As a runner, there’s a dilemma I always face: run away from the world or run in the middle of it.
It seems like a fairly straightforward issue. Everyone has their own preferences.
So let’s jump right into the meat of it. I’m slightly neurotic, and I can find things to worry about. It’s common for people to think while running, and I do. I just happen to think about unpleasant things a fair amount of the time.
Among the many things I think about while running, why is that asshole running so much more easily than me, why do I see so many cops this early in the morning when there’s no one around, why did I eat that for breakfast, if I throw up now can I still finish my run, and nope, if I throw up, that’s it for this run.
Now these neuroses also show up when I’m making my running choices.
Running Wild (see what I did there?)
My prime goal when I’m running away from the world is to do just that: get away from the world. I don’t like people watching me run. Win or lose in a run, I don’t want a crowd.
People are weird. They yell things, drive too close, and just act in all around obnoxious ways at times.
I’m glad I’m a guy because I can only imagine how bad it is for women. I’ve had people yell things at me a few times over the years, and I hated it. I have friends who say they have people yell something every time. That’s just messed up.
I’m a shy introvert. I want no part of the attention, positive or negative.
There’s also the issue of people getting in the way and you getting in the way of people.
When I run alone, I don’t have to worry about other joggers who are very clearly doing a better job of maintaining their pace, and I can’t help but feel a bit in the way when I’m walking and literally getting in the way.
Now more worrisome is getting in the way of a car. People don’t pay enough attention, even when you’re wearing bright neon running gear.
I become a twitchy little jackrabbit when it comes time to cross a street and there are any cars in the vicinity. I don’t feel like being roadkill.
And let’s not forget about the people getting in the way of me as a runner. I had people who waddle in groups taking up the entire path. I’m clearly wheezing loud enough to be heard, but they never seem to get the memo to scooch to the side for two seconds.
So when I’m running in a more nature-oriented area, I’m getting away from people. It’s just me and my running.
But it’s never that simple is it?
The City Slicker
When you’re running out in the middle of nowhere, people don’t yell at you. They also don’t hear when you yell, whether it’s because you found the body or you’re at risk of becoming the body another jogger finds.
Running by yourself can be straight up creepy at times. I lived in Gainesville, Florida, for a few years, and in the middle of UF, there were gators (and not the kind the kind wearing nikes). My preferred path for getting away from people circled a lake that had sizeable gators. Luckily, I only saw one while running, though it was only about three feet from the sidewalk.
There’s one stretch that went right next to some vegetation that you can’t see a foot into. And where you can see, there are paths gators traverse. I was always prepared to take an awkward flee into the road in case something wandered into the path looking for a tired jogger.
So I’m a touch paranoid about running in the wilderness. I don’t want to be the person who steps on a rattlesnake or gets eaten by a bear. And we’re not going to mention the possibility of running into people in the woods.
I like to think, for better or worse. Running helps me not think (mostly because I’m too freaking tired to think). These thoughts tend to disappear (mostly) when I’m running, but they’re still there.