Run Robert Run

I’ve done something stupid. Something terrible, so hideously despicable; I can barely admit to it… I’ve started going for early morning runs. I’m sorry; I don’t know what’s come over me. Just to clarify; when I say early morning ‘runs’, I am of course referring to athletic activities and not erratic bowel movements. I don’t have any problems in that area. And if I did I wouldn’t admit that here. That’s if I did have them. Which I don’t. Honest.

I don’t know what started this sudden desire to get fit – well, I do; I was sitting on the floor of the changing rooms in Top Man with a pair of skinny jeans round my thighs, crying. I always struggle to find clothes I’m happy with, especially in Top Man. It’s as if they only cater to genetically modified stick insects, who wear NHS glasses but without the prescription lenses. I can never find anything to wear in that place, and I don’t want to. Nevertheless you know it’s bad when you can’t wear espadrilles without socks, for fear of it looking like someone’s wrapped sausage meat in a wicker basket. I admit that I have, somehow, expanded over the last few months; the worrying thing is it creeps up on you so quickly you don’t have time to notice it. You’ll be going along, minding your own business; having an extra biscuit, eating that second bucket of fried chicken and before you know it; bang! You’ve put on three stone and you’ve got yourself stuck in the revolving door at Sainsbury’s. Now you’re eating those end-of-the-day patisseries they put at the front of the store at a reduced price, while you wait for the fire brigade.

I’ve never toed the line of rice cakes and protein shakes – more cherry bakewells and ice cream sundaes – but I always felt as though I ate quite well. For all the junk food, I made sure I balanced it out with fruit and veg but it turns out they can be fattening too – especially if you keep shovelling it in. My main problem is portion control; if you can’t see the edges of the plate then you’re doing something wrong. Another problem is writing this column – for some reason when I have to sit down to do it, I get an incurable urge to eat, and I can’t stop. I’m not particularly fussy what I eat, sometimes I’ll have a slice of bread, sometimes biscuits, occasionally peanut butter straight out of the jar, and once when I was particularly desperate; I ate an empty ice cream cornet that had been at the back of the cupboard for at least a year. I’m starting to understand how pregnant women feel – just the cravings not the full blown agony of child birth.

So to combat these problems, I have cut down on my portion size and have started running. I’ve also handed a photo of myself in to the local corner shop, making them promise to refuse my custom. If I keep myself busy then I can usually forget about eating, so I’ve taken up mindless violence. The hardest bit, by far, is the early morning run. I think ‘early morning’ is a bit misleading as they’re getting later in the day. The first one was 6am, but today’s was quarter past two in the afternoon. I think the term ‘run’ is also not very accurate; it’s more of a plodding stagger. Like a zombie on a bouncy castle. I’m convinced the whole thing is doing me more harm than good. I’m usually dragging myself along; hot, sweaty, red-faced and wheezing; I look like a slightly embarrassed asthmatic with perspiration problems. It’s not a pretty sight. I paused for breath the other day and someone came to resuscitate me.

So, why am I doing it to myself? Why do I put myself through this rigorous torture and endless cycle of intense athleticism? Is it to be a better person? Is it to look better? Is it to join in with this country’s renewed sense of sportsmanship, as a result of the Olympics? No. It’s so I can go back into Top Man, hold my head up high and reject their clothing, as opposed to their clothing rejecting me.

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