“Need a ride?” our P.E. teacher calls from her red cabriolet. “No thanks!” I smile politely as she drives on. My partner in crime bursts out laughing. “You did NOT just do that!” We had decided to skip P.E. – because we’d have to walk to the stadium… You see, I’d shamelessly look for any excuse. Sometimes I still dream of having to hand back my A levels because I skipped P.E. too many times. It’s not because I was such a badass student; I pretty much went under the radar most of the time. Some teachers liked me, others didn’t notice me. P.E. was different. Those teachers knew who I was: The lazy-as-fuck student who would start walking two minutes into the running-for-twelve-minutes-practice called “Cooper test” (whoever you are, Cooper: I hate you). Five years later, I challenged myself to try again.
Since I left school, running has become the lifestyle sport. Magazines and blogs even suggest a certain glamour connected with colourful shoes, long, tan legs and a pair of well-defined, dynamically swinging arms. Running is cool. Running is fun. Running is the challenge that everyone loves to take. But is it? On an early autumn day in Hamburg, I decided to find out.
Minute 1. I put on my favourite motivational gym music. I start to move lightly, cautious to breathe the way we learned in school – well, there has to be some outcome…
Minute 2. I’m okay.
Minute 3. It is not so bad! I am alive and kicking!
Minute 4. It gets a bit harder to breathe. I slow down some more. But I’m still fine…
Minute 5. This is boring. My feet on the ground: Pat, pat, pat, pat. Where am I going, anyway?
Minute 6. Of course. This HAD to happen. I’m at a traffic light that just won’t change. Standing, it is a lot harder to catch my breath. How do people in cities run? How?
Minute 7 I’m starting to get really annoyed when the traffic light finally lets me go on. But it is a lot harder now. I try to breathe.
Minute 8. I want to stop. I can’t because I need to pass two guys on a bench. They’re already staring. I push on, feeling dizzy.
Minute 9. I really want to stop now. I can’t breathe. My knee hurts in a way that tells me I’m probably treading wrongly (I know I do when walking, so it’s kind of obvious). Running is exactly as annoying and painful as I remember.
Minute 10. I’ve had it. After a ridiculous ten minute run I give up.
It takes three minutes for me to breathe normally again. My knees hurt like hell. I feel awful. And it is not fun. Running, to me, is hard and boring at the same time. I force one step after the other, not getting anywhere and not seeing the point. I know exercise can be torture. It is not exactly effortless to stand on one leg, leaning forwards, other leg in the air, balancing with outstretched arms for two minutes. But I get the body exercises of yoga (I also love being able to breathe, you know). I clearly don’t get running. I just don’t get why people enjoy it. It was not only the red face that I was ashamed of in school. I just really hated the sport. And I feel that I’m allowed to, even after only ten minutes. Yes, it is supposed to be workout. But why should workout not be fun?