I learned long ago not to invite Mark when I go out running. Whilst, objectively speaking, it is nice for the ego to see a Mark sweating like a pig, and wheezing like a chimney, it means that I have to stop all the time and wait for him to catch up. Also, I have to wait while he stands there, hands on his knees, bent over, to catch his breath again.

Mark is not unfit, but he’s not a runner. He’s a muscle man, while yours truly lives up to the gazelle inheritance of the humans on the savannah. I’m the one that bounds all across the landscape. He’s the one who bench-presses the car to impress me with his bulging biceps.

Yesterday I broke the rule and let him come along, even though I knew that I’d be doing little running. And true enough, after ten minutes Mark dropped off behind me, bent over, wheezing. All I could was to roll my eyes, and make a mental note that I should learn how to say ‘no’ sometimes.

I usually run for an hour. If I’m doing five miles, I run for two hours, to give myself space for resting. Yesterday’s run took four hours, and most of that time was spent waiting for him. Unfortunately Mark doesn’t know how to quit, so when he sets his mind to something he finishes. It didn’t help that I told him to go home again. No, he wanted to finish. He complained about needing to be fit.

Eventually I just settled for seeing it as a chance to just watch him soak in sweat. There is a certain artistic aesthetic seeing him drenched in it. Particularly when his T-shirt start to cling to his pectorals. I won’t reveal what filthy thoughts crossed my mind on several occasions during the run.

That said, now I’m feeling unsatisfied. Oh behave. I feel unsatisfied because I didn’t do a proper run yesterday, and that means I’m going to have to do it again. Maybe tomorrow or on Tuesday. I will probably also feel guilty so that I do a five-mile run just to get it out of the system.

And then, I’ll say no, regardless of the chance for eye-candy along the road. There is a time and a place for the small pleasures in life. I usually feel fantastic after a run, but I have to work for it. And remove the distractions on the way to that satisfaction.