Who are the people you really don’t like running with? I’m sure we can all come up with our own lists of fellow runners with annoying habits that take a little bit of the fun out of our runs from time-to-time. Panters, sweat-sprayers, don’t-wash-the-shirt-enough-guy, one-steppers (who insist on running one step faster than you want to go), blah-blah-blahers. I could go on.
But if you are like me, the worst person of all to run with is the one that’s not even there.
It’s the person we end up having imaginary, contentious conversations with as we go along and not even realize they are dogging us, sapping us of the gentle joys of being alone and running.
Maybe it’s always a specific person, someone who is close to you, but always finds a way to get under your skin. Or someone you just can’t seem to get close enough to– who always has a way to keep distance between you. Or someone who has perpetrated some great injustice upon you. Or one that won’t forgive your trespasses against them.
Or it could be the red Dodge Ram truck that blocked your lane and forced you to miss your exit this morning, the grocery store that didn’t have enough checkout clerks and caused you to be late for a dentist appointment, the person who designed the beverage holder that won’t hold your coffee mug.
The Worst Person To Run With is like an earworm. They show up uninvited and stay as long as you let them. Often they stay with us longer than we realize, just sitting there on our shoulder, repeating the same arguments, whispering the same doubts, pointing out the same mistakes, vexing us.
I am not usually one to rely on music to get me through runs, but listening to almost anything is better than listening to this person over and over again. What’s worse is that running with this imaginary person in your head makes dealing with the real person even harder in real life, because your body feels and remembers the pain of that contentious conversation that never took place. You’ve secretly made The Worst Person To Run With even more oppositional to you with every stride you’ve carried them.
The upcoming holiday season ramps up the volume of so many of our relationships, it’s a natural time to end up taking along The Worst Person to Run With on our precious runs.
So let’s see if we can give our shoulders a rest this season.
Perhaps, like I try to do when I realize what’s happening, you can leave The Worst Person To Run With by the side of the road, and take the rest of your run free from distraction.
And get back to The Best Person To Run With. Yourself.