The Blog

How Running Makes You Beautiful

I am a runner and runners are not beautiful. Running makes you incredibly fit. It is the best form of exercise to lose weight and use calories but once the weight has gone, that's it.

A few days ago I was sat in the garden of my local pub. It was the first day of the current heat wave and all the hunks were shedding their winter cloaks and putting their toned, shapely bodies on display.

Here was where all those hours down the gym would pay off. Here is where a stranger's eyes would divert lustily in their direction and all the hard work they had put in over the winter months would be justified. They were attractive! People fancied them!

I sat back and moved inched into the shade at the corner and took a swig of my lemonade. I am one of the UK top marathon runners. Over the same dark, winter months I have been working almost every muscle in my body, stretching it to its absolute limits but no-one - not one person - takes a second look at me. Does that girl walking past raise her eyebrows, puff her cheeks and eye my buff torso up and down? No she doesn't. She looks at the guy opposite with the tight t-shirt and the tanned biceps.

Why? Because even though I exercise harder and longer than anyone else here, I am a runner and runners are not beautiful.

Running makes you incredibly fit. It is the best form of exercise to lose weight and use calories but once the weight has gone, that's it. All the fuel has been spent pumping the blood to your legs; the rest of you - your arms, your chest, your arse - is left scrawny and skeletal, a body starved of nourishment.

When I watched Game of Thrones the other night I didn't see any nine-stone men, and the women had bulges in places other than their calf muscles.

No, running does not cause the opposite sex to flock your way when they see your tight quads. Not at all.

But as the next girl walks past me and heads to the bouncer in his tight t-shirt, I feel quietly happy and warm. I am not one of them. I do not make all this daily effort for the sole purpose of looking good in a nightclub. I am more interesting. It takes more to satisfy me than a wink from the town hotty.

Yes Mr Freud, I know, it probably is all about sex at the end of the day, but my understanding of sexuality is different. I want people to fancy me because I have achieved things, because I have commitment, stamina, guts and enthusiasm, not because my body bulges out of a tight pair of jeans. I am the anonymous artist, the rock star wearing a mask, the beautiful actor who picks ugly roles. Running doesn't make me better looking, but I like to think it makes me an attractive person and if people can't see this, then these are not people I want to be with.

When I look at the bouncer, standing by the door with a beautiful girl on his arm, I consider what it took for him to become this way. He must have spent hours and hours pumping the muscles in his arms and chest until he passed out. This is anaerobic fitness. That's how it works. If you do it right and do it well you should not be able to think. The exercise turns you into an amoeba.

Being a long-distance runner is different. Reaching optimum pace engenders another feeling altogether - a Zen state. You become one with the world around you, your legs move with nature and although you are using effort you don't notice. Bodybuilders are doing something similar but they can never open the door long enough to see what the runner can - the weights will always have to be dropped to the floor before their consciousness can appreciate what is around them.

So back in the shady corner of the pub I may not be beautiful and no-one will look when they walk to the bar, but as I sip my lemonade I know I have inner beauty that most other people can only dream of. Look long enough and you will see it too.

Enjoy the hot weather beautiful people.