Today, as I was running a preplanned and mapped out 6 mile run, I was contemplating topics for my 2 year overdue article for my coaching blog. I don’t really intentionally contemplate, thoughts just begin to flow through me after about 1-2 miles into the run. It’s those endorphins! It's also important to note that I prefer to run on trails and the beach, but sometimes you need to adapt, so these days I run on the road. I also do my best to plan accordingly to avoid conflict and confrontation; certainly not write about it!
With a brain infused endorphin rush and spiking dopamine levels, it became clear to me that my topic would be about the theme of “sharing the road”; the previously coined term which is typical of motorcycles and cars together on the road. The clarity didn’t exactly flow gradually. It was more like a jolt; one much like that which originates from the sympathetic nervous system, “fight or flight”, “run from the Saber Tooth Tiger” response. Except the ‘Saber Tooth Tiger’ was a little furry, seemingly harmless dog being walked on the side walk by a human being, it’s owner, I assume and another dog in tow. I, however, was running on the edge of the road, just at the brink where the asphalt meets the concrete road edge.
If you are a runner you may realize that running surface variations, although slight, make a big difference in overall running endurance and resulting aches and pains that may be associated with running. Additionally, running on the edge of the road verses the side walk, also assists a runner from the frequent need to dodge walkers, children and dogs. I get some light hearted flack and perhaps at times confrontation from a few of my friends about the questionable safety of running and cycling in the road - on the edge of the road, I stress!
It became crystal clear to me while I was running and recovering from my jolt. A jolt inflicted by a vicious snarling ‘cute little harmless dog’ lunging at me with direct aim towards my ankle. It’s not about where runners run, cyclists cycle, motorcycles bike, people or dogs walk. After all, I was in the road, the four legged furry dude was on the side walk. It’s about respect and kindness and having the strength and courage to put our big ego aside! Yes, EGO! Everyone has one whether you'd like to admit it or not. It’s the “ME ME ME” part of us that gets in the way of most of our good intentions and desires.
Fortunately, during this near ‘saber tooth tiger attack’, I was in motion and fully mindful and agile enough that I dodged the bullet this time! I am always running in preparation to dodge a car. Yes, I dodge them! I pay attention, see them coming and I move up on the grass or curb, never assuming the driver sees me and will provide the necessary space. I am not sure what caused the dog walker human to not retract the leash to pull in this saber tooth, as they looked right at me and even made eye contact. Perhaps lack of respect for mutual space, lack of mindfulness, a big ego…?
I believe that in all controversies and arguments of “sharing the road” that it is the issue of respect or lack thereof and the big EGO that we all carry within us. So, the next time you are a driver of a car, a rider on a motorcycle, a runner on the earth, a cyclist on a cycle, please think about what you can do to put that EGO aside and show respect and kindness for whatever or whomever it is that you are approaching and at whatever speed you are approaching.
Life is much too short to waste energy thinking and believing that we always have the right-of-way. Too short to let your saber tooth lunge at a runner. Too short to lay on the horn or yell, “idiot”, or other obscene words or gestures. Too short to not slow down or move over for the runner or cyclist, Too short to not hop up on the curb when you see a car coming. I suppose I could have run further into the street to dodge the dog…car vs dog. Hmmmm? Sometimes a snap decision is needed.
Abundant respect, kindness and putting away your EGO is what it means to “share the road” and this one precious vignette of time that we call life. Show pride, encouragement and praise for those that extend beyond our EGO, that are in any space, especially in nature and moving their bodies in any mode, or finding their flow on that scenic car ride, or motorcycle ride. See the respect, see the peace in these actions…if you don’t see it, LOOK for it. Share the road, my friends!…
:) Coach Lou