Friday, March 05, 2010

Run Free

     I have become famous, at least in my own mind, for my super popular catchphrase: "If it's far enough to run, it's far enough to take the car."  Catchy, no?  Anyway, I like to say that and I freely admit it's mine, regardless of the inferrences it allows one to make about my physical fitness and motivational level.
     The long and short of it, Company, if you haven't figured it out yet, is that I don't like to run.  In fact, I don't like to exercise a whole lot unless there is a clock running or a score involved.  So it surprise you to hear this but I really think free running is pretty cool.
      If you are a square and you don't know what free running is, let me help you to get hip to this new scene.  If you want to be a free runner basically all you have to do is go somewhere where there is a lot of shit, like buildings and sidewalks and walls, etc.  So urban areas; some parks work okay for this too.  Then, you just start running around, and you jump off walls and ledges and fences and other things.  In the process you do flips and turns.  But it's more than that.  There is a certain rythym and artistry to the whole deal, it's almost more like a choreographed dance than anything else.  Well, maybe not.  A better description of it would be it's just like what your 14-year-old nephew is doing down at the skate park, but without the skateboard.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  Oh, and you have to be pretty amzingly fit and coordinated to pull that sort of stuff off.
     Woah, woah, woah.  I can here all your Stiffly McStiffersons out there with your Volvos and mortgages going "Hey, asshole, when I was a kid we called that jumping off shit."  And I agree with you, in many ways it is the same old tuna casserole in new Pyrex, but I really believe that this newly christened sport has evolved beyond that.  The runners who are serious about this activity, sport, whatever you want to call it, are rarely running in a straight line, they consciously plan ahead and put together series of tricks that I couldn't do if my life depended on it.  Although I can do something similar when I am playing certain racing video games and I forget what the controllers do.
       Any other problems there, Stiffly?  Or do you have to get back to picking between eggshell white and mother-of-pearl for the walls in your den?  Oh, you think it's unsafe and destroys public property?  I am sorry, I disagree.  I know that I encouraged you to think of free running in terms of skateboarding, but there are some seriously important differences.  First of all, free running has a much slower speed.  Even flat out, the fastest runners in the world can't get far above 20 mph (32 kph).  Usain Bolt, when he ran his world record 9.69 in the 100 meters in Beijing, was going just a tick over 23 mph (37 kph). Skateboarders can get to speeds over 50 mph (80kph) when going downhill.  Granted, skateboarders in a half pipe aren't going to be going that fast, but still you can see how quickly the difference can build when there are wheels involved.  Plus, free runners have such a high degree of control over their bodies that skateboarders just can't match.  Not to say that skateboarders don't have great control, they certainly do, and they do amazing things with it, but when compared to free runners I just can't see how free running is as dangerous as skateboarding.  Sorry.
      Oh, and for that destruction of public property argument, I'm not buying into it.  Not at all.  I understand and realize that many cities, counties, municipalities, etc, have banned skateboarding and skateboards.  And rightfully so.  The hard plastic wheels on the skateboards are fine, they aren't the problem here.  The problems begin when skateboarders start to do tricks, many of which involve sliding their boards on edges or propelling themselves off railings, etc.  It is this sliding that causes damage, it's the impacts that cause damage.  Now ask yourself, how much damage is going to come from the impact of a rubber-soled shoe?  How much impact is going to come from a human hand?  I think you know where I am going with this.  Free running is basically no impact, or at least low impact.
      And super cool.  Super duper cool.  So check it out sometime, I think you will be surprised.  Run free boys and girls.  Run free.

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