A WEEK ago tonight, I was rooting through a dusty old cupboard at home.
"Found them!" I said at length. The exclamation mark was genuine: I was happy to see them.
A pair of running shoes - box-fresh, blinding white, never worn. Bought in 2009, part of a get-fit campaign that lasted roughly as long as it took me to take the shoes home and put them in the back of the cupboard.
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They would still be unworn had it not been for the sight of all these Commonwealth Games athletes making the difficult look easy. Plus, there was a news story about short bursts of intensive exercise could transform our lives. The story was aimed at the over-60s, but the basic principle seemed sound enough.
Shoes, running socks, shorts, sweatshirt. If nothing else, I looked the part.
I did a few dimly-remembered warm-up exercises that set off a small but worrying chain of creaking and snapping noises, then set off on a run. My first in 20 years.
"Fine evening," I called out cheerily to a neighbour walking his dog. I jogged through a car-park then onto a grassy path. Fifty, 60, 70 yards. One hundred.
Somewhere around the 200-yard mark I hit what we endurance athletes refer to as 'the wall'. I had to stop. My heart was beating as fast as a fire raiser's. There was an unignorable pain in my shins. And I had the beginning of a stitch in my side.
I knew I wasn't fit but I didn't think I was that unfit. I tried again, further along. Thirty yards, and no further. I walked through a quiet stretch of woodland where no-one could see me run a few yards and grind to a queasy halt.
Eventually, I made my way up a steep, narrow, tree-lined back-road. Seven cars came up the road behind me. For reasons I can't fully explain even now, I started running when I heard them, so that the drivers would turn to their passengers and say, "Good on that old guy, running on a steep road like this". As soon as they were out of sight, I was on my knees.
I took a short-cut home and passed the neighbour and his dog again. They exchanged a glance that said, "Thirty minutes? Bloke's not much of a jogger".
At home I peeled off the shoes - slightly scuffed, by now - and threw them into the back of the cupboard. They'll stay there until the 2018 Commonwealth Games, or the next news story about exercise, whichever comes first. I know which one my money is on.