How to succeed at not running

Tremendous news from blogger Nutty Cow: she ran her first 5k this weekend. I just about managed to forgive her for running it in under half an hour (which I have only managed once, and then by staring fixedly at the timer while sprinting the last 500m) because she very sweetly said that my last blog post inspired her.

YOU HEAR THAT MUM? I’M A BLOODY INSPIRATION.

If you want to be inspired then you’d better go and read that one, because this is a post about the things that will magically help you to not run. Gone out for a run and suddenly realised you’ve made a terrible mistake? These are my tried and tested steps to wiping the slate clean.

Rolos

How do you eat yours? FUCKING IRRITABLY

Work

Forget your running shorts 
What really helps here is if you’ve gone to all the trouble of getting changed only to discover that there’s absolutely nothing for it but going upstairs and eating a packet of fury Rolos.

Forget your running shorts and sports bra 
As above, except you will probably want to substitute a Snickers and some peanut M&Ms, as your colleague will be giving you the sympacredulous eye of one who cannot believe you are this disorganised but who has witnessed you running in the wild and thinks it’s probably for the best you don’t exhaust yourself that much again.

Eat lunch beforehand
Ideally, you will intend to start eating an hour before going for a run, but actually get around to it 50 minutes before. Finish 40 minutes before you go running. Now, run a mile, and then spend the next four miles whey-faced and nauseous wheezing “But…but I’ve got to keep going, I’ve got a meeting at 2.”

Home

Don’t stretch
Work yourself into such a panic about “dynamic” stretching (should one goosestep?) versus “static” stretching (that study I read said it made you slower WTF) that you completely forget to choose one or the other and fly out of the door like a gazelle fleeing a National Geographic photographer only to slow down after five minutes because your calves feel like someone is hanging off them with an ice pick.

Eat a traditional Friday night supper
There is no better way to completely run out of energy on a Saturday morning run than if you don’t bother with breakfast, and go out with last night’s half-bottle of Portuguese red and some salt and vinegar kettle chips sloshing around your system. This is the best way to ensure you will get to 1.5 miles, stare incredulously at the info on Runkeeper, go “IS THAT ALL? WHAT THE FLYING – ” and then decide that really, you may as well just walk the rest of the 5 miles instead. It will take you 90 minutes. Everyone in Brockwell Park will judge you, even the dogs, but you probably won’t care.

Bash literally any old shit into Runkeeper’s route mapping as long as it snaps to roads and makes a circle
This is a sure fire way to ensure that you will end up having to run up at least one giant hill, which in turn will give you ample opportunity to practise walking, ambling, and using an imaginary protractor to work out the precise angle of the giant hill.

For best results, don’t bother remembering to select your lovingly-crafted route when starting a new run. This will give you the chance to make new friends among the cyclists and runners of south west London when you ask things like, “Is this the Kings Road?” and “Is that the way to Clapham?” in a voice which appears to have climbed several social strata since entering the SW postcode.

Sit in bed
Have you set your alarm for 7am to go for a run only to realise you don’t actually want to go out anymore? Good for you! Get some tea and toast and watch the minutes romp past while you read a book or peer anxiously at the internet. This can also be modified to “an evening you kept free so you could definitely, absolutely go out for a run rather than sit on the sofa watching something you don’t remember TiVo’ing”

Ignore laundry
Let everything pile up until the only sportswear you have left is that risqué shirt from your foray into university rowing which you can’t possibly wear out in public, but are too attached to to throw away (I studied FRENCH. How did I not know that CHATTE, while technically meaning female cat, is also slang for another type of cat.)

*Update!* Not finding your headphones
The internet’s GinBroguesHats also adds the tried and tested, “spending more time working out the playlist than actually running”.

Wishing you every luck in your not-running endeavours. Go team!

Write Club

Story notes and Joan CollinsI have great difficulty concentrating. In four years of university, I don’t think I did a stitch of work in the library, just wandered through it staring at industrious people before running outside and having to breathe slowly into a paper bag. I liked to work in the coffee shop, with a fag and a constant stream of coffee, chatter and people. I spend too much time in my head, so filling it with the sound of other things is infinitely nicer.

Fast forward eight years and I am still one of life’s perpetual knuckle-crackers, always warming up and never actually getting on with it. Last month, I booked myself into the Urban Writers Retreat in Shoreditch to guarantee a few hours with no internet just so I could get cracking. It’s amazing what shelling out £40 and eating cake and drinking almost constantly will do for you: I wrote three chapters! Admittedly, I had to ask my neighbour how long a chapter should be, and then guiltily sellotape chapters one and two together, but I felt like I’d achieved something and discovered, much to my surprise, that I really adored writing again.

On Bank Holiday Monday I went to the Ritzy’s cafe (home of the best flat white this side of anywhere) to try again. It was ok, about 3000 words of babble. Since then – nothing. Even when I have the time, I make any old excuse to avoid sitting down and writing.

Happily, so too does @MissCellany, who may well be my writing soul twin. I met Elizabeth at Literary Death Match a few months ago, after weeks of talking about our love of cleaning on Twitter. We both won LDM with the only story we’d finished since 2006 and were feeling the pinch of expectation and drastic unachievement. We’re ready to get on and do it. We just aren’t quite actually…well, doing it.

So we formed Write Club. This is basically Fight Club but with laptops: write something to a deadline, otherwise the other one punches you in the face. I missed our first deadline by three weeks, and Elizabeth kindly refused to punch me, instead delivering the death by a thousand cuts of a really, really good 3,000 words for the book she’s been working out in her head for years.

“Writing is really hard,” I complained to my boyfriend back in November.

“Yes,” he replied. “Um. It is.”

The sketch group he’s in sit around a Google doc and write in it for days. They are committed and organised and Get On With Things. I write wispy bits down in my iPhone notes, get over-excited, send unedited first drafts to my writing group and then spend entire weeks in slough of despond when they reasonably point out that some of it could be clearer or just a bit less shit.

I am the queen of procrastination. Sitting down and writing, just plain getting on with it, when there are a million trivial distractions to claim your time, is difficult. It is inviting the possibility of failure into a dream that has previously consisted of “I will write the book, everyone will love it, I will buy a boat and live on it wearing a turban.” To not write, to just keep putting it off, is to keep that delicious little pipedream alive.

But fuck it. I might not finish this book this year, but I will at least get something done this weekend. And my chapters will be exactly the right length for what they are saying.

Buy Elizabeth’s story: Shortfire Press and Amazon

Buy Kat’s story: Shortfire Press and Amazon. Read the write-up of Kat’s Literary Death Match. Tell Kat to stop fucking talking about herself in the third person like a colossal spanner.