Bitten By The Running Bug!

Mike Finch |

There’s a runner in everyone, waiting to take flight like a beautiful… butterfly? – By Bruce Pinnock

Image by Ferdinand van Huizen
Image by Ferdinand van Huizen

Like measles, the running bug is best caught young. Passion is less likely to turn into all-consuming obsession in children than it is in adults. If the running bug coincides with the midlife (read: midriff) crisis, the danger is real.

George and Trixie were engaged. They had met late in life. Neither of them was a runner, but that didn’t mean their lives had been completely wasted. By marshalling at races and handing out potatoes at water points, they had found meaning in a life otherwise devoid of the magic of running.

The date was set. The venue was booked. The invitations were posted. It was all rosy.

RELATED: The Total Beginner’s Guide To Running

Until George tried on his best suit for the big day – and discovered that it had ‘shrunk’. Or rather, as Trixie put it, George had… expanded.

“Buy a new one that’s three sizes bigger,” she advised.

“I would rather lose weight,” George replied, his ego bruised.

George’s first jog around the block wasn’t exactly auspicious. Wearing his gardening takkies, and a pair of khaki shorts he had pulled up strategically over his boep, he ignored his sniggering neighbours and set off.

Becoming a butterfly took much longer than George thought it would. Mainly because he had to stop every twenty paces to have what he later revealed was a “heart attack”.

RELATED: 5 Weeks To Your First 5km!

A lesser caterpillar would have given up; George vowed not to be defeated. But when he hadn’t seen any improvement after two weeks, he was close to packing it in.

The turning point came when George happened to watch the Two Oceans on TV. “There are runners of every shape and size,” he observed. “Some of them are bigger than me, and they still finish!”

George stood up from the couch a changed man. He beat his chest, left the house, and ran around the block – and he didn’t stop to walk once.

That’s when the bug bit.

After that, there was no stopping him: George bought a pair of running shoes; he joined our running club; and of course, he subscribed to Runner’s World. He progressed – as most wannabe butterflies do – from 5km to 10km. Then came the big decision: to do, or not to do, a half marathon.

To do. George set his alarm to go off at the crack of dawn every day. At weekends he did long runs. Which meant he was too tired to take Trixie out. In fact, she hardly saw him at all.

With George out on the road, Trixie was alone. She was close to tears.

RELATED: 12 Strength Tips for New Runners

“I never see him,” she wailed. “And when I do, he leaves early, because he has another run to do the next day. George is so obsessed with running – I’m afraid he’ll rock up to our wedding wearing poly shorts and a vest! What should I doooo?”

Kosie intervened: “Do you love him?”

“Yes,” she replied. “But…”

“Then there’s only one thing to do…” said Kosie.

Three months later, George and Trixie’s wedding took place in the afternoon, so as not to interfere with his morning run. The best man – who was also wearing a vest and poly shorts – made a fitting speech about running the marathon of married life, and shared some top tips on how to avoid the bailer bus. Their honeymoon had been booked in Cape Town, to coincide with the Two Oceans Marathon.

How did Trixie feel about this? The hydration pack she was wearing looked like brightly-coloured wings…


Copyright © 2024 Hearst