Stage One: Absolute Certainty
This run will kill me. I am going to die. I can’t breathe. Oh my God! I’ve forgotten how to breathe! How the hell do I breathe? Stop panicking! Stop panicking! Thank f*** for that, I’ve remembered. In through the nose…out through the mouth. Ignore the gasping. It’s not your respiratory system packing in, it’s your unfit body objecting to this torture.
Stage Two: Anger
Why the f*** am I putting myself through this? I don’t even care if I’m fat! I like food – so sue me. Nothing is worth this. I shouldn’t have to put myself through this. I’m a good person. I’ll just eat salad every day from now on. The human body is not designed to do this. Who am I to go against Nature’s plan?
Stage Three: Shock
Bloody hell! I’m doing this. I’m actually doing this! And I haven’t died! I haven’t even collapsed or needed an ambulance…yet. Who knew my body was capable of this?
Stage Four: Joyous Euphoria
I’m the King of the World! I’m f***ing awesome! Look at me, everyone. Read it and weep – I’m amazing, and you’re not. I’m a Runner! I might not stop at three miles, now. Maybe I’ll do five…or ten…maybe I should enter a marathon? I reckon I could do twenty six miles. Yep, London Marathon for me next year. I’m going to sign up as soon as I get home.
Stage Five: Reality Check
Must…keep…running. Concentrate on your surroundings and not the worrying rasping noise coming from your mouth. I can do this! But maybe three miles is enough for tonight. I don’t want to risk injuring myself. No, three miles is just the right amount. I should build up slowly, do it gradually. I’ll aim for five next time and go from there. Don’t want to overdo it. Maybe I’ll leave the marathon application for a couple of weeks. I don’t want to rush into anything.
Stage Six: The Pain
I wish my knee would stop clicking, but at least it’s drowning out the sound of my thighs chafing together. Don’t you start, ankle. You’re just trying to overcompensate for my calf, I know, but that’s putting extra strain on my hip. Why the hell are the insides of my arms burning? Brilliant – more chafing. And as for the boobs – why didn’t I invest in a ‘Shock Absorber Ultra, These Babies are Going Nowhere’ instead of a ‘Tesco’s Special, I’m Slightly More Supportive Than a Nursing Bra But I Can’t Fight Gravity, Age, and Breastfeeding Three Babies – I’m a Bra, Not a F***ing Miracle Worker’.
Stage Seven: The Voices
‘You can’t give up! You’ve come too far!’
‘I can, and I will. You can’t tell me what to do.’
‘You promised yourself you would do this.’
‘That’s the good thing about making promises to yourself – no-one else knows about them so you can break them any time.’
‘You are determined to get fitter.’
‘I am determined to eat cake and drink gin.’
‘Think of the calories you’re burning!’
‘I WANT CAKE!’
‘You’re letting yourself down.’
‘I DON’T CARE!’
Stage Eight: One Foot in Front of the Other
Don’t talk to me. I can’t multi-task. I must only focus on putting one foot in front of the other. It’s just like fast walking, and I’ve been doing that since I was one. No, it’s no good. I can’t take another step. I’ve hit the wall. What’s that you say? I can? OK, if you can do it, I can do it. I knew there was a good reason for running with a group – for someone to keep telling me to put one foot in front of the other. Come on – dig in.
Stage Nine: The Last Mile
Must not quit. Must not quit. Repeat after me: you must not quit. Only capable of a single train of thought – trains. Choo-choo! Must not quit. Must not quit. Oh my life, I’ve finally gone mental. This running lark has finished me off and pushed me over the edge. What’s that in the distance? Am I hallucinating? Is this what it’s like to see an oasis in the desert after nearly dying of thirst? It is! It’s the finishing line! I’m actually going to do this!
Stage Ten: Conflict
I am never doing that again. I’m so proud of myself! Once was enough. Marathon, here I come! As if I could ever do a marathon. Maybe I’ll take up Yoga. Same time next week? Yes, course. See you then. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.