I’m An Athlete In Training. Really.

I didn’t have any milk for my porridge this morning. To be out of milk early – well, early-ish if I’m honest – on a Sunday morning is not usually a disaster. You just toddle off to the nearest Emergency Tesco and hand over your quid for your couple of pints of semi-skimmed. The Emergency Tesco and its analogue, the Sudden-Death Sainsbury’s are to be found just about everywhere, next to Paddy Power and over the road from Cash Convertors and the charity shop.

I wanted to go out on my bike after breakfast so I pulled on a pair of trackie bottoms, an old cotton race t-shirt and a long-retired pair of road shoes and headed out the door. The ET or SDS is open from seven in the morning until ten at night every day the week, closed only for Christmas Day and refits. I didn’t see any tasteless ads, tinsel or pissed-up parties so I assumed it would be open right up until I saw the scaffolding round the front door.


Back to Nisa. Good old Nisa. Always there, always forgotten. I used to to there to buy fags and lottery tickets. I’ve never bought anything else there so I haven’t been in for years. I didn’t know whether they even sold milk. In I went in my comfortable clothes and the first thing I saw was a short, fat bloke dressed more or less identically to me: sweats, t-shirt and trainers. He was wandering around with a packet of bacon in his hand. In the next aisle was another old man also wearing tracksuit trousers, a hoodie and trainers. He was carrying his breakfast pastie and orange juice in his basket. Over by the till, a very hungover couple in (you guessed it) the trinity of trackies, trainers and tees were buying fags and rolls.

I was horrified. I wanted to say “I’m an athlete in training! I run marathons! I’m not a slob! I just wanted to buy some milk before I go out on my bike for the rest of the morning.” The trouble is that only some of that is true. I like to think of myself as an athlete but training isn’t going well. I tell all my athletes to treat themselves like athletes and respect their bodies, get lots of rest and eat properly bit I don’t really do the same myself. I haven’t completed a marathon since London in 2012. I definitely have slobbish tendencies. The rest is true. More or less.

I don’t think anyone else in Nisa this morning was bothered about the way everyone else looked. I just wanted something comfy to wear while I had my breakfast and so did everyone else. The truth is that the Lycra Life is a comfortable one when you’re not actually coming to the end of a three minute effort. It’s what makes sports clothing so attractive to people who wouldn’t normally run unless they were being chased by a bear. Bears are few and far between on Cherry Hinton High Street.

Man at Sports Direct doesn’t really have to worry too much about. He’s relaxed, laid-back, in need only of a pint of milk, some rolls and a packet of bacon for complete happiness. He certainly doesn’t need to run a sodding marathon. Lesson learned.

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