Running is the exercise choice of people without imagination, so that they will be fit enough to tackle regular day-trips around megastores, such as Homebase and IKEA.

Everyone know it’s almost as bad for your knees as getting too friendly with Kathy Bates but it breaks the requisite sweat and doesn’t look as stupid to perform as aerobics.

Jogging sessions are comparable to long-term relationships: you’ll make it through if you keep your head down and don’t try any fancy footwork.

Bodies, meanwhile, are like partners: you need to know when to listen to them and when to tell them to shut up and get on with it.

Runners divide into three types: those who like to take a friend and talk breathlessly at the pace of a snail around the park; those who use treadmills because they can focus on every calorie being burned; and those who intend to overtake Forest Gump, still wearing cycling shorts and a swimming cap.

Each will feel the inexorable pull of an event at some point: the first to a local 500 yard charity run where their friends will post amusing obscenities on their Just Giving website; the second to the London marathon, which they will complete under duress in 14 days, dressed as a chicken; and the third up Everest, sponsored by an Investment Bank.

Alth0ugh it is perfectly possible to run in a t-shirt and a pair of shorts The Serious People know they need all sorts of tight, stretchy, N.A.S.A-designed specialist aerodynamic gear.

Sit them down and ask them the difference between a tennis and a running shoe and four hours later your ears will start to bleed.

What is not perfectly possible is to run without an MP3 player. It is better for your foot to fall off than for your iPod to run out, surrendering your head to consider the task underway.

It is also better for your foot to fall off than for your earphones to fall out and confirm to a passer-by that, yes, you were mouthing to ‘Man in the Mirror’.

Warm-up exercises are the ego stretches performed in the middle of a run when you are exhausted and would like to pause and vomit but someone attractive is approaching in the opposite direction. Even athletes don’t do them before races, preferring to shake their legs and make signs of the cross instead.

Nothing on earth is more satisfying than being spotted by an acquaintance while on a run, especially if they are just finishing off a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Anyone will do- even your local newsagent: ‘Yeah, this is me. This is the way I live my life, (Lardarse)’.

There are three strands of fast leg mobilisation that bear no resemblance to the traditional sort: marathon running, Sports Day participation and speed walking.

Marathon running is the Buddhism of the exercise world. Its physical stamina, mental endurance and unbending willpower are almost abstract. The zero body fat, on the other hand, is very real: Paula Radcliffe would rather digest John Inverdale than a jelly baby.

Sports Day participation should be FUN, FUN, FUN. In a floral dress, shaking a mane of shiny, fragrant hair and laughing like Diana, Princess of Wales. Hitching up your skirt and belting for the finishing line with an egg stuck to your spoon by chewing gum is missing the point.

Speed walking -practiced by the clinically insane- is walking with action man arm movements, wearing a baseball cap. Those afflicted would achieve a greater level of fitness setting up a sun-lounger on the back patio but they will be the ones sniggering in the hospital corridors when you have your knee replacement surgery, albeit gently so that they don’t tweak their stomach staples.

Running in the gym has a sexier, more 1980s feel than its outdoor alternative, stirring corporeal urges as much as stretching the ham strings.

In fact, treadmills are virtually synonymous with work-outs in movies featuring New York Skyscrapers, to the point where you are tempted to stop moving when the belt is at full speed and fall comedically off the end.

However, there is one jogging variant that manages to transcend distracting dramas altogether and that is running on the beach.

Dodging waves listening to high volume tunes with the sun blasting down, it’s not exercise any more: it’s freedom.


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