Thursday, November 28, 2013

Questions That Can't Be Answered

I know that as a running evangelist, my job is to let everyone know all the benefits of running. How running can improve your health. Make you live longer. Think clearer. Feel better. Relieve stress. Help you process the answers to all life's difficult questions.

But sometimes you finish a run feeling a bit unsatisfied.

Maybe your body hadn't recovered from the last run and it felt harder than it should have. Maybe the stresses that you were trying to let go of were still there when you got home. Or maybe the run threw up questions that you just couldn't answer and you were left brooding on them fruitlessly.

That was my run yesterday. Eleven kilometres of pondering the unanswerable. Mysteries that will never be solved.

The first was some very strange road kill. At first I thought it was just a flattened toad. But a toad doesn't have the tail of an Eastern Water Dragon. I wondered for a moment if I'd stumbled upon a genetic experiment gone terribly wrong. After all, I was heading towards the university and heaven knows what those students dream up after a night of alcohol and hallucinogens while watching vintage Danish films about giant reptiles spitting deadly green slime that causes an agonising death. (I kid you not. Check this out)

But reason had me think of a more plausible explanation. It was probably a turf war, fight-to-the-death between a toad and the water dragon. Water dragon munches down on toad not realising that the slimy stuff that burst into his mouth was actually poison. Toad is mortally wounded but the water dragon is too and in its death throes it stumbles onto the road, toad still in mouth, into the path of an early-morning peloton which fuses the two combatants together in death.

And that, people, is why we all should be kind to one another. Fighting can only lead to bad things - like being locked together in an eternal embrace on the side of the road with your mortal enemy.

I ran on, still wondering what can only truly be answered by the leader of the peloton or CCTV footage and an autopsy. Running at 5am after a disturbed night's sleep doesn't make for clarity of thinking. Luckily I was distracted after four more kilometres by another question that will never be answered.

I couldn't help but wonder what was written on the reams of paper carried by a fellow runner yesterday. And I'm not just talking about someone who's dressed like they're going to work and running like they'll miss the bus. I'm talking about someone who's dressed to run - running shoes and cap, tech shirt and running shorts. A person dressed like that generally doesn't carry anything except maybe a water bottle.

The man in question was carrying a good handful of pages. Probably at least 32. Why such an odd number? Because I guesstimated the approximate thickness of the wad he was carrying and when I got home I counted out the number of pages from a similar sized wad. Obviously!

The pages were all covered in typed words. Well maybe not all the pages. Maybe some in the centre were blank like the money I'll use to pay Iven's ransom in the event that he's ever kidnapped. But certainly the pages I could see were covered.

I really needed to know what was on those pages. Not just because I love to read. But more because I am an unashamed sticky-beak.

The thing I'd most like to be written on those sheets were the same three words over and over again. Left, right, left, right, breathe. Left, right, left, right, breathe.

So the next question is how many kilometres of running can you fit on 32 A4 pages?

I'm not even going to mention running past the toilet-shaped hollow in the side of the track where my miraculous, answer-to-prayer was nestled last week.

I got home from my run mentally exhausted and strangely unsettled.

Sometimes running isn't the answer - it's the question.


  1. LOL Fun post. All I can think off is that he's some kind of writer and maybe brought part of his manuscript to get inspired during the run and be able to look something up? :)

  2. Haha! I've seen some strange road kill as well! I also wonder about the weirdest things sometimes and find this is when my running is actually going well. Have a good weekend!

  3. I bet he was doing NaNoWriMo and trying to get some final inspiration to carry him through til the end of the month!

  4. Ha! When I ran today I listened to a podcast, so only a few thoughts of my own got through - maybe you should take an MP3 player next time?!

  5. I am with Liz, the MP3 player is a very good idea.
    However I am unsatisfied when I don't finish or I skip a run!

  6. Okay now I want to know what was on those pages. I usually listen to podcasts too unless I am running with a friend.

  7. I can't stand carrying anything when I run - water, iPod, Gu - only gloves in the cold. Maybe he's doing research on how many people around the world he can get to comment on running with reading material in hand? :D

  8. Hahaha...Or perhaps his iPod broke, but he wanted to get to the end of the story?

  9. Oh very funny.... I have those kinds of thoughts in bed at night. Am plagued by questions and obsessed with all kinds of crap!

    I love that your mind keeps occupied during your runs though. I think I'd daydream.

  10. I think it must come with our runner's personality - obsessive thinking. We come up with the weirdest stuff :)


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