It starts with the couch: N M Browne
I’m not brilliant at New Year’s resolutions, that is to say, I’m good at coming up with them but incapable of keeping them. I have been promising myself I’d get fit since I was forty. Last year I downloaded the NHS/BBC coaching app: ‘couch to 5k’ to my phone: obviously I did not open it. I bought fancy trainers (with insoles!) some ridiculous device for strapping a phone to your arm (now lost) and wireless ear buds so that I could follow instruction: I still did not open the app. I even talked to my physio about running (he was disappointingly enthusiastic) No. Still no running happened.
Credit where credit is due, I am unsurpassed at the coach part. I have natural ability in the sloth department. As with running so with writing: yes there too I am excellent at the coach part.
‘I’m working’ I tell my long-suffering husband as I gaze at the TV with my laptop open on my knee.
‘I’m actually working’ I say as I stare out of the window sipping coffee and listening to the radio.
‘I am really working’ I say as I inspect the ceiling from the comforting warmth of a hot bath. And I am. As every writer knows, the couch part is an essential precursor to putting words on a page. It just shouldn't last forever.
But change is coming. Resolutions are roosting. Last week I got off the couch and did the first ‘run.’ I thought I might have a heart attack (the last time I attempted anything faster than a brisk walk was around 1982.) I didn’t like the way my heart rate escalated; I didn’t like the discomfort. I found the enthusiasm of the app’s coach both grating and uninspiring. I got very hot then cold. I think I might have sweated.
I tried it again and still didn’t like it, but could see that maybe change requires discomfort, that achievement necessitates uncongenial effort.
Honestly, I’d quite like to skip the whole section of my life where I learn to run and just look back on the montage: my first clumsy, duck-like steps, my stumbles and courageous restarts; the images of me stretching, then elegantly, triumphantly running like an athlete, high-fiving my loyal coterie of supporters while inspirational music swells. It is so much easier in movies.
I 'd also like to skip the step where I have to write in favour of a similar montage: shots of me tearing my hair out, throwing endless drafts into a waste-paper bin, chewing my pen winsomely, then typing like a madwoman until I triumphantly write the words ‘The End’ cue swelling inspirational chords. What a pity I actually have to do the work.
Anyway, this week I get off the couch and type 'Act 1 Scene 1.' I stop gazing into space and embrace the discomfort of effort and missteps. I do another run, and welcome my elevated heart rate as a side effect of trying. Honestly. I will.