Lindsay Bates

The Running World

I stopped abruptly to catch my breath. I was getting extremely tired so I decided to head home. As I ran home, I began to notice how beautiful my surroundings were: the huge evergreen trees with pinecones falling every few feet, the sound of crackling leaves being crunched as I ran on them, and the feel of fresh air as it flew quickly past my face. The following day I noticed how frigid it was outside and decided that going to the local gym sounds a lot more appealing then putting myself through misery in the cold and rainy weather. As I walked in to the gym, friendly employees were there to check me in and wish me a good workout. I proceeded to the treadmill and began to run. I ran rapidly until I felt my whole body drenched in sweat and decided that I had enough for one day.

How does running in the outdoors differ from running indoors? The atmosphere around you, the physical ground you run on, and the people you may encounter are all aspects that apply to each. But there are characteristics that may have the tendency to make you think twice about the difference between these two places. As I compared the two places, I came to a realization that nature holds a place in both.

As I walked outside in the morning, the warmth of the early sun hit my face. I tied my shoes and was off. I began to run and as time passed, I slowly increased to a steady and regular pace. While I run, I always keep my eyes fixated on the ground so that I do not trip on a rock or pinecone, or step in something that would create a mess - such as dog feces. People have a tendency to take the surrounding environment for granted, but running allows you to see aspects in a different light that you normally would not notice. I observe every little detail such as the cracks that have formed in the ground over time, and the flower petals that have fallen from trees.

When I walk into our local gym, I make my way toward the treadmills. I press the start button and slowly begin walking. I decide to set the speed to nine and the elevation to four because it feels similar to the speed I run on a regular basis. As I listen to the loud music being played from the stereo, I look out the window directly in front of me. I contentedly watch as cars drive by and different people saunter around to shops on either side of the gym. Huge blowing fans line the walls giving the gym a nice cool breeze from every direction. As soon as I complete my workout I grab my belongings and head outside to my car.

As I run, people I have seen before pass by with an extended nod, smile, or quick hello. Conversation will rarely occur, because it is challenging to stop and then try to regain momentum. For the most part, running is a solo activity, but running in groups of two or three can also be enjoyable because you talk with each other and keep each other company and the miles fly by.

While frequently going to my gym, I start to become familiar with others. I notice how the employees tend to recognize and build friendships with the daily workout regulars, as well as the customers becoming friends. Each individual who works out plays a pivotal role in the environment of the gym. Often, conversation may arise with surrounding people, whether they are friends or not. Running indoors is an activity that not only helps to get people in to shape but also builds special bonds.

It is hard to see the similarities that come with running indoors versus running outdoors. The mere fact that one is outside with surrounding trees, noises of birds, and the smell of flowers, compared to inside with exercise machines, the noise of music, and the smell of other people’s sweat, makes a difference in how I approach my workout. But is that all that defines each environment?

Within both environments, nature exists. It is the link that ties these two completely different places together. Sure, running outdoors is a clearer version with the trees, the birds, the grass, and the sky above you, but nature plays a role indoors as well. Little things that usually would not come to mind when thinking about nature are in effect indoors. Human nature is all around you while working out at the gym. The sweat from everyone is human nature taking over, along with the conversations flowing throughout the room. Even the treadmills and other exercise equipment originated through nature. The architecture of the gym and the different materials used such as concrete are substances that come from the natural world and the environment. While partaking in this activity, different aspects of nature have opened up to me. I have come to the conclusion that although I might not always see it, feel it, or hear it, nature exists in every aspect of life.