One month to go before my half marathon debut! I am definitely running more than ever! That’s because I am so impressively slow it takes me forever to finish my runs.
I start out each run convinced that day will see my best speed and that 10 miles will magically sail past. Then, a quarter mile in, I remember I am not very good at this sport, and the miles drag on and on. I’m still not convinced that whatever my legs are doing really and truly counts as running. Pleasantries aside, anyone who’s seen me “run” can attest. I’ve seen their quizzical glances during my gazillion laps around the gym track: “Is that…is she…why is she still doing that?” Meanwhile, my sister Kristiann, who is sworn to stay by me in the Diva Half, has been nursing a nagging foot injury over the last month. Obviously, we need a new game plan. If increasing my mileage has taught me anything, it is how to best disguise my walk breaks to make it seem like I’m a far better runner than in reality. The goal is to appear to be walking not because of global muscular fatigue and lack of oxygen, but because there is simply no other option THAN walk. This list is sacred, and will hereafter be assumed as the game plan for Kristiann and me during our half marathon next month. To any similarly challenged runner readers, you’re welcome. Use this list wisely and keep “running.”
How to Disguise Running Rest Breaks
1. Photos. I’ve mentioned this before. Don’t pass up your opportunity to capture that selfie by each mileage sign, that gorgeous lake, the amazing sunrise, the stellar sunset, the herd of cows, the goose on the road, the snake in your path, the rock next to the grass, the flowers, the mountains, the paint colors on that house over there that you may want to use on your own home next year, etc, etc. Opportunities are endless.
2. Play with your watch. If you have a smart watch, use it. If your watch is slow and stupid, it doesn’t matter. No one will know, just grab the face and pretend to push some non-existent buttons obviously there to help you track something to do with running. Meanwhile, catch your breath and rest your legs.
3. Stretch those calves and feet. Feeling spent after a couple of miles? Better keep those legs healthy. Pull off the road and stretch them out! Don’t forget to hold those stretches a bit.
4. Drink some water. You’re dripping with sweat already. You don’t want to pass out from dehydration! Drink something, now! Forgot your water bottle? Better pause and find that fountain, or stop at that store and buy yourself a bottle.
5. Munch on fuel. Some fuels work on the go, but thankfully not all of them. Choose wisely, and snack slowly. Easy open fuel gels and instantly accessible jelly beans that can be inhaled effortlessly on the fly are not for you. Now, if you’re excitedly thinking this means you can pull over and enjoy a pizza because surely that will take a while, not so fast. I can certainly relate to the desire, because those miles make you oh, so hungry. Unfortunately, no one would be fooled into thinking you are a conditioned athlete still in the process of running. The idea is to be subtle with your fuel selection: something in a challenging wrapper, like a granola bar, that you could possibly choke on if you don’t stop for a few minutes.
And if it’s dry enough, you’ll probably need a drink to wash it down, which could add another minute or two of rest. The Shot Blocks above actually come with the warning, “Always follow consumption with water.” Ummm, OKAY! No need to ask me twice! Think good, solid fuel that will buy your aching body a few minutes of respite, and no one will question your mandatory stop.
6. Diabetes. If you’ve got Diabetes, you’ll need to check your sugar many times while on a long run, and this is going to involve a pause in running. I don’t have Diabetes, but my sister does. Run with a friend who has Diabetes. True friends stick together through this process, so stop with them and pretend you need to help them. What if they tell you their blood sugar level feels fine? Well, you can’t really know for sure unless you check…
7. Fiddle with your music playlist. This is definitely too difficult to do while moving at anything greater than a walking pace.
8. Lip balm. All that huffing and puffing leaves your lips chapped. Better pause to reapply some balmy relief for your lips and your lungs.
9. Hold your side as though you have a side cramp. Everyone knows side cramps are legit excuses to break from a run. If you really have one, that sucks. If not, fake it and rest up!
10. Port-a-Potty!! This could probably warrant an entire blog post in and of itself. There is a reason people say they’re pooped after a long run. After about an hour and a half of trying to run, if you see a port-a-potty, use it. Even if you don’t think you need it. USE. IT.
In the early stages of a long run, your body tries to peaceably protest with tears, snot, and the occasional leakage below the belt (…or so I’ve been told). If you continue to neglect these cues, somewhere between miles six and nine, your body physiologically throws one last temper tantrum and stages an alarming revolt against any continued forward momentum. It’s a surprising sensation that will send you wide-eyed into a knock-kneed sail’s pace with a prayer for finding safe harbor in the next thirty seconds, if not sooner (…or so I’ve been told). Obviously, this happens because running sucks, but it may also have something to do with pre-run fuel choices. I’m still trying to figure out what works, so I have no practical suggestions other than definitely not chili. The only advantage of this is the inherent recovery period for the rest of your body. My only advice is to try to ward off the evil coup d’etat by taking advantage of restroom facilities prior to its onset.
11. No one around? Take advantage and walk. Why run if no one is there to witness? If a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound…
12. Is that something in my eye? Is that something in your eye? Who cares? Better stop and figure it out.
13. You COULD double-knot your shoelaces so they don’t come untied while running. OR…
14. Limp a few paces. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Hopefully, your legs are not really injured. If they are, you need to sit down and call someone to pick you up and take you to the hospital, or to a bar. If you’re just exhausted, throw in a few healthy hobbles until your lungs get back in the game.
Now carry on, fellow wannabe warriors! Just fake it until you make it! With a bit of camouflage, you’ll still look brilliant!