The wrong, but right, way to run


We realise a large hairy man and a short balding man, in women’s gear, jogging together doesn’t look great, but we do it anyway

Q AND I have been running now for nearly five years. It doesn’t look right. We’re not athletic looking individuals. I am a large hairy man. Q is a shorter balding man. We are not thin.

Q thinks that when people see us running they say: “Look it’s Jerry Garcia and Danny DeVito out for a run. I didn’t know they knew one another.”

However, I think people respond to our wheezing figures with something more like alarm. “I saw you running along Clontarf seafront the other day,” a worried colleague once said to me. “What was wrong? Why were you running? Was everything alright?”

I started running on New Year’s Day 2008. Q had been running for a year. He already had the gear – a pair of women’s shorts, which he bought by accident, argyle socks and a heavy T-shirt documenting a team-building exercise he was once on.

I wear band T-shirts for my own band (I still have boxes of unsold ones) and light blue knee-length slacks I bought while on holiday. We both wear Asics runners because somebody recommended them early on and we’re fiends for the zeitgeist.

We like running. We have spent a lot of our four years engaged in this activity giggling – not because we’re high but because we’re starved of oxygen and dehydrated.

We run on Saturday and Sunday mornings because Q has a small child and wakes up early. Sometimes before we go for a run I have an espresso and Q has his first smoke of the day. Once, when pressed for time, Q had his first smoke as we ran.

After we run, I stop at the shop on my way home and buy a breakfast roll and a packet of Minstrels. I’m no doctor, but it seems to me that once you’ve run a few miles you should be allowed to eat anything. I have lost little weight since I started running.

As we run early on weekend mornings, I am sometimes hungover. Recently, in the health section of this very newspaper, there was an article about whether you should run when you have a hangover. I never read it.

“Maybe I should read it?” I said to Q. “What if it’s bad?” says Q. “It’s probably better that you don’t read it. You should leave it be. Things are good here.” I never read it and sadly there is no way to do so now (editor’s note: all articles from The Irish Times are available in the digital archive).

Although we have much in common, there are some differences between how Q approaches running and how I do. For example, Q likes to lather his groin with Vaseline to prevent chaffing. He sticks his Vaseline-encased palms down the front of his ladies’ shorts and has a vigorous rummage. He is happy to do this in front of just about anyone. Personally, I find it a bit less embarrassing to have blood running down the inside of my legs.

In the early days, Q was keener on stretching than me. He had a “friend” who gave him a whole list of different stretches to do. Some friend, I thought.

“My father ran for decades and he never stretched!” I said proudly. So nowadays Q doesn’t stretch either.

Recently my father said to me: “My back is killing me. Seriously, Patrick, it’s very sore. If I could change one thing about my life it would be to stretch more before running.” I was like: “Quit whining or I’ll put you in a home.”

Sometimes, when Q and I go to run in big races in the Phoenix Park, we do stretch because of the peer pressure that comes from seeing thousands of other people stretching (I suspect that we’d have been pushovers at Nuremberg).

So in the Phoenix Park we stretch, and we eat bananas rather than breakfast rolls and Q doesn’t smoke and he hides the label on his ladies’ shorts.

Q thinks people say: “It’s nice to see how Jerry Garcia and Danny DeVito have turned their lives around.” Then, usually at around the two-mile mark, a man pushing a baby buggy overtakes us and we think: “What’s the point?”

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