The Sin­glet

Be­cause run­ning isn’t just about string vests.

Runner's World South Africa - - Human Race -

EX­HI­BI­TION­IST Can I take my shirt off on a group run, even though the weather isn’t that hot yet? – SHANE, DUR­BANVILLE

Why do you want to take your shirt off, if it’s not that hot yet? Do you suf­fer from a gen­uine med­i­cal con­di­tion such as Uhthoff’s phe­nom­e­non, which causes your body to over­heat? Are you run­ning in the moun­tains, or through the cen­tre of town? Are your nip­ples so ma­jes­tic that the rest of the world needs to wit­ness their glory? Do you have a tat­too of a flat­u­lent dragon on your back that you want to take for a test flight?

Deep down, you know the an­swers. For the most part, tak­ing your shirt off is un­nec­es­sary. To­day’s run­ning gar­ments are light, mois­ture-wick­ing, and de­signed to keep you as dry as pos­si­ble, with­out weigh­ing you down. And be­sides, it’s not even a good idea in very hot con­di­tions, be­cause you’ll ex­pose your­self to harm­ful rays; and in win­ter, the sweat on your skin can get cold quickly. So, I’ll ask you again: why do you re­ally want to take your shirt off?

SPEAK TO THE WIND When I meet run­ners, they always ask me about pace, mileage and PBs, but I don’t want to talk num­bers. How can I re­spond with­out be­ing rude? – JOAN, EAST LON­DON

One of my favourite In­sta­gram ac­counts is a bloke called @ul­tra­ro­mance. He’s a vagabond cy­clist who criss­crosses the USA with a rag­tag bunch of cy­cling hip­pies, rid­ing through beau­ti­ful land­scapes and ba­si­cally liv­ing free of most of the struc­tures the rest of us are en­cum­bered with.

A cy­cling holy man – think Eddy Mer­ckx, spliced with Hansel from Zoolan­der – this guy rides for the sheer joy of it. Ask him about pace, mileage and PBs, and he’ll prob­a­bly re­spond with: “I spoke to the east wind this morn­ing, flew on the wings of a Pel’s Fish­ing Owl; and yes, I love peanut but­ter, my child – prob­a­bly too much.”

My point: you don’t have to go to the ex­treme of aban­don­ing your fam­ily to tra­verse SA like the run­ning equiv­a­lent of @ul­tra­ro­mance, in or­der to un­sub­scribe from the PBs, pace and mileage gang. If you run for dif­fer­ent rea­sons, talk about those when peo­ple ask you inane ques­tions about stats and times. If they think it’s rude, then see how they like be­ing show­ered with ran­dom, com­pet­i­tive, non­sen­si­cal ques­tions.

“I spoke to the east wind this morn­ing, flew on the wings of a Pel’s Fish­ing Owl…”

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