I was about 900% certain that I would never, EVER want to run in my life. Unless it was from danger or responsibility, my first 30 years were very firmly anti-running. Ain’t no fucking way, ain’t no fucking how.
So as you can imagine, it isn’t a huge surprise that when I turned 30 I was wearing 4X size shirts and weighed 300 lbs. Needless to say, this was no good. Not at all what I had wanted. While I was significantly anti-running, I was also very anti-dying early. The two seemed to be at odds with one another.
The year I turned 30 was huge for me. It was my loud entrance into the adult world. First I got married and went from the oh-so loveable title of “Mom’s Boyfriend” to Stepdad. And later in the year I became probably my favorite title: Dad. We had a little boy and life was grand…
In February we had a family picture taken. And there really is only one word that I would use to describe myself: gross. I was overweight(like I mentioned) and looked BAD. My clothes were stupid, my glasses were stupid, my skin was stupid, and I was stupid. I didn’t like it all. My kids were beautiful, my wife was beautiful, and there was stupid, stupid, big me. I hated it. I couldn’t look at it when it was hung in our living room. And something about hating that Stupid Me, made me change.
So wit maybe a slightly unhealthy dislike of Stupid Me, I set out to destroy that mother fucker. Keeping that horrible picture in my head, I somehow committed to both diet and exercise. Somehow I stopped eating the shitty food I oh so loved, and night after night summoned the energy to hit the gym for an hour. Originally, it was all elliptical for me. No treadmill for Stupid Me, because that meant running and THAT was impossible. Ya know cause I hate running and refuse to do it. Instead, I got to work on that elliptical goodness. And after a bit of learning/being sore I really got into it. I started to get addicted to pushing myself on it. There’s a digital tracker on the thing that tells you how many calories you’ve burned as you work out(I assume this isn’t perfectly accurate, but probably pretty good). I liked challenging it. First it was “I’m gonna burn this many calories in this many minutes” then “I’m gonna burn this many in 1 minute” and so on and so forth. I got to the point where I was doing a solid 60 minutes a night on the thing, and really putting everything into it. It was eventually pointed out to me that what I was basically doing was jogging on the elliptical. No. That can’t be right. I don’t jog because that’s the gateway workout to running, and I am not doing that…
But could I?
I’m not sure why or how but my interest was peaked. So then…
I went for it. I don’t really remember why or how, but one night I tried the goddamn treadmill. I got on that thing that I had so very much never wanted to go near and I gave it a go. And after a bit of walking to warm up I hit the button and went for it. I RAN… for about 1 entire minute. And at a pace of something like 7 MPH. In case you were wondering, I did not know that this was too fast to start with because I had done exactly 0 research in how to start, or what was reasonable. This was of course very stupid. Just a dumb, dumb, dumb thing to do. But this of course was Stupid Me, so dumb was just par for the course. I think I walked for a while after that, mostly trying to save face. But I never got higher than maybe 3.5 MPH. After I finished, I sort of figured that was that.
Except it wasn’t. Fuck that. Fucking treadmill making me look dumb in front of everyone. This isn’t actually true. I was going to the gym after 9pm nightly. There was actually rarely anyone there. But I knew it had happened and that was like a lot of people knowing, so same difference. I didn’t want to admit defeat. I also… didn’t entirely hate it. That short sprint seemed to have given me more of a work out that then the last few weeks of the elliptical had been giving me. Which was good cause you need challenges to get rid of people like Stupid Me. Maybe there was something to it.
I tried it again. I didn’t do anything particularly spectacular, but I did do better. And then I did it again and again. Eventually it was part of the nightly ritual. I kept it simple: walk for a bit, run for a bit, and back to walking. Alternating for 20 minutes at a time, my walking stretches kept shrinking. And then without knowing it, I did the impossible: a ran a mile without stopping. A FUCKING MILE. I know, if you are in shape this is total NBD. But if you are a 35 year-old Stupid Me this is the equivalent to finishing a fucking triathlon. You have an equal chance of doing both if not six months ago you didn’t like to walk at all. You know who runs a mile without stopping? Fucking athletes… and teenagers. That was awesome. I kept at it and that mile turned into 2 miles, then 3, then 4, and you guessed it, eventually I ran 5 MILES without stopping. This was the number that I had pretty clearly defined as impossible in my mind. But it happened! Like for real. And not only that, I totally run 5 miles ALL THE TIME. Can you believe it? And somewhere in it all, Stupid Me disappeared. He was replaced with a new guy: Less Stupid Me. I’m probably never going to be perfect so Less Stupid is pretty good.
I love running now. Totally hooked on it. I run on my treadmill at home(yes we own one and yes it is actually used). I run outside. Well, not in the winter. Fuck that. There’s ice out there and I am old. I’m not slipping and breaking a hip. And it’s cold. Imma gonna stay in the warmth, y’all can have the outdoors. I even did a half-marathon and lived to tell the tale. Take that, Stupid Me!
I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to understand why and how I took to running. And here’s what I’ve figured out: It’s all mental. I mean really when you get down to it, running is you mentally making your body push itself and sustain itself at something it really would rather not keep doing. I’m not saying that physical conditioning doesn’t play a part. It does. But anyone that runs knows that the difference between going the full distance and quitting early, has to do with where your mind is at. It’s the thing that keeps you holding on until the end or trying harder. It makes your body go. And that’s what I found that I love about running. The cerebral.
It may seem weird to think the mind can have that kind of control over the body, but anyone who has suffered from depression, anxiety, or compulsive behaviors knows that it does. On a subconscious level, a mind afflicted with these can make the body do things it shouldn’t. I know this first hand. I suffered with depression and anxiety for most of my life and they totally controlled my body, probably indirectly leading to Stupid Me. And if any of you happen to have any substance abuse issues like me, well then I think you totally understand where I am coming from with the mind controlling the body.
What I like about running is it allows me to consciously control and push my body further and further. I can drive it to its potential and even past it. It’s amazing. It’s like… all the control I never felt I had as a kid that led to my depression, suddenly at my fingertips. Well… toes really, but you get my meaning. And it sounds cool. Who the fuck is not impressed when you hear someone say they ran 5 miles? 5 MILES. No one wants to WALK 5 miles let alone run it. Totally baller.
I am not an expert at running. I am feel like I am very early in my journey. And that’s cool. I like that. I like that I need to keep pushing my body to feel like I’m somewhere that I can call myself a runner. That’s the whole thing. My plan is to keep writing about running. And TV, cause I like it. And food, cause I love it. And Comic Books. Nintendo, karate with children. But I running will still be a topic. Maybe it’ll encourage someone else to try it. After all, Stupid Me tried it. Meaning anyone can try it. You just have to think about it. Brain make body do.