I am a jogger. More specifically, I am a jogger this week. Even an actual runner, if you don’t count the uphill and flat bits. It’s been a fast-moving week.
Jogging is a fundamentally boring pastime; the only ones who claim otherwise are joggers…yawn. But after a seasonful of gastric stuffing and three months since my last soccer game, I figured a week at Noosa beach was a fine opportunity to, as our PNG neighbours so colourfully put it, ‘throwim way leg’.
I regularly prescribe one jog daily, mane before food, knowing that few patients will be eccentric enough to comply. I didn’t invent jogging—it already existed in rudimentary form before I started—but by George, I’ve helped popularise it.
Jogging, unlike all other medical interventions, is actually positively recommended by Cochrane reviews. It’s good for hearts, minds, pancreatic beta cells and, despite my current aches, joints. I recommend my patients watch the fantastic YouTube clip “23 and ½ hours”, named for the maximum amount of non-jogging time recommended per day. Or, for old and slow people, non-walking time.
Unlike slow people, we joggers are obsessive about our bodies. Think of us as de-wheeled cyclists who miss out on clopping into cafés together to workshop the details of our tight right achilles and loose left colon. We joggers are lonely exerters, forever frustrated by others’ lack of interest in our bodily minutiae. Unless we are lucky enough to write about it. You are merely lucky enough to read about it.
After jogging the same Noosa ocean track for a week, I could describe every stone, root and ground-dwelling koala, such was my level of oneness with my natural surrounds. Something car drivers will never experience, although their access to air con and a motorised accelerator largely makes up for the deficit.
Each day I shared my contemplative oneness with 500 other Noosa early-morning exercisers, if that’s both mindfully and mathematically possible. I had never before witnessed a sunrise outside an all-night poker game, but it seems humans are capable of both waking and exercising at such an hour.
And I must confess, it felt good. The pain, the tears, the endorphin surge as I hit the wall—inevitable consequences of trying to leave my bedroom while still dark. And once I got outside and started jogging, it honestly was splendid for my heart and soul.
So, if you have never heard of jogging, maybe YouTube it first. But for those who have already dabbled, I strongly recommend you try keeping it up for a whole week. It’s worth it.
First published in Medical Observer, Feb 2014