This Sporting Life: Ben goes running

Here is the first in a semi-regular series of posts where I undertake a physical activity in order to remind the world why I was picked last every phys-ed class. First up is running, an ordeal I have been subjecting myself to for health reasons for the past two years.

No longer does my youthful metabolism allow me to maintain my health by eating Subway and viewing copious amounts of DVDs. To quote Karl Marx, labour is motion and I am forced to labour if I want to keep in motion.

My affliction drives me out of bed early in the morning to lumber like a particularly active zombie along council-maintained footpaths affixed with signs saying for my convenience, I must KEEP TO THE LEFT.

To be honest, only an extremely charitable person would call what I do “running”. I jog. I trot. I ramble with a vague sense of purpose. My unforgiving minutes are filled with sixty seconds worth of distance shuffling. People unfortunate enough to witness it would be moved to think “look at that poor bastard moving slightly faster than walking pace”.

Every time I run I feel as if I am reaching the limit of my physical capabilities, only to be overtaken by fleet-footed septuagenarians and mothers hauling prams the size of Volkswagens. How do the grandmothers, in particular move so fast? Maybe they wouldn’t be forced to complain about the size of pensions if they stop spending money on the vast amounts of steroids they clearly consume.

Even worse is the encounters with proper runners who come bounding out of the early morning glare as if descending from Olympus itself. Bolt upright with the wires of their iPod earphones flowing majestically, they pause infinitesimally to scorn my fumbling gait before engaging warp drive and disappearing into the distance.

I both loathe and covet their grace, their speed and their ability to run to more than 10 minutes without collapsing like the Greek economy. How I wish I was one of them, with their Nutri-Grain physiques and running shoes not bought from Target.

And these are merely the human impediments I face each time I attempt to exercise. The park I run in practices a form of species segregation with homo sapiens banished to a far corner while subjugated humans and their canine owners are provided ample space to relieve their bowels.

I am fine with the situation, all things bright and beautiful etcetera, but I have to pass through dog territory to get to my human enclave. This invariably means keeping my balance as man’s best friend attempts to bite, lick and copulate with my legs. I don’t begrudge people exercising their pets, I just wish I wasn’t an intimate part of it.

Suffering builds character, as the saying goes. Other well meaning people have trotted out sentiments involving making omelettes and journeys of a thousand miles.

My favourite cliche involves being made strong rather than being killed. That better be correct because with each blister popped and blue heeler dodged I more and more look forward to the Grim Reaper clicking his stopwatch and telling me “your time is up”.

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