Friday 29th June 2018
Reading time 3minutes 19 seconds
“Running is not about being better than someone else… It’s about being better than you used to be.” – Khloe Kardashian
Since my hip operation(s) I have been gifted with two new legs. It has led to me trying loads of experiences that have previously been unavailable and recently I’ve sadly become a runner. It’s as if I’m starring in my very own sanitary product advert. Roller Skating is next.
Young me would be disgusted by this. As a teenager I told a mate, who was keen on sprinting for busses, that running is pointless as there will be another one along soon so let’s just take it easy and stroll. He took my words to heart so much that to this day he still hasn’t exercised and added to that he smokes and drinks like a trooper. When he dies I will have blood on my hands.
The reason I like running is a mystery to me. How can an exercise hurt my neck, my right eye and my ear simultaneously? Those body parts are not involved and are just passengers on a journey that ultimately always ends back on my sofa.
Every Saturday like thousands of other fools I partake in Park Run. This phenomenon is organised by volunteers and runs take place around the globe, for free, every weekend. At my local woods, for example, 250 people turn up each week to run 5k, which in old money is 3.1 miles. The .1 is very important, as is old money.
On a recent run a child passed me around the 4-kilometre mark. I heard the kid say to their ‘appropriate adult’ [a term used in the health and safety speech which I believe stops upsetting non- parents]. “See Daddy I’d told you I’d beat the little fat man.”
The Dad looked at me with a little shame but some humour. His look tried to convey “Kids Eh!” whereas I read it as “I failed as a parent”.
Normally this wouldn’t have bothered me, but it did.
The child was around 6 years old and my entire attire was older and probably hand made by younger children.
While the ‘fat little man’ description may have been accurate the words stung so I decided I was going to show this cocky little kid, and the loser Dad, exactly the sort of person they were messing with. I was going to beat them to the finish line.
With a kilometre of the run remaining this was proving to be a mistake. My body had given up and it was only bloody mindedness that was keeping me going. I’d run twenty of these Park Runs and they were not getting easier, in fact the complete opposite was happening.
The child’s heritage was more advantageous than mine. The Dad had previously run a London Marathon as stated with his “I’ve run the London Marathon T-Shirt” whereas my Dad had only ever run to a bar.
The organisers are keen to tell you it’s not a race, and the kid didn’t even know it was in a race, but as we approached the finish line I started to sprint. The kid was about 15 feet in front of me and hadn’t even broken into a sweat whereas I was treading in puddles of it. It was now neck and neck though and over my wheezing, panting and grunting I could hear Vangelis playing. I looked as though I was going to have a coronary but that didn’t matter as I knew I could still “win”.
Then the Dad said “come on let’s RUN the last bit.” Run the last bit? What were we doing now? The child then became Roadrunner and I was Wiley Coyote, albeit a short, fat one. Beep Beep.
I passed the finish line in second place and collapsed. My recovery time turned out to be longer than the run.
My editor and proof reader for this story asked if the above was true. The only thing I changed was the child’s age as I think she was around 4.
I’ve decided I’m going to carry on running, but not sprinting.
I always thought people listened to music for inspiration while running, now I know it’s to drown out the funny yet very descriptive words of children.
Picture: A Door from the mid 1800’s when everyone was my size.