Last weekend, I volunteered at an aid station for the Double Dipsea race, a notoriously difficult (and very famous) trail race in the Bay Area.
While we were setting up, all the volunteers (all veteran runners, racers, and race volunteers) were chatting about their experiences running the race. Most were members of the ‘one and done’ club – they’d done the race once, had the experience, and never felt the need to have the experience again.
When explaining why she never wanted to run it again, one said: “It was just one of those races.”
We all knew exactly what she meant.
We’d all had one of those races.
It got me thinking about other kinds of runs all runners have eventually. The kind of runs that can easily be recognized by a shorthand description.
For the record, I have zero interest in running Double Dipsea. It’s an out-and-back trail race on a single track trail with a handicap start. The slowest runners go out first and the fastest go out last (the idea being anyone can win the race outright). This results in 14 miles of passing and being passed. I know my temperament enough to know I wouldn’t do well with this. In fact, it’s my idea of hell.
Types of Runs We’ve All Had
If you run enough miles over enough years, you’ll have each one of these runs eventually.
That Was Amazing!
The running gods smiled upon you and everything felt just right. You felt strong, powerful, and like you knew exactly what you were doing.
This is the exact opposite.
You head out for your usual run, but today it feels like the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
Everything feels off. It feels like you’ve never run a step in your life. You may end up thinking something along the lines of, ‘I’m worthless, why did I ever think I should call myself a runner?’
A run on a too crowded sidewalk, path, or race course.
Your ability to finish the run isn’t about your running technique, it’s about your ability to dodge and weave around others. ‘Success’ is defined by not getting clipped in the heels by another runner or a stroller.
Am I Standing Still?
You feel like you are running your usual pace, and yet you are getting passed by every stroller, dog and old couple out for a casual stroll.
Pain Don’t Hurt
You are injured, you know you are injured, but you are going to run anyway.
Because that is what (silly) runners do.
Maybe you have a cold. Maybe you had a little too much fun last night. Whatever the reason, you know you probably shouldn’t run, but you know you will.
You are on vacation and take the opportunity to check out a totally new area on your own two feet.
Running while traveling is a great way to see a new and unfamiliar town. Ask locals or a hotel concierge for suggestions or just head out the door and run (pro tip: always have the address of where you are staying written down in case you need directions to get back).
You can even play tourist in your hometown – I’m sure there are plenty of streets you’ve never been down before.
Was it something you ate last night or the new vegan-all-natural gel you tried for the first time on your run? Who knows, but you spent the entire run scouting for bathrooms or porta potties.
Because Running Isn’t Hard Enough…
Running in a costume, with a stroller, with a dog, or something else that makes your run even harder than it would be otherwise.
I’m Sure I Wanted To Run…
You were excited to run all day. You spent the afternoon thinking about the run you were going to do when you got home.
Then you actually got home and the second you walked in the door you suddenly had zero interest in running. There was nothing in the world you wanted more than to NOT run.
We Shouldn’t Run In This…
Way too hot, way too cold, snowy, rainy or humid.
A normal person wouldn’t run in this, and yet…
I Just Want To Accomplish Something
You didn’t even plan on running, but it was a terrible day and you feel like you haven’t accomplished a thing.
If you put on your running shoes and head out the door, at least something will be accomplished for the day.
You are running, minding your own business. When one thought leads to another that leads to another.
Next thing you know, you are thinking about high school memories, one-hit-wonder bands from the 80s, and boyfriends you haven’t thought about in 20 years.
Flash of Inspiration
You are on the run, minding your own business, when an idea, insight or epiphany pops into your head fully formed.
That email you have to write but couldn’t get just right, or the solution to the problem you just couldn’t crack.
Instantly solved on the run.
Take Me Away
You didn’t plan on running, but you really needed to get away from your life for an hour.
You know you shouldn’t go out too fast, but you were feeling so great. What could it hurt to start just a little (or a lot) faster than usual?
There’s a reason the cliche of racing is to not go out too fast…
Am I Lost?
If you’ve ever done a trail run, you know that moment of panic when you either realize you are lost or you maybe just think you may be lost.
What if you never find your way out and you have to live in the woods for the rest of your life?
What about you? Are there other types of runs you’ve had?