From childhood we are being taught that running is all about competition. Teachers, coaches, parents… they imposed quantity to our relation to running, because they didn’t know better. For them even recreational running always lead to something. A goal, a certain time, a result.
We still have to fight against this conception. When I see a runner in front of me the idea of overtaking him immediately arises in my head. Why? Of course it’s to feed the ego, to give my ego more value. To prove myself. Doesn’t matter if it’s an old and slow man. My ego is still proud when I overtake him. So many times I have done this.
Now I watch this idea pop-up in my mind and keep my own pace, not caring about overtaking other runners, or being overtaken for that matter. I just want to enjoy the gentle flow, the lightness, the moment, this step, and this, with my shoulders down, relaxed, shin straight forward, open chest, tip-toeing in an enjoyable rhythm that I can keep for a long, long time. Feeling the warm wind between my fingers, watching the pinkish clouds just before sunset. Not looking at the clock, not caring about when I arrive. Just running.
A little bit later I overtake another runner. But then he speeds up, running just in front of me, turning his head, getting all worked-up about the race-situation. However I’m not racing. I just keep the same speed, the gentle flow. Light feet. Erect body, relaxed shoulders, letting them hang on my spine. I don’t need to hold them up. The man, who could need some advise on relaxed running, excuses himself, telling “that’s my house”. “It’s OK” I tell him and continue ahead alone.
My competitive mind soon falls on a woman on a bicycle. If I was racing I could overtake her. But I’m not. I have to let her go but my mind won’t let me. It keeps measuring the distance between me and the biker. I answer my ego that “I’m just having a relaxed evening run and that I’m going to keep it relaxed. Just doing my own running. Relax!”