SO I am out for my Sunday run. Imagine there is a camera attached to my head showing the scenery passing in a blur or possibly not. Imagine another piece of equipment recording what is going on in my head.
Running is something I have done for too many years to remember, thirty at the very least. And I’ll let you into a secret: you don’t get any faster.
My ears are occupied with music from my iPod, providing a random soundtrack to this weekly outing. Music shuffling, feet shuffling. I go out towards the ring-road then sweep round the edge of York and head up towards Bishopthorpe. Through the jolting camera of my eyes, everything looks remarkably fresh and green. York has a number of verdant entrances, and this one is lovely, with trees and open spaces, a bit of height – not a lot because this is York, after all.
The other side of the city boasts another green corridor on the way in from New Earswick, and it is easy to forget how lucky York is to have these leafy gateways.
Anyway, puffing and panting, sweating and aching, on I go. Running is when I have my good ideas and my bad ones too. I think up plots for my books, spend a long while writing up these thoughts, then spend a lot longer waiting for a publisher to take any interest.
It’s been a year now since I thought it was a good idea to make a living from being a freelance supplier of words. I love being a word worrier. Leave me and a pile of words together and happiness follows; happiness but very little money. One word I hadn’t intended to see so much of was ‘worry’, but there you go.
So now as I reach up to the bridge over the A64, with the racecourse stretching away to the left, my head is full of doubts. Have I been an idiot; when will I stop being an idiot?
Just then the random soundtrack throws up When You’re Smiling. This is neither the Louis Armstrong version nor Morecambe and Wise . Instead it is Doctor John’s tribute to Armstrong, and a fine and optimistic thing it is too, as cheerful as an uplifted trumpet. So now I don’t feel so bad.
Sometime later, a few too many miles later, and I am heading up the slopes of the Acomb alps (an in-joke for fellow inhabitants of York). My legs are turning to concrete. This is the longest run I’ve done in months. Every bit of self-doubting me is aching now.
I don’t time myself properly and I am not linked up to my computer or anything, as some runners are. But a glance at the clock on the cooker tells me I have been out for one hour and 40 minutes. No wonder my knees are complaining.
After a stiff-backed stretch, it is time to sit down and worry some more words.