Jogging – Intervals of Shame

photo by RM

The author’s husband took this unwanted photo during her Coffee Interval

I have often seen the joggers on Saturday mornings getting their caffeine fix at local coffee shops before what I imagine must be an epic jog, through parks, over bridges and surely, in and out of multiple boroughs.  I always wondered if I could ever join the god-like ranks of “Joggers.” I am soon to be 40 years old.  If, like me, you are almost 40, you might be tempted to try something drastic, like jogging, to stop the yo-yo-ing of weight that might be plaguing you.  With all of you in mind, I decided I would try it, so that you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Someone once told me that running intervals was the way to go for effective weight-loss.  The constantly varying heart rate keeps your body guessing how many calories to burn, stimulating your metabolic rate and resulting in calories burned long after the jog (an effect called after-burn). However, through jogging, I found nothing but intervals of weakness, both mental and physical. The experience was regrettable in many ways. Let me share them with you. These are my intervals of shame.

Interval 1 – The Interval of Awkward – Up at 7:30 am on a Saturday, I put on my one piece anti-rape jumpsuit and started out the door at a brisk walking pace. I never knew when to actually start jogging though. I immediately became extremely self-conscious, wondering, “Do my clothes sufficiently indicate that I am doing this for my health or because someone is chasing me? Should I walk to a specific jogging place or do I just start now? Or maybe, now? Do I jog in place at lights or come to a full stop and act normal. Do I ever act normal waiting for a light?”  I settled on “No,” and decided to fake some stretches as I found a new paranoia. “If I have to stop and chat on the street, should I jog in place, or avert my eyes at familiar people, pretending I don’t see them?” Ignoring people lacks class.  So I settled on the classier shout n’ wave.

Interval 2 – The Interval of Shame – At this point, I’ve been jogging for exactly 2 blocks, when snot commenced to shoot from my face because of my intense, closed mouth breathing. I do not breath out of my mouth! The problem was I forgot my tissues. I wasn’t going to make a big deal of this after all, no phone, no bag, no water. “This is just a half-hour jog. I don’t need to bring provisions!” or so I thought.  Snot was now dripping down my face and I spotted a familiar face on the other side of the street.  “Thank god, they’re on the other side of the street. You’re not obligated to say hello if they’re on the other side of the street.”  The problem was getting urgent though and I contemplated blowing my nose in a leaf.  I decided to continue using the sleeve. I was going to run out of clean space soon though. I have now wiped my nose on both sleeves up to the elbows. Between the cold air and the heavy breathing, there was no end in sight to the flow from my nostrils.  I started looking around more seriously at the leaves, when I had a thought so heinous, so classless, I shocked myself. “Maybe someone dropped a tissue or napkin somewhere?” I briefly considered going through the garbage.  “Christ! It’s dripping down my cheek and I haven’t even gotten to the jogging place yet!” I ducked behind a tree, blew my nose in the ivy, and continued on.

Interval 3 – The Interval of Pain and Longing – I was finally at the jogging place.  I summoned the courage to sprint (well, let’s be honest, a moderate jog), but my brain was my enemy.  It said things like, “How do people do this all the time? Oh, just keep going. But, I think I may be panicking. I might have to breath out of my mouth. I don’t think I can do this anymore!” Just at that moment, I saw a thin mom pushing a jogging stroller, wearing spandex in an enviable circus of fluorescents.  I pushed through, telling myself, “You’ve got to earn those spandex pants, Lady!”  For now it’s the previously mentioned one-piece anti-rape jumpsuit with bulky black fleece jacket for me.  Believe me, there’s no getting this contraption off.  I’ve had near panic attacks in the bathroom over it.

photo courtesy of SC

The Interval of Exhausted Resignation

Interval 4 – Interval of Exhausted Resignation – “This is where it ends, all of it! This is as far as I go.” The awkward questions of jogging etiquette, the shame of snot soaked sleeves, and wardrobe inadequacies all vanished at a strolls pace. I collapsed in the first grassy mound I tripped into.  My face was bright tomato red.  I couldn’t see a thing because one of the other items I left home was sunglasses.  I brought two things: $10 and my coffee passport (a.k.a. fealty card) for Smith Canteen.  Which leads me to Interval 5, the only reason to get up early and go jogging in the first place.

Interval 5 – COFFEE INTERVAL – Ahhh! I intentionally designed my jogging route to end up at a coffee shop. The whole point of jogging, aside from the health, is to sip a cappuccino expertly steamed at Smith Canteen, which should always be accompanied by a humorous neighborhood encounter.  I spent many a Saturday morning admiring the discipline of the runners filling up on coffee and NOW I WAS ONE OF THEM! What an achievement at nearly 40! Only, I was also buying a cinnamon roll with my coffee.  Horrors!  Surprised by my order, an unusually honest patron behind me inquired, “You eat those?”  I responded, “Hello fellow jogger.  Yes, I do.  You don’t?”  I assumed from the spandex he was being judgmental of my self-sabotaging decision to eat a cinnamon roll, but then he countered, “Well, they’re vegan.”  Flabbergasted at the revelation, my knee-jerk reaction was, “What kind of meat is in a cinnamon roll?!”  The be-spandex jogger nodded knowingly, “Exactly!”  Well, vegan or not, it’s a damn fine cinnamon roll and frankly the least shameful aspect of the entire experience. Such a delicious cinnamon roll it is, eating it will force me to jog again tomorrow.

Update:  At press, the author’s intervals of shame have morphed into a dependency on jogging for cinnamon rolls.  Experts believe she’s created an incredibly addictive cycle that efficiently taps into the brain’s pain/reward centers.  That revelation inspired her to partner with Smith Canteen and SoulCycle to create CinnamonRollCycle.  It’s a high-intensity, low-impact, aerobic fitness experience where people donning head sets yell at you to cycle faster as you eat cinnamon rolls.  It was a immediate success.

Are you on your own Cinnamon Roll Cycle?  Tweet your secret addictive fitness rewards @momtropolis #CinnamonRollCycle

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