THE IDLE TRUTH
by Bob Schwartz
My recent revelation might be aptly titled "The Laziness of the Long Distance Runner." I have finally given in to the truth that I am a couch potato hiding within a runner's body, an indolent who does intervals, a laggard who does long distance. I am a runner and I am lazy. I know that sounds like an oxymoron but it's accurate. To borrow from the philosopher Descartes, "I run, therefore I sit." I suppose this puts me into quite a small and select group of runners. I'm one of the few, the not terribly proud, the slothful.
The fact is I've tried to deny the depth of my languor for as long as I've been a runner. I know all the many positive effects that running can bring - better health, more self-confidence, enjoyment of the outdoors etc. I had initially honed into the philosophy I ran so I would have this incredible reservoir of energy throughout the day. However, as I sat glued to my comfortable chair after a Sunday morning twenty miler, there came a point in which it did no good to deny the obvious. Once the euphoria and adrenaline rush of a good run was over, I returned to my roots of habitual inactivity. I could compete with the best the non-runners could offer in the area of lethargy. However, in my mind, it was clearly better to have run and been languid than to have never run at all.
I've convinced myself that the best method of run recovery is to remain immobile for as long as humanly possible. Suspended animation before and after a run is the key to my enjoyment of running. Everyone has their particular area of specialty and I believe I've brought post run idleness to new heights of expertise. The 1970's brought us the training benefits of LSD (Long Slow Distance) while I bring the 1990's PSR (Prolonged Supine Recovery).
I've further convinced myself one of the reasons for my laziness is that it is a sacrifice I must make for the benefit of my running. My training log accumulates only miles. It has no space for how much time I was on my feet cleaning out the garage or pruning the shrubs; nor does it have an entry for how long I played basketball on Saturday afternoon or how many times I used the stairs instead of the elevator.
My philosophy is if I'm going to break my 1OK PR in the near future, I've got to be sedentary as much as I can during my non running time. I must look for every possible edge I can get. If that means buying a ranch house so I can avoid the toll on my legs of walking up and down stairs a couple of times a day, then so be it. If it means driving around for fifteen minutes looking for that parking spot a little closer to my destination, I can do it. I may not have the most natural speed or endurance as my running competitors, but I have the ability to put my post running time to the greatest benefit. I can make the most of any chance for idling.
They say the lazy always want to do something. Well, once my run is complete I'm not looking to do anything. I've already done it. Running provides me the opportunity to enjoy my inaction without guilt. If I didn't run then I would have to admit to being somewhat embarrassed to be as lazy as I am. However, since I run, I show no remorse for my fits of inactivity. I have, without any contrition, divided my day into two periods - running and dormancy.
Now, as I lay supine on my family room floor - a little too indolent to even contemplate mowing the lawn - I know that I am in much different company than most couch potatoes in America. I am a runner first, lazy second. For me, these are not mutually exclusive terms. Without one, I couldn't enjoy the other. Before my friends and neighbors pass judgement on me, I always say, run eight miles of fartlecks in my shoes. In the meantime, could you please pass me the remote?
This story and more in Bob Schwartz's New book: I Run, Therefore I Am - NUTS!