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7 Things I Learned About Running

file5211327928702A bunch of us at work are doing a “Biggest Loser” competition. We each paid $10 to join and we’re weighing in once a week. At the end of the first quarter, the person who has lost the biggest percentage of weight, takes the pot. When that happens, I’ll be using my money to shop for new clothes. Yes, it’s a forgone conclusion that I’ll win. I may hate exercising, but I hate losing a contest even more.

I can be found on the football field every night from 6:00 8:00, watching my kids practice. A few weeks ago, however, it hit me that I don’t exactly watch them per se. Truth be told, it’s really more of a glancing up at them now and then while I talk to my friends. When I admitted that, I realized I had 2 hours of time that I could use to do something a little more productive. I grabbed my friend who has been doing an amazing job losing weight, and said, “Come on, we’re walking!”

We took off and headed toward the West Orange Trail, a multipurpose, paved greenway that spans 22 miles. We walked at a pace that was fast enough to make it cardiovascular exercise, but not so fast that we couldn’t converse. As we walked and talked, I noticed the other people using the trails. We saw some folks walking their dogs, some people skating, and several bicycling. But most of the people we saw were running.

I kept thinking of the Nike commercial that Helen Hunt came up with in the movie What Women Want. She’s running. It’s early, it’s quiet. Just the sound of her feet on the asphalt. She likes to run alone. No pressure, no stress. This is the one place she can be herself. Look any way she wants, dress, think any way she wants. Nike. No games. Just sports. The ad makes it sound so attractive. It makes me want to be a runner. It makes me want to feel that freedom. But in reality, I can’t comprehend why running is so appealing. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand the allure. I watched the runners on the trail, arms pumping, feet pounding the asphalt, breathing labored, looks of grim determination plastered to their faces along with sweat-covered hair. I tried to gasp the fact that there are so many people who like to run, but I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I mean, I don’t run unless someone’s chasing me. With a chainsaw. I just don’t think I want to do anything that makes me look like I’m being tortured. Seriously, look at a runner’s face sometime. They don’t smile. They don’t look happy. They look like they’re enduring bamboo shoved under their nails.

Still, I thought there has to be something to running. I’m not sure what it is, but there has to be some amazing pay-off that is worth the mask of pain on every runner’s face. Yesterday, instead of my brisk 5-mile walk, I decided to run. I just had to see what it was all about. This is what I learned.

  • Running Hurts 1 of 7
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    I'm pretty sure my knees are broken. My back isn't doing too well either.

  • Running Makes you Sweat 2 of 7
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    A lot. I had people ask me if I'd gotten caught in the rain. "Ummm yeah, rain. That's it. I was caught in the rain." My hair was in a ponytail and after a couple miles of my hair swishing across my sweat-covered back, it was dripping wet and sticking to me like cold, wet seaweed. It's a disgusting feeling. I don't recommend it.

  • Running Isn’t the Only Thing That Releases Endorphins 3 of 7
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    Athletes say that running releases endorphins. You know what else releases endorphins? Excitement, eating spicy food and orgasm. I don't know about you, but running is definitely not at the top of my list. (It's not in the middle of my list either.)

  • Running Doesn’t Always Relieve Stress 4 of 7
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    Runners claim that running melts their stress away. The only way I could even force myself to run was by pretending a bear was chasing me. That was stressful.

  • Running Supposedly Curbs the Appetite 5 of 7
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    I was hungry before my run. I was still hungry after my run. The only difference was that I was too weak and sore to lift my hand to my mouth. I considered asking my kids to fill a dog bowl with food and set it on the floor so I could crawl over and plunge my face in it, but I was afraid they'd take a picture and Instagram it. Instead, I skipped dinner. That wasn't a good idea. Later that night, while driving to pick up my daughter from a friend's house, I hallucinated that I saw armadillos cross the road and I fantasized about eating them. I really should've gone with the dog bowl idea.

  • It Feels Good After Your Run 6 of 7
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    Runners say, "But it feels so good after you've run." Well yeah, duh.  It feels good after you stop hitting yourself with a hammer too.

  • You Have to Push Through the Pain 7 of 7
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    Runners say that all you have to do is push through the pain and you'll get addicted to running. The only time I'm okay with "pushing through the pain" is when I'm giving birth. At least then I have a cute baby to show for my efforts instead of a sweat-soaked sports bra, aching knees, and a hunger for armadillos.

    image: flickr

Want to read more from Dawn? Get her books Because I Said So (and other tales from a less-than-perfect parent) and You’ll Lose the Baby Weight (and other lies about pregnancy and childbirth) here!

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If you liked this, here are some more favorites from Dawn.

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