Racing the Red Queen

Posted on 16/01/2014 by


I run. It’s a thing that I do.* Every weekday.** When I’ve got it together.***

I run on a treadmill.**** It makes me feel like I’m in Alice Through the Looking Glass, running the Red Queen’s race.

     “Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
     “A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Right now that feels like a metaphor for my working life as well. I have such a backlog of admin stuff to do it’s frightening. But I am running twice as fast as that so hopefully sometime soon I’ll make it to the next chess square.

The Queen of Hearts by Simon Sherry. Shows the Red Queen as a disjoined outlined automaton-like figure with a heart for a head. She is playing croquet with an axe, her ball a bleeding rose. There is blood on the mallet/axe and on her free hand.

The Queen of Hearts by Simon Sherry

* Teenage me is appalled by this. I mean, when I was in primary school I was good at long distance but I didn’t enjoy it. I did it for class and when I wasn’t at school I jumped on my bike and thought with satisfaction, This is better.

But about seven years ago — ye gods, how is it that long? — I had a problem with my bike or I had an injury or… you know what? I don’t even remember. But I needed to switch out some of the time I spent on my bike and I thought, I will just walk instead. And that was fine. But it wasn’t fast and I started to get bored and twitchy so I thought I would jog for a bit and then go back to walking. So I did that. And then the next day I jogged for a bit longer. And by the end of the week I was running five k’s and muttering, WTF? to myself.

** Because weirdly I find doing it every day easier than doing it less. Weekends don’t count. They’re not like real days.

*** Which is when I’m not travelling, injured, obsessively working etc. I generally still run when I’m sick but it’s been pointed out to me that this is stupid. Of course, the people who say that are the same ones who tell me I should learn to respect weekends as Days You Don’t Work On. I’m not sure they should be trusted.

**** Because I hate the outdoors. Okay, that’s not true. The outdoors can be lovely. I hate weather. No, that’s not true either. I hate heat. If I could run in the rain every day I would do that. Rain is lovely. I don’t get along with the sun though, so I run on a treadmill. Which has the added charm of letting me watch TV at the same time. And lets me push as hard as I want without having to worry about having the energy to get home again later.