This year i have found myself in the unprecedented position of exceeding my New Years resolutions – pretty much by not having made any. Instead, i’ve just done stuff. About a month before christmas i took up running again. I used to do a fair bit of running and anyone who knows me has no doubt countless times been bored to tears with my tales of injuries and wonky feet and wayward knees. Couple this with a chronic inability to get out of bed in the morning, and generally not much running took place for a long time.
But then the dog came to stay…
The dog is a fur coated cannonball of energy. He is a blur. He exists in a state of constant motion. He basically needs to calm the f*** down. But when I explain this to him, he just stares up at me in wide eyed delight and fidgets, like someone in anticipation of a hilarious punch-line. The powerpoint was a complete waste of time, to be honest. The only other alternative is to walk him. Every. Bloody. Day. So, in a new, surreal, upside-down reality, I now find myself dressed and awake around 5.30am every morning. I no longer have the excuse of not being out of bed. After a few months of morning walks, I thought we could combine our common interests and turn the walks into runs.
We go out in the dark each morning, me gasping for breath in the cold air, running my legs off while the dog trots along next to me, barely breaking out of a walk. Sometimes he likes to point out how slow I run by skipping a few steps ahead, stopping to do a little wee, having a shake, and then carrying on alongside me without the lead ever getting pulled. Smug, loose-limbed little bastard.
I also gave up drinking for January. Not for charity, but just because I thought I might die soon if I continue to drink at the levels I have been. ‘Everyone drinks too much in the run up to Christmas!’ friends tell me. Unfortunately, my run-up started several Christmases before this one, so something needed to be done really…
The moment I declared that intention, I panicked, tried to change to giving up something more realistic and achievable, like oxygen or the use of my legs.
But in the end not-drinking helped with getting up in the morning, which helps with running. Which helps with starting to feel like what I imagine human beings are actually supposed to feel like.
But the injuries have begun to creep back in already. This time around I had specially purchased a pair of stability running shoes that were intended to prevent the painful kneecap pain that used to take months to heal. So far, no knee cap pain, but instead a new and equally intense tibial band pain down the outside of my knee. ,which also appears to be taking months to heal. It turns out (a little too late) that there are studies that show that tibial band injuries are quite common with stability running shoes. Which is ironic when they’re designed to prevent injuries in the first place.
So in a month or two, I’ll be back to the neutral shoes again, and have to take my chances with the kneecap problems.
Running is essentially the cheapest and easiest fitness activity to get into. Just open the door, step outside and go (probably close the door after you). There is a great sense of freedom to be gained from running, but this doesn’t come until a few weeks after you’ve started, when you’re able to run a bit further. There’s not an awful lot of freedom involved in getting to the first corner and coming straight back again, the whole experience having lasted no more than 5 minutes. There’s a secret to running that no one seems to tell people when they start out-you don’t actually have to run a lot . Walking is pretty good for you too, so starting off with a tiny bit of running amongst a lot of walking makes it a lot easier to get into it and to keep it going.
Its hard enough to find the time to remain fit and healthy when you have young children, but finding the money is equally hard if not more. Running is free, but very high impact on the bones and joints, and not very good for you if you do too much of it. To join a gym is extortionately priced, especially when they’re not even open when it would be most beneficial to me. If its not open at 5.30 am, theres no chance of getting a workout and still get the kids to school and myself to work in the morning. And if both you and your partner want to join the gym? Might as well remortgage. I’ve not yet found a gym that can understand that it is physical impossibility for me and my wife to attend at the same time. So why no shared membership?
The late Bill Hicks once said, ‘You think you’re free? Just try going somewhere without any money…’ Well going running is probably the only time i can leave the house without having to be prepared to pay for something while I’m out. So as frustrating as it is, i’ll not give it up yet.