Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Running Snobs...Don't Be That Guy AND DO NOT Let That Guy Get To YOU!

Running snobs. They're about the only thing that can get me worked up as much as government bailouts for companies who in turn are letting go of the very people who are bailing their sorry behinds out (but this is an entirely different subject that you DO NOT want to get me started on unless you've got plenty of time on your hands and you can handle high volumes, well I'm not really a yeller, let's call it intense debate instead).

For the most part, runners are friendly people, excited and happy to meet other runners and swap tales from the trails and talk running in general. Now there are some that prefer the more secluded side of running, a runner who's in his/her head and not really interested in the social running community at large. These are the people who can't even break focus long enough to muster up a two fingered wave when you pass them from the opposite direction. I have no problem with these people and from time to time tend to be one of them. No interruptions, no chatter...just me and the run. (Stop rolling your eyes, this really is true...rare..but true)

No, the ones that frost my cookies are the actual running snobs. These are the people who have somewhere in their heads defined what an actual runner is and have determined to turn their nose up or even worse yet rub your nose in the fact that you don't measure up. This usually consists of some arbitrary time or pace goal but can sometimes be determined by other random factors such as: you are not a runner if you stop; you stop to walk; you don't run races; you don't run far enough; you don't run often enough; you've never puked after a run;, you run on a treadmill or whatever other meaningless criteria the self-appointed king or queen of running happen to deem as important enough to properly label you as either a runner or non-runner.

Today, at the dentist, the hygenist (who shall remain nameless to protect her secret superhero identity unless of course she deems to break her cover on her own) and I started a little chat about running. She's thinking of picking running back up again, and in fact, taking on the daunting task of a 1/2 marathon for her first race back...let's pause here for a little group cheer...Go SuperHygenist!...She used to run and tried to pick it back up but got chased away by one of these running snobs. And in this she's not alone, I know for sure. I've run across similar people in running forums, or running groups and their tactics are more than enough to chase off a new or a "born again" runner.

If you meet them in person, they'll do things like roll their eyes or huff and puff while you're on the treadmill, or even pull out their best high school tricks like whisper and giggle. In a forum or group where they don't have to look you in the eye, they may even resort to snide comments. In the case of our dear SuperHygenist, one of them actually had the nerve to make the comment in person while she was on the treadmill "there are people here actually training for something" (And now just typing that, gets me revved up!)

Here's the thing people: DO NOT LET THEM BOTHER YOU! Not one teeny tiny ant's leg worth! They wouldn't have ANY of their precious races to run in without you! There simply are not enough elite runners out there to maintain all the local 5Ks, 10Ks, 1/2s, and even full marathons out there. Those runners up in the front of the pack NEED the back of the packers to fund their races. And more so, most of those front of the pack runners are in fact in the back of the pack somewhere at some race and if not now, then at some point they were. We all have to start somewhere and not all of us have the time, money, and/or talent to devote ourselves to becoming front of the packers even if we desired to do so.

Not that I am accusing ALL front of the pack elite athletes of being running snobs either. NOT BY A LONG SHOT! I know some. I've met some and they are some of the most down to earth, encouraging people you'll ever meet. (especially because I wouldn't want to offend my diehard blog fans Kara Goucher, Deena Kastor, Paula Radcliffe, and Ryan Hall who are all following along, just not publicly. They can't play favorites you know and besides then I'd be forced to pay them royalities and the advertising gets complicated, and there's copyright issues to deal with when they quote one of my little masterpieces...;-) In fact, I'd venture to guess, that these running snobs are more wannabes than anything else and as such they've got to make themselves better than somebody so they establish their "running criteria" to elevate themselves above some other poor non-worthy running soul.

So let me tell you what does in fact make you a runner...YOU! If you are making those feet move faster than you do when you take the dog for a walk in the middle of the night and you're doing so on a somewhat regular sort of basis. Then yes, my friend, you are a runner. We are all different, different body types, different fitness levels, different amounts of time we can commit, different capabilities and so what my pace is when I go out may be different from what yours is. And what my celebrity secret fans call a long slow run, I'd probably call a speed work out on steriods that somebody added an extra number to (15 miles should of been 1, 20 miles should have been 2, you get the picture).

But that's ok. Because running is all about you. You exercising, you improving yourself, you focusing on a goal (sometimes), you finding out just exactly what you are capable of. It IS NOT about what everybody else is doing and you are going to do yourself a major disservice if you let some running snob steal your thunder. (and also remember mammas, that it is highly unlikely that those running snobs have been through the phsyique changing process of labor and delivery and they most certainly are not getting up in the middle of the night to feed a baby going through a growth spurt or chasing around a three year old all day before they head out for their run) Don't get me wrong competing is good, but competing is far from being the only reason to run.

Whatever your reason for running may be, you just keep on. And the next time some running snob huffs & puffs, or tells you they're doing some serious training (which by the way is probably better done at home or some other training facility for elite athletes rather than the local YMCA or gym that you too in fact have paid the same amount of dues to access), you just smile and nod (in true mommy fashion) and say "I'll be finished in a minute" and let them huff off on their way knowing that you lady ARE A RUNNER TOO!


runnanna said...

You tell 'em runfastmommy. I still love the time one of my students at school thought that if you ran longer you should win the race.Don't get me wrong, I do like watching the fast runners, but I am much more inspired by the regulars. The people in all shapes, sizes, age groups who run for reasons only found deep in their souls. Real runners don't have to compare themselves to anyone else. They run for themselves. Thanks for the support RFM!!!

Kelly's runner said...


A couple of random pearls of wisdom from my years as a runner.

I remember reading Frank Shorter(72 gold medalist, saying that "the people that are running 4+ hours during a marathon are the real heroes to him. I can't imagine running that long".

John Bingham, the penguin himself saying the only criteria is if you run, you are a runner. Period.

I am a back of the pack runner and proud of it. There is a place in this sport for everyone.

I am trying just as hard as the elites for twice as long.

I can't wait to read your post about bailouts and layoffs!

Anonymous said...

Great blog post!!! I've run into that in our community. Not as bad as others, but there was actually a man in my running group who made snarky comments about a friend of mine who ran a marathon in 3:45:xx (It takes me at LEAST and hour and a half longer!) These running snobs used to get me down, but now I'm just taking joy in the really cool, fun people I've met along this journey. Good luck to you and your superhero hygienist too!!!