…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
This morning, like last weekend, I got myself out of bed and went for my short jog before breakfast. It’s my typical route, it’s only a couple of miles, but it’s comfortable – I can put in a brisk sprint towards the end, to make up for the lack of distance, and stagger into my house out of breath and feeling good about myself.
This has always been a lone pursuit, similar to my cycling. There are a few other people that run around here but the chances of having their run coincide with my own are pretty slim – slimmer because I don’t run that often, regularly, or particularly far. I’ve just looked back over the records that I keep for my cycling, jogging and walking, and I see that I have been running now for a few years, but I don’t run regularly enough to consider myself a runner – it’s just a bit of keep-fit. During the past few years I’ve never really encountered another runner on my path – sometimes I see one as they turn off, or maybe one running the other way.
This morning however, something strange happened!
As I approached the T-junction to guide my legs round to the left, another jogger was crossing my path. He made a casual wave with his hand I think, or perhaps that was just how his arms were moving. Anywho, I joined the road behind him and kept pace with him, positioned just a few steps off his heels. This would be similar to what I would do when cycling – maybe catch up with a fellow cyclist, and gauge their pace, and maybe be rude and overtake them, but this was running, and he looked like a runner, me, I was just in my casual shorts and t-shirt, no bum-bag, no bottle of water, no gadget to keep track of my efforts.
I kept pace with him, it was comfortable. He lengthened his stride somewhat as we descended a slight hill, I was still there and I felt calm. I now had a decision to make – do I just stay at his heels the whole way until the next junction, or do I jog up along side him and start a chat!? I became quite self-conscious of the sound of my shoes on the road behind him, he knew I was right there with him.
I had a strange situation when cycling recently that was somewhat similar, except I was the one ahead when I met another cyclist who joined me on same stretch of road – she came along side me after a while and we had a little chat. Actually, the situation was similar but the effect was different, because she was the one who caught up with me and instigated the chat. This situation threw me somewhat – I found it difficult to talk and ride, my legs and breath were all out of whack, it was windy too which didn’t help. After a short while I politely eased back as if a car was approaching on our single-track road (although there really was none) and I let her go ahead, I then kept pace with her – she looked more geared up to the job than me, in her cycling clothes while I was just wearing just casual shorts and t-shirt. The only down-side was that I now had her behind in my face – I hope she wasn’t self-conscious about that, but I wanted to keep up with her pace.
With the jogger though I was the one that was approaching him and it was up to me how to played this out. A little switch flipped in my head and I brought myself up along side him and said hi. I had never jogged with someone else before – could I even run and chat at the same time? Would I struggle to stick with his pace – would I get out of breath? Would I be intruding on his space and would there be awkwardness?
Actually we had a great little chat, of course about running, but it was one of those short little chats that are pretty insightful. We talked about our running, running in groups or on our own – how some of us need time to ourselves, particularly if we have a busy work or home life. He was out covering more miles than me, he had already done a lot, gearing himself up for a marathon – I was just out for a bit of keep-fit. I considered how, when running, cycling or exercising with others we can help each other, or unwittingly hinder the efforts of others. Some chatting can be good, surely, but the right pace needs to come with it. If I’m cycling and another vehicle passes me (another cyclist, a tractor, or even a slow car perhaps) and then it only maintains a pace that is marginally quicker than my own, then I feel motivated to keep up with it.
After about a mile as we were approaching the next junction I asked him which way he was heading – I had hoped he wasn’t going the same way as me so I had an excuse to perhaps stick with him on his route and get more miles in than I had planned, but it wasn’t to be. We were both going the same way and I would soon be home.
I didn’t feel like I had really been running – for that mile my mind had been focussed more on the chatting. Being detracted from my efforts when running makes me forget about feeling out of breath or tired, or instead I have to search inside myself for some effort. I can go through phases on a longer run where one moment I’m conscious of my effort and it feels like a struggle and I’m somewhat out of breath, and then my mind wanders and I forget about my present ordeal… and then when I become self-aware again I’m magically calm and not out of breath, while still jogging at the same pace – it’s a peculiar thing.
As the fellow jogger and I were now on my last stretch of road I knew at this rate I would arrive back at my house not feeling particularly out of breath – almost like I hadn’t been for a run – which is not what I like – I like to put in enough effort so that when I arrive back indoors I’m out of breath and feeling good – this is a buzz I don’t often get from cycling. Sometimes I might quicken my running pace some distance away, lengthen my stride, or sometimes put in a last sprint to the door – it depends on my mood on the day. Running out of time and road I bid my farewell to the fellow jogger, I told him what I was going to do, and I scuttled off – legging it off up the road, putting to good use that positive energy I had amassed during our chat.