07 May 2008

the long distance runner

1985 Nike Air Pegasus running shoes. I pounded the pavements of Bournemouth in the 1980s wearing these exact shoes, (at the time, running from myself and delaying the time of evening when I would reach for the bottle.) Eventually it got to be too much like hard work and heck, I was young and immortal. Why on earth would I need to exercise in my late twenties.

Twenty-three years later I have dusted them off and begun running in them again. I have to say they are supremely comfortable and have that certain "retro" quality which is impossible to fake. At fifty I have discovered I am no longer immortal and I definitely do need to exercise. After three weeks of building up I now run 2.7 miles in twenty-five minutes - pathetic really but it is all my old bones can manage just yet.

2008 Nike Air Pegasus running shoes. I am too easily unsettled by anything new and unfamiliar so I was mightily relieved to find the same old model is still available from Nike a quarter of a century on (albeit updated a little). I invested in this second pair of special footwear partly to satisfy my craving for modern technology, scuplted into science fiction running shoes and partly to give my old feet something delicious to slip into as an occasional treat. These beauties were worth waiting for. I feel I have a distinct unfair advantage over my fellow pavement pounders as I gallop along on bouncy pillows of air. The vintage pair will be my workhorse runners and the new ones for high days and holidays.

Even running apparel has come on in leaps and bounds since I last browsed the racks of a sports shop. My new running shirt and shorts weigh precisely nothing and have to be anchored to the rail in my closet to stop them floating to the ceiling like party balloons. They are so light I keep glancing down to make sure I haven't had a ghastly oversight and gone running naked. The same goes for my wafer-thin tracksuit, which is in my favourite and rather eye-catching combination of black and grey. (Well, I couldn't resist having the full set and I will need it [even wafer-thin] when winter comes around.)

Never one to do anything by half, I have a vague notion of running long distances in due course. I like the feeling when my lungs work hard and fill to capacity without a twinge. I like my heart beating fast. My current run of just under three miles would need to be followed by a further nine of similar length to get up to marathon distance. That seems an impossibility as I sit with sore muscles and write this but why not aim high.