Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Where the Hell You Runnin'?

The Sound of Summer Running - Alison Brown (mp3)
God Shuffled His Feet - Crash Test Dummies (mp3)

Running sucks. People who are passionate about running don't like people.

I mean no intentional offense to anyone reading this who likes to run, but it's just about the most horrific hobby/interest/passion/whatever in the entire fuckin' world.

Yes, I'm writing this intoxicated. Which is something runners don't generally understand or appreciate, because they're mostly too busy stretching or getting rest for a run they've gotta do in a couple of hours, 'cuz they're gonna wake up at, like, 4 a.m. and run 20 miles and buy groceries at Greenlife or some other hoity-toity grocery store like Whole Foods and then run 20 miles back home with their groceries strapped on their back. Then they'll run in little circles around their kitchen while the whole-grain bagel is warming in the toaster. They wouldn't dare be awake at midnight having poisoned their body with three or four or God forbid five beers. (Even dedicated runners mock those Michelob Ultra commercials.)

If you run, I mean no offense, but you people are friggin' weird. I mean, like, messed up in the head. Like, as in you should be institutionalized. Forever. But no offense, seriously. I'm just funnin'.

My daughters both qualified to run in this citywide youth cross country race. Trust me, this has nothing whatsoever to do with inheriting genes from their father. They apparently are in modest shape and have found it in themselves to run at a decent pace. Whatevs. Not jealous. Not at all.

Anyway, when they raced, they had these two "coaches" who served as the "rabbit." Which is to say, two human beings who can only be described accurately as "beanpoles" served the same purpose as a mechanical "rabbit-looking" device would to dogs who race around in circles for a living. Except these men seemed to think this responsibility was an honor. Being a damn rabbit.

What scared me is that apparently young runners are no safer from obsessive and crazy parents than kids whose parents shove them in other sports. You had parents warming their kids up and getting there an hour early just to walk the course. You had parents feeding them particular energy bars or standing several hundred yards from the finish line and running with them, shouting at them all the way down the stretch.

At one point, I wanted quite badly to shout, "Go, Seabiscuit!!"

Ultimately, however, my discomfort at the thought of my girls becoming dedicated runners goes back to my original comment: all the people I know who are obsessed with (or "dedicated to," if you prefer) running are isolated and isolating people.

In all the world, of all the ways one can choose to condition and hone one's body and health, running is far and away the most solitary, the least sociable. Hell, just ask a runner!

Runners would read my criticisms and joyously proclaim, "Exactly!" Running is the perfect exercise for an introvert. The activity gets them out in the open and even, occasionally, around other people, but they don't ever have to actually acknowledge those other people anymore than you have to acknowledge some toll booth operator.

Friends of mine who have found joy in running tell me it gives them time to think, that it takes them away from the worries of the world and gives them an almost meditative peace. I'm left to wonder just how long one must be dedicated to running in order to get this feeling, because the only feeling I get when I'm running is "Can't.... breathe.... holy... shit... why am... I... doing this... to myself!??!"

Never once -- not when I ran cross country in middle school and high school, not when I tried running on tracks or up and down hills or even running away from a dude I thought wanted to beat me up -- have I run a long way, finished and thought, "There couldn't possibly be a better way to get from Point A to Point B than this!"

Runners want to run away from people. They want to run away from interaction. The only time they seem to want to interact is when they are trying to convince others about how great it is to run.

I'm not much of a fighter, but the very small part of me that enjoys physical activity (heyyyy) really needs someone else to participate with me (heyyyyy stop that!). Competition is a minor motivational factor for me.  It's more about the need to enjoy someone else's company. Misery loves company; when I'm exercising I'm miserable; ergo, I need someone with me.

Runners don't need anyone. They don't want anyone. They just want the isolating joy of their feet hitting pavement, moving them away from troubles. And wherever you find troubles, you find other people. They want to run away from people.

But I'm sure they'll deny it. 'Cuz who wants to admit even unintentionally being a misanthropist just 'cuz you enjoy running?

Today's post was inspired by Ann Coulter. I hope she runs. Off a very large cliff.


BeckEye said...

I'm with you, dude. I probably wouldn't even run if the cops were chasing me. Not that they would be because my life's not that exciting.

qukler said...

Amusing post, you made my day:) I don't like running either...

cinderkeys said...

Huh. I hate running, but you make a compelling case for doing it. Run, and everybody has to leave me alone. That almost might be worth the pain.

Jason said...


Bob would have to confirm this with you for you to believe it, but I think, as a runner, that I shatter just about every stereotype that you have of runners in this passage. Every single one.

It would be accurate, however, to call me the atypical runner so I guess that I am confirming your theories in a roundabout way.

Daisy said...

Love, love, love this post!

More than twenty years ago one of the quirkier gentleman on your esteemed campus told me that runners and swimmers are nuts because they spend too much time in their own head. I'm going with the theory that they are nuts because they WANT to spend to much time in their own heads.

troutking said...

I think it depends on if you're Running with the Devil or Running on Empty.

Randy said...

Or you could run like an antelope out of control.

I like running, because it gave me an excuse to get an ipod shuffle. That device is very handy when walking the dog.

Billy said...

Jason, not to pop the balloon here, but this entire post was an homage to Ann Coulter, who spoke at UTC on Monday. I wanted to see if I could write a venomous screed against something for the sheer purpose of riling up divisiveness and animosity.

Well... that and the fact that I kinda loathe running as an exercise. And was a little drunk.

But mostly the homage part.

Jason said...

Sorry Billy, I have to read the fine print more.

Tockstar said...

I had no idea Coulter was at UTC yesterday. I wish I'd had a pie ready for her face.

troutking said...

Or a WMD.

Kristen said...

I've never met an anti-social runner. All the people in every running group I've been in are chatty and we natter along happily as we run our miles. Yes, I've managed to run 20 miles while chatting with friends. Might still qualify me as insane, but not anti-social. :-)

P.S. Not nearly venomous enough to equal Coulter.