Monday, August 31, 2015

20 Miles of Why

I ran 20 miles today and it was awful. It started hard. It was hard in the middle. And it ended like a chafed ass.

Wait… Are you a new runner looking for motivation? I meant to say it was AWESOME.

Um. Maybe stick to 5 mile runs. Those are great. Leisurely. Downright luxurious.

Running 20 miles is like sitting in a bath of scorpions for three hours.

To be fair, part of the reason I say that is because I got some mega chaffage today. My gorgeous ladyfriend, Pixie, has been applying fresh aloe plant to my oozing injuries all evening. It’s delightful. And stingy.

Serious. Chaffage.

In trying to get some ideas for this post, I asked Pixie what her first reaction was to me running twenty miles. First she said “owwwwww.”

And then said, “whyyyyy?!?!”

Good question. She then also said something about ice cream and beer. I think she likes that every time I do a stupidly long run we eat ice cream and drink beer for the entire rest of the day. Basically she gets to enjoy the rewards without having to nearly kill herself first. But then she’s one of those unfair naturally skinny folks who could eat a deep fried cow and stay rail thin.

But to get back to why. Because it was part of the plan. Sunday: 20 miles. Actually it’s Geoffrey’s plan, which I’m shamelessly stealing from. I do his long runs with him.  Which means most of the time I spend with him, we’re torturing ourselves.

That’s the only way to do long training runs: To make them a thing that just happens on X day. You wake up. You drink coffee. You poop. You put on shoes. Wince when you realize the sun hasn’t crested the horizon yet. Then run an obnoxiously long distance.

Because if at any point you stop to think about it, you’ll say, “what the f*&k is wrong with me?!?!” That’s why running at the crack of dawn is good. Your brain is too shitty to think. And then by the time you wake up, you’re 5 miles into the run already and by then it’s too late. At that point you just feel like an asshole if you quit like a wuss.

Wuss. Asshole. Aren’t those adjectives pretty? I know. I’m supposed to use words like rockstar. And epic mountain of runningness. That’s the after. Once you suffer, you get to enjoy the euphoric after. While you’re running, it feels like it will never end. But the after. Ooooh the after. So many calories. So much booze.

If you’re new to running, you may be thinking, “so why would I ever want to run that far?!” Because you get too deep into the rabbit hole. You become insane. Good insane. But still insane. It starts when you say, “a marathon? Suuuure, no problem.” You sign up, often drunk, and then say, “shit shit shit, I have to train for this! OMG!”

And then you think, “OK ok. Calm down. No problem. I can run like…. 10…. 20 miles a week. 2? 3 runs a week? I’ll have to leave work early occasionally but that’s fine.” Until you Google a plan.

Well I read the plan. And now I'm tired.

“50 MILES? 6 DAYS A WEEK? Listen honey… Uuuuuuh. TV night? Eggplant parm night? The kids? Yeeeeeaahhhh…. My life is going to be work, sleep, food, and running for the next 3 months. Ooooh, you’re mad…. Well we can talk…. After I do this ten miler. Later!”

But what else are you going to do? I’m bored when I’m not running. I stare at my phone, willing for it to entertain me. I ask Pixie if she wants to watch TV…. After we’ve already spent 5 hours on the couch. I open the fridge door and just stare at its contents, until I remember that I haven’t run yet and don’t have any free calories.

Running is painful and exhausting. But it makes you feel like you climbed Mt. Everest, found the cure for the common cold, and fed half the starving kids in Africa, all at once. And you don’t have to think about it. Normally if I want to do something important with my life, I have to think, and be motivated, and do stuff. With running there’s none of that.

One moment I’m a disgusting blob on the couch, the next moment I’m superman.

It’s the cheat code to life. It’s not a great cheat code. Your legs pretty much always hurt. And your friends keep checking the obituaries for your name. But you don’t worry about it. Nothing worries you. You feel like your whole life is on the fast track to Awesome City.

Awesome City. Population: You.

It’s easy to think, “well instead of running every waking hour of the day, I could do literally anything else.” But what? Seriously? I mean, OK, if you have kids, you should probably keep them alive. If you’re slaying pirates in Somalia, sure, that’s awesome.

But you’re not. You’re totally not. Your kids are fine. In fact they wish you’d leave so they could pilfer your liquor cabinet. You occasionally think about donating $25 when you see a sad child on the TV. But other than that your options are, “5 hours of video games? Go shopping for shoes? Make the seventh sandwich of the day?”

Or, you could run. And be AMAZING.

Running is an addiction. It’s a drug. Except it won’t make your brain ooze out your ears (pretty sure I saw that as a side effect on a bottle of aspirin). If you’ve never run before, it makes no sense. Jamming needles into my arms makes no sense to me. But there are folks who love that shit.

If you run for long enough, you’ll get hooked. But thankfully it’s a habit that makes you a better person. One that won’t land you in jail (unless you run too fast past the speed limit sign. Ha!) And running teaches you how to push yourself. And how to stay driven. And to persevere despite pain and anguish. So that if you do decide to go beat up pirates, you’ll be mentally and physically prepared to do so.

Long story short, if your dream has always been to sail the high seas and skewer ne’er-do-wells, start by running.

Here, use this.

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