Running in a group

​Fifty people dressed in reflective clothing and rocking colourful, springy shoes. Some clutch water bottles. Some set their iPods onto their running playlist. All are waiting.

The sun is sinking, the work day is over and the streets are almost empty. They’ve plotted the evening’s route. The organiser makes the signal. They begin to run.

There’s people looking to lose weight and regain lost fitness. Some have run before, some have not. Some are old, some are young. But a flicker of confusion always arises in me when I see big sections completing the whole run together.

Split those fifty people into two groups. The first group is composed of the handful of people at the front and the few people at the back. These are the ones who are pushing themselves. Trying to be better.

The second group is composed of the people in the middle. The ones who aren’t really trying. Who are laughing and chatting and barely running. The ones who are content to remain somewhere in the middle. Neither at the front or at the back.

My confusions arises from this second group. Why do they even bother? If the running group fills a social vacuum within your life, I understand. If you do it because you get to be around people and laugh and smile, fine.

But I have a suspicion that for most of the people in the middling group, this is not their primary aim. They don’t need the social kick. I suspect they do it for exercise. Because someone has told them they need to get fitter.

But they don’t act like it. If they their effort was sincere, they’d be at the front of the group, pushing the pace. Or they’d join a faster, better group and struggle to keep up.

The way I see it, they don’t want to get better. They’re happy in the middle. They want to stay exactly as they. Not inspiring others by leading from the front. Nor using the function of the group to raise their own capacity.