People keep telling me I should join a running group.
And it’s a reasonable question. I come from a town of running groups. I do live in a town that produced an Olympic champion. Steve Moneghetti still lives in Ballarat, and he still runs in groups, around Lake Wendouree at impossible speeds, with men half his age desperately panting as the try to keep up, dozen of times at a time.
We have the Tann clan, which is nothing to do with the run around the Botanical Gardens, but more to do with a man who has been doing it for so long that people have had tattoos placed on calves in dedication.
We have the Ballarat Harriers, which claims to be Australia’s oldest sporting group, dating back to 1891 – which doesn’t quite make sense to me when Melbourne Football Club was founded in 1859 – but regardless, is a bloody long time. We have the Lazy Runners and we have the Ballarat Tri Group, and probably another half dozen that I don’t know about.
With so many groups on hand, people keeping asking, why I don’t join? I’ve been strongly advised that I should. After all, I’m a sociable being, I like people and I’m unconsciously competitive.
Sounds perfect, right?
But I never will.
* * * * *
I have trouble enacting meditation and mindfulness in my life, despite my awareness of how good it is for my blood pressure, my longevity, and my cellular health. I know that I really should sit or lie for a number of minutes a day, emptying my mind. I know that this is a really powerful way to de-stress.
I’m just not that good at it.
So, instead I run. Or more accurately, I plod. And I like to do it solo.
This is my meditation.
I do it in my daggy old top from the 2005 Melbourne Half Marathon, my daggy old 2XU shorts, my daggy old running socks, and my old Brooks runners. If it warms up, I might lash out and wear a singlet, if it gets a bit nippy, I’ll go the longsleeve. In the depths of winter, I’ll throw on running tights, waterproofing layers, gloves and a Richard Simmons-style headband for extra status.
I do the same lap of the Lake, from the same starting point, in the same anti-clockwise manner, to the same final post, each and every time. 6km in total. Sometimes 12km or 18km, if I’m getting ready for the Melbourne Half Marathon, but generally just six. I’ll clock it on my watch, to log on a site that I’ll never revisit.
I smile at the people I pass, but I talk to no one. This is rare, pure, unadulterated alone time.
I exercise in ultimate, repetitive, solo dagdom.
And I love it.