I am very fortunate to live in a beautiful spot in Oxfordshire. I have fabulous access to motorways and A roads, which allow me to travel around the country quickly. Many of the routes to these major roads are windy country lanes. What I mean by country lanes are roads which often have large pots holes, are only just wide enough for two cars at best, do not have white lines and do not have much traffic on them. It is on these country lanes I do the majority of my running.
It is idillic! A lot of the time my only company is the distant sound of sheep bleating or birds tweeting. I’ve discovered many beautiful places I would never have known existed if it wasn’t for my running. I love it.
On the rare occasions I am accompanied, it’s often not a nice experience. Here is why:
Early mornings on Saturday or Sunday are popular times to partake in some form of exercise in the fresh air. It is when many people do their long run or cycle ride. I prefer to get my long run done first thing on a Sunday morning. The roads have very little motor traffic and it leaves the rest of the day free for family time. It is when I have the most interaction with humans on my running routes.
The people out on their bikes or running, probably have the same goal in mind as I do – do their exercise and get home – you would think it would be a sociable time. Time and time again I have been proved wrong. OK some people do not want to say good morning, that’s fine. I do not have an issue with that. The people I have an issue with are the rude, elitist cyclists. They often ride in packs, side by side, taking up a vast part of the lane. Rarely are my greetings returned and I have often heard rude remarks coming from individuals in the packs! Sorry do you own the road? Is cycling the only form of exercise acceptable to you? I do not remark about your arse hanging over the sides of your saddle, so what makes it ok for you to comment on the colour of my face?
I know I’m not quick. I don’t look like a runner. My face goes bright red and I sweat a lot – but I’m out there running despite all of it. I’m facing my fears, raising money and awareness for Blue Skye Thinking and becoming fitter and healthier because of it. If you feel the need to stroke your ego, you go ahead.
Cyclist are not the only egos I’ve encountered on my recent runs. I was almost knocked down a few weeks back by a car who couldn’t possibly move into the middle of the road slightly to allow me space to fulfil my equal right to move on the road. It’s crazy! How would he have felt if he had knocked me down? Did he not think for a brief second that I might have a family, friends and future?
People do not think though do they? They are so wrapped up in their own need to get to their destination now, they forget to enjoy the journey. They forget to look around themselves and see the beauty in every precious moment! People see a meer runner and dismiss them as an annoyance. They judge without knowing. Would they have more respect if they knew the background?
If only there were less judgemental egos in the world. If only people thought of others instead of trying to get to their destination 5 seconds quicker. There would be less stress, less anxiety, less depression, less accidents. See when you judge someone, you will be judge with the same measure. It has taken me years to realise this. If I judge someone, the chances are I will spend a lot of my time worrying what other people are thinking about me. If I try and approach people with love and openness, then their reaction to me will be the same – or at least I won’t be worried about it because I will be happy with me. It is definitely worth experimenting, don’t you think?
If you ever drive on country lanes, I urge you to slow down. Country lanes have witnessed the most fatal and serious accidents of all the roads. Country roads do not have footpaths, street lights and road markings. They have blind bends and often narrow without warning. This is without the different species who move along them. Trucks, tractors, bikes, walkers, horses, dogs, cyclists and runners – you get the picture.