5 Running Lessons I Learned From the Brangelina Break-up

fri5They were so glamorous, Brad and Angie. She and her thigh-slit gowns, eyes lined like a cat, today’s answer to Liz Taylor. And he, so dapper in his slicked back hair, so choosy in his taste for starlets, so pretentious in his love of post-modern architecture. And together with their brood of beautiful ethnically diverse children, so generous in their pursuit of noble causes like refugee crises and post-Katrina rebuilding. And now it’s all gone. GONE!

But perhaps, that’s the way it goes. #Teamjen4lyfe

Oh, right. This is a running site and you want to read about running. I’ll dry my tears wipe the I-called-it smirk off my face and tell you how the collapse of the world’s most perfect union can teach us about running.

Brad and Angelina with kids from a magazine.1. When things go wrong, the pressure to save face and preserve appearances can be enormous.

Angelina’s divorce filing had barely left her lawyer’s office when the internet exploded with Schadenfreude, gossip, and rumors about Brangelina’s implosion. She’s crazy! He’s an addict! Karma’s a bitch! Ten billion Jennifer Aniston memes! Cue months, if not years, of redoubled paparazzi hounding and speculative articles on topics ranging from Angelina’s mental health to Brad’s alleged addiction issues to their children’s psychological woes. How long were the happy family photos and hand-holding interviews a necessary fabrication, faking a shiny celebrity life that was actually fraying behind the scenes? Only Brangelina know for sure.

Oh! Yes. Running.

Well, if the paparazzi are following me on my runs, they’re awfully subtle. And strangely, no media outlets have offered me millions for exclusive photos or interviews. Not even of my cats! And yet! When we runners publicly proclaim a race goal, and all our friends, frenemies, in-laws, colleagues, acquaintances, and the lady at the supermarket checkout know it, it’s hard to admit to ourselves and everyone else that things haven’t gone as planned and you probably aren’t going to make it after all.

Predictably, they’re not all going to be supportive or neutrally indifferent; inevitably you will have to deal with Schadenfreude, skepticism, and people privately or not so privately thinking you’re crazy. You have a choice: will you put it all out there? Or will you hide behind a facade of “WHEEE RUNNING IS GREAT EVERYTHING’S GREAT I’M FINE”, even running a race on an injury to avoid losing face?

2. Leaving a cookie-cutterย training plan for a more exciting one might leave you injured and alone.

Oh, that wholesome, all-American training plan, it was good looking and charming and somehow just right for you. Everyone said so. You guys looked great together. Two workouts a week, lots of easy running, it was dependable and steady, made the same jokes over and over again, never asked too much of you. It was fine! Great, even …

Until you met the one that wanted to study embalming before it decided to be a training plan. Listening to its sexy whispers of sweet PR’s and that distracting aura of danger, you realized too late that your achilles tendon might as well be embalmed for all the good this plan was doing. Better luck next time! Or maybe the time after that.

3. If vials are involved, it’s probably not a good thing.

Remember when Angelina was married to Billy Bob Thornton and the rumor was that each wore a vial of the other’s blood around their neck? Yeah. Vials: never good news. The only time a runner is found in proximity to a vial is if they’re, say, hanging out in a hotel with their sketchy trainer or, you know, literally carrying EPO in their pocket.

Billy Bob in place of Ryan Gosling in a Hey Girl Meme

4. I reckon, Billy Bob Thornton in general is probably a red flag.

So if you’re out for a long run and Billy Bob Thornton pops out from the bushes all “hey girl” with a cold bottle of nuun and a GU, turn around and run the other way.

5. Training for a marathon and then not running it is kind of like having a ten-year relationship and six kids with someone and then getting divorced.

So much work, so much suffering, so much joy, so many hopes and dreams, all quashed with a few pieces of paper filed in court. Or, if you’re me, a single ankle-turning misstep on a rock that leaves you with a sore foot and a thousand kilometers of now-useless tempos and long runs in your wake. And not a single French country estate to show for it. Yes. After months of training, and making it all the way to the taper, I’ve got a sore foot and won’t be running the Berlin marathon. How I feel about it changes on an hourly basis, but can be summed up by “angry, sad, and disappointed.” The marathon has not yet made its statement to the press regarding our breakup; I’m assuming that’s because it’s absolutely devastated by this blow and really has to get its shit together before Sunday.

What running lessons has the Brangelina break-up taught you?

I'm a 43-year-old living in Berlin, Germany and currently training for the 2020 Berlin Marathon.

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  1. BBT is super creepy. OMG. I don’t care how high the dew point, how close to passing out I am, I’d never drink his Nuun.

  2. So sorry you’re not able to run Berlin Marathon. Having been there (well literally Berlin but figuratively other marathons), the internal acceptance of the loss is tough; the public piece of ‘oh well, another time, maybe’ doesn’t convey the true impact. Funny article, though.

  3. So sorry to here abut the Berlin Marathon. I just had to break up with my first marathon due to injury too. It’s quite an emotional roller coaster. Love this post though. And I agree with Salty, BBT is the creepiest of the creepy.

    1. Samsies. Bye-bye months of training for Chicago 2016 marathon (woulda been my first) – hello 2 broken toes from a late night incident with some unfamiliar stairs. Blerg. Thankfully, my most amazing adventuremate running friend offered to defer her entry as well and we’re looking towards Chicago 2017. Still heartbreaking though….

      1. Noooooo!!!! That really sucks. I’m sorry ๐Ÿ™

        Since you mentioned your amazing running friend who also deferred – I will say that one good thing to come out of my stupid foot thing was re-realizing what lovely friends I have, who understood what a bummer this was…and people I hadn’t talked to in a few weeks sent texts wishing me luck before the race…it’s such a cliche to say this, but it did make me (re-)appreciate what’s really important in life

  4. #TeamJen

    Bummed for you about Berlin, I know how hard you have been working for this- not much anyone can say to make it feel “better” so instead I will just tell you to drink beer this weekend.

  5. Ugggh, I’ve been there too. Injured just days before a goal marathon is The.Worst. So sorry to hear it, but I’m with Barley on enjoying the indulgences. Also, Team Jen forever — you’ll get the last laugh against the marathon someday.

  6. Hahahaha the last one though. You’re such a good sport. (Good sport girl). I’m so sorry to hear about your injury. I’m glad you were able to conjure this amazing post though! Hang in there with some bier. Also #TeamJen

  7. I had a marathon leave me at the alter last year (cancelled while i was standing in the starting corral, due to a freak storm that came through and flooded the course). Sucks. It was January and I live in Boston area so not too many other options and I wasn’t going to spend any money to travel to another race, after trekking the whole family to FL for the one that didn’t happen. I just tried to focus on how my hard-won fitness was money in the bank and it would pay off at some point. Get healthy and you’ll be ready to go again soon, I hope!

    1. Oh wow, the whole family came and then the marathon didn’t happen? How rude! yeah, I’m trying to focus on the good aspects of the marathon training experience – fitness in the bank is definitely one!