It’s a little before 9AM at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo.
To the local running community, the park is known to be frequented weekly by Nike collaborator and Undercover designer Jun Takahashi’s Gyakusou International Running Association. Gyakusou, which literally means "running in reverse" in Japanese, is the designer and his club's calling card. Running against the grain of the crowd on Yoyogi's trails is Takahashi’s unique way of finding peace among chaos.
I, with a small group of other runners, try this approach through the park. But instead of finding serenity on this Friday morning, I am suffering.
Battling the 80-plus percent humidity and a belly full of sake carafes, whiskey, and Sapporo the night before, I’m basically trying to run through Yoyogi this morning on drunken strength.
It may not seem like it from reading the previous sentence, but I’ve been getting more serious about running since the beginning of the year. I’m not training for a marathon. I just want to feel less guilty about my pizza-eating and drinking habits, which ironically, the practice of running regularly has made me feel more even more guilty about.
I wouldn’t consider myself an alcoholic, but I did take the NCADD alcohol survey and scored a C-. Let’s just say I have personality traits that lead me to excess and extremes. It’s similar to most who aren’t satisfied with just 50 pairs of sneakers in their closet.
When I started running regularly, I discovered that it can act as a natural antidepressant and method of refreshing my mind after a day of mobile notifications, deadlines, and meetings that should’ve been emails. Indulging in my vices four to five times a week also slowed down since I started the practice more regularly, but I was very much enjoying those vices six hours earlier.
The heavy, nauseous feeling at the beginning of this run was the penance I was paying for them. As I lumber through the pavement a few paces slower than usual, I feel ounces of alcohol sweating out of my body with every stride.
Of all the things I’m working through internally on this 5K detox run, my feet seem to be the only thing I’m not thinking about for once. As someone who nerds out about how sneakers look and feel, I’m very particular about what I wear when I run, and this is my third run in the Nike Pegasus Turbo (first hungover).
After running for about a month before in the Pegasus 35 (not hungover), I can definitely feel the difference in cushioning. The Peg 35 uses a full-length Zoom Air bag which has a more snappy feel underfoot, while the Turbo gives a more plush, cushioned ride.
The upgraded version of the latest Pegasus, Nike’s longest running franchise, is the first with ZoomX. Nike touts the foam, which so far had only been seen in the brand’s Breaking2 sneaker the VaporFly Elite and VaporFly 4%, as its lightest cushioning system with more energy return than Boost. There is also a layer of Nike React in the midsole for stability.
One of the most noticeable differences in both versions of the Pegasus 35 is the weight. The Turbo version of the shoe felt lighter, which in turn made me feel a lot faster on the first few trials. A men’s size 9 of the Pegasus 35 weighs in at about 9.4 ounces and the Turbo version weighs in almost an ounce and a half less with reduction coming through the cushioning and translucent mesh upper.
These may seem like only slight updates or hot buzzwords on a tech sheet, but they make a world of difference when you’re training for speed—or running hungover. Not that I would encourage running under these conditions on a regular basis or doing things that cause a hangover in general, but there is a sense of accomplishment when going out and running despite the feelings of not wanting to do it all.
I’ve been on the other side of that feeling before. There’ve been times when I skipped an early morning workout to nurse the night before’s bad decisions. Much like the process of picking up the habit of running was filled with starts, stops, and restarts, so is the process of exercising your darkest inner demons.
At the halfway point of this run I’m overcome with a sense of gladness for hitting that restart button once again and begin to realize that the feeling of regret is far worse than short-term physical discomfort. I’ll probably never earn an Olympic gold medal like Eliud Kipchoge or win a marathon like Shalane Flanagan, but I still did something that most of the people I used to hang out with at happy hour wouldn’t be able to do.
Running can mimic life in a lot of ways. Half the battle is just showing up and trying. Maybe there’ll come a day when I’m completely free of my worst vices or maybe it won't.
I proved to myself that if I fall off the horse, or Pegasus in this case, I can just get right back on. It kind of reminds me of this quote that often comes up at the end of an audio-guided run on the NRC app:
“There is no finish line, just another start line.”
If you or someone you know are experiencing problems with drugs or alcohol, visit ncadd.org for help.