Man mind racing

Last night's 8 miler saw possibly the most exciting experience of my training so far.

I overtook someone.

Someone who was running!

On the way back, along the river, I rounded a bend and saw a shadow disappear beyond the weak light thrown down from a streetlamp some way ahead of me.

As I plodded along, I kept my eyes fixed on the next light, and soon the unmistakeable figure of someone running passed beneath it, before disappearing into the darness again.

Now, those among you who are ladies might not understand this, but there is a well-know male tendancy to race as you go about your day.

It's an inbuild thing where you mentally compete against others around you. "I'll be the first to get to the crossing,"and "If I take the inside line on this path, I'll get to that letterbox first" are commom thoughts for men.

Outwardly, there's no sign of this, but inside, we're finding people to race against, setting finishing lines, and looking for shortcuts.

When you get to my level, you even memorise the sequences of traffic lights on everyday routes so you can get the best start.

So, here I was, about 400 metres back, mentally challenging a shadowy figure to a race.

I set the "finishing line" as where the river road meets with the main road - about a mile away.

Now, I must point out that this is unlike normal man racing, as we were both already running - that's not allowed unless you misjudge a crossing and need to avoid being run over.

I stalked my prey silently, and every time they passed under a streetlight, or they were illuminated by the lights of a passing car, I could see I was gaining on them.

When I was about 100 metres behind them, they looked around and saw me.

This was when I knew it was another man and they were racing too.

They obviously didn't want to be caught and the next time I saw them they were further ahead then I expected, so I quickened my pace to close the gap again.

It was surprising how quickly I managed to reel them in once I opened up my strides - another benefit of new, lighter, Phil!

When they next turned around I was only about 20 metres behind. They knew they were being caught, but didn't want to make it easy so they were running bang in the middle of the path - a perfectly acceptable tactic in man mind racing!

It was a battle of wills now as we both saw the junction approaching. This was where our fates would be decided.

One would go home a winner, the other face the humiliation of defeat.

A flurry of traffic meant I had to pick my moment to get out into the road, and when it came, I eased out, dropped a gear, and whisked past.

I must point out I did try to run past them as politely as I could - it's bad form to gloat in man mind-racing!

But, boy, did the crowds go wild as I crossed the finish line (in my head!).


  1. That sums it up pretty well.

    Whenever I am in that rare position the bugger in front always stops for a walk or a strech or something. As you know overtaking under these circumstances doesn't count - it is very annoying.

  2. To be fair, if I was the bugger in front I'd be tempted to do that.

    Especially if I was just coming to the end of a long run, and the person catching me was obviously just getting going.

    Though, ideally, I'd be training so well I'd have perfect splits so would have more than enough energy to see off the challenger!