Stolen fitness, or, how to feel shame and regret on a running track
Last night I did something I’ve never done before. I stole fitness.
A few minutes drive from my house there is a running track on the grounds of a council-owned gym. I’ve been eyeing it up for a few weeks now and decided last night to drive over and do some laps.
I parked my car and sneaked in through a gate that had been left unlocked around the back, dropped my water bottle on the grass, and started running.
By the way..!
Did you know?: An Apple Watch can recognise when you’re at a running track? Mine lit up last night and asked which lane I was running in. How did it know?
Some time passed, and on one of my laps of the track I noticed that the gate I came in through was now locked.
Images of blue flashing lights and loud sirens echoed around my mind.
I was on the take and I had been rumbled. I knew it wasn’t long before the fuzz arrived to take me away and lock me up forever in, I assume, quite a pleasant prison with plenty of gym equipment. Maybe it would even have a running track.
I stopped running and walked over to the gate. Yes, it definitely was padlocked shut.
No worries, I thought to myself, safe in the knowledge that there were several other gates all around the perimeter. They couldn’t all be locked, could they?
Yes. Yes they could.
And they were!
I went from gate to gate, each padlock making me panic more, and more, and more until finally I resigned myself to the simple fact: Here is where I was destined to die. Surely the elements would come for me overnight. Would I freeze to death before the foxes ate my brains, or would they eat my brains whilst I was still shivering? Only time would tell.
But as I sat awaiting the cold hand of death, a thought occurred to me.
The running track backed on to a busy, and more importantly, still open group of 5-a-side pitches.
I walked over and saw a 4-foot tall barricade just beyond some rough turf, up on a concrete block. I peered over the edge and saw there was a huge drop. I felt dizzy, but as I swayed gently I realised this was the only way out. I dropped my water bottle over the edge, and I began to climb over the guard rail.
Would I make it? It looked like a long drop. I might break both of my legs. I definitely will. I’m going to break my legs.
I grabbed the bars of the guard rail and started to shimmy down the other side of the concrete wall until my arms are stretched, my legs are dangling loose in mid-air, and my heart is pounding at a million miles an hour. I’m about to break my legs. I know it and, unknown to me, the 25 Muslim men currently saying their prayers on the 5-a-side pitches, looking directly at me, they know it, too.
I close my eyes and, bravely, I let go. Falling all the way to my death.
All 12 inches to the ground.
I turn and see the Muslim men, facing Mecca (which I was standing in the way of), praying.
I had made it, and these brave men had prayed for me.
I walked up the path knowing that the Muslim men and their wonderful God had saved me from almost certain death.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the moral of this story is “don’t steal”, but you’d be dead wrong.
The moral of this story is only to steal fitness pre-9.