Beware! Here Come the Marathoners

Pop Culture

Beware! Here Come the Marathoners

Illustration: Namaah/ Arré

Ihave a deal for all my friends and acquaintances: If I promise to be awestruck in perpetuity at all of your running, jumping, FitBit’ing, carb-loading and tendon talk from now to when marathon season ends, will you please promise to stop updating me on your fitness progress? Not to be mean-minded and discourage you from the nirvana of #eatcleantraindirty, but sometimes it’s hard for people like me. Think about it – I have to take a face that is engaged in the task of chowing down a gooey fudgy brownie and arrange it in a rictus suitable to receive what seems to be the kasrat-nama of my entire generation.

Hardly have I logged online to check on the important business of the day, than the day’s parade of physical prowess and puffery hits me square between the eyes. My potato chips and I are nodding wisely but can I confess, we are totally and utterly bewildered seeing sweaty, grinning pictures of everyone I know, inscribed with all sorts of information that seems totally fascinating but entirely unrelated. Things like, everyday a gazelle in Africa wakes up and so does the lion and they both have to run to avoid being eaten and to eat respectively, and so when the sun comes up it don’t matter whether you are the gazelle or the lion, you better start running.


The natural correlation between a picture of someone encased from top to toe in Lycra and engulfed in a sweat tsunami and a gazelle and a lion in the Savannah, is exactly the same as the chances of seeing a blowfish with a cigar and thinking, ohmigod that reminds me so much of Mahatma Gandhi – i.e. moderately slim. You may be better advised sticking a sentiment that the rest of us couch potatoes can get behind on your frequent edits of your personal kasratpedia. “I may not be the strongest, I may not be the fastest, but I’m damned if I’m not trying my hardest.” You and me both buddy, I’m trying damned hard to keep my bacon butty down in the face of all your updates.

If this sort of competitive wankery were restricted to the online world it would be one thing, but its allowed unchecked by law even into real life, where one can’t escape into lively intellectual debates on what Kate Middleton’s haircut means for the Commonwealth at the click of a button. If I had a single bicep curl credited into my account every time someone pinned me against a wall at a party and gave me a mile-by-mile assessment of their state of mind and body during the last marathon they just ran, I would have arms that could kick Jean Claude Van Damme’s ass (the metaphor is entirely mixed, but you get my drift).

I have studied this and related areas closely and can now fearlessly announce that yoga is as effective as the gym and the racetrack in boring the shit out of other people.

Which brings me to the other thing. When the world was entirely more civilised, running marathons used to be only for Greek Gods. Or maybe Greek messengers who looked like Greek Gods. Whatever. Now they’ve relaxed the rules and anyone with a DayGlo sweat-wicking T-shirt and an African gazelle complex is allowed to run. And the rest of us have to suffer through excruciatingly detailed updates on mile-split times, cramping, hydration levels, blood blisters and The Wall.

For those who have had the good fortune of not knowing what The Wall is, well your luck just ran out because I’m about to tell you: It’s that point when you are contemplating exercise and you think it might be better if you were to just sit and drink some beer instead and wait until the impulse to exercise passes. I call this my exercise routine, but for some reason runners claim it happens to them at mile 17 and then they get to call it The Wall and then feel obliged to tell you long stories about how they overcame it.

The thing is that bores are bores but exercise bores are the deadliest form of this dangerous beast because they are specialised. While your garden-variety bore can yammer on about anything in the world, the exercise bore is limited to just the details of his workout. His feelings of moral superiority on account of his ability and willingness to bench press a combine harvester are unbounded. Every squat, every lunge, every sit-up, every mile will be recounted and correlated to the triumph of the human spirit. Because of course, nothing reminds you more of people scaling Kanchenjunga after losing half their expedition mates and eating up their dogs (which is bog-standard triumph-of-human-spirit stuff) than a roomful of people in Lycra doing Pilates. It is exactly the same thing.

I have studied this and related areas closely and can now fearlessly announce that yoga is as effective as the gym and the racetrack in boring the shit out of other people. Along with triggering an uncontrollable urge to fall asleep, the hippy trippy vibe of the yoga bore is also exactly the catalyst needed to send the listener’s internal smug-o-meter soaring up to the “smack mercilessly” setting.

So for all the exercise Nazis out there who have incorporated the final solution of core strength into their lives, here are a few things it would be nice if you could bear in mind the next time you encounter me anywhere

1. Excessive exercising has been linked to being massively annoying.

2. Your freakishly bulgy armpit muscles, which make it impossible for your arms to rest naturally at your sides, make you look like Salman Khan in a banian commercial – except with rigor mortis. I will be bringing that up along with your bravery in subjecting your spindly legs to your overworked upper body the next time you give me a gym update. Just a heads-up.

3. Runners, when you say that you ran an easy 15k, we know you’re lying. Research has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that in every run, the last three minutes are easy and the rest is sheer hell.

4. Finally, if you feel like giving me a bashful update on your kasratnama, please imagine this is stuck to my face: Kya tumne aaj exercise ki? Maine toh Nike.

Put your drink down and walk away.

Just do it.