This was written almost exactly a year ago, when I was job training for three months in Colorado. However it has only lived on Facebook until now, so in order to preserve it with the rest of my blog-ish writing, I will repost it here.
The Inspiring Treatise on Jogging is dedicated this time around to the lovely Georgia, who has become one of those people who enjoy running. At least, she will be one of those people until such time as she discovers scuba diving, cross-country skiing, disc golf, competitive international lawn darts, or squash, which will then completely and abruptly absorb all the faculties of her ferocious attention.
(April 2, 2014)
As some of you know from the pointless information goldmine that is Facebook, I’ve started running using an app called “Couch to 5K”. Using this app, a perky robot woman tells me when to suffer (jog) and when she deigns to alleviate my suffering (walk), on and off for thirty minutes with increasing amounts of suffering (jogging) over time. Theoretically, the end result will be that if I continue to do this three times a week I can eventually become one of those sweaty women wearing Lycra and a fanny pack, jogging miles from home and inspiring motorists to wonder from the comfort of their vehicles where my life went tragically wrong.
There are several reasons for doing this. When I worked at the animal hospital and was on my feet walking around all day, as well as spending my weekends scurrying around a ranch carrying buckets of water when the irrigation got shut off, I could call that my exercise. I could go home at the end of the day and happily put my feet up while watching Say Yes To The Dress, enjoying both brain decay and a pleasant feeling of smug virtuosity regarding my exercise habits. When nurse-practitioners asked me whether I exercised several times a week I could look them in their eyes (glazed by rote questions and a fundamental inability to care about my life) and proudly say, ALL DAY! EVERY DAY! Put THAT in your check boxes, medical professionals!
But alas, no longer. Now I work at a computer, and spend long hours with no more exercise than is required by the activities of typing, making tea, and heckling my coworker Sara. But because health insurance, internet ads, reality TV and Michelle Obama are assiduously informing me how important exercise is, it seems crucial to my health that I actually get up and find some reason to move around after the day’s long heckling hours are over.
So health, reason one. There are also other reasons:
1) If I conduct exercise with my dog, this pleases the dog.
2) Alisa wants to go hiking and I’m afraid of being shamed on hikes with her because she is a person who says “doing kettle bells in the parking lot” is an excellent friendship activity. You all think I left the animal hospital for a better career with more pay, but it’s actually because I was afraid that if I stayed any longer, I’d have to find out what kettle bells are.
3) I would like to be at least somewhat fit to keep up with my boyfriend, who basically bench presses German Shepherds for a living.
4) I’m never, ever giving up french fries.
So, canine happiness, shame, true love and fried potatoes; there are worse reasons to exercise. If you’re wondering how it’s been going, I’ll tell you. If you’re not wondering, why have you read this far? Here’s how I feel about running, 3 weeks into the project:
I hate it.
Words cannot express how much I hate it. Language founders in such seas. Everything you read online tends to be runners talking about how great running is, so I’m here to help you with that. If running is a drug, it’s obviously one that makes you throw up and pray for death before you acclimate to it and get high.
This is my inner monologue while walking: “Yeah! Look at me go! What a beautiful day! The birds are singing! It’s crisp and sunny and my dog is joyfully peeing on a variety of spiky drought-tolerant foliage! I’m going to be a super runner when I get back to sea level!”
This is my inner monologue while jogging: “I HATE THIS. I MAY DIE. Why hasn’t the robot woman told me to stop yet? ISN’T IT TIME TO STOP YET? I can’t breathe. BREATHING IS IMPORTANT WHY IS IT SO HARD TO BREATHE. Humans evolved for this, why does it suck so bad. My side is killing me, that’s probably because my diaphragm is mad that I’m not breathing right how do I breathe right JET THAT’LL DO LEAVE THE NEIGHBOR’S PONY ALONE GOD DAMMIT.”
Then the robot woman says I can walk again, and I feel much better. This continues for 30 minutes until at last the robot woman gives me permission to cool-down walk. There are no sweeter words in the English language than those composed by the writers behind the cheerful Beatrice guiding me out of exercise hell. We walk back to the gate and the birds are singing again. Jet is wagging his tail, pink-tongued and happy, empty of every drop of pee he could possibly contain. I am experiencing a feeling of virtuous bliss like none other, proud to have survived the session even as I preemptively dread the next one. And in those moments of sweaty, panting victory, I catch myself in fleeting glimpses of what it must be like to enjoy jogging. I walk back inside and breathe deeply and think to myself, “Maybe this isn’t all bad. Maybe, just maybe… it is only mostly bad.”