I've been road running a lot lately. Superficially, one might feel constrained by roads. Their linear and grid like structure definitely suggests it. Intersections. Traffic lights. Stop signs. Rules.
Those who run the roads frequently have observed the indignant attitudes and looks of some motorists. Based on experience, a number of my (victimless) actions seem to evoke this response. Running on the road instead of the shoulder. Blasting through a red light when no traffic is there to hit me. Stopping to (discretely) pee. Taking a random diagonal across the middle of the road to cross to the other side. Often though I can’t think of any reason; sometimes “just running” seems to demand being honked at, almost run over, yelled at, flipped the bird, or to become the target of projectiles. At the very least, shot a glance.
It might be easy to chalk these responses up to jealousy. “They just wish they had the moxie to bang out an hour in the pouring rain instead of stopping for some Taco Bell on the drive home”. But I don’t believe that. Not for a second. If that were my attitude, then I might be the most offensive aggressor of all. [Disclaimer: !Yo Quiero Taco Bell!]
Sometimes it feels that the more I run, the more running becomes not about running at all. I am bound by the “Grid”, and yet I feel truly free. There are a myriad of ways to run down the road, and the only real constraint is my imagination.
Perhaps the response of motorists in observing this freedom in movement is indeed a form of jealousy, albeit subconscious. Some people seek “freedom” by traveling the world, others by relinquishing material possessions. In these contexts, freedom is defined as being unbounded. I've always felt that freedom is a state of mind.