Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Run for your life

Joan Rivers once said “The first time I see a jogger smiling, I might consider it.”

She has a point – because it is bloody hard – but then again, she’s resorted to expensive, public and painful processes of plastic surgery, liposuction, botox injections, chemical face peels and dermabrasion for her own well being and now looks like this:

...which, if you view a bit closer, ironically makes the viewer actually want to run. Run away from the image and what it represents and hope like hell that the chin hairs she invariably uses electrolysis to remove are not in reality, her super-stretched bikini line....

There. That makes anything I’m about to write about relating to sweat, farting, breathlessness and burning muscles seem like a sweet rest in a field of violets by comparison, doesn’t it?

And so, approximately five mornings a week I open this secret door...

.... hang my sweat towel over the rail, take off my gold bangles (they jingle too much) and polar fleece jacket, twist my bum bag around to the back once my playlist is selected and then press ‘start’ on the treadmill panel, selecting a speed of 12.6km per hour.

In less than thirty seconds my legs start saying “Stop Kath, please stop. We don’t think we can do this today.”
My lungs say, “Give up now. This is too hard for us.”
My right shoe says, “Can’t you feel me swimming here – I’m so much smaller than the canoe in the left shoe and a blood blister’s now growing on my second toe.”
My arms say, “Crikey, we’ve forgotten how to swing properly and it’s freezing in here!”
My arse says, “I don’t think I’ll be able to hold out for the entire session, so I’m going to start sending you a few fragrant warning signs, OK?”

But my head says, “Ignore them all. Listen to the music and RUN.”

My father always springs to mind, veteran of several marathons in the 1980s and a patient companion on my first runs as a teenager. We’d wake up at 6.00am and jog along the edges of the Murray Bridge race course, me complaining, him encouraging. “But Dad look, this is the WORST run I’ve ever done and it’s the WORST I’ve ever felt. It’s starting to rain and each drop is sizzling on my face like a hotplate,” I’d puff out raggedly, somehow still continuing to keep on running as I did so.

Philip Wells, school star sportsman and President of the SRC approached us from the other side of the road one morning, running faster than a gazelle and barely cracking a sweat. My whingeing stopped as I automatically increased my pace, held my head up high and sailed right past him, nodding a silent ‘hello’ in respectful recognition of our mutual athletic endeavours.

As we rounded the corner and out of sight, I collapsed into a mulga bush and Dad roared with laughter.

I loved running with him and knew that he was slowing his pace considerably just so he had an activity to share with his overly-dramatic fifteen year old daughter. He’d say to me, “Yes your lungs are working hard; yes your feet are hurting and yes your legs are aching, but think about each of them separately. Are your lungs really going to explode? Your feet break down or legs drop off?”

“No,” I’d pant and realise that my body was indeed a pretty wonderful piece of work, allowing me to run the outskirts of my home town before anyone other than Philip Wells, trainers returning their horses to the stables or interstate truck drivers were up.

His words stay with me today amongst the lyrics I’m hearing in the earphones. I’m not seeing the dull wooden wall in front of me but looking inside to memories old and new and having a good look at the ideas swirling around for articles, remembering all kinds of inexplicable events and reflecting on others, sentimentalising my darling Sapphire and thinking about what I’m dying to tell Love Chunks later when I see him. They’re all there, running with me, keeping me going.

My heart is thumping hard but strong, now louder than any song or memory and the sweat is dripping down my forehead and into my eyes making them sting. I'm no star runner - Nutella's advertisers and Steve Monaghetti aren't going to be tracking me down any time soon - but it has become an essential part of my life.

There are days when I do need to stop for a few seconds because I'm afraid that my body can't match the merciless pace of the black belt I’m running on and will fling me back onto the exercise bike, cracking my bones, skinning my knees and making me cry. But after a breather, I always get back on, feeling all the better for doing so.

I can’t say that I’m smiling during the run but it allows me to move further away from the black dog and self-doubt and closer towards a contentment of sorts. Afterwards I look at the data on the treadmill panel with pride and go outside to flop on our cold and hard metal bench seat, resting my head in my hands and my elbows on my knees, watching each splat of sweat hit the paving stones.

It is then that I smile. My little orange dog Milly wanders over for a pat and a sly lick of sweat from my legs. No matter what else happens today, I’ve already won.


Lynne said...

12.6kph? Kath - you're a legend. I thought I was doing well power-walking at 6.8.


PW said...

Sorry I can't recall the moment Kath! Like you I am still running weekly, these days under the cover of darkness and in a vain attempt to keep the man boobs at bay and justify my regular Coopers' Pale Ales ...

River said...

Don't letd ourselves here; Joan Rivers chin hairs ARE her over-stretched bikini line.

Why are you staring at a dull wooden wall while you run? Can't you liven it up with an inspirational poster or two? Maybe a picture of a pathway through a cool forest? An olympic running track with a gold medal at the end?

River said...

Der!! "Don't let's kid ourselves..."

Deep Kick Girl said...

You're a legend! I'll be thinking of you when I embark on my pain fest at the gym from next week.

eleanor bloom said...

ironic how Joan's probably the only one who couldn't help but smile while jogging.

so nice that your dad enjoyed sharing that time with you.

Lorna Lilo said...

Is that what that thing is for? I had an exercise bike once which was great for hanging ironed shirts on. I didn't get any fitter though.

Benjamin Solah said...

I envy your dedication.

I was once a runner in high school, happened to come second or third in the cross country every year and could never beat that arsehole who trained everyday... :P

Helen said...

12.6? I can keep that going for about 2 minutes! Very impressive, and I do admire your dedication. Out of interest, what music do you listen to while you run?

Rowe said...

Hi Kath, you look like you could conquer the world in that post exercise photo. Pardon the cliche. In my late teens/early twenties, I walked every afternoon for about 2 hours, then I'd get an urge to run and did and afterwards felt an incredible high, that amazing concoction of adrenalin and endorphins flooding the entire body. It makes one feel bloody fantastic.

lc said...

615 calories.

What's that in chocolate?

Jack42 said...

Hey, why don't you put a nice photo poster on the wall of in front of the exercise machine so you can fantasise running around Lake Louise or something?

Anonymous said...

You're a legend! And you look fitter than I've ever seen you (thinking back...) - yes, I think ever! Love your pudgy friend Jilly xx - Hey just noticed the word verification is "fating"!!

Kath Lockett said...

Lynne, you ARE doing well powerwalking. Doing any form of exercise is 'doing well' in my book

PW - see, it just goes to show how much we can worry about what other people think of us when they're not thinking about us at all!

River & Jack42, you're probably right, a few posters would help but I find that once I'm 'in the zone' I don't really see the wall, if that makes any sense...?

Deep Kick Girl, you're too kind. Pain fest yes, but feelings of smug superiority and pride afterwards - YESSSSS!

Thanks Eleanor. Dad's got arthritis in his hips and feet now but goes powerwalking around his local area like the clappers. I keep telling him that one day the local nursing home with scoop him up in a big butterfly net thinking he's an escaped alzheimers patient!

Lorna, Lorna, Lorna...... Mine has been used for that too, especially when it lived inside.

Thanks Benjamin. Dunno if its dedication, but just totally essential for me.

Thanks Helen. At the moment (checks iPod playlist), I'm chugging along to:
The Best Thing - Hook and Sling
When love takes over - David Guetta and Kelly Rowland
Whatever - Stafford Brothers/Hoxton Whores
Bohemian Like you - Dandy Warhols
Sorry - Madonna
UFO - Sneaky Sound System
Getting away with it (all messed up) - Sean Quinn & Gus Cullen
Release me - Agnes
Are you with me - Potbelleez
...all dance/electro mostly, to keep my heart and legs pumping...

Sure does, Rowe

lc - about a block of chocolate....

Thanks Jilly!

Baino said...

You know she only wears high necked shirts because her muff is now between her breasts! And you're making me feel incredibly guilty. I have a perfectly good treadmill on the back verandah collecting dust . . .haha and I love the honesty of your photos, yer a cack girl! And you are most definitely a winner! Love yer work! I'm ALMOST inspired (but I broke my little toe on Thursday and it's a bit sore so next week I should be able to get the whiter than white and rarely worn Asics on again!) Who am I kidding . . .time for a chardy!

The Plastic Mancunian said...


Sorry Kath, didn't read the blog post because that picture of Joan Rivers scared me half to death!!




Kath Lockett said...

Baino, dust it off, put together your best playlists on your MP3 and get ON, baby!

....are you sure it wasn't MY picture that scared you half to death, Plas Man???

the projectivist said...

you are my hero, Kath! blimey i wish i could be arsed to run like that, but i don't own a treadmill, so i'd have to stagger shamefully, huffing and puffing in public amidst looks of horror.

yeah, it's easier to just stay in and eat biscuits.