No one would argue that running isn’t good for you, but do we really have to pretend to like it, too?
For the 126th time this year, I turn the corner by the rowing club and begin the climb towards Stamford Hill. I have half a kilometre to go. Mist has settled on the river to my left, where waterfowls, Egyptian geese and a single, stately heron have gathered by some rushes in a dazzlingly pretty scene for Haringey in late November. They likely make some pleasant noises, but only the fortunes of HMS Royal Oak reach my ears, as my earphones sizzle with its battle against four French frigates near the Bight of Benin in the War of 1812. I am trying to enjoy myself.
Last November, with the cooperation of this magazine (ie they paid me), I defied my natural inclinations and did a radical diet and exercise overhaul. The experience produced not just an eminently readable lifestyle piece, but a substantial improvement in my general fitness. And then, shortly before Christmas, it ended, as did my adherence to its stipulations. I jettisoned the protein shakes and the thrice-weekly workouts, and gamely resumed my close personal relationship with butter, sugar, alcohol and grease. I discarded all the measures that had given me these results bar one – running.