Saturday, January 18, 2014

Informed Stupidity

So in my first post I may have misled you. I do have a lot of personal, feely-reasons for this blog (all of which, I feel, paint me as a sensitive and at the same time hilarious human being), but my main, more practical goal is that I want to write about my attempt to run a marathon. 

Let's be immediately clear: a marathon is ridiculous. It is ridiculous for anyone, really, but I’ll put it in perspective: I get tired driving 26.2 miles. The only comparable thing I’ve done is eating about 26.2 miles of 7-11 jumbo burritos, if you laid them end to end. I get bored counting to 26. By twos. So, you might be wondering how I deal with these discouraging facts. 

I ignore them. I'm writing this post because, despite all the high-minded introspection of the first post, I should emphasize that you have to be stupid and stubborn about your goals in order to become a runner. I want to run a marathon. I want to run a marathon. I can’t have weird, complicated reasons for my running goals, because ultimately it’s like a teacher who grades based on effort; if you give a student (in this case, my lazy body) any wiggle room, they’ll abuse the system. Imagine a student learning anything in a school that grades based on effort.

“No, I didn’t write the paper, Mr. Crochet,” (which would totally be the teacher’s name), “I instead drew this picture of a cat. I think it represents my main idea for the paper, which is brilliant in theory. Oh, an A for effort? Wonderful. For my final paper, I will add whiskers.”

See? See how my straw man argument holds up so beautifully to close examination? Most students resting state is to do as little as possible. Consequences mean pressure, and a healthy amount of pressure leads to forward momentum. My body, like a student, loves doing very little. If you have complicated or intuitive reasons for each and every run, you can argue with yourself.

“Oh my, I don’t want to run today. You see, I run in order to overcome a kind of existential hopelessness brought about by my generation’s crushed hopes for economic opportunity. Exercise exists as a specific type of self-abuse that expresses an impotent rage against both society and my own shortcomings. Going deeper, however, we can observe that I also run to escape a meaningless void of cultural milieu that fails to feed my artist’s soul. With all that in mind, I’m feeling decidedly present and existentially sound today. I won’t run. Instead, I will stay in bed all day and shotgun 7-11 jumbo burritos into my gaping maw. What’s that? Only 1200 calories apiece? Better have seven.”

No, that doesn’t work. Logic can be manipulated, complex reasons can have holes poked through them. A declarative sentence, however? You can just stupidly repeat that with your hands over your ears until people leave you alone.

I’m going to run a marathon. I’m going to run a marathon. I’m going to exercise today. I’m going to run today. Don’t go deeper than that. To me, deeper thoughts are like creating reasoned dialogues in pursuit of journalistic integrity are to Fox News: avoided at all cost.

So all of this leads to a couple of rules I’m going to have for this blog. First, I will not write an entry before I run on any given day. I tend to get up my own ass when I write about running, which, as you can see from the above example, usually just convinces me to do nothing instead of something. Second, I will stop getting so up my own ass when I write about running. I’ve always found the most boring and worthless writing to be that which over-examines motivation and human nature (see: philosophy), and it’s more fun to write about concrete things, like foot pain and ice and bikers. Oh man, do I have things to say about bikers. Not the leather kind, the push-pedal kind. We’ll get to them next time.