When Louise Woodward was put on trial for the murder of baby Eappen, the prosecution staged a simple but devastating experiment to show why shaking a baby can be so much more damaging than hitting it. It consisted of an egg in a jar surrounded by water (i.e. brain, skull, fluid). They showed that no matter how hard they hit the jar (without breaking it, obviously) the egg remained intact. A simple, firm shake though and it broke immediately.
It is because of this experiment that I no longer go running. I feel my brain shaking and fear for the damage that is being done, noting that runners don’t tend to be particularly bright.
My other reasons are: 1) that running is so incredibly slow compared to cycling that you never really get anywhere. 2) It’s strangely embarrassing and very revealing about your all-too-virtuous intentions. 3) It’s not particularly good for your knees/back. Despite all this, I decided to go running the other day.
Thing is, I have a really nice suit that doesn’t fit me anymore and am determined to squeeze into it one more time before middle-age spread and my sedentary lifestyle conspire to make such a prospect ludicrous. So I ran under the M8, up the steep steps to the canal and along the water to the desolate fields of Possil Park. Once there, I remembered how exhilarating running can be when you’re on your own, how free you are. By constrast, Jean Baudrillard in America rails against the jogger (of course, I am a runner, which is different like a tourist and a pilgrim are different):
Nothing evokes the end of the world more than a man running straight ahead on a beach, swathed in the sounds of his walkman, cocooned in the solitary sacrifice of his energy, indifferent even to catastrophes since he expects destruction to come only as the fruit of his own efforts, from exhausting the energy of a body that has in his own eyes become useless. Primitives, when in despair, would commit suicide by swimming out to sea until they could swim no longer. The jogger commits suicide by running up and down the beach. His eyes are wild, saliva drips from his mouth. Do not stop him. He will either hit you or simply carry on dancing around in front of you like a man possessed.
Sorry, M. Baudrillard, but I couldn’t disagree more. The jogger jogs in order to increase his energy levels, to increase fitness, to achieve clarity and enjoy the rush of endorphins. Unfortunately, it is not worth the cost of so many brain cells, so I’m going to get back on my bike.