We run to go slower

After learning to walk we learn to run. It is a known and expected development for humankind and results in accelerating the movement of walking so as to achieve more speed and to cover a greater distance in less time.

This is true in absolute terms and also in historical terms: running has allowed humans to hunt more effectively and also to run away from animal or other human attacks.

Come to think of it, however, today we no longer need to hunt animals that we find conveniently served in pieces in Styrofoam trays at the supermarket or butcher shop, and we don’t even have to run away from anyone anymore, unless it’s a classmate who wants to beat us up or a policeman, if we are thieves. But we are good people, aren’t we?

Therefore, it is no coincidence that today, for modern man, running is not a necessity but a passion: we do not run because we need to survive, but because it makes us live better, making us fit and challenge ourselves. Think whatever you want but these are all non-existential reasons. In other words: we do not need to run to survive.

A bike ride

Some time ago DJ Linus said goodbye to his listeners at the end of the season of his show DJ Chiama Italia and went on vacation. Like every year, he headed to the Romagna coast, where he always spends his vacation or at least part of it. In contrast to other years, however, this time he went by bike. He had announced it in the last days of the program and even joked about it, saying that for a 62-year-old man it was no ordinary feat, although he was trained. Nicola Savino, his partner on the show, teased him by suggesting that maybe he wouldn’t make it, “You know, at that age, you never know…”

In order to make it (of course he made it) he had to ride 340 km from Milan to Rimini with other friends along back roads and little traveled paths, both because they are more beautiful from a scenic point of view and then because they are less traveled and therefore safer.

So far, the story.

Why did he do it? I don’t remember if he explained it, maybe he didn’t need to, it was a bit of a rehearsal or something different from the usual, like someone who at 45 goes to do the Santiago de Compostela walk, “Because yes, you don’t need to explain it.” Yet I became convinced that there was a more intimate but not particularly personal reason: he did not have to atone for anything, he did not have to find himself. None of the above. My guess is that Linus just wanted to go slower. He wanted to look at the world, to experience it through physical exertion without letting it flow over him without anything sticking to him in his car along the highway. He wanted to slow down time or at least his perception of it.

We, you, me: whoever runs

We don’t need to run and yet we do it. The reasons why we do this are varied-sometimes more intimate and secret, sometimes very common. One reason is also to finally go slower even though it seems like a paradox because we are actually going faster. Instead, it is precisely when we go faster *but in our own time* that we go slower. We savor each moment through the effort it costs us to do so, we finally find a synchrony between inner and outer time: that is the time we decide, that is our time. Like Linus who chose the slowest way to go on vacation (other than walking there), when we run, we choose the best way to reclaim our time while running. Think about it: during the day you are not master of it, and the use of your time is defined by deadlines and demands that come from others and are imposed on you. But when you run you reclaim your time and decide to make it the same as your mental clock. In truth you go neither faster nor slower: you go at your own speed. Only you know it and when you get it you are happy. As only after running.


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