energy." Every time a runner offhandedly mentioned "going out for a quick one, just to wake up for the workday," I would smile and nod politely, then -- also very politely -- go fetch my car and hit them with it. Turns out I owe some folks some apology reanimations. If anybody knows a good Pet Sematary, hit a brother up, yeah?
Yes, I was wrong: That "runner's high" stuff actually is a thing. And man, it better be, because the first few minutes of a run are fucking awful. At first, the wife and I only did one minute runs followed by three minute recovery periods (again, we were really, really out of shape: both former smokers, current beer drinkers and semi-pro Gravy Roulette players). But one minute heats? A minute is nothing ... until you have to scream your useless body into lumbering about for the full extent of it, when it hasn't done that in possibly ever. Then one measly minute can stretch into eternity. Toward the tail end of those first few runs, you'll get pretty tired, your patience will frazzle and you'll start to get really annoyed at that crazy hobo behind you who keeps threatening to "stab time right in the chrono-dick," only to realize that manic screeching has been coming from you the whole time.
"Forty seconds? You lying Timex whoreson! It's been like four hours!"
But if you make it through the first couple of minutes, everything starts to turn around: Time and scenery both fly by, and the chirp of the stopwatch transforms from the howling torment of an antagonistic harpy into an adorable squeak that you could kind of ignore, actually, if you want to keep going for a bit. Runner's high sounds like total bullshit, I know, but you'll flip from raging torment to contented affection within a span of minutes, for no discernible reason.
If that still doesn't make sense, here's an analogy that helped me understand it: It's like when the Whiskey Fury first takes you. Yes, you're going to howl and scream obscenities so loudly that your throat will bleed, and you're probably going to hurt some people you love, but if you ride it out long enough, the Percocet Cuddles will kick in and the rest of Christmas dinner will go swimmingly.
It's True: Bodies Actually Are Capable of Improvement
It'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.*
Side note: I told you that was a legitimate excuse, officer
And now that my body (kind of) does (almost sort of) work (a little bit), I actually do get to see the improvement in return for the work. It's pathetic, small-scale, incremental improvement, but it is improvement. And that's something I can deal with, because I've played these games before: You start out puny and insignificant, crawling around the dumps and sewers, just looking for rats to slay. But if you keep at it, concentrating on finding the fun where you can, and beat enough of those low-level monsters, someday you'll find yourself cleaving Liches in twain with ease. And you'll look back at the ratter days, covered in the blood and ichors of those foolish enough to oppose you now, and you will laugh.
And don't worry: Any day now, I'll be in good enough shape to beat myself up for that analogy.
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.