When you hate running in America’s most run-happy city

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!” –Legally Blonde

Well, I think my endorphin-to-exercise-connection must be severed because I absolutely hate working out. I hear people talk about how good they feel about themselves after they come back from the gym, or how pumped spin class makes them, or how refreshing runs are outdoors, and I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. After I do any of those things, I feel miserable and in desperate need of a nap. I live on the top of a hill in a fourth-floor walk-up. That’s enough exercise, right?

Generally, it’s fairly easy to avoid seeing people working out at a gym. Just don’t go to a gym. Magic! In Boston, though, it’s impossible to be outside for more than five minutes without seeing somebody breeze past you on a lovely little jog—or marathon training excursion—whichever. When I first came to Boston, those runners (I swear-they’re everywhere) would stir an unidentifiable feeling in the pit of my stomach. I would feel unease toward them for looking so happy while running. I know running is good for you and I support the activity, but I was jealous of their joy. Of course, because I’m an illogical human being, that did nothing to make me want to go for a run.

This summer, the strangest thing happened to me. I had a half-day at my internship because we spent the morning volunteering at the food bank and I found myself tickled with the foreign desire to run around outside. This had literally never happened to be before in my twenty-four years of life. I didn’t know what to do. I hate running—why would I want to do that? I was convinced it was because I had shoved my feet into sneakers for the first time in years (yeah, years) and the footwear was confusing my brain.

I had absolutely nothing to do the rest of the day and my roommate was at work for the rest of the afternoon. I couldn’t get my mind off my desire to run. I told my sister I was thinking about running, and she actually texted me, “SEEK A MEDIC.” I got similar responses from a few friends (thanks for your support, guys….). Unable to think of anything else to do, I grabbed a water bottle and headed to the Esplanade. I’m sure I sufficiently flailed, but I pushed one foot in front of the other until I got to the law school and back home. That was over four miles and a really bad idea for the first run of my life, but I survived. I went running and I was ok.

I felt like I got to see a whole new side of Boston that day (and the other days I ran after that—they were sporadic. Let’s be clear). Boston is an incredibly versatile city filled with an eclectic collection of people, and when I went running, I felt ethereally connected to all those other runners. Before my calves began throbbing, I felt that beautiful freedom of being outside in an amazing, alive city. I’d been living in Boston for almost two years, but I realized there was still so much to discover here. I think Boston will continue to surprise me as long as I stay here.

Alright, so maybe running isn’t always the worst, but let’s be clear—if I see you running up Beacon Hill in four feet of snow in sub-zero temperatures like I saw people do last winter, I will be seriously questioning your sanity.

 

Here are some pictures I took on that first-run day. I was sore for probably a week…

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Not too bad at all, Boston.

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