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Kerry McLean: Friends bitten by the running bug see my lack of interest as a challenge to overcome

Healthy pursuit: recreational running is now more popular than ever before
Healthy pursuit: recreational running is now more popular than ever before

By Kerry McLean

What is it with the current running obsession the country seems to be going through? I have friends whom I've known since we were teenagers, people who've spent the first 40 years of their lives avoiding exercise like the plague, only to become obsessed with participating in a park run every weekend.

I think it's great that they're taking massive strides towards a healthier and no doubt longer life and it's wonderful that they've found a new love for exercise that they've never experienced before.

I've cheered them on, albeit from the warm, dry confines of the nearest coffee shop and listened attentively (well almost...) as they've given me a blow by blow account of the latest 5K run they've completed.

I just wish these little chats didn't always lead to the same conversational dead end, where someone will say, "Oh Kerry, you should give it a go. You'd love it!"

I always smile and nod and say, "Maybe" or "Perhaps". I've tried to be more direct and tell people that you will never catch me slipping on a pair of stinky trainers, just to go running and end up looking like a sweaty tomato on a Sunday morning, the one morning in the week when I don't have to be up before 7am!

But for those who've been bitten by the running bug, they only see my lack of interest as another challenge to overcome, so I keep my true feelings to myself.

I take the easiest route, conversationally and physically. I just wish they didn't feel the need to persuade me into the ways of the park run every time we meet up.

I wouldn't mind so much if these weren't also the people within my group of friends who are most vocal about being early adopters of any and all gadgets and gizmos aimed at saving time and, let's face it, energy.

They're intent on making their lives more streamlined and convenient or as I see it, downright lax and lazy.

Take for instance, the cordless vacuum. They may be great at saving you from the horror of having to actually bend over to plug and unplug the lead but unless you live in a sterile, vacuum packed container, the 10 or so minutes of charge time they hold is barely enough to clean a room, never mind a house.

Of course, there's always the robot vacuums. The only response I can give to that suggestion is to reference a story doing the rounds on social media of someone whose dog did what no dog should do in the house.

The robot, having no eyes, didn't know to avoid what had been deposited on the floor and instead went straight through it and continued zigzagging along the entire floor as it had been programmed.

But instead of cleaning, let's just say it spread more than good cheer all over the floor. A delight for the houseowners to come downstairs to that morning…

Or how about contactless cards? Are our fingers really so tired from lifting weights in the gym or poking the screens on our smartphones that we're unable to move them across a keypad and pick out four numbers?

Even when it might cost us more money in the long run? In the last three years, the number of people who use touch and go cards has seen a threefold uptake. A hike in numbers dwarfed only by the number of card frauds, more than eight times the increase in the same period.

And there are similar security issues with keyless car doors. Was there really a time when spending all of two seconds sticking our keys into the car door made us think, "If only there was a way to avoid all this hard work?"

Even if you did, I'm guessing you never went on to wish for a remote key that could be skimmed in the middle of the night by thieves standing outside your house, using a laptop to amplify the electronic key signal so they can steal your car.

So, while I continue to turn my nose up at the local park run, my refusal to opt for the lazy route in life may just keep me, if not fit, at least more stress-free in the future.

Belfast Telegraph


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