Jen Hogan: I hate running. Is there another time-efficient hobby?

I have no clue what I’ll do, but I’m distracted at least by the thought of it

Last year on New Year’s Eve I went full make-up, full sequins and full-scale attitude all the way to my sitting room, with a glass of prosecco in hand, to kick 2020’s ar... sorry to see 2020 firmly off, in Von Hogan style to the tune of “So long, Farewell. May we never see your likes again”.

The rest of them were in onesies on the couch, because they had the right idea. But I was determined to toast the new year in style while looking forward to better times, brighter days and a time where we’d speak of Covid periodically, while shuddering in memory at how awful it was.

I find myself viewing 2022 with suspicion rather than anticipation about what may lie ahead. It's an unfamiliar and unpleasant place to be. And it's not a place I can stay

And we all know how that went. So as 2021 got ready to leave the building and the ever mispronounced Omicron got ready to make its presence well and truly felt, it was hard to muster up any enthusiasm for what lies ahead in 2022.

I am a glass-half-full kinda gal. But the Tánaiste’s warning before Christmas that we could be in for years of this and talk of the long war ahead, with periods of reprieve perhaps, at best in between, has sapped all hope from me. And I find myself viewing 2022 with suspicion rather than anticipation about what may lie ahead. It’s an unfamiliar and unpleasant place to be. And it’s not a place I can stay. So I’m going to need a distraction.


And so as a new year dawns, the obvious one is to get fit. To exercise more and maybe even outrun all my worries. The thing is, I don’t run, and for a very good reason – I hate it. Now, I’ve tried. Twice. But in between the huffing and the puffing and the almost keeling over on the path having run 40 seconds straight, there were moments of clarity. Moments when I realised that I am not very good at it, and I’m okay with that. And to be honest I’ve no real inclination to get better at it, other than the fear of missing out.

So I’ll have to look at something else. The question is what, but far beyond what, the consideration is when. Because when lockdown took hold on previous occasions and the children’s activities were closed down – some for more than a year – I sought out other activities to involve the children in, so that they could have some escape and joy outside the monotony and stress of lockdown. The problem is, they grew to love their new activities as much as those they had missed and now there are simply not enough hours in the day, or evening to be exact. Mum taxi is go, every single evening of the week.

Not that I’m complaining, though I appreciate it sounds remarkably like it. But I daren’t complain because, two years of constant rug-pulling, means I still live in fear of these important activities being taken away again. Fun matters, hugely, but these are about more than fun, so I’ll keep driving and not complain too much.

Another thought niggles away – the importance of setting an example to the children. Not alone in getting active, but in taking time for me

Of course my numbers play a role too. Those pesky kids kept growing throughout the pandemic and more of them came of age to engage in activities outside of school. So just one or two activities each adds up. Factor in multiple training sessions and match days per sport and the calendar fills quickly – leaving me with limited opportunities to fit in this new thing I should do to get fit and to distract me.

“You know, you could fit in running,” the voice in my head reminds me again, ignoring my feelings on the issue. And maybe I could be convinced, if I’d company to distract me from how boring it is. But alas I have no friends keen on running and, to be honest even if I had, it’s hard to focus on breathing when you talk as much as I do.

Another thought niggles away – the importance of setting an example to the children. Not alone in getting active, but in taking time for me. When they grow up, they’ll be none the less precious in my eyes, and always worthy of self-care. If they see parenthood as somewhat of an endurance test for mum, might they think this is how it should be.

I’ve still no clue what I’ll do or how I’ll do it, but I’m distracted at least, temporarily, by the thoughts of it. I’m determined I’ll find something. In the best interests of all, I need an outlet – something beyond work and parenting. It’s not lack of interest, it’s lack of time. But 2022 will be the year of the new hobby.

Keep calm and carry on parenting – through year three of the pandemic. Oh God, I’m definitely going to require a distraction.