Streets are like pubs, when you visit them often enough, you become a regular. In both cases, it’s a bit scary and worrying for your health (if you run that much you should start worrying for your mental health). And being a regular yourself, you start knowing the other regulars.
Most mornings of week days, I cross paths with the Polite Runner. I don’t know him personally, but I know I’ll see him on the Thames Path sometimes around 6:40am on my training days. I usually see his headlamp from afar (it’s still dark this time of the year). It’s a good thing I always cross him when I’m either warming up or on an easy run, because I still have full breathing capacity when he says ‘morning’, so I can pretend I’m polite too and reply ‘morning’ without choking.
There’s also the Beefy Lady who’s training almost every morning with her coach. I’ve never seen her run, but she’s got heavy-looking dumbbells and she does pretty hard exercises. I like to think that she’s a weightlifter or that she has a strength act in a circus.
There’s often a very tall and strong guy who’s always wearing a bright yellow hi-vis shirt. I imagine him as one of these hated “lycra” cyclists going to his City job (or more likely Canary Wharf) as Senior Bullshit Manager or as Director of Bollocks. Shit, I’m almost describing myself, except I’m not as tall and strong as he is, and I’m rollerblading rather than cycling. So hopefully I’m not as much a bullshitter as he is.
In a pub, you also meet the occasional patrons. It’s the same thing in the street. Once, there was this dad telling his little girl: “look how fast the man runs” while I was running intervals. Great way to give you a boost!
I also remember this walker-by who didn’t look like much, but who gave me one of my biggest confidence boost. It was back in the day, when I was still running heel-strike and I hated running. I must have looked like I was suffering a lot (which was clearly the case) because when I passed him, he told me in a calm and soothing voice: “You’re doing well, you’re doing well”. And this gave me the willpower to finish my run despite the suffering. Kind Mystery Man, if you read me, thank you.
More recently, I met a not-so-polite driver. This twat came out of his alleyway too fast, nearly hit me, and started cursing at me although I was the one who stopped to avoid the tragedy. I innocently said hello with a two finger salute, I don’t know why but he seemed upset. The poor sod went berserk and tried to drive after me but never managed to catch me despite his frenetic accelerating and braking whilst bumping in the curb. I just ignored the idiot and went my way. Luckily, I met the Polite Runner just a minute after, we exchanged our short greetings and it was enough to make me forget the sad episode I’d just lived.
What about you? Do you meet quirky regulars on your runs?