“So I was running, and I felt this funny feeling, and then I had an orgasm”. “Um, I don’t think that was what I mean by ‘getting a runner’s high’, but that kind of sounds awesome. What kind of running were you doing?” I asked the flamboyant friend-of-a-friend as we were having drinks a few months ago. I had been blathering on about my recent foray back into running, but my companions were sceptical that as an activity it could ever be more than boring and difficult. Of course, having taken it up fairly recently I have new-covert enthusiasm at my own discovery that running can be enjoyable, so was to share that I had also once thought that, until I experience a “runner’s high”, at which point the very fabulous German friend-of-a-friend shared her experience jogging when she was 14. That story sort of stopped me in my tracks, because as great as a ‘runner’s high’ is, it doesn’t really compare to an orgasm. Or maybe I am just doing it wrong…
For me getting the “runner’s high” played a very large part in why I do it today. In elementary school I had a very short career as a sprinter, and the glory of winning first place in the 60 yard-dash made me think that I must be good at all types of running, so I went out for the cross-country team, only to realize that I was HORRIBLE at distance running. From there I somehow got the idea that running was for A-type personalities (doctors and lawyers) who liked doing tedious things just for the sake of it, which was a group that I secretly envied as I never wanted to do tedious things, even when I was supposed to. The first few months of jogging was a grin-and-bear it time, going through the motions but not really enjoying it, until the evening it all changed.
Getting home late from work (this was Japan, after all) I headed out for Komazawa park which had a track encircling it, and I think that it was about 1.5 km around. Doing two laps would have been enough to seriously wind me at that point, but as I was coming up to the end of my second lap suddenly everything seemed to come together: instead of feeling the sluggish legs, the tired arms and the laboured breathing, I felt completely in synch and like I could run forever. No, a better way to describe it was that I felt like a fucking invincible athlete warrior, albeit one probably going at a pace only slightly faster than walking. Pure, unfettered joy surged through me and I never wanted to stop. I think that I ran another two laps that night and got home feeling like I could take on the world coupled with the intense urge to high-five people. I finally got why people subjected themselves to running. Damn, if this is how it feels why have those selfish Type-A’s been hogging it all along?! Why didn’t they share that with the rest of us?! Jerks!!!
Unfortunately what I discovered after is that you don’t get that every time; in fact, it can be pretty rare, so if I run for over an hour it might really only kick in for a few minutes. The other thing I learned is that I need a little help “getting there”, and that help comes in the form of music. Not any music, but only the MOST EMBARRASSING music.
Wholly unscientific studies have shown that things you like in regular life you don’t always like in
bed running. I used to download new music for a long run, until I realized that it caused excessive amounts of fury from the constant starting/stopping involved in skipping slow songs or the waiting for fast parts of a song to start (LCD Soundsystem: cut out the first minute of “Dance Yourself Clean” NOW). After a particularly unsuccessful attempt at trying to find a running pace to Phosphorescent, the best match of which seemed to be the inconsistent bowlegged ramble of an exuberant hunchback, I gave up and succumbed to the terrible, terrible music that is awesome to run to, which it turns out is exactly the same music you will sing to if you are drunk in a bar.
This is music that your sane mind knows is goddamn commercial awfulness (see the Black Eyed Peas), but that you can’t avoid knowing if you live in this universe, so when you are drunk, that retarded-child part of your brain with pop-culture Stockholm syndrome locks up your good-taste grey matter and starts braying along to “Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night”, “California Gurrls”, or anything by the Pussycat Dolls. This same simpleton dj’s my running mix, because it knows that dollar for dollar, Beyonce’s “Halo” and Brian Adams “Summer of ’69” will bring on a runner’s high in the way that Ariel Pink never will.
The downside of this is that I now truly fear getting hit by a car and be forced to watch, collapsed in a bloody heap and unable to speak or explain as the paramedics discover my shameful playlist, wrongly tagging me as a fan of Justin Beiber. Instead what I hope happens, is if I get hit by a car (or bus, or train) while running along in a state of athletic bliss, I disappear in a puff of contented smoke, like the people when they see their happiest memory in the movie After Life (best film eva), taking all of my incriminating songs with me. Alternately maybe I will just instantly die of shame.
So, I guess you are wondering what my German’s answer to the question about her orgasmic run: turns out it only happened the one time, and she gave up running shortly after that. I suggested that she give it a try again, and that if it happens again maybe she can recommend a new playlist…