Written by Alison Barnes
Running and I have never been friends; we have always clashed. This animosity started with the desire to crawl and sit rather than walk, and continued throughout my schooldays, when a fanatical PE teacher in a vain attempt to encourage focus and silence made me run in the opposite direction around the oval to my classmates. As an adult I am a strong advocate of the benefits of sitting down and having cup of tea. Like climate change deniers who ignore rising temperatures, I have ignored the relentless flow of Facebook articles outlining the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, preferring instead to focus on the dangers of even the most gentle forms of movement, piously reminding the runners of my acquaintance that walking downstairs is an inherently more deadly activity than driving a car: those of a more athletic disposition are more likely to stack it on the staircase than those less footloose. (Bryson 2010). My interest in running has come as a deep shock to me and my friends. They have worried about my impending midlife crisis and tried tempt me back wagon with assurances that late-night lounge-room dancing is all the exercise anyone needs. Overwhelmingly the evidence suggests that I am neither physically nor mentally suited to running: one physio explained that the size of my hips was unbalancing me, resulting in a well-founded fear that I am some sort of human pendulum whose hazardous swinging from side to side poses a threat to my knees and others’ safety. When explaining to a friend that I had been asked to “share my training journey for the Sydney Half Marathon” from the perspective of an average runner, she wryly pointed out that that market had already been covered and I realised that what was really wanted was a blog of the great unfit of the running world, a blog of someone who was never going to sprint, like the zebra in the kids film, from the back of the pack and win; someone who, in spite of their inabilities (and perhaps in the vein of the kidnapped who grow to love their kidnappers), has grown to love running. So why do I love running? Because most of the time I feel better when I do it: it’s hard for me to stress or feel anxious when concentrating on not falling over. Because running is like joining a cult that’s full of hot, sweaty, and happy encouraging people. But mostly because I can do it with kids, friends and family and eat cake at the end. All of this has made training for the Sydney Half Marathon a fulfilling if somewhat gruelling thing to do. As I move towards the starting line I will chronicle my training — or lack thereof — which, in a nutshell, involves running, lots and lots of running. Let the agony (and the ecstasy) begin!