Is this what running is supposed to feel like?

So this week, I’m on a health kick. My appetite for French patisserie has seen a small, yet noticeable tire creep onto my middle – insulation for winter one might say. On the other hand, one might also say that I should put that croissant down and do some exercise…

So this week, that’s what I did.

I woke up on Saturday morning with a fresh resolve, a sense of productivity that had been eluding me for some time. So, quickly, before it disappeared again, I decided to get my trainers on.

My flatmate wanders into the kitchen around 11am and eyes me with suspicion. “Why are you wearing trainers?” he asks, bemused. “I’m going jogging”, I reply, my tone superior and my stance even more so. Hand on hip, I start stretching whilst flatmate suppresses a snigger. He saunters off. Phew, I can stop stretching now.

I head towards the door and catch a glimpse of the street below. It is grey. It is wet. And it is cold. My resolve slightly wavering, I force myself into the corridor just as I hear “Wait, I’m coming with you!”.

Oh. Good. God.

The flatmate, that is coming with me, is the same flatmate that spends his evenings boxing, playing squash and contorting himself into strange positions at his local gymnastics club. He is also the flatmate that spends his weekends engaging in an activity known as ‘parkour’ or ‘free-running’, a discipline (according to wikipedia) that developed out of military obstacle course training. Enough said.

He is the first out of the door, a wry smile on his face as he says, “this is going to be fun!”. I feign a half smile as we descend the stairs onto the street below. Panic rising in my chest, total humiliation is imminent.

We start walking. “We’re walking?”, I think to myself. This can’t be so bad, we’re going to warm up, then jog in a leisurely fashion. Perhaps we’ll stop on a bridge to admire the view or make a detour via Notre Dame.  “This is going to be downright pleasant”, I think. Oh, how I was mistaken.

Without warning, flatmate starts sprinting. I lurch forward trying to catch up, yelping “slow down” in a strangled tone. He doesn’t. His feet pound against the concrete in a rhythmic pattern as he paces further and further ahead. He dodges pedestrians and positively skips across crossings. I, on the other hand, am red and struggling. We have been running for 5 minutes and I am so out of breath that I have to pretend to tie my hair up just to give me 10 seconds of respite.

Flatmate sees I have stopped. He glares, he turns, he runs towards me. Oh God. He runs in circles around me shouting “DON’T STOP, DON’T STOP, DON’T STOP!!”. “I’M NOT, I HA-HA-VEN’T”, I reply, lying to his face.

Finally, 30 minutes and more shouting later we arrive in proximity of the apartment. He slows to a jog, and then to a walk. I am barely walking by this time. My knees are slack and my back hunched. I am dragging my feet and trying to hide my beetroot red face. Unsuccessfully it would seem as he asks me “Are you OK?” a look of concern sprawled across his features.  “Oh yeah, great! Great run! Had a great time!”, I reply in an entirely unconvincing tone, partly due to the fact that I cannot breathe.

Back at the apartment, it takes a good 3 hours for my face to return to a normal colour, something that tells me perhaps I should exercise more often. Or, perhaps, something that tells me to choose a more suitable running partner next time. Baby steps, as they say.


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