group fitness

How to Fake Running a Marathon

Photo: Joe Drivas/Getty Images

How many mornings have you woken up somewhere south of 1 p.m., last night’s booze still oozing through your pores, and opened your Instagram only to be shamed by image after image of people’s early morning 12-mile training runs? How many Turkey Trots, charity 5K’s, triathlons, and company runs have you beheld? And what about all the offensively long-winded posts and tweets about #fitspo and motivation and personal records that you’ve dutifully read and then left a rah-rah, supportive comment on, when all you were really thinking was Please stop, please but also What does this level of commitment and hard work feel like?

Well, here we are, staring down peak “talking about running” time: the eve of the New York Marathon. This year, instead of being left out, maybe it’s time to get a return on all those years of secretly bitter goodwill gestures. Don’t worry, I am not suggesting you actually run. I am suggesting you weave an elaborate web of lies to deceive your loved ones and thereby get all the perks, adoration, and admiration that come with running without having to run.

And yes, while we could just fake some 5K, with the New York City Marathon happening this Sunday, it seems like the perfect time to make a commitment, push ourselves, take it to the limit, and go big or go home.

1. Send out a reminder email to a select group of friends. The idea is not to fool everyone you know, just enough people that it will spread around convincingly. Make this reminder email seem like just one of several marathon-related emails you’ve sent in the past couple of months — people will assume they’ve ignored you for months or perhaps thought about donating and then forgot. They will open this last email because they feel slightly guilty, but not guilty enough to want to give money or show up at the finish line.
Here’s a template:

Subject: Reminder: NY Marathon! :)
Hey guys! Sorry for another mass email! I just wanted to remind you that I’m running the NYC marathon this Sunday, November 1. I’ve committed to running 26.2 miles because I want to support an organization near and dear to my heart. This seemed like a great opportunity to raise some money for them, get in shape, and eat a lot of carbs.
Thanks to all those who donated! And for the rest of you bums, I hope your drunken Halloween festivities don’t keep you from waking up bright and early to cheer me on. If your hangover doesn’t permit you to be a good friend (LOL! JK) come to [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE BAR AND GRILL] at 7 p.m. — and help me celebrate.
Thank you so much for your support!

It is crucial to use BCC. And do not include an actual donation link; we’re just trying to lie convincingly, not steal people’s money.
2. Start turning down all workout invitations: spin class, acro-yoga, water ballet with a “Sorry, I’m tapering! Running the marathon.”
3. Turn down all invitations to eat non-carb food by saying “I’m carbo-loading!” or “Can’t meet for Ethiopian, don’t want to mess with my stomach so close to the race!” Or “Sorry I can’t come to your macrobiotic, gluten-free vegan dinner party! Don’t want to crap my pants on Sunday! Running the marathon.”
1. Continue to turn down all non-running workouts, all late-night events (“Sorry, can’t hang. Need lots of rest! Running the marathon, did I mention?”), and dinners at restaurants that aren’t pasta-heavy. (“Sorry! Gotta carbo-load! Running the marathon, didn’t you see my email?)
2. If you haven’t already, start posting things on social media about how grueling your training has been and how thrilled you are to be “this close to the finish line (pun intended!).” Go long, really long. Longer than a divorce rant but not as long as a racist diatribe — the longer it is the less likely people are to read it.
Alternately, just tweet or Instagram some really moving fitspo photos with motivational quotes, e.g.:

Photo-Illustration: Corbis

3. If you lack advanced Photoshop skills, hire a TaskTabbit to Photoshop your head onto the body of a marathon runner from last year. Note: They do change the image so try and make sure the bib is obscured or the runner is bent over in exhaustion — that looks cooler anyway. It might seem extreme, but I promise this will pay off later.
4. Eat some carbs. Lots of carbs. Make sure people know how many carbs you are eating. Carbs.
1. Wake up. Post a long Facebook message about pre-race-day jitters and taking a day off of running for “the first time in so long.” Hashtag everything #nycmarathon #nymarathon #runlife #runner.
2. Ask a friend to spend the day with you. Go for a big pancake breakfast and take her to REI to watch you stock up on Clif Gel, BodyGlide, blister treatments, compression socks, Epsom salts, and maybe some new workout leggings as a post-race treat. The whole day, say things like: “I really just want to finish. If I’m feeling good, maybe I’ll go for a PR.” Ask her if she wants to see all the Nike Runs you’ve clocked. She will not.
Saturday Night:
1. Make yourself an entire lasagna with a side of garlic bread and a pan of brownies for dessert. Commit: Instagram it, brag about it, eat it all, and enjoy it. #Carboloading #bigdayprep #marathon #runlife.
2. It’s Halloween, so make sure that while your friends are getting turnt up, you’re very publicly turning down. Send some sad “OMG FOMO” texts, but stop at 9:30 p.m.
1. Wake up early. Put on all your workout clothes. Make sure you are wearing an appropriate assortment of gear. (See: slideshow for proper attire.) Extra points for Marathon-themed nail art and eye-catching hair accessories because you want your friends to be able to spot you. Make sure you post an Instagram by 8 a.m. Use the caption: “I had my coffee and I’m ready to go! [poop-emoji]. Good-luck ritual! [winky-face emoji]”
2. Now that the evidence is planted, do all the normal activities you would while in your workout clothes: Go eat some free samples at the Trader Joe’s, get a bacon, egg, and cheese, see a matinee. Assuming you’re in Wave 4, your start time is 11 a.m. You’ve got some time before you’re expected to end the race and I hear Burnt is quite delightful.  
3. Five hours and 23 minutes later, post your commissioned Photoshop job to all social-media platforms with the caption “VICTORY!!!!! So proud of myself! Can’t believe I accomplished this. I’m hurting today! The pain will fade, but the feeling of accomplishment I have right now won’t. I can’t believe I did it!” (Continue to post it randomly for Throwback Thursdays over the next year.)

“No pain, no gain!!” Photo-Illustration: Corbis, Courtesy of Allison Davis

4. Attend your post-victory party! Don’t forget to sell the pain to your friends: Do not bend your knees under any circumstances, grimace when you lower yourself into any chair, walk like a penguin. Ideally, you’ll have scoured Twitter for other people’s marathon experiences to repurpose as your own, but if not just say things like: “I knew I had it in me, I just needed to have a good day” (i.e., the right weather, precise amount of carbs the day before) or “I didn’t PR but I still finished and got a medal — there’ll be another one!” or “I didn’t get a negative split like I’d hoped, I totally bonked!”
Mention your bloody blisters. A lot.
5. Bask in the glow of a job well done.

Running Shoes

Ahem, not “sneakers.” The most important item for passing. Marathoners love Asics; these will instantly make you look credible.

Non-Cotton Socks

Second-most important: the other thing that goes on your feet. No marathoner would dare wear cotton for fear of blisters.

Pants With Storage

This pair has a three-pocket waistband and two side pockets to hold all of your snacks…err, energy gels.

Dark Wicking T-shirt

The perfect color for hiding sweat, and the small detail that you are not sweaty.

GPS Watch

Garmin is the gold standard in GPS watches. And, yes, you know there are clocks on the course but you want to clock your mile splits like you did in training.


Your hair is sooo gross and sweaty under this hat.

Running Belt

Armbands can chafe your pits but this belt will hold your phone securely around your hips. Bonus points for mounting a vigorous defense that it is not a fanny pack.

Handheld Water Bottle

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

How to Fake Running a Marathon