Whatevering Runner

After a few hours spent contemplating Facebook and the gray of the day, I convince myself that I am letting something good slip away by not going outside for a few running miles. I shelled out all that money on winter gear, why not give it a chance to shine.

A clumsy sort-out of layers and I’m off. I plan to run as I feel and hope to end up with about six miles. The grating flip flop of my Brooks Glycerins accompanies me down the road.

Argh, these shoes. They sound like clown shoes. Fortunately for them, they are one of the more comfortable pairs of footwear I own or I’d rip them up. I turn on my headphones to dull their undignified noise and plop plop forward.

I run a couple of miles and see an area by the Potomac River that I recently determined warrants further exploration. I brought my camera just in case of a photo emergency.

Ice blankets the Potomac today. My exploration spot is calm, and mostly clear of garbage which, unfortunately is often not the case near this river. I awkwardly haul out my camera with my mittens and take a few photos.

Near the Tidal Basin and Potomac

I’ve gone two miles in 30 minutes. Ha ha ha! So much for the cold keeping me in motion. The ‘teens and low twenties of the day may not be able to inspire a faster pace, but my cold toes eventually send out warning signals that say it’s time to move along.

I bee bop alongside the river to my tunes. My mind is in one place, pondering some worrisome happenings of the last week, my feet solidly in another. My mind continues to process while acquiescing to the feet’s wishes to visit the National Mall. Hmmm, I didn’t even know they wanted to go there today.

Plop plop plop. I see a runner or two. We exchange smiles. Solidarity. Pass a few tourists, though not too many out today. It was so pretty by the Potomac. Feet, let’s go back there. We’ll have a tailwind. I veer away from the Mall. I am one with my noisy feet.

More sonorous shoe flip flopping, and my eyes rest on the straggly remains of some wildflowers near one of the willow trees I like to visit on my bike commutes. Photo time.

As I contort my body for the very best angle, I laugh. I have become a whatevering runner. Damn it, I have! I can’t even look at my Garmin watch because I can’t handle the truth on its face.

Winter Wildflowers along the Potomac

I wasn’t always a whatevering runner. I used to follow a basic training plan for all my runs, especially when I was gearing up for a marathon. Then I began hanging out with Felkerino, and learned the ways of the whatevering ride– ride to wherever you like or as far as you like. Ride some. Snap pictures. Stop for lunch. Ride some more. Have a coffee. Repeat.

The whatevering ride contaminated my running program, probably around the time when I developed some confidence in my running fitness and my ability to balance both running and riding/randonneuring.

Not every day is a whatevering run, but overall I would consider whatevering running my favorite because it allows me to savor the many elements of my environment, and it’s a truly freeing experience.

Potomac River Run

After my dead wildflower photo session, I resume my running. I watch the incoming snowstorm make its way down the river, blurring the Wilson Bridge and the control tower at National Airport. I remove my headphones to soak in the day’s sounds. Flurries skate across my path and begin their light tapping on the surfaces around them.

Along Hains Point a bald eagle in a tree notices me, and takes flight. Minutes later, the geese around the river are thrown into a tizzy for some reason I can’t figure out. I listen to their throaty squawkings among each other. It’s an impressive wall of sound.

I enjoy my plodding so much that I extend my planned jaunt from 6 to 11 miles. This dreary day in the ‘teens didn’t start out so great, but I guess all it needed was a whatevering run to change that around. Whatevering run success.


  1. I need to do adopt this attitude more often on my cycling. Too often, I’m riding with/for a definite purpose and forget to savor the nothingness of just riding. Thanks for the reminder.


  2. perfect post!
    now i know i’m not alone in my “whatever” meandering when out snowshoe’ing. sometimes it’s not about the exercise, but to see what’s out there, enjoy nature, and just “be” in the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so into the “whatevering” runs and rides (and walks, for that matter), though I usually just call them “adventure” runs:) I think it’s by far the best way to see the world, and the best way to renew your sense of wonder.


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