Runners' Habits Don't Die Hard, Or Not At All?

Coach Neugenbauer hard at work

There's a wife's tale about the runner who woke up at 3:00 in the morning in a panic. He had just checked his miles for yesterday and his watch read 4.9 miles. Seriously, there's not a distance runner out there who would even consider stopping at that point. Instead, they jog around parking lots, or even in circles to get in the sacred extra tenth. 

The man in this story jogged from his kitchen to his refrigerator and around his room. The wife wasn't happy, but hey…a runner must do what a runner must do. This happened in July with running camp. They were canceled, for the record, but not really. One coach wrote in when hearing the news, "But I've been going to camp since 1973." Translation: We're going to camp anyway. Let's all book our rooms and go." 

This part is no wife's tale -- a group of Georgia coaches did just that. They came from Augusta, Etowah,  Harrison, Holy Innocents' and Georgia Tech. Some drove across North Carolina; one made the trek from St. Simons. 

Introduced to this madness in the early 90s, I recall joining a clan of older guys as we jogged around the Oglethorpe/Brookhaven area. Trying to impress my new friends, I suggested a place afterward to get a bite, maybe a drink. I was told, "no, we go to Dunkin Donuts now for coffee." Not understanding, I explained how good the food was, told them all about the specials, the seating, and the big-screened TVs. "You don't understand," I was told again, "we go to Dunkin Donuts now for coffee." Game. Set. Match. 

Well, the camp coaches above go to Asheville in July come hell, high water, or the dreaded coronavirus. If they had to run in masks, so be it. Check your temperature at the door and off they went. 

I find it an endearing trait, not that anyone asked my opinion. There was once a lady who was told by her doctor she couldn't run anymore because of her foot. She looked at me crazy when I asked what she was going to do next. What was I thinking -- she found a new doctor of course. Was there any other choice? 

Moving forward, we await news from the GHSA, from our athletic directors, we check emails as fast as we do Milesplit after races. We gossip during runs while mile markers disappear behind our feet. We are antsy because our marathon training just went down the tubes, and our angst is conquered by lacing up our Asics and our Nikes and our Brooks. 

Still, in a way, whatever news that comes won't stop the runners -- whether guns are fired or put back on the shelf. Runners, you see, are stubborn but also highly adaptable. After all, whatever the final verdict -- the kids and coaches alike all have watches that read 4.9 on them. Stopping now is simply not an option.