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Runner Sean and the Seven Dwarfs

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Four Seasons in one day is nothing on what I go through each day… No, I do the Seven Dwarfs in one day ritual in my running! – BY MODERN ATHLETE EDITOR SEAN FALCONER (With apologies to the original writer or writers of the Snow White fairy tale!)

Most of you will be familiar with the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is, after all, one of the most famous fairy tales of all times, made popular by the German Brothers Grimm in the early 1800s when they published their collection of over 200 fairy tales. So you know that Snow White was a beautiful young lady who was sent to the forest to be killed by her jealous stepmother queen, who had a talking mirror that told her Snow White was more beautiful than her. However, instead of being killed, Snow White ended up living with Seven Dwarfs who worked in a nearby mine…

Now I’m not going to go into more detail about the Snow White story – we don’t need to talk about poisoned apples and being kissed by Prince Charming to wake up again – but I would like to talk about the Seven Dwarfs. Interestingly, they were only given individual names in the story in 1912, when the story was staged on Broadway in the USA, and they were then renamed for the 1937 Disney film. And thus today, thanks to Walt Disney, we have the venerable names of Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy and Sneezy.

Now why on earth am I writing about the Seven Dwarfs? Well, anybody who has met me will know that I am not the tallest person around, so I have been known to jokingly refer to myself as a dwarf, and when it comes to my own running, I reckon I go through the seven stages of dwarfness each day. It starts when I wake up, because then I am Dopey. As I often point out in blogs or social media posts, I am not a morning person… which is why I prefer running in the afternoons or evenings.

But once I am fully awake and decide to get moving, I become Doc as I check that everything is still in one piece. By that, I mean I gingerly rotate my ankles to check for any signs of pain – when you’ve torn your ankle ligaments as many times as I have on the soccer field, you become a wee bit paranoid about taking that first step in the mornings. If the ankles check out, I move to the calves, flexing one at a time, then get the knees moving, etc, etc, working my way up. The lower back also gets a careful check before I try to actually get out of bed. I know, I know, I sound like an old man, but hell, I am halfway to 80!

For most of the day, if I am planning an evening run, my legs will become Grumpy, because they have to hang about waiting all day to be released. That means sitting at the desk while I type, or staying cooped up in my car while I drive to meetings and interviews. These legs were made for low flying, and they don’t like sitting around doing nothing all day. They get a wee bit uppity…

Which leads to Sneezy behaviour. I equate sneezes with short circuits, where something is not quite right in the lungs and the body forces you to get rid of the offending object causing the short circuit, via a big sneeze. Well, my legs go through that as well. I can sit there the whole day working, mentally prepared to go running just after 5pm, without so much as a hint of any pain, tightness or discomfort anywhere in my body, but blow me down if I don’t stand up to go get changed at the end of the work day and suddenly I feel a twinge of pain in my knee, or my calf muscles suddenly feel tight, or my lower back says “Howzit, remember me?”

That brings me to my Bashful phase, when I have to slowly coax my body into getting going. Fortunately, this usually only lasts the first few hundred metres of a run, and soon I’m flying along, the grumpiness, ‘sneeziness’ and bashfulness left behind. And then I am Happy! Nothing beats the feeling of running smoothly, when legs, lungs and heart work together in perfect symmetry to allow you to effortlessly glide across the road, field or trail, and you feel like you can run forever.

And that brings me full circle to the end of the day, when I have had my run, returned home, showered, eaten and relaxed, and the night owl in me has exhausted itself enough to allow me to become Sleepy. Then it’s off to bed and some well-earned rest.

Just wish I didn’t need to set that damned alarm clock each time, because Dopey and Doc are not my favourite guys. But anyway, High ho, high, it’s off to run we go…

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