Running Observations: You Don’t Know What Other People Are Going Through

When I run into other runners while I’m running, my animal brain seems to kick in with all kinds of nasty, passive-aggressive thoughts. “Ha, I’m faster/better/stronger!”, or “get out of my f*cking way”, or thoughts related to the other person’s body weight…

I know, this sounds horrible, but, even though I’m generally considered a positive, nice, and totally unagressive person, these thoughts somehow pop up from my subconscious for brief moments, before they fade away when I shine my conscious awareness on them.

Why these thoughts arise is a topic for a future post. Today, I wanted to make another point: it’s so easy to make assumptions and judgments about other people, whether based on your own intuition or things you’d heard from others. But, in running, as in life, you have no idea what someone else is like, what they’re going through, and how their current actions might fit into a larger context that you’re not aware of.

Author Ryan Holiday describes a similar concept in an article for The Observer:

“I had been running at the outdoor track at UC Riverside and another runner came up behind me. I could tell he was pacing himself against me, wanting to race. But I was two or three miles in and he had just started, and soon enough, he would quit and I would keep going. It struck me that this was a good metaphor for life. We must know the race we are running and not be distracted just because someone else comes up behind us. We must learn how to keep our own pace.”

Perhaps the guy I’m overtaking did a marathon two days earlier, and this is his relaxed run pace for the day after. Maybe that lady would run the light out of my face because she’s a professional doing interval training and I happen to pass her in her slow section. And that fat guy? He might have weighted a 100 kgs more only a few years ago and his running accomplishment is much more impressive than mine!

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Thoughts courtesy of this run (Strava link).

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