Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!
When you’re a child, there are things you hate that your parents say you’ll grow to like with age, and they usually end up being correct. Once you mature, your palate adjusts to broccoli and learns to tolerate alcohol because of the way it makes you feel. (Yes, my parents — let’s be honest, father — gave me alcohol as a kid, but only on Christmas Eve!) One thing I hated as a child but have grown to love, to the surprise of both myself and my dad, is running. Like whisky, it’s hard to get through, but I know if I do enough of it, I’ll feel great later (and if I do too much of it, I won’t be able to get out of bed the next day).
As an overweight but athletic kid, running was my achilles heel. When it came to softball, for example, I was an ace in the field, had a strong arm and was a decent batter, but I was slow to get around the bases. My softball skills were good enough that I managed to be a decent player despite my slow speed, but my inability to run really fucked me on the soccer field. I played soccer from the time I was small until 10th grade, when I quit to have one line in the school Shakespeare play, which was possibly even less fun than playing soccer.
In 7th grade, I started at a new school: Mount Greylock Regional High School, which served grades 7-12 and was the public school for four towns and parts of Southern Vermont. I was new not only to the school, but to the town so I didn’t know anybody except my older sister, who was entering 10th grade.
A week before school started, I had my first soccer practice. Our coach told us to run around the perimeter of the school grounds, which probably doesn’t sound very far but my school was across the street from a cow pasture and surrounded by woods and hills, so the path around the school grounds was a couple of miles. I immediately fell to the back of the group. Soon, I was so far behind everyone else that I realized I had no way of catching up and, trying not to cry, started to hyperventilate, which of course only slowed me down. My sister, who was very fit and on varsity, finished the run and realized I was nowhere in sight. She doubled back to find me, got me to stop panicking and ran with me the rest of the way. When the coach saw my bright red face and asked what was wrong, she told him I had an asthma attack.
I don’t have asthma. I was just fat.
Though my sister kindly helped me out of that bind, I never really got over the embarrassment of that day. I vowed, once I finished high school and stopped playing sports, to never run another step in my life, and for my first couple years of college I was pious. I worked out like a maniac (an hour and a half of cardio every day. Eating disorders, right ladies?) but did everything except run.
Until one day my junior year when it was really cold outside and for some crazy reason, I had the urge to go for a run. It had just snowed and there was ice on the sidewalks but I ran all the way from Somerville to Cambridge (not very far, tbh!) and actually enjoyed it because for the first time in my life there was no pressure. I wasn’t training for anything and didn’t have to keep up with anyone else, so I could just run at my own pace which was, I can assure you, not very fast.
When I graduated from college, I moved to Atlanta. With no friends and no money, I spent a lot of time in the gym at the apartment complex where I lived with my brother and sister-in-law. It was there that I started running regularly. Over the course of the next few months, I got myself in decent running shape — the only problem was that I kept getting giant blisters. One half hour of running a day was rubbing one off half of the skin on my foot a week.
After patiently listening to me complain about my blisters for a while, my sister-in-law gently recommended I go to her running store to buy new shoes. It was one of those stores where they make you run on a treadmill, then make you watch video of yourself running from behind and, when you’re at your most vulnerable, suggest the best $100 shoes for your stride. That’s how I learned I overpronate. Or underpronate. Honestly I always forget, but I turn my feet inward when I run. It’s pretty easy to figure out what’s wrong with your feet (probably something!): just look at the bottom of your shoes and see where they’re most worn.
The specialist at the store gave me a few pairs of shoes to try on and I ended up buying some dorky but comfortable Asics and when I ran in them, I didn’t get blisters! When it came time to buy a new pair of shoes, I wanted the same ones, so I went back to the store where I’d bought them and purchased the new version, which were more expensive than the last. So when it came time to replace that pair, I realized I could just buy them online. After one google, I found the exact same shoes at about a 40% discount on Amazon.
Yes, Amazon may be an evil corporation, but it’s cheap and I’m broke so fuck off. I’ve bought perfectly good Asics running shoes from Amazon for like $60! The trick is to look for older models because the current stock is usually just as expensive on Amazon as it is at any store, but if you buy the previous season’s shoe, they’re way cheaper (and just as good!). Here’s my most recent pair, which are dorky as hell but so comfortable! I’m pretty sure were less expensive when I purchased them, but even at the current price they’re much cheaper than the latest model.
The only problem with buying out-of-date shoes on Amazon is sometimes they’re very ugly. Like, really ugly. Like, even uglier than the ones pictured above, by a lot. That’s not a problem for me because as far as I’m concerned, running shoes are supposed to be hideous. Whenever I see a woman at my gym wearing cute shoes, I know her feet are bleeding, which is not cute, honey! I have a theory, based entirely on myself, that anyone who looks good at the gym is a psycho and anyone who looks like they just escaped from a mental institution is fit, hot and stable as hell! That’s why I always wear old t-shirts with holes in them and the ugliest shoes I can find on Amazon at a bargain price. On the other hand, a woman walked into my pilates class the other day wearing a crop top and fucking Vans. Sure, she looked great, but clearly she’s in the middle of a nervous breakdown.
I may not look hot in my giant Asics, but I haven’t gotten a single blister since I started wearing them several years ago and they’ve helped me advance as a runner. Ugh — 10-year-old me would be very annoyed by don’t worry about how old I am now me, but also a little impressed. One funny thing has happened with age: I’m no longer slow. I’ve kept myself in good shape but other people…haven’t. So compared to my peers, I’m pretty fast! I run faster on the treadmill than almost everyone else at my gym, except Chidi from “The Good Place” — that dude can run. And he looks hot doing it. Celebrities — they’re absolutely nothing like us!
As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares that I’ve got a cup in my pussy. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, menstrual cup or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!
Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!