A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, on the far edge of the outer rim, beyond the Abilene paradox, I landed upon the populous world of Running. On Running were people of many breeds and creeds. There were the Trackers who worshipped the god Fartlek, the Fallen who had scarred and bloody knees and a faraway look in their eye when mention was made of fells, moors, crags and headtorches, the Marathoners who ran long and ran deep, there were the Whippets and there were the Wobblies.
Being a bear of ample girth and antiquated gait, I made my home amongst the Wobblies; a people of wobbly knees (cartilagely crucified), wobbly tendons (a killer Achilles), wobbly wisdom (a run in the morning is worth a Mars in the hand) and wobbly hearts (pain is inevitable, suffering is optional, so I’ll stay home tonight). Our fellow Runlings struggle with our philosophy and our language as we do with their physiognomy and their mileage. The Whippets comprehend not a word, mainly because of the reverse Doppler effect: they run so fast as they pass that our every utterance sounds like an inverted siren. The Trackers encourage us and occasionally we join them for recurrent reiterative repetitions with a side order of parlauf, but more often than not end the night with repetitive strain injuries. The Fallen are evangelical and inclusive, but leave us standing as they skedaddle cloven-hoofed down mountainsides in ever decreasing circles round the circular trinity of Bob, Paddy and Ramsay.*
The Wobbly philosophy is a perverse reinterpretation of Cartesian dualism. Descartes posited that the mind and body are two distinct substances and the problem is that mental phenomena differ from the physical body on which they apparently depend. Wobblies would argue that physical stamina depends entirely on mental phenomena and since you can convince yourself of anything, why convince yourself of ten miles in the pouring rain (as your correspondent did this morning, which proves both the Fitzgeraldian view that the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function and that I am an idiot). Consequently, if the mind says it doesn’t matter, the body has not the will to argue back, and another night on the sofa goggling the goggle box ensues (or Googling the Gosling butt as I believe some young people are wont to do). This can be restated as free your mind and the rest will follow (i.e. give up the guilt and stay put). Or no pain, no gain, so what?
So to all those struggling to achieve more than 60 training miles a week, a sub-40 minute 10K, a faster than Nell marathon (or, in the case of most middle-aged marathon men, a five paces behind Nell marathon) or even the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs, embrace your inner Wobbly and run when you want, how you want, and where you want forsaking all others as long as you shall live. Amen!
* If you’re reading this whilst stood next to one of the Fallen, ask them what this means