take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Monday, September 11, 2006


I finish my run at the supermarket and use a bench outside to do my stretches. I always receive a few funny looks when I do this, but overall I think the health of my muscles is probably more important that any remaining street credibility I may possess.

Slowly, as I stretch, my body recovers from the 5 miles of pavement pounding. My breathing returns to normal, my hitherto purple face regains its more usual pallour, the sweating, after a brief surge immediately after stopping the run, calms down to something approaching normality. I unleash my hair from its ponytail, tip my head upside down and comb my fingers through it, somewhat painfully when I catch the tangles, until I feel presentable enough to enter the supermarket.

My "emergency" fiver, which used to remain in my running pack for months on end, gets spent on a few supplies - a loaf of bread, milk, more water (I will usually have drunk all of the 500ml from my ergonomic running bottle) and my post-running treat: freshly squeezed orange juice.

Armed with my bag of goodies, I make my way across the bridge over the weir and through the park. I notice the mallards, lined up on the log in the water, preening themselves*. I smile at the sight of their bright orange feet. I continue my walk alongside the river and then divert to the path by the cornfield. It wouldn't have been difficult to scale the small wall, do battle with some stinging nettles and grab a few ears of corn on my way past, but I decide against it on moral grounds.

I emerge onto the path beside the allotments, where a small, tabby cat watches my approach with interest. I crouch down in front of him and he rolls excitedly on the ground. He weaves around my legs enthusiastically for several minutes, smarming his head on my feet whilst I try (and fail) to get a decent picture of him with my mobile phone (see above for evidence). Eventually, my hunger wins over and I leave the cat to it. He recovers from the abandonment remarkably quickly, acting all nonchalant and seeming to feign a sudden interest in something on the ground no doubt requiring his immediate attention.

I arrive home, prepare my "luxury" weekend breakfast of juice, toast and tea (during the week, I stick to muesli - or should I say, it sticks to me - specifically between my teeth) and finally relax on the sofa. This is the little Saturday morning ritual I've developed over the past few weeks.

Running is not, I'll admit, my favourite thing. But one rather unexpected benefit, alongside the health and fitness, is that after running, you gain an appreciation for some of the most simple things. Water, slightly but not overly chilled, is coveted. Orange juice, even the cheap stuff, tastes like nectar from the gods. A warm shower feels blissfully invigorating and, after a longer run, a hot bath is just heavenly. Lingering on a sofa with a cup of tea feels justified, as does an afternoon nap, my head on Big's lap.

I will never be particularly good, I will never be particularly fast. But it works, for me.


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