I have a confession: I used to be one of those people who would drive past joggers or runners and be tempted to accelerate through a big muddy puddle to punish them for being so virtuous. I just couldn’t see how anyone would find running enjoyable. Why would anyone actually choose to pound the pavements getting out of breath and sweaty, instead of going to the pub? That’s just not normal.
I came to the conclusion that they must be lacking in a decent hobby. Or they were allergic to alcohol and ran to burn off their anger at the injustice of it all. Either way, I certainly wouldn’t be joining their ranks. No sirree. Not for me. I’d rather jam red hot pokers in my eyes. Or, in my husband’s eloquent words: ‘I’d rather saw off my knob with a rusty bread knife.’ (I’ve been so tempted to test that theory on a number of occasions.)
Then I saw on Facebook that a couple of my friends had joined a running group. My first impression was, ‘Bloody hell – runners use the internet too! Maybe they are just regular people, after all!’ And then I saw that they met locally. And then I realised I knew Dave and Justine who ran the group. And then I realised that I needed to start doing some exercise now that the summer holiday is booked, and that I’m skint, and that running is free.
And so, with some trepidation, I went and met the Bash Bugs, convinced they would point and laugh at the idea of me running…or possibly chase after me with pitchforks for the uncharitable thoughts I’d had about runners in the past.
On my first run, on a Sunday, I literally thought I was going to die. My heart was pounding (dangerously, I thought). Turns out it was just in shock that I was actually making it work hard for a change. I could virtually hear my liver, whispering, ‘What the f*** are you doing? Do you know how much wine we drank last night?’ But I ignored them both and I pushed hard through the breathlessness and unattractive wheezing, helped massively by the encouragement of my fellow joggers.
When I finished, I was completely knackered, but I finally got what all the fuss was about. I was buzzing. I felt so proud of myself for not stopping every time I’d wanted to, and for keeping up the pace. Both of those things were my biggest fears, and I’d conquered both of them.
Now, six weeks later, I’m posting my distances and kilometres per minute on Facebook. I’m up to about seven miles. It also turns out that the Bash Bugs aren’t allergic to alcohol. They don’t run because they are angry at the world. They have families, and jobs, and even hobbies. And what’s more, they have welcomed me with open arms.
I now go running three or four times a week and, sad as it sounds, find I actually miss it when I don’t go. I’ve been on a wide variety of routes that I would never have felt brave enough to try by myself. I’ve started to actually notice the beauty of my surroundings now that I don’t think I’m going to cark it every other second or throw up my tea. I’ve made new friends – people that I genuinely like and would choose to spend time with when I’m not running. Which is why we’re all on a night out together tonight.
So, next time you see me, ass wobbling, hair slick with sweat, flies in my teeth and looking like I’m about to have a coronary, know this: I’m enjoying it, right? Genuinely. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but I am. And even if you do splash me with a muddy puddle, in the words of The Spencer Davis Group (Who?), I’ll ‘Keep on Running.’
Try it; you might actually like it.