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Don’t look back

12 June 2011
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More re-treading of the paths of my youth this morning. In a 4 mile circuit I ran past my primary school, secondary school, the nursery I went to once and hated so much I never went back, the pub we used to drink in aged 16 (it was so dark they’d serve anyone) and the place I stopped, exhausted, chest heaving, on my first proper run.

It was only two streets from the house, not even half a mile away. Loping easily past today, I remembered feeling like my lungs were scorched and might burst into flame any second. It was so painful, how could something that was supposed to be good for you hurt so much? Running was just another adult conspiracy, sold to teenagers on a ticket of false promises, like green vegetables, classical music or love.

I must have been about 17 years old. I went to aerobics classes and I was young, how could it be so hard to keep running for more than 10 minutes? I gave up and didn’t try to get beyond the 10 minute barrier again until I got to university and wanted to impress a boy.

Two years older and two stone lighter, I stuck out the pain of expanding my lungs purely to prove that I was as strong as any man (ok, one particular man). Four weeks later, I could run a circuit of the University Parks without stopping.

That was nearly 17 years ago, as many years as it had taken me to put on my green flash and try to run like my dad did. Is it heartening or depressing that I’m fitter now than I was then?

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