Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Chili Heads and Joggers

What an amazing world we inhabit. Eating hot chilis can send you to your happy place while jogging can wind up killing you.

chili peppersChili peppers have always equated in my mind with red lights – stop and look both ways before you proceed. I most often stop and never proceed. When I have eaten chili peppers, I felt as if I swallowed a volcano. Little did I know that on the other side of the volcanic eruption, there is a calm, happy place. I must have had bad directions.

For joggers, the reward for all their running may be a statistical dead heat with non-joggers on chances of experiencing a heart attack. One publication suggested “binge jogging” could be as bad for your health as smoking. I just thought jogging was bad for your knees.

Truth be told, I am unlikely to become either a chili head or a jogger.

Men who shy away from spicy food such as chilis tend to be less adventurous and more cautious, according to behavioral research. That fits me like a T (whatever T stands for).

New research suggests a high correlation exists between eating spicy food and feeling machismo. Eating spicy food always made me gasp for breath, not beat my chest.

Jogging never held much appeal for me, either. Clopping along for miles, often on concrete sidewalks and next to lanes of exhaust-belching cars, seemed a lot less interesting than mowing the grass or doing my income tax return. Plus, I dreaded the thought of wearing one of those funny-looking headbands.

Don’t get me wrong. I like exercise. I even do exercise. Riding a stationary bike, walking on a treadmill, lifting weights. All good. Especially since I don’t feel like dying after I’m done.

After exercise, the first thought in my brain isn’t to down hot chili peppers. I prefer a hot Starbucks.

I’m not consciously aware than any of my friends are chili heads. I wouldn’t like them any less, but I probably would decline popping over to their house for a tall cool one and hot spicy one.

joggingstayingfitI see joggers everyday at the gym and running along the road as I drive to work. Sometimes I wave, but that’s the extent of personal involvement with jogging.

When I was in high school and highly impressionable, I let my wrestling coach talk me into going out for the cross country team. My coach said it would be great off-season training. I tried to keep that thought when the cross country coach dropped off the team near Red Rocks Ampitheatre west of Denver and told us to run back to our high school several miles and foothills away.

We carried pocketknives at the coach’s urging “in case we ran into a rattlesnake.” I did see rattlesnakes, but that added motivation to running faster, not practicing my carving skills.

It was only many years later that it dawned on me cross country is a form of jogging. The last time I ever jogged was as a reluctant member of my high school’s junior varsity cross country team after a teammate came down sick. I became the substitute for the worst jogger on the team, and I lived up to expectations by finishing next to last. I edged out the other team’s worst jogger, who wheezed and coughed as he staggered across the finish line.

It was the only time in my life that I wished I had a hot chili pepper.




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