micke-midlife on March 14th, 2010

13032010023This is a story worth telling. First I need to introduce the protagonists. Ari, the running buddy I met a almost two months ago is playing here a connector role. Then Heikki, the fast guy running in the picture above. As you can see, he’s way too fast for the camera when running his 3650m on the Cooper test. Then there’s a senior runner in a red T-shirt, my guess is, it’s Heikki’s dad. And then apparently one more running guy whom I didn’t meet.

The story goes like this. I arrive later than normal at the Esport Arena, the local indoor 400m running track. Had a meeting at work that ran into overtime. Since I anticipated it’ll be later that day, I didn’t arrange anything with Ari, we ran the faster stuff together lately (and he always had some encouraging words since the runs didn’t work out as they were intended to). But he was around anyway, doing some runs with another chap. When they had a rest, Ari came around and asked me, “hei, are you going for another attempt at the 2 x 6km intervals?”. Me: “Jepp, need to see where I am compared to last week, are we going somewhere here in the quest to overcome the iron deficiency or not”. Ari wanted to join in on the first one and also convinced the other guy to do so. 5 mins later - I was warmed up already - off we went on a cozy 3:45min/km pace.

There wasn’t much time/breath left to chat any further. AriĀ  entertained us and the runner’s otherwise on the track by encouraging to join in. A more senior runner in a red T-shirt did so for some 400m stretches. Quite funny, 5mins earlier I just said I’d do some interval runs and suddenly I had no clue who half the crowd was that was part of the runs. Ari had to leave after about 3 k, had to be home to look after the kids. I did 4,5k on the first effort, the low iron levels are still setting limits. The young guy continued. The guy in the red t-shirt came around and asked from where I’d know Heikki. “Heikki?, Who’s Heikki?” I replied. Well, I got explained, that it’s the young guy still running the 6k effort to its end. I explained that I know Ari, since we had run intervals earlier on together.

When Heikki had finished, the last km in 3:35min or so, he came around as well, he apparently knew my name and a bit who I was. On the other hand he didn’t know who Ari was… I was slightly puzzled, Ari ran with Heikki when I arrived. Apparently there was another guy involved who made the connection between Ari and Heikki and left before I arrived.

This is a rather interesting phenomenon. Normally connections aren’t that quickly made around here (in Finland or Northern Europe in general). Runners don’t really greet when they meet on runs outdoors, rather everyone is listening to his/her own music and ignoring the environment. But here indoors, in a confined space, where it’s easy to see what (= e.g. what kind of runs) others are doing, it seems to be a different thing. My guess is that the element of friendly competition, i.e. not being alone on an interval training, getting a boost from someone being part of the training and the inherent question of “could I keep up with him/her” is driving this difference in behaviour. I like it, running is a lot more fun that way.

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