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@rixx@chaos.social · @rixxtr

What I write about when I write about running


Ok, the title is a lie¹, I don’t usually write about running. There’s not much there to say – I’m an uninspired runner at best, partly because I don’t do habits. But for once I have something to talk about, and if you squint just right, there are a few life lessons in there, too.

Content note: I’m talking about exercise and I’m bragging like a professional braggart. My blog, my rules, bragging is totally allowed today.

I usually go running twice per week – and by usually I mean “since the beginning of this month”. I went running for a grand total of eight times this year, and nearly all of that was within the last month. I always run a 5 km round out in the fields, typically at night when there are no other people around and I can just listen to music and zone out.

This is where the first idiocy comes in: I always go fast. I don’t always go to the edge of collapse, but my heart rate is reliably high and I’m definitely very exhausted afterwards. I do this because fast is Exciting and Good and slow is Boring and Bad. Sadly, it’s generally recommended that you do about 80% of your running at an easy pace, and only 20% at a fast pace. I know that, but I usually only manage to start out slow, and then increase my pace because, well, fun.

Last night, I decided to be serious about running slowly, because my previous run had been particularly fast (for me), and I didn’t want to risk injury. (Little did I know …) I have a fitness watch that can show my heart rate, and I decided to stay at or below 160bpm for once, instead of averaging 170 or 180 like usually.


And I actually managed to keep to the plan! I ran my 5k round, at an atrociously slow pace, more than a minute slower per km than usually – but towards the end I still felt fresh and energised. Well, I said to myself, why not go for a full hour of running – or maybe even 10km, if I still feel like it towards the end? Sure, why not!


Towards the end of the second round, I snapped out of my mindless shuffling, which was only broken up by my heart rate checks and making sure that I returned to 160bpm. I was still feeling pretty okay, and started thinking – while it’s true that I only ever run 5km rounds, and 10km was already doubling that – how awesome would it be to finish all of the 80% slow running in one go? (This is where you sigh and shake your head. I’ll wait.)


So I just did that. My pace got slower and slower, I’m sure I saw some snails passing me on the dark floor, but my heart rate remained down. My left knee hurt a bit on the uphills, my right food was a bit uncomfortable on the downhill stretches, but things weren’t really as bad as expected. I wasn’t really tied to the 20km goal – while it sounded nice, I made sure to detach from it as much as possible, and to make sure that I had a good way of stopping when I felt like it. But apart from some tightness in my legs I felt really good.

And, you know, 20km is criminally close to the 21.1km of a half marathon, so why not finish that, too? It took me a total time of 2 hours and 41 minutes, but I even had enough energy towards the end to speed up below my best 5k pace.


I then hobbled home, because once I stopped running, my legs stopped cooperating entirely. I drank, I ate, I iced my poor feet, I painfully collected all relevant things from around the house to my bed to make sure I could work in the morning without walking around if I had to. (Which was not necessary, but it was a close thing.) I slept, I woke, and found that I felt, in this order, embarrassment for my terrible life choices, pain, pride and a need to tell people about the last night, and an urgent desire to never move again.


Things that stood out to me:

I’m an idiot, and sometimes I’m an idiot to great effect, and it’s a lot of fun.²

¹ To avoid walking it in like the Romans, an explanation: The title is a riff on What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami, which in turn (as a kind friend informs me) is a possibly indirect riff on What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

² But please don’t try this at home.