Ron Marinucci April, 2023 Column - Running: The Same, Yet Different.
by Ron Marinucci, Apr. 2, 2023
“It’s all relative.” How often we hear that from folks. Although it’s likely true in many walks of life, don’t you find that is so with much of our running?
I’ve written about this topic, “relativity,” more than once over the years, namely Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. Once or twice, it’s been the physics angle of it, but other times I’ve tackled it in politics, the weather, history, and, yes, even running? Einstein’s theory of relativity and running?
Oddly perhaps, the special theory is a bit simpler than Einstein’s better known general theory of relativity--think E=MC2. Special relativity has to do with frames of reference, with perspective, things like speed, time, and location.
I well recall Professor Romer’s class in physics at Amherst College, more than 50 years ago. It was there I was introduced to Einstein’s special theory (as well as to lasers and cathode ray tubes, that is, old-time television screens; we built both).
By the way, Professor Romer was a runner and has several Boston Marathons under his belt, including the 100 th . For his 50th birthday, he ran the Echo Valley Marathon, one he created. It consisted of 105 laps around the quarter-mile cul de sac where he lived. Ha! He beat you to it! “It was stupid,” he wrote to me then. It may or may not have been “stupid,” but I can assure you Professor Romer is not. He was one of my very best teachers. His essay on how to prepare a lesson plan should be required reading for every teacher, new and old, physics or any discipline. Since retiring from teaching, he’s also written a couple of books—history books!
Back to relativity, that is, frames of reference, and running. Consider our daily or weekly efforts, often the same runs on the same routes or courses. How often do they produce very different results? The run can be wonderful one day and rotten the next. Frames of reference! Heat and humidity or cold and snow. Rain and wind. Rest. Age. In a sense, though, this is one of the attractive things about running. It’s always different, even when it’s the same.
The other day, after an up-and-down winter of running—no injuries or illnesses, just up-and-down—I strung together three really good runs on consecutive days. They were about five or six miles each. I felt pretty good about them. Then I thought, hmmmmm….. “Fifteen or sixteen miles in three days?” It seems not too long ago that was my normal or at least usual Sunday run, fourteen or fifteen miles. What happened? Here Einstein, likely unknowingly, helped me out. Perspective, Ron, perspective.
I don’t know if this is related or not. Perhaps it is. A guy who doesn’t run threw out the old canard on why he doesn’t run. No, it wasn’t “I have bad knees.” Instead he claimed, “It’s boring.” Huh? “Boring?” That’s one word I’d never use with running. I’ve never understood that reasoning. As Einstein has just informed us, even the same runs are different.
Running solo, I find it frightening that somebody can be bored with his/her own thoughts. The whole universe is open to our thinking while we run. It’s not unusual for me to have so many ideas that I forget most of them by the time I arrive home. How many good (Well, I thought at the time they were good!) ideas for columns, lessons, articles, e mails, and even blogs have I left out on the roads or trails?
How can running with others be boring? Regardless of my partners of the day, we always have something to say. Sometimes we talk family, especially kids and grandkids. Sometimes it’s sports or, rarely, politics. We often delve into the years of our youth, “the good old days.” We reminisce about past races or other runners. Once in a while we come up with plans to save the world. One time, bouncing back from minor surgery, one of my running friends admitted when we started up again, “I really missed our conversations” when she was laid up, recovering.
Maybe other people mistake discomfort for boredom. I don’t know. Sure, some runs are tough and we might want them to be over sooner rather than later. Workouts can be hard; they can even hurt. That doesn’t make them boring. In fact, we can learn from and treasure any and all of our runs.