You can look to ‘real’ resources out there to find detailed explanations and commiserations about strange little runner-isms, but because real live, non-running people have on several occasions asked me about some of what is to follow, it dawned on me that these real live, non-running people probably don’t read magazines like Runner’s World in order to find the explanations that elude them. I know we annoy some of you and I’m sorry for it, and thought that maybe I’ve got some explaining to do.
A friend once asked me – a maternal and therefore very safety conscious friend – why on Earth I run on the road when there’s a lovely, safe sidewalk right there beside it. I told her then what I tell you today: a sidewalk is made of concrete and not asphalt and is therefore approximately 4X harder than its sidewalk-ian counterpart! My sports specialist doctor told me this, though my body already knew that something of the sort must be true, judging from the creaking and groaning and downright paining my knees offered up in response to any sidewalk running I ventured to do. The other factor with sidewalk running is all the curb hopping one has to do to get on and off of it while transitioning to the intersecting roads. If you’re young and lithe and thin and strong, then this hopping is perhaps not the end of the proverbial world, but if you’re aging or heavier than is ideal or perhaps biomechanically not perfectly suited to your sport, then this ill-advised hopping is actually a very big deal.
Another friend asked me recently why I don’t wave to her as she drives by while I’m running. I’m so glad she did so that I can explain. From my vantage point on the road, the angle of the windshields on passing cars is just right to create an anonymizing mirror. I can’t see past it to know who the driver of the car is. Unless you’re going really slow and I’m very close to you. Or unless you drive a very distinctive vehicle. So if you want to say hello, please do, and give me a gentle honk. Not the single blasted honk, mind you, for that might make me pee myself, but a nice honk of the toot toot sort. I’d love it for lots of reasons, not the least of which would be to break up the monotony of a run. That and because I’m sure I like you very much.
If you ever happen to see me duck into the woods beside the road, never fear! The incessant pound pound pounding of my run has only forced my ‘hand’ in a gastro sense. Ignore me please, and assume that I am pursuing some very elegant and lady-like activity in the forest. It’s better for us both if you do. I haven’t taken leave of my senses, only to spontaneously decide to chase down a bear or a cougar. Enough said?
In the Spring Time, if you hear me running through our neighborhood with a shiny and extremely indiscreet bell attached to my shoe, know again that I haven’t quite yet taken leave of my senses. Or perhaps I have, because I’m headed to the trail head to run and there are bears in there. They’re coming out of hibernation now and if they can hear me coming – well in advance – they’ll surely leave me alone. I look and primarily sound like a complete idiot for the kilometer leading through the suburbia between my house and said trail head, but as you see me, just pretend that I’m SUPER cheerful because the sun is out, ok?
Well, for the time being, that’s it. If you do happen to see toilet paper dangling out from the scoop neck of my running tank, just know that its there to help attend to any elegant times that may present themselves and toot toot merrily as you pass.