The Negotiation

It happens every time I start marathon training. For the first three to five weeks, my body rebels. Straight-up rebels. Tempo runs are a bear. Track workouts may not even happen. Even daily runs are difficult and sluggish. Basically, my body and I are wholly engaged in a battle of wills until a truce is reached via the negotiation

My body: “I can’t do this.” 

Me: “Yes, you can.” 

My body: “No, I can’t! Listen to me—” 

“No, you listen to me! We’re never going to get through this if we don’t work together!” 


“Do you understand?” 

“Fine. FINE,” my body finally says. “But I have a few demands of my own. Stipulations, if you will.” 

“Oh, really?” 

“Yes, really. Don’t think I’m just gonna run a gazillion miles a week without laying down a few rules—not if you want me to stay healthy.” 

“And what, exactly, might those rules be?” 

“Don’t sass me.” 


“First,” my body says, opening a file box of dictates, “you have to take recovery seriously—” 

“Hey… Where’d you get that…?” 

“Ahem… You have to take recovery seriously.” 

“Ha!” I interrupt. “I DO.” 

“Nuh-nuh-no. I’m not talking pace. I’m talking sleep, food, nutrition, hydration, foam rolling, stretching—all that stuff.” 


“What about that concert Thursday night?” 

“What about it?” 


“What? I shouldn’t have gone??” 

“Hey, they didn’t even take the stage until 9 p.m.” 

They were Coldplay!” 

“What time did you go to bed?” 

“It doesn’t matter. It was Coldplay.” 

“What time did you go to bed?” 


“Uh, huh. And who missed her run the next morning?” 

“Oh, my gosh. You are such a—” 

“I’m sorry. Who wants to run a gazillion miles this summer?” 

“Well, technically…” I say. 

Who wants to run a gazillion miles?” my body repeats. 


“That’s what I thought. If you want to run, I have to sleep.” 

“You sleep!” 

“Do I now? Incredible! Because if I remember correctly—”rummaging through paper—“two weekends ago, you kept me up all night working.” 

“I didn’t have a choice! The project was due on Saturday afternoon.” 

“And you made me stay up past 1 a.m. four other nights that week.” 

“You know, a friend once told me you can sleep when you’re dead.” 

“Great! At this rate, that’ll be next Thursday.”

“I don’t think I like your attitude.” 

“I don’t think I like your lack of sleep. It’s like you want to get injured. Or sick. Sheesh.” [more rummaging through paper] “Ah, yes. And this food situation.” 

“What about it?” 

“If you want to run as much as you want to run, you have to eat often, and you have to eat well.” 

“I eat… pretty well.” 

“You can’t put diesel—”

 “—in a Ferrari. I know, I know.” 

“I’m talking fuel. Real fuel. Green veggies and brown rice and avocados and quinoa and fish and kumquats and—” 

“Wait, what’s a kumquat?” 

“It doesn’t matter.” 

“Can I still eat cookie cake?” 

“Sure, as long as you don’t eat only cookie cake. Cookie cake is not a meal.” 

“What about for breakf—” 

“Cookie cake is not a meal.” 



“Well,” I say, “I have a few demands of my own.” 

“What? Because running a gazillion miles a week isn’t enough? Sadist.” 

“I heard that.” 


You have to run slow when I say to run slow. You get all weird on recovery days—like you’re embarrassed to run super slow.” 

“It’s boring.” 

“It’s your ego.” 

“And it’s boring.” 

“Too bad. Also, track workouts…” 

“Can I just say that I don’t think it’s fair to ask your body to run a gazillion miles a week and ask it to run fast?” 

“Life’s not fair, buddy.” 

“Don’t call me buddy.” 

“Anyway. Track workouts. You will run fast when I tell you to run fast. And you will not give me a whole litany of lame-o excuses why you can’t. Understood?” 

“But my legs are so tired and you ask so much—” 

“Oh, my gosh. I literally just said no excuses.” 

“Yeah, but volume plus intensity? Do you know how exhausting that is?” 

“Listen, if it were easy—” 

“It’d be your mo—” 

“Just stop. You wanted me to miss Coldplay!” 

“When you try your best but you don’t succeed…” 


“When you get what you want, but not what you nee-eed…” 

“You’re seriously the worst.” 

“Any other demands, your majesty?” 

“Listen,” I say, “I can’t do this alone.” 


“No, I’m serious. I’m really grateful for all that you put up with. I know I ask a lot of you. Between training and work and everything else—you’re always there for me.” 

“Except when you pull that no-sleep nonsense.” 

“Yeah, I’m sorry.” 

“I can’t run without sleep.” 

“I know. I’m sorry.” 

“It’s okay.” 


“But assuming we get plenty of sleep… Could you please try to complain less during track workouts? You’d think the world was coming to an end.” 

“Yeah. I’ll try.” 



“And for the record,” I say. 


“I still would have gone to Coldplay.” 

“I knew it.”

Amy L. Marxkors

Amy L. Marxkors is the author of The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner and Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Story.  Click here to receive Amy's weekly article via email.

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