Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Running ain't no fashion show
Anyone who can run has the right to run - that much we all agree on. But once you actually start running, it very quickly becomes a competition - not only in fitness but in fashion as well. Women have their athletic, vented tops and hip-hugging shorts, men have the "I'm in super shape" shorts and the arm-revealing shirts. Some of these are not merely clothes, they are outfits, pre-planned running ensembles.
I say to hell with all that. My summer wardrobe is pretty minimal - I think I'm down to one pair of black shorts and a beige "New England" pair that I can't really fit in. I have one pair of sneakers, so those come too.
Which brings me to the crux of this entry: my decision to run shirtless. In the pageantry of modern running, there is one rule that trumps all others - if you're a guy, you must be in ridiculously good shape to run with your shirt off. You must be able to open a beer bottle with your abs. Your chest must be hairless and ripped. Your arms should have more ridges than... I don't know... Tom Ridge's family reunion.
As elitist as I am culturally (more foreign films, please!) I am am also a populist when it comes to some things, and having the freedom to not be in fantastic shape is one of them. So when I ran this evening from my abode in Arlington across the Potomac towards the Lincoln Memorial, a common running path in my area, I broke all the running stereotypes: I, a non-athletic specimen, ran sans shirt. Imagine it: I am not buff. I have a respectable mini-paunch that befits a 32-year-old. I may have a degree of Semitic "shag" on my upper torso. And I may have a surgical scar or two that knocks me even further from pedestalistic perfection.
But that's OK. On that road, huffing and puffing, I have as much right to be there as the ultra-marathoners and the Iron Men / Women. For those moments, shirtless in the afternoon sun, a much-needed sweat releasing itself from my pores, I feel more God than man.
And hot damn, is this God sexy or what?