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…

You Want Mindfulness? Go Running!

Running is The Dogs when it comes to Mindfulness, IMHO

Original image: skeeze/Pixabay

In my day job, I’ve been writing a lot about Mindfulness lately.

Now that we’re all preparing for a second, six-month lockdown – panic-booking Ocado slots, stockpiling the Cushelle before it goes back on the ration – it’s understandable that we’re also after some mental reinforcement to see us sanely through the dark days ahead. 

So, having exhausted my usual array of mental sandbags on the first surge, I’ve gone back to Mindfulness after a break of almost three years.

I’ve dusted down the old Guided Meditation CD, sat in the same chair with my eyes closed and assumed the familiar pose, supposedly embodying a sense of strength and curiosity.

I spent 20 minutes noticing my breathing and the noises around me, trying to sit quietly with any troubling thoughts that popped into my head.

And it was all right. In fact, it was much the same as it was when I last gave it up: at least I was doing something to combat stress and getting a bit of restful ‘me’ time’.

But one of the thoughts that did occur to me was: “This isn’t as good as running.”

Continue reading “You Want Mindfulness? Go Running!”

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”

When Times Get Tough, I Buy Shoes: Running Shoes.

I’m depressed again, but I don’t need happy pills. I just need to run more.

Original images: Mizianitka/Pixabay and doc Price/Unsplash

I’ve been feeling depressed again recently, for the first time in a long while.

I had a knockback at work which – as is my wont – I took quite badly.

And then, there was the end of summer. After the heatwave in mid-August, there were weeks of unseasonal, autumnal storms and heavy rain. I started to sense the short dark days and the long black nights a-coming. And I didn’t like it.

Continue reading “When Times Get Tough, I Buy Shoes: Running Shoes.”

Running Round In Squares

The famously rude people of London have re-discovered politeness – via slightly manic social distancing

A meandering Strava feed

WE GOT TOLD OFF by Housemaster Johnson on Monday, so now we’re on our best behaviour.

Initially, Londoners treated the whole Coronavirus thing as a jittery sort of half-holiday and went thronging the city’s parks and open spaces, despite official advice to keep well apart.

Next thing we knew, most of us were being told to stay in our dorms and threatened with Sir cancelling PE – the same as in Spain and Italy – if we couldn’t be trusted.

Not many of us want to be cooped up 24/7, and so London’s green spaces have been chocka with people stretching their legs again this week.

Except this time, we’re thronging responsibly.  

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I Wandered Lonely…

I’ve always felt guilty that I’m not a social runner – but at least going solo is perfect for escaping Covid-19

A cloud passes a couple in a park
Original Image: Anita Morgan/Pixabay

FUCK SELF-ISOLATION: that was the unspoken message in the air around London’s open spaces yesterday.

I ran through three parks as I knocked out my Sunday 10-miler, and it looked like everyone in the city was outside with me, despite the Coronavirus.

Given some half decent weather for once, Londoners were seizing the chance to stretch their legs, and for some space and fresh air.

Kids, Mums, Dads, old folks, lovers and dogs – they were all out – along with runners. Dozens and dozens of runners.

It even felt a bit Blitz-Spirit-y, being out there mingling in the face of Covid-19.

‘Bring it on!’ said the dog walker, bending to bag a turd”

Bring it on! Said the business-as-usual body language of the dog walker bending to bag a freshly minted turd. London Can Take It! said every Dad standing his ground quietly against a toddler baying for ice cream.

But in the midst of all these heroes was a coward – and that coward was me.

Because, as I dodged and weaved through the throng – woolly gloves on despite the sunshine and maintaining a safe two metres at all times – I wasn’t being brave.

I was just self isolating in plain sight….

Continue reading “I Wandered Lonely…”

A Good Sweat

Sweating doesn’t just boil bad stuff out of us – it makes room for creativity and our better selves

The Turin Shroud juxtaposed with a sweat-stained T-shirt
One may be the face of Jesus, the other is a sweat stain shaped like a stubby cock and balls
Turin Shroud image: Wikimedia Commons

OH, I NEEDED that!

I’ve just run a fast five miles because I was turning into a bit of a nasty bastard at home.

It’s never a good sign when I threaten the cat with a kicking – swearing and jabbing a forefinger at him like someone I was squaring up to in a pub – and just because he keeps getting under my feet.   

But I’ve been feeling tired, stressed, and a bit ill for the past couple of days.

I had a couple of pre-holiday vaccinations 48 hours ago and have been sniffing and sneezing quite a bit.

It’s probably just the injections but – like everyone else in the world – I’m secretly terrified that Covid-19 has tracked me down.

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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”

Now The Future’s Brighter, The Past Doesn’t Seem As Dark

Now I’m feeling better, I can look back on my years of depression and think I wasn’t useless, after all

Candles, poo, flowers, Keith Richards skiing

Original Images: Raph_PH (Wikimedia Commons), cathfinch73, Beverley Buckley, Erzsebet Apostal, Patrick Hodskins, Willy Sietsma (all via Pixabay)

MAYBE IT’S JUST the Spring that’s making me feel better but I feel strangely…. hopeful lately.

Just like the irises, hyacinths and daffodils starting to break through the cold earth in our front garden, little hopeful thoughts have been pushing up all around my mind.

It could be just a trick of the – fast-lengthening – daylight, but it’s beginning to feel like the end of my decades-long depression and, finally, the start of something better.

Continue reading “Now The Future’s Brighter, The Past Doesn’t Seem As Dark”

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”