The Fraud in Gym Shorts

“Shin splints sick.”

Swype, apprently not a fan of mild cursing, mangles the IM I’m sending while walking the Chestnut Hill Reservoir track yesterday, so I hastily shoot a correction: “Suck.”

My friend concurs. I take another quarter of the track and explain myself. Because of the shin splints I developed Monday, I spent Wednesday’s trip around the track walking. However, I showed up to the track prepared to run: I was in my loose running shorts, wearing my inexpensive running shoes, and equipped with my TuneBelt (which I have just emptied to fiddle with my phone while walking).

And I feel like a fraud.

As other runners zoom past me, some solo, some in pairs, I resolutely stride around the track, trying to keep my pace brisk. I feel as though they’re all wondering why I’m there, why I’m dressed for running and just walking. I try to tune it out, and by the end of the manage to–well, I take off the TuneBelt and feel less weird about the whole thing.

I had experienced something like this feeling before: A few months ago, I was in a car crash. The result of which was a totaled, beloved 2008 Mazda 3, and a decent case of whiplash. A week or two after the crash, I was in considerably less pain, but still left a little weakened by the experience; as evidenced by my attempt to go for a walk in the Arnold Arboretum, a short walk from my previous apartment. I made it about 10 minutes before my shoulder started to feel numb. Turned around and went home.

Shin splints and whiplash are similar in that someone suffering from either condition may look and feel otherwise healthy. In fact, as I took to the track yesterday, I kept thinking about running for just one 60-second interval. A short, sharp pain would register from one leg, and remind me that could be a bad idea. It’s a betrayal by one’s own body, and one that leaves you feeling a little helpless and pathetic. 

After confessing my shame to my friend, over Facebook IM, he says something that shakes me out of the shame a little. After the good-natured ribbing that is common to interactions between members of my sex, he tosses out “That rules, though. Good for you.” 

I felt a bit less of a fraud.


The British Esquire site ran an article, dated August 28(?), 2013, entitled “How To Not Hate Running.” Raises a lot of great points, and a few I may simply not understand yet. Loath as I am to argue with someone from the future, I often find myself feeling competitive with the other people on the track when I run. I also would argue that music as a background works for some people–despite the writer, Adam Baidwai’s insistence that running be done without a phone. 

However, this passage jumps out at me

“Deep in the mind’s eye, running is a sweat-stained horror. Sole pounding on pavement, force and shock zigzagging up rapidly dulling shins and knees, face turning an angry, bloated red—and all just to wobble another metre forward.

It’s sweaty, it’s itchy, it’s miserable.”

Running is still this, in my mind, but it is becoming more.

It is becoming a way to challenge myself, and to challenge my perceptions of myself. I am apparently a better, faster, stronger runner than I thought I was; and if I’m wrong about that, what else am I wrong about? 

One thing I’m likely very wrong about is the other runners. They are probably as preoccupied with their own running as I am with mine, when I am not resting my shins. 


Shin Status: Feeling fine. Will stretch them to test them during the day. Pending those results, tomorrow may be another walk, or a return to a previous session on the C25k Program (I plan to restart week 2 next week). 


4 thoughts on “The Fraud in Gym Shorts

  1. Pingback: Real Life Applications | The Unsure Runner

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