THERE'S nothing easy about running. And yet it's the easiest thing to do.
No expensive equipment required. No fancy facilities.
Just get off your butt, step outside and start moving a bit faster than you walk.
Up to the next light pole is a good starting point. Anything more is a bonus for the novice.
I call my particular style the Cliff Young shuffle. It's not like it's a choice. More a function of what's possible.
It's not going to win Olympic gold. Nor set any speed records. But it is getting me round the block physically with a few things I'm going round the block with mentally.
Like concerns I'm grafted to the couch. Guilty about too much rich living. And perhaps a phobia that I have not suffered enough in my day.
Whatever demon gets the job done.
Because running man, or woman, is a complicated beast. Just ask them. No one understands them but their woman . . . or man. (Apologies to Shaft.) And they may be jivin' too.
But one thing is clear, be they a dude or a Jude, running makes little sense to either sex at the start.
It just has to happen, with the hope that from little things, big things grow.
Exhibit A, park runs. Developed after the fun went out of fun run. Now they've gone Colour, and people are paying big coin to have flour stuffed in their face. Obviously there's a bit of crazy involved.
Some cite self-esteem. And if that's the case, jogging is a triumph straight up.
Because if you can accept yourself as the aerobically challenged, visibly anti-Energiser bunny that you are when you first pound the pavement, you've got self-esteem on the run/shuffle.
In fact, you're well and truly on the snorting, wheezing footpath to self-realisation . . . that you probably don't look, nor sound, that svelte.
That's probably why you do it at night so no one sees. But you don't care. Because in the early stages of the jog, you've got too many other things on your mind.
Like oxygen, and when the next mouthful is going to reach your lungs.
You know you should be breathing through your nose. But the mouth is a bigger hole.
Running is liberating that way, divorcing the individual from theory, by ungainly practice.
And in the process it takes you to an esoteric plane that can only be achieved by oxygen deprivation. And certain drugs.
All that matters is the now. And soon, you tell yourself, the now will become the soon. And you can stop running.
But until then, the now is now, and you have to keep running towards the soon.
Yeah, it does sound a bit fuddled, but endorphins do that to you.
There's a tantric element as well. The delaying of desire. To stop running. To bend over and hack up your lungs. To put your hands behind your head and grimace pathetically.
All those things the footy commentators talk about when discussing bad body language.
You must attempt to put all this out of your mind and just peer out through your eye sockets as you bump along searching for a rhythm that's gonna keep the motor ticking over.
Because at that moment, it's not the journey nor the destination that is important, it's the shuffle. Go Cliffy.
You sweat, you puff, you enter into important dialogues with your self.
Make that "Selves".
The first dialogue gets you out of the house.
It can take years for that conversation to occur.
But once out, Self No.1 (Smiley) will say, "what a nice night, how clear the sky is a 11pm".
Self No.2 (Grumpy) will cut in with: "Cut the crap, this is going to hurt".
Self No.3 (Scaredy) will lament, "oh here he comes the whinger".
And possibly Self No.4 (Poncy) will acknowledge that is does hurt but it might hurt less if you persist.
And then maybe the other three personalities will get together and muse about how Poncy is really a ponce.
And then we all settle in to puff and sweat some more.
Intel starts arriving from the extremities of the body.
Ankle hurting. Roger that.
Calf muscle, code red. Take the pain.
You're breaking up, you're breaking up. Can't hear instructions, breathing too loud.
And indeed it does feel like you're about to crash shortly after take-off.
But only the first 10 or 15 times.
Deep down, you know the story - no pain, no gain.
Unless you do it again and again and again.
It's what some clown has cynically called the addictive nature of running.
Sounds like a bit of a con.
But you find if you hang in there the rust falls off over time and soon you can go vast distances.
Well I thought they were vast distances until I tracked it on the speedometer in the car.
All I can say is getting to that second light pole is really going to hurt.