F*CK Running...I Think...Maybe

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Me and running are like…yea, not so much. I’ve wanted to be a Runner for about as long as I can remember but it doesn’t seem to be my thing—perhaps I should just accept that? I mean, in elementary school, I was that kid: always, without fail, DEAD LAST on the mile runi—by several (or more) minutes. I would start out running with all the other kids but always, always stopped first. I slowed to walking partly because I was easily winded (no surprise given that I wasn’t very physically active as a child), and partly because running caused more embarrassment than just my being alive already did: I wore glasses (bifocalsfor several years to cement my Epic Dork status), which meant they slipped down my nose or even off of my face completely if I got a decent sweat going. Also, I was (and am still a bit) intoed, more commonly known as pigeon-toed. That and my height, gangly limbs, and near-utter lack of coordination (thanks to early/repeated growth spurts) made for a terrible running form. In short, I may have been genetically programmed to suck at the running.

by xcode via Flicker

I played basketball in middle school. Bball is rather aerobically intensive because, unless you just don’t understand how the damn game works (and many of us did not), you’re moving in some way at all times. There’s a fair amount of running involved but since it takes place mostly in short bursts, I managed (don’t get it twisted, though: I was a terrible basketball player because my heart just wasn’t in it. If it had been, I would have been a beast—right, Dad?!?). In ninth grade, I switched to crew and was forced to run my ass off on a regular basis…and I hated every. single. minute of it. Okay, there were a few “good” runs (e.g. the day one of my boatmates would not. STOP. TALKING. during a five-mile run, which rankled me so much that I took off in order to escape her…and finished thirdii), but for the most part I remember them all as my own personal death marchesiii.

Since the summer of 2009, I’ve lost approximately ninety pounds, fifty of which have been in the last eighteen months. The process has been very “simple” in that genuinely committing to paying careful attention to nutrition and regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise has allowed for such a significant change. But no matter how simple this process might be logistically, by no means is it easy: I truly believe that had I set out on this “journey” just to lose weight (which is a stupid term for it anyway because while losing FAT is desirable for many people, losing lean muscle mass, bone, etc.—all things that comprise the number on the scaleiv—is definitely not), I would have given up long ago…just as I did after I lost forty pounds by dieting in the fall of 2009. Of course, slimming down is a nice (and very welcome, I won’t lie) “side effect”; however, I stick with the program—day in and goddamn day out—because the mental and emotional benefits of this lifestyle have been downright life-changing: size x jeans and this supercute top I got for a steal at a sample sale are fantastic, but finally being able to actually engage with and enjoy life is pricelessv.

English: "Krav maga" lesson in parat...

Since being physically active is a huge part of my life now, I put a lot of effort into keeping the routine as unboring—and untorturesome—as I can for myself: like I said, I’m committed 100% but that doesn’t mean I will force myself to do things I hate just because that’s what Conventional Wisdom—or anyone who isn’t me—says is best or “right”. Currently, I do alot of walking and mix in strength training (at home with dumbbells/bodyweight until I can find a new gym with an atmosphere that doesn’t make me want to kick puppies yet is affordable—I’m starting to feel like I may need to move…) and/or pilates every couple of days. When I’m feeling masochistic, I walk on the beach in the soft sand—in the summer, I go barefootvi. I’m not exactly a team person anymore but having things to aspire to makes me feel inspired on a daily basis, so I’ve tapped a friend to give me some soccer lessons in the spring: if I like it, there’s a local mixed-gender league I can join. I’d like to improve my (read: gain some) swimming skills before the summer; ideally, I’ll have purchased a kayak by then and can alternate the two activities. I’m also interested in: biking, rollerblading, boxing, and checking out a Crossfit “box”. Soon, my best friend and I will begin dabbling in Krav Maga (at home with instructional DVDs); we’re intrigued by Olympic weightliftingas wellvii. Also, I might want to compete in an Ironman triathlon soon after my 35thbirthday.

In all seriousness, you don’t even need to say it; I remember well exactly what I wrote in the beginning of this post: Me and running are like…yea, not so much. I’ve wanted to be A Runner for about as long as I can remember but it doesn’t seem to be my thing—perhaps I should just accept that?Perhaps I should, but I’m just not ready to do so yet. Like I said, I’ve alwayswanted to be A Runner but I’m not really sure why. Maybe finding out why runners run will help:

__ “And lastly, of course, the runner’s high. It just feels euphoric when you push your body for a period of time.” This is according to a commenter over at 30 Bananas a Day. The “Runner’s High” is just an endorphin rush, which can be experienced after a number of different activities (for me, it’s most intense after strength training…sometimes ridiculously so, which is another reason it’s good that I live alone because my ERs present with severequirkiness…), so this reason is a wash for me.

__ “For me, I run for three reasons: one, to lose weight; two, to stay fit; and three, for the mental release. Running works very well for my mind.” That’s according to Alex Solis, ajockey. This argument for running has merit but 1) I’ve never even been on a horse (and I’m like 9′ too tall to be a jockey anyway) and 2) I’m experiencing fantastic mental benefits now, and I rarely run. So…next!

__ “Now I’m running to stay healthy both emotionally and physically. The weight is coming off and I notice a huge difference in myself [sic] confidence. I can honestly say instead of running away from problems I run to face my trials and tribulations.” Guest Ms. J makes a powerful statement but…I’ve gotten all of these benefits without running…

Why can’t/won’t I let this issue go? It’s obviously not because I think there are tons of physical benefits that I’m missing out on by not running, because I’m not: I’ve researched this issue and strongly believe that I am experiencing every single positive reward of running without actually doing it. Plus, by not running, I’m avoiding some unpleasant side effects:

__ “One of the surprising things we found is that despite the daily running, the leg muscles of the athletes actually degenerated because of the immense energy consumption”. This is a quote from Dr. Uwe Schutz, a German specialist. Call me crazy but losing muscle mass seems counterintuitive.

__ “Common injuries affecting joggers include knee problems, fallen arches, shin splints, pulled Achilles tendons, plantar fasciitis heel inflammation, metatarsal bone stress fractures,” and “Female joggers may experience stress incontinence, a condition in which there is some urinary leakage during jogging.” 1) Ouch—I’ll pass on all of that and 2) one of the main annoyances I experience on the rare occasions I do screw around and run (some months back, the BFF and I did C25K for “funzies”), is the immediate and almost-overpowering feeling that I need to pee. ASAP. I don’t enjoy.

Those arguments against running certainly deserve consideration (that and the fact that my face still gets really sweaty when I work out at high intensities—it’s embarrassing because most of my body looks dry and fresh, yet there seems to be a hidden sprinkler system in my scalp); however, with appropriate precautions, preparations, and by only running for reasonable amounts of time, many of the negative side effects can be avoided. So, I guess that brings me to my final running con: I just don’t fucking like it. Yes, I still hate pretty much everything about running, yet the mystique of being A Runner intrigues me and probably always will. Frankly, why shouldn’t it? For a few thousand years, civilization has been fascinated by the Greek myth of Pheidippides. In a roundabout way, that story inspired what eventually became the modern marathon, which is a feat of endurance fewer than .5% of the American population have completed. The almost religious zeal with which Americans regard grit and determination is perfectly realized in a 26.2 mile run: “At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill.” Basically, runners are badasses; I’d like to be a badass, too.

In conclusion…I’m more confused about running than ever before, so I’ll just have to keep thinking about it. You’re welcome!!

iAnd btw, thanks SO much President Whomever started up this bullshit that went a long way in making kids like me feel like complete losers year after year after year…good going!

iiFor anyone reading this who knows me personally: yes, I am acutely aware of the irony of someone like myself complaining about any other human being talking compulsively. Now, STFU.

iiiAnd one run was almost tragic for one of my teammates: she ran eyeball first into a tree branch. Guess she didn’t see it coming…*rimshot*

ivOh, and don’t forget this…it’s included in that number also…

vI just want to make it clear that I’m not saying improved nutrition and a commitment to physical fitness are some magic life-altering combination, but I am saying that those two things are the bedrocks that have allowed me to finally start to be able to tackle the deeper, ickier things within myself that held me back for about as long as I can remember…

viIf you plan to go barefoot yourself, I recommend you do so as early in the day as possible…unless you enjoy feeling like your feet are going to burst into flames. Yes, Satan, I’m talking about you…

viiOkay, it’s mostly her that’s intrigued by it. Even though she’s only 5′, she…kinda scares me sometimes, so I’m on-board mostly as a safety precaution…


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