The Five People You Meet On Your Run

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was a runner. She wasn’t a fast runner, but she ran and therefore she was a runner.

She lived in a pretty big city, and as such, she had her choice of several places to run – besides the treadmill at the gym (which she really didn’t mind the way some runners do – to her it was a tool to help her do what made her happy when outside just wasn’t possible, so she saw it as a kind of friend). She could run around a park in her neighborhood – or even along the streets in her neighborhood if she was running in the early morning. She had her choice of two parks – one of which she could run to if doing a long run (ok, technically she could run to the other one…but it would have to be a run of 10 or more miles to make it worth that). She could take the subway down to the coast and run along the boardwalk. Or she could run along one of the rivers that surrounded her city, even incorporating one of the bridges over said rivers.

For this story, we’ll just say she was running in one of the parks – but really most of this could have taken place on any run. And we won’t count the first person she met on her way there – the livery cab driver who insisted on honking to get her attention as she waited for the light to change, apparently incredulous that someone would actually want to go somewhere under their own power. Because technically she wasn’t on her run at that point – just on her way TO her run. There is a difference.

She got to the park and started her run. Shortly into it, she passed a group of teens who were hanging out. After she passed them, she heard one chanting “I don’t know but I’ve been told…” and the others repeating it. Since nothing else came of it, she could only assume that the teens had reached the end of their creativity. But they were the first people she met on her run that evening – the obnoxious teen(s).

Shortly thereafter, she met the apparent cousin of those teens. As she ran by, he said something like “Ooh baby. If I was home I’d definitely want some of that.” But of course (thankfully) he didn’t go any further than mouthing off. She ignored him and kept on running. (She also knew that she was running in basically a loop very near a police precinct AND that there were at least 4 officers on patrol around the park as she was passing them on each loop, so she felt pretty safe continuing and not letting him stop her.) He was the second person she met – the chauvinist.

Continuing along her way, she came across a group of women strolling slowly along, walking 5 across and oblivious to anyone else around them. Two of them were pushing strollers, making navigating through them even more challenging (and cyclists flying by in the driving lane made that a case of taking her life into her hands). But with some work, she made it through them. Thus, the third people she met – the stroller (meant in both ways) brigade.

As she continued on, having managed to get past the obnoxious teens, the chauvinist, and the stroller brigade, it wasn’t long until she ran past the older man she’d passed earlier when he was doing what looked like old school calisthenics and who she had seen shuffling along on the inner loop while she was on the outer loop. Now he was sitting on a bench. As she ran by, he said “That’s it. Get those knees up though. High knees.” Apparently he’d coached hurdles or sprinting or something as from her observations, they seem to keep their knees higher than your average bear distance runner. She grinned and said “Thanks” and ran on – in her slow but generally average bear distance runner kind of way. So the fourth person she met on her run was the coach.

And then, as she was getting tired and was getting ready for her run to be over, telling herself to just get through it, a cyclist rode by and shouted “There you go! You’ve got this!” which helped her keep going. And as she passed them yet again, some of the cops she’d passed numerous times said “Looking good there, Boston!” Which made her laugh because as we already said, she was not a fast runner. There was no way she’d ever qualify for Boston on time. If she ever were to run it, it would be through a charity after she hit the lottery as she’d pretty much tapped out her charity donation sources running Chicago the year before. Although she thinks she has sort of committed to running it one time with an author and fellow blogger… And funnily enough, when she was going to physical therapy for plantar fasciitis, she apparently went through her myriad of Boston support shirts while going to her sessions as a couple of the assistants and aides have taken to calling her “Boston” when she’s there. Perhaps she’s finally earned a running nickname – ironic as it may be? But they were the fifth (type of) people she met on her run – the encouragers.

As she did her cool-down and the strength and flexibility workouts her coach has on an app, she contemplated the five (types of) people she met on her run and how they each served a purpose – whether intentional or not.

1) The obnoxious teens just gave her fuel to keep going – she’d show them.
2) The chauvinist gave her a little bit of a fartlek as she moved to get past him and leave him in her dust as soon as possible.
3) The stroller brigade gave her some agility training as she dodged and weaved between them. Good practice for the crowd she knew she’d face at Disney.
4) The coach at least gave her some encouragement and advice – even if she knows she’ll never be a sprinter or a hurdler. One of her training plans has talked about strides as “table manners” and she should be starting those soon, so knees are an important part of that.
5) The encouragers provide just that – encouragement and a sense that she’s doing well, no matter how slow she might be. (And possibly a new nickname?)

All in all, it was a good run and a run filled with learning.

And now the girl has to go and roll her foot on an ice bottle. The plantar fasciitis is mostly gone, but the remnants remain.

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