The other day some emo kid yelled “I like your shoes” as I flashed past in my neon green kicks. I am accustomed to being yelled at while I run, especially when I’m sporting my skimpiest split shorts and no shirt. It seems to be a favourite pastime of the boozed and brazen youth of the student ghetto. Runners endure cries of “who are you running from?”, “nice tights”, “who wears short shorts” and “run Forest, run” (my middle name, so this one has special significance) on a daily basis. These are among the less obnoxious comments runners receive.
Most of the time, I smile and laugh inwardly, feeling smug about my superior self-discipline and athletic ability; I am running and they are not. Naturally, I assume that all non-runners are secretly envious of runners. Their insecurity is laid bare by their outburst. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly sharp, I’ll come up with a witty retort (Who am I running from? “YO MOMMA!”).
Recently, as I was running through the student ghetto, a guy yelled “life’s too short to run”. At the time I found this quite unremarkable, but a couple days later, it hit me. Somehow this was different than the countless comments I have received in the past. While others were crude and unoriginal, this was nothing short of philosophical. I can safely say that I have never heard existential advice hollered from across the street.
This guy had a point. Running takes up a lot of time, something that university students are notoriously short on.
Among my many misguided academic decisions, I once took an economics course. I have vague memories of sideways graphs and something called “opportunity cost”. The opportunity cost of going for a run is the time you lose during which you could have accomplished something else. By this measure, a run might cost two-thirds of a physics assignment, tea with a friend, a few chapters of a book or a nap. But this is an incomplete picture. Never mind what I lose by running, what do I gain? Keeping within the parlance of economics, running is an investment. By running, I am investing in improving my frame of mind, my health and fitness, my productivity and my self-awareness. All for the bargain price of a small sum of minutes and some occasional discomfort. Given the unparalleled returns, who could afford not to run? Ok, enough with the economics.
If I could return to the instant he shouted at me, I would stop and correct him. I would tell him that I agree with him—life is too short—but his conclusion is all wrong. Life is far too short not to run.