I have never been one of those people who are particularly comfortable in themselves. Finally, at the grand ol’ age of 21, I am pretty cool with being the small, podgy one. I developed a big character and can laugh at myself with ease, but the one thing I have never been is sporty. It’s genetic, I do not come from an athletic line and I’ve got the thighs to prove it. However, after a series of irritating events culminating in me moving in to a new flat with no internet or TV and with no unemployed friends or flatmates not being whisked away on romantic mini-breaks to speak of, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and not a lot to do. To cut a long story short, if you leave a recently single, 20-something alone for too long she is going to spend too much time thinking about her insecurities and will inevitably make the terrible decision to go for a run.
I’m not saying that running itself is so bad, though you will never find it on my bucket list; it’s the culture I can’t stand. The outfits! The shoes! Where do you put your keys? What to put on your exercise playlist? How do I tie my hair back without looking like a small child? Why haven’t I bought a new sports bra since 2008? All valid concerns. Honestly, I spend way longer on the prep than the actual run. And even once you’ve got all this down and look totally the part, you then have to go and throw your little legs around a ridiculously public place, because green space in a city, on a nice evening is likely to be busier than the Tesco next to Uni around 9.30pm (reduction time, for all you rich folk out there). Nothing makes me feel worse whilst running than passing a beer garden and catching the laughter of people who enjoy their time and don’t feel the need to aimlessly run until they can’t feel their knees. I can’t even do the breathing properly and focusing so hard on inhaling correctly just means I’ll inevitably fall in a pot hole or, as it more often feels, not get enough oxygen and pass out; I am the proverbial fish out of water.
I just don’t see the point of doing something so unpleasant. No matter how many times people tell me that it gets easier, I can’t help but think that if I were to slam my head against a wall three times a week, I would probably get used to the feeling of concrete on bone just as quickly. I could walk around saying ‘I feel so much better now! You must come with me one day, its quite pleasant to get back to basics, not think about the daily grind for a while, just smack your head off this brick!’ I mean, call me a product of the technological age, but it just takes too long to get to the ‘having a good time’ stage for my liking. If it takes a good few tries to enjoy something and to stop feeling like someone’s just put you in a sauna and winded you, then thank you, but I’ll pass this time.
I don’t feel any kind of camaraderie with fellow runners, just inferiority, and the overwhelming notion that I must stand out like a hippo doing the foxtrot. More to the point, I don’t understand the superiority of running culture. By saying ‘what did I do yesterday? Oh, just went for a run, you know, no big deal’ I feel about as smug as if I’d saved a drowning kitten. If you think about it logically, this is completely backward. The person who sat on their sofa and watched reruns of Veronica Mars whilst snapchatting ugly selfies, doubtless enjoyed their day more than the fool who willingly wore Lycra. So why aren’t they the ones feeling like they achieved something? Running just makes me feel like my lungs are about to burst, and there’s nothing to distract me except how much longer there is to go, and when I can feasibly sit down next. Give me a hockey stick to flail or a horse to ride and everything just seems a lot easier.