Diary of a Washed up Runner: Day 9 — 4/2/12, A Meeting With a Personal Trainer Goes Bad

Posted: June 3, 2014 in Diary of a Washed Up Runner
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(*Author’s note: this is a new feature on Burnpoetry, chronicling my attempts to reconnect to my once-favorite sport of long distance running.  For the detailed explanation, click on this link.  I will periodically be retracing my steps and going back to my first attempt at this running-running diary and this is one of the first ever posts so I though we should continue from here.)

Distance: 1.75
Location: Urban Active Gym, Treadmill
Self-Loathing (on a scale of 1-the climactic scene in Scarface): 6.5

Today I went back to the gym with the idea to make this a better week for my running.  It has not been an easy road lately.

A gasping, disgusted 1.75 miles here.  A heaving, disillusioned 1.75 there.  Really, just a lot of running 1.75 miles at around 8 flat pace that leaves me feeling almost as guilty as if I’d not run at all.

Since my running was a brutally short, premature ejaculation of effort that died after a lowly 1.75 miles, allow me to tell you a story worth telling.

Today I saw the guy who was almost my personal trainer down on the gym floor.

After my wife and I joined our gym we were alotted a free training session with one of the “fitness professionals” that Urban Active employs.  I didn’t want to meet with a personal trainer.  My own fitness, or lack thereof, has always been a private endeavor to me.  I’m not sure if it’s pride, disgust at having let my fitness fall so far from my pinnacle, or some weird, sour-tasting combination of the two, but I have never been a fan of letting someone in on my various attempts to reconnect with running (*Author’s note: Until now when, driven by my own fatalistic desire to write something that’s potentially worth reading, I’ve decided to air my gratuitously dirty laundry for everyone to read).

The almost-trainer was no different.  After agreeing grudgingly to utilize my free training session, knowing full well that it would be one long, awkward, attempt to get me to sign on the dotted fitness line for weekly sessions, I scheduled an appointment with a trainer and headed in.

We’ll call him Dave, since I honestly don’t remember his name.  Dave was an alright guy.  A product of his system, so to speak, he was cock-diesel ripped, cock-diesel self-assured and appeared straight off the front cover of a fitness mag.  One more thing about Dave: he firmly believed he was about to offer me a life-changing, course-altering personal renaissance.

“So, bro, what are you looking to get out of the fitness experience?  Are you looking to get ripped?  Build muscle mass?  Or improve your strength?”  Dave started off a hot 0-3.

“No.  I’m kind of just trying to get into better shape.  I know that’s not very specific, but I really would like to just lean up and, well you know, be able to run better again.”

“Running?”  He drug the word out a little, slurring his words as though potentially high on protein shakes.  “I get that.  And I can help you with that, too.  So tell me, Chris, what look are you going for?”

“Look?”  I was a little confused.  The “look” I wanted to go for was to not look like the guy standing at the 1200 meter mark of a 5k with his hands on his knees sucking in air like a dying fish that just hit the decks of a fishing boat.  “Uh, I kind of just want to be skinnier.  You know, I wanna be less fat.”

“Okay,” the realization that he was dealing with a fitness idiot was dawning across his square-jawed face.  He tried a different approach.  “So what I mean by ‘look’ is a lot of guys have specific areas that they’re trying to tone up and build muscle on.  You know, are you going for sixpack abs?  Barrel chest, like they have in body building contests, or trying to get your arms cut up like the guys you see in Men’s Fitness?”

We continued down this line for about 10 minutes.  It’s tough to impart to someone that the entirety of your fitness goals are wrapped up in a wistful, ethereal past, where you can glide down a jogging path while holding  a joking conversation with some of your best friends.  It is equally tough to figure out a fitness-lingo-ridden way to tell a guy you want to lose the neck fat that makes you tilt your head back in photos like a seriously douchey guy who is doing the “what up, son?” head-nod.

The next item on our “to-discuss” list was diet habits.  At this point I had gotten a relatively decent handle on my fast food eating, but as we went down the questions it became clear to me that Dave was shocked that I hadn’t been eating shredded turkey, wrapped in lettuce for lunch and washing that down with 400 milliliters of Shredbomb 38,000 XXL fitness shake.

“So about how many cans of pop do you drink a day?” Dave asked this question with a prosecutional tone.  I started to sweat more than usual.  Which is saying something.

“Um I drink about–”

Dave inhaled sharply.  Hooosh!  He pulled in air like an almost-drowned swimmer.

“–2-3 cans–”

Huuuuhhhh!?!  Dave leaned back, eyes bulging like his delts on a weight machine, sucking in like a stoner trying to milk the last hit out of an almost-empty bong hit.

“–a day.”

The final nail crushed my coffin lid shut.  Dave’s face read like I had just confessed a massive and crippling addiction to free-basing cocaine.  Slowly he leaned back towards me, wheeling his freshly recoiled chair back towards the table we were meeting at.

In a fearful tone he whispered, “Do you know what’s in those?”

He sounded so serious, so mortified-with-fear-and-concern that I felt certain he must know something that I didn’t.  He must know that yellow dye #5 is actually the key ingredient in cooking meth and that Diet Mountain Dew is actually used as a pesticide by the Taliban on their terror-funding poppy-seed-heroin-fields.

Dave then proceeded to fill me in on the utterly vile and evil history of aspartame, belly fat, and caffeine.  I numbly nodded my head, attempting to listen.  Dave and I weren’t going to have a working relationship.  That much was abundantly clear.  I didn’t want to have a “keg chest” or “Abs from the wolfpack in the Twilight movies” and he didn’t approve of my heinous abuse of artificial sweeteners and carbonation.

I ran through a litany of drills and lifts with Dave that day, each of which was definitely challenging.

We didn’t run, though, and that’s what I want to do.

I want to run.  I want to set my feet to pavement, or trail, or rubberized surface and leave the world in my wake.  Dave doesn’t understand that urge.  Neither does my body.  Eventually I hope to reconnect with that primal instinct; to reignite the flame.

Maybe I should start drinking less pop, too.


  1. d says:

    jesus christ, i hope “Abs from the wolfpack in the Twilight movies” is an actual, honest-to-god quote hahahaha.

    I know just what you mean in this piece…about not wanting to be He-Man, but just to be fit and capable.

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