Are you tired of always crossing the finish line first? Does the thought of winning another gold medal/blue ribbon/gift card/souvenir mug/pair of men’s running socks make you want to light your racing flats on fire and scratch out the Prefontaine quote you so meticulously stenciled above your headboard? Do you need a swift reality check to cool your ego and crush that ridiculous pipe dream of “going pro?” If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then you need to lose a race by an embarrassingly large margin—and fast! Based on my own experience racing a 5K in my hometown last weekend, I compiled the following step-by-step guide for running your way to a fantastically disappointing runner-up finish. Now, get out there and lose like a winner!
1. Train exclusively:
- on flat concrete paths
- at low elevation
- in temperatures above 100 degrees (that way, you’ll never go faster than 7-minute mile pace)
2. Choose a race course that:
- is mainly dirt/gravel
- features lots of hills
- is located in a cool mountain climate
3. To promote maximum muscle tightness, select an event at least 1,000 miles away, book your flight for the night before, and put in a full eight-hour workday before boarding the plane.
4. When selecting your seat assignment, make sure you are surrounded by a half dozen screaming children whose parents are most likely deaf from years of auditory abuse—at least judging from their disinterest in controlling the volume of their unruly spawn.
5. Do not sleep.
6. To increase the chances of a major flight delay, travel as late in the day as possible.
7. Sit on the tarmac for two hours while engineers troubleshoot a “mechanical problem.” Let your paranoid inner voice convince you that this is code for “imminent engine failure,” thus signaling your adrenal gland to release of a healthy dose of cortisol into your blood stream.
8. Avoid using that tiny, despicable excuse for a lavatory by staying as dehydrated as possible.
9. During your layover, find the greasiest, most flavorless chicken sandwich you’ve ever spent $15 on. Eat all of it.
10. Arrive at your destination well after midnight. Do not go to bed until 2 a.m.
11. Toss and turn for five hours. Wake up unrefreshed and unprepared to compete.
12. Arrive at the race site 15 minutes before the scheduled start, allowing yourself just enough time to register, do three ominously laborious warm-up strides, and seriously regret your decision to show up.
13. Gasp and heave pathetically as you strain to keep up with the teenage girl who is kicking your ass.
14. Ignore the resulting chest pains.
15. Lumber across the finish line nearly 45 seconds after the first-place finisher. Wave awkwardly when the race emcee announces you as a “former star.”