Every day it seems as if a latest and greatest idea is introduced to help improve your health. There are endless diets to make you want nothing more than to quit them cold turkey. There are home exercise machines that you would never allow yourself to be seen using in public (the Horse Riding Fitness Ace Power is one such piece of genius that specializes in ultimate personal embarrassment). I’m sure shadow boxing with coffee grinds in your socks is just around the corner, as is 3-meter springboard yoga diving, and cross-eyed jump roping. Of course, many of the ideas and products have a lifespan equal to that of a housefly.
I’d like to point out one idea that I find completely useless: backwards running.
The idea is that by running backwards you will strengthen your calves, quadriceps, and shins more so than by running forwards. That’s all well and good, but for me the problem with the idea is that I don’t run well backwards. Nor do I particularly run backwards in the safest places. In fact, there really is no good reason why I should run backwards other than for getting in touch with my inner child. (Obviously, my inner child is lacking in some departments, such as street smarts.) When I run backwards I hit things like parking signs, buildings, sturdy oak trees (they’re actually worse than buildings), and old ladies (well, I haven’t hit one yet, but I’m sure old ladies are much worse than trees because bowling them down requires a complete explanation to the paramedics and police as to why I was running backwards)…
Cop: “So, why did you run backwards into Mrs. Thompson? Do you realize you broke her collar bone?”
Me: “I’m so sorry, but thank God I didn’t break her neck! What a mess that would’ve been. Look, I was merely trying to strengthen my calves, quadriceps, and shins. It was an accident. Kinda wish she were a tree, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
Cop: “Well, we are having this discussion. And excuse me, but you wish Mrs. Thompson were a tree?”
Me: “Yeah. A big oak tree.”
Cop: “Mr. Hill, I want you to stop right there with the insults. I think you owe Mrs. Thompson an immediate apology. Do you understand me?”
Me: “I already said I’m sorry. I have to say it twice?”
Cop: “You know what…I’ve had it with your type! Turn around, you scum. I’m cuffing you. Taking you in for disobeying a police officer and aggravated assault.”
Me: “Aggravated assault!? Are you kidding me? All I was doing was running backwards, trying to put some bulk in my quads. Old lady Thompson’s dang lucky I didn’t knock her into a passing car. Then what would you cite me for? Murder!!!?”
(Memo to self: Do not smart-mouth cops.)
I fear an immediate sentencing of guilt is just around the corner. I fear the misinformed newspaper headlines: “ELDERLY WOMAN NARROWLY ESCAPES LOCAL MAN’S ATTEMPT TO DISFIGURE AND DISMEMBER HER WHILE BACKING UP”. While “backing up” what? A car? A truck? NOOOO!!!! It was just me. It was an accident!!
So, I decide to flee the cop and begin running forwards instead of backwards. But I only get as far as the total collapse of my neuromuscular system will allow. In other words, the cop’s Taser has hit, and the world goes to black.
* * *
So I wonder: Just how important is strengthening my calves, quadriceps, and shins, if I’m going to have a high chance of ending up in jail or suffer other dreadful outcomes? If I run backwards along a lake trail, it’s a given I’m going to trip and take a dip and, in the process, hit my head on a large rock. If I run backwards in Ireland, I’m going to be the butt of the jokes at the pubs. If I do it in New York City…well, forget it—I’m not attempting to run backwards in New York City. Really, the only place that I can run backwards safely is the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Oh, how convenient.
Of course, proponents are out there. According to runaddicts.net, there are many benefits with running backwards:
It will improve your posture. Wrong. A few hundred falls on my tailbone and one trip into the lake, I will have no posture.
Your senses will be heightened. Your peripheral vision will become more acute. Are you kidding me? I need eyes in the back of my head. Literally!
You will have fun. Pay me about ten grand and I’ll have fun. Last I checked, I never found running into revolving doors, mail boxes, construction workers, city buses, cactus, my mother-in-law, or man holes as necessarily being fun.
You can still run while you are injured. The last thing I want to do is something completely counterproductive while healing an injury. Look, after just five minutes of running backwards, rest assured I won’t be running backwards. I’ll either be in the Emergency Room, the Operating Room, or the morgue.
Maybe I got it all backwards about running backwards. Maybe I simply need to accept that I am a backwards failure, and should move forward with my life. It’s a wise suggestion, but there is a problem: I am a very curious person, and now fear I might try an alternative to normal forward running.
I am a slow learner. Watch out people, because here I come…running sideways!
Copyright Ros Hill 2016