Wednesday, December 17, 2014

10 Ways Driving a Manual Is Like Running

Seventeen hours, give or take, in a car. With my husband. And my toddler.

 photo E1B1442E-09B8-46B0-90A4-232AB2FAE928_zpsvbijvhgc.jpg

If the prospect of driving to Colorado was not daunting enough, Mark sprung this on me a few months before the trip. He thought the trip west would be best made in his car, as it has a roomier backseat and more trunk storage than my hatchback.

The car, which I not-so-kindly refer to as Old Man, also happens to be a manual transmission.

In case you haven't guessed yet, I didn't learn how to drive a manual when I was a teenager — or as an adult. I did make a few attempts, it is true. Once, my uncle tried to coerce me into backing up his work truck out of my grandma's uphill driveway. It didn't go well. Then, after dating Mark, I tried to learn on his red Toyota Yaris but a few marginally successful lessons ended with me stalled in the middle of an intersection crying.

I vowed never to try again.

I was fairly obstinate about it, even when Mark pitched and pitched the idea of taking his car to Colorado. It wasn't one day, when I must have had an epic run, did I agree. The process wasn't easy — not at all — but I did become a valuable partner for the drive to Colorado. And, now, I no longer get heart palpitations if Mark is parked behind me when I need to go to the grocery.

"I'm taking your car," I say, grabbing the keys and heading out the door.

The more I drive the car, the more I can't help but relate driving a manual transmission to running. Maybe it's because I relate everything to running or maybe because there are similarities.

 photo stick_shift_zps3580a8dd.jpg

10 Ways Driving a Manual is Like Running

1. You can't judge an outing based on the first mile, much less first tenth. The driving lessons started slow - down the block, to the ice cream shop, to my in-law's house. On one such drive, which was no more than 2 miles, I apprehensively got behind the wheel. I managed to back out of the driveway and get the car into first. Then second. I went for third (ha!) and instead found a gear yet to be named. Or, maybe it was neutral. Or first. Anyway, I pulled over and started ranting that I could never drive the car. We all know, though, that we need at least 10 minutes to get in a groove. If it's not going the way we want, rather than give up, just slowly hit the gas and see what happens.

2. Hills are hard — don't stop on them. Just keep your pace steady, eyes ahead and go.

3. Uphills might be the worry but if you aren't careful, you can burn out the brakes on the downhill.

4. Start your journey in first gear.

5. But if you don't and accidentally start in second, you won't wreck the transmission. Just don't try it in third.

6. A good warm up is preferred when easing into higher gears. It's scary and challenging to go from first to fifth over a short stretch of road.

7. Stop and go traffic is the worst. The more you have to stop and start, the seemingly harder it is to get into the higher gears.

8. If you want to get going — and then keep moving — you have to give the engine enough gas. Not too much or you'll flood the engine. But enough.

Note: In terms of running, gas means fuel ... like Gu or peanut butter-filled dates. It does not mean gas. I think as runners, we have enough.

9. Not everyone can drive a stick and definitely not everyone wants to. Once you are in the club, you get the appeal.

10. Once you master it, you feel like a total bad ass.


  1. Hilarious, and so true! My first car was a manual. I was very reluctant to learn on it, but when my family dropped me off at college in San Diego and left me there with my car as the only means of ever getting home again.... I learned!

  2. THIS IS SO TRUE! I started driving stick when I bought a Mini Cooper, and 3 cars later I am hooked and we don't have any auto transmission cars at our home. Welcome to the exclusive club of badass manual drivers :)

  3. HAHA!! I never thought of this! Spot on with every item. I especially love the comparison to hills. Stupid hills.

  4. I have always driven a stick since my first car and I love it...I never want to have an automatic; all our cars are manual. We just taught our son to drive stick and he has said how it makes him feel sort of cool since none of his friends can do it. And as a bonus, most (if not all) petty car thieves can drive stick, so they will just pass by your car!

  5. You are so clever!! This is great! So funny!

  6. This is a spot-on comparison. Driving a manual can be quite challenging, especially on rough or constantly-changing roads. And I agree about the stop and go traffic being the worst. It just drains you out, knowing that you have to shift gears on every possible block. Anyway, thanks for sharing this with us, Kimberly. Have a great day!

    Cayla Maggio @ Nowthen Transmission