This is not the most politically correct start to anything, but I’ve never been the most politically correct human being on the planet, so why start now?
Sometimes it’s difficult to describe who I am as a runner (not that I ever really say I’m a runner) in part because I’m secretly a fat kid. Skinny fat is a term that sometimes gets tossed around, but even when I’m just plain old skinny, I’m still a fat kid.
Of course, there’s the possibility this is all about relativity. In the jogging community, I really am one of the fatter people in the room. I’ve also made the mistake of befriending true joggers. They’re nice people and all, but it’s a little obnoxious to hear them talk about mile 8. If I’m talking about mile 8, there was a motorized vehicle involved.
I don’t know when this mental perception really started, but at some point Fatty was born. Fatty is all consuming. I mean that literally. He consumes everything. I think he ate some Styrofoam once, but being a figment of my imagination, that meant that I was the one that had to deal with the possibility of any consequences. Luck was on our side, but I’ve been careful when eating out of Styrofoam containers ever since.
There’s not telling whether or not the Fatty mentality has been more helpful or harmful. Positively, I am at least objectively acknowledging bad decisions, even if I say that Fatty’s making the decisions. On the other hand, though, I can’t imagine that the self-referential use of Fatty is the best thing for my self image. But still, Fatty lives.
Part of the reason I mentally constructed Fatty was what running is like for me. In terms of statistical averages, I’m average height and weight. If you saw me, you wouldn’t think, “Oh hey, that’s a fat kid jogging down the street.” Instead, you’d think “As much as he’s struggling, he must be a couple of miles into his run.” Nope. Maybe one mile. Maybe. If I’m 2-4 miles into a training session, you’ll probably think “He doesn’t look well. Maybe he thinks someone’s chasing him. Someone who’s very slow. Like a tortoise.”
Mentally, running can be hell for me at times. Even when I’m 20 pounds lighter and in much better shape, I can’t say I’ve ever hit that runner’s high. I’ve been able to take satisfaction from achieving goals, hitting new distances, etc., but I’ve never taken true enjoyment from it. It was accomplishment instead of happiness.
If you see me happy while I’m running, I’m either a) thinking about something else, like Popeyes fried chicken, b) playing a game and probably about to run into someone, or c) sprinting. There’s this all-out effort to sprinting that I can appreciate.
When I’m jogging, I’m just wheezing around and hoping that I can control my breathing and pace well enough that I can not be a complete waste of space in jogging shorts. Try not to picture me in jogging shorts. Hey! I told you not to.
But still, Fatty runs. Fatty runs because eventually running gets easy enough that it doesn’t make me feel like I’ve been hit like a truck afterward. At least that’s what my brain keeps trying to remind Fatty as he trudges up those stupid hills.
Mostly, it’s about trying to remain a functional human being. When I’m inactive, I feel a lot older than I really am. If everyone else my age was feeling like me on those days, society wouldn’t function very well. Nothing would get picked up off the floor, that’s for sure.
And it’s also about not having to buy a whole new set of clothes. I hate buying clothes (though I do have an inordinate amount of running shirts).