I’m back running 5 days a week now, in my usual, make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach to training for a new event. This time it’s the Glen of Aherlow Loop the Loop Ultra Trail Run on September 19—except I’m leaving out the “ultra” bit and doing just one loop of the trail run. You would think that a 13.1 mile mountain run with an elevation of 1,369 feet would provide enough distraction for a complete trail-running neophyte, but it hasn’t stopped me noticing things that are utterly unrelated to running. Like saying hello.
I headed out on a 5-mile run last week because it was half way through the week and I planned doing a 10-mile run on the Friday, so I figured going for a run half my longest distance midway through the week was a scientific enough training programme for me. I also wanted to clear my head because I was feeling cranky. I was still feeling cross after the run—partly due to general age-related grumpiness, but partly because I greeted two people on my way around, and neither of them even grunted a reply.
Now, I am not a remarkably sociable person (in fact, that is one of the reasons I like running), and I don’t say hello to every passerby if I’m somewhere busy, but I do think there are far too many of us on this planet to behave as if we lived in our own little worlds. A meeting of eyes and a mumbled “‘Morning”is not going to damage your psyche.
I have been considering whether I am being unreasonable and whether it is presumptuous of me to expect somebody to respond when I squeak out a hello as I lumber past them. Maybe I am. Maybe I should just jam my headphones in and keep my head down. But maybe our shared humanity is just too precious a link to avert your eyes or stare blankly when somebody makes a brief appearance in your world. We’ve seen too much of that lately.
Don’t worry: To any fellow world citizens who wish to avoid my grating greetings, you won’t have to fling yourselves into an accommodating bush; just don’t make eye contact and you’ll be quite safe. I’ll pound past, and my red face won’t be because I’m cross but because I’m starting to discover far too late just how tough training for a trail run can be.