Week four: the secret lives of runners

Unless you’re a veteran marathoner, you probably assume, as I did, that those in training adhere to a life of strict asceticism marked by grueling runs, flavorless, “healthy” foods and zero caffeine or alcohol.

Oh, how wrong you be.

Now that I’ve been running for all of a month (and raised my required $1,600 in pledges for AIDS Project Los Angeles, which is footing the bill for my training), I’ve gained admittance to the Secret Society of Running Revelry. Otherwise known as my weekly running group, the society consists of the dozen or so amateur APLA runners I meet up with once a week in Griffith Park for ever-longer run as we build toward our seemingly impossible 26.2 target.

Far from the self-denialists of popular imagination, runners are serious rewardists. The tougher the run, the more indulgent the prize:

Massages
My friend Amy, who sportingly agreed to take on the marathon challenge with me, spent an hour last week getting an elaborate hour-long foot massage that included toe cracking, and a deep tissue work-over. She’s already looking forward to her next appointment.

Carbs, Carbs, Carbs
Forget Atkins. Bring on the brioche, the pizza, the forbidden rice. Some runners have been known to host pasta parties before a big run. In runner world, carbs are king.

Naps
A runner needs her rest. All the books say it, I swear. Yes, I was a napper before I began training, but now I have a darn good excuse.

Margaritas
Runners sweat a lot, which leads to a craving for salt. What better way to replenish, one of my co-runners observed, than with a refreshing, salt-rimmed beverage.

Double Pancake Breakfasts
“The secret is to eat twice,” a fellow runner confided. “You eat some pancakes before you run, and then you eat some more when you’re done. That way you never get tired.”

Coffee
I wasn't a coffee-drinker before I started running. I am now. Even the experts say that an cup of Joe an hour before you hit the trails will help keep you going, so have at it.

Cute Jock Clothes
Having never entered a running store prior to last month (having not actually been aware that they existed) I find the range of sporty, high-tech, stylish attire a revelation. I hardly notice I’m sweating. Dri-Fit anyone?

The great thing is, it’s all in the name of self care: anecdotal studies conducted by me show that incentives coax the body through each successively greater challenge. My longest run so far has been a relatively wimpy five miles and already I’m inhaling chocolate croissants with impunity. Imagine the treats when I hit 20!

1:27 PM Tuesday, October 21 2008 • Link •  
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