It’s not a pretty sight as I heave myself around the park, breathing like an asthmatic camel and with a face like a overcooked tomato.
But this is me, joining the running revolution, one of the estimated two million running regularly in the UK.
More specifically, I am one of the 2,041,427 people who take part in parkrun (Figures, parkrunUK) - a remarkable volunteer-led people’s movement that sees everyone, from club runners and energetic five-year-olds to unfit 40-somethings like me, trotting around 161 parks in the UK, wheezing and limping, every Saturday at 9am.
It’s a remarkable success story because, let’s face it, running is horrible - but it’s also fantastic.
If you’ve ever attempted it you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Running is akin to staying stony-faced through a boozy night out, just for the smug pleasure of arising at dawn the next day fresh as a proverbial daisy.
You get to the start, bumble round accompanied by a self-destructive internal dialogue determined to psyche you out.
‘I can’t do this. My knee hurts, My legs are heaving. My nose is running. My lungs are on fire. I’m dying. I want to stop.’
You shrivel inside as you are lapped by gangs of fresh-faced children, 80-year-olds and in my case - every week a dad with adorable twins in a pram and someone inevitably wearing an inflatable outfit, most frequently a flamingo.
It seems interminable.
Then you’ve done 4k, then five, and by a miracle you are panting through the finish line to cries of ‘well done’ and high fives as if you have broken the world record for travelling the ocean solo on a lilo for sport.
Then suddenly what seemed like an incredibly bad idea 40 minutes ago - including getting up early on a Saturday, donning active-wear and putting yourself through hell - turns into a euphoria like no other.
You did it.
And unexpectedly the non-competitive sloth inside you wonders if you could improve your time the next week.
And the next.
You might not admit it, but the act of putting one step in front of another has made you a runner.
Just like Forrest.
You too can get involved in parkrun - more info HERE