Fatigue is Not a Dirty Word

When somebody asks me what it is that I love about racing, I have a dozen and one answers up my sleeve – as well as the ability to tailor which one I pull out based on who, specifically, is behind the question.

  • Athletic friend: Why do you love racing, champ?
  • Me: My competitive side comes out in a way it doesn’t on my meditative morning runs, driving me to push harder, stride wider and end stronger.
  • Fratty friend: Why do you love racing, bro?
  • Me: One 15K race burns 10 Bud Light Lime’s worth of calories.
  • Latino friend: ¿Porqúe te gusta correr?
  • Me: Repítalo más despacio, por favor.

The truth is it’s downright difficult to reduce my feeling about racing into a single answer. I love so many things about race day, from the respectful calm that comes over the previously buzzing crowd during the pre-gun national anthem to that final ditch-effort sprint over the finish line. In a city that generally advises against interactions with strangers, I love high-fiving spectators along the race course, chatting with other runners about their performance as we bundle-up in baggage and forcing sweaty friends to pose in sweaty post-race photos.

Not only did I achieve a new 15K PR on Sunday (1:15.40), but I was reminded once again to try to remember to take photos before the race next time.

Not only did I achieve a new 15K PR on Sunday (1:15.40), but I was reminded – once again – to try to remember to take photos before the race next time. Hello, tantalizing sweat stains.

And let’s not forget the post-race pancakes. I love post-race pancakes.

But while it’s hard to pinpoint a single characteristic about road racing that keeps me coming back event after event, there is one thing in particular that I relish, although it’s something I never even remember until some two hours after I cross the finish line: that indescribable sensation of complete and utter exhaustion that follows a hard race.

Now don’t get me wrong. As a single 27-year-old woman working a full-time editorial job while training for marathons and singlehandedly keeping a half dozen New York burger joints in business,  exhaustion is a sensation with which I am intimately aware.

But the kind of exhaustion that follows a road race is something else entirely – rather than a demoralizing and frazzled kind of exhaustion that postdates pretty much every day of my adult life, this post-race exhaustion is serene and fulfilling and all-encompassing in a way I can only equate with swaddling (back me up here, baby Jesus.) I like napping in general, but falling into a comatose slumber in the hours following a hard effort on the race course is a sensation approaching nirvana (back me up here, Kurt Cobain).

Racing means a lot of things to me – a workout, a challenge, another cotton t-shirt to force into my overflowing dresser drawers – but perhaps most importantly, it means glorious post-race fatigue. And that’s worth a $25 registration fee any day of the week.

Any other runners love that feeling of exhaustion that follows a hard effort? Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something gloriously satisfying about being dog-tired. 

"...and the cop goes: 'I don't know, sir, but the pope is his driver!"

(Back me up here, Keira.)

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3 Responses to Fatigue is Not a Dirty Word

  1. Brittany says:

    This post is perfect. I love the different responses based on the person asking! I LOVE being exhausted after a good long hard run!! It is so rewarding. Great job on the 15K PR!

  2. I so understand what you’re saying! There really is something to be said about that feeling of exhaustion. It comes with a sense of reward that is otherwise really hard to achieve. Love this post!

  3. Mary says:

    Well said! I thrive on that feeling too. Congrats on the PR!

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