Sunday is Run Day.
If you ask me, there is hardly any other activity that stands up to a nice and easy long, slow distance (aka LSD to the running set) on a pleasant Sunday morning. Sometimes, when the mood moves me, I’ll run a relaxed marathon distance just because. Perhaps only marathons of the couch potato variety, particularly reruns of Archer (FX) or Game Of Thrones, pose any serious competition to the ones I do on foot.
In my former life, Sunday mornings were sleep compensation sessions — my bone-headed approach to atone for the week’s long hours in the office or staying past midnight buried in unproductive busyness, such as reading up on trivia and watching ‘real street fights’ and ‘epic fail’ videos. I ended up feeling even more languid after sleeping past Sunday noon, as proven by a scientific study I read about in an article sometime ago (but don’t take my word for it — I’m just a blogger).
After getting a tad more serious about running and triathlon, Sunday morning runs became essential to maintaining fitness and sanity for the week ahead. Over the last couple of years of ‘Runday Sundays,’ I have experienced running in the company of one or more friends who appear to share my view; it’s either that, or my irrepressible personality. We typically run for over an hour, make a major stop at a friend’s place for hydration and group selfies, and then proceed with the back end of the run, while some head home for domestic errands or rest. Say what you will, but aside from the health benefits group LSDs provide, the other upshot is catching up on the weekly news, printable and otherwise.
Whoever said that gossiping originated from the distaff side has obviously never been part of an all-male Sunday running group. Though we’ve never dissuaded any of our female friends or teammates from joining Runday Sunday, we haven’t had many occasions to have them along to add a feminine perspective to our road banter. After the usual two-second discussion about the weather, it’s open season. Questions range from race recaps and the latest running gadgets to recent outstanding event performances and community gossip - the last topic eliciting the most reaction and attention, and often responsible for extending run time, hydration stop, or both.
An interesting dynamic emerges when the group grows to more than four runners: Since we can’t run more than two abreast in most roads due to safety concerns, the natural tendency is to run in pairs, thus having more than one conversation topic; and more often, the hot topic(s) are cornered by the lead pair or group. This occurrence exerts a certain degree of pressure to keep up with the lead group in order not to miss out on the juicy details. How’s that for motivation?
What makes the tittle-tattle all the more interesting is the ability of a member in the group to make a connection, however cozy or remote, to the protagonist(s) involved. Here’s where the Six Degrees Of Separation theory gets further compressed to just three degrees, thanks to the intimately entwined relationship chain that is Philippine society. The person in question is somehow a friend of a friend, or at least known to a grand uncle’s former math teacher’s brother-in-law. Hold on. Is that still three degrees? So when someone in the group mentions that very married guy was seen getting cozy with recently separated girl after swim training, or that Team X just expelled a few members for conduct unbecoming, expect quick links to emerge with more particularity.
It surprises a lot of visitors to the country how the networks of friends, relatives, and acquaintances form a seemingly sophisticated social web of contacts that can yield business deals, acceptance into choice schools, or get out of jail passes. Welcome to the Philippines, I tell them. Because sometimes it’s more about whom you know than what you know that matters.
Runday Sundays are for everyone. Mixed gender groups, all-female groups, running clubs and triathlon teams, couples of different persuasions, and solo flyers are the usual suspects. Occasionally, we’ll run into new groups and give them a wave, a chirpy ‘good morning,’ or a simple knowing nod as if to say that we’re one in spending our Sundays more productively, and hopefully not wasting the effort an hour later by having double servings of the big breakfast at the local fast food shack.
A quick scan of my Facebook account shows more friends and strangers getting into the Sunday run habit (or at least starting to show signs of it), either by joining races or regular run groups. That’s encouraging. I take that as an indication that more people are looking to take control of their lives by waking up early, getting some exercise, and putting themselves on the path to a happier and healthier lifestyle. Either that, or they just want that post-run breakfast special.
Basketball: Bringing Out Our Worst
Now that the dust of #puso and euphoria has settled over Gilas Pilipinas' performance at the Fiba world championships, here are a few points that emerged that we need to be circumspect about as participants and observers to the not-so-simple world of international competition:
1. We are (still) terrible losers. Every lost game is attributable to some bad call, miscommunication, or the weather.
2. And we’re terrible winners as well. Pillory the coach and players by demanding that heads roll, you Monday morning quarterbacks and armchair analysts. Here, why don’t you take the wheel?
3. Ungratefulness rears its ugly head. Does anyone really believe we could have gotten further than one win without Andray Blatche? Remember, he was the only one who said yes.
4. Cruel For Cruelty’s Sake. For every restrained and civil retort (i.e. Meralco CEO and president Oscar Reyes’ response to Senegal officials when told ‘Pilipinas Go Home’) is a profusion of racial bigotry (e.g. monkeys for Senegalese team, ‘ngongo’ and ‘bingot’ for a Croatian player’s cleft lip). Let’s leave the playground and sandbox insults to uneducated bullies, shall we people?
5. The Long Road Ahead. Quick-fixing the national basketball program with Fil-foreigners and naturalized players may have its pluses, but instituting a plan for the long term has proven more successful for everything from economic and sports agenda to parenting and civil obedience.
6. Hiding In The Shadows. The convenience of technology has allowed most to hide behind aliases and pseudonyms, making us bolder to lash out and lambast in circumstances where we would otherwise have shown restraint. But that is price paid for being part of the waking consciousness that it the news of the day.
If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody come sit next to me.
Show me someone who never gossips, and I'll show you someone who isn't interested in people.
- Barbara Walters?
It isn't what they say about you, it's what they whisper.
- Errol Flynn?
What is told in the ear of a man is often heard 100 miles away.
- Chinese Proverb?