Writing takes time. So does running. Writing about running is even more time consuming. It is definitely not multi-tasking. Writing whilst running risks injury, although on the plus side I’m sure You Tube fame could be achieved by strapping a laptop on, cinema usherette-style armed with Cornettos, choc-ices and albatross only to disappear down a unattended manhole. You know, something like Charlie Bit My Finger or Benton but less winsome and featuring a grumpy bear with an axe to grind rather than a loveable Labrador with red deer to chase. All of which is to say in words of more than one syllable, that I do not devote enough time to the written word, because I’m too busy running, watching other people running or doing things that help other people do running or other people do watching other people running.
Now that last sentence could take me anywhere. You may have gathered by now that I often set out with no idea what I am going to write about, taking my lead from the last word that tripped out of my brainpillow. Sometimes I run like that too, by which I mean, I set out from the front door with a route that is no more planned than “turn left at the bottom of the road” followed by random turns to see where I end up. Of course that can be a recipe for disaster; before now I have ended up back at my front door only three minutes after I locked it or found myself eyeball to to eyeball with a frisky bullock signing “just try to reach that style, go on I dare you, no I double dare you”, which is no mean feat for a bullock what with the cloven hooves and all (an opposable thumb isn’t just for changing channel, you know).
I set out intending to write about running clubs, because they have been much on my mind of late. That’s one of things I meant by “doing things that help other people do running” (last sentence, first paragraph, pay attention). I joined a club ten years ago and I’d like to say it transformed me from an overweight, under-achieving joggleslug to a lean, mean runner bean, but I’d be lying (which is not to say that there aren’t plenty of examples of just such a transmogrification, simply that I’m not one of them). There are two words in “running club” (literacy and numeracy in one sentence, are there no limits to his insight?) and neither of them is bibble. When I started with this running lark, I stood on the outside, looked at the running club runners and thought, elitists, whippets and oddbods. Then I joined a club, got to know these running club types and adjusted my typology to equals, retrievers (some golden) and oddbods.
Because oddbods do exist in disproportionate numbers in running clubs, perhaps because of the sport’s individualism (there’s no “I” in team but there is in running, along with “u” and “rnnng”). It’s a strange cult where the thing that brings us together is a desire to go faster than walking and leads us to worship at the words of hi-viz, low profile, midfoot soothsayers, all the time trying to get away from the herd behind us in order to catch the pack in front. But I found a home with the oddbods, because I found that the shared obsession was no more their whole definition than it was mine: if you prick us do we not bleed, if we strain a calf muscle do we not say ouch?
But then there is the club word. For one who has lived his life according to the Marxist philosophy of “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member” it is mighty discombobulating to find myself evangelising to the unaffiliated the benefits of the affiliation and giving up many, many hours to make the club bigger, better and less reductive (my urge to crowbar in yet another song reference may have made that last clause nonsensical, but that would assume that the rest of what I write is sensical).
Anyway, to cut a long run short, clubs are a good thing. They make you run and they make you a better runner. They make you new friends. They make races. They make you faster, slimmer, and more attractive to the opposite sex (ok, maybe not that). They make running. Join together with the band