Earlier this week, I published a post called Sweat Every Day, inspired by Anna Meade and her sharing of Under Armour’s new advert.
I’d never really thought about fitness that way until I saw the advert. I’d known on an intellectual level what real fitness involved — a lifestyle change as opposed to a diet that would vanish into the wilds of returning pounds and kilos. But the video made me think about it anew.
Today, Anna published a post called I Am Not A Runner. I urge you to read it.
I used to say the same thing.
I used to say I can’t run. That my shin splints were too bad, that my asthma stole my breath, that my body couldn’t handle the pressure.
I used to say that running was torture.
I used to say that runners were all lean, with visible muscles and sinew.
To be honest, I’m not sure when the exact moment happened. That snapshot of change. It wasn’t as simple as flipping a switch or me waking up one morning to say, “I think I’ll go run on a treadmill today” when before treadmills featured only in the lowest level of hell my brain could concoct.
I do know it had to do with zombies, because that’s how ZAP was born.
I’m a writer. My imagination runs away with me (no pun intended). I can easily visualise post-apocalyptic wastelands, hear the grating whispery moan of a lone zed stalking toward me through misty woods. And at some point the thought happened. At first it was a joke.
“I’m not working out. I’m training for the zombie apocalypse.”
People laughed and retweeted me. Which, you know, fine. But a few months back, I realised that my weight was getting to That Point.
You know, That Point where the scale starts approaching foreign lands. Where none of your trousers fit comfortably. Where putting on a bikini seems like the worst idea since a mandolin slicer without a finger guard. Where you look at your stomach and see hills instead of plains. You know. That Point.
My jokes shifted from, “Training for the zombie apocalypse. BRB.” to “I’m only going to run if something’s chasing me.”
It wasn’t a big leap between the two to: “Wait. Oh, no. What if zombies were chasing me?”
It was at that point that I realised I would be in big trouble. At the beginning of a zombie apocalypse, it’s going to take swift feet and quick thinking to avoid those first walking dead.
Creating ZAP gave me the motivation I needed to venture onto that treadmill with the intent on seeing what I could do.
What I didn’t expect was the effect it would have on others.
I’ve had people tell me that they never ran before ZAP. That they, like me, avoided running like it would bring about the apocalypse rather than increase your odds of surviving it. People are starting to report weight loss (including me). They’re reporting an improvement in self-image.
ZAP has gotten me thinking about myself less like this:
And more like this:
There is a certain kind of effervescent elation that stems from finding out your body is capable of doing something you thought it couldn’t do. When I ran my first mile in ten years, I had one of those moments. Now? I run three. Almost every day.
I worked a double shift at the beer slinging job yesterday. In the morning, my throat began to hurt. By the time I was finished, I was exhausted. I got four hours of sleep Saturday night, and the last thing I wanted to do was exert myself more. But my friend said she wanted to come over and work out.
So I did.
The first mile last night felt like I was the one doing the chasing — and like I’d been chasing that dangling carrot for a marathon already. But then the second mile started, and it got worse. I accelerate as I go when I run, so by the second mile, I hit 6 miles per hour, and my legs were getting pissed. At 2.25, I bumped it up to 6.5. And at 2.6, I pushed it to 6.7 to finish out the last two laps of my 5K. This is what happened inside my head around 2.7.
Okay. You could just do three. Just get to three. You don’t really have to get to 3.1. Three miles is almost as good as a 5K.
But you said you were going to do 5K.
But I’m having trouble breathing. They still haven’t fixed the air in here, and that muscle-y jerk over there is hogging the treadmill that has the fan. Plus, I’m so tired. My throat is burning, and I need water.
You can have water at 5K.
It’s not going to matter if I stop at three. I’m almost there. I’m at 2.9.
You’re going to sprint it in. You’re going to do it. You’re not stopping till you hit 5K.
I’d already completed my Zombies, Run! mission. My music was rounding it out with Albannach’s rousing Hornpipes from Hell. My feet pounded against the belt, and in the mirror I could see the glisten of sweat from across the room even without my glasses. I was dripping from head to toe. My calves burned with every step.
I bumped up the speed and sprinted it in. (Well, as close as I could get to sprinting.)
And I ran my first 5K under 30 minutes.
I was sick. I was exhausted. But the zombies were chasing me.
And I got away.
What will your body show you? How will it reveal its power?
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