I’m concerned about social distancing.
This is easier than you may think. As you approach someone on your run, imagine you are at a party and this person is so boring that he thinks a monotone is one too many. Now imagine he has spotted you and is reaching for his smartphone to show you photos of his collection of Victorian chamber pots (arranged by depth). Now swerve for all you’re worth. Leap, if you must. Congratulations – you have passed by without incident and learned a vital new manoeuvre for parties.
I have bought running gear but am afraid I am not good enough to wear it
If you are going to run, running gear is a sensible choice, unlike golf, for which there is no sensible choice. If you ever feel you are letting your enthusiasm for kit get the better of you, put yourself in the mind of a big-bellied middle-aged man (and it will be a man) who looks at a Lycra cycling top no bigger than his sense of self-awareness and says, ‘Now that’s the natty item for me. An hour to pull it on and I’ll be away on my platinum steed.’ He cares not. Nor should you.
I’m worried I will be lapped constantly by the same people
Don’t run in circles.
I don’t have the right shoes
The right running shoes are the running shoes in which you feel comfortable. The wrong running shoes are, among others, diving boots, brogues, espadrilles, gladiator sandals, kitten heels and any that squeak or light up. Frankly, it is harder to get it wrong, though still possible.
Do I need a watch to run?
No, legs will be sufficient.
Can I listen to music when I am running?
Of course you can. However, steer clear of country, as you are quite likely to just want to sit down and cry, drink till the bottle has run dry and wish that your baby hadn’t done told you goodbye.
Do I have to stretch before a run?
Some runners do, some runners don’t and the ones who do are almost certainly lying.
I am worried I will have to stop and walk
First off, you are assuming other runners are watching you. Fret not, because:
- Most will be too busy enjoying their own run.
- Some will be wondering why they put Let It Go on their playlist and then thinking of ways to break the news to their children that Elsa can no longer sing that song because a witch gave her a poisoned apple and locked her in a tower for ever.
- A deluded few will be considering running in slow motion to give ordinary people time to admire their effortless gait, lean musculature and glossy mane. Otherwise, you do not exist in their realm, the fantastical land of Narcissia.
- One or two may notice you, and even nod as they pass. If they do, nod back. Make the movement small and brief. Try not to look like a startled horse. On no account should you wink – you are not a folk singer. Unless you are.
I’m too out of shape to run
Runners come in all shapes, except, I think, hexagon. If you are hexagonal, how you look on the run is the least of your problems. Go to a doctor. Or a professor of geometry.
When I run, my face gets red. I feel it shows I’m terribly unfit
A red face is a natural reaction to exercise. In the absence of ice cream, your body is cooling you down. As you become fitter, your face will be less red after the same amount of running and people will begin to wonder if you are really trying. This will annoy you and then you will have a red face for all the wrong reasons. To sum up, enjoy your running-induced red face.
Will I ever have to wear a running vest?
No one ever has to wear a running vest.
If I never enter a race, can I call myself a runner?
All runners are runners. Some runners are racers. All racers are runners. All runners are not racers. Now, how many apples do I have?
I’m afraid that running will build too much muscle
I went for my first run yesterday and now my everything hurts
Interesting. And troubling. After your first run, almost everything may hurt for a time, but your hair is normally pain-free. If not, it is probably because you have been wearing a jazzy headband and your hair is letting you know not to do it again.
How much should I spend on running shoes?
As much as you can afford to spend. If it is more than this, you cannot afford them.
Should I run with others?
By all means, but at least introduce yourself first.
What does someone mean when they say, ‘So you’re a runner?’
Be careful; this isn’t a question. It’s an accusation and it often leads to, ‘Running! That’s only for mad people and even then it’s never for long because their knees always fall off. I saw it happen once and I also read it on whateveridontlikeiswrong.com.’
Your best bet in this situation is to reply, ‘I won’t talk about my running if you don’t show me photos of your chamber-pot collection. Fair?’
Should I run on the spot at pedestrian crossings?
Entirely up to you, but if you do, remember to move off the spot once the light turns green.
Yesterday, someone asked me, ‘Why do you run?’ How do I end the conversation quickly?
Look into the distance and say, quietly, ‘Running helps me to forget.’ Then, with just a hint of sadness in your eyes, simply walk away, towards a memorable sunset if possible.
Should I run for a time or a distance?
We are edging into philosophy here, which is fine, as I have grown a majestic beard. When is time? Where is distance? What happens when it is time to go the distance? If René Descartes had not had a thought in his head, would he have existed?
Once you have answered the first three of these questions (the fourth is optional), you will know what to do. In the meantime, just run.
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