I Am Not A Runner

2017-06-16 09:31

I am not a runner. And I know this unequivocally for a few reasons. Most have to do with technology. The rest, well, because, I am really just so poor at it, that people are amazed that i continue to try. I might have completed my first couple of 10km races, but the fact that I let the death of my mom stop me from running for a few weeks, apparently showed a significant lack of commitment. It would seem that the real deal would never let the loss of a family member stand between him and the road. Apparently there is no law preventing one running home from a funeral.

It’s not that I didn’t think of starting again two weeks after her passing. In fact, I made the decision earlier this week and mentioned it to a friend who is a runner (is there another kind)?

“I think I will start running again tomorrow…” I ventured tentatively.

“Nice” answered he, somewhat distracted by his Garmin Phoenix 3 (at time of print the Garmin Phoenix 5 is not yet a runner's requirement).

“But I am not going to run far” I said, managing his (and my expectations).

With that, he looked up with genuine confusions and said…

“But you never do.”

Commitment and natural talent aside (I very clearly have neither), the main indicator to me that I don’t belong to this elite, but damaged sector of society, is because I am not on a running Whatsapp Group. Not one. I have heard stories of people who are members of no less than 5 mini societies, each with their own nuances, routes and focuses. Admittance to such is deeply guarded and tightly controlled and I have often pondered why Trump bothered with a Mexican wall at all… all he needed to do was create a Whatsapp Group for “All Americans” and just leave off those from Mexico City. He wouldn't need to spend billions on a structure…. The Mexicans will get the message that they are on the outside. Believe me.

And then there are the other social media sites. Strava, Footpath (or is it Footprint), Garmin Connect, Discovery and I’ll-Show-You-Mine (I might have made that one up) are vital to runners. Because if your run is not logged on a recognised site, then that tree did not fall in the forest (if you know what I mean). The anxiety that I have witnessed from real runners when a run is not recorded or is (God forbid) missing some information (like the 1st 3km) is horrifying to watch. These people might have the mental stamina to run an 86km up-hill Comrades with bleeding (actually hemorrhaging) nipples, but they completely fall apart if their Sunday run is not visible for all to see. I am not making this up.

And. Runners can be nasty. Cutting. Competitive. Really unkind. Even to each other. But never at a race! The morning of an event brings out their nurturing maternal side– they are the loveliest, most helpful, supportive “let me carry you over the finish line” people you will ever meet. They sweat encouragement and compassion and personify benevolence. I even had a group of long-striders canter effortlessly past me at my last 10km whilst I shuffled and heaved and gasped and waged war with my brain to carry on. They should have not even seen me. But instead of ignoring me or asking me if I shouldn’t perhaps consider aqua-aerobics, one turned to me and said…”It’s good to see that you are not showing off.” It’s true. I wasn’t. And I kinda suspect that they knew that too.

The last few weeks have not been easy ones. My mother’s illness and then passing has been traumatic to say the least. And whereas I normally am able to write my way through my emotional challenges, in this case I was not. In fact, aside from one column, I have hardly been able to do at all. Until this morning when I finally managed put on my running shoes. To set my Garmin to outdoor Run. And in doing so, I finally faced the bracing cold head on.

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