Heels over Head: The longing of the lone distance runner

2014-05-04 15:00

Best not make a Comrades runner your lover. Really. Take it from one. You’ll always come second, morning and night. Even in between.

.?We tend to think about running most of the time. Obsessively. In the mornings, we leave you cold in bed as we go out to feed our addiction. In the evenings, we pass out before you can say “foreplay”.

.?But when we do feel amorous, you’ll find us ­unsympathetic when you start begging for mercy after a modest four hours. That’s how long it takes to run a mere marathon. You did choose to mess with someone who runs for 12 hours on end – for fun.

.?When we are out on the road, we will cheat on you a million times over in our minds with the pretty things in tights. Runners are better-looking than your average person, especially from behind, and when it gets all hot and sweaty and our blood sugar drops a tad too low, the mind wanders on the long road. Like Jacob ­Zuma, we can’t help it.

.?We have high expectations of our partners. One guy told me he would commit to marry his girlfriend only after she finishes her first Comrades. So far the noose is far off for him. We might also expect you to sympathise with and help us treat ­injuries whose names you cannot pronounce.

.?You’ll be roped in to support us at ­races, spending all your free time standing in the scorching sun with weird and melting food for us, pretending to be thrilled.

.?We’ll amuse you with the intimate details of running partners whose names we hardly know, and who we treat as members of our extended family.

.?We wake up with food cravings in the middle of the night.

.?We fret about our weight and diet-hop constantly, and fret about our bowel movements in equal measure.

.?Some of us might blow money meant for a new microwave oven on running shoes instead. Most of us have more running shoes than common sense would permit.

That said, we do get lonely. While it’s most fun to run long distances in packs, sometimes our schedules don’t allow it. Or sometimes we just need the quiet.

And then we step out for that long run before sunrise, all on our own. Four hours is a lot of time for thinking things and solitude can turn into desolation.

Runners would do well to hook up with dogs. After dog-sitting a runner-friendly one, I discovered canines to be perfect companions. They’re largely silent too.

Pity they’re not so good with post-Comrades massages. And pity the beauty of a sunset has never dawned on them.

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