You may or may not know all about this: it’s certainly a curse for us with the ‘Y’ chromosome, who play off the yellow and not red tees, who belch and pick teeth in public, and who know about the off-side rule.
The damn competitiveness that plagues us from a game of tiddlywinks to Monopoly, to global domination, to, well, running into work on a pleasant Tuesday morning. Ok, so I’m sure that the fairer sex may suffer in a similar vein, but I only see it on my run to work in the hairy beasts amongst us.
Lacing ones’ shoes at a rude hour during the week, knowing that a bit of pain awaits before the very great pleasure of a nice shower and walking to the office all ‘endorphined up’, lies the real prospect that I might have to race another chap.
This chap may actually not even know he’s entered into a battle of wills, lungs, heart, and legs on his run to work. But internally I know he’s challenged me to a dual to a weary conclusion.
Setting off, the first 10 minutes is all about stretching the legs, checking out any aches and pains, making sure any music being played is just the right song and just generally getting along with life this particular morning. This might take me down to London’s Embankment, the towpath on the Thames, and the pleasing vista which is London’s highway to the west end from the SW postcodes. Everything is working; nice.
Which is where it all begins..
Being a regular run commuter, the legs do me ok and generally past most happy joggers. A regular racing diary, however, has added some competitive spirit to my runs. Not good. So hearing the pitter – patter of a faster pair of Asics behind you is like a knee in the kidneys. Painful. This can’t happen!
The legs quicken, but you can’t show this through a pained expression or any form of sweating or wheezing. The heart races a bit and you look for the next set of traffic lights. Can I get there before my pursuer? You’ve seen them over your shoulder; do you let them go, do you quicken just that bit? Or do you stop and pretend to tie your shoe lace up?! And all before 7:30 a.m.
It’s better the other way round. You imagine yourself on the track with Haille in front of you and, with a bit of effort and Sebastian Coe like application, you CAN take them. But subtly, by God us Brits can’t be seen to being competitive with ‘happy jogger’ in such circumstances. You know in the US there’d be some whoopin’ and hollerin’ on the way past, but not us, not whilst happily running to work.
Here are my tips:
- Take as wide a berth as the path will let you
- Zero eye contact. Absolutely none whatsover!
- No slowing down until sure of your victory (not even in cardio arrest..)
- No eye contact (have I said that before?)
- No breaking wind
- Show no mercy
- Have fun and enjoy!
My ‘on your marks get set go’ moment generally happens under Marble Arch by Hyde Park corner. The traffic lights that change as quickly as continental drift collect a serious gaggle of runners waiting to scamper over Hyde Park corner. No eye contact, look relaxed and nonchalent, and peg it over the road like a scalded cat caught weeing in a corner.
On a more serious note, there’s no harm in adding a bit of spice to the morning’s run. This’ll keep you from being a steady plodder. You may or may not be happy with that, but occasionally get the juices and lungs flowing, and you’ll be all the fitter for it. Running to work. Have fun!