Running on purpose

Last week I had my favourite kind of run. You can keep your interval sessions and your LSR’s, and you can stick your tempo runs, your fartleks and your Albanian cheese-sprintswhere the sun doesn’t shine; the best type of run by far is: the Errand Run.

Earlier in the day my car had been dropped at the garage to have some work done, and I expected it to be ready in an hour or two. Unfortunately, they needed to keep it overnight (I’m no mechanic, but I think it had a poorly electric or something) and so offered me a courtesy car. Problem was, the garage was situated at the far side of the next town and there was nobody free to drive me over to collect it.

Years ago, this would have been resolved with a £15 taxi journey.

But years ago I wasn’t a runner.

An hour later I arrived, slightly sweaty, at the garage. I collected the car and drove home with the warm fuzzy feeling that I’d just completed a mighty quest.

(I hadn’t completed a mighty quest; I’d just picked up a courtesy car. Haven’t you been paying attention?)

There’s something immensely gratifying about running for a specific purpose. Nothing makes me happier than going out for a run with an empty backpack and returning home with jam. Most of the time when we run, we tend to do it for a wider goal (such as fitness, personal achievement or raising money for charity) or simply because it’s what we do, but now and then it’s great to use running as a tool to achieve a day-to-day task. Our ancestors used to do it all the time. They ran to catch their dinner, or to avoid being dinner, or to pass on a vital message to the next village (probably something about dinner).

These days we don’t really have that any more. I did see something about running couriers in London, but that’s just a bit weird. I imagine they’re all called “Zak”, “Cooper” or “Travis”, and have painfully interesting haircuts.

Right, I’m off for a run. Does anyone want anything picking up?

1 I made one of those up. No, really.

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7 thoughts on “Running on purpose

  1. Love this. I am doing research into run-commuting and so many of the things you write about resonate with what I’ve been finding / arguing. Funnily, I first got interested in running as transport (or purposeful running) when I faced huge train delays and convinced I could run home quicker – and I did!

    • I’d love to run-commute. But I work exactly 26.2 miles from my place of work, so it’d take me half the working day to get there, and I’d spend the other half napping and eating entire pizzas.

  2. The run errand is a thing of joy. It’s all sorts of efficient while not being remotely efficicient at all. I tried it out for an optician’s appointment once; my sweaty face made things a little awkward at first but I chose a pair of glasses that look awesome with running kit.

    • Picking cars up, opticians appointments, getting to work… I’d probably draw the line at running to a funeral though.

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