I'm a runner, sort of. I never was before a couple of years ago - I was always an elliptical in an air-conditioned gym kind of a girl. But something possessed me to start running in the middle of July in Iowa (a hot and humid time) and I've been going ever since. My sister-in-law is my inspiration - she qualified for Boston this year. I'm so never going to qualify for Boston, but I figure if she can run eight-minute miles for 26.2 miles, I can get my butt out there and run... um... I don't feel comfortable disclosing my slow time to you. Let's just say I can run a shorter distance at a slower pace.

I'm not such a runner that I follow a bunch of crazy training rules, but maybe that's for the best - these 10 things, compiled in the September 2009 issue of Runner's World magazine, were once thought to be great ideas in the field of running, but they definitely leave a lot to be desired these days.

1. Alcohol before a race is now known to be very dehydrating, but that didn't stop Spiridon Louis from drinking two glasses of wine during the Olympic Marathon of 1896. He won.

hicks2. He's not the only one to turn to alcohol to keep his, ahem, spirits up. In 1904, American Olympian Thomas Hicks drank brandy mixed with strychnine to deal with the unbearable St. Louis heat - 88 degrees. Yeah, poison! It worked, I guess, because Hicks won, but he collapsed at the finish line (pictured) and required immediate care. Most people think he would have died of poisoning if the doctors hadn't been so fast.

3. Apparently by 1908, no one had figured out that alcohol + running = cramps + puke. South African runner Charles Hefferon drank champagne while he ran the 1908 Olympics in London; the resulting stomach cramps messed up his last two miles so badly that he lost the gold.

4. In the 1920s, runners weren't supposed to drink water during practices, unless it was oatmeal water. Oatmeal water is exactly what it sounds like - water soaked in oatmeal, which I think would make for a very paste-y quaff. Not that the runners got much of it - they were told to merely "moisten their mouths," not slurp it down.

5. Also in the 1920s, long-distance runners who braved the cold were told to smear lard and cottonseed oil all over their bodies to help keep the heat in. Ew.

6. In the 1860s, a Native American named Deerfoot set world records - 10 miles in 51:26 and 12 in 102:02. And he didn't wear fancy shoes or wicking clothes - he ran in only a feather apron, moccasins and an eagle feather around his head.

7. By 1928, they were still drinking at the Olympics - wine was actually served at the aid stations!

clarence8. In 1912, runners were informed that long-distance running could be bad for the heart. This caused Boston Marathon legend Clarence DeMar to stop running for about five years because he was concerned that running would make his heart murmur worse. He ended up winning seven Boston Marathons and earning a bronze medal in the 1924 Paris Olympics.
9. Prior to 1972, the longest distance women could run in the Olympics was a mere 800 meters - that's about half a mile - because organizers thought distances longer than that would be too hard for women. Half a mile?! That's insulting! In 1972, the 1500m run was added, and in 1984, the full marathon was finally added.
10. In the '70s, it was pretty common for marathoners to train by running 100+ miles a week. Some really hard-core runners still do this (marathoner Nate Jenkins, for example), but although it can help runners with faster times, it also increases the chance for injury exponentially.

Any other runners out there? What are your tips and tricks? I'd be willing to test a couple out, as long as it doesn't involve coating my body with lard.