When it comes to fitness and gymming, as I call it, there are certain things that I love (beefcake!) and certain things that I call necessary evils. For each person, the struggle may be different. Nonetheless, there are struggles that the average, non-6 pack wielding, non-personal trainer, desk jocky not actual jock person experiences day in and day out. This is the first in my “Struggle” series, because you need a heads up from someone who’s been there. Sometimes life is a struggle, and no one told you it’d be this way. Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, and there’s no clapping after each time you say these words.
This is a necessary evil.
Unless you’re an avid runner who looks forward to logging in 50+ miles a week, and has all of the necessary hot, cold, wet, dry gear to, well, run, in any condition and on any terrain, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The cramps, the swelling, the heat, the cold, etc. It’s probably the closest any guy will get to experiencing cramps short of getting kicked in the balls.
For me, I need all conditions to be perfect for me to take the initiative (or have the desire) to run:
- Warm weather (but not too hot)
- Slight breeze is ok…I guess…but no, not really
- No rain or even the chance of rain please
- No hills…PLEASE
- A lot of people? No thanks, they’ll slow me down
- Not feelin’ it? Ok, off to the gym to lift
- Treadmill needs working TV (I’ll get to this in a bit)
- That one is too fast, that one is too slow, oh well, can’t do it
- Oh too many people here in Jan, guess I can’t run
- The elliptical is free!
In my short lifetime here, I’ve wisely developed the following theorems and corollaries about running. Yes, again, I’m using my Duke degree to its fullest by using big words from Math class. Boom.
Struggle Theorem 1: Running sucks.
It’s amazing how before I run, I get this great image of what running will be like: do a mile, maybe 5k, it’ll take less than 30 min. You’ll feel accomplished, you increase your appetite, and you get that runner’s high that gives you an extra boost of energy. Plus, I’ve done it before, it’ll be a breeze. And then, reality hits. About a quarter mile in, if that, you ask yourself the same question you would after drinking 5 drinks, “Why did I think this was a good idea?” And sometimes, you end up puking after doing both of these activities.
I’ll be damned if none of you reading this has ever had that thought cross your mind. Yes, running on the treadmill sucks. Running outside under the hot sun sucks. Running outside in the frigid winter weather (at 6am) sucks. Running in the rain to catch the bus…not exactly exercising but still sucks (sucks even more if you miss the bus).
Below are corollaries as to why running sucks, whether you’re outdoors or indoors:
Corollary 1.1: When running, time slows down.
Somehow, when you’re trying to plan out a project at school or work, or when you’re spending time with friends, time just whisks by without you noticing. This is especially true on weekends, where Friday and Saturday come and go, and when you’re finally conscious of the fact that it’s the weekend, Monday is creeping upon you. And somehow, (un)miraculously, when you’ve convinced yourself that you can pull off a 7 min mile on the treadmill, or a 5k in under 25 min, those seconds tick by slower than hell freezing over. Well, if you’re attempted to run outside because the new track at Duke is only open to the public between 5am and 8:30am, hell has frozen over and you’re in it…say hi to the Blue Devil.
Corollary 1.2: One’s legs gain extra weight when running.
It’s easy to walk 20 blocks at a street fair. It’s easy to walk for 2 hours when shopping. Heck, it’s easy to walk around a neighborhood in the city to find food. It’s not easy to peddle yourself continuously for 7-8 min around a track because after the first 2 min, your legs aren’t feeling it and they want to quit on you. It’s as if they’ve doubled in weight and, with each step, the dead weight that you’re dragging increases. At a certain point, you’d rather do 10 burpees, with push ups or mountain climbers, to make this stop. Running sucks.
Struggle Theorem 2: Enhancing your surroundings will reduce the suckiness of running.
As you can see, the struggle is real. But, running can be vastly improved into a positive experience and something you’re willing to do. All you need are a few minor tweaks and, cardio becomes enjoyable and you’ll leave the struggle behind. As you apply these corollaries, you will turn the struggle into gains. Most of the corollaries draw upon the idea of taking your mind off of the struggles involved with running. Distractions focus your mind, as ironic as it sounds, on something other than the actual physical exercise you’re doing. And, once you are mentally over that hurdle, you can just keep on going, and going, and going.
Corollary 2.1: Running in a new outdoor location provides constant change in scenery, and motivation to keep going.
It’s easier to see how far we’ve run when we’re outdoors. You can see the distance you’ve jogged because you can no longer get back to your apt without taking a subway, and that is progress (and a problem if your legs are dead). Progress motivates us to plow forward, and to run farther each time. Running in a new place lets you explore. Go into a new city and just jog. Each turn brings you something new. You’ll find a new nook or cranny that you may not have seen on a walking tour. Or, in your current city, find a new neighborhood and just jog, you might find a new hole in the wall that serves delicious noodles.
Corollary 2.2: Running after a ball automatically makes it more fun.
Basketball involves a lot of running, as does tennis. And, when you’ve ran for 2-3 hours up and down a 94 ft court, you’ve logged some serious steps. Trust me, I’ve counted. Every 2 hours of pick up ball gets you over 4000 steps, and, there’s no need to discuss what happens when you pick off a ball and go coast to cost. Each hour of tennis gives me about 2000-4000 steps. Yes, these are god awful pace for pure running, but you get your entire body involved in the workout. Plus, you get to let out some of that stress, whether it’s charging into the person guarding you or whacking that ball to let out some of that built up tension. Even a simple game of catch can involve running, pretend you’re a wide receiver and just go.
Corollary 2.3: TV makes life better on any machine.
In general, TV makes life better. This is especially true when attempting to do cardio for 30 min or longer. If all else fails to keep you running, find a TV. I personally like watching sports because you see people running with you so you feel the time passing by a bit faster. Plus, you can pretend you’re running after the ball as Kevin Durant does the actual dunking, shooting, dribbling, etc. Whatever you do, just don’t click to the Food Network…
And, if corollaries 2.1-2.3 fails, try:
Corollary 2.4: Think of your reward, now do you want to run?
Noms, food, foooooooooooooood. Stuffing your face after a run? I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Running sucks. The struggle to keep going is sometimes unsurmountable (hey I used another big word!). And, while running seems to defy Einstein’s theory of relativity and makes your legs feel as heavy as shit, you should do it. Not because you enjoy running on a human hamster wheel, but rather, you like exploring new areas outdoors. Or, you like playing sports. And, maybe you don’t want to lie on your stomach after inhaling 3 rolls of sushi as you watch basketball and write a blog about how you hate moving — maybe you want to keep up with Curry and Westbrook as they fight for a spot in the NBA finals. Or, maybe you just want to eat more. Whatever the reason may be, use that as your motivation to run, not because you feel guilty that you haven’t logged 5 miles this week and now you’re stuck in no-man’s land, jogging in place while staring at a wall.