Finding that my visits to the gym were lacking focus or purpose, I decided to sign up for the Great Edinburgh Run. At 10K it is a distance I used to run in the gym and something I reckoned I could achieve again. I found a realistic training schedule on line and made a convincing start.
The gym TV choice was dull and uninspiring; who trains to Ready Steady Cook? So I bought an iPod and loaded it with my CDs. That was all very well but I needed something more motivating...then I remembered the Rocky soundtrack...
Who can fail to be moved by the rousing Gonna Fly Now, or forget the iconic Eye of the Tiger? Well, I hesitantly confess that playing these tracks while running still gave me the buzz first felt at age 14 watching Stallone doing "cool skipping" and knocking lumps out of Mr T. I remembered the injustice I felt at the cheating Ivan Drago, who took drugs while Rocky trained honestly by lifting his family in a barrow, chopping logs and running away from the KGB.
Today however, while out running (I've moved from the comfort of the gym to the real life of the muddy path) I discovered that there's only so far the music can take you. The film is just that; a film. None of the dog walkers I passed wanted to return my cheery wave. No fruit market owners tossed me grapefruits and wished me luck and there was a serious lack of "gimmie-fives" from the teenagers outside ASDA. Trying to jump over park benches like hurdles just me made look silly and I don't imagine Edinburgh council are going to erect a statue of me holding my side, blowing my nose on my sleeve and trying to catch my breath at the top of some steps.
In reality the people I did tend to catch up with (pensioners, people walking very small dogs or pushing prams) were more likely to ask me if I wanted them to phone somebody, or start checking me for medical information tags.
So maybe it was time to watch the films again, remind myself what they were all about...well, talk about getting old. When I was 14, Rocky was about imagining you could go to the gym and get big muscles so that one day, if you ever actually got into a fight, you'd nearly lose but then win right at the very end. Full stop. Imagine my surprise when looking at the film with 32 year old eyes revealed something altogether more frightening; Rocky has a plot. And to my horror I found myself following the plot and actually getting into it! The bits of Rocky 2 formerly known as the "shite bits" suddenly were being interrupted by men pretending to hit each other and doing press ups. What's this? Rocky's been injured in the eye and shouldn't fight again? But people are making fun of him! He promises his missus he won't fight but then decides to anyway! He trains, but half-heartedly - he needs his wife's support. He's going to lose! Then she gets pregnant and has a baby...but falls into a coma! Oh no! Rocky should be training but is spending all his time in the chapel! He won't even see the baby...but then she comes round, he's delighted and in a final piece of scripting genius she says, "I want you to do something for me...win." What thinking, feeling person could fail to be moved.
Anyway, I'll be running on Sunday 7th May, wearing my iPod to distract me from the discomfort, and who knows, I might even be able to jump up in the air and freeze frame just beyond the finish line.