I’ve gone through my fair share of addictions in life, as many humans have. And having survived some pretty nasty afflictions, and even though I am in a much healthier state of mind and body, my current obsession is also fraught with peril. For those of you out there who run regularly, I’m sure you’ve nurtured injuries thanks to taking stupid or reckless decisions about how much to push yourselves.
I started running 2 years ago. I was a smoker, overweight and terribly out of shape; walking up a flight of steps felt like it could send me into a coma. However after running for a few weeks, the sheer rate of my improvement lured me into a sordid affair with my outdoor trails that soon surpassed my addiction to smoking on the couch while flirting with hot chicks (I’m talking about actual fried chickens here).
And of course, there’s that runner’s high. It’s an actual high, they’re not kidding folks, it’s like MDMA and heroin had a baby in your brain, and it’s free! Who the hell needs waiting on some dingy street corner to score when you can literally run away from your dealer and get an absolutely all-encompassing body high that feels like an extended skin orgasm? I’ve literally had moments of bliss while running that were so intense that I would close my eyes and make extremely weird noises that would scare pedestrians away; I’m sure I looked like I was possessed and running away from Satan, but I was really deep in the throes of mad nirvana.
Yet, as good as it is for you, there is an insanity tied to running. I first noticed it when I went to a race, where I was participating in the 10 k and there was also a 21 k going on. In the parking lot, I could just tell who the half-marathon runners were from looking at them. It wasn’t just their physique; they came in all sorts of sizes and shapes. They had a look about them, like they were out for the hunt, the chase, the kill. These maniacs meant business. Somewhere on their trail was the elusive dragon, and they were going to catch up with it, grab it, and skin the essence out of it while they molested it. And the longer the distances, the crazier the looks.
As great as the benefits of running are, and as great as the high is, the downside is that you will face many a moment when you shouldn’t run, but the kick in your legs will push you to do something stupid. I have done several stupid things in my running escapades. One was deciding to go for a little 6 k run after I had a slipped disk. My physiotherapist told me to wait a few months. When she said months I silently cursed her first born and assumed she meant days, seeing as she was Asian and probably struggled with the language. Needless to say, it took me 6 months to get back to my running regimen after that excursion. I was fine during the actual run itself, but the minute I stopped, I felt the muscles in my back grip around my spine like they were trying to claw some sense back into me.
Then yesterday there was a sand storm here in sunny Abu Dhabi. The air was thick with dust and grime. I fought with my hubby who didn’t want me to go, I was set on doing an hour and a half and after 30 minutes, he forced me back into my cage. This morning I woke up wheezing and coughing. For the last 8 hours, I have been continually coughing up like what seems like an ozone layer, along with a few stretches of sandy beach. I feel utterly terrible and now I won’t be able to run for a few days, till my lungs heal. I could run on a treadmill, but I always feel like an inmate when I have to work out indoors. And I hate running for kilometers watching my panting reflection in the glass and getting absolutely nowhere!
For now, I am stuck behind the window, like a punished dog, watching the dust thicken in the air, watching the dragon peeking at me from behind the clouds. I won’t be able to go out today, probably not for the next 3 days, but sooner or later, I’ll be back myself, to the hunt, to the trail, chasing those scales that turn me inside out.