and ran. Up the hills, down the hills. Long runs in the middle of the day to get acclimated to the heat of Rio. (nothing really prepares you).

I would send him reports of my training and asking who else he was bringing in. Not to worry Patti, nobody…it’s all you. Just run.


I’m as prepared as I’ll ever be given the time frame. 120 mile weeks…had to lose 15 lbs, Not too many repeat miles, I think only twice of hitting the track. Have a hip problem and lean on the left side. And I can’t sit for that matter. But I’m good.

Get to the race 10 out to take in the course, which doesn’t happen. But I fall in love with the coffee. I have pots and pots of it. I drink coffee and eat bread and cheese.

About a couple of days before the race I head out and what and whom do I see. Crap!

Race director lied to me, damnit.

None other than Joyce Smith. 10th at the Olympics and a competitor whom I’ve tangled with in the past. And Sisel Gottenburg from Norway. Norway’s number 3 top runner behind Greta and Ingred.


I waltz over to Joyce and gave a big HELLO! And wonderful to see you here.

I go to my room…something I didn’t factor in my thinking. Competition…I didn’t think of the competition, as I only saw the distance as my adversary. And the proof I needed to get back in good graces with Ameerican Race directors to be invited again to races.

The race starts at 5PM. Pick up to the starting line is 2:30.

I miss my ride. I’m in the bathroom. At first I thought it was prerace jitters…normal. Good, I thought. I’m prepared for a fight. After my 6th time. I knew something was not right. I was in trouble. 10th time…I’m in deep trouble.

Phone starts ringing in my room…I don’t answer. Crapppp.

Darn it.

Ok, phone keeps ringing. I answer.

I’m having a bit of a problem. I have diarrhea.

11 times. 15 times.

The race director calls again…not too happy.

He is sending a motorcycle to pick me up and deliver me to the starting line.

17 times.

I arrive at the start and immediately sit on the curb. I don’t dare move. Something awful will happen.

Runners line up. I walk to the line. Joyce and Sisel are watching me. I stand between them.

Gun goes off. I can barely lift my feet up, the pressure on my abdominals hurts…and I’m afraid of what may happen…(man, that’s embarrassing).

I run a 8 or 9 minute mile. Nd Joyce and Sisel are still with me. Hmm.

I don’t dare tell them. I’m planning my dropout point. This is ridiculous. I can’t even run. Around 10km is a good spot to drop out. It’s near the hotel. Ok. My thoughts are reassured when I have a pit stop.

I get up and watch my dream of winning the race go away.

However, I do feel better and I find that if I don’t pick my feet up so high the pressure on my belly is ok. Well, not completely ok….another stop. On the bridge. Thankfully no spectators…no one laughing at me. I’m humiliated regardless.

But…I feel better.

It’s a U turn and I can see Joyce and Sisel. I make eye contact with Joyce…I see something that makes me not want to drop out.

I figure why not. I’ll stay in the race: third place is fine, and I have a credit card, I can make it home.

Though the distance between me and them was shortening.

I have a goal.

I see that I have an opportunity to catch up to them. So I take it. I see them and I see their feet, their strides are slower than my little scoots. What if I take the lead? Cool. One goal will be down . The goal wasn’t to win the race, the goal was just to lead for a mile. One mile, and I’d reward myself with a beer.

Corona, here I come.

I pass them just near 20k on the outside. I pass the lead vehicle and the press truck. Nobody really notices until I’m REALLY in the lead.

So now I have the lead. Now I definitely can’t drop out. Oh well, I just need a mile, and then I can have my beer. For every mile I lead I’ll have a beer. Sounds good to me.

Two beers. Three beers. Four beers. Five beers.

I forget about the beers and fight to hold the lead. I do not know where Joyce Smith and Sisel are…I can’t hear applause, I don’t know where they are, and it’s making me nervous. How much of a lead do I have? Rio fans are incredible. LOUD cheering…happiness all around, carnival season. They’re having their beer without meee, laughing, having fun, and I’m terrified.

Where are they? I can’t tell.

At twenty three miles I’m still in the lead, but fear takes hold. I’m feeling the effects of the distance, time, bathroom breaks. I’m afraid to fart. It’s a long stretch to the finish Coco Cabana Beach...

My legs are heavy, my shoulders are tight. I’m afraid all will be lost. I feel fear. I’m starting to cry. (Yeah, I do that. But mostly when Im mad) I was crying with fear, and I hated it. I’m not a fearful person.

I ask God. I pray. The God I knew from Catholic grammar school. I pray a simple prayer, not an Our Father or anything, just a cry for help. “God, please help me lift up my right foot and put it down.”


“Thank you? Now, please help lift my left foot, and put it down…Thank you.”

I prayed this prayer until it was all over. I don’t remember the fear being gone, I was too busy asking for help.

I finished.

I WON!! 2:38something.

I was taken to a tent to pee in a cup. I was dehydrated and took many bottles of water and a few hours. While sitting waiting for my body to pee…my feet were throbbing. I asked a volunteer if they would help me take off my shoes. I couldn’t reach my feet, nor could I raise my foot to my fingers.They started to, and then something happened, and they motioned someone else over. The race directors wife came over to help, her name was Dawn.

As she was untying my shoes and trying to take my socks off, she asked me what happened at 23 miles.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well you were running all crunched up and like you were having problems. Then, all of a sudden, you were running, like, a 5k. Your form was beautiful. You were so nice to watch.”

I smiled and said “Oh, I prayed.”

She laughed and then pulled my sock off. Both socks were bloody. I noticed then that my shoes were bloody too. I had lost all ten toenails, and I never even felt it.

fefranz12 karma

What are your tips for staying motivated through a long training cycle? Starting marathon cycle #2 on Saturday and am hoping to avoid the mental fatigue that destroyed me in the last 7-8 weeks of cycle #1. Thanks for sharing your story and your advice!

pattiboston22731 karma

Congratulations!! That's hard...mental fatigue is a killer. Motivation and sticking to a goal is what always helped me. Some kind of motion, even a small motion, is still moving forward. Taking care of yourself nutritionally is also important...good fuel and good training helps with fatigue. Being tired can lead to frustration, injury and or course your motivation. Remember to get rest. Even a ten minute shut down in the afternoon helps. I had a nap almost everyday. It was on the schedule. And during that heady time I went to bed around 8 PM..LOL and got up around 6 AM. Napping in the afternoon around 1:30. And many times I slept more than a napful. I slept a few hours. And when that happened I knew I over extended myself during a workout (s) and really needed the rest and was thankful I had the time.

By the end of your cycle, being mentally tired is going to be your hardest barrier...long term goals can seem so far away and giving up can seem closer. Try to break up your training in terms of short term, midterm, and long term goals. Short term is...hmm. "Today, I am going to run five miles."

I recently remeasured what I thought was an 8 mile loop..turns out it's much shorter. I was so bummed until the hubby pointed out that even though my distance is wrong, my times have still gotten better. I'm a minute and a half faster than I was two months ago. Things like that are good intermediate goals. Like "A month from now, I'm going to be twenty seconds faster".

I hope that helped! Thank you so much for your question, I wish you the best of luck!! :)

original_greaser_bob11 karma

Would you rather have Prefontaine's flowing locks or Mills's buzz cut?

pattiboston22724 karma

Good question! I was just reading about Craig Engels this morning...love his hair. Hmm. I liked both runners, they both ran with heart, I have so much respect for both of them.

When Danny and I first got married, he had a ponytail, lol! I'd have to say long hair...I still wear it down when I run.

canadilf10 karma

Through your years of competition and training what injuries would you say are most common? I know that many people warn about knee issues but I never really hear many athletes themselves complain about knee problems.

pattiboston22719 karma

Hmmm...good question...I am a toe-striker when I run, so I had a lot of foot and lower leg problems. Achilles and plantar fasciitis were common with a lot of the people I ran with. I struggled with that, too. Shin splints...my hubby had a stress fracture in his navicular bone that he had for ten years. Those are pretty common as well.

dylansdollars3 karma

Thanks for doing this!

Did you ever suffer from plantar fasciitis? If so, how long did you usually take to recover? I'm having issues right now. Going to PT for a couple weeks but hasn't seemed to get too much better. It's really discouraging having such bad pain in my feet after 10 minutes that I need to stop even though I feel like I'm just getting started.

pattiboston22714 karma

Follow DR's orders. My rule of thumb is always "If you can run, run. If you can't, DON'T." I ruptured my plantar fascia and I had surgery to have to reattached, which is more painful to recover from...I ruptured it in December at the Tuft's track, and had surgery at the end of Febuary. I didn't take a step towards running till September...and promptly got a stress fracture. (My first one).

I'm so sorry...it's so hard. Stretch, ice, and heat. Wear a lift in your shoe if you can. It shortens the muscle in your calf and relieve some of the pain. Recover will take a while...tendons are very fibrous with very low blood flow. It takes me 45 minutes to stretch out my calves...it's a process.

I use a homemade ointment that's peppermint, lavender, and lemongrass, mixed with coconut oil. I drink hawthorne tea for inflammation, too.

It'll just take time. You can do it! :) (And don't swim. Or bike. Stay off your feet as much as possible.)

TheGBTheory10 karma

What do you think is missing for female athletes when it comes to care from doctors, trainers etc? I've noticed that most is focused towards a male genetic make up and female athletes are mostly left to fill in the gaps for how their system works. How did you account for that in your training and self care?

pattiboston2277 karma

I didn't, really. I ran with a group of guys. I've run with a group of guys. I just trained like a marathon runner, a long distance runner, not like a woman.

But...there are differences. Women are still behind in heart care. A paramedic would probably think I'm a corpse, I have a resting heart rate of 43. But ultimately it's individualized, its hard to speak for all women on this subject.

scruffbeard10 karma

I seem to be having a problem getting back into running. When I was in my 20s I ran 5km a day no problem. Now every time I go to run my smoke seems to go out and I have to stop and relight it every 100m. Do you have any advice?

pattiboston22728 karma

I identify with you. It's hard to start and restart, it's just really hard. Stick to it, that's my advice. Be consistent. Set a goal for yourself, even if that goal is just running for fifteen minutes without stopping. It takes time, and you may get frustrated, but if you stick with it, you'll see progress.

timmythedip9 karma

How do you feel pregnancy impacts women's ability to sustain top class performance? I've read some articles suggesting it can actually improve performance post-pregnancy.

pattiboston22715 karma

Yeah, I've read articles about that too. I don't know. Personally I had kids late, and I'm thankful I had a healthy body and could have my kids in my 40s. These days (I'm 64), I want to get back to top-class, back to my top form, and I don't know where it's going to take me, but I'm reading everything I can and pulling out everything I know.

canquilt9 karma

You wrote that you are restarting your career. What did you do in the years between your running glory and now?

pattiboston22720 karma

A lot...I married my husband Danny 25 years ago, we raised two kids. Before that I had my own health food store with a deli. I skied a lot. I was a massage therapist at the Stratton Mountain Ski area. Also I worked as a nanny for a wonderful family. Lots of stories, lol! But the past 25 years were being a stay at home mom and proudly homeschooling two kids. One just graduated college and my daughter is still in college and home..hooray!!!!

feman0n7 karma

Whoa! Seems like you've had quite the life :) any plans to write an autobiography?

pattiboston22721 karma

No, not really. I had a book planned for awhile, but writing isn't my gift...I like to tell stories. That's why I do speaking engagements. Storytelling is important to my tribe, and also to me. :)

PharmerRob8 karma

So my wife is a marathoner. She loves it to death. No question for you, but could you say hello? Thanks

pattiboston22741 karma


Congratulations to your wife! Marathoning is wonderful.

escherbach7 karma

Hi, congrats on a great career, my question is, do you think a woman will ever run a 4-minute mile?

( Closest so far is within 12 seconds (but that was a russian in the 1990s, so might not be legit) )

pattiboston22718 karma

(In the 90's? Ya think? Lol!)

Welllllll, I just saw Wonder Woman with my daughter, and so right now, I think all things are possible! When I was running, they said women couldn't even do under 2:20 in the marathon, and look what we have today. I think it's definitely possible. It'll just take someone who dreams bigger and trains harder and has great genetics.

Epicusername17 karma

Great write up for the introduction!

At the end you said you're restarting your career. Does that mean your running career? If yes, is there anywhere you post online as to how you are progressing, that I can follow and keep track of?

All the best!

pattiboston2276 karma

Thank you. My daughter raven has a lot to do with the introduction. She's my girl!

Yes, my running career. I have a long term goal. but right now the short term is taking precedent. Strengthening feet, ankles and lower legs.

I haven't thought about keeping track. Hmm. Good idea.

hairbow6 karma


pattiboston2277 karma

Music is pretty cool. Love Carlos Nakai.

UnfortunateBirthMark5 karma

What went through your mind when you broke 2:30 in a Marathon? Was it something that you thought you could do going into the race?

pattiboston22731 karma

Oh, absolutely. To be honest, I thought I was going to break it in 1980, in Montreal. What I didn't know was the last 6 miles was a deadzone...no spectators. Nobody in front of me, nobody behind me. I missed it, I did 2:30:57.

When I did break it, I knew I had it in me to do it. I couldn't wait until April, for Boston, to do my next "scheduled" marathon. But I went to Europe and I ran three XC races, a ten miler, and two seven milers. I ran with Greta Waitz. The talk of Europe (Norway, Denmark, Sweden...) was New York. Everybody was going to New York. I got asked if I was doing it, and I said "No...I did my marathon. I did Montreal". Nobody had ever heard of it (it was the first time they had the Montreal marathon).

I came back from Europe and thought about it on the plane. I knew I could do it. I could break 2:30. My coach said no (they always did) and I did it anyway (as always). I called Fred Lebow myself and asked for a number. He said "Patti, I'm sorry, I have nothing to offer you, money is gone."

I said "Fred, I didn't ask for money, I asked for a number."

He gave me a number and a puddlejump ticket (Boston to NY) and a closet to sleep in at the Mayflower hotel. It was luxurious to me...everything I needed.

My mantra was "Break 2:30. I can do this. I will do this. Break 2:30"

So against "expert" advice, five weeks after Montreal, I broke 2:30 at New York. 2:29:something. (As long as I broke 2:30 I didn't care by how much.)

I ran pretty conservatively until...24 miles? 25? I thought the earth had opened up and swallowed me...I saw Bill Squires, heard him, he has a very distinct yell, and he said "You can do this, you're on it, keep form!" I had to do like a 6:20 in the last mile. I keyed in on form. Squires always said to run pretty, make it look like no effort. (He used to say "Be a girl, run pretty." I love him to death.)

zer0nix5 karma

How are your knees, and if they're good, how do you keep them in good condition?

Do you have any insights or advice when it comes to exercise or nutrition?

Ps: I love your enthusiasm!

pattiboston22716 karma

I had a knee problem when I first started running. I went to 11 doctors, that all told me to stop running. Until I met one doctor who was also a runner, and he actually listened to me when I said "Stopping running is not an option"...he felt my knee, and felt a little something in it. He sent me to another doctor who was also a runner.

Turned out I had a Baker's cyst the size of a lemon. I had no idea how I ran with that...but I got surgery and I haven't had knee problems since.

Your quads keep your knee strong and flexible. You have four muscles in your thighs (four...quad...yeah) and when they're powerful, your knees should be okay.

As for exercise and nutrition, plenty! I do a lot of trial and error. For over a year I've been drinking a green drink of lemon, ginger, garlic, spinach, apple, and kiwi every morning. I do whatever I can to reduce inflammation, I take black pepper and turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Cinnamon too, especially after a carb heavy meal. I prefer eating as clean as possible, and relying on natural remedies. I drink Emergen-C too. I only go to the doctor if I'm in dire straits (aka dead) LOL!

Ps: Thank you, and I love your question!! :)

ThatSureIsHandicap1 karma

Just curious what location of your knee the cyst was located?

pattiboston2272 karma

Oh, behind the knee and pinched once in a while.

pattiboston2271 karma

Behind my knee and would pinch once in awhile.

Its_Chelly1 karma

there are actually 6 muscles in your thigh that have been discovered now! 2 are rarely taught though. The newly discovered one is the tensor vastus intermedius! (i was in exercise therapy for a while so thought you might find it interesting)

pattiboston2274 karma

Really? That's so amazing!! My tensor fascia latae has been tight lately, but I have a guy who's working on it for me...Art Jaffe. Thank you!

rimper5 karma

How do you feel about men who've transgendered into females, competing against women in female only sports competitions?

pattiboston22794 karma

To me, it's just another sweaty body to beat. :)

chasewilk4 karma

I always get shin splints about a mile into every run, any tips on avoiding/reducing shin splints? Should I keep running/stretch it out or just stop and try and go farther before next my run.

pattiboston2279 karma

Try changing your shoes. It sounds like you need to change them. Shin splints are usually caused by tight calves and toestriking...I'm a toestriker.

I would stretch before you run, especially your calves. Try dropping your heel on a step, 30 seconds, 10 reps each leg. Flexible shoes are key.

GodlyPeanut4 karma

Hello! You seem a wonderful person! I'm not a runner (i play tennis though) and I really admire what you do! I can't run half an hour whithout feeling dead, lol. My questions are 1)What advice would you give to a young athlete? 2)Which books would you recommend? (not related to running, sorry) 3)How do you deal with exhaustion? It's a huge problem for me. Thank you very much for this AMA! Love from Italy!

pattiboston22713 karma

Thank you.

CIAO!!!! :)

For a young athlete..play. Play, play, play. Keep it simple. Have fun. Learn the basics and when you do you can apply them to any and all sports. Soccer is super for body strengthening.

Exhaustion. Know it well. I'd say sleep, but being overtired one can not sleep. When I was training I had to teach myself to shut down and I had to learn to sleep. Crazy.

Now I meditate . Yeah, I had to focus and I try to meditate everyday. Five minutes a day. It's nice. MY daughter wants me to do Tai Chi. So I think I'll take her up on that as It's better for me to have movement while letting go and be within...(sounds good huh).

Also I have found that certain foods help calm the body and sleep won't be too far off. Chick peas, bananas, walnuts, almonds. I personally will have raw local honey with chamomile tea with cheese and crackers.

I found the above helped me a great deal. I suffered ...insomnia...

RandomName014 karma

What's your favourite food that fits in a training regiment?

pattiboston22729 karma


RandomName013 karma

What about solid food though?

pattiboston22718 karma

LOL! Sweet potatoes. Love 'em.

Mr_Abe_Froman2 karma

I'm going to give them a shot. Anything to mix up the piles of rice I'm currently eating. Thanks for the tip.

pattiboston2277 karma

I'm not a big rice eater. I like quinoa. I mix it with whatever I have on hand. Peppers, onions, cilantro and broccoli. I like the red quinoa.

Keep it happy.

burdalane3 karma

What became of the girl who inspired you?

pattiboston2276 karma

Good question. I don't know. After I took care of her mom during her stay at the hospital, I never saw her again.


pattiboston2271 karma

No, sadly I do not know. After I took care of her mom, I neva saw her again. :(

ultradentist3 karma

I love your story and it really inspired me as somebody who's intro to running was similar to yours. At what point did you decide to start training for races? Did something or somebody inspire you to start racing, or was it more of a spontaneous decision?

pattiboston22712 karma

Hi. Thank you!

I was inspired to race the Boston Marathon by the group of guys I saw at the Quincy Y. I started running March 28. The Boston Marathon was in April. Listning to their "war" stories I wanted to do it too.

One of the guys said I had to qualify for the Marathon. Hm, I thought I had to run a marathon to prove I could do a marathon..hmm. OK...But the guy planted a seed by saying I didn't have to worry about qualifying time because the women had more time allowance.

A few months laater I entered the Ocean State Marathon in Newport, RI. I ran my first marathon after a few months of running and losing 52 lbs. I qualified for Boston by running a 2:53:40. Under the men's standard. (hehe) Not planned at all.

I thought for sure I'd die of a heart attack during the race.

annadane3 karma

What do you think about during long runs? Does your mind just kind of empty and you go through the motions?

pattiboston22711 karma

These days, more or less. I listen to Spotify. The whole neighborhood does because I hate headphones, lol.

chalkinparis2 karma

This is such an amazing story Patti! I am so inspired! I myself recently started running and training for a half marathon when I previously couldn't even do a mile at the beginning of the year. Now I can run up to 8 miles and will be doing my first half at the end of June!

What are some tips that you have for your speed? And also, how do you motivate yourself to run when you feel tired, sick, or just down? Sometimes after work, I'm very tired and can't bring myself to do anything.

pattiboston2273 karma

Oh wow, you have a goal...TERRIFIC! More than half the battle. ya'know it sounds like to me, that you need a transition period between getting home from work and going out for a run.

As to tips for speed. I was strong. Strength carries speed. I wasn't fast iin the shorter distances until I got stronger to hold a certain pace for a shorter period of time. Over the course of a marathon strength is what helped me through. Push ups, sit ups core work...can't beat it.

When you are so tired, look towards what you ate during the day. Too much caffeine, not enough water, too many carbs, brain tired, haven't kept the runs fun.

Change it up. Change a course. Change the time you run. Remember to keep drudgery to a minimum.

You have a wonderful goal. Keep it wonderful.

Have fun enjoy the process. It's real. I look forward to you celebrating the end of June...with another running goal....yeah, I know, I know...that's how it works Good Luck

viktorbir2 karma

Catalano? Do you have any Italian ancestors who had Catalan ancestors?

pattiboston22710 karma

Nooo...my ex-husbands were Sicilian. :p

definitelypooping2 karma

How does it feel to have to add the "for a woman" or "for a minority" qualifier to all of your achievements?

pattiboston22733 karma

LOL! I never did. Other people did that for me. I always just accomplished things for me. I was very goal-oriented, and what other people said or thought about me didn't matter. My times were my times, and I stand by them, it didn't matter what gender I was or what ethnicity. They were good no matter what.

Schroeder2262 karma

Hey! Thanks for doing this and all you do, and a lot of these questions are great, but here's a fun one! What's your guilty pleasure food?

pattiboston2274 karma

I loooovvvee Toffifay. It's a hazelnut and caramel candy and it's delicious!

sine_nomine_12 karma

This is great! Thanks for doing this! I used to run around Quincy a lot, mostly by the water (I would pass the old Beachcomber), and had a nice 10k loop.

My question is: Do you wish you had the chance for the Olympics in 1980? I don't think they had the women's marathon until 1984 and there was the boycott in 1980, but maybe you could have made it in the 10K? Did you try at all for the '84 team?

pattiboston2276 karma

That's so great! I used to go in front of the Y, all the way down Wallaston beach, to the Squatum Guard shack. Sometimes I'd go out and do the bridge, out and back. The police had their fire range out there, I think.

They didn't have my event in '80, so I didn't even have the Olympics on my radar...I knew my distance, and I knew I was a marathoner. And yes, I did try for the '84 team, I got 16th at the trials--to me, I just wanted to be on the line, I was tickled that I got to the trials themselves. I don't have any regrets. I wasn't raised with the Olympic attitude...everything I did in my career, I did to try and recapture that feeling I had in the locker room shower of the Y.

AlcatK2 karma

Wow, that is incredible.

I started running 6 years ago as a Junior in high school. Since then, I have gained and lost weight, went to college, graduated, and got married. During that time, I was part of (and president of) a running club. I have had times when I ran and exercised quite a bit (too excessively, actually) and other times where I haven't ran or exercised much at all. I live in a place that is rainy/cloudy around half the year.

So, my questions to you are: 1. How do you find the healthy balance of how much to exercise? 2. What suggestions do you have for motivation to run when it is raining? 3. After having a break from running, what strategies do you have to get back in it?

Thank you!

pattiboston2278 karma

1) A healthy balance is whatever makes you feel good. I was always happiest when I was running two hours in the morning and two hours at night, and not have any pain or after effects...I still strive for that. But for some people, that is way too much. It's all about personal feeling.

2) Back in the day, I ran no matter what. The first two years, I didn't run in the winter, and then afterwards I was working too hard to lose momentum...I just ran. It helps to have a goal, something to get you out of bed...something real. It's awful to run in the rain, not gonna lie...mist is fine. Rain is not. But once you get back from your run, and shower, you feel great, because you did something good that you didn't want to do. :)

3) Set a goal. Set time every day aside for yourself...use that time for yourself, to better yourself. Don't let other people or anything else get in that time. Turn off your phone, don't watch TV, don't read, don't eat...just try to better yourself. Get out the door. Use the time. You always have time for something you make time for. Prioritize.

I hope that helps!! :)

Rapier42 karma

What do you think about on long runs? Do you daydream? Fantasize about something? Where does your mind go or do you experience a sort of 'Highway hypnosis' during a long run?

pattiboston2278 karma

I know huh? Well, if I thinking about something, it'll pop in my head...and answer will soon follow or a justification will suffice.

Usually back in the day, I'd play out scenarios. The "what if" game. But it usually comes down to just relax and take note of what is going on.

Now, lets see. I did a two hour run a couple weeks ago. I picked a beautiful country tree lined road. Rolling hills...very early in the morning. I think I saw only 3 cars. I ran in the middle of the road..sweet. So yeah, I fantasize about achieving my goals...and WHAT IF THEY ACTUALLY HAPPENED!!! What would I DOOOOO!

Qieth2 karma

I just started running a month ago. I see the future runner me as going fast and long. Do you have any tips you'd give me right from the start?

pattiboston2274 karma

Good for you..a month. Way to go.

Keep it going. It takes time to build up to be fast and to be fast while going long. TIME TIME TIME. Be nice to yourself and take the time to build. You will reap rewards.

report-zyther642 karma

What is your favourite dinosaur?

pattiboston2278 karma

Ok, first the T-Rex..th arms are funny.

Then Dilophosaurus. The one that killed Norman in Jurassic Park. hehe

pattiboston2271 karma

The T-Rex because of the funny arms.

And the Dilophosaurus that killed Newman in Jurassic Park, :)

deusos2 karma

Hi Patti! Thanks for your contributions to sports and getting women more involved in athletics. What's your favorite fruit?

pattiboston2277 karma

Thank you deusos!

Well, hmm fave fruit. I eat lemons because it my favorite that my body needs.

My favorite to eat just to eat is...drumroll KIWI!!

rkim7772 karma

I read your awesome story in Reader's Digest back in the 1980's and always wondered how did you stay motivated to keep running? I recall you were a heavy smoker also? Thank you for the AMA.

pattiboston22710 karma

Thank you for the question!! The first two years of my running, I smoked...a pack a day. Sometimes two. First thing in the morning, I would roll over and have a cigarette, my ashtray was right on my nightstand. I didn't really connect smoking with fitness...and besides, the best tasting cigarette I had was after my run. (I still miss it at times...LOL!)

When I finally got a coach, I would ask him questions..."how can I get faster...? How can I be better?"

He would say "Do pushups" so I did pushups. Then I'd ask "How can I run faster?" And he'd say "Do situps" so I did situps.

Then I asked "How can I get faster?" and he said "Well...quit smoking."

I was embarrassed, I didn't think he knew I smoked...I went back to my room and thought about it over a pack of cigarettes. And towards the end of the pack, I was more or less saying goodbye. It was a seriously sad moment in my life, because things were getting real...I was making a conscious decision to improve my life, and letting go of the cigarettes was a big part of my identity. I had been smoking since I was 14. But I did, cold turkey.

But it paid off. Three weeks later, I ran a half marathon and set a new American Record, 76:53! :) But it would take six months for the brown phlegm to stop coming up. (yuck)

Swordspirit22 karma

This is awesome. You are awesome! I've been having excellent strength progress on my powerbuilding program but I want to run well too and I'm including running goals on my plan TODAY!!!

What were some of your first running goals regarding distance and time? I think I will focus more on speed than resistance to use the advantage I have right now and build upon it. Thank you so much for your story!

pattiboston2273 karma

The first time that I actually acknowledged that I wanted to do something in regards to distance and time was between my first marathon and my second marathon...they were a year apart. I did a 2:53 in my first marathon and I thought for sure I'd do 2:40 in my next marathon. (I did a 2:47 and I was bummed.) I had a whole year to train...I took the winter off though, because I didn't like running in the cold.

That was the first time I became aware of time and speed. Otherwise it was just run until I couldn't run anymore, and then get up and do it again.

Good luck on your powerbuilding!! :)


What's your experience with doping? Did you do it? Observe it? Did you see anyone that was a really weak runner turn into an amazing one?

pattiboston2276 karma

I ran in the late seventies and early eighties. I had heard of blood doping. At the time I didn't know what it was. And didn't know anybody who did or was doing it.

It was after when the stuff was made public that I understood it. And no, didn't know anybody who was doing it.

Our "drug" of choice then was 120-150 mile weeks. As it probably is now.

benp18p182 karma

How wide spread do you think is the use of PEDs in distance running?

pattiboston2275 karma

I have no idea at all if anybody is using peds or ever used them

While I was running neva heard anything Joanie, Greta, Ingrid, Jackie, Allison, Lorraine or anybody else. The secrets we had...lol what we did for training we kept it close to ourselves.

I heard about Joanies workouts. Awesome. I didn't want to hear too much though because I'd freak out. And Greta's ohmygoodness, legendary.

We were in California for a Runners World event. I asked her if she wanted to go for a run together in the morning. She said yes. Her hubby Jack, so kind, took me aside and gently told me Greta trains at 5 30 pace....LOL!!!! Ohmy...so I didn't run with her as it was not even my race pace then....lol!!! She was so nice. Whenever we were at an event together she gave me a gift of chocolates. I LOVE CHOCOLATES.

All of the ladies were tough ad hard working. If I heard of a training session...Mostly the women trained fast. I was a slow and still am a slow trainer. I worked my hard days. Hard was hard. Easy days were easy and for recovery and fun.

Though I did take stock of what I heard and when my hard days came around pushed myself. I believed and still do if you haven't done it in a workout you wont do it in a race. Not the time...the learning to relax while maintaining effort and focus.

20Factorial1 karma

Maybe I'm late, but I've gotta know - How many pairs of shoes have you gone through? How many miles would you wear a pair before replacing them?

Your post was definitely inspirational. I've never been a great runner after a couple knee injuries/surgeries, but I feel like I should start again and try to knock a few pounds off.

pattiboston2271 karma

Well, when I was under contract I went through quite a few (FREE). Seriously though shoes at the time were good for perhaps a month. Training and racing shoes.

Now I think it could be about the same. For me, I go through a pair in about three months or so. Right now...it's ok.

Yeah running will do it for you. But if you can't run, don't give up...take the time you have for running and use it to walk...Many times a person gives up physical fitness because they gave up the time to something else...me included. I have reclaimed the time. If I can't run I don't... I walk. Puppy boy needs to get out to run in the fields with his buds. We have two other dogs.

MrMrZane1 karma

What tribe are you? Just wanna make sure you and I don't have beef.

pattiboston2271 karma

I'm Mi'kmaq.

What tribe are you?

MrMrZane1 karma


pattiboston2271 karma

So, we square.. ;)

snowlarbear1 karma

do you still like baseball nut? i like it as a shake, myself.

pattiboston2273 karma

I suppose I do. though I have not had it in eons..not any ice cream for that matter. I lead a sad life.

deusos1 karma

Kiwi are amazing! They're my favorite fruit, do you eat the skin or do you peel/bowl the fruit?

pattiboston2272 karma

I share with Wilson. We have a good trade. He eats the skin/fuzz, I eat the fruit. :)

IndigoHaori1 karma

How do you feel about men being able to compete in women's sports?

pattiboston2275 karma

I don't think they can, actually. :)

Edit: Distance is distance, and times are times. I was never racing another gender, I was racing another person.

ThatHappyCamper1 karma

What do you think of barefoot running?

pattiboston2272 karma

Awesome. Makes for strong feet.

I did it for awhile.

My daughter ran barefoot for years..15 years..maybe

bookwench1 karma

I love you.

I'm 41. I started running last year, for the first time since I was in my 20's when I hated running but had to for the military, and I ran all wrong and it sucked and I was miserable. This time it's wonderful, and it's the same thing: part of the "be better, be kinder to your body, stop hurting yourself by sitting around so much".

I think I ran myself into exhaustion, though. Completely crashed this past month - hit 40 miles a week and things have been weird. Tried pushing distance and pace and speed, all at once, for a month, in new shoes - I'm a moron, and I feel like I've been dumber than usual this past couple months. Fell twice when I've never fallen before, dropped a weight on my toe, can't control my eating, feeling awful. Had to stop for a couple days because I managed to give myself ITBS. Feeling really weird right now - profoundly relieved at the break but also sad and wanting to cry because I want to run. I want to be out there again in the morning in the dark by myself running. But today after 4 days of taking it easy is the first time I haven't hurt in... a while. Months maybe.

Can you tell me about overdoing it and recovering? And timeframes, and how long it takes?

Thank you for being here and doing this for us, and for sharing. Thank you so much.

pattiboston2271 karma

Oh you poor puppy...I have had ITBS too...and it's tight now...So, what I am doing and have done in the past, is to stretch the surrounding muscles. Glutes, quads. Heat and ice...heat and ice...and my new thing..Bellecore...it's great...I love it. Its a small rotating thingie. I love it. I use it on the surrounding tissue to bring new blood to the area.

This morning I ran 40 minutes pain free. Foot ok, ankle good and Tband fine. Though I did do my stretches.

Foreva, I neva stretched...I used the first few minutes of my run to "stretch". Now I do a little before running....it's more like a routine that I have to put in my day (somewhere) and make a point of stretching...for me it's another whole hour..(sigh). But it must be done if I want to enjoy PAIN free runs and only deal with the mental anguish..hehe.

Take care of yourself. It par for the course. You will get back out on the roads. You will be running agai. And you know, you learned about yourself. You bit off a tad more than you could chew. I do it ALL the time. You'd think I'd learn...but nooo. I always have to push..push push...neva happy...until I push myself over the edge and whaddya know...a rest day (injuried) hehe. Take heart.

What I found out and have taken to heart...all the the stuff you hear. "One day at a time"..."this too shall pass" yadddayadda. It will pass it does and it will. And I have learned and still learning how to take care of myself through the kitchen where 80 of fitness happens.

Think of the whole of you. You are more than the running and you need more than the running. When I have a problem I tend to muscle my way through and many times it has worked. Now not so much. I don't have the time, the strength, nor the wanting to muscle my way through anything.

This time around I want finesse, grace blended with self confidence and faith that what I hope for will happen. It will take time. A marathon doesn't happen in an hour...yet..lol! Give yourself time to reap in the benefits of recovering from an injury. The time off will be rewarded.

And do everything you can do to get yourself well and on the road for your early morning run. (when the world is still asleep). I love running through the mist.

Mr_Abe_Froman1 karma

I'm struggling through a big mental block right now. Do you have any tips on how to stay on track?

pattiboston2279 karma

Goals. Goals. Goals.

Little goals, stepping stone goals are important, I find.

At times the long term goals make for being overwhelmed. And fear can set in . Believe your goal. Doesn't matter what anybody else thinks about it.

It's yours to make. It's yours to own. It's yours to work towards. When the time comes, you may not reach the long term goal..but it won't matter because you did everything you could do to reach it. It's the process...not the end result.

Ok, I know that may sound like a "get out of jail free" card...but it's the striving and making do with what you have. You neva know what you have until you try. And that's where the work begins.

When you try there is NO FAILURE!

justinsayin1 karma

Which Quincy?

pattiboston2273 karma

Quincy, Massachusetts!

pattiboston2272 karma

Are you from Quincy , Illinois? Quincy, Illinois awarded me the Key to the City about 10 years ago.

officeworker20151 karma

Hi! I get winded and tired so easily when i run.

how do you build endurance?

pattiboston2274 karma

I'd start by not running fast in the beginning of your run. Think of how far you would like to go. The pace you start with are you able to hold the pace for the length of time you would like to run.

One of the best ways to build endurance is to run consistently.

Take it little by little. Time will be your friend.

timmythedip1 karma

Did you ever use recovery techniques like aqua jogging? How effective did you find them? Asking for a friend...

pattiboston2278 karma

No, personally. My recovery was an easy run. I didn't run on treadmills or in pools...if I couldn't run outside, I didn't run. Low impact exercise can be good for maintaining fitness through an injury, though.

KrillorbeKrilled1 karma

How does it feel to answer all of these questions? What kind of questions are the best in your opinion?

pattiboston2273 karma

Pretty awesome to answer the questions. It's a broad spectrum of questions. Makes me think and helps put things in perspective.

My running was so long ago, but today it feels like it's happening right now.

The best questions...I don't know...I don't have a best. I like it..

endlessmatthew1 karma

Hey thanks probably late but, did you hear Haskell closed the track program ?

pattiboston2272 karma

Really...no...really? Huh? Why?

Sad..."another one bites the dust.."

CurtNo1 karma

What do you think of forefoot running?

pattiboston2272 karma

INJURIES! Foreva....I know. I am a forefoot striker. Right now I am strengthening my feet and lower legs.

I hope to see and have improvement in about to 6 weeks.

pattiboston2271 karma


I too am a forefoot striker. Need to do lots of lower leg strengthening work. What I a doing now.