What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Here’s something funny: I was on my middle school track team… for a week. I was so slow that the coach suggested I throw shot put instead.
I’ve always respected and admired runners. Not the Olympic ones, but the every-day athletes you see jogging through Central Park. One of my good friends regularly Snapchats her morning runs, capturing beautiful passing landscapes while smiling and glowing the entire time. I like beautiful landscapes. I want to smile and glow!
For the past week or so, I’ve followed fitness Instagram accounts and played Nike YouTube ads on a loop, trying to convince myself that running could be my thing, too.
God knows I look adorable in neon sports bras and I love an excuse to buy new sneakers. More importantly, running would open up an entire world of new ways to brag:
“Oh, my shapely and toned calves? Ha ha, you’re too kind. I’ve just been training for a marathon.”
“Hey Karen, I’m great. Went for a run this morning before my meeting. Did you accomplish anything before 9 a.m. today? No? That’s unfortunate.”
“I just love sprinting past a sunrise at 6 a.m. -- it makes me feel so blessed to be alive.”
I could already taste the delicious jealousy and endless praise over my glistening muscular legs, bronze and tanned from spending every morning in the sun.
Believe it or not, I actually am pretty athletic despite successfully avoiding having to run more than 12 paces in the past eight years. Well, not athletic in a playing sports way, but in a kickboxing and barre class way.
The day I decided to go for my first run, my triceps were still satisfyingly sore from a Pilates reformer class. I mean, I can glide on an elliptical for 35 minutes and enjoy the burn without complaint. Running a couple miles had to be the same. Ha. Spoiler: Nope. It absolutely isn’t.
I prepared for my run like the consistently over-prepared/obsessive crazy person I am, researching beginner’s tips on breathing and foot placement, the proper posture, and 15 minutes of stretching. I was ready to pound the pavement.
With Diplo bumping through my ear buds, I began jogging at a quick pace towards the park located seven blocks from my apartment. The plan was to jog through the lush green trees, and appreciate chirping birds and shit.
This is not a lie – as I ran through my neighborhood, people were cheering me on like I was Forrest Gump. I received countless enthusiastic exclamations like, “You go girl!” and, “Look at her go!”
Gradually, the encouragement faded to a complete stop and was replaced with looks of pity. Here’s what no one tells you about running -- it kills you.
After about four minutes, my body began to shut down. Sweat was pouring down my back and into my butt crack, my deodorant began to cake under my arms, I couldn’t stop drooling through my gaping mouth, and I felt like I was going to throw up my lungs. I was panting like a Golden Retriever giving birth.
All of my internal organs felt heavy like they were going to fall out of my asshole and I thought, “Oh my god, I’m going to shit myself. I’m going to shit myself and die and my carcass will rot in the sun.”
Maybe it was the fear of death. Maybe I was propelled by the grim reaper’s breath tickling my neck as he followed me like a shadow. Maybe God himself took pity and pushed me forward.
Whatever it was, I finished the seven blocks to the park while stopping only five times to throw up in my mouth and pee in my pants a little bit.
I limped toward a towering set of stairs at the park’s entrance, as tall as Mount Olympus, seemingly reaching into the mesosphere.
“Stop being a pussy,” I thought, stubbornly wiping at my tear-stained cheeks, “if I make it to the top of these steps, all of this will be worth it. I can do this."
I steadily trotted up the cement steps, feeling the sides of my lungs rub together in an attempt to start a brush fire in my chest. When I made it to the top, I anticipated relief and pride, but honestly just felt sick. It wasn’t worth it.
So here I am, sitting on my couch, not running. I will never run again. Everyone encouraging me to “challenge myself” because “it only gets easier with time and effort” can kick rocks. You’re all sadists. Running is something I don’t want to be good at -- I don’t care.
My sad excuse for a jog did not make me feel liberated, and I didn’t give a shit about appreciating a beautiful landscape when I lost sensation in my ankles. I just wanted to survive without shitting myself.
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