(or, God, people can suck sometimes)
I went for a run yesterday, as is my custom, and enjoyed it. I ran two miles in my fastest time, didn’t screw with my blood sugar levels too much and only collapsed on the sofa afterwards for a few minutes. However, on the way two people really pissed me off – by being vaguely supportive. One girl shouted ‘Keep going! Never stop running!’, as I bounced past that directionless sack of skin and irritatingly effective life-sustaining organs she calls a body, while the other stood silently and passive, like any living human should. Now, I don’t necessarily hate those two people for what they did, but my anger stems from what they represent: unnecessary encouragement.
Okay, don’t get me wrong, I like being encouraged; being told that my essay is good by my English teacher gives me a sense of achievement and that I’m doing things right. Also, this sort of encouragement is generally quite specific, letting me know exactly what I did well, and that I should continue doing these things. However, the vague and unwanted ‘encouragement’ from that girl offers neither specific advice, or is from a relevant source: is that girl a runner, or knows anything about physical exercise that I don’t already? Probably not, and even if she was, she really didn’t show it; her ‘words of wisdom’ were hardly sentences. Also, the pointlessness of her shouting was compounded by the fact that I was tired and focused on running at the time – I’m hardly a professional runner, but I concentrate on how fast I’m going, how much effort I think I’m putting in and how much energy I’ll have left for the last little bit which is uphill, and so on; cries of ‘Keep going!’ will not help these decisions at all. Even if she was shouting out my heart rate, calories burned and gave me a Tour De France-style update on my current distance remaining and distance run I’d still probably be annoyed, purely because if I’m focusing on anything, not just running, I don’t particularly want random people shouting at me as I do it. I don’t care if you’re any good at English, but standing over me shouting ‘Remember to include language analysis!’ in the middle of an exam won’t really help me.
Now I want to break down what she actually said to me: ‘Keep going!’ was the first bit; okay, that advice is flawed, because it suggests that she assumed I was going to stop running if she had not told me that – the distance I run is a distance I can run (fairly comfortably), and so was in no real danger of stopping halfway through. Perhaps if I’d been running a marathon and was on mile 18, advice to ‘Keep going’ may have been more appropriate, because I may have started to doubt my own ability to finish the damn thing. This is why I said I don’t necessarily hate these girls, because I think they were trying to be genuinely encouraging, I just wish they weren’t so annoying in doing it. Secondly, the verb ‘going’ is strange here; it’s derived from ‘to go’, making it one of the most irregular and annoying common words in the english language, a verb which simply means to move in a direction. In this verb, speed or intensity of motion is not mentioned, meaning that, for all I know, that girl was trying to tell me to stop running, but continue moving, but at a walking pace, which is bad practice when running, I understand, because your body has to stop working hard and then re-start, which is stressful for it. This advice is also pointless, as I was running towards home; I didn’t have anyone to pick me up halfway or anything, so the only way I could have gone home was on my own two feet, either running or walking; therefore, the girl encouraged me to move towards my house, which is the only conceivable thing I could have been doing at that time. It’s like standing over someone every second of their life and telling them to ‘Breathe in! Breathe out! Keep breathing!’; it’s kinda pointless.
The second bit of this girl’s meaningful and profound analysis into my running performance, showing a level of deep thought equal to that of the Dalai-Lama, ‘Never stop running!’ is even worse; I can’t ‘never’ stop running, its physically impossible! (alright, nearly physically impossible) Does this girl want to push me beyond the limits of human endurance and run forever? It’s unlikely, and was more down to a poor word choice, but that just goes to show you need to be careful with what you shout at strangers. Furthermore, this sounds more like a command than her other advice – while ‘Keep going’ can be seen as genuinely supportive, the construction ‘Never stop’ is downright menacing; whether she wants to make me run until I die or not, she sure sounds like she wants to. This statement also contradicts with the first; initially, she told me to continue moving, at a non-specific speed, now it has to be at a run? She’s changed her mind within half a second! Even if her points were actually helpful to me, she shows more indecisive flip-floppery than this guy. Her advice is totally undermined by poor word choices and indecisiveness, meaning that I can’t take anything she said seriously, and it becomes an annoyance; and that’s even if what she was saying was in any way relevant or helpful in the first place.
Still, I want to re-iterate that I don’t hate these girls as people, nor do I consider them bad individuals – when I’m watching football games on TV, I shout at the players every four seconds – but if you’re going to shout at someone who’s focusing on something in particular, make sure what you’re saying makes sense first. To be honest, I think I was a lot more angry when it happened than I am now (I fell back on micro-language analysis to make a point for God’s sake), which I guess shows that I got over it, and it was ultimately inconsequential; has that girl’s shouting changed my life profoundly? Not at all; if it wasn’t for this blog, I’d probably have forgotten all about it. Overall, this whole episode shows that we can get annoyed at stuff all the time, but that these things don’t really matter, so don’t go mad whenever someone pisses you off for a second, just wait a few days and write a blog post about it – you’ll realise that its kinda irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.