Running is Stupid and Other True Things

stupid_runningThe email came today, the one with the link to the race photos I will not be buying.

Instead I’ll take the image I have in my head of me running. Thank you. There I am, all svelte and speedy, with my toned arms, and shorts that wouldn’t even think about bunching up in my crotch.

In reality, there could be a race photographer every 100 feet of the course, and I could be paced by a team of my own, personal make-up and hair artists, and someone who Photoshops like a boss, and still no one will ever capture the me on film that’s the same as the me in my head.

And this is despite the fact that whenever I see someone squatting in the dirt with a lens pointed my direction, I pick my feet clear up out of the dust, and I smile so big I scare children.

Still, photos only ever capture wan-and-pasty-me, an image that looks like it’s foreshadowing the exact moment of my death. Some white-coated medical professional should be chasing me with a gurney and paddles, and there should be a dark shape fleeing my body, seeking the light.

My feet in race photos are always mid stride, both touching the ground. Like I’m not actually moving.

Usually there are other people in the race photo who look the same or worse, like they’ve actually already crossed over and their bodies have yet to get the memo and keel over. There might also be bonus stuff, like the camera catching my flabby triceps mid flap, or the light emphasizing a stunning lack of collagen below my chin.

After all the events I’ve done, you’d think I’d know better than to open the race photo email at all if I want to keep that happy go lucky I’d-never-actually-want-to-throw-myself-from-a-building feeling I cherish.

There’s so much about running that has turned out to be disappointing. Here are the stupid things I used to believe about it and the people who do it:

Runners are tough – No they’re not. Take me. I was going to go for a run today, but right now it’s pouring cats and dogs, so no. … Well, to be completely honest it’s more of a dribble than a deluge out there. Really, it’s kind of just misty, not actually raining. But it could rain. It could be acid rain. I feel a cold coming on.

Runners run all the time – Nope. Because <little known fact> running is boring. Music helps ease the boredom, but only so much. Some would recommend running with a buddy, but that can be dangerous if you run with someone who is easily annoyed and has a tendency to push people down.

Runners don’t actually even run all the time even when they’re running. We call it interval training. Others may say ‘walk breaks’ which is gauche. Don’t ever tell a runner you saw her walking when she claims to have been on a run. She may have the urge to correct you by yelling defensively about “intervals, stupid!” while lobbing punches at your head.

Runners can eat whatever they wantWrong. A half marathon burns enough calories for a cheeseburger, an order of fries and a good beer. You’ll only feel like you could eat the whole cow.

Sure, one could trade out the burger for a big salad, maybe with a little lemon water instead of the beer. Why not go ahead and suggest that to someone who just ran two and a half hours? Because you’d be wearing that big salad, that’s why.

Don’t be stupid, hand over the cheeseburger and no one gets hurt.

The fact is, runners often make the mistake of overeating. I’m typically angry hungry after a long run. I go into kind of a fugue. It’s great for cleaning out a week’s worth of left overs. Or a pizzeria. The kids have learned to stay out of the way or I might gnaw on someone’s arm before I come to my senses.

Sadly, even distance runners have to pay attention to what they eat and how much. You need to burn the same amount as roughly three half-marathons to lose a pound. And then you gain it right back with the equivalent of a pat of butter and a whiff of chocolate cake.

Runners are skinny. Nope. Runners come in every shape and size. I’ve had runners with big, old beer bellies and back fat whiz past me on the trail. It’s true that there are runners who have been at it for a while and have that runners look: heroin-chic-skinny arms, flat abs and crazed, thousand-yard stare. But it’s not a given.

Runners are born, not made. Well, not this runner. In fact, I’ve tried to start a running routine several times and couldn’t do it.

When kids came along, getting them to the gym when I wanted a workout was its own kind of workout. On the other hand, a quick run around the block could be done before anyone noticed I was gone, and made the dog absurdly happy in the process.

On the plus side, running comes with plenty of rewards.

(If you’re looking forward to some “sense of accomplishment baloney blah-blah,” now’s the time for you to find the other blog you were looking for).

I’m talking about medals.

I make fun of my kids all the time for getting awards and medals and participation ribbons for just showing up, but it turns out, getting a little medallion on a ribbon is the best. I’m going to start looking for ways I can give myself rewards for other stuff I’m doing in kind of fair-to-middling fashion.

Like, hey YOU GUYS, I spring-cleaned the house today!

Well, maybe spring cleaning’s too strong a term for spraying Lysol in the general direction of the bathroom, and closing the bedroom door so you couldn’t see the pile of laundry from the kitchen.

Who cares? Gimme my medal!


I know. You kind of want a medal for reading this blog. Well, TOO BAD. But if you click on the banner below, it’ll register a vote for my blog and I’ll be in a better mood. Thank you.



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  1. I\’m all about the WALKING. No need to run, people. And I pretty much say this because running really isn\’t an option for me. I wish I could actually.

  2. I keep trying to vote for you but when I click on the banner, it takes me to the website. BUT then I have to search through all of the pages (it is not listed alphabetically for some reason) and I have yet to figure out how on earth to vote. Can you please let me know what I\’m doing wrong?


    1. Oh, you did what you needed to do just by clicking on the banner. I\’m listed in order of how many votes I get (currently 40-something). Even though it just goes straight through to the site, it registers as a unique vote coming from my site.

      I really appreciate it. Thank you!

  3. I admire runners. Probably because I\’m so lazy with exercise (a few minutes of yoga each day), I can\’t imagine pounding the pavement. I did Zumba three times a week for a year and actually gained weight. It left with me with such cravings for carbs and sweets (probably to get back all the energy I burned) I actually got a belly. Its not fair. If it works for you, keep it up!

    1. Well, I wouldn\’t go so far as to say it works. Not sure why I do it, actually. I did one Zumba class. It was a hoot. The drawback was the fact it required me to be in an actual place at an actual time.

  4. My new favorite quote: \” Don’t be stupid, hand over the cheeseburger and no one gets hurt. \”

  5. I love to run and I love a run in the rain (as long as it is a short one). I am NOT heroin skinny. Currently I have a broken (shattered) toe so, because it makes the most sense, I am pity eating and gaining weight like crazy. Clearly the running was maintaining my weight versus helping me lose it. Will I have to \’cleanse\’ before I start running again? I don\’t want to maintain this new weight! So many questions. I should get the ice cream out to solve them 🙂

  6. My brother, who is young than I, but that still makes him 58, runs marathons. I say to him each time, \”I\’m very proud of you. Now cut it out.\”

  7. LOL, you are spot on! I can relate to everything you said. My race pictures always turn out funky too. I always seem to get more hungry when I run too, so I just eat back all the calories I burned!