Running: What the Fuck?

running...WTFI’ve always been a run when I’m chased sort of person. But I wasn’t chased so much so I decided to run with my one other fat friend. We have started week four, and we are alive. That is about all I can say. I need you to tell me some things. Those of you who run.

Runners high. Is it just the feeling that you get when you stop running? Is there really some sort of endorphin thing? Does the motion that I make have to be easily identifiable as a run to any onlooker for me to get this purported high?

Shin splints. I feel like I am wearing metal braces. And like they are bolted directly to my leg bone that isn’t a femur. They make me scream out “fuck fuck fuck” and not in a good way. Do I need to do something different? Other than stop running which seems like the obvious solution to each and every one of these problems, and in time I’m sure I will, but I have at least 2 months left of running before the Santa 5k. Every Jewish couch potato’s dream.

Breathing. Can the rest of you do this? Even when you are running? Can you, like, talk, breathe and run? At the same time?

Hunger. I am always hungry. Always. I am hungry before eating, while eating, and after eating. Before I started running I would often make healthy food choices. Now I am eating fried chicken and donuts. I used up my willpower making myself run. There is none left for food planning. Oliver is reading over my shoulder (including the fuck fuck fuck part) and asks me. Do you think the running is helping you more than it is hurting you? And that really is the question. If only I could check my heart…and I mean that literally, not like, what does my truest self want, but like, are my arteries more or less clogged. Running > donuts?

Which them makes me wonder about calorie consumption while running. It seems too low. I mean, running up a hill (which I do) is actually the hardest amount of work I can do. At least the messages from my body are that this is the worst worst worst idea ever. So how can I do that and burn, like 120 calories or 1/3 of the donut?

Are you just the shit? Do you feel better than the rest of us? Do you sometimes say to yourself…well, it doesn’t matter if I am cut that person off on the highway, I’m a runner.

Does running make you not want to kill your pissing cat? Because that seems to be the one other positive statement I can make. Before the run he was yowling at me, telling me that something wasn’t exactly right, perhaps in fact telling me that I had shut my bedroom door so he couldn’t soil my bedding, and I screamed at him at the top of my lungs. Now, post run, I watch him curl up between my pillows with a sort of neutral noticing. I attribute that to the run. Or the new meds. Or the sex. But I’ll give this one to the run if you want.

Onlookers. When you see a fat person running do you feel judgemental or rah rah you go? I always feel proud of them, like they are representing my clan well. But the people we pass seem a bit put off by us. One old man in particular stood in his open garage and half cackled half choked. Look! Look! They are running/ Look at them run. He may have been talking to his dead wife, but she wasn’t visible to us, so it sort of seemed like the 90 year old was mocking us. Which was fair, because neither of us expect to be alive at 90 if we don’t make some big changes. I would have clarified, but that would have meant either stopping or speaking, and neither of those things are possible.

Which I guess gets me to the bottom line point.

Does running ever not feel like dying? Is there a level of fitness that you can achieve…actually this isn’t about you. Is there a level of fitness that I can achieve that will make running feel less like dying. Or is that just how running feels?

OK. Pile it on. I’ll be panting on the couch waiting for your answers.



Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

21 thoughts on “Running: What the Fuck?”

  1. I hate running. I hate everything about it. I can’t breathe, I can’t find a rhythm, my body screams at me the entire time – I hate every step, I hate my husband for encouraging me and telling me I have a good pace going and to keep going and that it will get easier. He is a big fat f’ing liar. Every step sucks. The High you are suppose to get is, I suspect, bullshit. There is no high, ever, no matter how much you run. Period. You will never, ever, EVER, convince me that there is one ounce of pleasure derived from this awful activity. EVER. I always root for anyone who looks like they hate running as much as I do but does it anyway. Doesn’t matter the size of them – you can tell they hate it because I know I have the same look on my face when I run. I don’t really run, I just get in these jags where I think I SHOULD so I work my ass off to propel myself outside and down the street and remember immediately that I have already decided I hate running. But I am too cowardly to turn directly around and poor a big ass glass of alcohol – any kind of alcohol and celebrate my decision to never run again, under any circumstances. Luckily for me this does not happen often.

  2. Background: I am no seasoned expert. I started running just this January. I always hated running before, but for some fucking reason I decided I should run the Bolder Boulder 10k in May. Apparently I hate abandoning goals more than I hated running, so I followed through, and so far, have kept going.

    Runners high…eh, I think I get it sometimes, when I’m having a really good run and feel like I could keep going as long as I need to. Also ending feels pretty great. That “holy shit look what my body can do” feeling after a particularly long or tough run.

    Breathing/talking comes eventually. I started running in Jan, and joined a running group in April. By then, I was able to talk. Depending on the run, it’s a lot of “uh-huhuhuhu. righthuhu. yeahuhuhu.” I’m an excellent active listener when running.

    That guy can shut the fuck up. I think, rah-rah go you!! Especially if I didn’t run that day myself, ha.

    The body remembers hard work, and it gets easier. Go you!!

  3. Anna, you know me..I’m a runner. And because I’ve been doing it for so many years I am now at a point where if I don’t run one day I can’t handle a cat pissing on a bed and I am grouchy and short-fused. But as one of my wise, dear running friends said the other day, “A run is always, ALWAYS the answer” to whatever life problems we all grapple with. It clears the mind and moves the blood and despite the agonizing process of getting to a point where you recognize a true runners high and are past painful shin splints and other body aches, it can eventually become your answer. And there is no room for judgement…anyone getting out there and jogging, shuffling, sprinting…whatever form of “running” they are doing, is kicking some ass. And tightening their ass 🙂 Stick with it and you really might learn to love it!

  4. I have experienced the runners high, the feeling of looking forward to a run. The best was the summer of 1996. I ran probably 2 miles every afternoon. I loved the alone time. Time for music, time to check out the Cambridge, MA neighborhood where I was living that summer. It was great. After a few weeks it got easier, and by the end of the summer I was craving it. But the fact that this happened 17 years ago says something too. I’ve been in shape for weight loss goals (e.g. wedding), but the best exercise is just for the goal of feeling good regardless of any measurement (scale or inches). I’ve been dabbling lately with the couch to 5K. It builds really gradually and each workout is totally manageable AND makes me feel successful. If running hills hurts in a way that isn’t satisfying, don’t do it (now). If you are getting shin splints go to a running store and get great shoes after they analyze your gait. And I am ALWAYS proud (envious even) of people getting in shape. I love seeing people who don’t LOOK like runners in races (regardless of time or speed – just doing it). I want to do a 5K (even slowly if it takes me an hour) this year. Wanna meet somewhere warm and do it together?

  5. i too hate running, but occasionally do it because it’s cheaper than a gym membership. This summer I didn’t run at all, which I feel guilty about. Usually I run a few times a week, and while it absolutely sucks at first it does get better. I think I felt runner’s high once. It’s this wall you break through during a tough run and all of a sudden you feel fantastic, like you could easily add a few more miles. I’ve never been able to get the talking while running thing down, which is part of the reason that I always run alone. I get so focused on keeping a somewhat steady pace and trying to breathe that talking seems like too much of a distraction. If you stick with it, it will eventually become something that you want to do, even though you still may not like it.

  6. I used to joke that the only time I ran was for the phone. I hated running. I had a brief love affair (perhaps a like affair) with running the year after my Mom died from breast cancer. I just had to run the 5K Race for the Cure. Each day while I was ‘training’ I used every trick in the book to run just a little farther. I told myself I could run for one more song on my iPod, or just to the next person’s driveway, just pushing myself a little bit more. The entire time I pretty much felt like crap. I hear you on the shin splints, you describe it just how I remember feeling. And the hunger! Jesus, I think I gained 10 lbs when I was running. I was starving. All. The. Time. I ran that 5k, then I ran another. Then I quit. I haven’t looked back. I think I was running from something. I suppose I got to where ever I needed to be. And now I am here. I don’t need to run anymore. And as for exercise, I walk several times a week and that is good enough for me.

  7. “Does running make you not want to kill your pissing cat? Because that seems to be the one other positive statement I can make.”

    This sort of sums it up for me (though I my cats don’t pee, they shit) and I interpret this statement broadly. I run my best – and actually do get that high – when I’m angry, or feel so full of anxious energy that I have no choice. While I love doing most things with people and do appreciate running w friends -but I physically feel my best (less “hurty” and sluggish) when I’m running alone with music… stuff like Eminem, Girl Talk, Kanye, etc. Music makes running WAY better for me. At this point, finding the motivation to get out there is the hardest part – and signing up for fun races (the Santa one rocks) helps.

  8. I’ve been running since April, never more than 3 miles, and HATED the first couple of months. I really did feel like I was dying. Now I feel like it is half good and half sucky (the last mile or so) but I don’t feel like dying. But I have started to crave running and I do feel pretty awesome after, so I guess that must be the runner’s high thingy. And I miss it when I skip too many days. So there is that.

    I used to run cross-country until I got shin splints in 9th grade, and even though I ran 7 or 8 miles a day, and even though I came in 4th place on the JV team (can you imagine??) I have never ever ever been able to talk while running. Not even to say “yeah.” It makes me feel like death is in my throat.

    Yes, shin splints are a problem. Get it checked (Andy @ Green Mountain!) or they will just get worse and they can lead to stress fractures. Mine are caused by too-tight calves and stretching has helped, but there are other causes.

    The runner’s high doesn’t solve my problem of wanting to punch the guy in the garage in the throat for his chortle.

  9. Starting running sucks. There’s no question about that. We all went through the shin splints, breathing issues, hunger. In my opinion there’s just no way around that until your body gets used to it.

    That said, despite the fact that I run somewhat regularly, I have never really learned to love it. I do experience a runners high, but only after races…not after a regular afternoon run. But for me the first 2 miles of every run just sucks. Always. I only keep doing it because I like races, and I like how I feel after a race.

    Also, I run so I can eat doughnuts with less guilt.

  10. I honestly don’t think I am able to run. Holly, here. I am
    actually proud of myself when I walk fast – like a power walk. Some days are better walking days than others… the knees that carry the weight……I think you should feel good about taking the walking option– with some hills! We should walk Mt Philo sometime before snow– if you are willing to stop a few times on the way up!

    1. I think walking at a really brisk pace is going to be just as effective as running in terms of achieving health/fitness. I used to be a runner and even when I was running 10 miles a day, I never experienced that runners high. Now that I’m 43 and can’t really afford to have an injury of any kind, my attitude is fuck running. I walk and do jazzercise instead. Jazzercise ain’t cheap, but it’s fucking hilarious. I laugh my ass off the whole way through and feel completely wiped out by it.

  11. Hey kid. I HATE running, too. I’m 56 and was doing Bootcamp Crossfit kicking the youngsters azzes, carrying 70# kettlebells in each hand, smacking tractor tires with a 20# sledge, and all the other insanity with no problem for 9 months. Then they started running. My achilles tendon screamed, I developed running asthma gasping for breathe and finally my lower back herniation returned causing loss of left quad motor control and a totally numb shin. I’m recovering and I’ll NEVER run again. Try swimming, cycling, and other activities if running is hurting you. You can burn just as many calories and get stronger without running. If it hurts, don’t do it regardless of what age or shape you’re in.

  12. I am a high school cross country and track athlete and I can say YES RUNNERS HIGH EXISTS. You won’t get it every time you run but usually if you run pretty far (6 or more miles) I experience it. You may be experiencing shin splints if you are running with a “heel strike” which is self-explanatory. Your heel hits the ground first which acts as a “brake” and also strains your shins. Ice them, get a shin sleeve, REST, and roll them out. As for eating, many runners think they deserve to eat a lot or are unaffected by food because they work so hard. Not true. This usually causes them to gain weight, so my best advice is to keep a healthy diet and steer clear of processed carbs,snacks, and SWEETS!! Happy trails:) -CPitt

  13. Rah rah rah!!! I always feel rah rah about the people who DON’T look like bad-ass lifelong runners who were born on their feet. I too feel all of the things you are feeling in those times when I try to run (which I’m going to try again here soon). Strength not weight. Commitment not speed. Walking out the door is the hardest part and you’re doing that! And yes, I do think it gets easier when you stick with it, and with friends makes such an important different. I’m so proud of you and this post might just compel me to get my butt out of my chair too. Thank you.

      1. This is funny. Now that I read, that other Lisa up there was me. 2 years ago! Someone commented, notification email -> I came right back to it. Maybe we should go for a brisk walk together? Miss you!

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