Running Down the Coast

By Katy Durbin

Marathon running is meant for pros. But for those of us who are not pros and who house a vaguely masochistic streak, marathons can also be a good lifestyle choice. Pain aside, long distance running increases your stamina and energy and gets progressively easier the more you do it.  It’s one of the best ways to see different parts of LA in the shortest amount of time, and, in my opinion, a pretty good way to kill a Sunday.  Most importantly though, intense running sessions are great for justifying an addiction to snacks. So, of what does marathon training consist? Oh, you innocents.

Running long distance begins with a few weekly runs of 5-ish miles, and one big run every Sunday for punishment. 🙂 Generally, the Sunday runs are over 13 miles, the longest being a 22 mile stretch that starts at Dockweiler Beach, goes through Santa Monica and Venice, and loops back around to Dockweiler. This route takes approximately 4-5 hours to accomplish. So let’s talk about this one.

Photo by Chris Goldberg on Flickr

We start at a Dockweiler bathroom coated in the kind of graffiti you want to see more of, a nice inspiration for the hours ahead. For the most part, this run takes place along the beach. It’s reliable because there are water fountains along the course so you can run out of fluids without freaking out. We all bring some form of electrolyte sugar, whether in gummy, goo, or powerade form. Most don’t realize that once you break the 14 mile threshold, you risk running low on sodium and minerals, as those are also lost through sweat. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and, therefore, can be easily digested. Ingesting sugar will ensure a steady stream of energy, and reduce the risk that you will hit what is colloquially known to runners as “the wall”, or the point where your body stops burning excess calorie and instead breaks directly into your fat stores. “The wall” feels like death, so sugar is recommended.

Photo by Gerson Repreza on Unsplash

Anyway, we go up through Venice Beach, passing tents full of vendors and their wares, each offering both sub-par and over-par paintings for sale, as well as an assortment of odds and ends. Graffiti coated pillars rise from the sand; muscle-strapped men and women work out on gym-equipment; people run by with miniature parachutes strapped to their butts (I assume this is a new-fangled workout routine). Yes, yes indeed: this is my favorite beach in Southern California.

I take my first GU (sugar) shot.

We pass through to Santa Monica, which is full of partial yogis and naturalists, all taking their pure breed Saint Bernards and Huskies out for a jaunt. This place has gotten tourist-y.  Several miles past the Santa Monica pier and it’s roller coaster and ferris wheel landscape, we reach the turn-around point and start to head back.

I take my second GU (sugar) shot.

Now I’m feeling it. Twelve miles in and my legs are just starting to ache a bit. I refill my water, and look forward to backtracking into Venice Beach, and then to the graffiti bathroom in Dockweiler Beach.

I take my third GU (sugar) shot.

10 miles later, I’m back and enduring a cramped car ride home. Home! I pass out for sixteen hours and wake up to devour all my food.

And that’s running long distance in a nutshell!

Featured image by Gerson Repreza on Unsplash

Katy is an overly caffeinated student studying Fine Arts at Roski. She does web design, drawing, 3-D modeling, graphic design, more drawing, and then sleeps it off. She’s good at painting, not so good at running, but sometimes runs twenty miles to burn off all the sugar she consumes. She adores television and video games, and is currently trying to write comics. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she knows downtown like the back of her hand. Katy studied in Italy for several months, has acted as moderator for an undergraduate symposium, and has worked with incoming freshmen and transfers as part of academic advisement.