In a few minutes I’ll be headed out to door to go running with my friend Golightly, something we have been doing three times a week since August. I haven’t been any good at running ever (I’m slow and in no way competitive, so I’ve never had much urge to get any better in terms of speed or distance), but it’s always been the only sport I’m coordinated enough to participate in without accidentally whacking myself or someone else in the face, breaking a bone, or getting hit in the head with a ball. Pretty much any sports involving balls or ball-whacking implements are right out, as are any sports that require me to balance on any type of foot appliances (skiing, etc.). The one exception to this rule is tennis, a sport at which I am terrible, but which I enjoy because I like to imagine the little yellow ball representing the Faces of My Enemies.

But anyway, running and I are a reluctant pair. I quit for a long time, started again, quit again, started again, got injured, quit again, started again, got injured again, quit again, started again, managed to so far stave off injury with gradual interval training and stretches, and kept apparently going. That brings you up to date.

There are plenty of annoying factors about running that could wind up making me quit again — the fact that I mostly enjoy it only when done on a treadmill, at least in this climate; the fact that I always feel as if I’m only a whisper away from getting the incapacitating shinsplints yet again; the fact that in the gym I’m always surrounded by giant men and 90-lb sorority girls who all seem to be able to run at 9 mph while I am chugging along beside them at what feels like an elephantine 5-6 mph, still amazed that I can even move through space that fast; the fact that sometimes I feel as if all the blood from my body has been squozen up into my neck and face such that the lightest touch could cause it all to come exploding out of my body in a giant, messy gush — but I hope that won’t happen, because in spite of those annoying factors I am loving it right now.

Loving it, actually, in a way I don’t think I ever have before. Every now and then I will catch myself plodding along on the treadmill at my usually glacial pace and I will reach instinctively to the control panel to increase my speed and I will find that suddenly faster feels better, that faster works different muscles and lengthens my stride and maybe faster even creates the tiniest stir in the air around me that I can almost sort of feel against the searing hot flesh of my face, or at least I imagine that I can. What a wonderful surprise it sometimes is, to find that I want to run farther and faster, and that I can.


  1. That’s great! Don’t let yourself fall out of the habit of doing it, though … I was rocking a few months ago, started going all easy, and now, going two miles is So. Freaking. Hard. I have such a love/hate relationship with it, that if I take a break, it’s super hard to get back into it because I don’t love it until I’m “good” at it again. But, anyway, I’m proud of you! Keep it up!


  2. Go Doctor! It’s your birthday! Jam on it! Woo woo! Woo woo! Go Doctor!

    And if you’re feeling like geeking out while you’re running, I can see if I can find the OK GO workout podcast. It’s funny and you can run to it. And sing along, even.

    Go Doctor! Go Doctor! Jam on it! Jam on it!


  3. K – Oh man, that was exactly my problem! When I feel like I’m starting again from zero, it is SO HARD to get motivated. I like the couch-to-5K plan for those times. It eases you back in.

    R – Thanks! And OK Go has a workout podcast??? I am going to investigate this!


  4. Yeah, It came out a while ago sort of in conjunction with the Nike trainer/iPod thingie. I’ll see if I’ve still got it.


  5. It’s called “Master the Treadmill with OK Go (Continuous Mix). It is 31 minutes long.

    I got it for free, but unfortunately it’s like 15 bucks on iTunes now. I’ll burn you a copy if’n I can get my drive a’workin’. Silly MacBook…


  6. R – That sounds awesome, but, yeah, I don’t know if I want to pay that much for it. Maybe next time I am down in your neighborhood I can figure out how to zhoop it onto my computer from yours.

    J – Oh indeed! I don’t think it’s exactly legit, but whatever!


  7. Dude, congratulations on your motivation! As you may or may not remember, I ran a lot in high school and some in early college, but have lost the motivation in the ever lengthening period of time. When I can muster the motivation I enjoy it, but I hardly can.

    What I can share, though, is the secret to a happy running life – DO NOT WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE CAN DO! Ever. There will always be people faster than you, or better at a certain distance, or whatever. You have to define progress internally — improving your own times and distances and speeds, these are the things to measure. Even when I was the fastest 1500m, 3k, and 5k guy at my school I couldn’t make the state meet because other kids in my district were a few seconds faster than me. If you’re better than you used to be, and you’re improving, that’s something to be proud of. PROUD I say! Also, replace your shoes every 400-500 miles.


  8. Thanks, Tim. Those are some good words of advice. I know I shouldn’t worry about other people, and I usually don’t — It’s just a little intimidating sometimes! G and I are pretty much always the only 30-ish faculty types in the gym, and we’re always surrounded by the young, fit people whose metabolisms haven’t caught up to them yet! But I know that shouldn’t take away from the progress I’m making for myself. I just try to look at other people’s level of fitness as a possible goal… maybe some day!


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