Periodically, a celebrity or fitness guru will go on record claiming, “Anyone can run” as a means to motivate people to be more physically fit. They tout running’s lack of special equipment, special areas, and special times of the day and wax poetic about our ancestors’ reliance on running to “prove” that anyone can do it. This heps people up, leading them to download Coach to 5k apps, buy fancy running gear, and sign up for the hundreds of themed races – Color Run, Zombie Run, Electric Run, Disney Half-Marathon – now frequenting our Facebook feeds. It is an exciting prospect, knowing that anyone (including you) can run.
Unfortunately, that’s just not true.
I can’t run. I can’t fucking do it. Oh, I can go strong for about 60 seconds, but then my nerve tethering acts up, throwing my hips out of joint and, if I’m really lucky, running a numb streak down my outer thighs to my toes. That or my planar fasciitis starts burning, and my medial tibial stress syndrome shoots pain into my shins, or my Achilles tendons shorten – and that’s if I’m conditioned enough so that my lungs aren’t trying to crawl out of my fucking throat.
I don’t even have it as bad as other people do. Asthma makes it near impossible for some people to run as do invisible illnesses like panic attacks and chronic pain. And if you have a physical disability like MS, nerve damage, paralysis, or an amputation? Yeah, running’s out of the question.
With every assertion that “Anyone can run,” I’m reminded that I’m a little bit less. I can’t sign up for fun runs with friends. I can’t try to beat my best time. I can’t see myself featured on the Color Run web site. I won’t get any gaudy plastic medals. I might not ever reach the level of physical fitness I’d like.
I don’t want people to stop saying, “Anyone can run.” Most people can, and it’s a social-economically equalizing activity. People run for charity or to break gender or racial barriers. People test their limits and grow into more confident, happy people. They find motivation to be more active, both physically and mentally. And the phrase, “Anyone can run” does help them.
I do, however, wish that there were some physical activity for those of us who can’t run – something fun and silly that doesn’t necessarily break the bank to try to pursue. Yeah, lifting is awesome, and Crossfit can be really empowering, and barre is a great workout, but they’re expensive, time-consuming, serious hobbies. Where are the lifting competitions that combine costumes and have you lift silly-shaped objects? Where are the barre classes that loop around neighborhoods and go through showers of color? Where are wheelchair, crutches, and prosthetic-based competitions for the masses? Where’s extreme outdoor yoga that involves swearing, yelling, or making silly faces?
It’d be nice to have a fun place to get fit.
* Image taken from http://www.firstcovers.com/user/358394/running+sucks.html