Happily bringing you part four of How to Start Running – be warned that this guest post from Sean is sort of “not for the masses” and includes a word the FDC does not approve of. Sean has been an on-again, off-again runner for years, heading deep into running territory with a half marathon and most recently, will be competing in next week’s Tough Mudder. He’s not a writer by trade, but he’s obviously got a wickedly witty way with words. Enjoy.
Let me be clear: I hate running. You’ve seen those New Balance commercials, yeah? The ones about tipping the balance of your love/hate relationship with running more towards love. Those commercials can go to hell.
A few years ago I was out running in the rain when a man exiting a convenience store said to me, “Dude, you’re hardcore”.
“Just trying not to die young,” I replied. And that’s the honest truth: I run because I am terrified of dying young, of getting fat, and of wheezing after climbing one flight of stairs.
I hate running so much that I wonder if I’m actually doing any good by using it as my main form of exercise. Perhaps the anger I feel with each step will eventually cause my heart to burst while running and I will be lying in the street, dying, thinking, “are you fucking kidding me?” I hate getting passed by people older than me, or people younger than me pushing strollers. I hate that it’s the only activity I’ve engaged in as an adult that might make me shit myself. I hate that I always feel the need to run farther and faster and my stupid body won’t let me.
And yet I do it. More rigorously than I do anything else. In the words of Drew Magary, “Hate restores us. Hate focuses us. Hate keeps us warm at night and spoons us if we so desire it.” Hate and fear can be great motivators.
Hate isn’t always enough for me. Sometimes I need Lil’ Wayne songs or This American Life podcasts to keep me going. Anything that distracts me from the horrible fact that I am, in fact, running.
This is not to say I don’t get enjoyment from running. I do! Every once in a while the endorphins will kick in and my stride will lengthen and my pace will quicken and it is pure heaven. Sometimes I drift off into imagination land where I’m a professional athlete and I’ve just been offered a huge contract to play tight end/small forward/first base but I say, “no, I’ll just take thee million per year because I am a good person”. Other times I’ll plan my wedding (there are elaborate dance numbers). I enjoy running past people who are smoking because I am kind of a dick. I also enjoy casually bringing up how many miles I can run in a setting where I know it will get a reaction.
“You can run how many miles?” asks the person who clearly has never run in their life.
“So many. Aren’t you impressed?” says the asshole part of me.
I actually do genuinely like one thing about running: it’s very basic. I mean, human beings have been running since forever. And theoretically I could do it naked. It’s a blank canvas where we can throw down our opinions and feelings or whatever. I don’t hate the stairmaster or free weights. I don’t feel anything about the stairmaster or free weights. Running is simple enough and old enough and strong enough that it can take all my bullshit ideas and expectations. It can take my hate. Which is good because I really, really, really don’t want to die young.