Tuesday, April 11, 2006

This will be difficult to understand if you're not a runner

The strange thing about being a runner, for me anyway, is that the novelty never wears off. As much as you try to perfect a routine by eating a certain way or by speedwork or whatever else, there's always going to be those odd days where something just doesn't feel right. Often times, it's these unexpected days that remind runners that they're human.

That said, the novelty does wear off for everyone else. Your friends and family get used to the idea that you run. Though they support you and encourage you, the routine is established for them. They leave you messages that say "oh you're probably out running, call me when you get in" or "If you don't have a race to go to that weekend, I hope you can make it to the wedding." Their idea of you is not you the runner, it's you the person that runs.

Most successful life-long runners get past this. They fit their running into the schedule of life because it's something they have to do. Whether you're trying to stay in shape, keep up with the kids, train for races, blow off steam or maybe all of the above, you have to run. The day is not right without it. This is where the two paths tend to converge, or crash.

Throughout my years of running, I can say that no one except other runners (and possibly an enthusiastic cyclist or two) can understand. They don't see how you prioritize running like they prioritize lunch- except you prioritize lunch too because you're a runner and therefore, you eat a lot. They don't see how it's part of who you are and how you define yourself. A lot of things can cause bad days but for a runner, not getting to run is often at the top of the list.

With as many people as there are that run marathons these days, you'd think this idea would be more wide spread. Still, even with all those millions of runners, only something like .015% of the population participated in a marathon in 2005. That, I suppose, sheds some light on the reason we still get the "crazy" comments when we get up at 4:00 a.m. for a run or save all our vacation days to travel to races. But the numbers are growing and hopefully, the two paths will converge one day and not crash. Hopefully they'll just coexist and maybe even get a few converts over to the "other side." It would really work out well for all us runners if the rest of you could just join us because, after all, we're runners and we really don't want to change.


Runner Girl FL said...

As a runner I know what you mean. And as I have only recently returned to the sport my non-runner friends are still getting used to the idea that "no I can't show up for dinner right after work if I normally run that day!!" :)

Most of them are really great and supportive but one or two of the less active ones don't seem to get it and are waiting for this "phase" to be over I think. I like to think they will be waiting a long time.

I really have to get over my self and start going in the morning. Then I'll be a real runner.

JustRun said...

I only go in the mornings on weekends or if I'm meeting a group. Otherwise, my butt stays in bed. :-)

GirlGoyle said...

I've always wanted to be a runner and I've tried, mostly in order to keep in shape. The problem is that I don't seem to have an addictive personality to anything. I do a lot of physical activity and I need to be outdoors but...running just bores me. I wish I could enter that zone. I'm envious. I'll take any advice you can give me...maybe some day I'll be a convert too.

justacoolcat said...

I don't run, running hurts my parts.
However; as a rear around cyclist, I can fully understand.

justrun said...

gg- it's a bug that doesn't bite everyone, that's for sure.

coolcat- I know some of you cyclists can be an exception.
Also, I know people say running hurts but when I'm on my bike, I just can't make sense of carrying an extra 25-30 lbs. up a hill. Now that hurts!

Bre said...

I was an athlete all through high school and most of college (and all the years before that). Part of our conditioning was to run, so I did and it sucked. I think it's so powerful that you can have that passion for it, but as a cheerleader, softball catcher, and rugby player .... my knees were shot. Every time I came back from running I'd pack my knees with ice and get stretched and pulled.... yuck. When I had my big injury that took me out of the game (everyone has one :-P )I stopped being athletic and just was my own fussy self. Lately I've gotten more into walking with a coworker of mine in the evenings - I enjoy the social aspect of that, and knowing that I'm getting into shape, but I know I won't turn b ack to running unless it's on a treadmill!