I’ve always hated running. Even when I’ve been fairly fit I’ve never managed to get to the end of the street without my throat, lungs, knees, head, everything crying out in burning pain and rage. Running is bad for you. It has to be; it hurts. Runners’ bowels bleed, for goodness’ sake. Look it up.
But last night… last night I dreamed I was running. Fast, and easily, and it was like I’d been given seven-league boots. And today I could do it. Easy as that. Well… not really. There’s a little background… it involves zombies – and the lengths you’ll go to when you don’t want to disappoint some fictional characters.
I tried it a few months ago, but I ended up just hurting my knee… it’s been sore, you know, since the clunky clutch of my first car… and then from when I had a dramatic and embarrassing fall leaping, mountain goat-like across some big rocks on the coast in Scotland. It hurt so much I wet myself. It was on a beach, though, so it’s fine. You can do anything on a beach. Look at Morcambe.
So, I joined a gym and I exercised my knee. And it doesn’t hurt any more!! The system works! All those times doctors and physiotherapists told you to exercise the bits that hurt and it sounded like madness and you didn’t do it? THEY WERE TELLING THE TRUTH. Strengthening the muscles around painful joints makes them better. Who knew?
But you do have to keep doing it, and not just do it once and then remember again a week later and do it again and then give it up for a bad job because it’s not working.
So I joined the gym and have really, really kept at it, only missing days where I was on a thirteen-hour shift, or that weekend just gone where I was full of cold, or a couple of weeks ago when I had a stitch for like, three days (what’s that about?).
I’m not suddenly skinny, or dead hench, and I haven’t got Madonna arms – yet. But after about a month I definitely have more stamina, and suddenly quite enjoy a very slow, shambling, stop-start run. Particularly when there’s an incentive – a gamified run, with a story and characters you’ll really try for, you know?
I still don’t want to go for a run with you – any of you – because I pant a lot and stop a lot, and also because it’s nice to do it by myself. I’ve got two children, two jobs and my partner is an actor so when he’s home he’s home, and when he’s not he’s not. Running and going to the gym are lovely because they’re alone-time which doesn’t feel guilty or self-indulgent, and – mainly – where I can pick up supplies to embellish and zombie-proof my base – Abel Township.
The people who know me are bored of this already, because I can’t overstress how much I love Zombies, Run!… it’s wonderful. It’s a proper story, written by proper writers, and the way it weaves you, the listener, into the story as an active – if mute – participant is wonderful. I am engaged in the story, I am invested in the characters, and I’m excited to know what happens next (I’m in season 2… please don’t tell me). I want to run every day, with the zombies after me, with my seven-league boots on and I want to make Sam Yao the Abel radio operator proud of me.