This is the final installment of my intermittent series on running.  To revisit the first three essays, they are available here.  Part I, Part II, Part III


Gone with the wind…

For those who have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I have maintained a love/hate relationship with the ideal of running – throughout my entire life.  I have run though, because I do fitness for a living.  Since running is an alleged standard of fitness, I have always felt a responsibility to perform at an average level, or a little above on rare occasions.

Here’s the truth:  I hate running more than a hundred yards or so at a time – I just do.  Not far beyond the quarter mile mark of most every run I have ever taken, the act of running has become a joyless chore that I can’t wait to complete.  By the end of most runs I find I would rather be whipped across my back with a salt encrusted porcupine than take another step.  Still, I have run.

I have felt this way since my first cross country run in the 7th grade.  During the thousands of runs I have taken since, I have most always wanted to stop a run, turn, and slowly walk home.  One word has always defined my running experience; hateful.  I find the feeling of running hateful.  Despite these feelings, I have run thousands of times – thousands.  I have run competitive 5ks, 10ks, 1/2 marathons, and full marathons, and have even participated in a 200 mile relay race from Huntington Beach to San Diego.

Competing in last year's Ragnar relay from Huntington Beach to San Diego.

Competing in last year’s Ragnar relay from Huntington Beach to San Diego.

I have run alone, I have run with friends, and I have run with strangers on occasion.  With the exception of one 1/2 marathon, and a couple of inspired runs in Athens, and on the island of Mykonos last year, I have found little joy in running, only obligation.  I have pretended to like running as I have pretended to like a cute girl who scarcely knows the recipe for toast.


After a rare inspired run at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens last year….

Breaking the chains of obedience…

Sprinting however, the act of running my guts out, and being immediately done with it, I have always appreciated.  And I’m good at it.  I have been fast for short distances my whole life, and I recover quickly from such runs.

Where for the past 10 years or so I have regularly fit at least a few 2 to 4 mile runs per week into my schedule, often longer and more frequent runs when race preparations have warranted it, I now divorce myself from the emotional ball and chain that is the joyless run.  I cite irreconcilable differences.

Sprint protocol….

I have taken up once again with a flame from the past; interval sprint workouts.  I have loved, enjoyed, and always looked forward to these – since I was a teen.  That’s just how I’m wired.  I write essays, not novels.  I run sprints, not distance.  In the absence of those regular short distance runs, I have begun again to enjoy a 30 minute sprint workout, one which I have been doing on and off since I was 17 years old.

My unscientific protocol, which  have enjoyed in the past, and have come to enjoy again is simple; I run 70-100 yards at roughly 70% – 80% capacity.  I stop, I turn, and I walk back to where I started.  I then immediately turn, and run again.  I do this uninterrupted for roughly 30 minutes.  I walk away stimulated, cleansed, refreshed, and better conditioned for my efforts.

This protocol is nothing I have ever read about.  It can find no scientific basis to support it.  I’ve never met anyone else who does it, though I have shared it with others, and some of them continue it to this day as a primary form of exercise.  I made this workout up when I was an awkward teen looking to fill a void in my non-social Friday and Saturday nights.

I have always found this workout to be challenging, achievable, good conditioning, and dare I say less toxic on my joints than longer slower runs.  Perhaps this lack of harshness has to do with a sprinting stride being more horizontal than a jogging stride, thus minimizing impact on the feet, and the supporting joints.  That’s just logical speculation on my part though.

Let me make clear, this not based on the currently in-vogue Tabata protocol.  Nor is this a question of HIIT vs. steady-state cardio.  This is Jhciacb protocol at its best; a recipe exclusive to the creator which I have used at various times in my life to sooth my brain, alleviate my stress, stay on the leaner side, and make me feel good – if only for a moment.

I pray to Crom…

With regard to my many running friends who will find blasphemy in my contempt for distance running, I am truly sorry.  I don’t share my feeling about longer runs to offend you, and I respect that running brings you such joy.  However, I have never experience that kind of joy from running distances.  The stress of forcing my sprinting square peg into a distance running round hole has just grown tiresome.

I’m not out to bash your god, distance runners.  I’m just no longer willing to be obedient to him.  In running as in life, I don’t pray to your god, I pray to mine.  For far too long now I have forgotten the importance of being true to that ideal – in running as in life.  Be well…  rc


Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this recent video which fittingly accompanies a great song from Gary Numan.  Enjoy…

15 responses

  1. Agreed! I love to cheer on my running friends and hear all about their adventures, but running is just NOT my thing. It’s so dang boring. Sprint intervals, on the other hand, spice things up and keep me un-bored. My running style of choice.

  2. As far as running is concerned – and a few other things – we’re definitely kindred souls! Signed, A former cross country and track athlete

  3. As long as you stay in shape (and God knows you do), your choice of physical activity is personal! I love to run, but don’t ask me why! I also love to swim laps, to edit other people’s writing, and to iron shirts, so that makes me a weirdo I guess… LOL

    As for the toast recipe evocation, why don’t you accept the cute girl with her strengths and weaknesses, and make your own sandwich? Hahaha 🙂

  4. You know, with a few exceptions, my running friends all hate it yet they lace up their shoes and go out and run. I don’t understand it. I don’t like to run. I tried to like it but I can’t. I like walking and running mixed together. And I like your music.

  5. I hear ya.. I do cardio but not a fan. I run but not a lover but the lesser of all cardio workouts to me – well for where I live. I am just not willing to drive to a park miles away or the hills miles away to get a good hike or something like that & then have to fight traffic back.. wasted time for me with other stuff that needs to be done. If I lived close – then my cardio would be different. I like the ease of being able to walk out the door OR 5-7 minutes to the gym. 🙂 I do mix it up with HIIT & intervals & hill walking & hill jogging on treadmill plus Ellip & StepMill.. but it is all hard to me! 🙂 I also get that to each their own – you fond what works for you!!!! I kinda do that workout on the treadmill in the gym but as a woman, short, not the best body in terms of not gaining weight easily & my age – I have to do longer.. 🙂

  6. I believe in doing what feels good and brings us joy. I don’t think there’s anything disrespectful about saying you love to sprint but hate to run…it’s your preference! Years ago when I first started running I loved the shorter distances (3-5 miles) and I thought I “should” want to go farther but every time I looked at a training program for, say a 10K or half-marathon, my eyes glazed over. Then I got Lyme disease and pretty much stopped running. I do have a desire to get back to it…or at least to be able to do it without pain (not sure if that is possible). Meanwhile, I prefer to change things up, to zig and zag…like you, my brain just doesn’t seem to have the ability to stick with the long-form of anything 🙂

  7. I think this love to run thing is vastly over-stated! Have I felt good while running, sure for parts of a run, but mostly I feel great when I’m done! I’ve just loved what running has done for my life as a whole, and it’s a cheap way to tour everywhere I’ve traveled 🙂

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