On Friday, Citius Mag issued a challenge: the first person to break 4:36 (women)/4:00 (men) in a mile while wearing a pair of genuine, 100% denim blue jeans, will win a cash prize (purse is currently up to $1,250. Consider lending a buck or two to the cause).
As the people that issued the challenge, you figured we’d be experts in what it takes to run a brilliant Blue Jean Mile. But after discussing it in the Citius Newsroom, we discovered that no one on staff had ever, in fact, ran a Blue Jean Mile. I volunteered to see what it was all about.
Time: 5:00pm PDT
Weather: Windy. Probably in the 60s. Overcast.
Location: Helen Bernstein High School
Background: Despite being an avid blue jean wearer, I’m tremendously out of shape. I have long since hung up any aspirations of running at even a moderate pace and in the last two years I’ve ran less than 100 miles. Last week, however, I ran two consecutive days for the first time in probably three years, and at altitude nonetheless. Needless to say, I was confident.
The jeans: I was wearing a pair of Levis 511s. They were 100% cotton. I also wore 100% cotton briefs underneath, and a brown leather belt to help with sagging. The jeans were cuffed, but well within the two-inch-above-ankle max stipulated in the rules. Instead of spikes, I opted for a “five models outdated pair of Nike Pegasus” as noted by Statmaster Scott.
The race: The track is about half a mile from my house. To get the true experience, I decided to wear the blue jeans while I ran to the track. I’m sure to the people I passed, it looked like I missed the bus or was trying to get to the post office before it closed. That’s exactly how it felt.
The track itself has a huge fence around it that I had to scale. Normally, while wearing regular, sheer running shorts, you have to be careful when hopping a fence, so that you don’t snag your boys. The durability of denim all but eliminates this fear. +1 for running in jeans.
After clearing the fence, I did half a lap on the dirt track until I hit the starting line. Whoever chalked the lines a few days prior was considerate enough to mark the full 1609m starting line. This was a solo effort, so I kissed my teeth, got into position, crouched as low as the denim would allow, and took off like a bat out of hell.
I had no specific race plan because 1) as previously stated, I’m basically a walking bag of jello and cool whip. And 2) I had never ran in blue jeans before.
I went through the first lap in 77 seconds. Hit 800m in 2:30 and then cried my way home, finishing in a paltry 5:17.
Happy just to finish, I limped back to my house and laid down in the bathtub for the remainder of the day.
Findings: The hardest part was dealing with the sweat. When I hit the third lap, moist denim started clinging to my legs and greatly reduced my mobility. This affected my form, which was already falling apart due to my lack of fitness. A lose/lose.
Other than that, this was a 3/10 in terms of difficulty.
My advice: Wear a looser cut of jean. Don’t be a doughy bastard. If you can run sub-4 in shorts, I’m positive you can run sub-4 in jeans, just don’t be a dingus.
My list of excuses: It was windy. The track was dirt. I wasn’t wearing spikes. I’m out of shape. I was wearing jeans. I had a big breakfast. I got heartburn in the middle of lap two. There were puddles on the track. I herniated at least seven discs in my spine after the first lap.