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Traffic lights and running trains

2 January, 2010

Mostly when I run I am focussing either on my surroundings or what’s happening on the inside, examining my form, my breathing, where it hurts and so on. Today, I found myself drifting off several times, dissociating to a place nowhere near my surroundings. Thank you, Chet Baker. Each time I came around it seemed as though the effort I was putting out was lower than usual, but my (already very tight) left hamstring was especially tight, and so I kept the pace constant. Funnily enough I didn’t lose more than ten seconds or so to the traffic lights — very often it’s up to a minute and a half — on the six-mile route, and I wound up finishing a little ‘faster’ (less time overall) than usual. I’ve been getting all worked up over cars and traffic lights only to discover that there is a rhythm that allows me to disregard these things, and I realized this by being somewhat less than fully present!

Whether this happens every day, or only at a certain time of the morning on 2 January 2010 is another matter. Is there a constant ‘phase relation’, so to speak, for all the city’s traffic lights? It seems as though there must be, or else there could be some serious pile-ups. The question is, how far can somebody go (at a running speed) without having to stop, and how big a loop(s) does the runner end up with? I suspect the answer is that the biggest loops lie along the busiest roads, but it would be nice if there was an alternative answer or two. Now, this would be a huge project to realize for a group of coordinated pedestrians, but whoever designed the system would also be in a position to find these solutions single-handedly. This must have been studied already, somebody help me here.

If I were sold on running gadgetry I’d be pushing for the next generation mobile app (commence computer voice): your next 37th and Oak running train leaves at  8:33:13 am, and 8:37:14 am. But I’m not yet sold on the idea, and should it become necessary to have a #$%$ phone to tell me when to run, you will see me headed for the hills. By that point I won’t be looking both ways, but my form will be perfect, and I will be looking straight ahead.

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