I’m told that running is a very zen activity – a very “be in the now” event, in which one can be alone with one’s thoughts. There’s that outstanding faux ad in “What Women Want” when Mel Gibson (I’m sorry I liked you so much, I really am) had me persuaded that *I* should go for a run. It’s the thinking woman’s sport.

And I’ve realized that’s just so very true. For example:

Now that I’ve driven to some place where no one I know might witness me thundering along at a glacial pace, where will I hide the car key while I run? There’s certainly no pocket in these lycra exercise pants. There are pockets in my velour hoodie (not exactly designed for running, but shut up; I’m new at this and not yet well-equipped), but chances are good they’ll bounce right out and I’ll be gasping for air so violently that I won’t hear them rattle to the ground.

Ah – I know. I’ll tuck them into my high-tech, Kevlar-lined sports bra. Of course, it’s not a tiny, discrete key – it’s a large, almost phallic key fob, so nudging it into the cleavage has odd ramifications, were I to allow my mind to go there… Carry on, though – there’s room in there. Don’t think – just do it.

But wait – once I’m glistening with sweat, which I certainly will be, will my own desperation fluid short-circuit the key fob? Worse, am I liable to electrocute myself? Let’s hope the high-fat content of the surrounding boobage will absorb the shock; it’s just a little battery. How bad could the burn be, really?

Now – what to listen to on the ear buds? Should I pick music that keeps me walking at a brisk pace when I can’t stand trotting any longer? Or should it be Music To Thunder By, at a marginally faster tempo? Of course, I don’t have running music; I’ve spent a huge percentage of my 58 years developing techniques by which I would NEVER have to run, so I have no idea what rhythm or tempo would satisfy my thudding feet. It will have to be fast walking music; I have a playlist for that.

I’m ready. I’m off. There’s a guy in front of me. I can’t run past him – it will be too humiliating when I stumble back to a walk five feet past him and then he and I will have to keep passing each other. How do I handle this? Maybe I should walk for the rest of my… no, that’s not the point. Oh, good – he’s going the other way.

There’s a small child walking on a low retaining wall, her mother and dad and a stroller and a dog beaming with the bliss of a lovely early spring day and I should – what? Neatly pop off the path and onto the bracken, fleetly giving them a wide berth while bestowing on them a gracious smile? I’d trip immediately and land on the dog. No, I’m going between the toddler and the mom – sacrilege, but there’s no extra energy here to be more discrete. Sorry, happy family.

Can I make it to the walking bridge? No. Okay – I’ll run to that tree. No, that’s not going to happen. How about that crack in the path? Oh – no, THIS is apparently where I’m going back to walking. All right, then.

Now here I am “running” again, having lumbered into a shambling sort of gait. Suddenly the surrounding houses have staring windows. I’m sure they were empty when I was walking, but now that I’m thudding along, I just know every window is filled with someone watching and saying to themselves “There’s no way she makes it even to the bend in the path.” So now I have to get that far – but then it’s VERY IMPORTANT that I don’t run AT ALL around the bend, because then the next row of windows will fill up with people staring in contempt.

What was I supposed to remember when I ran? Oh – don’t throw the ribcage up and out; keep the ribs down. Use the abs and the glutes. Why can’t I feel my glutes at all? Surely I can’t be plodding along like this without the use of the various butt muscles? Am I some kind of medical experiment? Is it possible to “run” without the use of the glutes at all?

All right – can I feel my abs? Yes, I can feel that they could be tighter… but I can’t run AND hold the abs tight. Can I? No. No, I can’t. Not and keep my feet at least temporarily off the ground.

So what am I using to run? Breath, apparently. Gasping, rasping, panting breath. How much further? It’s a 1.5 mile loop around the lake; how far have I gone?

Two-tenths of a mile. Why did I think this would be better than going up and down the stairs 18 times?

That’s 22 questions. Running is SUCH a cerebral sport.

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