Vanity Fair: Hilary Swank

I won’t lie to you. Probably the only good thing to me about running pre-2010 was carbs. Back in high school on the track team I would think about Spaghetti-Os while I lugged my body around the track trying to keep up with the girl’s team while the boy’s team, led by my little brother Cole “The Machine” Anderson, would run laps around me. I would think about the two-packet bowl of Easy Mac waiting for me at home while I ran mile after mile, pissed off at the weather for being too hot or too cold or too windy, pissed off at my legs for getting shin splints on Day 3 of the season, and pissed off at my dumb ass coach, just for being her, because really, what kind of coach tells a miserable runner, who just took a week off because of her shin splints, to run the 4x800m relay, the 800m, the mile, AND the two mile? At REGIONALS? A dumb ass one, that’s what kind.

After the State track meet that year, I hung up my running shoes, presumably for good, save for a few half-hearted jogs around the block around bikini season. It wasn’t until spring 2010, when I worked six days a week in a room with no windows and lived on the top floor of a building whose windows didn’t open that I decided I needed to incorporate some open-air runs into my workout.

I don’t know if it was one thing in particular about that day and that run that made me forget how much I hated running, or if it was a combination of the yummy-smelling spring flowers and the sunshine and the solitude and the absence of Coach shrieking “ANDERSON, move your ASS!!!” but after that day, I was hooked. Just being outside and by myself is enough to lure me out of bed in the morning, it doesn’t matter the weather or my mood. If it’s cold, I love my cheeks getting all pink and chilly; if it’s hot, I love the sweat running into my eyelashes; if it’s raining, I feel like Pocahontas.

A couple months ago, I was the unhappiest I had ever been in my life and I was trying anything to get out of that hole. Exercise became my life raft and sometimes that wouldn’t even do it. I had a really rough morning run one day, in the early winter of 2010. My breathing was jacked, I had a cramp in my side, my ponytail kept coming out and I was trying hard not to cry because I couldn’t stop thinking about the trainwreck that had become my life. A woman was running towards me and when she was about to pass me, I looked up to give her a surly good-morning-fellow-runner-chick head nod. The sun hit her square in the face and her shirt was soaked, sweat dripped down her forehead, she was beet red… and she was smiling like I’ve never seen anyone smile before. She was so happy and it hit me like a brick wall so that I almost about-faced and chased her down to give her a creepy stranger hug. That fellow runner chick totally turned my day around, and I floated on her stoked-on-running happiness for hours.

Running is the kind of workout where you don’t have to do it perfectly, and it feels so awesome and cathartic no matter how you do it. Any amount of running you do is enough to make you forget what’s outside each step on the pavement, the fresh air in your lungs, and the sound of your pulse pounding in your ears. Now get up, Denver, and move your ASS!!!!