The thoughts of a 3200 runner

The 3200-meter run (or the two mile for people willing to ignore the missing 18 meters) is the longest distance in high school track – 8 laps around a 400-meter track. Due to its usual placement at the end of a long track meet’s schedule, running the 3200 in the dark is not unusual. Nor is running the 3200 after already having run an 800 or 1600 or both. In other words, many people run the 3200 with their legs feeling like bricks – without even having crossed the starting line. Sounds awful, I know. So, if you’ve ever wondered what the actual RACE feels like, here’s a lap-by-lap breakdown:

The gun goes off, and before you know it, you’ve begun the race.

Lap 1: Ok, I’ve made it to the 100-meter mark already. Now I just have to do this 31 more times. It’s not that bad. Now it’s the 200 – I only have to do this 15 more times. Geez, why is this girl going out so fast? Her time is way slower than mine. Squints in the distance. What does the clock say? Oh, that’s pretty good, and look! One lap down!

Lap 2: Ok, ok, this is pretty relaxed. You feel good. Almost one fourth of the way there. But man, this is going to be painful in the end. At least I passed that girl. She was stressing me out with her early sprint.

Lap 3: Ready to do an 800 three more times? Just think of it as two separate 1600s – you would be over halfway! Uh-oh. Now I feel like the one sprinting. Am I going too fast? Oh well, my pace is fine; just keep it up!

Lap 4: Almost halfway – go go go! How much is left? An 1800? That doesn’t sound too bad. My legs hurt. I will be feeling that 800 from earlier. Hey, look! You’re gaining on the girl in front of you! Now can be the time to make a move. 

Lap 5: The first mile wasn’t too bad, see! Now just do that again. Pretend it’s a new race. Don’t panic. Not much longer. What is it now? A 1400? Piece of cake. You’re over halfway! Ignore the pain. See how small the gap has gotten between you and the girl in front. You can do this.

Lap 6: Oh no. How do I have three more laps left? I’ve been running forever. The brick feeling is coming back. It’s ok, it’s ok, you’re almost three fourths of the way there. Just keep going. You’ve done this a million times. It’s not even two miles.

Lap 7: An 800 left? Tries to do mental calculations to find out what time I will run. Wait, I’m doing pretty well! Oh, oops … miscalculation. Come on, you can do it! Is it too late to drop out? Come on, don’t say that. Man that grass field looks so nice. It would be so easy to just step off the track. Come on, don’t be so dramatic. You literally have a lap left now.

Lap 8: Home stretch now! Yikes, that last lap was slow…what do I have to run on this one to get a PR? My. Legs. Won’t. Move. It’s literally another 200. You already did 15 of them. What’s one more? SPRINT!!

You may be wondering after that little spiel why people do this voluntarily. However, it’s important to note that the 3200 isn’t even that long in retrospect (according to Coach Tribble, at least, who likes to say, “There are no distance running events in high school track”). Also, no feeling can beat the one you get after a good breakout race. It sounds cliche, but seriously, the runner’s high can last multiple days. It’s so worth it.