4 Stunning Revelations An Idiot Has About Running
I'm going to talk about running. Feel free to click away. I certainly would have, two months ago. Running, jogging, exercising or indeed, physical movement in general were all things that I had absolutely no interest in. The only way I was running anywhere was if there was a lion behind me and an ice cream truck in front of me. But cut to about six weeks later, and now I'm running three times a week, and wishing it could be more. I'm still terrible at it, mind you -- it's like watching a fat bird trying to escape the tyranny of its own legs -- but I'm goddamn doing it, and there's nobody more surprised by that fact than me. And all because I realized four stupidly simple things:
It's Not an All or Nothing ScenarioI'd always thought of exercise as an all or nothing affair. Either you do it, or you don't. If you can't run for an hour, you don't go running. There's no point to it. If you can't do 50 sit-ups, it's not going to do you any good to do 20, so don't bother. I know that idea is, to put it politely, so retarded that it gets special paychecks from the government three times a year, but there are a lot of people operating under the same assumption, even if they don't consciously realize it. And like all things -- from the decline of our economy to cheese being so bad for you even though it's so good -- I blame the public education system. In this case, it was gym class or, as fat young me knew it, "that hour where everybody gets together in an auditorium to look at your pasty legs and judge you."
"STOP BOOING! OH GOD, I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW THIS IS HELPING MY EDUCATION."I couldn't do shit as a chubby kid, but that didn't matter to the merciless god of Physical Education: Everybody climbed the same rope, played the same dodgeball and ran the same mile. There was no tiered difficulty system. Either you can do it, or you can't. Sound familiar? It was a fucked, apathetic system: The kids with superior genetics and shoe-money were put right up there against the tubby kid with the cereal bowl-cut, and there was no handicap depending on how much you liked sandwiches and hated baseball. And don't say it wasn't a competition, because
"Can I call you oven mitts? Cause you got some hot man-tits there. Yeah, I actually turned around and came back to school for that one."Then my wife decided to start running. She said that she knew it was going to take her a while to get in shape for it,
The Clothes Actually Do SomethingAs somebody that, strictly speaking, does not do "body things," I've always felt it unseemly for a man to be seen in public in anything less than jeans and a T-shirt. I'm like a G.I. Joe action figure: You can add all the peripherals and accessories you want, but if you ever want less than the base uniform, you've got to find a belt sander and an emergency reserve of patience. I do not wear shorts, I do not wear tank tops and I most certainly do not wear "workout clothes." As such, I was absolutely floored when I finally bit the bullet and first donned some jogging pants, shoes, socks and a T-shirt. My first thought was: Holy shit, is this how human bodies are meant to move? Suddenly I realized that normal clothes are fucking
"I'M GONNA BREAK. I'M GONNA BREAK MY. I'M GONNA BREAK MY RUSTED CAAAAAAGE."For years I'd been getting Harrison Bergeron'ed up in this bitch, and now, out of uniform, I was discovering whole new ranges of movement: Legs capable of extending beyond 15 degrees, feet that practically bounce off the pavement, and holy shit, have you ever felt running socks?
Runners Aren't All Lying ScumbagsI know! I assumed they were full of shit too: All that bull about "runner's highs" and "euphoria" and "exercise actually giving you
"Forty seconds? You lying Timex whoreson! It's been like four hours!"
It's True: Bodies Actually Are Capable of ImprovementIt's weird to talk about this. It's not a secret or a source of shame or anything; it's just something I don't bring up often. But I have a medical condition: It's all a little fuzzy and still in the diagnosis stage even now, years after that first doctor's appointment, but the long and short of it is that I have (and probably have had for most of my life) hypothyroidism. It's not fatal or debilitating or anything but, amongst other things, it makes gaining weight a little easier, and losing it damn near impossible. It also makes exercising harder and a hell of a lot less productive. This running stint is not the first time I've tried getting in shape. Before the diagnosis, I kept thinking that I was just lazy or impatient. I would get it in my head to fix that every few months, and vow to start a new regimen, but I would never see any results. No muscles would build. Twenty push-ups would remain exactly as difficult as the first time, even if I did it every day for months. But now the drugs are starting to kick in, and I finally, finally get it. I know what you Exercise People see in this. But I'm going to phrase it in the most awkward, nerdy and embarrassing way that I can think of, so as to make you feel as bad about yourselves as possible:You're leveling up your bodies.
"Excelsior!" -- You, enjoying exercising.Holy shit, I understand that now. As an RPG geek from way back in the day, I know that nothing in life is more intrinsically satisfying than leveling. But that's always a feeling I've had to get from video or board games exclusively, because this stupid body of mine apparently needed drugs to work this whole time.**
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Or you can join him, and start running today! If you get lonely, just scream, "Tsunami!" while you do it; you'll have plenty of running buddies in no time.
For more from Robert, check out The 6 Most Aggressively Ridiculous Benders in Modern History and 5 Real News Items That May Be Supervillain Origin Stories.