Why I Make Myself Run (And Hate It)

Today I went for a run. Now, I am by no means a runner, but every once in a while, I look around at all those candy wrappers and see myself in the mirror and I’m disgusted to the point of action. It’s either throw on those sneakers or sculpt out the Eva Longoria within – but I’m no Michelangelo and I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to carving flesh, so those Reeboks are lookin’ mighty fine.

Dread fills my stomach as I plop down the stairs. Who will see me, what will they say, will I notice the taunts this time? I step outside and it’s raining—sweet, juicy rain. With rain, there aren’t so many people out. With rain, my sweat and the drizzle coalesce into one wet kiss on my face. The salty sweat, acid rain, acid perspiration – holy rain – down my face, erasing, dissolving, streaming down and through the layers of grime and fat.

To keep me going, I think of you women. Yeah, you. The ones who don’t endure this torture ritual. I don’t know, maybe that’s not fair of me, maybe you do. Maybe you wake up at 6:00 a.m. to do your treadmill-abs-elliptical-weights-shower-morning-fuck-just-because-you-can. Who knows how you look that way, but God bless your charmed little lives, you’ve got it made. See, no matter how many times you’ve heard it and no matter how many times you’ve rolled your eyes, first impressions do matter. Time is money and looking for the “inner you” takes time, so it’s easier for men to just glance across the bar and pick one of you out from the herd of size 2s. Who wants to dig through the layers of fat and shame and body image issues just to find the beautiful, fragile sparrow suffocating underneath it all and clean it off gently, nursing it back to health so that it can be all yours, devoted to you for giving it a chance? Nah, like I said, time is money and we’re all whores at our core.

At this point, I’ve barely even noticed that I’ve finished my requisite laps around the pond and can start heading home. As I run along the now-familiar path, I become giddy with pride, thinking about how I’ll go home and strip down, pulling away the tee-shirt and leggings and sports bra and underwear and trying to keep peeling and peeling but these layers don’t come off that easy but maybe after I shower away all that hard-earned perspiration and precipitation I’ll see less of me than before. As the thought floats across my oxygen-deprived brain, I feel a cramp and massage my fist under my rib and try to notice if it’s a little less squishy than before. It isn’t, of course.

I get back, out of breath and dripping, and notice I’ve only been gone 20 minutes. You burn more calories sleeping than running 20 minutes, did you know? Hell, you probably burn more calories digesting celery than running 20 minutes, so I, despondent, grab the bag from the fridge and start chomping away, but celery isn’t very good by itself, so here comes the jar of peanut butter, but peanut butter goes better with chocolate and the fleeting weakness brought on by the pride in the sweat stains on my shirt and the desperation at the futility of it all wins me over and here we are back at square one, wallowing in the morning-after shame that will never come because who wants to fuck a fat girl, after all. TC mark

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  • Aelya

    1) Expect a lot of angry comments regarding fat, the reclaim of the word fat as a negative word, body image, etc etc

    2) Fitness doesn’t have to be boring. Running is by far the most boring thing ever. It’s painful and nothing distracts you, not even music. i can understand running for your life from a lion or something (but even that’s stupid), but running because you choose to????? WHO DOES THAT TO THEMSELVES.  As long as you keep moving in some way, you’re good to go. Biking, dancing, badminton, tennis, parking your car at the far end of the mall parking lot. Eat what’s good for you and drink lots of water. 

    The end.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ubeda Joant Ubeda

      As a marathon runner, I can say running is definitely NOT boring, it’s just “90% mental, and 10% mental.” There’s nothing wrong with people being fat, just as there’s nothing wrong with someone like the author trying to not be fat.Run, eat healthy, sleep well, drink water, dance, and smile.

      The end.

  • http://twitter.com/790FM Frank

    BDD sucks.

    • John Warmuth

      Big Daddy Drew? I didn’t know there were KSK readers on TC

      • Ashley Wade

        Really? Just because she’s concerned about her weight and image, she automatically has BDD? That’s such complete bs, I don’t even know where to begin.

      • http://twitter.com/790FM Frank

        I am speaking from my own experience with BDD and how her thoughts reflect mine almost exactly. So yeah.

  • BB

    I liked your article a lot; I think a lot of people can relate to your feelings about body image. However, I hope you know you’re dead wrong about the sleeping for 20 minutes burning more calories than running for 20 minutes. That’s not even close to true, not even remotely true. 

    Running (and exercise, generally) can be (and is for me) a really empowering practice. I guess I’m one of those strange people who absolutely love running more than anything. I hope you’ll keep running, because you may one day find that you’re running for YOU as opposed to running for how you think you’ll look afterwards.

    • Cockyrocky

      I think she meant that you burn more calories sleeping a full 8 hours than you do running 20 minutes.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty sure this is the experience of a huge portion of young women. I liked what you said about the thing that keeps you going is the idea that you’re somehow going to look different when you’re done with the workout– it’s so dumb but too real. 

  • Mrich

    I mean I get what you’re saying but I don’t know. For me, running gives me a larger purpose. I keep telling myself one day I’m going to run the New York Marathon. I know in the back of my head I’m also doing it for my health but having some larger purpose for it all keeps me going. Stay strong girl.

  • guest

    not trying to be an asshat, but from the article it seems pretty clear its very important to you to be thin, so i dont see why you wouldn’t just work out regularly until you were? somebody illuminate me…

    • Emily

      Because working out regularly takes time and dedication – both of which a large number of us lack. We want so desperately to be skinny, but (for me at least) that extra 30 minutes of sleep is way more enticing than the idea of hauling myself out of bed to run at 5:30 in the morning in 70% humidity when it’s already 85 degrees out. I love running, but I lack the dedication to actually go out and do it.

      • Random

        Be real, you just meant lacking dedication, not time and dedication. I think the lacking time you’re referring to is the same way you don’t have time to hang out with a friend/somone you just started dating you don’t really want to see. It’s hard to feel for someone when the only thing stopping you from doing what it at least seems like you really want (and will make you happier) is yourself. Quit complaining about something you have control over.

      • Cockyrocky

        I don’t understand where this “you need to run to lose weight” mentality is coming from.  If everyone despises running, which most people do, then don’t do it.  Take a walk or bike. Just move around and don’t over indulge in high calorie items. It’s not that hard to lose weight if you find an exercise that’s not torturous..

      • guest

        got time for thought catalog tho….booom

  • Anonymous

    story of my life LOL

  • Liz

    this is exactly what goes on in my mind every day. accurate, but sad. also, i like your writing.

  • Random

    I think the brief mention of eating as a form of therapy at the end is much more revealing than the talk of exercising or not.

    • Cockyrocky

      Agreed. Also, the over-eating is what is keeping the narrator “fat”, not the lack of running..it is pretty simple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    For me, the hardest part of losing weight was the first 10 pounds.  Once I got that initial notice of “Wow, you’ve lost weight,” the fat just melted…and back then I wasn’t running.  I would walk for an hour each day during my free period as a substitute teacher and just watched what I ate.  I went from 220 to 155 in about 6 months…I just wish I never let myself put on the weight during my undergrad years to begin with, but I guess that’s in the past.  Stretch marks, bad memories, and horrible photos are just something I have to live with!

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    For me, the hardest part of losing weight was the first 10 pounds.  Once I got that initial notice of “Wow, you’ve lost weight,” the fat just melted…and back then I wasn’t running.  I would walk for an hour each day during my free period as a substitute teacher and just watched what I ate.  I went from 220 to 155 in about 6 months…I just wish I never let myself put on the weight during my undergrad years to begin with, but I guess that’s in the past.  Stretch marks, bad memories, and horrible photos are just something I have to live with!

  • Abby

    As someone who has been running religiously for 4 years because of the shallow, fleeting rewards you write so eloquently about, I LOVE this.  Granted, you really can transform yourself into a runner, and get to the point where you enjoy it.  Once your heart and muscles adjust, your metabolism takes notice and revs up, and the pain after conquering a huge hill is euphoric.

  • Abby

    As someone who has been running religiously for 4 years because of the shallow, fleeting rewards you write so eloquently about, I LOVE this.  Granted, you really can transform yourself into a runner, and get to the point where you enjoy it.  Once your heart and muscles adjust, your metabolism takes notice and revs up, and the pain after conquering a huge hill is euphoric.

  • Once a fat bastard

    Forget exercise. You want to lose fat? Cut calories. It’s that simple, and that hard. Running for a good hour for a large male will burn at the utmost around 800 calories. For an average overweight female jogging 20 minutes, it’s more like 200-300 calories. Worthless. Eat a single chocolate bar or peanut butter toast and all that exercise is instantly ruined. On the other hand, cutting back on your diet for a 1000, even 2000 calories is comparatively far easier. Eat smaller meals, spread them during the day, or even skip meals entirely to fast a little while. Anything works as long as it cuts your daily calories and you can stick to it. Exercise works fine as a weight maintenance tool, or as a way to tone up once the actual fat is lost, but never trust it to lose weight, especially if you have more than a couple pounds to get rid of. Calorie-restriction: It’s what works.
    Best of luck. ;)

    • Katrine

      you missed… the…. WHOLE POINT OF THIS

      i totally felt that. preach it girl.

  • http://maxwellchance.wordpress.com Duke Holland of Gishmale

    Fat person mentality. 

    • Fat Fanny

      Yep, having the mentality of an overweight loser will not get you anywhere. Find comfort in something other than food.

    • Fat Fanny

      Yep, having the mentality of an overweight loser will not get you anywhere. Find comfort in something other than food.

  • Anonymous

    I am a size 2 (though a short one) and I feel like this many days I don’t want to run & end up eating too much because I feel bad for stupid BDD-related reasons. I remember being more “fat” and I remember how that happened, and it’s scary. Running is about asserting control, because losing control (especially wrt bodies & food) is terrifying.

    Anyway, I completely feel you on this & am sorry that you are suffering from it, and I am about to go for a run in thirty minutes or so & one that I will hate.

    • Cockyrocky

      how about you idiots try dancing in your underwear for half an hour instead of running for half an hour? it’s more fun. problem solved.

  • eish

    reading this made me sad. you should be more positive about exercise, and about yourself.

    do something you like doing, girl! i hate running too, so i stopped running and i learned how to box and that stuck like glue because it was FUN. it’s still never boring to me, and i look good now. i don’t diet, i just eat real food and try to stop eating when i’m full. and i box. not complicated.

  • David Moon

    I like your style of writing, but the content— not so much. I doubt anyone wants to hear about your self-confidence issues. Everyone has their own. It’s been done. Yeah, you’re fat, I get it. Would you take the time to meet the inner soul of a fat man? Maybe, and that’s great. Maybe then you won’t end up with the really attractive guy that ends up psychologically tormenting the skinny chick he picked up because he doesn’t actually value her. See? Everyone has some fucking issues. And no one cares. Write about something confidently, because you at least have the confidence and skills to write. (Alternatively, if you over-exaggerate your insecurities in a humorous way, that can be just as meaningful.)

    • David Moon

      By the way, I’m not sure how fat you are, but I know some fat chicks who aren’t starving for dicks.

      • http://twitter.com/sashasweety Mariah Lancaster

        If you don’t want to hear about it, then don’t read it! The experience of fat women versus fat men is NOT comparable. Men aren’t looked down upon for being even slightly overweight, women are. Men have to be obese to be fat, women have to just be a single dress size more than another girl. And for the record? I care. I care about this woman’s issues. This isn’t about “starving for dicks” as you so intelligently put it. This, to me, is about the endless cycle of female insecurity in our culture. Don’t get it? Of course not, you’re not female. If you want people to stop being insecure then stop being such an asshole to them. Guys like you are the reason people (not just women) are insecure in the first place.

      • David Moon

        “Of course not, you’re not female.” I am gay, and I could write a book on the insecurities of gay men that is twice as long as the book on women’s insecurities. But who wants to read bitching and moaning? My point is that the girl is good at writing, and she should be writing empowering things.

        P.S. It’s hard not to know the whole context of an article until you’ve read the whole thing. So that little nugget of logic (“Don’t read it”) needs to be retired by anyone using it. Also, positive and negative feedback is always appreciated by a true writer. So, thank you ;)

      • Dasha Childs

        David, while I of course always appreciate feedback, what you find “empowering” or even just good is not necessarily the opinion of everyone. Part of writing is sharing your experiences with others so that we all find out that we’re not so alone in our problems and can motivate each other. For example, one woman said that reading this inspired her to go for a run. I myself decided to go running after reading all the positive comments people wrote. So if this wasn’t your cup of tea, I can understand why not, but please try to understand why it might be someone else’s :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504951716 Tau Zaman

        I personally loved this. And first off, let me say that I’m nauseated by David’s comments—who suffers more, women or gays. Pain, a subjective experience, is not a competition. Yes, there are definitely many insecurities gay people have as well and the pressure to be a skinny twink is certainly prevalent. But I will agree that even as a rather thin, but not-so-skinny man myself, I feel the same insecurities, the same crushing feeling of futility after realizing I’d only been running a short time, the dread of losing my own self-control when I progress from adding the peanut butter to adding the chocolate. It all happens to me too, and I don’t have to be a “a fat girl,” or “starving for dicks.” Yeah, to an extent I want to be attractive to others, but more importantly, the running was for me to feel good about mySELF, and what I could accomplish. And the realization that the answer is: not much, can be hard to come to terms with, that’s all. 

        Anyways, my rant aside, this was a wonderful, raw, and honest piece. Thanks.

  • Sophia

    This inspired me to run. Right now. Putting on a sports bra as I write this.

  • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

    I always knew I had a long lost twin.

  • for realzzzzzz

    i was excited to read this article because i thought it was going to be about EMPOWERMENT and running.  instead, it was whiny and self-depreciating.  

    welp, i’m off to eat celery in a desperate attempt to burn calories!

  • jay

    Why is everyone criticizing her for being “un-confident, pessimistic, and whiny??” This is just honest. An honest recount about HER experience, whether it be pessimistic, or about her low self-esteem. That doesn’t mean it’s a BAD article. It just is. 
    And truly, I can relate to how she feels about running. Sometimes I feel accomplished after running, and sometimes I feel disappointed and frustrated. (Who wouldn’t after realizing they’ve only run for 20 minutes after all their sweat and hard work?!)

    • Cockyrocky

      the whole point is that she is whining about something that is completely under her control. exercising doesn’t mean RUNNING. it means moving around in general. she is choosing an activity that she hates and complaining about it. there are plenty of other options of exercise that she wouldn’t hate, but she is obviously too ignorant/close-minded to realize these options..

  • Melissa

    Nah, like I said, time is money and we’re all whores at our core.–brilliant

  • Anonymous

    Please excuse my pseudo feminism here, but grrrrl I’m with you on this one. Though, you have to question why you keep giving up and letting yourself go. If you’re really dedicated to getting down to a size-whatevs then, your brain would be all rearing to get ‘er done. Me, I hate running, so I took up pilates, occasional weightlifting and a low carb diet. I really enjoy it. 

    Stop self loathing and go from there. Love yourself first and then look to improve. On a side, why does body image have to be about who you can get a quickie and/or a STI from anyway? Geez. Everyone’s so fucking penis hungry.

  • jlac

    I was one of the blessed few lean people until I turned 27. Things changed. So I had to change my habits. I no longer get to eat icecream as dinner, piles and piles of bread, plenty of beer. I can only drink on the weekends. I can only eat what I want when I am willing to pay for it. There is a pressure that comes with fitness-to stay fit.

    I can only imagine it getting harder and more stringant as I get older.

    It was delightful to eat what I wanted. Enjoy it while you can. Once you do lose the weight, there is another set of challenges.

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