Running is a cult.
You may be surprised to hear that someone as large and in charge as me is not a fan of running. I haven’t always been this girth. In high school, I was a wiry runner on the varsity cross country team.
The truth is everyone you know who says they love to run is under the power of the Runner Industrial Complex. It has control over their free time, their bank accounts, and even their friendships.
Big Run has lied to all runners everywhere.
Runners don’t love running.
They love having gone for a run. There’s a big difference between loving running and loving what happens after you finally stop.
Runners get all misty-eyed talking about the runner’s high. Do you know what a runner’s high really is? It’s your body thanking you for ending your attempt to kill it.
Running Is Torture, Not Exercise
I’m not against exercise, but I am opposed to torture — self-inflicted or otherwise.
Getting up and moving around is healthy. Scientific evidence solidly supports the mental health benefits of being outside. But, you can get all of these health benefits without joining the cult of the runner.
I walk two to three miles two or three times a week. I recently had a stress test for my heart. The nurses had a hard time getting my heart rate up to the required level because I had a healthy physical activity baseline despite being a fatty. They kept increasing the angle and speed of the treadmill. But my heart rate held steady until they asked me about my mother-in-law.
Running is different than other types of exercise.
Have you ever heard runners talk to each other? That’s not the way clear-minded people speak. Runners breathlessly compare times and event schedules as if describing a psychotropic-induced vision where a disembodied voice told them the Mother Ship was coming and the Great Return was about to commence.
Runners communicate in code using terms like PR, hardware, and bib.
Like all cult members, runners are enthusiastic to the point of mania in describing the benefits of their cult but fuzzy on the specifics.
What they won’t do is describe what it’s like to run.
That’s because running is just like dying.
Look into the face of a runner as they make the last turn on a 5K. Is that the face of bliss? No, that is the face of anguish.
Their jaws are clenched, their brows are furrowed, and they look like they’re trying to get to the toilet before a bout of explosive colitis strikes.
What Happens When You Run
The body doesn’t mind a little jog. You can still smile for the first few minutes. But, at some point during a run, your body realizes you aren’t going to stop, and it does everything it can to warn you of the danger.
Your breathing starts to get heavier and faster — your heart palpitations increase. But, runners ignore these obvious danger signs and push harder. So, the body responds accordingly.
Your lungs start to burn as if the very air you’re gulping is toxic. Your heart begins pounding harder against your chest wall as if it’s trying to break out. Your muscles start sending help signals to your brain. Your legs feel stringy and hot like fresh molten tar on a new stretch of blacktop.
At this point, neophytes stop. They recognize they’ve gone too far. But at this same point, the mind of the neophyte makes a mistake.
In a show of gratitude for ending the pointless self-flagellation, the brain releases its most potent reward — dopamine.
And this is where the unsuspecting get hooked into the cult. They think they’re experiencing the fabled runner’s high. They associate the dopamine hit with the running instead of with the action that really triggered it — stopping running.
Runners will do anything to get their next fix of dopamine — even running 26 miles and 385 yards because some ancient Greek guy did it and said it felt awesome.
Once the runner has been initiated into the cult by way of the runner’s high, they become vulnerable to the Runner Industrial Complex, also known as Big Run.
Runner Industrial Complex
The Runner Industrial Complex is an insidious group of mega-corporations who share one goal — empty the bank accounts of as many runners as quickly as possible.
Running shoes are the gateway drug. Every runner needs better shoes to stave off knee pain, shin splints, and blisters. The logical cult outsider may suggest they stop running, but the runner is too deep into the cult to listen.
Running shoes, as expensive as they are, are only the beginning.
Next comes race entry fees, special trackers that monitor everything from pace to distance to heart rate to bladder level.
By the time a runner begins buying nutritional supplements, nipple guards, and expensive race clothes, they are a lost cause.
Runner Are Always Looking for Converts
Runners will spend years trying to convert you.
However, it’s critical that you resist. Once you start running, it’s almost impossible to stop.
You are slowly pulled away from all of your non-running friends unless you are trying to indoctrinate them. All of your disposable income disappears into the hands of Big Run.
Worst of all, all of your free time is spent chasing the runner’s high instead of doing enjoyable things like walking, watching movies, or enjoying indoor air conditioning.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I didn’t get this fat, bald, sweaty body spending my weekends wearing bibs chasing hardware while trying to hit a new PR.
The choice is yours.
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