by ANASTASIA GLUSHKO
I am attempting to become a runner. I have always fancied being one. I have visions in my mind of the runner me: transformed in a Jennifer Aniston-type figure, enjoying post-run fruit salads with yoghurt (evidently, my dairy intolerance disappears) in cafes with my fellow runner girlfriends, all of us wearing inexplicably crisp white t-shirts and sporting thighs so taut, they cause passers-by to howl in jealous agony.
Before this year, I had never run. Not unlike the peoples of East Africa who, television leads me to believe, are physiologically predisposed to being good at running, my body has been genetically engineered for sitting down. I have no calves, and whilst reliably comfortable, my bottom is not made of what sports scientists would associate with the tough stuff. According to a True Age test I once undertook at the gym, I have the lung capacity of a 180-year-old (true story, it was off the crap charts).
Plus, I have always been profoundly distrustful of healthy outgoing types. After my partner, Ryan, ran a marathon with two weeks’ training last year, I kept a knife under my pillow for months. When healthy outgoing types have smugged on about how physical exercise gave them an endorphin rush, I felt like coughing blood in their eyes.
On the occasions I have tried, the internal conversation with my body has gone a little something like this:
Body: “Well, this is fairly uncomfortable. Perhaps we should set ourselves a fitness goal and then set out to achieve it. People on Biggest Loser seem to bang on about how that makes it both easier and enjoyable.”
Brain: “That is both ridiculous and inane. We do not care about fitness goals. If we did, we would already be fit. Besides, 80% of us is composed of biscuit. A lofty goal for us would be to run for five minutes without vomiting. And then what? We are still pretty crap by most people’s standards. Let’s stick to the things we do well: ABC watching, opinion-having and napping.”
Body: “Yeah, alright. I feel like chips anyway.”
But I have finally found my motivation to become a runner, and her name is vanity. It turns out that running is surprisingly efficient at minimising the appearance of wobbly bits – even more efficient than fake tan! A revelation. So, without even being chased, I now run. For 30 minutes most mornings (unless it is raining – who am I, Rocky?), I have been waddling dynamically around our local area using nothing but my legs.
I am, of course, obliged to pretend that I Am Not My Body and that I am making no conscious effort to reduce my flubber. Vanity, you see, is generally perceived to be a shallow and meaningless preoccupation that is robbing me of time and energy better dedicated to meditating or bottle feeding orphans. Which is why I say this to all of you ladies: pretty much all of us own a pair of skinny jeans. As a concept, these are about as comfortable as a holiday in Syria. Find me a woman who is not vain and I will show you a liar.
But although and because this vice unites us all, I think you would all enjoy the sight of me running. The sweaty, panting discomfort, the glazed-over expression of dread, the simultaneously pink and pallid face, the hilariously slow rate of progress that has nevertheless proved so exhausting…you would smugly LOL.
And LOL you can, because I do not care. To my horror and disgust, it turns out that the healthy outgoing types were right all along: the endorphins are lovely. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think I am a proper runner yet. Overall, I still find running about as enjoyable as eating chalk. But as the weeks go on, I fear I am becoming everything I have held in such disdain for so long.
If I do not run, I become irritable, like a constipated bear unable to find the woods. The wailing inside my head when I drag my dumpling of a body out bed in the morning is growing quieter. The constant tight, sore feeling in my legs is becoming…mildly pleasurable.
I have even bought some preposterous full length running tights made of some kind of cybernetic superskin and one of those tops that slurps the sweat off your back. I am but a few weeks away from procuring a headband.
Now, to find some runner girlfriends…
Anastasia is a Sydney-based corporate writer and a politics nerd, who envies and fears athletic types in equal parts. She occasionally blogs here.
Are you a runner? What about running makes you stick with it? Are you a wannabe runner? What kind of exercise do you enjoy most?