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Anyone who knows me may be glad to hear this, but I am about to embark on a plan to quit smoking cigarettes. Forever. I have to do it to be in with a chance of winning that £500 in our little 10K run bet, or to ever be able to run further than to my local Londis (you can read more about the bet here).

Tut tut, I'm sure a lot of you dissapproving sporty-types will be quoffing into your mungbean salad about now. Well save it. Yes, smoking is stupid, trust me I know. I'm a smoker. My comedy lung capacity and the mahogany hue of my fingernails says so. But I'm not writing this for you (haven't you got some workout stats to go analyse, or something?) Not many of you howies fans do smoke, anyway. So I'm writing this for anyone that does, in the hope that it could nudge just one of them to get off their arse and do something, one day, soon.

We know smoking is disgusting, we know it's wrecking our health and we're all fully aware that if we carry on, it will probably be the death of us. But when you're addicted to nicotine, you go into ostrich-mode at the fear of never being able to smoke again – convincing yourself that you aren't slowly dieing on the inside and that your hacking cough is just a tiny tickley cough, caused by the ickle Marlboro pixies ballet dancing on your windpipe.

So, I've read the books and I've listened to the tapes and they can all be summed up in 100 words, rather than 100,000 – smoking is brainwashing. Remember your first cigarette and how utterly foul it tasted? Well, every single cigarette you ever smoked after that is exactly the same. They are clones, all made the same way, on a production line, using the same cocktail of rubbish and they all taste pretty much the same and are equally disgusting, should you happen to light them on fire. The pleasure you think you get from puffing on them and how you think you now enjoy the taste, is just your brain tricking you. It needs the nicotine that's in them and it will do all manner of Derren Brown-ery on your senses to get it. That includes habitually fooling you into thinking you like the taste of hot burning chemicals and that yellow teeth look cool. Knowing this, gives you an advantage over the bastard.

But you need some sort of emotional trigger, a wake-up call to pull your head out of the sand and realise that this drug owns you and you need to do something about it. My trigger was the bet and how my running has progressed so pathetically. It is also the fear of having to cough up £500 and possibly a lung in the process. You just need to find your trigger.

If you're like me, then it's probably fear stopping you from doing something. All I'll say is give it a go. Connect your brain back to your body, go for a long walk or something and just feel how unfit you are (probably). That alone could be your trigger to make some changes. Maybe then we could all be happy, healthy, lycra clad endorphine junkies, nodding at eachother across the park.

Or don't bother. Maybe you like smoking? Who am I to preach? My goodness, I've become one of those worthy plebs I dislike so much... Carry on.

Prof. Peter Davies

The Bet

  • Posted by pete
  • 22 February 2012

Last week, my workmates bet me (an unfit chump) the princely sum of £500 that I couldn't run a 10 kilometre race in under 70 minutes.

£500 I thought... "That's a lot of money, think of all the fags and booze you can buy with that".

Of course I naively said yes and took the bet, without really considering what I was letting myself in for. It wasn't until my first training run the other night that I realised exactly how pitifully out of shape I am. Or indeed exactly how far 10 kilometres is. And that I should probably start saving the £500 I'm going to have to cough up, when I fail.

The basis for my self-doubt is the fact that I've been a smoker for nearly half of my life. I'm also partial to a bit of beige food and I enjoy a drink. A lifestyle, I think you'll agree, not really conducive with a the sport of running.

Sure, I can skateboard for hours on end and I can do 20 miles on my bike without too much trouble, so I am active and I'm not overweight or anything. But I haven't run any kind of distance for a long time. Not since being made to do the dreaded cross-country in school. I hated it and I hated being forced into doing it. And that instilled a fear in me – a fear of running and a fear of failing at running, which lives with me to this day. So I never ran again.

But £500 is a good motivator. It's just the kick up the backside I needed to make some changes to my lifestyle. To quit smoking, eat healthier, to forget all the negative crap and just run.

So if you seen a thin, wheezy man trudging around the streets of West Wales, in what look like shoes of lead, don't be alarmed, It's just me... training for my 10K.

I'll be uploading my progress over the next few months, with stories, photos, disappointing stats and maybe a video or two. I welcome your comments, tips and mickey-taking. So please feel free to chip in. Thanks.

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