Its only two weeks until your entire family and in laws gather for Christmas and tell you that running is bad for your knees, just take solace in the fact that, creaky though your joints may be, you will be able to bend and put flowers on their coffin. My main worry this Christmas is not being forced to spend too much time with irritating family members, suffering from hangovers or even the inevitable overeating. My main fear is that family festive commitments might get in the way of going for a run.
The best way to escape the claustrophobic atmosphere of Christmas is to run from it. But your non running friends and family wont always be impressed with you “popping out” for a run over Christmas. Whatever you do don’t try telling them how good it makes you feel, particularly if they’re shovelling in their seventh mince pie. Don’t mention that it’s the best sharpener before a big night of celebration and the best cure the morning after, and definitely don’t try to convert them ……. until the new year. The problem is at Christmas more than any other time of year your absence is noticed by everyone, and next thing family members will feel that an “intervention” is warranted because “you’re obsessed with running” and they feel that they need to put a plan in place to cure your addiction!
It’s just one more cause of the Christmas defining family row. Sharing the same house, the same bathroom, the television and having to put up with sugar fuelled children – some of whom aren’t even yours – is stressful. Family disharmony – screaming, tears and arguments rage in households across Ireland over Christmas. Every Irish family Christmas comes with a “know it all” who offers unsolicited advice on career progression, child rearing and pension options. The “martyr” works away in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove as the “passive aggressor” looks over their shoulder saying “whatever you think is best” with a question mark attached. But the main concern during the dinner prep is that the “whinger” is happy, and their brussel sprouts aren’t touching the gravy on the plate. Every family has a “whinger”. But all this flies over the head of the “freeloader” who lazes around making no contribution, happy to avoid cooking, cleaning and changing a nappy. While the “cheerleaders” efforts to get everybody to play monopoly or “pie face” usually ends in tears.
But the “runner” is just waiting for the gap in the fence to get out for a run, away from the madness. Let’s be honest the “runner” is not completely innocent of the provocation of the annual Christmas argument. As a runner it’s important to remember it is Christmas after all and most people want to sit, lounge around, relax and recover from overindulgence. So don’t expect those who are sat by the fire to take any interest in hearing your post-run words of wisdom as you bask in your runners high. Nobody needs their inadequacy highlighted as they gorge on a tin of roses, watching the full catalogue of “Lord of the Rings” by looking at a sweaty mess full of the joys of life having completed a tempo run. If you want to avoid being the catalyst for a family feud resist the self-righteous pontification about the benefits of running and save the attempt to convert non running family members to fully paid up members of the athletic club until the new year. Sneak out for runs and make sure to stick to the to the strict schedule of organised fun – the meals, the walks , the films and the games – secretly knowing you will get some head space when you get out for a run and burn off the excess!