A Man And His Tights (A Love Story)

I don’t go big on the MAMIL look, but autumn runs aren’t perfect without my tights

I reckon that there’s a lot not to like about autumn.  

There are lots of little things to loathe, instead: like having to switch from drying clothes ecologically on the line to radiators, or an energy-guzzling, tumble dryer.*

Bath towels and shower mats no longer dry themselves magically; you’re waking up in the dark again and then – one suddenly pitch-black October evening – discovering that all the light bulbs you didn’t use throughout the summer are nevertheless not working.

But there’s one thing I love about autumn: braving the cold and wet, with my running tights on. 

Which is why I ran a big one in the middle of Storm Alex, as more than enough water to fill Loch Ness fell on the UK in one day, and the wind and rain raked across London.

When sensible people stopped in or took the car out, Muggins got soaked, pounding the near-empty streets.”

We had another deluge here in Sarf London this week and so – when sensible people stopped in or took the car out – Muggins here got soaked through, pounding the near-empty streets.  

But why? I suppose it’s because I love the sense of mild jeopardy that wild weather brings – and the feeling of reconnecting with my caveman, elk-tracking ancestors as I lope across windswept Tooting Common and Battersea Park.

Also, as the Sweatiest Man In The World, the rain is a huge boon because bodies don’t have to work so hard when the temperature drops. So, in cooler conditions, I can run at least a kilometre further.

But it’s also the tights that allow me to roam further afield: keeping my core warm if I run in a line away from home, rather than a loop that brings me back to where I started.   

Instead of having to schlep round the same old, same old, streets round my Ends, I get to see how the other half lives, in Chelsea, Barnes and Pimlico.

That way, I don’t get bored – and the tights keep me cosy, no matter how long it eventually takes to get home via bus or train.

They hide, and transform, my veiny old legs.”

But that’s not the only reason that I love my running tights…

Perhaps the most important one is that they hide my pale, veiny old legs, and transform them into something youthful-looking and kind of perfect again – a bit like how the shadow of a gross beer belly looks a million times better than the belly itself.

Tights aside, though, I don’t go big on the MAMIL look.

I’ve always considered it foolish to blow hundreds and hundreds on smart running gear that you’re only going to sweat and stink up horribly after one or two goes (esp. if it’s made of artificial fibres).

I resemble an aged tramp making off with stolen fags.”

Then again, my much-pre-loved cotton running stuff is now so faded, mis-shapen and thin that – with all my layers on – I don’t so much resemble an athlete as an aged tramp making off with stolen fags from a corner shop.

Another game-changing thing about my tights, though, is that they have a cuuuu-te! little back pocket at the top – where I can fold most of the crap I need on a run nowadays: house keys, credit cards, Oyster card, cash, face mask and hand gel.

This leaves my shorts pockets free for a phone, a handkerchief and some scrunched-up shopping bags – just in case I need to pick up something for Sunday lunch on the way back.

It’s very civilised, the role that my tights play in making my little adventure challenging, but ultimately enjoyable.

With them on, I know that I can take everything the weather can throw at me and return home refreshed, happy, and ready to partake of modern life again.

I can sit in a duvet and watch football, run a hot bath and neck some guilt-free beers with Sunday lunch…

It’s a perfect day, but it wouldn’t be the same without my tights.

* Yeah, I know, first world problem…

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