‘There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream’
What does that unattributed quotation mean to you – assuming, most probably correctly, that as a reader of this blog you’re not the fittest (in the pre-90s sense of the word) of people – in the context of a poster of a woman running along a road as sunset beckons?
Answers on a saucy postcard, please; or, alternatively, in the comments section below.
If you’re a wannabe serial killer, it may well mean that your dream is a despicable one and that you need to get considerably fitter in order to pursue and catch your intended victim (sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of episodes of the harrowing Most Evil on DMAX for some inexplicable reason) on foot. Naturally, we hope you fail and are yourself captured by the authorities forthwith, for your own good and everyone else’s.
If you’re Wile E. Coyote, then – sorry, mate – your task is a Sysyphian one. Same goes for you, Sylvester, and the cat one in Tom & Jerry, whichever one of you that is.
But the people we should really be asking the question of are ridiculously fit people that are beyond the age at which they could realistically play professional or semi-professional sport or form part of the armed forces.
There’s nobody matching that description I can be bothered to ask, so in keeping with the spirit of Floyd’s Giblets, I’m just going to speculate.
You want to feel and be attractive to other people. I get that. You’ve worked hard to get toned and now want to maintain your levels of fitness and the impressive definition you’ve attained. OK, that’s sort of understandable.
But then what?
What’s driving you to want to become impossibly fit and do weird things like push yourself really hard running or cycling along a road as cold night approaches or when you should be enjoying a beer or glass of wine with a Sunday roast?
There’s a bald man of middling years, where I live, that runs about the place at a quite indecent pace while stripped to the waist. There’s also a woman of, shall we say, more senior years that one can see out in even the most ghastly weather, running with a gait and pace not too dissimilar to that adopted by John Hurt in The Elephant Man. Why?
It might be that they and others of their type use it as a coping mechanism – they push themselves physically to distract them from thinking about a tragedy that’s occurred in their lives; or an illness; or to stave off the loneliness. It would be a heartless person that castigated them for that and, frankly, it’s none of our beeswax. And then there are the people that were bullied for being, erm, fat at school and whom are determined to remain fit and thin so as not to suffer that cruelty again (sorry, oversized boy Mr ______ used to encourage us all to target and attack en masse during British Bulldog). These are all very private, personal and quite understandable reasons for wanting to push yourself in the manner described.
But what about the people that foist their health and fitness obsession on others? They’re the ones that really get on our Bristols, right? They do mine.
Why, strange man with a profile pic of yourself clad in lycra and wrap-around sunglasses standing next to a bike with your crotch thrust in our direction, have you posted a poster of the sort described above on Twitter? And why, young and – on the surface of it – attractive PR girl with a poor grasp of good grammar and a Twitter bio along the lines of ‘Work hard. Train hard. Live life to the full. Love travel & brands #Ironman #Triathlon’, have you retweeted that same vapid nonsense? And what the hell are you doing in my timeline?
What is it these people intend or need to do with their self-publicised levels of fitness? To pull trees out from their very roots with which to beat themselves? To run up and down mountainsides so excessively that they erode and flatten out beneath your very feet? To sweat a stinking great lake so that it might be named in your honour?
What is the purpose of it all?
What. Is. The. Purpose. Of. It. All?
I suppose you could say it’s none of my affair – but I’m afraid you make it so when you bombard me with your absurdist nonsense.
If existentialism can indeed be convincingly expressed, then these fitness obsessives are doing just that through physical means. Fitness has a purpose, in that it can make you feel good about yourself and look good, but can you really be that happy if you’re still striving for something so unattainable as ultimate fitness?
And why oh why do you feel the need to tell us all about your meaningless quest, like some charmless muscle-bound, inarticulate, unimaginative, unengaging and egregious Kafka?
We all of us need to take a very good look at ourselves sometimes, but I fear these people have been looking at themselves much too long.