The great Charles Dickens was quoted as naming our capital city’s copious parks and green spaces the ‘lungs of London.’ A pretty apt moniker given the rejuvenating effect they have on their wheezing, choking metropolis – breathing life and vitality into a smog belching, tarmac crunching, urban jungle.
The quintessential Londoner, Dickens knew his city’s streets, buildings and hidden crannies intimately, thanks to a sleep disorder which kept him up all night, walking the streets for hours on end. Walk being the important word here, dear readers - for although a raving insomniac and an obsessive chronicler, the man was no fool. Fast forward 150 years to modern London, and upon these Dickensian lungs, throughout each and every patch of greenery, you will find...joggers.
Modern city dwellers, for some reason, simply bloody love to run – and our football, tennis and Olympics packed ‘Summer of Sport’ seems to be having a powerful effect on the trainer toting masses. They’re multiplying, and they mean business. If they can find a square inch of green space, they’re going to flipping well run on it.
I used to be one of these athletic wingnuts. Living next to a park gives me the perfect surveillance point for the constant stream of huffers and puffers robotically trudging around its circumference and one year I thought sod it, let’s get in on the action. So I started jogging and before I knew it I was training for the marathon.
After limping my way round 26.2 miles, it suffices to say that that my athletic career’s over before it began. The most exercise I get these days is a spot of light stretching inbetween Kit-Kats. But my brief period of Rockyesque training and immersion into the London running brethren taught me something interesting.
All joggers look really, truly and utterly fucking ridiculous.
There’s no way round it. Unless you’re a finely tuned, immaculately oiled Olympic machine with years of competitive practice, you’re going to look stupid. I was no exception with my Mary-Poppins-meets-disabled-albatross signature running style – and as I galloped into tree branches and fell down potholes, I had no illusions of grace or panache.
Most people thundering round their local park think they’re re-enacting the opening scene from Chariots of Fire, when in reality they’ve got all the athletic charisma of a chicken wing.
One of the only things that kept me sane while out on these long, lonely trots was laughing my aching backside off at joggers that looked even more of a twat than I did. Most people thundering round their local park think they’re re-enacting the opening scene from Chariots of Fire, when in reality they’ve got all the athletic charisma of a chicken wing. With this in mind I’ve compiled a list of my top ten twatty jogging types:
1. All Weather Jogger – come rain, shine, snow, tornado or impending apocalypse, this runner has an ass that won’t quit. Hail the size of watermelons? An imminent alien invasion? All awesome reasons for this idiot to fit in a quick 10k.
2. Lunatic Jogger – flailing arms, that manic, wild-eyed stare and the complete inability to move in a straight line. This runner must be escaping from an angry bear.
3. Orgasmic Jogger - the endorphin rush has gone one step too far and this runner looks on the point of climax with every step.
4. Competitive Jogger - try and overtake this one at your own peril. For this runner it aint no mere three mile jaunt round the park, this is The Race Of My Life. Every morning, at 7.45.
5. Regular Jogger - you’ve never exchanged words, you don’t know what his dog’s called but you ‘know’ each other, cross paths regularly and always get a respectful nod for being part of the running brethren. To the outsider you look like members of a cult.
6. Freakishly Athletic Disabled Jogger - this runner will put you to shame by lapping you several times despite only having one real leg. In this case he’s not the twat, you are.
7. Aroused Jogger – he goes jogging to pull, and will chat ladies up even when they’re a lovely shade of beetroot and wheezing like an 83-year-old emphysemic. And yes, this one is always a man.
8. Super Dad Jogger – he’s pushing an aerodynamic pram, he’s fitting in a half marathon before breakfast and his nervous breakdown’s scheduled for next Tuesday. He is SUPER DAD.
9. Night Jogger – running in the daylight is for WIMPS. While the rest of us are slipping into pjs, night jogger is doing battle with late night drunks, local dogging crews, and angry tramps.
10. Suicidal Jogger – this runner is having a horrible time, and clearly wants to stop. But plods on with the grim stoicism of a Tibetan monk. Weeping.
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