Friday, May 23, 2014

Why do you run?

When I tell people I run, I get a lot of responses.  Most manage to cover their surprise quite well - after all, I'm over 200 pounds, a woman, and I don't fit the image of a runner.  A lot of the response depends on the who I'm talking to.  If it's a runner, I'll hear something like, "That's awesome."  This may or may not be followed by, "You should come running with us!"

With non-runners, I hear excuses or questions.  I'm not judging the excuses - first, running isn't for everyone; second, I've made all of those excuses myself at one time or another.  As much as I'm aware that I'm not going to convert any of these people, I've learned to shut up when I hear the excuses, or respond in a sympathetic way.  Some examples of excuses or questions I've received, how I now respond and what I'm really thinking (Yes, I'm aware it's judgmental as hell, forgive me and realize that I do not say these things, much like others did not say them to me before.)

I can't run, I have bad knees  - My response, "yeah, running can be hard on the knees."  My real thoughts - "I was a competitive curler for years.  I've had MRIs to evaluate the amount of damage I've done to my knees.  My knees crunch when I walk upstairs.  Heck, sometimes they just crunch when I'm walking.  Or when I straighten them, even while lying down.  I know from knee pain.  Need a knee brace recommendation?  I'm your girl.  Also, for curling, Robax is bloody amazing - I do not recommend this for running and you need to really research the use of NSAIDs and running and make your own decision.  Ditto muscle relaxants.  You know what has never hurt me while running?  My knees.  Oh, sure, I've had other injuries, but my knees are troopers.  Or it's possible I have no memory of life without knee pain and they really hurt and I'm in denial.  Research has actually shown that running slows (potentially stops) arthritis in the knees.  Sure, you can't just jump in and run for 6 miles, but there are plenty of learn to run programs out there that can get you from 0 to whatever distance you want with reduced injuries and much more happiness.  Do it.  You won't regret it."

What made you start running? My response, "I had this friend who ran and she often talked about half marathons and it sounded like a good way to get active."  My real thought, "Dude, look at me.  I'm fat.  I have skinny friends.  They run AND drink beer.  I want to be thin and drink beer.  Therefore: running.  Also, half marathons and medals.  I like medals and i thought half marathons might impress people.  I was wrong, but it's too late and I kind of like running.  And beer.  And medals."

Running is bad for your knees.  My response, blank stare followed by a subject change.  My thoughts, "It's not, you're an idiot and I can't even come up with a polite response to that."

I don't have time to run.  My response, "yeah, it's hard to fit it in sometimes."  My thoughts, "You probably don't, but if you start talking about Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad (or whatever the TV show du jour is) in the next five minutes, I'm pretty sure you have time to run."

You should run with us.  My response, "nah, I'd just slow you down."  My thoughts, "Nah, I'd just slow you down and be ashamed of how slow I am.  Because I'm a runner, therefore I am slow."

Why don't you do races closer to home?  My response, "I do, they just take less planning than destination races."  My thoughts, "Because then someone I know might want to run with me.  And find out how slow I am.  And judge me because I'm both fat AND slow.  Or someone I know might just see me running and be appalled.  So I'll just go do it with strangers.  Also, the local races I want to run seem to conflict with my destination run this year, which sucks. I can't run ALL THE RACES.  In a single year."

I hate running.  I don't know how you can like it.  My response, "yeah, it isn't for everyone. " My thoughts, "I used to hate running too.  Turns out I didn't understand to work myself up to running longer distances/lengths of time so it was harder than it needed to be and felt like everything hurt all the time.  I know better now and it feels great.  Most of the time.  Sort of.  I mean, for the first mile or so it can be hell.  And the last mile.  And the middle miles.  And oh my god hills.  And I'm slow so maybe I'm just more of a jogger than a runner, but whatever.  I run.  And when I'm done my run, I feel freakin' amazing.  And for about an hour, I don't shut up.  You probably should feel a bit sorry for my husband, but in all seriousness, I love running because of how it feels.  And there are days when I'm simply amazed at how far I've run.  And how consistently I do it.  And how even when a run starts out crappy, I run through it - for better or worse.  And when I'm done those runs, I feel even better than when I'm done an easy run because challenges rock.  And succeeding in a challenge where I might have once failed or given up is the best feeling ever.  It's a feeling I wish everyone could experience once."

But it's cold out.  My response, "yes, it is.  That's why there are treadmills."  My thoughts, "Yes, it is.  That's why there are treadmills."

Treadmills suck.  My response, "yes, they do."  My thoughts, "yes, they do, but the ones at my gym have TVs so I can watch ridiculous people buy houses on TV (thank you HGTV).  And they're sometimes just better than running outside on sheer ice.  Or in 2 feet of snow because apparently, even in Canada, people can't bother to break out a shovel and clear the damned sidewalk.  Also an air conditioned gym can be better than running in extreme heat, wind, thunderstorms, tornados, etc.  And they're better than not running at all."

It's too hot to run.  See "But it's cold out" and also "treadmills suck."

I used to run, when I lived in Australia for a year and lived at sea level.  Running here hurts my lungs.  My response, "you lived in Australia?  That's cool." because that's clearly the response they want.  My thoughts, "If I can run when I'm over 200 lbs, you can run.  You do hot yoga AND boot camp and you complain that running makes your lungs hurt.  Right.  I get it.  We'll stop talking about running."

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