Confessions of a Distance Runner


  • I can’t “eat anything I want” just because I run. I still have to watch what I eat.
  • I don’t always watch what I eat.
  • I wear my running tights to the grocery store.
  • I think running tights are appropriate attire for anything short of a wedding or funeral. (Even then, it depends on the person.)
  • I like GU. I eat it as a snack when I’m not running.
  • I consider putting on a baseball cap “fixing my hair.”
  • I spit.
  • I look at my reflection in store windows when I run by shopping centers.
  • I have a lot of “bad run” days.
  • Even though I answer politely when people ask me “how long” my marathon was, deep down, a little part of my soul dies.
  • I’ve learned toilet paper is not quite as necessary as some people may think.
  • When I travel, my first concern is “What are the running routes from the hotel?”
  • I don’t feel awake until I’ve gotten in my run for the day.
  • I consider days that I don’t run a total wash.
  • I cannot go into a running store without buying something. Ever.
  • I am filled with euphoric joy when I discover a park bathroom that is open during winter.
  • I always need more running gear, no matter how much I have.
  • Most of my wardrobe blinks, lights up, or repels moisture.
  • I once accidentally wore my headlamp into the grocery store. While it was on.
  • I’ve changed clothes in more gas stations, Starbucks, Denny’s, and grocery stores than I can count.
  • I consider spandex the fabric of my life.
  • I very rarely feel fast.
  • I often feel slow.
  • I have a soft spot for clothing items in colors that could be mistaken for radioactive contamination.
  • I think nothing of discussing gastrointestinal issues at the dinner table.
  • I have bad dreams in the nights leading up to a marathon, usually involving forgetting my shoes and having to run the marathon in socks on a hardwood floor.
  • I own more running shorts than I own dresses, skirts, pants, and regular shorts—combined.
  • Half the time when I’m driving my car, I’m also sitting on a plastic trash bag or a towel because I just ran.
  • I consider my car “clean” if there aren’t any dirty socks strewn across the floor.
  • I have to “apologize for the smell” before passengers climb into my car.
  • Whenever I see someone running (and I’m not running) I’m immediately filled with envy and feel like I should be out there too, even if I’ve already run twenty miles that morning.
  • I consider a quick wipe-down with some paper towels and a little water basically as good as a shower.
  • I’m always surprised that zippered pockets and reflectivity aren’t standard clothing characteristics.
  • When I pass another distance runner in the park, I’ll give a little hand wave and head nod, like we’re in some secret club.
  • I’m convinced that 90% of our nation’s problems stem from dehydration.
  • When people show me vacation photos, I picture myself running there.
  • I believe coffee really does taste better after a run.
  • All I really want at race expos is free food and drink samples.
  • I feel like all official race apparel is overpriced.
  • Short-shorts don’t look that short to me anymore.
  • Unless they’re not running shorts. Then they do.
  • I’ve “fueled” many runs with birthday cake.
  • I feel an immediate bond with anyone running with a hydration belt.
  • After a successful long run or tempo, I relay my mile splits to my entire family, even though I know they don’t care and would probably pay me not to tell them.
  • The way I feel after a long run is one of my favorite feelings ever, sore joints and all.
  • I feel really cool when I run trails.
  • Sometimes running is really hard.
  • I spend 90% of race morning either in the bathroom or standing in line to use the bathroom.
  • I’m always hungry.
  • Sometimes I think about nothing during my entire run. Like, I’ll get home, and I’ll honestly have no idea what I thought about the whole time.
  • I can farmer’s blow like a champ.
  • I secretly wish I could be in a NIKE commercial.
  • I can’t look at other runners or people working out at the gym without judging the shoes they’re wearing.
  • Whenever someone passes me during a training run, I always assume they’re not going as far as I am.
  • I’ve sabotaged my own run by trying to keep up with runners too fast for me.
  • I’d rather run a marathon than race a mile.
  • I never feel worse than when I’m tapering.
  • I don’t care if the guy pushing the stroller is an elite runner. It still stings a little when he passes me.
  • I’ve re-worn dirty socks to run in because I forgot to bring clean ones.
  • Even though I love starting my day with a run, most of the time I feel like hurling my clock across the room when the alarm goes off.
  • I look like a total freak at restaurants because the server always has to fill up my water more than anyone else’s.
  • Most servers usually end up saying, “I’ll just leave the pitcher on the table.”
  • I wish I were faster.
  • If I have to choose between showering before a social event and finishing my scheduled miles for the day, I’ll always choose the latter.
  • I am overcome with a feeling of dread the moment I click the “submit” button on an online race registration.
  • I have an “emergency run kit” in my car, just in case an unexpected opportunity to run pops up.
  • Most days I put on my running clothes, go for a run, get cleaned up, and then put on different running clothes.
  • I consider jeans “dressing up.”
  • I fantasize about being an elite running with the lead pack at a major marathon.
  • I have no idea what is causing the obvious shortage of Mylar blankets at races.
  • I say “Kara” and “Shalane” and “Meb” and expect people to know whom I’m talking about.
  • Part of me believes that if I could only be picked up by the NIKE Oregon Project, I would be the next great American distance runner.
  • I can’t part with any piece of running apparel until the stench is so bad I offend myself.
  • I know the distance from my front door to any minor landmark to the hundredth of a mile.
  • The night before a marathon, I always “change my mind” and decide I don’t want to race after all.
  • Part of me hates packet pickup for marathons because I always end up comparing myself to all the other participants at the expo and usually walk away feeling like the least prepared person there.
  • Part of me loves marathon expos because of the energy.
  • I believe running keeps you young.
  • Sometimes my family will ask me, “Did you run today?” and then shove me out the door because I’m so unpleasant until I get my run in.
  • You know how they say distance runners go to the bathroom anywhere and everywhere? It’s true.
  • Cowbells really do make me run faster.
  • So do drums.
  • When spectators at races cheer me on, I feel like each of them is there just for me, even though we’ve never met.
  • I know I will never be able to thank race volunteers enough.
  • I feel like running is part of my existence, like breathing.
  • Deep down, I know it is.
  • When I see other runners on early morning runs, and we wave and greet each other with smiles, my faith in humanity is restored.
  • I’ve learned that you can’t be a distance runner without having a sense of adventure.
  • Or fun. Or trouble.
  • I truly believe runners are some of the greatest people in the world.
  • And I’m totally serious about the NIKE commercial thing.

Amy L. Marxkors is the author of The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious RunnerHer second book, Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Storywill be released in 2014.

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