How do you know when you are tired?
Is it when you begin breathing heavy?
Maybe when your muscles begin to ache?
Is it mental? Physical? Emotional? Or all of the above?
Through my long distance running experience (as limited as that may be), I have experienced all sorts of symptoms of tiredness, but there are a few that stick out. Without further ado, I present to you, the Fat Guys Running Marathons stages of tiredness.
The Fat Guys Running Marathons 4 Stages of Tiredness
Stage 1 – That damn side stitch
Anyone starting to run for the first time in a long period of time will be due for some initial lubrication of the joints and other muscle (or fat) locations. Fat guys have an even longer lubrication process to get down to the joints.
First runs generally go something like this inside a person’s head:
“I hate running. Why the hell am I about to do this?”
(2 minutes into the run) “I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that cheeseburger before this.”
(5 minutes later) “Ok, I’m doing this…actually I’m doing alright.”
(5 minutes later) “Oww…oww…my side. I have to stop. I knew I couldn’t run. Why do I even try?”
The start and end of a running career in a matter of 15 minutes. Sound familiar?
Every runner has faced the dreaded side cramp. Whether caused by lack of hydration, hydration of the wrong kind, or just basic fatness, the side cramp WILL go away eventually. I promise.
Stage 2 – My feet…and everything else hurts
Those that get by the perilous side cramp, will next face additional biological challenges. It’s amazing all the places in the human body that can ache, twinge, burn, or sting after strenuous exercise. Especially for a fat guy not used to physical exertion, there is a laundry list of body parts that can flare up at any time: ankles, knees, quads, calves, feet, hips, hamstrings…and of course your face when you run into your first tree branch.
Body parts get tired easily when they haven’t moved around in a while. These aches may be a mental sign to stop running immediately, but I’ve found that acute pain generally comes and goes in about a 3-minute cycle. Just hang in there.
Stage 3 – Mental block
Maybe the most difficult stage to overcome, and is has nothing to do with being fat…just thinking fat. Mentally, at some point you just get tired of running. This may be news to some of you who haven’t run long enough to experience this phenomenon, but running can be awfully boring.
Think about it. No Twitter. No Snapchat. Not even Instagram, unless you stop to take a break. How does anyone survive for over an hour in this environment? Sure, you can listen to music or a podcast, but inevitably at some point your thoughts wander to how many more miles are left and the pain that is left to come.
The scientific term is a “bonk.” Don’t believe me? Yeah…I wouldn’t either, but it’s true.
Running is a holistic activity. Training the mind is just as important as training the body. My personal “bonk cure” is thinking about the mound of food I plan to shovel into my mouth at the conclusion of the run, but every runner needs to find their own solution.
Stage 4 – On your back
We all have a breaking point, a point where we have overcome all obstacles. We’ve fueled ourselves properly, suffered through some aches and pains, and fought through a bonk. That’s a point only a few fat guys ever reach. What a great feeling…and then…there’s the final straw…a stick in your shoe.
At least in mine there was. Easy enough, right? Just bend down and scoop it out. Have you ever tried to bend down after running 30 miles for the first time? It’s not that simple.
Ten seconds later, I was lying flat on the ground one mile from the finish line in my first ever race. When I bent down, my legs immediately clenched up. Screw a Charley horse, this was Charley’s warhorses. I couldn’t move. Any twitch and a shooting pain shot up my leg.
Thankfully, a passing runner saw me a few minutes later and helped me to my feet. I can only imagine his thought process as he approached me.
“What is that lump in the trail?”
“Is it alive?”
“Whew…his chest is moving up and down…it’s just a fat guy. Did he get lost walking to Bojangles?”
Flat-on-your-back tired can be a humiliating experience, but it taught me a valuable lesson. When you get knocked down, you can always get back up and waddle your ass to the finish line.
Fat Guys Running Marathons would love to hear your personal stages of tiredness or any other comments about the blog. Feel free to comment on the site or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attitude and Effort Award
The NFL Draft is one of my favorite events of the year. The strategy, the hope, the booing of Roger Goodell…ok I get it, people think he’s Satan in a suit, but that part does get old. Each year, there are also a number of incredible stories unearthed as young men have their dreams come true. One particular player is about to receive the true highlight of his entire draft week, receiving the Fat Guys Running Marathons Attitude and Effort Award.
James Conner, running back from the University of Pittsburgh (and drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend) has one of these stories. A cancer survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Conner played his 2016 college season just two months after finishing 12 rounds of chemotherapy and finally receiving a clean scan. He played at approximately 60% health and still rushed for over 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns. You can read more about his amazing story here. Cheers James…good luck with the Steelers…except on September 17th when my Vikings come to town.