COLUMN: January 5, 2017

A person of indeterminate gender jogging in special black running trousers
I DECIDED to make some New Year’s resolutions in an attempt to make myself more viable.

I have now reached the age where, if I were the equivalent in car years, my owner would worry about taking me for my MOT. Bits have started falling off, and there’s some rust around my trim.

Joint chief among my resolutions were “get fit (again)” and “eat less bread”. The second of this is because I work odd hours and eat too many sandwiches as a result. I am roughly 38% sandwich.

But the first of those was prompted by a trip a few days ago up five flights of stairs, which left me not so much out of breath as with my lungs trying to escape my body via my ears.

This time last year I would have been able to take those stairs with a bounce and then drop to the floor and do 50 press-ups, if it had not have been for the looks I would have got from the diners in Nando’s.

Back then I was running 4-5k three times a week and pondering the next step – registering for a 10k race. I even owned actual special running shoes and trousers, which just goes to show how serious I was, when you consider I eat a lot of bread but I don’t even own a toaster.

But I stopped running after a minor setback, and found it difficult to get started again. For once you have stopped running it is hard to get the motivation to start again, in the absence of a pursuing lion or a chugger with a clipboard.

So yesterday (as I write) I pulled on my special running trousers and shoes. My special running trousers are black and very, erm, form-fitting, so I look a little like a goth principal boy.

Luckily, I run without glasses, partly because they would steam up and/or fall off, but mostly so I cannot see the disgusted looks of people coming in the opposite direction.

Normally, I run in silence, listening only to my ragged breathing, my heartbeat, and the annoying jingling of a pound coin against my key.

But this was a new start, and I chose to listen as I ran to a running podcast, which plays blandly inspirational music, while a nice lady tells you when to run and when to rest. For when you start running again, you can’t just launch into a half-hour run. You have to ease into it.

And I was easing into it at first. My excursion was split into a three-minute run followed by a short walk, then a five-minute run followed by another short walk, all of which is then repeated.

That sounds sensible, but it does not take into account the fact that passers-by see you running and then stopping to walk, and assume you are a massive lazybones who can’t cut it as a runner.

My initial three-minute run – don’t laugh, you try running for three solid minutes when you haven’t broken into a jog since you were 15 – was not too taxing, and it was good when the lady told me I was doing really well and I only had 60 seconds to go.

By the time of the second five-minute run, the nice lady was really starting to get my dander up. I was seeing stars and could hear my blood whooshing around my head. Because she was telling me how well I was doing and I knew – I KNEW – that she was recording this motivational message in a warm studio with a tea and Kit-Kat on the go while she leafed through Take A Break.
And as I finished the run, an agonising stitch in my side, and began the warm-down walk, she told me that people often get a stitch during this run, so I should have a drink of water before I set off next time.

It was the last straw.

“WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT BEFORE, YOU SILLY MOO!” I yelled out in the deserted street.

If I had not been wearing earphones, I would not have been angered by the nice woman. And if I had not been wearing earphones I would have heard the pounding on the pavement of the two women running behind me, who passed me laughing.

I can only hope it was at my seemingly insane outbursts and not my special running trousers.

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