I hate always having to run, but it’s the only thing that turns my mood round
AS YOU MAY have gathered by now, I love running. But, sometimes, I hate having to do it quite as much as I do.
I’d like to be Less Is More and only run when conditions are truly agreeable. I’m thinking: azure skies, green fields, little pink candyfloss clouds and white bunny wabbits cheering as, serenely, I float past.
But lemons, lemonade: some days you have to settle for running through grey South London in the snow…
I really didn’t want to go out yesterday morning. It was just a notch or two above zero, with the winds whipping big wet snowflakes down at a rakish angle and pregnant puddles everywhere I might want to plant a foot.
I had an upset stomach, limbs still stiff from 13 miles at the weekend, and I’d necked an inevitable beer or three the night before – all of which made me feel far from the acme of mature athleticism I like to pretend I am.
I knew it would be unpleasant, going out, but I needed to change the old brain chemistry after a setback in my job search. I kept telling myself it was only a small setback, but they tend to look much bigger when you’re 50-something and haven’t worked for year.
So off I went…
If I’m honest, it wasn’t proper snowing, and there was nothing like the disruption you’d expect somewhere much harsher and northern-er. But the weather was having a noticeable effect on everything around me, nonetheless.
For a start: there were twice as many cars out – and all of them seemed to be in my way, either turning right, doing sudden U-turns or pulling in to park whenever I wanted to cross a street.
Then, while there were also fewer pedestrians, they were twice as difficult to get past, with their massive umbrellas and wide warm coats.
I know ‘snowflake’ is a byword for soft, but you sure feel it when one – actual snow, not a Millennial – blows in and smacks you flush on the cornea”
Finally, there was the White Stuff itself: weighing down my cotton clothing, seeping through my woollen gloves and even poking me painfully in the eyes.
I know ‘snowflake’ is a byword for soft, but you sure feel it when one – actual snow, not a Millennial – blows in and smacks you flush on the cornea.
But, if it wasn’t physically comfortable out there, the running was again coming up trumps, mental health-wise.
I’d realised that I was still in a bit of a state early on, when I ran past some workmen who were digging up the road despite the weather – and instead of empathising with them for being out in this, I felt guilty that I wasn’t there digging with them.
At least you’re out here. You might not be getting paid, but you’re still busting your buns in the cold
But within a few hundred metres, I’d recovered some self-esteem, thinking: At least you’re out here. You might not be getting paid, but you’re still busting your buns in the cold.
And that was true: running despite the snow made me something of a hard man, an outlier.
Because, if traffic had doubled, then the number of runners I would normally see had been divided by about 10.
It wasn’t until I reached my favourite park, half an hour in, that I saw another jogger. And without its usual exercise fiends and young families, the park was eerily quiet.
I reckon that when the nuclear balloon finally goes up, Earth’s only survivors will be woodlice, termites and dog walkers
Although, of course, the dog walkers were there.
I reckon that when the nuclear balloon finally goes up – when the paroxysms of gout finally overwhelm Kim Jong-un and he yanks vengefully on the nuclear ripcord – Earth’s only survivors will be woodlice, termites and dog walkers.
After all, in crime dramas it’s invariably doggy people who are up bright and early in the morning to discover the deceased – and never the other way around. Which, in my book, makes the hale and hearty dog lover an emblem of human survival.
And – look – there I was, able to make jokes again. The run had performed its magic on my mood – again – and as I stretched afterwards, I was even able to chuckle at the little peculiarities that went with running during a minor blizzard.
All at once, I was able to love those adorable little eye-gouging snowflakes and wonder at the amount of steam that was rising off me in these near-freezing temperatures.
Normally, after a run in the cold I resemble a sweating racehorse who’s just had its saddle and blanket removed. But yesterday, I was putting out enough vapour to stand in for a dry ice machine at the Year Nine production of Macbeth.
It was a relief to be able to laugh at myself again, and I had running in the snow to thank for it.
As a wise person once said: It ain’t broke? Don’t fix it, then.