Friday, 11 June 2010

The Laws of Running

Running, just like physics, is governed by a set of unchangeable, and to the uninitiated sometimes inexplicable, mathematical equations.  Just like Einstein’s e=mc2 and Newton’s F=ma define certain traits of the physical world, the Running Tribe is similarly described by a set of lesser known, but equally relevant, equations.

Take for instance a runner’s fascination with a goody bag.  To non-runners it may seem completely irrational and even slightly juvenile to squeal with delight upon revealing bubble bath and cooking oil samples from a branded bag.  What makes this phenomenon even more illogical is that most of these items would not even have attracted a second glace if it were handed out at a busy intersection.  But, just like the unchangeable laws of gravity and forward motion, all runners’ brains have been pre-programmed with an internal mathematical equation (very similar to Einstein’s e=mc2) regarding goody bags: e=m2c, where e = the excitement of a runner, m = the mass of the goody bag and c = the content of the goody bag.  A runner’s excitement is therefore equal to the product of the square of the mass and the content of a goody bag.  The heavier the bag; the greater the anticipation and therefore the happier the runner.  The more goodies in the bag; the bigger the smile.  From this follows that a heavy goody bag containing a multitude of articles equals complete runner’s bliss.

A second runner’s ritual governed by an intriguing internal mathematical law is the process of shopping for running-related goods.  Especially if this occurs within the confines of the ultimate runner’s happy place: A speciality running store.  The law is simple: t=(x+y+z)-r, where t = the time spent shopping; x = the number of drool-worthy running gadgets, garments and gizmos on display; y = the number of good reasons you can come up with for buying yet another pair of neutrally cushioned L R running socks; z = the number of upcoming races for which entry forms are displayed on the check-out counter; and, lastly, r = the presence of your eye-rolling, yawning, non-running spouse.  From this follows that even the ultimate self-confessed-mall-avoiding runner, who is known to have, on occasion, listed grocery shopping as one of his/her ten least favourite things to do, will spend hours blissfully browsing around a well-stocked running shop in the absence of his/her non-running partner.  Note that the amount of money available to the runner for satisfying the urge to buy all things running related has absolutely no impact whatsoever on this equation.  Neither does proceeding to the actual deed of purchasing an item.  Every hour spent doodling about aimlessly in a running store can be recorded as time well spent.

Two last laws that deserve being mentioned here are the ones governing a runner’s perception of time and temperature.  Or rather, a runner’s inability to accurately perceive these two concepts.  Take, for example, the silly grin on a frozen-to-the-bone runner’s face upon returning from a 5:00 a.m. winter’s morning run.  No degree of nose freeze or numb fingers can dampen the delight.  It is therefore no surprise that the laws defining these phenomena are defined as: A runner’s delight is inversely proportional to an increase in environmental temperature; and a runner’s delight is not in any way related to the time of day.  It’s that simple.

And so our brains have been pre-programmed with a myriad more running related mathematical laws.  Very few of them can be explained through common logic.  Some even reason that they’re the result of too many hours spent running in the scorching sun.  So if, in future, you’re cornered by a non-running friend about some illogical running-related mannerism, just smile knowingly and keep on enjoying the race.

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