It’s so early the sun’s not up. It’s cold. I'm on a military base and I’ve been running so long and hard that my legs ache and my feet are numb. I probably stop if I’m running alone. But I'm running with a group of six Special Forces guys, one of whom is the much-tweeted-and-Facebook-status-updated about Special Forces Guy from a forthcoming magazine story. You don't quit when you're with him.
We'll just call The Captain for now, because he's soon coming to magazines near you and I can't risk wrecking the story with more details yet. (Trust me, they're more than worth the wait.) What I can tell you about him is that one of his colleagues has this sticky note in his wallet, a little perspective for harder days, and it says the guy's name and then the words "Don't Bitch."
“C’mon, man!” The Captain calls back, his voice light but firm. “Just another half-mile!”
A half-mile later we're done and I'm breathing way heavier than they. I hate jogging.
We go inside and get some water. I talk with one of the other men from the group about running with The Captain and not quitting and such. The man nods and says, “Yeah, whenever I’m having a bad day, I just think about him.”
"How far did we run?" I ask.
"Like four miles."
"Man, is that it? How fast? He said we'd go at a nine-minute-mile pace."
The guy smirked. "Yeah, he might've kicked it up a bit more than that."
"How much more?"
"We were definitely at a seven or six-thirty pace there for the last couple miles."
I just laugh and ask for water and hope the spots go away soon.
A few minutes later, The Captain comes around the corner. “Okay man, you ready to go?”
“We’re going to the gym.”
And here I thought the rest of the morning was for interviews.
On the way to the gym The Captain jokes, like, "I'm gettin' you sexy, man. You can tell your wife to expect the bill next week."
In the gym, The Captain goes silent, all sweat and gritted teeth and effort. Just attacking the weight. We're in there for an hour and a half. Then we go eat.
“We’ve done good today,” The Captain says over a huge breakfast of bacon, pancakes, and sausage. “It feels good when you do good, doesn’t it?” He chews his bacon, drinks some orange juice. Then he says, “You want to go again tomorrow, right?”
* * *
For years Katie and I have been talking about working out and eating better.
It's so much easier to just eat crap and do nothing.
Since that October run I've tried to work out like I did in college—back when I was 210 with 8 percent bodyfat, hellz yeah bruh!—but it's been tough. Mostly because I'm lazy. I'm in fine shape. Average at worst, but not many notches higher than that. Play a few hours of pickup basketball a week, lift a couple days a week, jog maybe once a week. Can still knock a ball out of the park when the occasion calls for it.
But lately I've been really wanting to get the most out of my body. It's what carries around my brain, you know? If I want to do the best I can as a writer, then logically, I need my brain carrier to be in peak performance condition.
The human body has been valued at as much as $45 million.
We're walking winning lottery tickets. And sometimes we treat our bodies like some piece of crap Pinto.
Katie and I finally decided to go all in. She did before I did. See, I talk about stuff a lot—she's good at just doing it. I'm just trying to catch up at this point. She's been working out regularly for a solid six months. Me, two-ish. And we're eating so healthy it's sickening. You want to know what I had for meals three times this week? Salad. Like, for the whole meal.
It's not the easiest transition. You crave the junk. But then, the more you work out and the less junk you eat, the less you want junk and the more you want to work out.
I think maybe we're naturally predisposed to crave things; Katie and I are just trying to reboot our bodies to crave the right things. I swear, it's like junk food and soda manufacturers put crack in everything.
But once you get through withdrawal ... The Captain's so right.