I should go. I should do it.

I hate running. It’s stupid and hard.

Maybe there are other ways? Lifestyle changes, eating better, etc?

I could just do a long, invigorating walk in the park tomorrow instead.

But I said I was running. I told everyone I was going for a run.

I should go.

Maybe my running clothes are all dirty, I’ll probably need to do laundry first.

Oh. Nope, there’s a clean set.

What have I eaten today? Maybe I need more digesting time. Or actually, maybe it’s been so long that I’m going to be too hungry. Maybe after the next meal, then.

Or I could just go.

I need to cross it off the list. I’ll ostensibly feel good if I do it. Maybe.

Fine, I’ll go.

But if the fitness center parking lot looks too full I might need to come back later.

Oh, it’s mostly empty. Yay, I guess. Or maybe they had a chemical spill of some kind and had to send everyone home? No?

If all the treadmills are taken I’ll just find another time. Or if there aren’t enough that are not right next to someone else running. I don’t want to bother them. Or intimidate them with my athletic intensity.

Pretty quiet in here.

But really, what a circus this place is, am I right? Do I really belong here? What failure of human evolutionary outcomes am I reinforcing by coming here multiple times per week? Shouldn’t I be outside getting my exercise from hunting a wooly mammoth or something? My ancestors would be ashamed! Maybe I should honor their memory and sacrifice by ending this charade right now.

I hope my membership didn’t expire since a few days ago. Oh, all set? Okay. You too. Thanks!

What should I listen to? I can stand here for a few minutes and figure that out. I wonder if their wifi is working. Music, podcasts, news, videos. Too distracting, not distracting enough. Too boring. Too fast.

Okay, a podcast. Skip the ads. So many ads.

I start out by walking. I’m here. I’m doing it.

Maybe today is just a walking day. Surely studies show great benefits from walking? It’s obviously part of an active lifestyle. The important thing is that I’m here moving my body, not that I go any particular speed.

I told everyone I was going for a run.

Where did that minute go? Better up the speed.

Okay, I’m running! I did it.

Body in motion, heart rate increasing, muscles working, rhythm starting to settle. I’m a runner! Look at me.

How the hell has it only been thirty seconds? Is this timer broken? It’s probably broken. Don’t look at it. What, only fifteen more seconds?! Stop looking.

Look at the mirror. There you are, strong and athletic you. Running hard. Breaking a sweat. Well, you will. Soon. What are you running toward? What are you running from? What are you afraid of?

I almost trip and fall. Stop looking at the mirror. Focus.

Televisions everywhere. Podcast plus television, plenty of distraction. Ooh, someone is renovating their house. Or selling it. A realtor is helping. A fit, healthy realtor. How do they stay so fit if they’re just walking through houses all day? Probably with a personal trainer. Imagine what I could do if I had a personal trainer. I would be so...wait I would hate that.

Crap, only ten minutes!?

Look around. Savor the community of people trying to be their best selves. He is really pulling a lot of weight over there and I celebrate him. She is running much, much faster than I am and has been doing it for quite a long time without looking the slightest bit tired, and I celebrate her.

These people must not have jobs or lives or people that love them. That’s why they can spend so much time here. I feel sorry for them. So focused on health and strength, but at what cost? Sad.

The podcast is boring. The interviewer keeps talking about himself. We’re not here to listen to your story, buddy. Ask the questions and shut up. Oh, in your experience? No. No one cares.

I need water. Better slow down to walking for a drink. I’ll take a full minute. It’s technically all a part of “going for a run.” I’m sweating enough now that anyone looking will be able to tell that I’m on a run.

No one is looking.

That walking minute is going fast. Maybe today is just one of those half-run days. Might be a touch of foot pain off in the distance there. Don’t push it and all.

Minute is up. Well, might as well see how much longer I can run. Speeding back up. Worst case is I have to stop again soon. Well, maybe worst case involves a fall. Or losing a headphone. Or breaking something. I wonder how fast an ambulance could get here. Could they get a stretcher through these aisles? What kind of danger have I put myself in?

Twenty minutes. I’m feeling pretty good now. More machine, less messy organics. My body is telling me it knows what to do and I just have to get out of the way. Don’t think, just do.

Twenty-five.

Sweat, muscle, steps, breath. Keep going.

He finished on the weights and she finished her run. They sold the house. The interviewer vomited his life story out.

I’m the last one standing. Running!

Twenty-nine. I could go longer. A lot longer, probably. I have water and a sweat towel and miles of open treadmill ahead. Maybe I’ll just let time fade away and see what I can do. I don't need timers. I don't need limits.

Thirty.

Finally. Thirty minutes of running. I did it!

I better stop to free up the treadmill for someone else.

I told everyone I was going for a run. No big deal. I’m a runner after all.

3 thoughts on “Running

  1. Hilarious! Yep, been there many times. Thanks for reminding me that I have drifted away from a healthy routine of exercise. Actually, can't wait for warmer weather. I would rather spend two hours on my bike than thirty minutes on the treadmill. Heading over to Earlham later to at least walk. Of course I will go through the same mental routine that you describe! Appreciate your thoughts Chris.

  2. Good for you, Chris!!
    You did it despite yourself.....
    It always makes us feel much better but the mental gymnastics
    We go through are the pits......
    Guess the moral is .....”just do it!”.....like brushing our teeth!!
    Just don’t overthink it.....
    Fun to read....lots of love to all!!
    Auntie Ann......who goes thro’ the same mental gymnastics!!

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