It's so simple, they told me. Just put one foot in front of the other, they said. And in a way, they were right. When I go for a run I don't have to find a parking spot or reserve my stationary bike ahead of time or fight for a good place to set up my yoga mat in a crowded class. I never have to worry about a lame instructor or bad music or being totally upstaged by the girl with the perfectly messy bun and the on-point Lululemon outfit. It's just me, my running shoes, and the path ahead of me. So sure, in that sense it is simple. But it's still the worst, and here's why.
1. It's freaking hard.
At spin or barre class, I can always push myself knowing that change is coming. We switch from the hill-climb simulation to a low-resistance drill, or we shake out our legs and pick up some weights. Just when I think I'm at my limit, there's some relief. When running and my legs are burning, though, and I'm panting like an asthmatic polar bear, you know what comes next? JUST. MORE. RUNNING. It's relentless.
2. It makes for terrible selfies.
If a workout is completed without photographic proof, does it even count? Barely. But even if you have your cutest running outfit on and your ponytail is day-old perfection, there is always the problem of your face. Your red, sweaty, exhausted face (see number 1, above). It's not the cutest selfie material at the moment. Maybe you can try for a far-away action shot, but that's going to require a selfie stick or a self-timer function and a flat surface, which just seems like an awful lot of work when you're already feeling like you might pass out any moment.
3. It has no chill.
When the spin instructor tells us to set the bike resistance to an 8-out-of-10 perceived difficulty level, we can always take into consideration that we didn't sleep very well last night and we accidentally had a doughnut for breakfast and maybe that twinge in our quad is the beginning of an injury, so this slow-ish, easy-ish pace is totally an eight today. Yup, this definitely feels like today's eight. Running, though? Running wants us to run three miles. Or 30 minutes. Or five sets of stairs. There's no room for negotiating the terms or fibbing the distance. Three miles is always three miles, even if we had a doughnut for breakfast. Running is brutally honest.
4. It always wants to talk about your feelings.
And not in the fun, chit-chatty, gossipy way. Even with a rockin' playlist blowing up your earbuds, there's just something about being alone out there on the running path that makes the mind wander. There's no instructor to focus on, no neighbor to keep up with, no reps to count. It's just you and your thoughts out there, and running doesn't even have the courtesy to buy you a drink first.
5. It's addictive.
Sure, it's hard and sweaty and it might make you cry, but it's also kind of freeing and empowering, and it makes you feel like a badass. You used to only be able to run one mile. Then one day you can run two, and you wonder if you could do three, which is basically a 5K. So you enter your first 5K and you wonder what comes next. Running always keeps you coming back to see what's next.
I could go on about how much I hate running, how it's boring and hard and makes my nose run, but I have to go meet my friend. To go for a run. Because I'm currently training for a marathon. Damn you, running!