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. 

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

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.

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…

Clunk-Click After Every Trip

I’m finally embracing my Voltarol Years – and the prospect of Death

Grim Reaper applies Voltarol
Original image: Rebecca Burg/Pixabay

THE OTHER day, disgusted with myself after a weekend of sinking lager beers in the garden, I forced myself out for a punishment run in the late summer heat.

I cajoled the legs into completing a slow 10k and felt better. Less trashed, that is.  

For the rest of the day, I sat working at the computer. But, by knocking-off time, found I’d seized up, tighter than a Tory’s tear duct.

Continue reading “Clunk-Click After Every Trip”

How Putting On Weight In Lockdown Made Me More Humble

Coronavirus has helped me accept that it’s fine to be like everyone else

Man measuring his waist
Image: Michal Jarmoluk/Pixabay

I’ve been thinking a lot about over-indulging while we’ve been in lockdown – and I know I’m not the only one.

The other day, a friend sent a list of Coronavirus phrases trending on What’sApp, including “Covid-10” – meaning the extra 10lbs some of us have put on through comfort eating and drinking since March 23.

In the UK, alcohol sales jumped by 22 per cent in March, while the tendency to binge and put on weight – also known as “fattening the curve” – was likewise observed in countries that went into lockdown before us. 

When the UK followed Italy indoors, the novelist Francesca Melandri wrote from Rome to warn us of the changes that would take place in our lives, many of them involving food.

“First of all, you’ll eat,” Melandri warned. “Not just because it will be one of the few last things that you can still do… You’ll eat again. You will not sleep well… You will put on weight. You’ll look for online fitness training…You will eat again.”

Continue reading “How Putting On Weight In Lockdown Made Me More Humble”

Thick But Cute: It Beats Running Like A Toilet Duck

I try to act like I’m not old, but Life keeps sending me horrid reminders  

A man with a hammer chases a running toilet duck
Original images: Aaron Thomas/Pixabay and Rene Rauschenberger/Pixabay

I’M OLD! OLD! Old as mould….

I mean: I try to act like age is just a number.

I try to stay just a bit current and not put limitations on what I can do at 50-something.

I try to keep improving, but Life always finds a way to remind me that, every day, I’m even more decrepit than I ever have been…

Continue reading “Thick But Cute: It Beats Running Like A Toilet Duck”

I’m A Runner, Not A Walker’s

I don’t want to be Mr Potato Head any more

A crisp-headed man runs
Original image: StockSnap/Pixabay

I’m thinking seriously about ending one of the longest and most satisfying relationships of my life.

It’s one that’s gone on for longer than my marriage and for more time than I knew my Dad, or my Mum.

But I think it’s finally time that I stopped eating crisps.

Continue reading “I’m A Runner, Not A Walker’s”

I’m Trying To Keep Making Healthy Choices… But One Of My Balls Has To Drop Soon

These days, you have to be a bit of a freak to be healthy all the time

A cavewoman dreams of snacking
Original image: sgrunden/Pixabay

I’M A BAD person.

I’ve just gone and made myself a morning coffee, with caffeine in it. Plus three sugars, and some Cadbury’s drinking chocolate on the top so it mimicked a café cappuccino.

I even got out my sad little electric whisk and frothed up the milk. What a loser!

I’m disappointed with myself, you see, because I’m not supposed to be drinking caffeine. The doctor told me.

And, until this morning I’d largely given up coffee, and excised Diet Cokes ruthlessly from my life.

Continue reading “I’m Trying To Keep Making Healthy Choices… But One Of My Balls Has To Drop Soon”

At Last! Some Good Numbers For 50-Somethings!

If you’re 50 or older, you may already be over the worst…

A smiling face graph

I WAS NEVER much good at maths but, there are a lot of numbers running through my head at the minute.

For example, I’ve just entered the last year of the famed 45-54 marketing category – the one after which advertisers lose interest in flogging stuff to you, because you can in no way be considered sexy any more.

Rather than worrying about being a year closer to falling off my perch, however, I’m actually looking forward to being forgotten – give or take the odd poke from Viking River Cruises or Stannah Stairlifts.

I’m also approaching a more personally important statistic because, if I hang around for about another 18 months, I’ll have passed the ages at which my Dad and my Mum died. 

And, although their passing has caused me all manner of pain over the years, I’m now strangely euphoric that I’m about to be out on my own here.

Outliving them seems a success of a kind, as if we were in some sort of race and suddenly… I’m in the lead

God knows, it’s not like me to be so cheerful about anything – especially getting older.

But according to new research on how age affects happiness I may, quite literally, have turned a corner. Or at least a curve…

I’m talking about the recent study by former Bank of England economist David Blanchflower, who has pinpointed the age at which we are most unhappy as 47 years and two months.

Continue reading “At Last! Some Good Numbers For 50-Somethings!”

Where Is My Mind?

Maybe forgetting things as I get older isn’t something to stress about…

A frightened bag of raspberries (cartoon)

I looked in the bread bin this morning and found I’d left a bag of frozen raspberries there.

I must have done it yesterday morning while I was making breakfast. The berries – and the bin – were pretty soggy.

And it’s not the first forgetful thing I’ve done lately – far from it.

I often find myself stopping in front of the fridge, or a cupboard in the kitchen, trying to remember what I’m doing there.

It’s probably at moments like this that I put milk in the drawers and porridge in the freezer – snatching them out hours or days later and wondering: ‘Is this it? Am I finally losing my mind?”

Continue reading “Where Is My Mind?”

Five Green Bottles

I’ve been drinking again, and had no option but to send myself on a punishment run

Five beer bottles and a Strava map

THE TONY ADAMS Memorial Eight Mile Race is not like other running events.  

For a start, the Arsenal and England footballer it’s named after isn’t dead.

Also unlike other races, ‘The Adams’ doesn’t take place at a fixed time every year – but erupts across the athletic calendar on several random days, often in clusters, like zits on a sixteen-year-old’s chin.

And there is only ever one participant: me.

That’s because The Tony Adams Memorial Eight Miler takes place whenever I fall off the wagon and feel the need to punish myself.

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Running: The Mental Health Prophylactic

It’s cold and dark, but if you can get outside and run… get outside and run!

A cartoon man runs inside a condom
Image: an original artwork by Mr Shit50s

Life’s not all that easy at the moment, here in the frozen North.

It’s not cold, cold. In fact, it’s not even frozen. But there was a thick frost on the roofs of the cars outside when we struggled up this morning.

It was still dark, and I was so tired that one massive yawn threatened to dislocate my jaw as I switched on the kettle for the day’s first invigorating cuppa.

I looked out onto the blackness of the garden, lamplight picking out the frost, and thought my first uncomfortable thoughts of the day – nothing too serious, just the sort of mental scabs I often pick at.

And then I thought: I don’t want a sad day today. I want a run.  

Continue reading “Running: The Mental Health Prophylactic”