“Parking Lot Laps”: A Rationale

handwritten text: "parking lot laps": a rationale

hand-drawn text: I try to not say “there are two types of people in the world,” but if I told you that at the end of my runs, I will look at my watch and if I’ve run 5.89 miles, I will run past my house for a while and then back in order to get my watch to click over to 6.00 miles, I’m pretty sure you’d have one of two answers:

hand-drawn multiple choice test

hand-drawn multiple choice test

 

handwritten text: If you are a runner who practices this sort of behavior, you have your reasons. If you don’t, you might think, “Why would someone do that? Who cares if you run 5.89 miles instead of 6.00 miles? Your body doesn’t know the difference.” (also, I might as well admit that I actually go 6.03 miles, because early on in my use of Strava, the upload between my watch and the app somehow cut off .01 mile a few times, so I go an extra .03 mile now)

 

drawing of toes and handwritten text: people have all sorts of diverse goals for their running. Some common goals include qualifying for the Boston Marathon or the Western States Endurance Run, running a sub-4-hour marathon, or to someday have eight toenails instead of ten

 

hand-drawn text: I only have one goal most of the time, and that’s a certain number of miles per week. The number fluctuates by year by season, but is mostly based on an amount of pizza, breakfast burritos, and ice cream I’d like to eat without gaining much weight. This week, for example, it’s 25 miles.

 

drawing of figure on edge of cliff and handwritten text: I don't know about other people, but I live my life at the edge of a precipice, sort of a "slippery slope," but the slope is extremely steep.

 

drawing of figure on edge of cliff and handwritten text: at the top of the cliff, I am meeting goals and deadlines, at a healthy and fulfilling level of productivity. But I am one small metaphorical gust of wind away from going off the cliff. (Top of cliff labeled "The best version of me"; bottom of cliff labeled "The version of me in which all my negative tendencies basically become my entire personality")

 

handwritten text: The bottom of the cliff is where the most fallible version of me lives. The top of the cliff is the version of me that tries to idiot-proof my life with safeguards to prevent the fallible me from taking over

 

handwritten text: me: says "remember to _____ on Wednesday" ; also me: schedules two email reminders because in heart of hearts, knows there's no way I will remember that shit

 

handwritten text: me: prone to oversleeping; also me: sets two alarms on watch plus two alarms on phone (w/that air raid siren ringtone)

 

handwritten text: me: prone to forgetting where I parked at the airport/my hotel room number; also me: takes phone photos just in case

 

handwritten text: to a lot of people, 5.89 miles is just as good as 6.00 miles. A lot of people are capable of drinking one beer and stopping, and/or eating a single serving of oreos (which is "3 cookies" ???!). I applaud those people.

 

handwritten text: I have, over many years, come to the realization that I am not one of those people. If 5.89 miles equals 6.00 miles today, at the end of the week, 21 miles will equal 25, and pretty soon, I'll be at 11 miles a week, and then 7 miles a week, and then ...

 

handwritten text: that's why I have to run the last .11 miles, or .14, or .37, or whatever, even if it's around the parking lot at the trailhead, or around my block while my neighbors look at me and scratch their heads. Or at least that's what I tell myself.

 

handwritten text: I'm fully aware that it's ridiculous, but so is running when no one is chasing you, when you think about it. So is lifting heavy things and setting them down the same place you picked them up, and riding a bicycle that goes nowhere. It's all ridiculous, and we're all ridiculous. It's just a personal preference of what we're doing ridiculously.

 

semi-rad illustration: 21st century human exercise selector

 

strava map and handwritten text: But if you're one of those people whose Strava maps look like a tornado at the very end because you had to get to X.00 (or X.03), I see you. And you're ridiculous. But you are not alone.

 

Thanks for reading.
If you enjoyed this piece or other things I’ve made over the years, please consider helping keep the lights on around here by supporting my work on Patreon

—Brendan

 

MY NEW BOOK, I HATE RUNNING AND YOU CAN TOO, IS AVAILABLE NOW

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