My home town is lively to say the least. It’s best known for mass murders and Britain’s fattest man, and more recently, a Channel 4 documentary about unemployment. Not a exactly a breeding ground for runners, and yet we have two clubs and our own half marathon.
I live on the edge of a council estate where they seem to spend their days chatting to each other over cigarettes and tea stained mugs. The night are spent trying to get other residents arrested or in trouble with the ‘social’….. just for giggles It’s not boring or quiet.
The blonde who strides out in her neon, performs a quick a calf stretch against the bus stop before running off up the hill gets a few strange looks, especially once word got out I was training for London. It was the kind of look Queen Elizabeth probably gave Raleigh when he brought the potato, ‘what the £$*&^ does one do with that?’
I’m pretty sure my neighbours thought my hydration belt was actually for ‘backie’ (slang for rolling tobacco for you Americans). Never mind the Powerade and gels, I can get a half ounce of Golden Virginia, filters and packet of green Rizla in this bad boy!
I’ve become accustomed to the shrieks of ‘run Forest run’. I’m hoping that this form a psychological classical conditioning type association, so that eventually when someone shouts it in a strong accent I will actually run. This could seriously benefit my training on the days when I can’t be bothered.
Yes I do feel like an oddity in my area at times. The council estate stereotype assumes that I should be quite content sitting at home watching Jeremy Kyle all day……………….doesn’t it?
In my work I often come across interesting pieces of research and recently I read through physical activity statistics produced by the British Heart Foundation (go find them on their website if you don’t believe me). It turns out that when you split people socio-economically, its not the lower ‘classes’ that have the lowest physical activity levels. They, on average have the HIGHEST.
Its the shifty lot in the middle that are worst culprits.
Of course I checked this up, just to make sure they hadn’t found the only council estate of cyclists in the UK, and turns out there’s other studies out there to support this.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
Lower socio economic groups are more likely to have jobs on their feet, less likely to own a car, so therefore forced to walk and use public transport, and have less high tech toys, so their kids are more likely to be outside kicking a ball around.
Middle income earners have a tendency to go to the car to the office and then back to the car again. Exercise is something they have to find time for, rather than it being a part of everyday activities.
So my neighbours might not be pounding the pavements just yet, but if I can get a few more of them off the cigarettes and on pasta you never know my home town might get it’s own FULL marathon!