Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Ask Your Doctor if Getting off Your Ass is Right For You*
You know what I like best about running?
You don't need expensive gear. You don't need a special field, arena, or course. Hell, you don't even need much talent. All you need is an awesome (but wicking!) outfit and some special shoes. Then all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and go. You may not go far. You may not go fast. But, and again unlike almost any other sport, you'll be doing exactly what the elite runners of the sport do. Only slower. And perhaps, if you're like Moi, spazzier.
Another thing I like about running?
The race you run is against yourself. World record-busting is for the professionals. For the rest of us, well, you'll rarely hear another runner say, "Today, I'm going to try and beat Mary Jo's time of last week." What you'll most like hear is, "Today, I'm going to try to beat my time of last week."
And when a fellow runner tells you, "Great job!" they mean it. They don't just say it and then slink away in a fit of silent, seething jealousy to send you mental darts filled with bad luck poison. You may beat yourself up over your suck ass time, but believe me, somewhere out there is a runner for whom your suck ass time is their Holy Grail.
In fact, runners must be the nicest people in the sports world. Living where I do, I encounter the best of the best out on the trails. You know, those human gazelles from Nigeria and Kenya and Jamaica and Morocco who set world records as easily as the rest of us stuff Twinkies in our mouths and who, when they pass you on the trail, make an audible whoosh, they're moving so fast. But not before first giving you a gigantic smile and a hearty "good morning," as if you, too, despite your plodding stride and sweat-soaked brow, have just as much right to claim this sport as they do.
Finally, becoming a runner has made me realize that the only person on this planet responsible for my own health is Moi. As Bill Maher, my sometimes tenth husband, said on a recent show, we don't have a medical care crisis in this country. We have a health crisis. Personal responsibility? Prevention? Exercise and proper diet? Hell no. Who needs those things when the pusher-men pharmaceutical companies got new drugs hitting the streets every 2.5 seconds?
Sure, I know that I can run/bike/hike/climb/swim/eat spinach until my feet fall off and I'm still going to die. Sure, I can still get cancer, still fall over dead from a heart attack, still get hit by a bus. Can't run away from crap genetics or freak accidents. But at least I can remove myself in some small way from the "demand" side of the equation. And leave it open – and more affordable – for those who really, truly cannot fling their bodies around in the glorious pursuit of sport.
*Blatantly stolen without shame or remorse from Bill Maher.