THE BLOG

The Five (Honest) Stages of Running

19/11/2015 11:41 GMT | Updated 18/11/2016 10:12 GMT

There are many articles exuberantly hailing the health benefits and marvellous sense of achievement that a run can bring. The truth is, on a windy November day, the last thing you feel like doing is putting your (permanently stinky) running shoes on and being buffeted around the park for an hour. While I find many running articles helpful, they're not exactly honest when it comes to the emotional experience of a run. Here is my attempt to redress that balance.

The five stages are:

1. Anger

It doesn't matter how cheery I was before I left, or even if the sun is shining, about ten minutes into any run I get completely, inexplicably furious. This may well be a hormonal response to my body not appreciating getting off the nice warm sofa, but the effects are surprising. In the last two runs, I got into an intense debate with my editor about his awful suggestion of an incredibly sexist cover to put on my book (I haven't published a book) and I had a row with a man on the bus about his objection to my breast feeding (I have no children). All of these heartfelt rows took place entirely in my head. It's almost got to the point where I speak my eloquent rants out loud to unsuspecting dog walkers, venting my angst at them while I plod past. Running Rage is a thing.

2. Denial

This bit is great. About a third of the way through, you get into your stride and the body enters an intense dreamworld, completely oblivious to what you are actually putting it through. Perhaps I'll do an extra few miles, you think, or an extra half hour. Maybe putting in an extra run in the morning would be fun. Get up early, hang out with the birds, experience the glistening dew on the crisp autumnal leaves as you and your lean body glide effortlessly through the wintery air. You are in a total state of bliss, unaware of the awful things that are looming ahead. Just you wait.

3. Bargaining

Everything falls apart here. You might be ten minutes or half an hour from the end, but suddenly the thought of getting there is impossible. Any other running plans are instantly dashed. The only thing that matters is making it home, bridging that unfathomable gap between where you are and the safety of your front door. If only you hadn't done that extra loop when you were feeling all euphoric, now it will take you even longer. In order to make it there, you make promises to yourself, to ease the burden. Or to stop you from giving up and getting on the bus. You can have toast with peanut butter on, or a banana milkshake. With a health goal achieved, why not go out for dinner tonight? Have a bath, watch three episodes of Once Upon a Time (yes, I'm behind the times). Anything to ensure that your screaming legs continue to move in order to get you to your destination.

4. Acceptance

You have made it. You are in fact a saintly and wonderful human being. Sure, you're a little achy, but it's not too bad. Rubbing your lithe legs, you ponder the rest of your day. A good stretch, then a lovely hot shower. Perhaps a little stroll to the shops, or pop to the cinema. There's that local pub you've been meaning to test out, or maybe you could make arrangements to see some friends. You accept your wonderful status as a healthy and superior human being.

5. Depression

Until it hits. Probably half an hour to an hour after you get home, The Slump drops you to the sofa. All possible thoughts of moving leave your head. Getting to the toilet is going to be a challenge, never mind that play you insanely considered mere minutes earlier. There will never be enough food. Bagels, pasta, steak, ice cream, your neighbour's cat, whatever you eat is instantly followed by a massive crash. Sugar in your tea suddenly seems like a great idea. Three hours later, if you've eaten enough, you might have worked up enough strength to have a shower. Who knows, maybe you have a bad enough memory to enable you to do it all again! Strap your boobs down, prepare your feet for a load of blisters and head out into the blustery roads.

Happy running, everyone.