An Excursion Into Exercise
I'm an expert on getting into a running program. I'm almost as expert at that as I am at giving up alcohol. And since I'm currently back in Brisbane, where the weather is warm and the work pressures are purely internal, I've been running pretty regularly for the past month or so. There are several really obvious differences between running here and in Newcastle. The weather, of course, is the most obvious. In Brisbane I have to set my alarm for 6:30am to be on the road by 7:30, or it's just too hot to run. In Newcastle it's pitch dark at 7:30, and trying to squeeze in a run and still get to work before lunch time is a major hassle. Not to mention running in the cold. Even your ears hurt!
Then there's the setting. In Newcastle I run around Leazes Park, which is actually really pretty, and extremely Victorian, but too small to hold the interest day after day. Plus it was the pond at Leazes Park into which my motorbike was thrown a few months ago, so it still has painful memories, despite the swans. In Brisbane I have a 5K route that runs, for most of the way, past a creek, through bushland. It's cool and shady and replete with water dragons and sulphur crested cockatoos (no swans, though!) and smells of gum trees and hot grass. I swap smug smiles with the other runners and dog walkers, in tacit acknowledgement of our moral and physical superiority over the local slugabeds.
There is a hitch, however. In the past two months there have been 25 sexual attacks, of varying degrees of severity, upon women exercising on Brisbane's footpaths, including a couple in this area. The local government has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction, and is advising women not to exercise alone. This morning I'd only gone a kilometer before encountering a very impressive motorcycle cop on my usual path. It's all a bit depressing.
But what really interested me was the way people responded. I do find myself scanning the path ahead, looking for lurkers, and trying to keep tabs on cyclists who overtake me, in case they turn round and turn evil. It does take my mind off the heat, my lungs and my legs, which I guess is some sort of silver lining. But what I really liked was the fact that it seems to have had no effect on the interactions between the early morning exercise community. We still smile and nod, and mouth "Morning", to each other. It's really encouraging to see that most people aren't letting these bastards get to them.
Lets hope they get these guys soon. A few runs to exhaustion on the treadmill will do them the world of good, and I volunteer to take any physiological measurements that might be useful, with a large syringe, as needed.
 Lee, I. M., Hsieh, C. C. & Paffenbarger, R. S. (1995). Excercise intensity and longevity in men. The Harvard alumni health study. Journal of the Americal Medical Association 273(15).