I blame it on my Scottish high colouring; the ruddy (and I mean that in the old English slang sense – "whoever invented white chocolate-covered blueberries is a ruddy genius" – rather than the descriptive colourful sense) skin tone that is also to blame for the freckles, the frequent blushing and the angry sunburn that flares up as soon as I step out in anything over 12-degree heat.
It's a curse. I'm not pale and interesting. I'm just ginger.
This summer I will be running and glowing at the same time, intentionally, in the name of art. And sport. It's a kind of arty, sporty thing.
Speed of Light is taking place throughout August. Set around Arthur's Seat, the dramatic (and steep) hill in the centre of Edinburgh, it will feature carefully choreographed endurance running and walking. And glowing, thanks to specially designed light suits. It will be incredible to watch: a slowly unfolding display of light against the darkening night sky. It should be even more incredible to take part – they're still recruiting so if you're quick you might get a place (speedoflight2012.org.uk).
A training schedule is provided. You can't have a bunch of stiffies puffing their way up the Radical Road. That wouldn't be very exciting to watch. And those ambulance with sirens carrying defibrillators would detract from the whole point of the exercise.
I came to the event late, but downloaded the 12-week programme in a burst of enthusiasm. I then prepared as I usually do for really important athletic events. I went drinking. And sailing. And I attended a couple of awards ceremonies (where there was quite a lot of drinking). Then I went sailing again. I suspect Haile Gebre Selassie could learn a thing or two from my commitment to the cause.
There are now ten weeks to go. Still time to fit in four runs a week (at least one of which should be hill intervals – not too tricky considering Arthur's Seat is Spectrum Towers' back garden). But hills are the runner's worst nightmare (along with force ten gales and extending dog leads that double up as trip-wires). Shorten your stride. Use your arms. Keep your back straight. Doddle.
The application also includes a section on why we run. Well, to keep fit, certainly. To squeeze into your favourite skinny jeans and keep heart disease and imminent death at bay, perhaps. But it's more than that. The man behind Speed of Light, Angus Farquhar, has been running for 13 years. Not non-stop. That would make his face very ruddy indeed. But he explains it thus: “The feeling of being up and out on your own, with only two or three people passed on the whole hill run, of the previously unknown becoming part of your extending knowledge of your surroundings, is special and makes the world a richer place.”
See? Sport and art. Gives me a warm glow.