Everyone runs differently. The goal is to relax, fall into a rhythm and finish the race in a respectable amount of time. Right? For some participants, yes. For others, not so much. I realized this during the last race I ran. It was a long one, so I had time to make some observations. And let me tell you, you can tell a lot about a runner’s motivations by their stride.
The Waddler: Is this person even moving? This one is the easiest to spot. There isn’t much else to say. You know exactly who I mean.
The Shuffler: Similar to The Waddler, except they can make impressive headway. So why the shuffle? Maybe they’re injured and have adopted this stride in effort to minimize impact. Maybe they don’t like the idea of having only one foot on the road at a time. Or maybe they really, really enjoy tap dancing. Who knows. All I know is this type of form reminds me of someone walking over hot coals: shoulders up and tight, bottom clinched, feet working out a little soft-shoe action. They just don’t look comfortable.
The Dinosaur & The Paddler: Like a T-Rex with its short arms hanging limply in front as it forges through the forest, The Dinosaur is on a mission. Usually a fast-moving breed, they could improve their time if they only worked their arms into the race. I considered naming this type of runner, The Paddler, then realized it deserved a separate, yet related category. The Paddler is what The Dinosaur wants to be. The Paddler may let his arms hang down, but unlike The Dinosaur, he slaps at the air and pulls it behind him. The Dinosaur gets dusted by The Paddler, left alone and wishing evolution was a speedier process.
The Gazelle: The most beautiful runner on the street. Carefree. They lope through the course with the boundless energy of any number of forest animals, but only the gazelle shares this runner’s grace. I’ve often wondered if they were taught this form, because you tend to see packs of The Gazelle at cross-country track meets. But after years of trying to mimic this stride and failing miserably, I now believe they were born this way.
Like a UFO blasting into space, The Gazelle appears as a flash in the corner of your eye and then is gone. The next time you’ll see him, he’ll coolly be sipping Vitalyte and downing a banana as you cross the finish line.
The Shi-Shi: There’s a whole lot of prissiness going on here. Usually dressed to the 9s. They look like they know what they’re doing but are too concerned about perspiration ruining their outfit to really go for it. Their stride usually has some lateral motion, some wicked hip swagger and possibly some chest protrusion. The Shi-Shi/Dinosaur hybrid is fairly common. I’ve seen many. Next to The Gazelle, they are the prettiest runners, albeit for totally different reasons.