Fascination with running is hard for some to understand

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 11, 2000

I know that spring has filled the air with pollen and brief snatches of bird song.

I know that in the spring, a young man's thoughts turn to fancy.

I know that running is supposed to be good for your heart, mind and body.

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It's just for the life of me I'll never figure out why all these people run.

My father-in-law, who happens to be a man of medicine, summed up this running craze with an apt observation.

When asked why he, who does watch what he eats (usually as it runs down his shirt) and takes care of his basic requirements of health care with some regularity, does not run, answered, "when I see the first runner smiling as he chugs up a hill in August, then I'll start".

I remember running, vaguely.

It seems that the preferred training method for all we who came about in the late 60's and early 70's had nothing to do with resistance and metabolic burn and all these aerobic impact methods; no, coaches during that era just tried to run you to death.

I personally felt that all of us who tipped the scales at over 20 stones (just trying to liven it up with British humor) should not be punished by being forced to run with the whippets (it's that English thing again); rather, they should have about 50 pounds strapped to their back and made to keep up with us.

Where this is all coming from is a drive across town in which I was amazed by all the folks out running.

What amazed me even more was that they ran on the edge of the street, into traffic, with the sure knowledge that everyone would dodge them.

As best I can tell, a 4000 pound Chevrolet still has the right of way over a 200-plus pound guy, regardless of how hard he's panting.

My doctor is by now reading this and planning some very severe tests that have the word "invasive" in them.

But there's another reason I don't run, and that's so I won't create chaos.

Chaos, you ask?

Think about it.

Someone sees me running.

They know the only reason I would run would be because something is chasing me.

Something big enough to make me run must be pretty big, so this guy figures he should run from it too.

Next person wonders what goes on, joins in.

Pretty soon it looks like the Pied Piper heading down the streets, all running in fear from who knows what.

Naw, the chaos doesn't bother me.

I just don't want that many people to see me run into the ice cream shop after my run.