Monday, June 27, 2011

long runs make your face hurt

Last Friday I hit the trail for a long training run; 13 miles along the Spokane River. I'm training for a marathon, you see, and when you are training for a marathon, you run a lot, and you tell everyone how much you are running a lot, and you expect everyone to offer you encouragement for running a lot, as though it wasn't up to you, but you are such a saint for powering through it.

So I'm training for this marathon.

Anyway, while I was out on the run, I noticed something really different about running outside versus running indoors on a treadmill. In the gym I spend most of my time avoiding eye contact with other sweaty messes. Kindly averting my gaze whenever I catch sight of a bright red huffer-puffer struggling away on the elliptical or stair climber. Fiddle with my iPod. Pretend I'm watching Judge Judy. Read that poster about protein smoothies for the hundredth time.

But this is not how they roll in the great outdoors. When you are outside running, you are expected to make eye contact. Smile. Give that little acknowledging head jerk. Raise your hand just a bit like you are placing a bid at auction. Perhaps grunt out a, "Hey," or a "morning." All the while sucking in your gut and trying really hard not to look like you're about to pass out.

It's exhausting.

And I had to wonder, since running is such a workout, and being social can be mentally taxing, how much more difficult is your outside run than your inside run?

This led me to Google both "calories burned smiling" and "calories burned by waving." Alas, there wasn't much concrete information to be found on either topic. Apparently no one but me is curious about how many calories a Lilac Princess might burn while parade-waving atop a float. Plenty of people care about the smiling thing though. 'It takes more muscles to frown than to smile' and things of that ilk. The only problem is that there is no solid research.

What are you wasting your time on, Science?! Curing cancer? Solving the world hunger crisis? Those things are so last season. What matters right now is how many muscles it takes to smile, and how fit I'm getting by flashing by pearly yellows (maybe yours are white, but I drink a lot of tea).

On a side note, I also tested out GU Chomps energy chews on my last long run and found that they don't make me want to barf like the gels often do. Instead of outright eating them, I stored them in my cheeks like an electrolyte-hoarding chipmunk. It seemed to work pretty well except, of course, for the times I would run past someone and feel the need to smile and wave and greet.

I might start asking around to see if anyone else finds outdoor runs draining for reasons other than the varied terrain.

If I keep up this running outside thing, I'll have to start incorporating weight lifting moves that work my waving arm. Or maybe I should start frowning at people instead of smiling, since frowning uses more muscles. And we all know how serious I am about building muscles.

Since I'm training for this marathon.


Anonymous said...

Good luck in your training! Wish people here in Bothell were friendly enough to acknowledge you outside, I've gotten used to the nice folks in Colorado Springs. Here even dog people aren't friendly, how shocking.

Hank Greer said...

I prefer running outside all the time. It's lonelier during the winter because there's nobody to greet or wave to, but I'm breathing the outside air and enjoying the varied terrain.

Enjoy your training and your marathon.