STEVE CANAVAN: My wife’s marathon obsession has run its course with me

Picture: Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock
Picture: Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock

Mrs Canavan – clearly going through a mid-life crisis – has signed up to run this year’s London Marathon.

She has run a marathon before, though it took her five months – she completed a mile after work every other Tuesday.

While part of me is proud of her for attempting such a thing, a much larger part is getting thoroughly cheesed off with it all.

The reason for this is that Mrs Canavan decided she needed the right gear to run a marathon and spent the equivalent of two months’ mortgage repayments purchasing a variety of running outfits along with three pairs of fancy trainers that have – or so the website she bought them from claims – ‘an adaptive arch and dual-density heel counter which flex with your foot’s natural movement and offers targeted support for a stable stride’.

Ironic then that the first time she wore them she turned her ankle.

The result of all this spending is that our house is now crammed full of running gear and has a permanent aroma of stale sweat.

Three or four times a week, Mrs C will exit the lounge wearing perfectly normal everyday clothing, then reappear a few moments later, like a really rubbish Superman from a phone booth, dressed in the most awful Lycra outfit.

This is a real bugbear of mine. Why can’t the people who make running clothes design them tastefully? Why can’t they use sober colours like blue or black? Instead the manufacturers appear to be in some sort of competition aimed at squeezing as many colours as possible into one item of clothing.

The outfit Mrs Canavan dressed in earlier this week was the most lurid luminous yellow, with red and pink stripes on the arm and green diamonds and purple circles across the bosom area.

It looked like the kind of thing you’d only buy if you had lost the use of your eyes. When she walked into the kitchen wearing it, the cat had a panic attack.

She’ll then head off on a 10-mile run – she has been painstakingly following a marathon training guide since November which tells her how many miles she has to complete each week – and on her return will strip off her gear and throw it in the washing basket.

A couple of hours later I will wander up the stairs to be greeted by a smell similar to that of a rugby league player’s jockstrap after a tough 80-minute match.

‘Erm, sweet lips,’ I’ll venture. ‘Is there any chance that when you come back from a run you could throw your gear straight into the washing machine so that it doesn’t make the entire house stink?’

'No, because there’s no point putting a wash on for one outfit,' she responds.

‘Yes,’ I say. ‘But rather that than me having to permanently walk around my own house with a peg on my nose while spraying air freshener.'

What annoys me most about this is that when taking off her clothes, Mrs Canavan sort of pulls her top off over one arm and her head before flinging it into the washing basket, the result being that all her dirty laundry has one arm inside out.

Same with her socks – she doesn’t properly pull them out, so they’re all crinkled up. It means that when I come to load the washing machine, I have to actually touch all this disgustingly sweaty smelly running gear and carefully unravel it, so that it washes properly. No matter how many times I wash my hands afterwards, they still don’t quite smell right.

The lounge coffee table is littered with magazines like Runner’s World and Outdoor Fitness. The former contains articles like ‘Five reasons runners need to eat more eggs’ and ‘10 simple moves to improve posture and flexibility: straight leg lateral swing – with your hands on a wall, keep your right leg straight and swing it across the front of your body in a rhythmic motion. Do 12 reps, then switch sides’.

Mrs Canavan insists on doing these exercises in the lounge, which is awfully off-putting when you’re trying to watch Countryfile.

One of the worst things about her doing the marathon, though, is that I have to watch. Initially I thought she meant on TV, which I could just about bear even if it would mean missing the Sunday morning repeat of Match of the Day.

But it turns out she actually means going to London and standing on the street cheering her on.

This is mildly annoying, not least because it will cost an absolute fortune to get a hotel room for the night, and chances are I probably won’t even spot her among the 40,000 people taking part.

To that end, I have asked her if she’d mind doing it in fancy dress to make her stand out – after all, this is something many marathon runners do.

In 2015, a chap called Adam Jones broke the record for fastest marathon dressed as a leprechaun, while somewhere in the UK a bloke called Giles Lock holds the best time for completing it dressed as a crustacean. Whether he was a lobster, crayfish or hermit crab I do not know – I’ll endeavour to find out.

Records have also been set, as I told Mrs C over dinner the other night, for fastest runner dressed as a monk, another in a strawberry costume and a bomb disposal expert wearing a heavy suit.

'You want me to run it dressed as a bomb disposal expert?' she said. 'That might not be the best idea in the current climate.'

Fair point.

A few other facts about the marathon – there are 1,263 portable toilets along the course, with an additional 400 urinal bays at the start which is good to know, 50,000m of barriers and 1,200 St John Ambulance volunteers, so at least there’ll be someone to help when Mrs Canavan collapses and requires resuscitation.

The marathon date is April 22, after which our washing machine can finally take a well-earned breather and visitors to the house won’t comment, ‘what on earth is that odd smell?’