In a Word . . . marathon

In centuries ahead people will reflect on this current marathon masochism with fascination and bewilderment

 

I have seen them at close of day, grown pale and spectre thin. Running, with vivid faces among grey 18th-century houses. I have passed with a nod of the head or polite meaningless words. For I have had to restrain myself.

Or lingered awhile and said polite meaningless words, while choking back the laughter. And thought, before I had done, of a mocking tale or a gibe about them to humour friends.

How they had changed, changed utterly, evolving into a terrible ‘beauty’.

I have seen fine men and women waste before my eyes as they take up running for health. Some so obsessed that, even as they speak, they jog on the spot, mentally counting the steps. And with such serious intent too. For levity can have no home in minds so determined to bruise body and sole.

I have seen handsome men and beautiful women become skeletal as images on a Trocaire box at Lent , and to their own unbelievable joy.

To update Oscar. In the past there was the rack, now there’s the marathon, with 5K, 10K variations, and whatever you’re having yourself.

Torture inflicted by the rack was not a choice. The marathon is.

In centuries ahead people will reflect on this current marathon masochism with fascination and bewilderment. There will be studies and many investigation to establish what self-loathing was behind a psychology that propelled so many to willingly choose such punishment. And repeatedly.

As for myself I am with Ruth Field, author of Run Fat B!tch Run, Get Your Sh!t Together and Cut the Crap.

She believed sex was far healthier, better, and more effective than running.

It was (1) a hugely enjoyable and relaxing activity for the body with little danger of joint strain. While (2) running is essentially solitary, sex is better in company. It (3) is quicker (unless tantric) and can be over in minutes with orgasm a much faster route to hormone heaven.

You (4) cannot overdo sex or suffer burn-out by going too far while yet losing all those calories. It (5) can take place under a duvet and be followed by a long guilt-free sleep. And (6) you look so much better after sex than following a run.

Must try it sometime.

Marathon, (fennel field) originated with Pheidippides in 490 BC who ran to Athens from the plains of Marathon to announce the Greek victory over the Persians.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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