I made a post a couple weeks ago referring to the massive amount of new runners that hop on to the scene in early-mid spring. What I forgot about were the anti-runners who seemingly come out of nowhere to suck the very life out of those rookies before they can really get going.
Let me be clear here. I'm not just referring to NON-Runners. People who choose not to run because they'd rather do something else, or they can't run, or they just flat out don't want to run. I'm not even talking about the people who despise running with every fiber of their being. Quite frankly, I don't care what your feelings are about running. I like it. It benefits me and my family when I do it without negatively impacting really anyone else in the entire world. So I'm going to go right ahead and keep on running as long as I can. We just probably won't have many conversations about running, but I like you no less. I generally don't base my relationships/friendships on whether or not someone runs. I'd miss out on a lot of really great people if I did.
No. Where I have the problem is with the ANTI-RUNNERS. The people who go on attack the minute they find out you're a runner or you've decided to become one. WHAT IS UP WITH THESE PEOPLE?!
For someone with a lot of miles under their belt, it's no big deal. Yes, sometimes it still hurts when the comments come from someone you love only because you wish they understood. But mostly you just shrug off the remarks, eye rolling or disapproving head nods. But on the other hand for a new runner, excited about the positive impact they think they're going to make on their life, this takes a little wind out their sails. Now sure, some people start off running with a great deal of confidence, so again, they've got no problem blowing off the anti-runner like the pesky little gnat they are. Yet still for some, lacing up those running shoes for the first time took about all the courage they could muster. They felt silly or stupid just doing that, but they did it anyway (THAT'S RIGHT YOU DID BABY!!! AND YOU BE PROUD OF THAT!!!). These people don't need somebody's pile of steaming crap to deal with. (see you know I'm mad, when do I use words like that?)
So I'm gonna deal with these people for you because none of them are original and they fit pretty neatly into a couple of categories.
1. The well intentioned but entirely misinformed - Ok these anti-runners are the only ones I'll cut some slack because I want to believe they really do care about you and your well being. They've just bought into this whole "running is bad for you" myth. They're the ones that will give you all sorts of reasons why running is bad for your health. A lot of times backed up not by actual scientific evidence, but firsthand experience, that is if you consider something to the effect of "you know my college roommate's uncle's best friend was a runner for 50 years and now he can't even walk" to be first hand.
Running is not bad for you. Could you get injured? Yep. Could you one day not be able to walk? Yep. Could you have a heart attack? Yep. But guess what? All those things could happen to you whether you run or not. We don't know what the future holds. But we do know running is not going to significantly increase your chances of any of those things. Unless perhaps you will be substituting running for staying inside sitting on your couch watching tv eating potato chips and massive bowls of ice cream. Then yeah, maybe you won't get injured. I'm not so sure about the heart attack and the not walking though, plus a there's a whole slew of other not so nice conditions you might want to consider, but I digress.
How to deal: If it is someone you care about who's offering you this advice because they're worried about you, reassure them. Send them articles like this one from Time. Make sure they know you're taking it slow and you're taking care of yourself. Also it does help some if you have actually been cleared by your doctor before you start running or ANY exercise program. (Sidenote: be forewarned some doctors are anti-runners too. In fact my family dr happens to be one of them, fortunately for me my OBGYN, whom I happened to see much more of in the past 4 years is a marathon runner and as such has educated himself far more on the benefits and risks of running. One guess what his thoughts are on the matter.)
2. The former runners now couch potatoes -These dudes either got lazy, got hurt, or got distracted with life and quit running. The only reason they do not want you to run is because they're afraid you running shines a big giant spotlight on what they're not doing but feel they should.
How to deal: Keep on running my friend. When these once-upon-a-timers finally realize what they're saying hasn't stopped you from running, they'll zip it. Actually, these guys are the ones most likely to end up running right along with you one day.
3. The know it alls & negative knuckleheads - Grouping these together because ultimately for both types their problem with running has nothing to do with running and everything to do with themselves. They either just have to know best all the time about everything or they are just generally negative about everything.
How to deal: Ignore. Unless you happen to be just so overwhelmingly charismatic that you are able to turn even the most cynical of hearts into positive uplifting people, then have at 'em with your wonderful self. The rest of us in the world will be sure to thank-you for making it a better place.
4. Mine's betterers (that's a lot of er's but I'm going with it)- These people are out to prove that their sport/exercise/hobby is much much better than running and will kindly let you know every chance they get.
How to deal: Be honest. Let him know that while you enjoy hearing his stories about tennis or hockey or model airplanes or whatever, you really enjoy running and you're not interested in giving it up to pursue something else at this time even if they are pretty sure it is better. If that doesn't work, then you may have to revert back to...ignore.
5. Running Snobs- These I've discussed at length before. And while they actually are runners themselves and may even love running, it is their attitude towards their fellow runner that aptly earns them the title of anti-runner. Ironic? Yes. Fitting? Absolutely. For more on running snobs, visit my old post, Running Snobs...Don't be that guy & DO NOT let that guy get to you!
How to deal: Ignore. Most running snobs are in for a major let down when they finally come to the realization that they aren't as amazing as they think are. Continue quietly on your merry running way and perhaps one day you might be the one to surprise your most dreaded running snob when you whip his butt at your local 5K.
Ultimately the best advice I can give to runners who aren't looking to battle it out with anti-runners is just to save your running talk for other runners or people you are close to who are supportive and encouraging. And once you find out someone around you is not so interested in running or is in fact an anti-runner, just don't bring it up around them. I don't think you have to avoid it completely. I mean if you can't meet somebody for coffee at 8AM because you're running for an hour at 7 tell them. But your probably going to want to find somebody else to discuss dynamic versus static stretching or how your race over the weekend went.
And my advice to the anti-runner:
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD... BACK OFF!!
If you can think of an anti-runner type I missed, have advice for dealing with one, or would like to share a run-in with an anti-runner of your own, or tell me something else entirely, feel free to leave me a comment. I'll be crawling back to bed now and I promise to return in a much happier mood.
'Til next time...
P.S. Only ONE DAY LEFT! Go vote on which marathon I should run.
"Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great"
(thanks to Mark on Facebook for posting this quote just as I was wrapping up the post)