Among people who run, there are a few regular topics of conversation.
Like “so, what’s your next event?”
This isn’t usually meant to be a loaded question. But depending on the timing, it can certainly inspire a panicked mental comparison of the mileage runs you’ve yet to do with the weeks left before your next event.
Remember? That event you registered for months ago when the combination of an early bird rate and the time remaining to build back up to running 13 miles in one afternoon in the middle of winter made this whole idea sound a lot more reasonable?
My next event is in days. And yes, there’s a Valentines theme. It’d be cuter if Mike and I were running together, like last year. And when I say “together,” I mean in same event, starting at roughly the same time, with one of us (Mike) finishing first and left to hang out out afterward, shivering in sweaty clothes, waiting for the other (me) to finish.
Last year, in honor of the theme, and just to see what kind of face I’d make, Mike suggested running the whole thing holding hands.
I punched him in the sternum.
This year, I’m running it alone since he’s still dealing with a knee issue he’s been trying to ignore since September (not because of any permanent damage I may have done to his sternum).
It’s the same event we were running last year when people kept yelling as we passed, telling us we had too many clothes on. This made a whole lot more sense when we realized they were confusing our event with the Cupid Run where people wear red lingerie (which sounds stupid), while running from bar to bar (okay, not terribly stupid).
I started running half marathons five years ago with an event in Leavenworth, Washington, during Oktoberfest. The finisher medal was a commemorative bottle opener. Mike and some of our friends had been running events together for a while, and I decided right then and there with that cute, little tchotchke, it was way more fun to join them than hang out on a street corner in the rain holding a “go Mike” sign (which I did exactly once). The following year I ran a few more events. Then it started to be a thing.
Since then, it’s become my normal shtick to run a local half marathon every month or so, from February through November. I have to skip a couple due to schedule conflicts, but have been able to get in at least six or seven events annually the last couple of years. That’s a lot of swag.
And it sounds way more badass than it actually is. Once you get up to that distance, staying in shape isn’t very hard. I don’t train strenuously. I don’t do speed work, or cross train, or do nearly enough strength building. My objective is to say in good enough shape so as not to require paramedic help on the course.
When it comes down to it, I guess I’m really the most ‘meh’ runner I know. If it weren’t for the comfy clothes and the bottle-opener tchotchkes, and the beer-drinking habit I refuse to give up, I don’t know that I’d bother.
But it’s not all easy street. My ‘meh’ regimen consists of two to three short runs a week, with a long run on the weekend preceded by what has become a fairly sophisticated procrastination ritual consisting of a combination of a few steps I’ll share with you now for education and enlightenment.
My pre-long run routine (not necessarily in the following order):
- Consuming a hearty breakfast and two or three cups of coffee, at least two hours before a long run.
- Making a trip to the bathroom. And then three more.
- After realizing I’ve forgotten to charge my Garmin the night before, saying a quick prayer as I plug it in with hope there’s enough time for a solid charge.
- Updating my running playlist on iTunes and then coercing someone into helping me update my phone with the new playlist.
- Obsessively checking the weather on my phone and laptop, and comparing that data to what I can see from the front window.
- Wondering if it’ll rain/snow/be windy/be foggy.
- Wondering if I should dress warmer than usual, and dreading the thought that I’ll be hot and sweaty five minutes into my run.
- Perusing Facebook to see if anyone else is out there, running, and what they’re wearing.
- Losing track of time and then noticing 30 minutes have passed while I was on Facebook.
- Berating myself for wasting time on social media.
- Changing from insulated running tights to regular running tights and then back again.
- Changing from a lighter shirt to a warmer one, and then back again.
- Tearing things out of drawers while looking for my running gloves, hat, ear buds, lucky socks, favorite water bottle.
- Telling the dog to calm down. We’re not leaving just yet.
- Telling myself to stop procrastinating.
- Getting defensive when Mike says something about how much I seem to be procrastinating.
- Starting a blog post about procrastinating a long run.
- Answering the phone and then talking to my mom about nothing in particular for way longer than usual. Because it’s important to talk to your mom.
- Checking the weather on my phone.
- Checking the charge on my Garmin.
- Explaining my course plans to Mike in case I get lost, or hurt, or abducted by aliens.
- Reminiscing with Mike about that one movie we watched about alien abductions.
- Wishing aloud that we still had cable television so we could watch the new X-Files.
- Promising Mike I won’t run on the road in the fog. That I’ll take water. That I won’t overwork the dog.
- Taking one last trip to the bathroom.
- And then another.
As you can imagine, with the complexity and the time commitment of this pre-run ritual, it’s not unheard of for something to come up in the interim. It could be an earthquake or a girlfriend’s invitation to go out for a cup of coffee that preempts the long run altogether. That’s just the risk I face almost every weekend. It’s rough.
The other risk is that, even after this long, pre run regimen, there will be absolutely nothing standing in between me and a long run. Not. A. Single. Thing.
( … )
(Sigh) Yes. I’m going. Sush.
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