The Tell

In poker, the eccentricities of a player are known as the “tell.” To counteract this, many professional poker players wear hats or sunglasses and spend a lot of time trying to hide their tells. Runners have tells too.

We were talking about this at practice the other day in the context of long distance runners trying to sprint. Simply put, we can’t. We may try to run like the wind, but most long distance runners sprint much like we run; with long strides and not a whole lot of raw speed. Someone recalled an alum of the program who used to straighten out his hands, as though that was the difference between running and sprinting. While we all laughed visualizing this, it led us into a discussion about the things we do when we’re tired.

I know a lot about the women I compete with and they know a lot about me. I know who crumbles when you sit on their shoulder. I know who has a head tilt when they are out of gas. I also know that when I get tired, I look like this:

That’s right, when I’m tired, my full T-Rex comes out. My arms pull into my chest and my shoulders head for my ears, which means that my upper body twists even more than normal, compounding the tiredness. I distinctly remember running on a track at Colby during a summer training camp and one of the coaches yelling “Waterman, shoulders aren’t meant to cover your ears!” But here I am, 15 years later, shrinking up to prehistoric proportions when it’s time for the guts race. I know it, I own it, but I can’t seem to stop doing it.

What’s your tell when you’re tired?

(Cartoon Via

3 thoughts on “The Tell

  1. Leandre

    You have perfectly described my “tell.” The shoulders, always the shoulders. I abused them so much at Sunday’s GMAA Half that they’re still sore three days later. Let me know if you come up with a good strategy for dealing with it.

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