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Attempting

Last year, as you may recall, I attempted to join a gym. After a suprisingly positive start, I attempted to give them money. They said they were restructing their prices, and would contact me later with how much it would cost. Then a couple of weeks later they invited me for another trial day so they could give me the options, then I failed to reschedule this second attempt. Then that appeared to be lucky, as I was suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed, and couldn’t afford the gym anyway.

Soon after that I was employed again, but spending three hours a day on commuting was wiping out my brain, plus work said they’d give us gym memberships. Then I moved house, discovered that the gym between me and work is quite expensive without someone subsidising it (and work are still working on that).

And now it’s over eight months since I went to the gym, the olympics have started, the sun is shining, and suddenly a number of my friends have come over all fitness-minded. So I decided to do something that doesn’t require a gym, is designed for unfit morons, and comes with half a dozen iPhone apps to add geekery to my attempt:

Couch to 5k.

C25k was invented in 1996 by software developer and runner Josh Clark. It’s a 9 week program of 3 runs a week, building up from close to zero to a 5k run. It’s designed to be really easy to follow, in friendly language, and to seem attainable from the start. So this morning when I accidentally woke up at 6:30, I decided that the world was telling me to go for a run. I’m using Active.com’s C25k app, which helpfully features iPod integration (for the all important running tunes) and spoken guides to when to run and stop running, as well as information on how far you’ve come and how fast you’re going. The C25k programme starts off alternating between walking and jogging every couple of minutes.

Subideally, I’ve picked up a horrible cough in the last few days, so I’m going to blame that – and not my complete lack of fitness – for the reason I failed halfway though. I’m even somewhat not joking. I was alternating the joking and the walking fine for the first half or so, but then it started to aggravate the cough, and I came spluttering and retching to a stop, which wasn’t great for my flow. I walked back, ignoring the “Jog now!” directions and listening to the “Brisk walk!” ones. So much for attainable.

Still, never give up, never surrender. I’ll try it again in a couple of days, see if I can get past day one…

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Start of the Olympics

There are three parts of the olympics, for me, and I’m trying to keep them separate.

The first is the sporting event, the celebration of and challenge to the greatest athletes of the time; Not only the famous athletics, the sprints, the marathons, the hurdles, the jumps long and high but also the less televised sports. Archery, Fencing, Shooting.  I think it’s important to keep this separate from the other circles, purely because I don’t want to get it dirty.

The second is London. London’s my home, and I fully expect it to be so for some time. My old flat looked over the Stratford Olympic Park, and the creation of it, and the people who are dedicating their time and effort to making it a thing that the country and the world can be proud of is incredible.

But the third is the … opportunism. The rampant commercialism. The stupid branding exercises where you can’t buy chips without fish (Unless you go to McDonalds) where you can’t buy tickets with a Mastercard. Where you can’t take a rented cycle to the stadium, because they are sponsored by Barclays and Lloyds sponsored the games. Where we’re massively overbudget, outsourcing our security to a company with a track record of fucking up public contracts on a massive scale, where local councils use the games as an excuse to put though initiatives that the residents have voted down time and time again. Where we export the poor to Slough.

The problem is balance. The branding is bad, the government control is scary, but should it be allowed to overshadow the pure achievement of the games as a spectacle and a sporting event?

I don’t really want it to.

 

I watched the opening ceremony. Actually, it’s running in a window to my left as I type this. I’m listening to Hazel something-or-other read autocue trivia about South Africa, Huw Edwards occasionally lapse into death-and-destruction current affairs trivia, and Trevor Nelson being relentlessly, relentlessly banal about everything he sees.

A friend mentioned that he checked his cynicism at the door, and I think that’s necessary. Danny Boyle – who choreographed the whole thing – seems to have a good handle on what it needs to be, not only a celebration of the tattered remains of our national identity, but also a knowing presentation to the world of everything they expected to see. Industry, Top hats, James Bond, Corgies, the Queen leaping from a helicopter. Some parts were cringe-worthy, maudlin, nationalistic and occasionally smug; but in general I thought it was well presented.

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