The phoneyness of the wrong distance runner

Everyone it seems, got a dog for Christmas. Strolling along Brighton seafront at New Year, I found myself side-stepping spaniels and making detours round dachshunds. And if I wasn’t being cornered by a canine, I was at the mercy of another breed that run around unleashed with their tongues lolling — the New Year, New Me Jogger.

Now, much as I like being approached from behind by someone panting wildly in my ear, I like to keep it confined to the bedroom. Being approached from behind by a panter in a public place, however, is somewhat disconcerting — and not half as much fun.

New Year, New Me Joggers seem to gravitate towards me. I was out walking, when, just within earshot, came the heavy thud, thud of feet. The sound gradually got closer and louder. Then came the panting in my ear. Suddenly, a blur of iPod, water bottle, Lycra and trainers flashed past, leaving a view of wobbly glutes and pale legs in its wake. Should a jogger run toward me, we sometimes make eye contact. For a moment, we’re locked together in empathy and agony. I can see the strain in their eyes; feel the pain in their hunched, bewildered  bodies, and our minds become one. They’re thinking: ‘Why the fuck am I doing this when I could be in Burger King?’ while I’m thinking: ‘As much as I’m used to men falling at my feet, I don’t want your adoration accompanied by a cardiac arrest.’

It’s not rocket science. You can’t lounge around all Christmas knee-deep in Quality Street wrappers and panettone crumbs and then expect to run a marathon. If you must insist on pushing your body to the limits, please don’t push it my way. And should you ever see me prostrate on the seafront, it won’t be because of a heavy jogging session. Oh no. I’ll have tripped over a terrier.