SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Muscling in on Olympic craze leaves me ...on the sofa

I’M WRITING this with my nose, and using my forehead for the space bar.

I would use my fingers, but I have two dead arms. I have two dead legs as well, and a dead torso. I blame the Olympics.

When you’re hardwired for excess you can’t do anything by halves. You can cognitively understand the idea of moderation, but that’s about it.

This all-or-nothing applies to most aspects of life. For a while, my exercise routine has been just that — nothing. Walking the dogs doesn’t really count, as it involves a lot of strolling and sitting down outside cafés.

All of this adds up to a nice relaxed life, but the inability to run for a bus.

Along come the Olympics, and suddenly every public park is full of sweaty gasping runners with heart monitors strapped to their arms and expressions of steely determination, and everyone is talking about action and medals and fitness and goals.

In a trance-like state you might find yourself climbing off the sofa and making an appointment to see someone of whose existence you would normally remain unaware. A trainer.

The trainer looks very young even though he isn’t. He has that clear-eyed bouncy energy that you see in people who have wheat grass juice for breakfast and have sold their cars so that they can run everywhere.

Soon I am doing press-ups in the park, my nose inches from grassy fag butts, my arms like wet spaghetti. I am rubbish at them and keep collapsing. Come on, he shouts in encouragement, as he effortlessly does them himself, keeping up a constant chirpy monologue as I puff and wheeze and grunt.

Ten more, he enthuses, as I do something awful called burpees, or what a sadistic military bootcamp type would call squat thrusts. This trainer is anti-military — he believes in encouragement rather than bullying. Slipping into people-pleasing mode, and not wanting to look worse than I already do, I give it welly. Olympic-inspired welly. Very good, he says at the end of the longest hour of my life. Now have a rest. Don’t do anything tomorrow.

Obviously I ignore him completely, and fired up, run around the park like a headless chicken, except in very short bursts, because I can’t run without doubling up gasping every few metres.

I hook my feet under a park bench and do sit-ups. I can’t do them either, but I persevere. I do loads. Lunges. The lot.

Which is why I’m writing this with my nose. Every muscle is in spasm, My lower abdomen is crying. I can hardly walk. I’ve had to cancel the rest of the week’s sessions, and have gone back to the sofa, where I can watch the Olympics in comfort and safety, as people jog past the front window outside. It even hurts to breathe.


Junior Cert and Leaving Cert students mustn’t be forced to go through the motions with state exams, and we need creative thinking to find alternatives fast, writes mother and educator Ellie O’Byrne.Policy fail? Insistence that state exams go ahead in June is glib and ignorant

Yes, we all need to stay at home but that doesn't mean your children have to be bored, says Michelle McGlynnWorld of wonder: What to do with the children outdoors

Over the next three weeks, I am going to outline how you can support yourself and your family over this period of lockdown, writes Richard Hogan.Learning Points: Keeping children on a healthy and happy regime

As we are settling into our new routines of self isolation, staying at home and home schooling it feels that a whole new set of pressures is coming down the tracks.Mum's The Word: Pressure to be productive in a world of online classes

More From The Irish Examiner