She’s going to be trouble, this one.
Only seven months old and already 4’6”. What Penny lacks in basic motor functions, including the ability to sit up straight, she more than makes up for in the skill of standing. She has the legs of an Olympic athlete, all bulging muscles and raw power, and she’ll stand at attention for seconds on end, a statue etched with pride and joy on her face. It’s heart-warming… but on the flip side, I’m pretty sure that the moment she figures out how to stand up unassisted is the moment she’ll be off. And then we’ll never catch her.
I need to be ready for that day, but I’m not.
While it’s true that ten years of minimal physical exercise and a career of testing video games and working in IT has left me in peak physical condition, I can’t help but think I’m going to be a little short when trying to keep pace with the little one. With that in mind, desperate times call for desperate measures.
“I’ll start running,’ I decided. “That’ll get me fit.”
I was thinking ahead of the game on this one, talking about it long before the baby was due. I just needed a pair of running shoes and some suitable attire before I could begin. At least that’s what I told anyone who would listen.
Eventually it was the mother-in-law who heard enough. She listened, as she always did, and decided to help me achieve my ambitions, which is what she did for practically anyone. In my birthday spoils, Jane included a fine collection of sports shop vouchers. Little did she know, I was happy just trundling along, saying what I was going to do rather than actually doing it.
So, instead of rushing out to spend these vouchers, I waited several months until the baby was knocking on the door. Only when the wife was waddling around like a penguin did I decide to put my fitness plan into action. Trainers and running gear sorted, I was finally set for my first run.
…and then Penny arrived, buying me some more valuable arse-sitting time… ahem… that is to say “a genuinely valid excuse for not putting my brand-spanking-new trainers to the test.”
I gave it a few weeks, let Penny settle in, let Jen recover, changed the odd nappy, supervised the breastfeeding… but eventually I ran out of excuses. Penny was going to be running before I was!
Where to get started though? I thought about giving each run half an hour and seeing where it got me, but I knew my stamina was rock bottom and I’d last maybe 2 of those 30 minutes. Instead, Couch to 5k seemed the most sensible option. It’s basically a simple exercise plan designed to get couch potatoes running 5k in just nine weeks.
As if that’s not enough, the app I downloaded, from Public Health England, also comes with some celebrity voiceovers to encourage you along. I’m not sure why, but I started with Sarah Millican.
App up and running, headphones in, off I set. Things started off okay. The app eases you in, the first few runs made up of brief running spells coupled with similar walking spells, all with Sarah’s soft, bubbly voice driving you on. After a few weeks though, with the running spells pushing 8, sometimes 10 minutes, I started to find Sarah too business like, not as funny as I thought she’d be. In the end, I couldn’t take her seriously when she was telling me I had just one minute of running left and I could totally do it.
So I switched it up. Now I’ve got Michael Johnson, the former Olympic sprinter turned BBC pundit, running the rule over my jogging, and, let me tell you folks, when Michael Johnson tells you you’ve got this next 10 minute spell of running, you believe him.
I hit a few snags along the way, including my shins being made of glass, but it was getting there. For a spell there, I reckon I could have run for 20 minutes solid. With just 5 minutes walking half way through.
Much like the writing though, life has thrown a few spanners in the works and the running has taken a back seat. I’ve been out the game for a couple of months now, which means I’ll probably have to start from scratch!
I’m kind of looking forward to it though. They say “healthy body, healthy mind“, and I’ve felt the truth of that. While I was running I definitely felt more alert and motivated than I did beforehand, and getting back to that feeling will certainly be a good thing. Not that I’m fully converted…
At around the halfway stage of my last attempt to transform from couch potato to marathon man, I found myself running through the park early on a Saturday morning. The sun was bright and warm, the park green and peaceful and joyous, and I found myself thinking, So this is why people do it!
Then, literally a few strides on, I stumbled across a pigeon lying in the path. He looked at peace, sprawled casually on the floor, enjoying the morning sun as much as I was. Only… he had no head. It was gone. Nowhere to be seen. There were no signs of a struggle, just a headless corpse signposting the way.
I ran on, bemused and slightly afraid, glancing over my shoulder while half expecting an ambush. I’m still half expecting it!
While I’ll never know what killed that pigeon, a big part of me suspects running was definitely involved. Even now, all these weeks later, I’m still not entirely sure why people do it.
Unfortunately, P isn’t waiting around for me to find out. And I need to be ready.
That’s all the reason you need, really.
Just do it.
2nd October 2018