Going for a run is as thrilling as making toast with a griddle powered by tealights. If, no matter how many times you throw yourself into the contaminated zone you fail to become infected with the running bug, you are not alone. Let's be honest, surely the only appeal is 'meta-running'; namely running away from the current activity of running, towards home, thus still running. As I mused at the beginning of The Expendables 3, it's got to get better than this.
'Once you get into it, it becomes addictive' is a common theory from the Hash Harriers of this world, but it's also one which can be applied to most drugs, cults and soap operas. When I have nothing to distract me but the sound of my own wheezing and feet monotonously hitting the ground, it's no wonder that sometimes I just stop and look at a leaf.
Whilst we all respect the successful runners of the world (I regularly clap in my head at passing joggers), we need them to accept that it's just not for us. No matter how good our iPod playlists, lycra collections or solitary Nike-clad musings have the potential to be, we cannot be converted.
Instead, we opt to annihilate the same amount of calories, in exponentially more enjoyable ways.
Welcome to a roundup of running's rivals; the exercises which consider that although humans may only use 10% of their brain, that 10% still needs some form of stimulation.
Swimming pools laced with drowned My Little Pony hair bobbles and condom capped 'serious swimmers' are no better than a rainy run. But finding a deep pool of wild water is one of the best ways to kick some calories out of the family home; your thighs.
Every summer since we were 11, my friend and I have taken the plunge in a wooded weir on Exmoor. After spending half an hour on the river's edge in our knickers 'pysching up', we must burn at least a Mars Bar's worth of calories off just adjusting to the nippy waters.
Once submerged in your aquatic country cove, you're free to hit your doggy paddle stride. Your trusty hound can even join you for moral support!
Take this intrepid habit up a notch by surfing on Cornwall's shores, trying the odd bit of kayaking, or even head back to the swimming pool to try Daley-esque diving. Be a big kid, and you won't go far wrong.
Of course, check out where you're swimming if it's in the wild. 'Wild Swimming' by Daniel Start is a great place to look for safe spots to have a splash in England's feral fields.
Shake it like a Polaroid picture
Whack on some of your favourite tracks, totally sober (optional) and jump around like a crazy thing until you want the music to stop. I bet you anything you'll get through an album quicker than you would prancing around cul-de-sacs trying block out the cacophony of your struggling lungs.
In your kitchen you can Billy Elliot, you can be Beyonce, you can be the girl off Frozen...there are no boundaries.
Pretend you're a cowboy
Despite the bad press it gets, horse riding is not just about dabbling in the black market of tweed while an animal does the work. Riding actually uses more muscles than many sports, some which you'd struggle to use otherwise.
In addition to a fantastic bum, you get a mate in the form of your trusty steed. This guy has a mind of his own, so will inevitably be more interesting than a treadmill. Go for a good old gallop; it'll blow out cobwebs better than any fast car could.
Not only can these classes genuinely save your life one day, you will have a whale of a time in them.
If you're as lucky as I am, you may be blessed with an instructor whose comedic grasp of similies helps to explain martial arts. From describing the aggressiveness of a 'gobby cousin at a wedding' to the harmlessness of a 'pushy pensioner in a charity shop', you'll know exactly when a 'take-down' becomes appropriate.
There is a myriad of martial arts out there, but there are also simple 'combative' classes, focusing solely on street defence. Where else will you get to beat up a group of burly guys? Not on a run, unless it's taken even more of a downhill turn than usual.
Self defence is also the only place where you will ever give your mother a piggy back as a warm up.
Do not underestimate circus people, they have abs of steel and pain thresholds of carbon fibre. My (same, lunatic) friend and I tried a trapeze lesson near Primrose Hill and I felt like I'd earned the right to consume the contents of an industrial bakery afterwards.
You stop caring that everything hurts, because you're dangling from ceilings, spinning on swings and attempting 'ze bird's nest'. Our French-Canadian teacher, hailed from the Cirque du Soleil, was bending my spine in such ridiculous angles that the pain became secondary to disbelief. By the end I felt like I'd qualified as Louis Smith's fiancee. I hadn't. But I'd demonstrated more commitment to that half hour than to any pedometer I'd ever owned.
Bike with a basket
It may sound simple, but adding a wicker basket to the front of your bicycle works wonders. Suddenly, you are on a jaunt rather than a pressured fat-burning journey, giving you a new lease of life.
Alternatively, the basket can make you feel purposeful. Now you have cargo, a mission even...rather than a steel frame carrying you to somewhere which, let's be honest, is probably a circular route.
If you're still unconvinced and none of these suit, try promenade theatre.
Whilst running can be a 'marry you if I'm single when I'm 40' backup for less creative moments, the above are the thrilling flings to sustain us along the way. Getting out of breath is good for you, but it's like earning a living...you can be an accountant, or you can test water-slides.Suggest a correction