SAY hello to addiction, the gift that keeps on giving. Like an eternal game of Whack-A-Mole, you subdue one and another pops up.
Conquered your morning gin habit? Here come the evening ice-cream binges.
Knocked ice cream on the head? See your credit cards melt from impulse purchases. Rein in your shopping habits, and watch your dating behaviour go from a casual coffee to Basic Instinct.
It’s the ultimate shape shifter, addiction. It never gets bored.
And, right now, it’s chasing me around a field. Or, rather, a running app is. A cheery voice in my ear (real, not imaginary) telling me that in eight weeks I’ll be running 5km without dropping dead.
It might as well add ‘on Mars’, even as it insists that, YES, I can DO this. That I MUST keep going. That I am AWEsome, AMAZing, inCREDible.
The theme from Chariots of Fire plays in my head (imaginary, not real) as I visualise Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, Sonia O’Sullivan. I am an impala leaping through the savannah, pursued relentlessly by my own flubber. Flubber, which has been installed by Ben & Jerry (specifically, their new vegan range). Flubber, from which I cannot escape. I am an impala upholstered in dairy-free chocolate fudge brownie.
“Just another sixty seconds, you’re doing AMAZingly,” gushes the app. All I can hear is my own grunting, huffing, and gasping.
Beside me trot my two dogs, who, in dog years, are older than the Rolling Stones, but aren’t even panting. It’s like they’re trying to embarrass me. It’s working.
Please don’t let that be my neighbour in the distance. I can’t even breathe, never mind do small talk about Brexit.
“Annnnnnd relax,” says the app. “Walk briskly for two minutes, before you run another ninety seconds.” I am doubled-over, clutching my knees, which have aged decades in the ten minutes since I left the house.
The two-minute recovery walk passes in seconds. “Now, GO,” commands the app. “You’re doing GREAT. Remember. Keep it to a light jog.”
There is nothing light about what I am doing. Lumbering on, like a broken sofa bumping down a hill, in need of a defibrillator. “Tell yourself, ‘I LOVE running, I LOVE running’,” says the app. “Say it out loud.”
“I…..love ……running,” I wheeze. “I…. love …… running.” I wonder if I might throw up. My hips are stiffening with every lurch. My ankles hurt. The flubber is flumping up and down behind me, in front of me; I cannot escape it. The dogs, tongues flapping joyfully, sprint after a fox. Bloody show-offs. Where are all the endorphins that people are always banging on about? Where is my dopamine rush? I plod along the uneven ground, until, finally, it stops. “Well DONE,” patronises the app. “You DID it. See you next time.”
‘Piss OFF’, I shout, to the dogs’ confusion. Then, I reset the app, because I hope to become addicted to running. Fat chance.
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