My jogging tip for anyone thinking about running is to decide the night before to go in the morning. In the morning decide to go in the night. That night decide to go in the morning. Repeat.
I’m leaving the block of flats for my run. Before I exit, I have to fold thirty feet of cable into the inside pocket of my jacket, because although jogging is all about getting back to nature we can’t jog without cables, machines, music and technology: anything to block the sound of the outside world we are running through.
Cables wrestled back inside me, a Terminator performing surgery on itself after taking a cannon ball to the chest, I seek a radio station because my phone is so old it has no memory left for music. Every radio station I find sounds like it’s broadcasting from the moon. The static whispers I’m going to die.
These are my thoughts as I’m running:
Fresh air. This is good. This, is life.
This is easy. I have all the same inside bits as Mo Farah, and we’ve got the same hairstyle. I’m still young. I used to play football. Maybe I’ll get my fitness back. Join a team. Why don’t people clean their teeth with the sponges we use to do the washing up? One of them, dowsed in mouthwash, layered with toothpaste. Chew that around for a minute. I’ll try that later.
I’ve jogged thirty steps. My first thoughts are all about taking my first steps to greatness.
I can do this. Gloria Estefan was right, the rhythm has come and got me. I’m not old! Fuck you age! That woman must live in those flats. That bloke looks aggressive. Why can’t I switch my brain off? Stop thinking. This is a spiritual thing. You are blocking it. I like the rain. I’m never going into that pub. Who goes into a pub with blacked out windows? What goes on inside? Why don’t the people inside care about light?
Fifty paces later…
Who does this shit anyway? The unimaginative? Those who want to fool themselves into thinking they are immortal? Any human recently dumped and trying to regain their sex life? Doggers, I bet doggers jog. Woah, that’s a big dog! Big dog, big dog – slow down, don’t want to alarm the big dog. Big dog is licking the bum ring of a small dog. Owners are having polite chat. Stop. Don’t want to interrupt their chat. Think my lungs are on fire. I need to spit. Where can I spit? Gross.
The dogs move on. I walk behind the big dog. The pavement has narrowed. Eventually the path widens and I jog around the dog, but after I’ve got around the dog my brain switches off, and cuts off the will to my legs as it does.
I walk. I jog. I get to a road I need to cross, and stop.
Is this even safe? Jogging across traffic listening to music? Better stop. Walk across. Walking is much better. My face is cold. This radio station is mostly adverts. I should call Nan later. If I’m going to run I should have two pairs of trainers. This advert makes Nike sound good. Walking is fine. I could be doing something better than this. Is that a kid urinating against the shop? Man, he’s not even that young. He’s like fourteen. By the time I get my camera out to take a picture to post on the internet he’ll be finished. Shame. That might have made all this pain worth it. Is uploading a photo of a kid urinating against a shop weird? Probably. Could I just upload the urine stain on the concrete?
I walk across the road. I walk into the park.
Walking is exercise too.
A lady wearing red is up ahead, jogging the same path that I should be.
Keep up with the lady in red, let her set your pace. Why are you lying to yourself? You hate this. Your legs hate this. Your lungs hate this. Your brain hates this. Just admit you are old. Go exercise your brain with words. Just get fat. Only idiots care what they look like. I’m an idiot. I’m an idiot. I’m an idiot. I’m an idiot. Just do it. Jog behind her. Just for a bit. Don’t get too close though. You don’t want her to think you’re a sexual predator. Did I just think ‘just do it’ because of that Nike advert? I’m such a loser. Leaves, I like leaves. Can’t see what’s underneath them though. Leaves are fucking weird. Avoid the leaves.
I jog behind the woman in red.
I don’t want to worry her. Don’t be an idiot, this is jogging. Yeah, but I’m in a park and I don’t want my presence to put thoughts in her head about a weird man jogging behind her. She doesn’t know you are weird. She’s might have watched Dexter. How do you know an even weirder man isn’t jogging behind you, thinking even weirder thoughts?
I look over my shoulder. An old man, three times my age, buckled spine, grey face, arthritis on all of his bones, slugs for veins, winks as he passes me.
Great. I’m slower than Hugh Hefner.
Hugh Hefner, God, he’s actually a person. That’s even weirder than leaves. Imagine if Hugh Hefner was underneath the leaves, and as you walked over them, you jogged over his face. What if Hugh Hefner was made out of leaves, stuck together with semen and botox injections? Hmm…He’d come apart every Autumn.
I stop jogging. I watch the lady in red turn left and go around the park again for another lap. I watch the old man take on another lap as well. My throat burns. My chest burns. My eyes burn. My brain burns. The lady in red picks up her pace. I’m vulnerable in this state of exhaustion: a bird with a broken wing in a piglet costume at the feet of a caged wolf coming out of a diet.
I’ll jog the last bit back. That means I don’t have to jog the first bit back.
I walk the first bit back, until I reach Bermondsey tube station.
I’ll start jogging again from the bus stop.
I walk to the bus stop.
I’ll start jogging from the shops.
I walk to the shops.
I’m practically home now.
I walk the rest of the way home.
I get in, and think never again.