Hello. Apologies for the silence recently. Conferences and annual reviews have meant I’ve neglected Jographies a little recently but with the new academic year back in swing, hopefully I will get into the flow of regular blog updates.
And towards that endeavour, and because it’s my birthday, I am treating you to two blog posts today. Lucky devils you. This first one is just to flag up an interesting podcast you should all definitely listen to.
Adharanand Finn, author of the brilliant Running with the Kenyans and The Way of the Runner, presented last night’s Four Thought. His fifteen minute spoken essay attempted to give some answers to the question of why we run, something of central interest to my research and this blog. The thought-provoking podcast elegantly drifts between different ways and reasons for running throughout time and across space – from health & fitness, to sport, survival, spirituality, and pure joy. The essay is beautifully crafted and makes you want to shout ‘YES’ with glee at the wonder of running.
Many of the points Finn puts forward are arguments and curiosities I’ve discussed and written about before so it was lovely to hear them put more eloquently on a much wider stage. It was also reassuring that nothing surprised me when listening to the podcast – hopefully a sign I am on-top of the running literature.
Something I wished the essay had touched upon more is the relationship between these different ways and reasons for running. The primal and basic act of movement that is running is obviously at the root of all these running cultures but practices are made up of much more than just this. There are the meanings attached to these movements, the different experiences they bestow, the different things they involve, and different roles they play in society. Finn rightfully details the differences between the running practices of children, of fitness-seekers, and of the marathon monks of Mount Hiei. Yet a sense of how all these practices feed into what running is as a whole, is missing.
This is not a criticism, just a curiosity, and is something I am struggling with myself. Researching the emergence run-commuting, I am essentially trying to understand how running practices are changing and how these changes alter the parent practice of running. Finn’s essay discusses many ways running has changed across space and time and caused me to question why simply sharing a common root movement is enough to bond these different practices together under the umbrella of running when they are so different in many other ways.
It’s an exciting question to ponder and something I hope to be able to answer over the course of my research.
It is also an excellent essay by one of the best writers/commentators on running we have today – I urge you to listen to the podcast.