Friday, March 28, 2014

Do you tutu?

There's a bit of an uproar on the wonderful internet over fluffy bits of tulle.  For the record, while tutus make me smile when I'm running, I've never actually considered wearing one myself.  I do love seeing them during a race though, whether they're sported by a young girl or an adult male.  It's a sign that the wearer is having fun or at least has a fun personality, whether or not they're having fun at that exact moment is irrelevant.

In a world where we're obsessed with conformity and not standing out, I think it's pretty great that people put it out there and show who they are when they're running - whether it's with a tutu, a princess costume or as a running Elvis.  Those people are helping create memorable moments in the event, they make other runners smile and attract the attention of those on the sidelines cheering.  They're a sign that running isn't stupidly serious, that it can (and should) be fun.

If it isn't, why are you doing it?

Since beginning running, I've heard many excuses from friends about why they don't run.  I think I've even been blocked on the odd facebook page because I talk about it far too much.  What it comes down to is people don't run because they don't like it (with a handful of people having serious issues that would physically prevent them from doing it).

When I took Phys Ed, the focus was on team sports.  The only time we ran was for the fitness tests that were done periodically.  I can't tell you how much I hated that 12 minute run.  Seriously.  12 minutes was all we needed to run, but no one had ever come out and helped us train.  No one spent time talking about pace and building up distance and time slowly.  Nothing like that.  Just one day a year we'd line up and run for 12 minutes.

And it would hurt.  And people went out too fast and couldn't finish.  People felt like they were going to die. It was, after all, a "test."  You wanted to do your best.  You didn't want to be too slow.  And you had no real concept of how it felt to run for 12 minutes - especially if you went out at a sprint.

Is it any wonder people have developed a hatred for this sport?  I have people tell me all the time that they don't understand how I can WANT to run, that I choose to run for enjoyment as well as weight loss.  It's akin to torture to them.

And I try to explain that it isn't all about speed.  It's not about finishing first.  It's about challenging yourself, finding your limits and then pushing them further.  It's about time spent with friends and strangers running for cupcakes.  It's about running down the Vegas strip listening to live music.  It's about being passed by a horde of runners dressed as Elvis.  Or seeing a group of people in tutus.  It's about someone running a 10K much faster than you're running your 5K, telling you how great you're doing as they pass you.  It's about complete strangers cheering you on and holding strange and encouraging signs.

I'm a slow runner.  Maybe my view is tainted by the fact that I'll never actually win a race.  I'm holding out for that day when I'm the only runner in my age group and I win by default, but I fear that day won't come as running gains in popularity.  And I'm OK with that.

While I absolutely would point and laugh at anyone wearing a tutu to the office (except during march madness foosball tournaments, of course) I will not call someone wearing a tutu while running lame.  You've got more guts than me.  You're willing to wear your personality on your sleeve (or waist) for everyone to see, and let the haters hate.

The great thing that has come out of this is that the runner whose picture was used to call tutu'd runners lame makes and sells those same tutus, giving all proceeds from those sales to a charity that encourages girls to run.  She and her friend who make the tutus in their spare time have had to shut down their order page because they cannot keep up to the number of orders being placed.

Need a tutu? 
Just want to donate to a great charity?  Find your local Girls on the Run Chapter.