Back of the Pack
Did you struggle to get out of bed this morning? Here’s why…
The Ghost Of Running Past
DID YOU KNOW THAT 80% OF RUNNERS
hated running, initially? Neither did I. So I conducted some research – not rigorously scientific, mind you – by asking five of the back of the pack to recall their first long-distance running experience.
Four of them agreed: “It was very bad.”
Only Kosie said: “Mine was good.” Which at first was hard to believe – until he revealed that the reason it had been so awesome was that he’d run less than 100 metres of his first cross-country race before ducking off to join 10 other skivers, skulking behind the bike sheds.
By comparison, his second distance-running experience was dreadful. Kosie and his fellow absentees were caught out – and made to run the course twice. “I nearly died!” Kosie admitted. It was at this point that one of our members – Agatha Primm, who had been listening unnoticed – spoke up.
(Agatha Primm is one of those ‘gurus’ who does motivational talks and writes books on how to improve your emotional life. I don’t know about you, but those who take it upon themselves to tell you how to improve your life really, really piss me off. They act like they know it all. And they assume that once they’ve worn you down to their way of thinking, you’ll be forever in their debt. If you see Agatha, run in the opposite direction as fast as you can!)
But before we’d had a chance to scatter for shelter, Agatha had already begun.
“I’ve been listening to your whingeing,” she said, in her best prison-warden voice. “You all have negative emotional connections with the runs of your past. And the solution is simple: you need to de-clutter your emotional lives, before it’s too late!” “Why?” asked Ferdie. (Ferdie is still young and inexperienced in the ways of the world – which means he doesn’t know when to shut up and duck off, unnoticed, like the rest of us were trying to do.)
“Why?” she repeated, incredulously. “It’s because your mind is overloaded with inhibitions caused by negative running experiences in the past. Do what I do: cut the umbilical cord of your neurotic attachment to your negative emotions.”
Bizarrely, Agatha mimed hauling out her own umbilical cord and sawing it off. Then she pulled out the attached entrails, hand over hand, and cast them at Ferdie’s feet, prompting him to jump back in horror. It wasn’t for sensitive viewers.
Quite unabashed, Agatha continued: “Let us start by identifying what needs to be hauled out and cast aside. For example, you struggle to force yourself to run. Admit it!” “No.” “You’re in denial. Admit that because of your past running experiences, you struggled to get out of bed this morning.”
“No,” he said. “The moment I woke up, my wife said something that had me out of bed, into my running togs and on the road in no time at all.”
Agatha was sceptical. “I find that hard to believe. What did she say?”
“The baby’s nappy needs to be changed.”
For once, Agatha looked nonplussed. Perhaps it had occurred to her that bad experiences encompass more than just running. And when she became aware the rest of us were trying to sneak off quietly, perhaps she realised life’s not just about eliminating bad experiences; it’s also about not being the cause of them.
“…you need to de- clutter your emotional lives, before it’s too late!”
BrucePinnock Devotes his writing to the much- neglected art of running slowly.