Shortly before taking up running, you may find yourself making stridently runnerphobic statements to anyone who'll listen: “Look at that dickhead over there, jogging around like a pound-shop Mo Farah, what does he think he looks like, honestly, wazzock" – that kind of thing.

Just go loose. Let it happen

As will be transparently clear to anyone who knows you well, all you're doing is putting up a futile last-minute battle against the inevitable. You're going to become one of those jogging dickheads, and there's nothing you can do about it. Embrace your true nature. Just go loose. Let it happen.

Tackling your first-ever run is much like losing your V-plates: you'll feel like you're doing it all wrong, the effort-to-enjoyment ratio is going to be poor, you'll sweat more than you thought was humanly possible, and you may feel a bit sore afterwards.

Your first-ever run is like losing your V-plates

But – to extend the sexy analogy to breaking point – by the fifth or sixth time you'll feel like you're maybe starting to get pretty good at it, and once you hit double figures you'll be an absolute slag-level expert.

After a month or two of running in normal-person trainers, you realise that there's a reason why runners don't pound the pavement in cool Nike Airs – trainer manufacturers long ago gave up on the idea of trainers being any good for actual training. Run further than for a bus in them and they'll prang you right up.

So you head off to buy some proper, sensible running shoes – sighing as you stride straight past Foot Locker and into Jim T. Peterson's Sports, the shabby sporting-goods shop that's always completely empty and has had the same faded golf umbrella in the window for the last six years.

They're quite astoundingly ugly and they cost a bomb

And you buy some running shoes, and they're quite astoundingly ugly, and they cost a bomb, and as you lace them up and gaze sorrowfully down at your minging-looking feet, a small part of you dies inside. But then you go for your first run in them, and you get it. You suddenly understand how Asics, Brooks, Salomon et al manage to stay in business, despite making the ugliest products imaginable.

You have a crossed a line, and there's no turning back now. #runna4lyfe

Eventually, going round and round (and round and round) the park starts to feel a teensy bit pointless. Yes, you're feeling healthier, and happier, and you've lost a little weight, and your calves look bad-ass when you tense them – but ultimately, what's it all for? Where are you running to? What's the point?

Where are you running to? What's the point?

So you sign up for a 5k or maybe even a 10k, and suddenly your running has a purpose. You're training. You're an athlete. You're an Olympian. You're Rocky, running up the steps, surrounded by cheering kids, punching the air. Yessss.

There comes a point where even the most level-headed of runners starts to loooose their miiiind a little, and what was once a fun hobby that kept them healthy starts to become an all-encompassing obsession.

At this point, you may find yourself buying a fitness tracker and giving a shit about how many calories that last run burned off. Or maybe you start posting your run stats on Facebook, like any of your friends give two farts. Or maybe you start getting angry with yourself if you don't manage to beat your PB every single time you head out the door, despite that being pretty much impossible.

You start posting your run stats on Facebook, like any of your friends give two farts

If your friends and family palpably glaze over whenever you start talking about running, you have reached stage five. Eventually you'll start to do your own head in, at which point you'll unclench, chill out, and learn not to take running sooo bloody seriously. Which leads to...

This stage can last for months, even years. You get to a certain point with your running, and just kind of... stay there. You don't get any faster, you don't feel like running longer distances – you settle into a groove and get yourself comfy.

You settle into a groove and get yourself comfy

It's a bit like a marriage: after a while all the sparks and drama die down and are replaced by an easy, everyday familiarity. If that sounds like a living death to you, you have two ways out of it: you can 'have an affair' (i.e. sign up for an event that's way beyond your current capabilities) or 'get divorced' (i.e. sack running off and take up cycling instead).

After a few years of running, with a sizeable number of events under your belt, you graduate to Wise Old Sage level. You're the Obi Wan of pavement-pounding, the Gandalf of half marathons.

You're the Obi Wan of pavement-pounding

A friend casually asks your advice on how to get into running and receives a 45-minute monologue taking in everything from the perils of over-pronation to the correct timing of bowel movements.

You have ascended. You have travelled beyond this dimensional plane. You're no longer a runner – you are running. Om shanti.