[How To] - Get Fit; Or Don't, That's Probably Easier.

There was a time when I ran and biked heavily. The results of which were, from the waist down, I was honed, slim and assless. From the waist up though, I still looked like one of those deformed vegetables that grow in areas that have received heavy doses of radiation. And for a variety of reasons (read: I'm a lazy, lazy man), I stopped. I still enjoy walking, and have been known even to amble on occasion. But not running. I'm of the opinion that running should only occur while being chased. Which is why, having decided to take up running again, I have purchased as motivation a malnourished leopard.

The act of running for non-fleeing reasons is only just over a century old, and when first introduced in Victorian London, police frequently arrested people assuming that if someone was running, they must be running away from something, and therefore must be a criminal, a tradition proudly continued by the NY and LAPD's to this day. As an exercise, it is simple, cheap and extremely uncomfortable, and as a former and returning participant, I feel I have all the required knowledge (read: none at all) to instruct others in getting involved in this stupid activity.

The most important thing to remember about running is, like any endurance sport like weight lifting or competitive hot dog eating, is to take it slow. Despite being quite literally one foot in front of the other, you can't just jump into it cold turkey. Don't expect to run any marathons your first time out. Expect to spend a significant amount of time leaning against telephone poles, gasping for breath your first time out. Running effectively take time and practise, and if you follow these steps, you'll be guaranteed not to collapse of a heart attack in a gutter1.

Warm Up

It is important to always warm up before a run, whether it's your first or your hundredth time out. This is because the muscles in your body are like elastic bands: if left in the sun, they will yellow and harden into a gross, worm like scab. Wait, no, I mean that when not being worked, like say in your sleep, or while sprawled on the sofa marathoning through old Boy Meets World DVDs, your muscles relax. Suddenly jumping up and sprinting off can cause your muscles to seize up, commonly called a Charlie Horse, or “Ow Jeezus F@#k.” This can be bad, and leave you open to attack from the leopard. To avoid this seizing, before you set out, always prepare your legs, arms, and neck for the coming stress, much like warning someone before you punch them in the Netherlands. Jumping jacks, lunges and high knee kicks are all things that shouldn't be performed where other people can see you, because they will point and laugh at you. Then kick sand in your face and steal your girlfriend. Which brings us to the next point:

Take Steroids

No, wait, I didn't mean that. I by no means suggest you spend time hanging out around University athletic centres, looking for the guys with necks the size of Labradors, asking them where to score some “juice,” or “pump,” or “Armstrong sugar.” I don't suggest that at all. What I meant was:

Dress Appropriately

Dressing for exercise is hard, because no matter what you wear, it will not look good on you. Exercise clothes don't look good on anybody, and it puzzles me to no end why it has suddenly become fashionable for women to walk around in yoga pants as if they were real pants. Didn't we got through this in the eighties, with spandex? Did we learn nothing from that decade? Was all that suffering for nothing?

But the point remains, it doesn't matter if you spend $300 on a pair of Lycra pants tight enough to qualify for indictment under indecency laws, and the sort of florescent colour usually only seen on rare Amazonian toxic frogs; or three bucks on a pair of “gently used” gym shorts from the Good Will. The effect will be the same: you will look like a dork. In fact, the word “dork” is now exclusively used to describe people in exercise clothes. I go with a simple T-Shirt and old pair of trunks, loose enough that any torso-jiggling can be kept to a spectator's minimum. Though for maximum motivation, you could try wearing clothes in the size that you want to wear when all is said and done2.

Pick The Place

Where you run can be just as important as how you run. My previous location was a kilometre long desolate stretch of lake-side gravel track. My current path goes past four yard work equipment rental businesses and a Coca-Cola distribution centre. Just as desolate, but the view isn't as inspirational. When starting out, pick flat areas in close proximity to your home, and don't stray too far away, because remember you have to get back. And if you just keep running in a straight line, the point where you feel your worst, and can't go on, that your spleen is going to gnaw its way through your torso and sprint into traffic in a desperate attempt to end this misery is only the half way mark. You must turn around and go back. Or, curl up in a pile of leaves and discarded condoms in the gutter and wait for the leopard. As you progress, choose more difficult areas. Winding paths, gravel rather then paved. Introduce hills to your variety. Suddenly lunge into oncoming traffic against the light, to keep both you and the drivers around you, on your toes.

Feel The Beat

The runner's best friend is music. Pick music that has a steady beat, to keep you running in a stable way. I suggest CCR, for two reasons. 1) their songs can largely be divided into Looking Out My Back Door and Midnight Special in terms of beat, the former being a high paced, steady run, and the latter being a slower, more restful jog. And b) most of their songs are short, save for the occasional I Heard It Through The Grapevine, so you can feel a real sense of accomplishment when you make it all the way through Cosmo's Factory, despite the fact that is only 18 minutes long. Modern pop hip hop is very good, because all it consists of is empty repetitive noise with no redemptive qualities at all, other then it provides a steady base line. Which is why is it is heavily used by strippers.

Become A Stripper

Honestly, anything is better then running. And at least this way you'll get tips.

Or Not

OK, so maybe becoming a stripper isn't great advice. But, if you must run, remember that there will be bad times ahead. After your first couple times out, the next day your body will feel as if every muscle in your body decided to go on strike. This feeling will remain. It never goes away. You just become numb to the pain. After a sold three weeks of running, you could drive a nail through your thigh and you wouldn’t feel a thing3. During running too, prepare to experience feelings of bodily excursion that you never thought possible.

This is because, your body hates running as much as you do. And as punishment for making it run, it will opted to kill you, slowly. Like spleen pain, which will grip you unexpectedly, and not abate until you are home, sunk deep in a reclining chair, watching America vote for some putz on a neon stage. Or the unique feeling of your lungs trying to escape through your nostrils after you miss a breathe on your carefully timed “in through the nose, out through the mouth” technique. Or, a numbing sensation in the left arm, often accompanied by sharp stabbing pains in the chest area. Any exercise professional will tell you that these are normal sensations, and that you should “fight through the burn.” The truth is, that is a lie. These are signs that your body wants to stop, and you should listen to your body far more then the fit freaks and workout gurus on infomercials and at the gym. Listen to your body. It knows what it wants. It wants a beer and a hand full of pain killers, and to watch Leno (OK, maybe you shouldn’t listen to everything your body wants).

But, of course, you can't do that. Because we live in a health obsessed society. It wasn't always this way. Used to be, people ate what they wanted, worked out how they wanted, and died when it suited them. Now, if you aren't constantly sweating, trying to work off those 'last few pounds,” you're deemed part of the problem. And if you aren't the comparative size of a stalk of corn, you're Body Mass Appendix has too much gluten, and you need to work on reducing your carboload. I say, eat when you're hungry, sweat when you're hot, and die when you're heart explodes on it's own damned time. That's the way my family has done it for generations, and it's good enough for me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the leopard is restless.

1Not a guarantee

2Please note, you will never be done running. Ever. Even if you think you are, it will find you.

3Do not try this!
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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