A few weeks ago I was changing the sheets on my bed.
Without warning, something underneath my right shoulder blade exploded agonisingly down my back and up into my neck. “Arghhh,” I whispered, immediately paralysed.
The Man, who was next door, either didn’t hear or took no notice. He is used to my dramatic noises.
“Arghhhh,” I repeated, with more volume. I wasn’t even looking for sympathy; the problem was that I had actually been rendered immobile and didn’t know what to do.
Eventually The Man came through and found me clutching a pillowcase, petrified like a dinosaur in the Natural History Museum.
It was a night of intense agony. I was in my local osteopath’s consulting room by 8am the next morning. Fortunately, he is amazing and he knew immediately what was wrong with me. “Ah yes, you’ve ,jshfkjhdajksfbnmsdbfnmb,” he said. I didn’t get it, but I think basically two of my ribs had popped out.
The osteopath has been rehabilitating me and my ribs over the last few weeks. It’s taken a while because (as I already knew) I have a completely useless body with all sorts of problems. The ribs were just the icing on the cake. As anyone who sees an osteopath will know, it’s an embarrassing experience. One minute you’re a normal human being with a healthy degree of self-posession and poise; the next you’re stripped down to your pants and bra, contorting your highly embarrassed body into weird shapes while a fully-dressed man prods and pokes you. Sometimes he will grab you and make a sudden movement that clicks bones, makes you scream (out of shock, not pain, even though he always tells you what he’s about to do) and then you feel even more stupid because you screamed.
As I said, uncomfortable.
But anyway, I have made good progress and my crappy body parts are less crappy. In fact, they’re feeling ruddy excellent! Given the state my body was in, I can only assume that this man is a wizard. He doesn’t look like one, I have to admit, but I’m absolutely certain he trained at Hogwarts. I may have a rummage through his draws next time he pops out to get some water. There’s got to be a spellbook in there. Or a long whispy beard. You can’t have had as many stupid body parts as I do and just get better in a few weeks. No way.
Anyway, I mentioned recently (foolishly, I suspect) that I wished I could run and now this man reckons he’s going to get me running again. Actually, ‘again’ is probably the wrong choice of word here. I’ve never been able to run. There are those that can; those that do but probably shouldn’t, and those that simply can’t. I have always been part of the latter sub-set.
Here is my running history:
1986 I fail to qualify for the six year-olds’ sprint at my primary school sports day. In reception class the 5 year-olds all do egg-and-spoon but once the second year comes, the racing’s firmly on. To most people, bar Lucy Robinson. Me and my best friend come joint last in the qualifier. We were put in the consolation egg and spoon race instead and came joint last in that too. I hated sports day. I hated that I couldn’t even make my mark on the egg and sodding spoon, never mind the sprint. According to my Mum I had my first ever asthma attack during a primary school sports day. I suspect she was misled. I suspect I was just creating a diversion so the cool kids wouldn’t realise that I had failed YET AGAIN to qualify for a 100-metre dash.
1991 I begin secondary school and am sent out on an 800m run with everyone else in my class. Strangely, I am able to out-last a few people and so am put forward for a competition. Wikkid! I think. I’ll be a cool long distance runner! The competition, whatever it was, happens. By the end of the first lap I am so far behind the others that they have actually gone all the way round and overtaken me. I am eventually asked to leave the race by an official.
1997 I have become interested in losing weight. I try running with my best friend. She has somehow learned to run since our primary school days. I haven’t. I am wearing flip flops, the closest thing I have to trainers. I also have massive wangers which fly up into my face. I give up running after 10 minutes and go back to banoffee pies.
2004 I try going for a run on Highbury Fields. A group of homeless drunks start laughing as I lollop past. On my second loop they start actually roaring and I have to accept that they definitely are laughing at me. A group of homeless drunks. This isn’t good. My technique is poor.
2006 My housemate, who is an excellent runner, takes me in hand. She wants to teach me to run. Within five minutes I have shin splints and am gasping for breath – I feel so terrible that I suspect I could die. My housemate says this is ok. We run on. I trip and fall on a tree root and feel so terrible that I decide to just lie there. I send her off. I feel like a total twonk. I continue to lie on the ground for another 25 minutes until a park warden asks me to move on or he will call the police.
2008 I hire a personal trainer. “Help me run!” I entreat him. He takes me on. He sets me up on a treadmill and watches me from behind. As any woman can imagine, this is a deeply unsettling experience. “Oh,” he says when I step off. “Your legs do very strange things when you run. No wonder you get pain whenever you try it. I’m really not sure I can help. How’s about we do some boxercise? Hmmm? You’d love it!”
Since then, I haven’t bothered. I don’t want to be threatened by a park warden again or be laughed at by tramps. I don’t want to do consolation boxercise. I cannot run. I have the worst technique ever. I have rubbish legs. I look and feel stupid. It’s over.
And yet, according to the osteopath, it’s not. He’s determined. He’s started me on these strengthening exercises which I am to do every other day and he is absolutely certain that I will run.
So I have started the exercises. Which involve lunges. A lunge involves bending over and sticking your arse right out, as many of you will know. It’s hard to feel dignified during this sort of a move. Harder still given that when I did my lunges this morning I found The Man watching me. He was watching me laughing. “Look!” he giggled. “Look at you in your shorts!”
I decided to rise above him and his laughter. I did a sideways squat, studiously avoiding his eye. And as I bent over and stuck my arse out, he made a farting noise. He did this for every squat I completed.
The humiliation continues.