Monday, February 08, 2010

What I mull about when I mull about running

(with a wink and a nod to Haruki Murakami)

Runners of every shape, size and age run at Safa Park. Each with a distinctive gait, unique motive.  I ignore the brisk walkers and the lazy strollers and concentrate on the runners.

There are those who run to lose weight, and they’re best ignored too. The heavy tread, slack jaw and amoeba-like sweat patches all allude to effort and exercise. Running is more than that.

Then there are the competitive runners, who run with one eye affixed to the digital timer on their wrist. It tells them about how fast their heart is pumping, how well their feet are moving and perhaps even whether the pre-run protein shake has gotten digested. It’s all about results and statistics. Running by numbers.

There are also the sprinters, who run for the adrenaline rush. And the showboats – the ones with the svelte bods, who run like they don’t really need to be running, but need a motive to display their muscle tone.

A few run for no reason at all. Unless you count - for the love of running - as a reason. It looks like they’re running, but it doesn’t feel like they are. There’s exertion, but no struggle. There’s a target, but it’s not entirely numeric. You can tell the difference by observing the rhythm. It’s steady and even, and most importantly, graceful. Like ballet. The eyes are focussed on a zone not in the physical realm. The arms move in unison. The feet strike the earth with nimble, considered moves. Slicing the air, the way a swimmer breaks the water.  
You don’t try to race such a runner. Or do something as inelegant as keep pace. You gaze at them until they turn a corner or become a speck on the horizon. And then get back to thumping the earth with the grace of a rhino.


Bird said...

I know what you mean. The best part is when you realize you were pretty smooth yourself on that last one. Always happens after the fact and usually someone else has to tell you.

PS- You forget the ones that take their pets along.

Leela said...

Bird You're right about the 'pet runners'. The pets seem to get more exercise, unwittingly. Speaking of which, there was someone running and pushing a pram at the same time. It just seemed like so much effort. For the baby, i.e.

Unknown said...