I see people running in pairs and I cannot help but believe that one of them must feel that they are being held back by the other – whilst the other is trying to devise a means of suffering the kind of injury that means they will never have to do that again! Some of them chat. Unbelievable! What can you possibly chat about whilst running? Surely pain and anguish begins to pall as a topic after a while. There are only so many times you can gasp ‘I seriously think I might die,’ and expect to elicit a concerned response. I thoroughly annoy myself whilst running – I cannot imagine what I might do to somebody else. Not that idle chat is an option for me. To be honest, I’m not even sure that I am up to idle listening. Besides, I still have Jo Whiley plugged into my ear at the moment. Her voice is encouraging, seductive and soothing and really quite irritating after a while. If she tells me how well I am doing one more time, I will seek her out and place a dried pea in her trainers. An idle threat, I assure you, but as a man who has recently run some distance with a Lego Fireman’s Hat wedged under his big toe nail, I can vouch for its effect: it would certainly slow her down. Let’s see how chirpy you would be then, Jo! She keeps assuring me that she has ‘been there.’ Really? When were you last an overweight 60 year-old Ms. Whiley? When did you last look down at your sagging old body and realise that if you lived in Alaska, the Inuit would eat you? When did you last take stock of what might make you attractive to the opposite sex and be quite happy to stop at zero? (Should she be reading this, which quite patently she is not, I must point out that her voice has, in fact, kept me going many times when I wanted to stop. Who could possibly wantonly let Jo Whiley down?)
It’s a very weird thing about losing weight as you get older: you don’t appear to get thinner, you just get saggier. Somehow I appear to have more skin, but less to put in it. Is that normal? I’m not expecting a six-pack from anywhere here – just that my skin might put in some kind of effort to keep up with the rest of me.
Last week’s runs were a real effort after a full day on my feet at work and a thirty minute walk to and from, but I got through them. I look at next week’s itinerary and I can’t help but think that I have already met my threshold. It is beginning to reach the point where I know that one of us is going to have some kind of cataclysmic breakdown. Either I will have broken the Couch to 5k’s back and there will be nothing new it can throw at me – I will have absorbed all the pain it has to offer and come up grimacing chirpily – or part of me will give-way in such a dramatic fashion that it could quite possibly push Meryl Streep into second place. I am becoming quietly determined and it worries me. I have barely told anyone (except for you lot) that I am doing this – they would just think that it is some kind of elaborate joke – and quite honestly, at the moment, I cannot view it as a laughing matter. Determination is not something that sits well with me: I have always got through by simply trying to ensure that whatever washes over me, doesn’t drown me – but now I’m trying to stay afloat. My dog-paddle is ungainly but effective (or would be if I had four legs) and happily, I haven’t sunk just yet.
One last word for Ms Whiley though: whatever she implores me to tell myself, I am most certainly and absolutely NOT a runner. I will never be a runner. And I will never, ever share my run with another soul – well, not unless they’re slower than me, of course…
The previous Couch to 5k instalment, ‘To Dream of Couscous’ is here.
The next Couch to 5k instalment, ‘The Extreme Elasticity of the Pain Threshold’ is here.
Couch to 5k begins here.