‘I run like the back-end of a donkey in a school nativity play’

Pain shoots up my leg, leaving me clinging to the bannister. I shouldn’t be doing this

Sitting upon the edge of my bed, peering into the back garden, I’m clad in Primark’s finest: a tank top and some running shorts I got for my 14th Christmas. Style is not on the horizon as I pep myself up for a run after a long work slog.

Window opened, I’m drawing deep breaths of the fresh air flowing in. A mind meeting between each side of my brain takes place as I sit there, motionless, in a bitter-sweet daze.

Holding firm on slacking off the planned run, is the right side. Time could be better spent reading, scheming and learning; but in truth, time would be spent slobbing, sleeping and surfing . . . the net.

The left side sympathises with right. It knows I’m tired; but also that I’m doing a marathon in a month but I haven’t run for a week; and essentially marathon training diaries should be more about training for a marathon than not. Nonetheless, left stays left: I still have that niggle in my leg; and perhaps a physio appointment would be a better idea than a park-running rendezvous.



A coffee wave crashes, parting left and right brains’ squabble. Adrenaline-wielding caffeine stomps into the mind-conference. My way or the highway. You’re going on that run, Daniel.

I should rest

Coffee always wins.

Heading to the front door, pain shoots up my leg, leaving me clinging to the bannister as I stumble down the stairs. I shouldn’t be doing this. I should rest, I should call someone. I should be doing anything but this run.

Still, I walk out the door.

Beginning to run, I grimace in an instant. I’m the back-end of a donkey in a school nativity play: blind, unco-ordinated and useless. My imagination frolics in the delirium of anguish: runners conversing, smiling and giggling; showcase muscular, shiny bodies; totally absent of injury or torment. They sprint past me, into the park ahead.

Shuffle along

I shuffle along. Training for the Eden Project Marathon on October 14th must continue. Gritted teeth shatter as my mind meeting goes into meltdown. Fists are clenched as anger starts to rise. Passing dogs, kids and parents; I urge myself to keep pushing to reach higher speeds. Suffering is a weak mind’s simulation, I tell myself, as I chase the speed I want.

Suddenly, the park’s downhill comes too soon, the agony becomes too great. Before I know it, the klaxons are sounding as my body becomes incapable of coping with the sustained extra stress of my ailments. Surrendering to a stop, I’m shaking with the self-inflicted pain.

Sullen, broken and beaten, I walk home.

Scrapping for motivation in these past two weeks, I went forth and found it in the shape of former president Barack Obama’s post room.

An article fell into my newsfeed detailing how a dedicated volunteer force collated a compilation of 10 letters to the president each day, representing what the people of the United States thought of his actions, policies and priorities – both positively and negatively – while he was in office.

Veneered calluses

One gave me what I needed. It was about hands – Bobby Ingram’s: “In 2007, I was proud of my hands. They had veneered calluses where my palm touched my fingers. Cuts and scrapes were never severe. Splinters and blisters merely annoyed me.”

“Nearly two years unemployed, I miss my career and my old hands. I kneel nights and clutch new hands together, praying we all can recover what seems lost.”

A poignant letter, humbled me and all my struggles in life. Two weeks on, and still hobbling, Bobby Ingram makes me feel blessed with what I have.

I’ll run with that.

Part 1: Three months for a three-hour marathon
Part 2: Sweat and suffering
Part 3: I silently panicked: I'm training for a marathon! Ale was the only answer
Part 4: 'I run like the back-end of a donkey in a school nativity play'
Part 5: He turns, eyes burning into mine . . . 'ice baths! Take plenty'