Unless they are being chased by a bear. A big one.
I keep seeing men clad in lycra or baggy shorts barrelling past me on the footpath, their epic beards rippling in the the breeze, the grizzled hair tossed carelessly over the shoulder, small balls of sweat sliding down and flicking wetly onto the ground.
Their arms swing, their breaths are breathed, the rubbery slap of their sneakers dulled by passing traffic.
It's like they don't even know they have beards.
A beard need not, nay should not, be troubled by exercise.
An epic beard is a magnificent thing. And strangely, often coloured completely differently to the hair on a man's head. It highlights the cheeks and turns eyes twinkly automatically. It broadens the shoulders, straightens the back, gives gravitas. They invite big hugs and loud guffaws. They are reassuring to babies and old people, balance out a motorcycle or a horse. Give credibility to smart cars.
A neatly trimmed beard alludes to precision, to detail. Neatly trimmed beards speak of intellectual thought or spiritual leanings. They whisper of things you wouldn't understand and emotional distance. They may perch above a bicycle with serious intent and a hidden doping problem but they don't sign up for marathons because they are solving algorithms or making movies that transform the cinematic experience.
A hipster beard shaped with nods to yesteryear, rampant mutton chops or waxed tipped moustaches, speaks of stringed music, and tour buses, fashion shoots and lolling on tree branches above billabongs playing on smart devices without a hint of irony. They talk rapidly of tweed musters, penny-farthings and music festivals. They may dance, but they would never ever run.
Which is surely the point of a beard. Whether you grow one in defiance of grooming or as an act of masculinity or because it's more convenient than wearing a napkin tucked into a white shirt, there is no longer any need to run. You win at life.
When people with beards run they change the shape of the universe. They upset the natural order of things. They take away the earnestness of exercise, the cult of self flagellation in pursuit of physical perfection.
When people with beards run they are basically laughing at the rest of us, showing up our vanities and manic obsessions with sweat for sweat's sake.
And because of the beard, we can't even fucking tell.
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