Pros and Cons of Morning Jogging in Malta
Because mornings are made for hot and sweaty action.
A few years ago, I became the proud owner of two things which have formed a large part of my life and my thoughts during my waking hours as well as caused me great joy and inordinate grief in almost equal measure. One of these things is my dog, a brown, slightly stupid, quite neurotic mongrel from Mqabba. The other is the layer of blubber around my navel.
Yes, as a man who is becoming more and more adept at mentally shifting the definition of “middle age” to a larger and larger number, I was lumped with these two problems. A creature who needed a physical outlet for the frustration presumably borne of being an inferior kind of wolf and a swamp of adipocytes which threatened my health, quality of life and self-image.
So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and do something I would never have imagined myself doing. I became a morning jogger, and so did my dog. I’d like to share with you some of the pros and cons you will encounter should you choose to take up this particular pursuit.
You might not get heart disease…
…or high blood pressure, or diabetes, or death. Exercise helps prevent these bastards.
You might get arthritis.
Sadly, jogging can be hard on the knee and other joints, increasing your risk of arthritis later on in life.
You get your exercise done early.
You know that sinking feeling you get when you’ve planned a gym session after work, but you’ve just spent 9 hours trying to fix the shit spectacular that Dave from the office has made of the project you entrusted him with? Well, that feeling can be expunged from your emotional rolodex because, screw you, sloth, you’ve done your bit for fitness already.
You’re smashed all day.
Yes, you’re the office iron man, but you’re also the office sleepy man. Waking up early to spend half an hour doing something your brain desperately doesn’t want you to do takes its toll. As you pour your seventh espresso onto your gastric ulcer, you begin to question your choices.
There’s no traffic on your way out.
If you drive to your jogging route of choice, you savour the blissful feeling of driving smoothly through traffic-free roads at the unearthly hour of 06.15.
There’s all the traffic on your way back in.
Unfortunately, your half hour jog means that you head back home to rinse the rancid sweat out of your bum-crack at 06.45. All the nation’s children are being packaged into all the red minivans. Dave and all his ilk are jumping into their Daewoo Matisses. All the garbage trucks on the island are being filled with all the crap all the housewives have failed to recycle by all the lanky youths dangling off the backs of the trucks. All of these obstacles lie between you and that shower, as your butt sweat seeps irreversibly into your car seat.
You meet new friends.
It’s a very special type of person who’s out and about at 6.15am. You will meet the same people day in, day out. Mainly people walking their dogs and fellow joggers. You’ll begin using the people you meet as landmarks, and occasionally worry if Jeffrey and his Yorkie aren’t by the second bin on the left at 06.32 as they are, and should be, every morning. It’s a bit like Grande Fratello, only sweatier.
You meet new friends you don’t want.
The early hours of the day are also inhabited by less savoury types. Hunters destroying the early morning peace with illegal electronic bird callers, drunk drivers trying to commit vehicular manslaughter after a night at the strip clubs, pissed off husbands tramping the streets because they’ve been chucked out of the matrimonial bed.
It’s not hot.
Since we live on the geographic equivalent of an induction hob for around 9 months of the year, getting an early start means you avoid the sweltering heat that evening joggers endure during those 9 months.
It’s bloody cold.
In those few weeks when it’s not scalding hot, your extremities might blacken and fall off from frostbite. Mezzutemp is something in our vocabulary, yet not in our meteorology. As your heels pound the pavement, the fog coming out of your mouth, the searing pain in your lungs and the total lack of sensation in your fingers makes you question your sanity.
You see Malta at its prettiest.
A hilly island is always a great place to be when the sun comes up The combination of sun, sea and silhouetted landmarks always creates a lump in your throat that has nothing to do with the fact that you’re moving pretty fast for someone who scoffed a Sofra special last night. Superimpose a handsome hound onto that scene, and you’ve achieved perfection.
It seems shittier afterwards.
This is the same phenomenon that you encounter if you’ve ever pulled a stunner on a Friday night and found yourself lying next to a Gorgon on Saturday morning. When you compare Malta during a sunrise, bereft of people and traffic, to the hot, crowded, noisy hellhole it becomes once the working day rolls in, some degree of sadness is bound to ensue.
You don’t have to change your baby’s overnight nappy.
Admittedly, this is only relevant if you have a live-in incontinent infant. But knowing that your significant other is elbow-deep in baby-dung as you’re trundling along give you a warm feeling in the pit of your stomach which assuages the pain in your calves slightly.
Your dog rolls in horse shit.
Since it’s usually dark at that time of the morning, you don’t get visually warned of the piles of equine refuse, dead rats or discarded wet wipes soaked in bodily fluids that dot the landscape and that dogs love to rotate in. So, even if you manage not to get your ankles spattered with whatever detritus lies in wait, your dog will find it and he will roll in it. And your car will stink. Forever.
You get to wake up with Oz and Jay.
The baritone Canadian and Australian accents kick off your day with major grumpiness at 06.30 every weekday. There’s no better way to cool down after your jog than to hear them making horrendously inaccurate claims (albeit usually quite hilarious). Just a side-note, Jay, mules are not hermaphrodites, they are hybrids.
Oz isn’t there half the time.
We know that people get sick, people have to travel and people need a break. But whenever we hear the lonely voice of one of our heroes ramble on in a soliloquy, a small part of our soul dies. Never break up guys! Do it for the kids.
Know anyone who forms part of the Morning Jog Brigade? Tag them in the comments section below!