I regret to inform you that I am training for another big race, and I have managed to become even more insufferable about it this year.

For those who found themselves trapped in a conversation with me at any point last summer, that may be hard to believe. But I am, in fact, twice as annoying this training season for two reasons:

First, I’m running the same marathon I ran last year and bring it up every chance I get. Like a tiger lurking in tall grass, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting water buffalo, I wait in the wings of conversations for my chance to mention that I ran the St. George Marathon and would you believe that I’m doing it again?

Someone might casually mention that they’re going down to St. George for a weekend, and I’ll say, “Oh, you’ll probably drive along the marathon route” and then I’ll wait for them to say, “Wow, have you run it?” and then I’ll feign modesty and say, “Yeah, last year, but I wasn’t fast or anything. I’m actually training for it again this year because I’m a masochist, I guess,” and I know that they stopped caring even before they asked the question, but I just keep talking about it because this is my entire identity now.

What am I hoping to gain by talking about my long runs incessantly? Clearly, not more friends. And I’m not looking to convert anyone to my way of life. If everyone ran the same marathon two years in a row, I would be less special.

Maybe I’m asking for a round of applause? Anything to feed my ego for accomplishing what a million other people accomplish every year, while not even accomplishing it particularly well. But it is hard, and I think I just want others to acknowledge that it’s hard. And that I’m so brave for doing such a hard thing that I signed up and paid for.

The good news for me, and the bad news for everyone who has a runner in their life, is that I’m not alone. Many other runners are aware of the ways in which they are oversharing, but feel compelled to continue doing so to make the training feel worth it. In a piece for Slate entitled “How I Became the ‘Annoying Running Guy,’” Luke Winkie wrote that this kind of fitness endeavor “brings out the worst in us while we interface with our fellow man” because of how hard it all is, how deep we have to go into the rabbit hole of training.

“To successfully prepare for a marathon, one is required to let themselves slip into the deep end, entering a psychedelic fugue state where everything — everything — is framed through the prism of fitness,” Winkie wrote.

Which rings very true to me. If I don’t surrender to the fantasy that the point of my entire existence is to complete the race I’m training for, I’ll never make it to the starting line. And part of that surrender is talking, almost exclusively, about it.

How to train for a half-marathon and keep your friends
I ran the St. George Marathon so you don’t have to

The second reason I’m so annoying this year is that I’m mildly injured. Which puts me in the majority of runners, not the minority. Throw a rock this summer, and it will hit someone wearing compression socks, hobbling along the trail, jacked up on ibuprofen, bracing through the pain of tendonitis or plantar fasciitis or shin splints.

We all believe our injuries are the most tragic thing to possibly befall a human in all of history, and we talk about them solemnly as though the injury that threatens to prevent us from completing a race — a race that we didn’t have to qualify for and paid money in order to run — is on par with one of the world’s best athletes not competing in the summer Olympics.

We speak of our pain to garner sympathy, which is a big ask considering the cure for the pain is to stop doing the activity causing it.


Imagine someone coming to you and saying, “I can’t seem to get rid of these constant headaches,” and because you’re a nice person, you ask, “What do you think is causing them?” and in response they say, “Well, my doctor thinks it’s because I’ve been hitting my forehead with a hammer,” and then they proceed to tell you all the ways they are trying to manage the pain of the hammer hitting their forehead. At length.

That’s what my friends and family are currently dealing with when I describe some nerve damage and the steroids I’m taking to address the problem.

These training developments add a fresh layer of complexity to what was already some pretty annoying tendencies from my training last year — telling everyone about my electrolyte intake, posting lap times on social media and writing as many columns about running as my editors would allow.

So while I’ll be proud if I complete the race again, and hope for an improved time, I think I’ll be more proud if I have any sort of interpersonal relationship left on the other side of training. But enough about me. Have you been to St. George lately?

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