Today I went for a run, the first in about a year. Only for twenty minutes, but enough to feel my time away from the road hasn’t been kind.

As I ran I felt each weak link in the chain and there were many. The muscles that keep me upright and that propel me forward are soft. At ten minutes the clamor of excuses grows louder: ‘running in chinese-made new balances isn’t safe’, ‘Cairo’s urban design¬†kills pedestrians’, ‘that gang of wild dogs I keep lapping look very hungry’. All these things are logical, sound, reasonable – and that is why I must ignore them.

I raise the volume on Jay-Z self-congratulating himself until I go deaf, until I drone out that part of me that wants to surrender.

At fifteen minutes I’ve accepted I’m slower, not as fast as before when I sprinted up hills with the enthusiasm of a child. I pace myself. I take solace that this is the beginning of great things,¬†a refinement of the body I can’t get by thinking about it. I play back sound-bites, words of encouragement from heroes like Murakami, that treat this primal movement as religion.

And by twenty minutes I think I’m born-again.