Are ‘fun runs’ contagious?

It was beautiful, sunny weather on Easter Monday and I could not resist going out for a run on one of my favourite routes. But being a warm Bank Holiday, I wasn’t on my own and competition for space on the trail was fierce in places among the many dog-walkers, families, cyclists and other runners. Where the trail narrowed or crossed a bridge, there were a couple of polite stand-offs and ‘After you’ gestures and more than once I found myself playing ‘chicken’ when trying to anticipate the oncoming traffic of strollers and scooters. The trail finally stretched out when it came to a lake and it was a relief to have more space to run.

But an odd thing happened as I ran along. It began with some warm smiles and nods of ‘hello’ from people I didn’t recognise who were walking around the lake. ‘Someone’s in a good mood’, I thought. Then I heard what sounded like a ‘Well done!’ called out to me. As I thanked them, I thought that the good weather must really be making everyone really happy but then things became a little bit surreal. Around the corner, I received a ‘Keep going!’ and then somebody actually clapped for me! Did I really look so knackered that total strangers were feeling sorry for me? Yes, I was being passed by some speedier runners but I happened to have taken over one or two, myself.

The longer I ran, the more I noticed that there were now lots of us out running around the lake and we were starting to outnumber the walkers. It was only after I overheard a ‘Not much further!’ behind me that I finally looked over my shoulder to see that almost all of the runners behind me were wearing numbers for the Enigma Strikes Back Marathon. There was nothing I could do but look ahead and continue to keep running until I managed to detach myself from the ‘fun run’ where the routes diverted again.

Looking around as I ran, I noticed that the runners of the marathon were a diverse pack made up of all ages and shapes with various running styles and speeds. However, what they all had in common was the face of determination, mostly expressed in smiles or grimaces and this created a growing sense of camaraderie as we ran. But what always surprises me is how effective and even infectious it is to be spurred on by spectators and other participants, alike, when you are trying to do something really challenging. Maybe that’s why we keep signing up for these races, because the encouragement of the spectators and participants is slightly addictive. After all, as adults, it is one of the few times in life when we are encouraged and cheered on by simply doing something that we really enjoy. Or is it just because we get to wear a fancy medal at the end of it? Whatever the reason we do it, there is nothing like experiencing a ‘fun run’, even unintentionally, to give you the running bug .

Whether you have caught the running bug or not, this recipe for Super greens soup will help to put a spring in your step. It is a great meal to fuel up on before doing sports—just add some chunky bread for dipping. Like the name, it is bursting with fresh green vegetables and will give you lasting energy to tackle any hurdles or ‘fun runs’ you are facing. I made this rabbit food over the Easter weekend when the weather took a dip and although it may now feel too warm out to want to eat soup, you know the chilly British weather is probably going to return at some point…

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