(feel free to skip)
I was a husky kid. Didn’t take to sports much, ate big meals, and was sort of over sized kid most my childhood – height and weight. So it wasn’t until I was 11 before I ran more than 1 block without stopping. Several years later, I ran more than a mile for the first time to enter the Marine Corp “poolie” program. Bootcamp is where I discovered that I’m not too bad at running, and my time in Arizona pushed me to the furthest limits I’d ever seen on the trail. 6 miles was a normal day, 4 was short. Our farewell PT with SSgt Pulling was 11 miles – and we had no idea which turn or stretch would be our last the entire way.
After the military, I just used running to balance out my beer drinking. Casual smoking made it tougher for 6 years, but that didn’t hold me back during drill weekends with the Naval Reserve in Ft. Meade. Some days I’d light up a cigarette as soon as I stepped off the track.
These days, as an out of shape father and proud overweight American…
…I don’t take much to running with regularity. My time is precious: morning routine, kids, work, dinner, kids, kids, bedtime routine, XBox / beer / DVR, sleep… repeat. The best efficiency experts in the world couldn’t wedge more into this schedule – it’s airtight! However, my hat is off to anyone that maintains a healthy exercise regimen. It’s downright admirable – moderately, but nevertheless worth admiration. Different strokes for different folks, right?
My only qualm with the chronically fitness-minded is specifically with new converts and weekend warriors that preach it like gospel. You know the ones – they won’t stop talking about their workouts before, during and afterward in the locker room. Their social networking status reflects every new event, every sprain or sore leg, every new challenge and high end purchase they make in the pursuit of performance.
Leave it on the field
Fitness can create a level of fanaticism that rivals parenting, religion, and even the TV series Lost. I understand it’s your world right now, and that friends around you should support you in whatever makes you happy. I’m not threatened by how much you can squat or the triathlons you’ve been in. I applaud your golf game, parkour abilities and ultimate frisbee skills.
But, the fact is, like the new dad that forces a steady regimen of baby photos on every friend, acquaintance and innocent bystander, the world is not that interested in your stuff. As an 8 year old you could demand your mother’s attention and approval when doing a cannonball at the public pool, but as an adult there’s a much smaller demographic willing to cheer and awe at your cardiovascular and anaerobic achievements. Kudos to you, but leave it on the field.
This can easily be an analogy for religion as well. You ever met a devote religious person who doesn’t say an unsolicited word about Christ to others? Aren’t they one of life’s treasures? I think so. Because for every Christian who’s quietly confident in their spiritual path, there seems to be ten others who are yelling out loud and annoying a lot of folks with their insecurities. Because, would you really spend your day trying to convince others about “the Good Word” if you were entirely convinced yourself? Just rings of compensation, I guess.
I digress. Competition with oneself is a great pursuit, one best kept between the participant, and… the participant. And if ESPN or Sports Illustrated decides to start following you along the way, you’ll have the audience you so richly deserve. Until then, you can spare me and others the personal thrill of inline skating that you alone understand. If you run a 5K or 10K, Kudos! But let my cursory “oh, that’s cool” signify that while I support your endeavors, I’m not ready to join your fan club.
Beating a dead horse…
So I feel I drove that one home a bit strong. I’m not as thrown by overly zealous fitness buffs as I sound, just the notion of someone who’s so driven in their own pursuits they lose perspective on how it’s received by others. It certainly beats a lot of things. Like a conversation about legalizing Marijuana. That’s right up there with alternate endings to World War II for me.
…for 3.1 miles
But, I did want to at least give fitness buffs a fair shake before I completely wrote them off. So, I signed up for a 5K run.
First, I do so with fairly good confidence in my abilities. I ain’t the springy Lance Corporal I used to be, but I still do a jaunty amble around the neighborhood from time to time. Second, I was really banking on American obesity. I figured since guys my age start packing on the pounds, my odds would be pretty good.
Driving up the to starting point, I was quickly disappointed by the crowd I saw. A whole lot more of decent runners and a lot less of the fat ones. I thought, “First Al Gore fails me, now you Morgan Spurlock. Great.” But no one heard me. And the clever reference was lost.
We were told to get there early. This meant yawning for 45 minutes off to the side of a crowd full of stretching, jumping, sprinting Livestrong bracelet and t-shirt wearers. Half the crowd had MP3 players in tow. I thought the notion silly since it was only a 20-30 minute run, but the wait proved them the more prepared.
Finally, folks signalled the start of the festivities, and 800 people swarmed to the street. I picked a place around the 2/5ths mark of the crowd, not knowing if I’d be trampled by superior athletes the moment the siren went off. Things went green, and we trotted away. I started edging around some, then found stuck behind others. What’s the courteous thing to do in an amorphous horde? Pushing didn’t seem appropriate.
On the stretch back, I began sprinting. Way. Too. Soon. As I was dying, others began to sprint. The bastards. It was high time for tripping fun, but again, didn’t seem courteous. I made it through the finish line, got a little piece of paper, meandered around a little, got some water, thought about my daily horoscope, and then started to fill out the tiny form I was holding. When I got to the field that said “time“, I drew a blank. I peeked back at the finish line, and noticed for the first time the huge ass yellow time clock that was tracking everyone’s time. Doh! So, I saw it reading 26 minutes or so, and figured I’d been putzing around for about 2 minutes, so put down 25:00 even to be fair. Fair sucks.
My 5K take away
It was nice, the free pancakes were good, but overall, the best part of the whole thing was the free T shirt. Outside of that, it just felt like I’d paid $20 to do something I’d done for free many other days before. Anna was pleased I liked it and teased me about the many more I’d sign up for in the future, but in all honesty, it really ain’t a big deal for me. It was fun, but the long meandering romps through our neighborhood at 5am are more my bag than these 800 runner charity things.
So for the last time, fitness freaks, I can see the allure, but I think I’ll just half ass this one and stick to my horrible diet and penchant for beer.