Joe Lavin

June 2006

From New England Sports

The Geek Goes for a Jog

It figures that it would be the computer that finally turned me into a proper runner. Normally, when it comes to exercise, the computer is my arch-nemesis. I sit in front of one all day at work. As a writer, I sit in front of one when I come home at night. Often, when I should be out getting some form of exercise, you'll find me hunched over a keyboard instead.

But that was before my girlfriend decided that we should both write an exercise blog. I may have been dismissive at first. After all, I've mocked the self-righteousness of bloggers here many times, but it turned out to be a brilliant suggestion. At last, I could harness all the addictive qualities of the Internet and put them to work for my body.

Granted, I've been running off and on (mostly off) for almost ten years, but I've always had something of a motivational problem. One day, it'll be too cold to run. Another day, I'll feel tired. Once, I decided not to run because I was planning to do laundry later in the day and somehow convinced myself that I wouldn't have enough energy to do both in one day. It probably won't come as a surprise to learn that I didn't end up doing laundry that day either. Sure, I did get around to running sometimes, but over the years I've probably lost more calories from excuse-making than from running.

Despite my initial reluctance, an exercise blog made perfect sense, especially for two computer geeks like us. While beginning a walking program, Jody had also just gotten a stationary bike that she was itching to use. And I needed something to motivate myself beyond my somewhat lame run-for-awhile-then-walk-whenever-you-feel-like-it workout plan. Sure, I didn't dare admit the existence of our blog to all those who had heard me mock blogging in the past, but as I ran longer distances I couldn't deny that it was working.

Our blog isn't exactly great literature. That's okay. No one but us is reading it, although I am a bit worried that Jody might have given the address out to her friends. Mostly, we write about the neighborhoods through which we exercise and whether or not our calves hurt. Occasionally, we even post maps of our routes. But, after that, we just start rambling

Jody tends to write about the movies she watches while biking or exactly how loud she sings along with William Shatner when she hears his version of "Common People" on her iPod. (Pretty loud.) Conversely, I've used my iPod to listen to audio books while running. Currently, I'm in the middle of David McCullough's "1776," which I recently rented on CD and illegally ripped to my iPod, in what may be the single nerdiest example of piracy ever. Luckily, despite all my posts about the Revolutionary War ("And then I ran past the house George Washington lived in ."), my Canadian and monarchist girlfriend still seems to be reading.

She's having too much fun with the blog for me to drive her away. They say that blogging can be addictive, and I now believe it. On some days, I find myself running just so that I can blog. The whole experience has become truly competitive. "I just posted. Have you?" Jody will taunt me on the days when I don't make it out to exercise. When we first started, she would even let me know whenever she was "winning," meaning that she had written the most posts since the beginning. Luckily, after a month or so, we had written enough that it became difficult to count the posts, and she moved onto taunting me about other things.

I have to admit that it's nice to look back on several months of exercise so easily. It's great to compare what you did today to past workouts with just a click of a mouse. As history goes, it's not quite as exciting as the revolutionary hijinks of George Washington, but it's certainly motivating.

©2006 Joe Lavin

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I have written for The Boston Globe Magazine, The Boston Herald, Salon, McSweeney's, The Boston Phoenix, The Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette, California Technology News, ComputorEdge, and many other publications. I also write regularly for Boston Sports Review and am included in May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor, the third volume in the Mirth of a Nation series. Thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoy my Internet column. -- Joe Lavin