Scott Feschuk learns to jog

Kagan McLeod/Sportsnet magazine

Master of the delaying tactic of the shoe-tie. Tragically injured in the noble pursuit of the 10K. Scott Feschuk: jogger.

I took up jogging recently because I had begun to lose sight of certain things in life, such as my genitals. Year upon year of sports viewing—abetted by halftime nachos, intermission chili dogs and anytime beers—had taken a physical toll. I’m not saying I was out of shape, but I still remember my first run in the springtime: the sweat, the laboured breathing, the searing chest pain. And that was just from climbing onto the treadmill.

Several months later, I am a changed man! Sure, I’m pretty much the same weight and I don’t look any better. And sure, I still consider the stairs to be the Devil’s method of ascent. (Folks, there’s a reason God invented the elevator, the escalator and waiting patiently until the object you want eventually comes downstairs of its own accord.)

So how has jogging changed me? For one thing, I now hate jogging.

It’s intimidating to be a rookie on the running trails. First, you constantly get overtaken, which doesn’t bother me unless—as happened this past weekend—it’s by someone pushing a stroller AND walking a dog AND knitting a sweater AND completing a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle while doing the border last. Show-off.

Second, pretty much everyone out there is somehow running and engaging in conversations that feature verbs and everything—whereas 20 seconds into my run, I am reduced to communicating exclusively through charades. Fortunately, I’ve learned to cope. If I’m running with my wife, my strategy is to ask a really involved question at the outset. This way,
the onus is on her to do the talking while I’m required only to wheeze the occasional, “Mmm-hmm.” (Sample conversation starter: “So tell me chronologically about every time you’ve consumed a dairy product. Go!”)

My friend Mike is a serious runner. He informs me he gets grumpy if he misses out on his long Sunday run, which is a coincidence because that’s exactly how I feel—about taco night. Mike is the one who told me that many newbies incorporate a one-minute stint of walking as respite. This “five-and-one” approach sounded intriguing until I realized the “five” referred to minutes, not steps.

But it hasn’t been all bad. Here are my five favourite things about jogging:

Stopping. I highly recommend stopping and doing it as often as possible. In fact, I’m hoping to invent a way to stop jogging without first starting to jog. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but really, neither does waddling up and down a path until I sound like an asthmatic Darth Vader.

The gadgets. Satellites were deployed into orbit at great cost, pushing the very limits of human ingenuity. They are now used to tell me I’ve shuffled three-tenths of a mile in seven minutes.

Preparing to jog. The way I see it, if I take long enough to tie my shoes, it’s possible my run will be postponed by a nuclear holocaust or some other lifesaver.

Getting injured. Early this fall, I strained my hip and couldn’t run for a couple weeks. This turned out to be an ideal scenario because I could still self-identify as a jogger without having to, you know, jog. I’d wake up and think, “Yep, I’d be out there crushing a 10K run right now if I hadn’t hurt myself being SO SUPER ATHLETIC. Hmm, perhaps my recovery will be hastened by multiple Eggos!” By the way, there’s no quicker way to get in tight with runners than to ask them about their injuries. Runners love talking about injuries. YES, OLD MAN, PLEASE CONTINUE YOUR MESMERIZING TALE OF THE GREAT HAMSTRING PULL OF 1993.

The sense of satisfaction. I like knowing that I play a positive role out there: Other out-of-shape people see me and instantly feel better about themselves. They think, “Sure, my knees are shot and I’m running a 13-minute mile, but at least I’m not getting repeatedly concussed by my own man boobs like THAT guy.”

This story originally appeared in Sportsnet magazine. Subscribe here.


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