As you may already know, I often jog around the Maschsee here in Hannover, Germany. It’s about 3.9 miles in circumference (6.3 km), which is a pretty good bit of exercise for someone who sits in front of the computer all day long making pretty things for money. The first time I successfully ran the Maschsee, I wanted to throw up as hard as possible. I wanted to vomit like a dog who’s been gorging on something nasty it found in the garbage — back all hunched over real tight, mouth open and drooling, making that awful, full-body dry heaving sound, like, AHYUK-KA YUK-KA YUK-KA — and then BAM! Paydirt.
Although jogging the Maschsee has become progressively easier each time I’ve done it, there is one thing which still challenges me: talking while running. It gives some people cramps or stitches in their sides, but personally, I just don’t have the cardiovascular fortitude for it. Not after the first minute into the run or so. After that, it’s a test of willpower and socially acceptable masochism, and wasting oxygen is like spitting in the eye of the exercise gods. I’m pretty sure every dude who ever dropped dead while jogging was trying to hold a conversation at the same time, like it was no big deal. But oh, it was a big deal, for Lord Cardio the Spiteful is a god who demands your full attention, lest he become jealous and smite thee with a cataclysmic aneurysm.
So back in the winter of 2012, my wife actually joined me for a jog around the Maschsee. (A rare occasion, as my wife is a teacher, and teachers work way more hours after class than you might think.) We managed to go most of the way around before we decided to walk. As we were walking, we were passed by another couple — a man and woman with superior thighs and exemplary calf muscles — who were running at a good clip while conducting an effortless conversation. I mentioned to my wife how impressive I found this, to which she replied:
THE WIFE: “If I try to talk while I run, I get these horrible side-bites.”*
*I think she was translating the German word, “Seitenstiche,” or “side stitches.”