I’ve been running on the East River, where hundreds of others run, and each person has a different gait. Some people flop and other glide, but everyone has their own style and each unique twitch makes me wonder how each person learned to run like that.
Part of it, I’m sure, is inherited anatomical features. It’s partially predestined, I’m sure. But depending on your view of the world — on whether we have some free will to decide how we run — part of it seems to be outside factors and, dare I say, choice.
I had a similar thought when I was a baseball umpire and I’d watch dozens of little league pitchers windup and heave the ball toward home. Every kid had a different throwing motion — some sidearm, some with high legkicks and others who looked like they were built from a pitching manual. It was clear some kids were influenced by pro pitchers or their fathers. But others just did what was natural to them; they didn’t think much about it.
Not everyone has tried pitching, though. Most everyone has tried to run.
When you watch different runner, it’s a pretty poignant visual indication that we didn’t develop in a vacuum, but with mostly outside factors — mostly things we don’t control, whether it’s anatomical or situational or subconscious mimicry.
So the other day while running down the river, I tried putting an extra kick into my jog. It was unexpected, unnatural and by choice. Perhaps this urge to be spontaneous was also influenced by outside factors — by something other than myself. But perhaps some of this decision was mine.