Chasing the Dragon

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.  running

Running away from jogging

“Do you run or jog?” This is one of the most infuriating questions I get slapped with whenever I mention the sport I’m into. At first I used to answer “a bit of both” because frankly I didn’t know the difference and I didn’t care to ask. The question always annoyed me for several reasons, one of which was it seemed as imbecilic as asking someone “Are you a couch potato or a lazy lump of breathing mass?” or “Do you masturbate or molest yourself?” or “Do you breathe or live?” The list could go on, but I digress.

At some point into my craze, I looked up the difference between the two, officially. Many modern sources have stated that the difference lies in the pace, with running obviously being the faster of the two. However, an interesting source named the origination of the word “jogging “as a playful British term that entered the scene in the mid seventeenth century (http://runrunlive.com/the-difference-between-running-and-jogging), to describe movement.

In the 1970s, jogging became a term associated with non-competitive running, and the rest is history. Here’s my issue: when I think of jogging, I picture couples dressed in matching 80s track suits, flitting through park lanes, smiling and chatting about last week’s cocktail party. I don’t know where this comes from, but I have a feeling it all started with ads for track suits. So I blame the world of advertising for ruining the connotation of something that should be beautiful (not referring to track suits themselves; those belong in the past and/or hell’s fire). When I run/jog, I come back home red, sweaty and in pain, all of which don’t fall in line with the picture of the track suit wearing couple.

Even the sound of the word works against it. It takes your mouth longer to say “Jog” thank it does to say “Run”. Run is associated with so many states of emergency. For example, when you’re in danger, you ‘run’ for your life, hence the seriousness of the term. No one ever jogged away from a tiger or charging hippo. Let’s take another example: Diarrhea. We’ve all been there; don’t roll your eyes just yet. There’s a reason it’s called the “runs”; if it was a jog you would have time to stroll to the bathroom with your dignity intact, instead of charging like the previously mentioned hippo to avoid standing in the middle of your office, covered in feces, with everyone pointing at you, laughing and uploading your misery onto social media. Also, people don’t jog away from their problems; the expression is clearly “running away from your woes”.

Despite all this, it needs to be said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with jogging. As a term referring to movement for the movement’s sake, it stands for something great, and the only thing ruining it are the idiots that ask for the distinction. I am proud to say that while I do run, I will henceforth have no issue being labeled a jogger. However, if you do ask me which of the two I do, prepare to jog away for your life.

jogging