Truly, motivation is weird.
Thanks to probably some dumb fucking Facebook ad, I saw the Insane Inflatable 5k coming to Denver. I ran the Warrior Dash (very slowly) a couple of years ago, which sort of dissuaded me from wanting to run ever again. But I liked all the obstacles. I wished there were courses that were all obstacles, and no running because running is fucking awful and a leisure pursuit I will likely never understand.
Yet, here was this big inflatable obstacle course race that isn’t even timed and I currently weigh at least 40 lbs less than I did when I did the Warrior Dash, and how hard can running really be, and why the hell not, and now I’m signed up, and oh crap now I have to start running.
Here’s me starting to run.
On April 8, I posted the following update to my personal Facebook page:
“To get a sense for whether or not I could even do the Inflatable 5k, I went on a run for the first time in roughly forever just now. I did not enjoy it! That said, I banged out two miles in roughly 25 minutes, which I realize is not good, but much better than I was expecting.
Question to my running friends: Will feeling like I’m dying after the run is over subside at some point? I assume so, but I literally have no frame of reference for this. Truly, I feel horrible. You runners are one messed up group of people.”
On April 9, I posted this:
“RUNNING UPDATE DAY 2: I somehow managed to run again. I still did not enjoy it! Howevah… I somehow managed to do the same 2 miles about a minute faster (which, what?), and did not feel quite as deathly shitty when it was over. One exception: My thighs started to rub together (sexy!), and are now a bit raw (double sexy!).”
I’m not kidding when I say I have literally never felt worse after a workout than I did after that first run. I thought my lungs were going to explode, my feet ached, my shins hurt, I couldn’t stop hacking up horrible looking shit from my lungs, I chafed in places I’m not used to chafing, and I ended up walking like a tubby loser putz for much of the run.
I also just turned on one of my workout mixes, and went out the door. I wanted to run without bearing the burden of knowing how slow I was going or shaming myself into quitting because I suck at running so bad (which I do!). When I got home though, I still had to know how I did, so I looked up the playlist on iTunes to see how long it was, then added up the run times of all the songs I didn’t listen to on the mix, and subtracted that total from the length of the playlist. It’s literally the most convoluted way to figure out how long you ran for, and something that I find personally embarrassing to think about two weeks later.
Kristin encouraged me to download a running app, which I did begrudgingly before our trip to San Diego. I mostly did that because I didn’t know my sister-in-law’s neighborhood, and didn’t feel like plotting a course using Google maps that’s exactly two miles, which is how I did those two runs in Denver. I know, what the fuck, right?
And despite matching drinks with my brother-in-law the entire trip, who, by the way, is probably the grand champion of drinking among people I know personally, I somehow mustered the will to run twice while I was out there.
Two notes: 1) The running is app is incredibly handy, which should come as a surprise to exactly no one. It tracks your course, time, altitude change, and all sorts of other pertinent, neato factoids about your run. 2) Running at sea level is the tits.
My hesitancy to download a running app is simply a by-product of my inherent bias toward rejecting the continued tabulation, scoring, and ultimate commodification of our lives. For some reason I cannot pinpoint, I hate the idea that at some point we let the robots take over and make our decisions for us, which is why I find Wall*E simultaneously one of the most beautiful and terrifying movies of the last few years.
This also explains why I adored this article by Hamilton Nolan so thoroughly. It’s a full-throated rejection of “the fitness industry” which seeks to quantify every aspect of your fucking life that doesn’t need quantification. This paragraph in particular struck me:
“The use of tools like Fitbit engenders a slavish and servile disposition that is the opposite of the attitude that getting in shape should instill in someone (a quiet sense of rage held at bay only by the obsessive pursuit of exhaustion). Human beings today are—freely and of their own volition—wearing Fitbits day and night so that their personal trainers can spy on their activity levels around the clock. Others allow their corporate employers to spy on their activity levels, in order to receive health care discounts.”
I already subscribe to enough things that track my whereabouts at all times of day (many of which I do voluntarily and smiling), I don’t need another Big Brother keeping tabs on me. And I sort of adore the idea of defining fitness as “a word for when you make your muscles burn intensely on a consistent basis until you’re no longer afraid of the class bully.”
Yet I recognize how flawed, idealistic, and ultimately unreasonable that is. Accepting a helping hand – or Christ, just a fucking road map – is something we all need. Look at how successfully I integrated Weight Watchers into my life to help me get to a much more desirable level of health. So having some sort of quantifiable measurement is not the enemy of fitness, but a useful guidepost that aids in the journey.
What frustrates me about the increased commodification of everything we do, and for our purposes here – fitness, is that it’s easy to substitute the tool for the motivation. The fitbit, the running app, fancy workout gear (which you REALLY don’t fucking need – Lululemon excepted, natch), or any other consumable from the fitness industry won’t run around the fucking block for you or lift a fucking weight. That comes from somewhere else.
And apparently for me, that’s getting in good enough shape to fully enjoy an adult-sized inflatable obstacle course.
Truly, motivation is weird.