CultureLove & Humor
Semi-Rad

Why I Run Parking-Lot Laps

Do you jog around the block at the end of a run so your mileage equals a nice round number?

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. (Illustration: Brendan Leonard)
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.

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:

semi-rad

semi-rad

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)

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

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.

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.

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.

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

semi-rad

semi-rad

semi-rad

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.

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 ...

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.

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

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.

Brendan Leonard’s new book, I Hate Running and You Can Too, is available now.

Filed To: RunningRunning TipsSmart WatchesWearable TechEndurance Training
Lead Illustration: Brendan Leonard