IF YOU LIKE TO RUN SOLO OR THINK IT'S WEIRD, READ “The Lovely Loneliness of the Solitary Run: for some, like me, the alone time is one of distance running’s attractions” by Jonathan Beverly for RunnersWorld.com. Beverly describes the pleasures and benefits to be derived from running alone, without the distractions of conversation and even music or other electronic entertainment. He is careful to provide evidence that he is NOT anti-social and that much of his running life involves interactions with other runners.
His piece gives readers a look into earlier days when relatively few people wanted to spend extended time running on trails or roads. Endurance running was a small and mostly a solitary sport back then. Social media had not yet lead to the creation of ‘tribes’ and clubs of enthusiasts, mass events, and the public sharing of experiences and accomplishments. This earlier solitary environment is the one in which I and many others took up running decades ago. Although the group-joy mentality seems to dominate today’s running world, many future runners may turn to solo experiences out of necessity that then becomes preference.
The topic is introduced with a referral to the 1959 short story written by Alan Sillitoe, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. “It’s a treat, being a long-distance runner, out in the world by yourself with not a soul to make you bad-tempered or tell you what to do”, says Smith, a fictional juvenile delinquent. He is allowed to run each morning while serving a sentence at a reform school in poor northern England (see end note for more of the story*). This athletically-gifted but imprisoned teenage character authenticates the feeling of escape that can arise during solo runs, even when serving true prison time is not an issue!
Beverly’s article shines a favorable light on the under-appreciated historical dimension of endurance running that is overshadowed by its modern, popular, brighter, and sociable side. Rather than being apologetic or defensive of loners he encourages “you are NOT alone”, and affirms that “OUR TRIBE dates back to before the first running boom” (I added the upper case emphasis). He reassures us that “We are not outcasts. We’ve chosen this loneliness, and it defines and enriches us”.
There’s room for all types of runners in our sport; it’s wonderful in that way. Earned Runs was created to help runners compete personally, without having to depend on an organization’s sponsorship of a formal event. The Earned Runs free race bibs are perfect for single runners as well as small groups. As Jonathon Beverly indicates, lone runners are not alone.
*[The ‘governor’ of the school hopes that Smith can help win a meet against a prestigious rival school, and offers him a lighter work-load and the ability to train. The story ends in a way that provides comment on serious societal issues in post-war Britain and highlights the independent and stubborn nature of the young runner.]
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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