Archive for January 22nd, 2007

Will Tighten You For The Spuds

Terrible weather, what?

On a global scale, the effect of the wind, rain, hail and snow now assailing this island is not all that bad, but there are still countless millions, if not billions of people who would not like to live here because of the cold and wet.

The bad weather has been hobbling my efforts to prepare for a marathon this year, although I have not yet decided which marathon. Contrary to what my ill-fated attempt at keeping a log on the subject might suggest, I have been running fairly regularly for the last six months or so, and I was able to get out quite a lot during the holidays in Spain, but since my return I had only managed to get out once until this weekend, principally due to my reluctance to brave the wind and showers.

It is only of late that I am starting to notice the effects of a life watching sports on my own sporting life. For instance, during the 80s and 90s, any professional footballer in the English leagues who dared to wear gloves or -even worse- tights was the subject of plenty of derision from commentators and fans.

There is a macho premise in British football (and, to a certain extent, in Gaelic football as well, but that has been less of an influence) of no pain, no gain. That is, unless you are suffering horribly, your efforts are suspect. This affected my own attitude to running, in that I only ever went out in shorts, whatever the weather, and would never consider wearing anything so luxurious as a pair of gloves. Wearing running tights (I don’t even know if tights is the right word) would be an act of unconscionable effeminacy. Shorts were for running, whilst tights were for….prancing. When I went out running in Spain recently, I was the only person doing so in shorts and t-shirt, whilst everyone else was happily -and, in my twisted world-view, immorally- insulated from head to toe.

Such a cavalier attitude to weather -and purple legs- is all very well if you are actually going out running every day, but when you are not going out at all, it starts to seem like an excuse. So, on Saturday morning, depressed at both my inactivity and the vileness of the weather, I went to the sports shop and picked myself out a pair of tight black running bottoms with a pocket in the back especially for an iPod nano, or -since I don’t have an iPod nano- ten cigarettes. Looking at my lower half in the changing-room mirror after trying them on, it felt as though I were about to audition for Cats. But I went ahead and bought them anyway, as I needed to get out.

The roads on Saturday afternoon were the scene for the world premiere of my new tights -and gloves!. The weather had broken, and I strode manfully out into the crisp air, heading for the country roads where there was no-one else around. Twenty minutes in, I was running into a vicious gale and accompanying shower, face stinging and clothes clinging, as though I had just emerged from the Irish sea fully clothed.

Maybe the worst thing about running in a sopping wet top blasted against your skin by the cold wind is the damage it does to your nipples. When I arrived back at the house after an hour or so, I felt like I’d been breastfeeding a pair of wolverines for a week. It hardly needs saying that I blame the tights for this – the gods meted out an appropriate punishment for my transgression.

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January 2007