A Sluggard’s Tale of Exercise

So last night I had the fastest run of my life, a 5K in 29:55, which breaks down to 9.5 minutes per mile.

Years ago…possibly 2011, my doctor told me that I had to find a way to get exercise. He’s a conservative guy, thinks that you can manage diet and exercise without gyms and Whole Foods, and I like that about him, but my brain is sneakier than he is. “Just walk outside for 30 minutes” goes in my ear canal and is quickly translated into “Plan to walk outside for thirty minutes, decide that your exercise clothes are unsuitable for whatever minute reason, resolve to do an hour tomorrow, and watch another episode of Community whilst secretly knowing that you won’t do it tomorrow either.”

So I went to Sears and bought a treadmill. A big ass treadmill. One of those ones that you have to promise your first born for (I offered, but when she told them she wanted to be a police officer when she grew up, they declined), because I have this thing about equipment shaking. Things being loose.

SIDEBAR: When you go to the park and use the swings, can you swing next to an empty one? I can’t. I have to tie it to a pole. It gives me the gee willikers. And if I start swinging and one of the base poles slides in and out of the cement as it is wont to do when a gigantic hippo such as myself is using a piece of child’s equipment to push past the limits of how high the swing was meant to go? Forget it. I have to dismount immediately, often in mid-flight. The East German judge, aka my kid, always gives me a “you so cray cray” which is probably a 4.

UNSIDEBAR (which should be a thing): So I bought a bigass treadmill, which I opted not to have delivered, and as this is getting a little long, I shan’t expound upon the agony and the stupidity that is myself and my father trying to push it up the lawn in the box and then lowering it into the basement, but needless to say that we managed to get it down there, and there it shall stay until I move, and then I will hire three strong dudes, all preferably brothers named “Darryl” who will hoist it out of the bowels of my house.

It’s an amazing thing, the treadmill. It has some sort of function that tracks shit, and it has a port for memory cards so I could feasibly go to iFit (if that even exists anymore) and program a workout. But that sounds so fucking tedious that I just use it to run. It has killer inclines and a bunch of preset workouts labeled by calorie count or distance, and let me tell you those suckers hurt, because they machine doesn’t care if I am having a bad day or those green peppers are repeating on me. It just keeps going, like the Terminator. And the Terminator franchise.

Anyway, back to the part where I am funny and tell you about things you may or may not care about: when I started running, it was called “walking” and I did it in increments of 40 minutes. Walking is one of the most boring things in the world, aside from being forced to sit through that 1:17 minutes FBI/Interpol warning thing at the beginning of DVDs that the player won’t let you skip or FFd through. And before you tell me that you walk in the park and it’s relaxing and blah blah blah, may I remind you of paragraph one.

Debbie from Queer as Folk: Know thyself.  Some famous Greek person said that.
Michael: Zorba?

So. It’s on a treadmill. You aren’t going nowhere. You can add playlists, or maybe a television, but the scenery still looks like this: basement steps, bare light bulb, eau de catshit.

SIDEBAR: Once I ran 2 miles while holding a hardback book, because I wanted to run, but I wanted to finish the book and it was too thick to fit in the stand. I do not recommend this. PS it was Helter Skelter. /SIDEBAR

I began to have this conversation:

Me: I could do this in a shorter amount of time if I ran.
Brain: Disaster, my son.
Me: Shut up, Gabrielle, you’re not the boss of me.
Brain: Gabrielle is like, the worst character in The Vampire Chronicles.
Me: Oh I don’t know, what about Santino?
Brain: Oh man, don’t even get me STARTED on Santino.
Me: I know, right?

The thing about running, if you don’t do it very often, if ever, like, say only when you’re chasing a two year old or being chased by zombies, is that it’s fucking hard to do. Your legs protest doing something as simple as walking in super-fast mode, and your lungs, which normally are happy to provide you with oxygen, suddenly form a picket line and declare any working alveoli to be horrible corporate scabs. For the first few months, I picked the shortest songs on my workout lists and told myself to run through them at pathetic speeds like 5.0 or even 4.8. The more upbeat the song they were, the better. Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and Lady Gaga got a lot of time in my ears, and what that did to my emotional psyche is a completely different story.

Humperdinck: Skip to the end, please.
Me: You have no sense of timing.
Humperdinck: I have a wedding to plan, a wife to murder, and Guilder to blame for it. I a swamped.
Me: Good point.

Over the past 4 years I managed to get my run time longer and faster, and every year I try to do a few races. I’ve tried to track myself on daily mile, but posting my run every day online makes me feel strange. I keep it in this book:


Daleks also don’t like running very much.

I only decided to mark my runs in the book starting in July, but it’s been incredibly helpful. At one point, I realized that while a 5K was a great distance, there was no reason I couldn’t go further. The best way to improve your 5K time, all the articles said, was to get used to running a further distance. So I started adding 4 mile sessions to my routine, then 5, and finally 10Ks, which, in my brain, cross the one hour blood brain barrier and therefore are horrible horrible things, and every time you run one, that last .20 miles is a special gift Satan tacked on to the distance as a present to remind you of what an idiot you are.

I am sure marathoners are laughing at me. Bite me, you toenail-less freaks.

I run five days a week, six if I am feeling awesome. I treadmill for an hour, most of it spent running, but depending on the distance, longer or shorter. No matter how short the run, I spend an hour on the treadmill. This past year I have abandoned soundtracks for audiobooks, which I can hook up directly to the speakers and run without a headset, which is a blessed thing. When I got the new computer, I was able to bring it down into the basement, set it on a box, and run while watching an episode of a show with the captions on (the things about treadmills is that they’re loud).

In 2012 I gave myself plantar fasciitis from nocking my feet on bar stools at a Doctor Who convention, not running, but it was a painful break. I also developed exercise-induced asthma, but only when I run outside, which is why I don’t do a lot of it. Thursdays I try to run in the morning with a partner, but that’s only 2.45 miles, and it’s a nice visit. Also, as it gets cold, and as kids get sick or whatever, it’s intermittent. So it’s me and the treadmill.

I have a gym membership, but their treadmills suck, and while I like their circuit machines, and that might be good for me to add to my training, I run when my kid is asleep, and the po-po frowns on leaving your kids alone while you go get pumped. I have tried working it into my day, but time has taught me that at this stage in my life, I have patterns, and it’s best not to fight the grain of your mental wood. If you want to free the swan from the marble, you have to put water into the teacup and let Bruce Lee make your comparisons for you, because obviously I am not good at it. I think Gandhi said that.

My goal is a respectable time for a 5K for a woman my age, which is probably way less than what I currently do, but someday I might get there. And since yesterday was the first time in my life that I crossed under 30 minutes (split—10.03/9:42/10:10), I figured I’d talk about it a little, and chart a sum up of the year.

In numbers:

FIRSTS——————————————-LASTS (Dec)

5K: 35:31 (July) ———————————33:51
4M: 47:52 (July) ——————————–44:17
5M: 57:49 (August) —————————–57:49
10K: 1:10:41 ————————————–1:10:15

As for the fastest times I recorded:

5K: 31:59 (11/2)
4M: 44:17 (12/22)
5M: 54:44 (11/6)
10K: 1:05:02 (11/18—I must have been on drugs here)

I ran three races this year:

AUG: The Run Around the Square, AKA That Race That Kills You and Then You Get Beer and Brats: 40:47
NOV: Ward Parkway Thanksgiving Run (Kansas City): 32:57
DEC: Jingle Bell Run, AKA G-dammit, It’s Fucking Cold: 36:55

It’s a nice tidy sum. I wish I could say that I’ve lost a shitton of weight, but I haven’t really, because I enjoy beer and chips and pork belly, and horrible things like McDonalds. I have lost weight in my face and gone down a size (two sizes? From 14 to 12. I don’t understand lay-day sizes), and I can wear shirts that used to be tight around my chest before, and not because of lovely boobage. Sadly, I have lost some boobage, and when you’re a C-cup, that’s not saying a lot. A lot of my friends would be happy to lose boob weight. I say: send it over here. I love boobs, and I would like more of them.

Like the Oatmeal, I like to say I run so that I can eat crap, and it’s true. There’s nothing like running five miles and then going upstairs and eating two cold hotdogs while standing in front of the open refrigerator and thinking about drinking a beer and chasing it with a stick of butter.

Anyway, the sum up of all this is a small blurb that I prepared as if this was available on Smashwords or Amazon Marketplace:

Amanda is an out-of-shape thirty something with low energy and a doctor who has the mystical ability to instill guilt with a well raised eyebrow and a passive aggressive attitude. Her basement is a lonely place inhabited by spiders and stray desiccated cat turds. Her credit card is a risk-taking free spirit with no cares about things like “credit rating” or “responsible fiscal spending”.

Together, Amanda, her basement, and her credit card will join forces to create a slightly less out-of-shape thirty something, but only if they can cross the Mountains of Laziness, the chasm of “I’d rather drink tonight” and the deadly valley of “There’s only three more episodes on this disk”. Along the way they will discover smugness, quinoa (pronounced KWIN OH AAAAAH), a coded language only understood by the ancient tribe known as The Runners, and a strange crappy substance that does what The Runners call “wicking”, but which actually sucks and will make Amanda’s cats huff her dirty laundry.

So remember kids, only you can prevent forest fires.

$4.99 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Order how and get one for the price of two. Find a way to transport gin through the USB port to the author and get an autographed copy with “wicking” action.

The End.

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About Amanda Ching

I write. Fo' you.
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2 Responses to A Sluggard’s Tale of Exercise

  1. RaeWhit says:

    It’s best not to fight the grain of your mental wood, huh? I like that. You totes lost me with the marble swan, though. All in all, I found this post painful, and now I’m out of breath. Oh hey, that’s what running always did for me. Go you.

  2. Don Parsons says:

    I think I need a cookie

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