Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Few Notes About Running.

When I was in high school, I ran cross-country and track for a while.  Mostly because it seemed like a good thing to have on my transcript.  It was a sport, but it didn't require much in the way of coordination (something I lack to the point of medical deficiency), and even better, it didn't require me to interact with other people or really be part of a team and rah-rah and all that bullsh!t, at which I'm terrible.  

So when the Better Half started running, I thought it was a good idea.  Part of my impetus to start running myself was, I admit, the paralyzing fear that Matt was going to get all buff and lean and strong, and I would end up middle-aged and dumpy in comparison.  Nobody wants to be Jack Sprat's wife, y'all.  

The other incentive?  Is that when you do these long runs, you can eat like a truck driver and say you need it for "fuel" and nobody bats an eye.  SIGN ME UP, motherf*cker.

The first few runs?  Sucked.  Sucked so badly that I wondered how anyone, anywhere, ever, did this and thought it was at all fun.  It looks so easy.  Just jog!  Right?  Right.  Except that by the time I'd get winded and want to walk, thinking I'd run quite a ways, I'd look down and realize I'd only gone a quarter of a mile.  That's about twenty-five calories.  THAT'S NOT EVEN A PAT OF BUTTER AT THE CRACKER BARREL.  This will never do. 

Then, miraculously, I broke through some kind of wall.  I credit watching horror movies on the treadmill.  I brought my iPod, plugged it in, and slogged my way through half of Paranormal Activity 3.  Adrenaline helps a lot, I find.  Except for the parts where there was some kind of jumpy scare in the movie, at which point I nearly ate it and then did that look-around-to-see-if-anyone-saw-that thing.  And today I managed to run 7.1 miles with a running group, and it was awesome and I didn't feel like I was going to die or anything, which was amazing. 

So.  A few universal truths about running: 

1.  NOBODY looks good running.  Nearly everyone comes back sniffing, red-faced, with frozen snot and unkempt hair and basically looking seriously beat up.  There are one or two exceptions to this rule, but I find those people are almost universally reviled in the running world.  I don't care if you run an 8:00 pace through a marathon -- unless you look like shit afterwards, people will hate you. 

2.  Running gear is meant to be functional, and as such, is generally not cute.  Very few people look good in hats, storing water-bottles turns you into a grandpa with a fannypack, and the tech shirts made from slippery material will find and garishly highlight whatever random roll of back fat you possess.  The backlash to this is that people tend to wear the most outlandish stuff imaginable.  One woman in our group today wore a knit pig as a hat.

3.  The only exception to the running-gear ugliness?  Compression capris.  Holy shit.  If I could get away with wearing these forever, I would.  I want to wear them to work.  To the grocery store.   To church.  Because compression pants squish everything in, lift everything up, elongate every line.  I have never, ever had much of an ass to work with, but I get into these things and all of a sudden I feel like Beyonce. 

4.  If you are a woman, the most strenuous part of your workout by far will be attempting to fight your way out of your running bra afterwards.
5.  Your favorite music will be total crap to run to.  Whatever workout mix you start with will eventually, over the course of several months, end up consisting almost exclusively of Britney Spears.  Don't fight it.  It's just how it is.  But maybe consider putting a lock on your iPod screen so that if you die unexpectedly, nobody will be able to find your workout mix and put in your obituary that your favorite song was "S&M" by Rihanna.

6.  Endorphins are no joke.  Shortly after finishing a long run, you will find yourself talking animatedly and dopily to people you have never met.  The urge to talk and discuss the run at length is overwhelming and should be curbed.  It's like the point of the night after your third drink when you stop in mid-conversation, realizing you've just told a total stranger in detail about losing your virginity. 

7.  The best part of any run, ever, is approximately one hour after it's over.  Your muscles tick softly, you're showered and clean, and you feel as if you've accomplished something.  

8.  Until the point where your cat eyes you from her perch on the couch, in a sunbeam, and is clearly wondering just why the hell anyone bothers.   The answer is that people run for the same reason people climb mountains -- because they can.  

I'm no athlete; I really don't hold much water with the whole healthy-lifestyle thing.  I eat pretty well, but that's because I like some healthy foods, not because I'm at all concerned about it.  I don't like team sports, I think too much muscle definition in women looks unattractive, and my basic goal in life is to do juuuust enough to get me to the finish line at the end, preferably at around 90 years old.

But there is something, something, something about it, and it's seductive.  There's something satisfying and pleasurable in using your body to do the things it was meant to do.  There's a childlike weariness about the end of it, breathing in frosty air, half-listening for your mother to call you in.

And then you get to go home and eat a thousand calories.