I'd gladly never put white runners on again


My hatred of running is so strong that even my apps have lost faith

I hate running. There. Said it. Feel healthier for it already. Apparently, soon after discovering your legs can move faster than is natural, or graceful, newly converted running enthusiasts become helplessly addicted to the adrenaline rush, and actually look forward to pulling on overpriced running shoes and hitting the road.

Share the love? Definitely not. But then, I run for health reasons, not enjoyment. I run to battle a standing weight (especially if standing is as close to exercise as I get for any length of time) of over 17st. If I could get fitter by sitting on the couch watching Boardwalk Empire, I’d gladly never put white runners on my feet again.

I’ve tried many tricks and techniques to make running more interesting – alternating terrain and music, and using the gadgets that real runners sneer at, such as apps which use the phone’s GPS location data to track progress.

A few weeks after downloading one such app I got an email which began: “Hi Damian, we’re disappointed we haven’t seen you in quite a while.” Even the apps have lost faith.

I tried switching my runs to mornings, before my brain was awake, but eventually it copped on and put a stop to it. I suspect going for early morning runs are quite difficult for most people anyway, especially if there are children in the house.

And I’m not running with a buggy, which surprised me as a thing that people do without the necessity of a bus in the distance. A few years ago, halfway through my first 10km race – and quietly satisfied with my rate of progress – a woman passed me pushing a running buggy. I’m sure the baby was judging me, and I suddenly began to lose motivation with every breath. But still I do it. I run.

Do you have to love running to do it? Of course not. It’s a means to an end. I don’t particularly yearn to watch food sit in boiled water either. But I find (usually) it’s worth the effort. Anyway, I don’t hate everything about running – and I don’t just mean the satisfaction of loading up on carbs before a long run, though that is a particular favourite. The first 100 yards are okay, and the final steps. It’s just the repetitive, boring 99 per cent in between. And, well, it’s hard.

While the benefits are obvious, the disadvantages scream just as loud, such as running being bad for your joints – though admittedly this is only an issue if you use your ankles and knees in normal daily life.

Some times they ache so bad even the biscuit tin is out of reach.

There’s no doubt running can certainly be bad for your health, especially if you do it on city streets – which should come with a medal for bravery, or stupidity, depending on your viewpoint.

Maybe Mike Royko, the late great Chicago newspaper columnist, had the right idea. “It’s unnatural for people to run around the city streets unless they are thieves or victims,” he wrote many years ago. “It makes people nervous to see someone running. I know that when I see someone running on my street, my instincts tell me to let the dog go after him.”

For any runner who hates running, the toughest battle is not the final mile, it’s convincing body and mind to agree to go running at all. I hurt my knee around the 10-mile mark of a half-marathon a few years ago. It took several months to heal but it was much longer before I put on a pair of runners again with the intention of using them for their intended purpose. No guilt. Sore knee, you see. Can’t run. Sometimes, I miss that guilt-free pain.

And that’s the kicker. When a duvet cover is the periphery of your whole world, you need a compelling reason to brave this cold, damp, Irish part of our world. Most runners, it seems, can’t wait to swap the sofa for sneakers. However, and presuming I’m not alone in this, for others, excuses for not running are always near at hand – resisting talk of today and tolerating talk of tomorrow. Or better still, next week. If only running from things were as good for you.

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