A workout to run away from

I recently started a new running program. I figured that having a heart attack in sub-freezing temperatures is as good a way as any to die.

I didn’t have to start running again. Based on how my legs feel now, I could have gotten the same results by having someone stand on top of a chair and drop a cinder block on my thighs. That, however, would defeat the purpose of running, which is to get outside in the sun, get the blood pumping and feel good about yourself — all of which lasts until the first quarter-mile, upon which you stop and bend over, gasping for air, and scan the ground to look for your heart, which just jumped out of your chest and is making a break for it, all the while muttering to yourself in between wheezy breaths:

“(Blank) this (blank). I’m (blanking) going back home and eat a whole (blanking) box of Twinkies.”

Fact is, though, I have to lose weight. In the last three weeks my food intake has consisted of mostly eggnog and Chex mix. And since Marie and I are going on a Caribbean cruise in April, I have a short window to get into bikini shape. I’m not necessarily looking to obtain a perfect physique, I’m just shooting for something in between Brad Pitt and a guy who’s asked to participate in a belly flop contest.

For motivation, I stupidly signed up for this free 30-day exercise program. It works like this: Each morning you receive an e-mail outlining your exact running plan for the day, (i.e. how much to warm up, how far to run, when to stop and throw up, etc.).

It’s sent by a fitness expert named Christine Luff, or as I like to call her, “Satan’s Sister.”

She’s been hard-core from day one. Following her instructions exactly as ordered has almost killed me. It’s been a long-term commitment involving endless hours of breathless pain and sweating. Yes, there were several times I considered quitting the entire program, but I eventually decided to stick it out and see what day two would bring.

So after that hellish first run, I looked forward to her second installment. I envisioned her e-mail being something along the lines of: “Great job! Take the day off. Go to Dairy Queen and eat three or four blizzards. You deserve it!”

Instead, this sick nutcase ordered me to repeat day one’s run. Desperate to shed pounds, I did what any motivated, dedicated runner would do: I tried blocking her e-mail address in my spam filter.

Yet still they come. New sadistic instructions electronically delivered to my inbox every day. So I follow them, because as part of a diet plan, it works. You really lose weight when you run. That’s because the next day you’re too sore to get up and open the refrigerator. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that jogging is one of the top five ways to shed pounds, just behind developing a meth habit. Sure, running takes a lot more effort than using meth, but at least you get to keep your teeth while avoiding hallucinations. Unless of course, you’re in the middle of a 10K, in which case hallucinations are pretty standard.

Speaking of psychotic episodes, I’ve been running on the Stocker Stadium track, where you can see, (and smell), all the delicious fast food restaurants on North Avenue. After a couple of laps, I find myself hallucinating about food.

Either that, or there actually is a giant sexy, miniskirt-clad Big Mac strutting around the corner of 12th & North who keeps flirting with me and seductively inviting me to join her “inside with all my french fry friends.”

Maybe I just need a new running route. Trying to lose weight in front of Papa John’s and McDonald’s is like taking a vow of celibacy at the Playboy Mansion.

So I’ll find a new route, probably right after all the snow has melted off the sidewalks in June. Until then, I encourage all of you to begin a running routine.

Or, you could drop a cinder block on your thighs. Same thing.


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