Apologies in Advance


Runners have a way of talking about their running passion that a non-runner will never quite understand, or appreciate, so I thought I would issue a little apology for our running obsession… – BY LIZETTE DU PLESSIS

If you’ve ever run a marathon, or a half marathon, oh heck, any sort of race, ever, you’ve totally done this before: Bored someone to tears with every intricate detail of every single second of your racing endeavour. On the one hand, you should be proud of your accomplishment. You did it, you’re awesome! But on the other hand, does the rest of the world really need to hear about the stitch you developed at 7.6km, or that nasty blister you developed around 14.5km, and how you had to stop for a minute at the next water station to pop it? No, they definitely do not.

We’ve all caught ourselves doing this from time to time, humble-bragging about our various running-related accomplishments, but let me show you how annoying it is… and I must warn you, this is going to be pretty unbearable.

Do I have a story for you!
Let me tell you about my race last Saturday. But first I simply have to go pretty in-depth about my months of preparation, talk about all the encouragement and support I received from friends and family, and give you a kilometre-by-kilometre assessment of my state of mind and physical condition during the training and build-up, and then the race itself.

I hate to say it, but this is going to take quite a bit of your time. Split times, cramping, hydration levels, chafing, you're about to hear all of that, plus I'll be dwelling on one point around 17km when I considered stopping, but then decided to keep going because I'd already come so far. There's a lot to cover, so make yourself comfortable.

I'll inevitably start with how I carbo-loaded the night before the race, which by itself will not be a particularly long or objectionable story, but let me assure you it will segue right into an excruciatingly detailed explanation of the diet I maintain to stay in peak physical shape. And that, in turn, will lead into my training regimen, my special lightweight marathon gear, and, unfortunately for you, a lengthy period during which I expound upon the health benefits of distance running.

Bear with me…
I know this isn't the kind of thing you want to listen to – hey, no one does, not even fellow runners – but the good news is I'm going to include several funny anecdotes about my running partner, Esna, a person you don't know and couldn't possibly be interested in hearing about. But including her adds so much more important detail to my story!

Believe me, if I could stop myself from talking about this, I would. But I can't… and so I'm going to tell you all about my personal best time, and out of politeness, you will have to pretend to be impressed by that number, even though to you it will seem completely arbitrary and hold no meaning at all.

You'll also be hearing quite a bit about the sense of accomplishment I felt upon finishing the race. You're really going to hate that part, trust me, because there will be detestable phrases like, “I never thought I could do it, but I made it,” and “It truly was a life-changing experience,” and “It's a huge commitment, but definitely worth it.” I can barely express how insufferable I'm going to be.

But wait, there’s more!
I'm so sorry, I know you've done nothing to deserve this, but right when you think I'm finished talking, just when you get your hopes up, I'll mention how this wasn't my first race, and then you're going to hear details of three other races of similar distance, just for comparison. I can't even imagine how horrible it will be for you to hear still more running stuff, and how I believe I've progressed as a runner, etc, etc, but by this point, there just won't be any getting around it.

And while it is at best tangentially related, I may at any moment during the conversation launch into an agonising digression on the merits of five-day juice cleanses. I beg your forgiveness. Again.

Worst of all, though, I'm definitely going to run more races in the future, so I'll have to tell you all about the various races I'm thinking about entering, and the pros and cons of each course, the start times and travelling distances and entry fees and qualifying requirements, and more. Please, accept my deepest apologies in advance, because as excruciating as today's discussion already is, it won't end here.

Just can’t help myself…
Here's the truly awful part: Every single day during my weeks of preparation leading up to the next race, I'm going to make you stop whatever you're doing to tell you the number of kilometres I ran the previous evening, and what my heart rate was. I'll also tell you that you should run one of these things, too, because if I can run, so can you. Yes, I will actually say that to you.

I honestly can't convey how intensely sorry I feel that all these words will soon be coming out of my mouth, but you have been warned. I'm really, really sorry.