One 10-mile-a-day jogger explained how he broke the habit and found salvation in strong drink. ‘I had no idea how much of an impact my jogging was having on people around me,’ wrote Micky Cohen. It wasn’t just the people he barged out the way either. Or the old lady he’d frighten the bejeebers out of, as he’d suddenly came thundering up the pavement behind her. Though he shudders to think of it now, Cohen’s addiction to running was having a terrible effect on his friends and family too.
It wasn’t just the stinky trainers and the constant supply of sweaty shirts. Those are just the physical manifestations of this disease. There are mental scars that nobody can see. Cohen was boring the pants off everybody with his fake modesty, coupled with his increasingly boastful humble brags about impressive distances he’d covered in impressive times. People went from enjoying his company to enduring it. When Cohen found himself buying a Fitbit in order to keep track of all his data, he knew he had hit rock bottom. The running induced endorphins were just a gateway drug to something worse. Sanctimony.
But help was at hand. A friend introduced him to strong drink. ‘Drink a pint of this and you’ll soon get a sense of proportion,’ his friend told him. At first, he found it a struggle. After one pint of Kronebourg, he’d felt a bit light headed. Especially on an empty stomach and with his blood still circulating enthusiastically after his exercise session. But he stuck at it. Soon he was buying crisps to manage the beer. He progressed to cigarettes, and took great satisfaction in the amount of tax he was contributing towards schools and hospitals, every time he was forced to buy 20 Marlboro Lights. While the horrifying pictures on the packet only served to remind him that without pain there is no gain.
Being forced to smoke outside the pub and cadge lights off complete strangers introduced Mickey to a new circle of friends. These were smokers drinkers – good people who don’t judge you. Unlike the awful hierarchy of the joggers, with their pecking order of times and the dreadful ‘survival of the fittest’ brutality, the smokers were an egalitarian lot. Their’s was a level playing field, unsullied by the cruel and arbitrary status judgements that joggers make about their fellow human beings.
One night, Cohen had 10 Kronenbourgs, then moved on to doube gins, got through a packet of Marlboroughs and gave a Big Issue seller £10 just to go the shop and get him another packet. The fact that someone had put trust in the street vendor was a massive boost to his self confidence and the £10 tip had helped too. By smoking and drinking, Cohen was learning to love again. Cohen woke up the next morning wondering where his money had gone. He couldn’t possibly have spent it ALL. Could he? And whose were all these business cards, with their illegible notes scribbled on the back?
Micky was tired and confused but he was happy, because he’d been liberated. He’d still go jogging, but only to build up a thirst for more Kronenbourg