This evening I was walking/running around Norman for my weekly 10-miler, and as usual, I marvel at the number of people who do the same thing. Some are crazier, running at sunrise or at peak heating. I've watched a few runners run around the same parking lot over and over again. Others (like me) take a different path each time.
But it got me to thinking tonight. What do I think about while spending so much time essentially "running around"? Some bring the iPods with them; others are more "old school" with their headphones. I watched one tonight running briskly while talking on the cell phone. I'm sure the "other end" had trouble discerning the words, since there was a very audible gasp with each step. People like to distract themselves as they run, maybe to call attention away from the strain on the body or to stop thinking about things. I, however, am the opposite. I don't own headphones or iPods, don't even know what it feels like to be running and talking on the cell at the same time. I run to think.
Mostly, I run to think about a plan of action for something work-related. If people have seen me in the National Weather Center walking around in circles, that's a brainstorming session. Sometimes, though rarely these days, I vent my frustrations with others or seek a "distracting conversation" only to be secretly scheming ideas in my head. Whatever the case, baby, I was born to run.
Usually, for my weekly "long dash", my thinking doesn't involve work. This week, for example, I thought about some of the political news that was occurring this past week. How the "birthers" topic won't go away and how I can't interpret it any other way than racism. How Bachmann can be in Congress. How the Gates debacle became a debacle. How lobbyists may be beneficial in the health care debate. How Rachel Maddow so impressively slammed Rick Perry in her show. And soon, the ten miles were done. I didn't even remember my entire route (and, obviously, ten miles is an approximation, though a little work with my GPS this evening indicates that I ran 9.6 miles).
I'm fairly certain that listening to music would not distract me from the fact that I'm running ten miles. Because I know the music I listen to so well, I could theoretically estimate where I should be by the end of the song. That would get on my nerves.
Sometimes, people run by me without music technology in tow. I wonder if these people are in deep thought as they "run around". Wouldn't you have to be?
Sometimes I people watch. I noticed a group of soccer players near the tennis courts tonight, and laughed when two players from opposing teams were arguing over a potentially unnecessary kick to the shins. I noticed a remarkably large number of archaic vehicles on Asp Avenue. I watched a sand volleyball player with a wicked digging capability. I saw that Which Wich was empty once again.
Running is an escape, really, and it's great for you. It's a little hard on my legs these days, noticeably harder than in years past. The unpleasant fifteen minutes after completion is enough to drive people away from doing it again. But, it gives me time to think critically about things that I may otherwise never explore. It allows me to see glimpses of other people in a similar world. Running is good for you physically, but it can be great for you mentally, too.
Follow-up to "Dangerously Dumb People" on Friday: Interesting NY Times piece on the birther rebirth this past week. In it, MSNBC's president says that the birther movement is racist, an opinion with which I agree.