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‘I would like now to share my tips on how you too can become an unbearably smug runner’

Jen Hogan: Keep putting one foot in front of the other - but here are some other things to do first

“I don’t have the right shoes,” I told myself as I stood in front of the shoe rack looking for an excuse.

A pair of fashion runners I had bought last year ahead of my holidays, begged to differ. I’d paid a whole tenner for them and they’d never seen even a second of active wear. I needed to get my money’s worth.

“I don’t have the right clothes,” I continued, trying to talk myself out of a crazy idea that had taken hold. I rummaged through my chest of drawers looking to prove my point. Lycra and bright fluorescent pink clothing stared back at me – you know, the sort of colour that tends to go unnoticed when you’d very much like to fade into the background.

“What was I thinking?” I wondered of my purchases from the last time I’d taken such a notion. “You can just borrow something a bit less bright from one of the boys,” that annoying little voice in my head said, determined not to let me off the hook.


I’m not sure if it was a hangover from watching Forrest Gump earlier that week, or the unexpected day of summer we had in early May, but I decided to go for a run. This to the untrained eye and ear this may appear to be a very un-momentous decision. But you need to understand I don’t run. At least I didn’t. At the time of writing, I have run at least once and even thought about going a second time (but it was raining). So, I would like now to share my tips on how you too can become an unbearably smug runner.

  1. Watch Forrest Gump. Mostly because it’s a brilliant movie, but also he runs in it. And then you can make jokes equating yourself to Forrest when people pass comments on the fact you run now. And they will think you’re hilarious and never will have heard such jokes or comparisons before. And that’s all I have to say about that.
  2. If you have kids, take one of your less judgy ones with you to get started. This is survival of the fittest and you are not the fittest. But you can blame this on the fact that you’re “going easy on the kids”, particularly during those occasions where you’re lapped by an 85-year-old who’s out for a leisurely stroll. Also, they can carry the water bottles.
  3. Download an app. You are not a runner if you don’t have an app. Make sure it’s on your home page so that everyone can see it and know that you are a runner now. It will tell you when you can walk and when you must run. It will also say mad things like “warm up” and “cool down” that you will ignore on account of them being mad. The day after you run, you will realise these were not actually mad things to suggest. Your legs will hurt a lot.
  4. Post on social media that you are going for a run. This serves a couple of purposes. For one, it means you will have to do it, because you’ve now put it out there. People may wonder if this is your “you’ll know I’ve been kidnapped if you ever see me post ...” tweet. You may even get some or lots of concerned private messages about your safety and wellbeing. But this is just because they don’t realise you’re a runner now. It might be worth also mentioning it in The Irish Times for good measure. Another bonus of posting on social media is it can encourage curious parents from your class WhatsApp groups to send you messages like this; “Were you running for a bus?” to which you reply “No. I’m just a runner now”. You can also expect messages applauding your efforts that say “I love the fact you ran towards nothing with a full face of make-up. Fair play to you Jen. No one can ever say you do things by halves”. This sort of commentary helps with the post-run smugness.
  5. Your body is a temple. And it should be treated as such. Now that you’re a runner you need to fuel your temple accordingly, and ideally with social media-acceptable foods. Develop notions. Eat pretentious foods. Or strawberries and organic yoghurt if you’re a fussy eater. Post about your virtuous choices on Instagram, highlighting the organic bit. Explain this is because you are now a runner. Eat half a sliced pan and a Mint Crisp on the sly, because life is all about balance.
  6. Run.

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