So I did it.
I whipped that big-boobied bombshell by 9 whole minutes in this weekend’s London Marathon. I probably could have knocked a few more off it if I hadn’t stopped for the loo a couple of times, or been a taller, fitter version of my little self, but who cares. I did it.
Running a marathon is no joke. Wandering round the start line in the sun, smiling, pointing at the mental fancy dress costumes, standing line in the longest best-natured queue for the loos I’ve ever witnessed. Those bits are wonderful. Strangers cheering you on, running past dancers and jazz bands and drunks and drum-n-bass, hi-fiving hundreds of kids and taking sweets from strangers. All joyous. The sense of achievement and pride- priceless.
The rest is not.
What isn’t all glowing light and majesty is the pain. My god is there pain. Places hurt that you don’t believe even have a biological name. And my god is it far. To cap it all off, once you cross that finish line in celebration and victory and clutch your medal triumphantly, you are handed a goodie bag which weighs 3 stone. Cheers.
But I did it.
According to a survey commissioned by mental health charity MIND published the following day however, it is a shock I managed it all. They found so many women fear exercising during the hours of daylight, putting themselves through torturous early morning alarm calls and dangerous late night pavement pounding not because of vampiristic tendencies, but the fear of ‘being seen’.
They also (shock horror) found
- 2 out of 3 feel conscious about their body shape when they exercise in public
- Many doubt their own ability compared to others; 65% think it’s unlikely they’ll be able to keep up in an exercise group and almost a half feel they will look silly in front of others as a result of being uncoordinated
- 60% are nervous about how their body reacts to exercise – their wobbly bits, sweating, passing wind or going red
- 2/3 feel that if they joined an exercise group, other women would be unwelcoming and cliquey, with only 6% feeling they would be very likely to make new friends
Well zip up your man suit ladies (and gents too), as this doesn’t have to be the case. Not all activity is competition.
Life is filled with competition. Sometimes they are competitions you aren’t going to win, like going up against Meryl Streep’s Maggie at the BAFTAS, or yer wan who is standing for Mayor of London against Livingstone and the blonde one, but there are plenty more that you are. The people in your gym class or running down your street aren’t the competition, they are the inspiration. I used to sit behind a lady at spin whose beautiful bum was like two eggs in a hanky. It didn’t put me off, it spurred me on. I pedaled like bejesus the mornings I was behind that fine specimen.
As for unwelcoming classes, what a load of toot. Everyone else is there for the same reason as you- that they caught sight of their tummy while reaching for the Chardonnay. They don’t care why you are there. There is a special kind of bonding that comes with sharing not only your sweat, but the secret tears of laughter at the freaky Zumba teacher pretending that what she is doing is actually an exercise ‘thing’ and is not just sex moves in front of a mirror.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a natural fitness bunny. I love sofas and booze, and greasy food delivered to my door. 9 out of 10 women aged over 30 battle body-confidence and low self-esteem when considering outdoor exercise, and I am one of them. But I fought it, and if I can anyone can. And while the London Marathon is not a competition, I did beat Jordan.