I have jogged the world – from Oslo to Manch­ester

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

Hol­i­days with a bit of com­pe­ti­tion thrown in? Mud runs, jog­ging cour­ses, mas­sage ther­a­pies, ball games? All in one camp­site, ap­par­ently. It’s glamping with a fit­ness im­per­a­tive and pos­si­bly with­out the glam bit. Or­gan­ised sport en masse? I be­lieve the Boy Scouts and the Com­mu­nist Party were keen on sim­i­lar things, with slightly fewer heal­ing crys­tals on of­fer. Me, I like my pun­ish­ment in pri­vate.

I like run­ning; I am even par­tial to stretch­ing and grunt­ing (I daren’t call it yoga). But I med­i­tate, in my own way, while I ache. As the testos­terone builds up, I imag­ine do­ing in­jury to soft-spo­ken train­ers and phys­ios – even peo­ple who smile too much. And mind­ful­ness and well-be­ing? I worry that they would make me pro­gres­sively well. Hell is other peo­ple you don’t re­ally know, and don’t want to get to know ei­ther.

It should be easy to pack fit­ness gear to travel: T-shirt, train­ers, socks. But it al­ways sur­prises me how much room they take up. All those shirts that get wet in hot coun­tries and have to be lugged around in a plas­tic bag you daren’t undo in case you set off the smoke alarms.

I like to think I have jogged the world. I have run across Red Square, along the Cor­niche in Nice, around an oa­sis in Tozeur and ner­vously through Nairobi. I once ran out with some girls train­ing to be Kenyan marathon run­ners. They had started at the age of five. Their school had been 10 miles away, so if they hadn’t run there and back, they would never have made it. Now they were su­perath­letes. Next time you are stuck with a school run, bear that in mind.

But there is real ad­ven­ture in leav­ing your ho­tel in the early evening and head­ing out into

– into the heart of Naples, say, or down the Corso in Rome. I have run ( joy of joys) across the Brook­lyn Bridge in New York. The most ex­cit­ing ever? Manch­ester. It was a dan­ger zone, es­pe­cially un­der canal bridges. As you set off, the door­man will open the door. He can’t ex­pect a tip. No tip-room in a pair of Ly­cra panties, is there? I try to look a lit­tle weary and pant a lot as I get back, ex­pect­ing them to ad­mire my for­ti­tude. They’re think­ing: “there goes that poor old, mad, mean bloke.”

It can get dif­fi­cult. Sail­ing near Phuket I went ashore and ran up and down a short Thai is­land beach. Silly. I had to do 40 laps, with all those back­pack­ers gaz­ing su­per­cil­iously at me. I bet they are all head­ing off to those or­gan­ised sport sites now.

In ex­tremis and in In­dia (where run­ning in Bhuj would have been crazy – the crowds, the mar­ket goods on the pave­ment, the sa­cred cows in the way), I look for a fit­ness room. These vary from a claggy sweat hole with a sin­gle run­ning ma­chine set at an ab­sured an­gle be­cause there isn’t room to be straight, to, in Oslo, an ex­pan­sive gym lit­tered with in­com­pre­hen­si­ble equip­ment. Be­ware the sep­a­rate “fit­ness cen­tre” to which mus­cle-builders re­pair. They looked on with barely dis­guised con­tempt as I oc­cu­pied a mat to do some mi­nor stretches rec­om­mended by my doc­tor.

It’s no joke in the lift af­ter­wards. Go­ing back to the room, keep your

It’s about run­ning style, not sar­to­rial style

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