I have friends who claim to love running. They are clearly deranged.
I take so long in ‘getting ready’ to undertake my thirty minutes of torture that often, with a little foresight, I could have been back before I started. My overriding pre-run emotion is dread of what is to come. During the run I am smugly satisfied that my dread has been justly vindicated. Only during the post-run shower, in anticipation of the well-earned chocolate and red wine (it doesn’t do to lose weight too quickly at my age) do I feel any sense of achievement. There is certainly never any sense of enjoyment about it. At times I would sooner be water-boarded.
I have re-started work this week after furlough and consequently, after eight hours of miserable monotony (which encompasses ten thousand steps apparently) I return home to run before settling down for the much-truncated evening. What kind of a life is that? It is like being told that you are having quinoa for dinner, but not to worry, you won’t have time for seconds as you have to worm the cat. What kind of person dreams of couscous?
And why do I desperately feel the need to wee within minutes of leaving the house to run? It passes, but only because it cannot compete with the necessity to find oxygen from somewhere, nor the desire to separate my tongue from the roof of my mouth. I have no idea whether men have a pelvic floor, but if they do, I fear that mine must be subterranean.
Despite all of this, my main concern is not of collapse, but of encountering somebody I know. My route is an amorphous, constantly changing beast; adapting at a moment’s notice in order to avoid any kind of social interaction whilst gasping. When forced into a salutary smile, I am aware that it emerges like rigor. I can feel the whispered, ‘Should he really be doing that at his age?’ I would like to yell back, ‘No, he bloody well shouldn’t!’ but I don’t have the breath. Anybody who claims to glean any kind of enjoyment from this torment should be certified. It is not normal.
You may, by now, have begun to share my own amazement that I am still doing this. I am doing it simply because nobody (including me) thought that I would and until I have proved everybody wrong, I cannot possibly stop. Like a character in Eastenders I have weeks of misery in me yet – and I take absolutely no joy from saying so.