23 May

I want to make it clear, right here at the beginning, that I have never liked to run.

I’m aware that there are people who love to run.  There is a peculiar species of humans that goes outside several times a week and just runs for the fun of it.  They put on their shoes and just go.  And I know what you’re thinking here, but no, there is absolutely nothing chasing them.

I have checked.

“But Jessica,” you say.  “What happens when it rains? Surely they’re not running in the rain!  That would be wet and extremely uncomfortable!  And what happens when they get out of breath?  Or start sweating?”

Friend, I know it’s perplexing, and possibly a little bit frightening, but try to understand this.  These people have a bizarre compulsion that causes them to run in every kind of weather – rain, snow, hail, wind, you name it, they’ll run in it.  As to the whole ‘out of breath’ question, you may not believe me on this, but…they like that.  That’s like, the whole point to them.  And the sweating, too!  When they finish running, they are usually very sweaty and out of breath, and sometimes their legs are a little wobbly.

A sane person who experiences a condition like that would rightly assume there was something wrong with them and take themselves to the hospital. A runner, however, would look at his red, soggy face in the mirror and say, “Yes, this is precisely what I was hoping would happen.  I am just the right amount of dying right now.  I think I will get up at four in the morning tomorrow so that I can repeat this misery before the sun comes up.  If I can lose some sleep over it, that would be ideal.”

Anyway, in our ever-expanding attempt to be ‘healthy people’, Taylor and I have taken up jogging.  The internet told us that runners, despite their apparent psychosis, are in extremely good shape.  We would also like to be in extremely good shape, so for the last several weeks we have strapped on our sneakers and gone hobbling out into the wilderness to get sweaty and make our legs tired.

It’s been going pretty well so far, which is surprising.  See, I was that kid in highschool who ran the twelve-minute mile, walking half the way, while my peers sat in the grass and waited for me to drag myself across the finish line so that they could go play dodge ball.  Experiences like that have taught me that exercise is basically just being humiliated for half an hour before the bell rings and you’re allowed to slither away in shame.  I have completely written off any athletic aspirations out of pure embarrassment, so when Taylor said we were going to join the ranks of the insane and run for health and pleasure I felt like he had just announced that we were going to post my home movies on the internet, especially the one of the play I was in when I was nine, where I did a little dance and accidentally kicked my shoe off into the audience where it hit a woman in the head.

I wasn’t too excited.

After the first couple of days of pulling ourselves along the two-mile route that Taylor had designed, though, I noticed something.  I realized something that made the runs a little better, that gave me a little burst of adrenaline and motivation.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I was slightly faster than Taylor.

This little victory was all I needed to turn me into a wild-eyed competetive monster.

I find now that I get unnecessarily irritated when I see Taylor loping along ahead of me.  When he seems more out of breath than I am, I try to conceal my own panting to maybe make him think that I am barely even winded.  Despite his legs being the height of telephone poles, I scoot along next to him, unwilling to be left behind.  And when I actually do get ahead of him, I like to rub his nose in it, just a little bit.

“Oh, how far did you get last time you went?” I ask casually.  “To that big red tree?  Oh, yeah, that’s pretty good.  I don’t remember exactly how far I got.  I just run, like a runner does.  Pretty sure I got to…oh, I don’t know.  The park.  Oh, is that farther than the tree?  I didn’t realize.  I was just so in the zone, you see.”

Understand that by ‘in the zone’ I mean that I was gasping my way down the route, muscles burning, sweat dripping, with the words MUST BEAT TAYLOR thumping through my brain.

It seems that running brings out the worst in me.  I guess that if I turn into a truly horrible person, at least I’ll still be a fit horrible person.

And a sane horrible person at that, because at this point I can safely say that running is just hell in Nikes for a half hour.  All you people who enjoy it can just go run off a cliff.*

*I am a jealous little weasel that only wishes I could get that runner’s high I hear so much about.  I still love you people, even if you can run more than three minutes without having heart failure.

Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


7 responses to “running

  1. sunny

    May 23, 2011 at 11:33 am

    What a funny, entertaining post!

    Considering I’m an asthmatic, I’m not exactly a fan of running either! Two miles to me sounds like insanity! But it’s inspiring to read this post. And glad I’m not the only one who is just a tinge jealous of people who can run 2 miles and consider it “fun.” Bleh.

  2. sarah

    May 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    You know, I have figured something out about running lately. Until last year, my main transportation had been my bike for something like five years. So I kind of forgot that biking four miles a few times a week was exercise. So when I would run, I would always have a pretty good basic level of shape. Last year, though, I got a car, and moved to a place where I don’t bike or walk much. And then after a sedentary winter, I went out to run. And could barely make it 15 minutes, at a very slow pace. I was wheezing and my muscles were burning. And unlike other times when I have been running, I didn’t like this feeling, because it didn’t feel like I was pushing myself, it felt like I was barely breaking even. I suspect that because of your elementary school running traumas you are in a similar place. Getting better bit by bit, pushing yourself to go a little faster, when you’re not already up to speed, doesn’t feel like “wow I’m awesome,” it feels like “huh I guess I suck a little less” which is way less motivating. I think drawing is a good comparison – when you’re getting everything right in a drawing, it probably feels much the same as a runner “in the zone.” I, not being very good at drawing, never get in the zone, i always only “suck a little less,” which is why i don’t draw – it never really feels good or satisfying.

    • Jessica

      May 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      I was discussing this with Taylor actually, and I compared it to cars.

      When you have a really shitty car, you don’t like driving. It’s embarrassing to go around town and have it belching out exhaust and having to restart it at stoplights and listen to it making weird noises. You’d rather just not drive anywhere if you can help it.

      But when you have a really awesome car, suddenly driving is fun. You want everyone to see you driving around and you feel cool and powerful by having control over such a well-oiled machine.

      I think at this point my body is a shitty car, so I don’t like doing anything with it. Bit by bit, I am doing work on it so that at some point I’ll be more excited to ‘drive’ it.

  3. Angela

    May 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Hoo boy, do I understand…I, too, am trying to become a “healthy person”, one quinoa experiment at a time. I have tried to start the Couch to 5k twice unsuccessfully, and I have supportive friends who are willing to “run” alongside me while I get started, but I’m very self-conscious of the wheezing/gasping-for-oxygen, and I don’t have the willpower to do it on my own, so I wind up just not really doing it ever. I had a twelve-minute-mile in middle school, too, wherein I had to walk a lot. I have always been determined, though, that someday I will be able to run – if I need to do so for safety reasons, or just so I can run for longer than two seconds without fear of (or desire for?) death. I hope you keep posting about your runs. 🙂 And maybe I’ll try to tap into my own competitive nature to make running more compelling…

  4. Madge

    May 24, 2011 at 7:23 am

    ” I am just the right amount of dying right now. ”

    i LOVE this. This is running to me. as a kid, i didn’t run in sports, but every now and again i would get really frustrated and just RUN from my house to the beach and would stop when i thought i would (actually, seriously) die.

    now that i am a decade older, my body WILL NOT do any running. i can’T even run for a bus. it’s quite saddening.

    i have the competitive gene also, so perhaps i should just harness it’s evil for good… 🙂

    (love your work. you’re FABULOUS)

  5. Darcy

    May 25, 2011 at 9:05 am

    From the other perspective…

    Jess, I remember your twelve minute mile. I was sitting at the end line with the boys, not being spoken to because I had just run a six minute mile and the rest of my friends were grouped together, chatting while they walked theirs.

    There are always trade offs. However, I can’t let myself get out of shape. What would I do if a lion decided I looked delicious? Or I needed to catch a purse thief? I don’t wear heels for these reasons.

    • Jessica

      May 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      See, being someone who is out of shape, it is difficult for me to imagine being in shape as anything but awesome.

      I hope nobody is taking me ragging on runners too seriously. If I really thought runners were crazy, I wouldn’t be trying to run! 😉


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