The Big Issue : Edition 503
culture police Fiona Scott-Norman THEBIGISSUE22JAN–4FEB2016 29 ILLUSTRATIONBYGREGBAKES;ORIGINALPHOTOGRAPHBYMILESSTANDISH IF YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO KEEP MOVING, YOU REALLY HAVE TO KEEP MOVING. Running for Your Life about how I’m so not Haruki Murakami. (I have yet to be named one of Time’s 100 most influential people. I’m not Japanese. I do not run marathons. I value my knees and am built for running in much the same way that a giraffe is built for the limbo.) Other times I think about hoiking myself up off the dunny. This then, is What I Talk About When I Talk About Training: Weeing in the great outdoors. I used to be far too self-conscious to pee outside, for fear I’d be spotted and judged. Now I count urinating al fresco as one of life’s great pleasures. Ah, the open air! I train so that I can squat with the confidence that I’ll be able to get back up again. FOMO. At a friend’s Christmas party last year, part of the celebrations included stupid physical group games. I train so that I can compete in the “picking up a box from the ground with your teeth” competition, and the “form a human pyramid” event. I found myself yelling, “Come on people, core up!” I train so that I don’t have to sit on the sidelines. Sex. Self-explanatory. Transport. I forgot which airline I was booked with recently, and found myself at entirely the wrong terminal with three minutes left until check-in closed. I turned and sprinted, and made it to Virgin with seconds to spare. I train because I have the time management skills of a golden retriever. Laziness. Years ago I joined Fitness First. Like most people I went to two sessions, did not go back, and then put my energy into trying to break my contract. Eventually I wrote to them and said I was leaving the country. Without an actual trainer to keep an appointment with, I will stay in bed and hate myself because I have no will power. I train because I’m lazy. But mostly, I train so I can keep eating cheese. And because I don’t want to die in a Jason recliner, but of sweaty deviance. DO YOU REMEMBER when the guy who practically invented jogging died while jogging? Oh, how we laughed. By “we”, naturally, I mean everyone who wasn’t jogging. Which in the early 1980s was pretty much everyone. Today there are as many fun runs as there are colour swatches by Dulux, but back in the day jogging was considered a sweaty deviance. “Why on earth would you do that revolting thing?” the general population pondered from their Jason recliners, clicking their shiny new remote controls. “Eugh” they thought, basking in the mind-blowing luxury of changing channels from a supine position, instead of having to lumber across the room when Wheel of Fortune gave them the irrits. When Jim Fixx, the American author of The Complete Book of Running, keeled over after pounding the pavement in his terry towelling headband, aged 52, our sense of vindication was total. We knew it was a stupid idea. Boy, were we wrong. Fixx was right on the money viz the benefits of exercise, and his autopsy showed a raft of pre- existing, non-jogging-related conditions. A mitigating detail we ignored, such was our need to mock. Fast forward to 2016 and we’re hyper vigilant, so alert to the perils of a sedentary life that sitting down is considered worse for you than tasty, tasty bacon, which gives you cancer. On a personal level, I have transformed from an eye-roller into a wanker who has not one, but two, personal trainers. I know. I don’t even recognise myself sometimes. But somewhere in my forties I realised that swimming a couple of times a week would no longer cut it, and if I didn’t get a trainer quick smart I’d devolve until I had the upper body strength of string. There’s also a saying “No hoof, no horse”, and I have a deep fear of being non-ambulatory. I watched my mum being unable to get up off the toilet, and my dad wobbling on his feet like a broken picnic table. So now I pay people to make me do lunges and squats, lift weights and balance on Bosu balls, and work on my core. I train, essentially, so I can keep skipping to the loo. Haruki Murakami felt moved to write What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2008) – an intimate memoir that details the intersection between running and writing. I’m no Murakami, but I also find myself chock full of philosophical musings as I train. Sometimes I muse » For virtually more FSN, visit fionascottnorman.com.au or follow her on Twitter @FScottNorman.