Smoke Signals

Smoke Signals

WELCOME TO EARTH: Fartlek Training

This is Smoke Signals, aka Letters to the Editor. That’s me, Jason. I am the Editor. How’s my editing? You can let me know via the email link at the bottom of the page. You can also just write to talk about something running-related. You might write, ‘Hey Editor, I like running. Thanks!’ Or you might write something completely unrelated to running, like, ‘Hello, I went to the zoo last week and saw a monkey combing his hair.’ Then again, you might just send a photo of yourself on a bear skin rug wearing underwear made from dental floss. It’s totally up to you!


First-time caller long-time listener here. I just wanted to let you know I’m loving the new feel at POSSESSED mag. I’ve been running for about 16 years, and frankly, the running world can sometimes take itself a bit too seriously. Having a little sense of humor brought to the table is refreshing. We are, after all, just putting one foot in front of the other and hopefully having fun with it. That’s the goal, right? A couple of weeks ago, at a local marathon, I met a man who has been running a marathon a month for the last year. He was a big guy, a proud 6-hour marathoner who frequently collects prizes for coming in last, and he’s having the time of his life while traveling the world and meeting all sorts. He’s keeping it fun and so is POSSESSED mag. Keep it up!


John, NYC

Thank you for your kind words, John! Happy running!


Dear Possessed Magazine,

I’m a doughy, middle-aged man who could skateboard once upon a time. I have not exuded much energy in the last decade and was recently asked, ‘When was the last time you broke a sweat?’ The question was asked in jest and was in observation of my ballooning jowls; but in all seriousness, I didn’t have an answer. When was the last time I had actually sweated from exercise? It was a good question.

With ever-increasing nicknames (e.g., ‘Here comes meat on feet’ or ‘Here comes the lead singer of Pavarotti and the Pavlovas,’ etc), it was time to concentrate on being a little less not thin. So, I began running, and it’s increasingly becoming my new favorite thing, and I have POSSESSED to thank for helping me take the first step. Thank you for making running inspiring, attainable, funny, and cool all at the same time. Peace.

Jazzy McFlurry. Wellington, NZ

Good luck, Jazzy! Happy to hear that we’ve encouraged you to get in shape. No doubt you’ll stay that way once the running bug gets you! It only took me about a year. 


Dear Sir or Madam or Jason Crombie,

First of all, hello. How are you? I expect you are fit and well. I was shown your magazine by a friend, and even though he and I aren’t friends anymore, I have kept you. Well done on POSSESSED. It is weird and irreverent, and niche. All the things I like in a bit of evening toilet reading.

I should be clear that I do not jog or run (yet). I try to keep my speed at a cool, crisp five mph. However, I do enjoy the writing and can appreciate a good joke about a very strange and insular culture when I see one, and that is this.

Lately, I have thought of some jogging-related questions, and like a fool, you’ve made your email available to the public. Here are my questions, take them in earnest:

1. I have been thinking of jogging, mostly because I feel unattractive. Is it right of me to begin such an intense and physically taxing endeavor if it is purely out of spite and insecurity? By this, I mean, doesn’t running suck, and am I going to quit and feel worse about myself?

2. Do I need special shoes? My doctor says I have ‘strange arches’ in my feet. What does this mean and how might I find a pair of shoes that’ll make this easier on my deformities and knees? Preferably for under fifty dollars.

3. While I do have strange arches, I have fairly average testicles and am therefore concerned about chafing. Do you just douse yourself in powder, or is there tape involved? I’ve read about both, but it could have been satire that I am too inexperienced to understand.

4. Please be delicate with this: I am shy, and I fear that if I jog, people will stare at me. I stare at joggers. I am that which I fear. I don’t like feeling on-stage, and while I’d like to be fit and participate in this culture and run marathons, I hate the eyes of the world on me. Is that why people run at night? 

Sincerest and best wishes,

Jann, Seattle, WA

Hey Jann, thanks for writing! In answer to your question about whether running sucks, no, it does not. Running is cool and the more you do it, the less inclined you will be to quit. Do you need special shoes? Not really. You just need running shoes. Be sure to buy a size bigger than your regular shoes so your feet have some room to expand (which they do a bit when you run). You'll need a time machine to score running shoes for less than $50, though. Will your balls chafe? Possibly, but if you coat them with house paint they should be fine. Lastly, you don’t need to worry about people looking at you when you’re going for a run. What’s that saying? You’d care less about what people thought of you if you knew how infrequently they did. Good luck!