Shapiro: On using cheese as an incentive to run, and other things

I went on a few runs last week. A couple. Two. I went on two runs, in as many days. Some people might call that a streak. I know I would. The first day, I felt pretty good. I ran for something like 40 minutes and it felt like a considerable loop and I have to say I was fairly proud of myself.

See, I’ve never really been a runner. I’ve run to things, I’ve run for things, I’ve definitely run away from things, … but never run just to run.

By the second day it was kicking my ass. Everything was not fun. I felt tired during it, I felt more tired after it. The things on my body that didn’t hurt I could count on one hand; that is, if I could move my fingers to do so. There’s this meditative quality that people who run say they achieve while they are running; I guess I was hoping would kick in more quickly for me. I thought I could multitask, that starting right away I could exercise and lose myself in deep thought. Mostly I was thinking things like, “OK leg, move like that again,” and, “Ow that sucks.”

My lifestyle has gotten considerably less healthy since my freshman year. Back then I would always load up on salad at the dining halls and would input intramural soccer games into my calendar as weekly conflicts. My days were clean and brightly lit and fiber-filled. Now, as I huddle in a dusty corner of my off-campus hovel, my idea of a health kick is opting for the half-Wenzel late at night while a non-zero amount of alcohol courses through my bloodstream.

So I think maybe one of my major issues with running is its abject aimlessness and futility. I mean really depending on the weather and my schedule and how I’m feeling it can be downright quixotic, especially if I know I’m not going to be able to do it consistently. Because exercise, I’ve realized, is similar to other healthy things in that it’s an acquired taste. Broccoli, for example, is objectively gross. But if you eat it enough you begin to appreciate it for what it is and all the nuances of its bitter fuzziness.

In order to keep trying to run, I need to make it more interesting for myself. I can’t listen to music while I run because I always start falling into the tempo of the current song; my Iron and Wine/Miles Davis/John Cage playlist comes on the workout is pretty much all but compromised. So I’ve been considering a new route:

  • Loosen up by jogging half a block to Zack’s, picking up a 30 rack, jogging back, up the two flights of stairs to my floor, putting the 30 rack in the fridge, jogging back down the stairs.

  • Head to the new Apple store, do two laps around the store, the first, touching all of the iPads, the second, touching all of the iPads that are only used to display information about the other iPads.

  • Jog to SSS, jog up SSS, jog onto/break into the roof of SSS. See literally everything.

  • If it’s a Friday, run up to the Yale Farm for fresh wood-fired pizza. If it isn’t a Friday it won’t be worth it because Science Hill is a hill.

  • If it’s any day run to Caseus, use the cheese smell as incentive. Then take a few spins around Fashionista, and maybe try on some $80 running shorts from the ’70s.

  • Run to the Peabody. Run amongst cool dead things.

  • Run to Criterion and jog in place during the afternoon screening of “Contagion.” Fear for humanity.

  • Finish strong by sprinting to Union Station to catch the Metro North and have a really nice time in New York, have some dinner, maybe catch a show. Who knows?

  • Take the train back to New Haven in the morning. Take a taxi home.

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