But getting there was a journey.
Firstly, I’d just like to give a shout out to Up & Running in Bournemouth. They were absolutely fantastic, showed nothing but professionalism, and I left the shop with a great pair of running trainers which have served me brilliantly so far- providing comfort and support from the outset. I would recommend them at least 7 million percent, and that’s being conservative. I will go back next time I need some new running shoes, just maybe I’ll avoid the treadmill.
What I’m about to tell you took place over a year ago and still haunts me to this day.
Back in year 6, I did cross country club after school because I really fancied one of the guys who was very good at cross country. I lived for the moments he lapped me – they were many – and what. A. Bum. After a few weeks, my crush subsided before I moved on to the next
victim lucky object of my pre-teen affections, but I realised I quite enjoyed the running part and I carried on, getting a bit okay at it. I was never amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but I was no longer the fat kid coming last in the school’s annual cross country competition- and never have I been so ecstatic to be resolutely average in a league table.
During this time, I got horrendous foot pain in the sole of my feet and had to get some special trainers to compensate for tilting my feet outwards when I ran. Fast forward about 13 years later, and I found myself 10 stone heavier stood outside a running shop in Bournemouth with my parents, wanting to start running once more.
I wasn’t lying when I said Up & Running were great. We walked in, and I wandered over to the wall of shoes, nodding sagely and fingering the laces as if I had any clue what I was doing. What was really going on in my head was this:
‘Oh god, those pink ones are bright. I really don’t want to draw any more attention to my wobbly self than necessary’
and contradicting myself
‘ooh, they look like they should flash! Do they flash? Can I have the flashing ones? Oh, they don’t flash, nevermind.’
The lady in the shop could clearly sense the awkward desperation and lack of knowledge in my internal monologue and came over asking if she could help. I gabbled something about wanting to see which trainers I’d need and before I knew it I was stood in front of the treadmill contemplating running away instead. By this time, another couple had joined us in the shop, and Mum and Dad settled themselves on a bench in front of the treadmill, as if they already knew the entertaining treat their daughter’s life was about to provide them with once again.
The plan was, I’d build up my pace until I was doing a comfortable jog, and the lady would video my feet from behind before playing it back in slow motion and being able to gauge how my feet hit the ground when I’m running to see if I needed extra support.
The plan, hahahahahahaha.
Is now a good time to mention I’d never been on a treadmill before?
All those Facebook videos of gym-bods doing fancy treadmill routines make it look easy. The vines of puppies desperately trying to get on them make them look cute, friendly and non-threatening. I, on the other hand, was about to take it on with all the elegance of Little Britain crossed with Robot Wars.
I stood on the machine, and the lady showed me the buttons I’d have to press to work through the varying speeds, and I pressed the first one.
Oh good lord.
I was only going at a walking pace, but my body didn’t like it one bit. The whole of me tensed up, I leant forward, my sweaty palms gripped the handles. My feet couldn’t sense the speed of the moving conveyor belt, and either went too slow for the speed resulting in holding the handles harder and then overcompensating with too much speed. Eventually, I straightened up and loosened my hold a little bit.
‘This isn’t so bad’ I thought, as I grinned and nodded at my mum, and noticed the couple by the wall of shoes pretending to intently stare at a pair examining the soles in great detail, rather than listening to or looking at the commotion going on behind them.
‘I’ve cracked it!’ I thought, removing one hand completely to press the next button up.
Two things were about to happen. My balance was about to lose its shit because my hand was not touching the handle, and I was about to miss out a speed setting entirely instead, increasing the rate at which the conveyor belt of doom was going by at least 100 mph.
‘ARGHHHHHH’ I shrieked, as I clamped my hand back on the handle.
The couple looked up from their intense shoe examination, and watched me instead, their mouths and eyes wide open.
‘Take it steady!’ said the lady. I was shrieking and laughing too hard with embarrassment to explain it was an accident, and instead had to salvage some of my dignity by styling it out.
As you can imagine, that tactic didn’t go well and my dignity was already half way down the high street.
Out of embarrassment, nervousness, fatness, and the fact I was running at the approximate speed of light on the treadmill setting of ‘3’, I was sweating. From my hands, from my forehead, down the side of my face. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I couldn’t press the delicious looking stop button, I would A. go flying and B. I would have to start the whole bastarding process again.
I once got a prize for being ‘stoic’ on the school trip to Rome, so I was not going to start becoming a complainer now. The plan was to keep going until I felt comfortable enough to take my hands off of the treadmill handles. Well, I can tell you exclusively, dear reader, that was never going to happen. I carried on running and shrieking until eventually I only had the index finger on each hand touching the handles of the treadmill. That was the best we were going to get.
I was staring at the buttons in a panic, willing it to end, whether that be through power cut or the sweet release of death – I really didn’t mind at that point. And then came the loveliest words I have ever heard aside from ‘dinner’s ready!’
‘I think we’ve got enough to work with now’.
I made sure I didn’t miss any buttons as I went down through the speeds eventually coming to a stop, and a great quiet came over the shop, everyone pretending that even in the tiny space they hadn’t just witnessed the most embarrassing moment of my life. I was desperately trying to hide the fact that I was fat and unfit, by dabbing delicately at my tomato-coloured sweaty forehead and pretending not to be out of breath by holding it and gently releasing it through my nose instead of sounding like a great pair of bellows.
My lungs were not happy, but at least I didn’t look like a tit. Ah.
The next stage was to watch the video of my feet back and see if I tilt them at all. I was quite excited about this because slo-mo always makes you look badass. It’s the law. The lady started the video, and she was intently watching my feet. I was too, at first.
That was until I realised I could see my parents in the background.
As the lady watched my feet, I watched as Mum and Dad – who I paid next to no attention to during the treadmill ordeal – absolutely piss themselves in slow motion. Mum cracked first, slowly throwing her head back and closing her eyes. Then Dad went, first a wry grin, and then a ‘ha, ha, ha’. Then the bit where I sped up too much came. Mum put her hand on dad’s arm, Dad wiped away a tear.
I lost it then, starting to laugh and I didn’t think I was ever going to stop.
‘You won’t be needing any extra support in your shoes, you’re landing perfectly central’, the lady said.