Sporting Life: Don't just work your body, exercise responsibility by sticking to the rules and guidelines too

Let’s be polite about this.

Let’s also very seriously say this: If you’re still out there today, running in packs or cycling as a group, all the stuff we’ve been advised not to do, then that’s just plain silly.

Let’s be precise: “Alone” means on your own. It’s not that complicated.

Let’s be clear: Working out in your neighbourhood doesn’t mean a 20-minute car ride to the reservoir of your liking. If you have to drive, then that isn’t your neighbourhood.

Let’s clean up our acts and this includes me. I carry a mask in my pocket when I run almost every afternoon and I don’t put it on, even when I walk fast, because I’m breathing hard and that’s apparently fine. But I could wear it till I get to my start point or in the last, relaxed five minutes of my outdoor workout. As that Rafa guy, who knows a thing or three about discipline, once said: “It’s the little things.”

Let’s understand that among the various things we need to exercise – picking a Netflix film inordinately taxes the brain – is also responsibility. Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility” but right now it’s simply the cost of survival.

Let’s not forget we’re lucky right now and we need to make the smartest use of it. We’re not, like so many nations, a country in total lockdown and we can still go out, get a quick tan and some Vitamin D and watch a chameleon skitter across our path. We’re still getting to meet life.

Let’s respect this privilege because otherwise, very soon, we’re going to be banned completely from going outside and could turn into hollow-eyed, swearing-at-neighbours, soup-slurping, TV-staring zombies. I might end up hating even Anderson Cooper.

Let’s admit that most people are doing it right, like the gentle trickle of runners in my locality, old dudes and young women, whose varying pace naturally ensures a sensible distance. I’m anyway always far behind the world. But there’s something refreshing and symbolic to their running, for on sunny afternoons they’re like a glistening painting of health in a dark time.

So let’s not have a tiny, indulgent minority out there who are going to ruin it for this majority. Let’s all of us not need to be told, again and again, like with an errant child, that it’s not safe. This virus has knocked the planet to the floor and it will take a common effort to get back up.

Let’s remember every time we mistakenly run in small groups, or cycle side by side, that it’s an act of selfishness. It’s like the jerk during park football games who thinks his first name is Lionel and never wants to pass the ball. The whole team loses.

Let’s figure out that if we’re going to exercise, because there’s a spirit we just have to unleash, then let’s do that most basic thing which sport always asks: Play by the rules and guidelines. Because if we break them then we’re turning our backs on ambulance drivers, nurses, doctors, testers, technicians and also their families.

Let’s remember, all of us, as we pull on our sneakers and lace up our cycling shoes.

This isn’t a damn game.

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