Chris Blattman recently took up running. He ponders: What does running have to do with development economics? The question is prompted by the fact that Owen Barder is evidently an ultramarathon-er and author of a running book. Blattman has no aspirations of running marathons, ultra or otherwise. He wants to reach 10 miles. I applaud him for that. I get bored after 6 miles, and I only run farther than that if I get lost.
Recently, I’ve only been running about 3 miles at a time. This is because I haven’t been running often (less than once a week), which in turn is because being a muzungu running around Mbale is very uncomfortable. People stare and shout greetings when you just walk around town. But running around getting all sweaty with your (relatively) pale legs and arms showing? They don’t know what to make of me. I go to Kenya next week. I’ve heard that some Kenyans like to run, so maybe I’ll blend in. Or maybe not. But I won’t look quite as crazy.
So is there a metaphor in there somewhere for how running is like development? I find that any kind of athletic training focuses my mind on concepts like constant improvement and tracking progress. These are good principles for any kind of work. I don’t know that the metaphor goes much beyond that. I just like running.