Jack Averty: Running scared but feeling the benefits of newfound regime
Why don’t you come running with me?” Those were the dreaded words uttered with disgust from across the couch as a sixth chocolate digestive found its way into my mouth.
The Christmas binge that was definitely going to stop in the New Year had most definitely not stopped.
The weight had been piling up like pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and it eventually all got too much for my partner, who decided to take a stand.
There is no subtlety surrounding the question of going for a run, it quite simply means: ‘you are fat, do something about it’.
With the belly of a heavily pregnant woman and a T-shirt scattered in crumbs, I was in no position to argue that something had to change.
But running? Couldn’t it be something more along the lines of dropping the daily chocolate allowance down from two family bars to one?
Running has to be the worst form of exercise. Not only is it painstakingly boring but, at this time of year, it is bloody freezing. Everyone hates running, even runners hate running. I could have been asked to go swimming, cycling, or even for a long walk.
But nope, it was straight to the gates of hell for Armageddon.
To be fair she had been itching to go running for about a year so this wasn’t exactly some left-field surprise.
With that in mind I agreed to go but, like signing up to a gym membership, secretly hoped she would flake like a true Millennial and I would be off the hook to enjoy pizza and Fifa on the PlayStation once more.
There was to be no let up.
Everyone knows that feeling you get when you haven’t done any exercise for months and you’re gearing up for some form of strenuous movement.
You question if you’ll actually be able to do it and begin asking yourself how long you’ll be able to last before your body crumbles under the stress of having to move.
A provisional time for the run had been agreed at around 10 to 15 minutes, but in my head the bar was firmly set at five. Any more than that and I should be selected to represent Great Britain at the Olympics.
Well let me tell you, not only should I be selected for the Olympics but on my stellar performance of seven minutes before collapsing on a park bench I am a shoe-in for a gold medal.
I am yet to select my preferred event but, with such running prowess clearly flowing through my veins, I could win them all.
Monday’s run – featuring several breaks, naturally – eventually totalled around 20 minutes.
With my new career as a professional runner sealed there was only one thing for it, go home and buy a Fitbit and some running gear to look the part.
Around £150 later I looked exactly as anyone could have predicted – a mug.
But that was no bother to me, what was important was that I had achieved something I never thought possible – going for, and almost enjoying, a run.
The time we were running for was absolutely pathetic, as was the speed we were moving at – walkers overtook us.
But none of this can dilute the achievement in any way.
For the three people (that many?! – Ed) who regularly read this column, you may recall me rambling on last year about how simply trying can sometimes lead to achieving great things.
And, well, here we are. But this was not all a one-man show, this was down to listening to someone other than myself.
For years running had been the enemy – it was boring and anything else could be considered better, even watching paint dry with Ken Barlow seemed more appealing.
The problem is when you’re not doing any form of exercise, even eating reasonably well won’t miraculously boot out the festive pounds.
Five runs later I am most definitely not convinced that running isn’t the work of the devil.
Having been active as a child and played most sports as well as doing a lot of swimming and cycling, it’s still fairly clear that running is far and away the worst of the lot by some distance.
But beggars can’t be choosers and running does have its upsides. It’s free and you can go anytime, anywhere. You are not restricted by having to book a court or find a team, you just chuck some clothes and trainers on and off you go.
But aside from this running epiphany, the lesson that has emerged is that perhaps other people do have our best interests at heart.
I surprised myself on the run, but the question is did I surprise my partner?
One suspects she knew all along I would be OK and just had to hatch a plan to finally get me off the sofa.
I was convinced no-one knew my body like me because it’s, erm, my body.
That may well be true, but after time people get to know you and get to know how your mind works.
Anyone can run, for two hours or two minutes, it’s just the psychological block you’ve got to hurdle first.
My partner effectively lifted me over this block and now I am free to achieve my burning Olympic desire I never even knew I had.
With that in mind maybe our loved ones aren’t just nagging us, they are trying to do what’s best for us.
Just remember, there is no harm in trying.
See you all at the Olympics.