Tuesday, October 30th, 2012...2:46 pm

Running Isn’t for Everyone

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by Becca Starr

I’ve heard talk of this thing called a runner’s high. I think I convinced myself I reached it once but, looking back, I think I was walking. My memories of running are painful ones and remind me that, at one point, I was both in middle school and playing softball. Swallowed one at a time, these variables are respectfully decent. But once combined into the painful-to-witness experience of the pubescent pseudo-athlete, the only proper reaction is to wince. I remember the day when I was in 8th grade and we ran the two-miler—a distance that appears as vast to me now as it did then—and how the sweaty chafe of the too-small shorts left harsh red marks on my inner thighs, how the sidewalk spilled in front of me, endless and taunting.

I run again eight summers later. This time I gather with the borderline homeless at the darker side of 6 AM. We run laps around Elm Park. Two of the homeless run in jeans and leather boots. After only a few weeks of this dizziness, I send my tree-trunk-thick feelers out further, each morning exploring a new side of the neighborhood. I add miles. I discover a raspberry patch but tell myself I have to keep running. I chafe. I arrive home just as the medical student I live with is coming back from work. Her once-over is a mix of sympathy and disgust.

By the calculations of some website, I ran 13.82 miles. AT ONCE. Incredible, right? What’s even more incredible? I haven’t run since. And I couldn’t be happier.

The day I ran 13.82 miles, I kept myself going by the mantra that if I finished alive I could be done with running.  I stayed true to my promise and realized: I just don’t like running.

Running is very cool these days, and not only must one move oneself quickly from point A to B, but one must also love running. Live for running. Reach enlightenment through running and not be able to wait until one can run again. But that’s just not me. I’ve tried (see above examples), and though I did not fail per say, I did not enjoy my journey. My knees hurt and my lungs hurt and, the moment I started running, I started thinking about when I got to stop.

From the beginning of time (approximately 1991), I was a staunch “Do What You Love and Love What You Do” person. From age zero, I was out in the snow on miniscule and adorable skis, snowshoes, or ice skates. We hiked, biked, and kayaked. My childhood largely consisted of floating on inner tubes in cool New England ponds. As I’ve grown into larger skis and steeper hikes, I’ve become an “If It’s Not Fun Why Do It?” groupie. Hence the fitness instructing, Boot Camp classes with a funny and lively early morning group, pick-up Frisbee, walks in the woods, skiing (when I can), and dreaming of skiing (when I can’t).

You see, I’m not against running, or even the running crowd. I’m against physical activity for the sake of fitting into this mythical shape thing we’re all supposed to be in. I’m for walking, and biking, and Cardio Dance Party, and Disneylates, and Olympic lifting, and ballroom dance, and pick-up basketball, and ping-pong, and Ice Hockey, and floor hockey, and equestrian gymnastics, and non-equestrian gymnastics. And running, I guess, as long as you love it.

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