And yet, I’m building our Tuesday workouts around sprints. Here’s why.

Humans are built to run. When Harvard biologists stuck a cheetah on a treadmill with a thermometer up its butt, the scientists discovered the cheetah refused to run when its inner temperature reached 105 degrees.  Putting aside the question of why a cheetah with a thermometer up his butt would run at all, scientists concluded that running animals need to stop periodically to cool off. The exception is humans – our sweat glands make us far better at cooling off than any other animal that runs. This ability to cool off while running explains why humans can beat cheetahs, horses and any other animal when matched up in long distance races of twenty miles or more.

Putting this cool cooling ability alongside the loss of our opposable toes, our long Achilles tendons, and our enormous gluteus maximus (which fire up a lot when running, but only a bit when walking, and generally not at all when there’s a thermometer stuck up there), the hottest theory about running these days is that humans evolved to run down prey in a certain way: hunters used a slow-ish loping run that didn’t have to be fast enough to actually catch what they were hunting; they just had to keep up enough to keep the animal from stopping to cool down.  Eventually, the antelope or kudu or whatever just fell over from overheating.

This doesn’t mean we’re going to be doing 20 mile loping runs at Tuesday Queerfit. Quite the opposite. Given that we like to keep our workouts down around 15 minutes and focused on functional movements, the running we’ll be doing will be more the sprint of someone trying to outrun the cops that the lope of an antelope hunter.

I’m bad at it. Back in the day, the Presidential Fitness Test tested the flexed-arm hang, sit-ups, standing broad jump, and a 50-yard dash. If you got a certain score for each, you got a badge that looked quite similar to a NASA astronaut badge and was just about as prestigious.  But if you failed to hit the score on any of the items, nothing. Ah, my athletic glory days, when I held the Astoria Park Elementary School records for the flexed-arm hang every year and if there had been a world record for sit-ups by undersized children, that would have been all me.  Yet, no badge. Try as I might, I just didn’t have the speed for that 50-yard dash.

Things only got worse when I started swimming competitively. My ankles got all extra-flexible, which meant I tripped a lot walking around on dry land. By college, strolling about became high risk behavior. Shooting heroin from an unknown dealer was safer than jogging. So for the last 20 years, I’ve avoided running as studiously as Paul Ryan avoids giving details about the Republican tax plan.
I  decided I’m just not a good runner.

I have a suspicion, though, that I may not be as bad a runner as I believe myself to be. And staring down another birthday is a reminder that every year that passes is that much less time you have to get better at the things you’re bad at. This is going to be the year I’m going to outrun those third graders in the 50-yard dash.

The track at Phoenix Park is really nice.  Built for the 1996 Olympics, the track is far better constructed than the plywood  structures the Atlanta Olympic Committee threw up up and down Georgia Avenue to hide poverty in Summerhill and kick off the gentrification that eventually eliminated all of Atlanta’s public housing stock. The track has these special rubber granules that are vulcanized and cross-linked and smudged with desert sage in some way to makes you 52% faster than you are.

Alright, can you tell I’m trying to convince myself that running is a good thing? Don’t be afeared – fast running will only a part of the workout. It’s still a queerfit workout, and I still hate running. See you at 6:00 this evening & every Tuesday, at Phoenix Park on Georgia Ave. between Grant Park and the stadium.

And yes, before the end of the year, we will all run like Carmelita Jeter, see pic.