Ask a Runner — A Very Special Edition

Behold! The Founding Father of running crazies!

WEATHER: Gorgeous and autumnal



WHERE TO: C & O Trail

MOOD: Exhausted.


I received an e-mail last week from a good friend (and fellow Iowan, so you know she’s quality) who has also been known to go on the occasional run.  She began her missive kindly enough:

“Damn it, woman!  I have done nothing during my prep but read old entries on your blog.  I have a whole pile of grading to do but I just can’t FOCUS and I feel soooo sleeeppy, and you’ve provided such an alluring distraction my willpower just can’t hold up.”

…which just shows you the power of the BLOG, kids, because I am SINGLE-HANDEDLY contributing to the distraction of teachers and decline of the education system.  You’re welcome.

But all joking aside, my friend, whom I shall call “Red,” did then alert me to a troubling aspect of my delightful little online window into the running world.  To wit:

“Also, you’ve been slipping in a lot of barbs against 5-kers / people who run short distances as of late.  … WHY must I feel like if I’m not training for at least a 1/2 marathon there’s really no point???  You just write better than the American Medical Association, who encourage me to get 30 minutes of aerobic activity a day.  THAT’S NOT JUST FOR OLD LADIES!!!  My physician / physical therapist / shrink / waistline would probably appreciate it if you wrote some encouraging words aimed at more regular-type joggers.  Otherwise I’m going to become a yoga monster and start my own sandals-and-candles blog about my ‘practice.'”

Naturally, when my readers (all three of ’em) have concerns, I feel that I must respond.

So.  Red.  You see, I once thought like you.  I once thought the tent of The Running Movement was big enough to take in people of all stripes, allowing us to form one great, glorious coalition with which we would overpower the jazzercisers, the early-morning-boot-camp-in-the-park-ers, the self-righteous-triathletes (except for you, C.), and most certainly the cyclists.

But somewhere amid the ridiculous race costumes and proliferation of Camelbaks, the integrity and purity of the movement has been lost, I feel.  And so I hereby declare that there is no place in the Big Tent o’ Running for RINOs (Runners In Name Only, of course). Have you ever worn a tiara during a race?  Monopolized a water fountain for like five minutes because you needed to fill up the plastic bladder in your backpack?  Yeah.  Get out of the tent.

Because sometimes you have a choice.  You can either make nice with the overwhelming majority of nice people who aren’t as extreme as you, or you can remain true to your ideals.  You can either have a crowd, or you can be a lone voice in the wilderness.  Take yer pick.

I will now take questions.

Where do you get your central principles?

From the Founding Runners.  That Greek guy who ran that first marathondid he wear shirts with ridiculous slogans (“Pain is weakness leaving the body.” “Nipple discomfort is temporary but GLORY IS FOREVER.” “I bet I can wet myself way faster than you can.”)?  Did he monitor his heart rate?  No.  He ran his race and sweated good, honest, manly sweat, and, when he finished, simply said, “βδμξηφοΨ.”  Or, loosely translated, “Every muscle is sore, including my hoohah.”  This kind of running simplicity is what we aim for.

So you must not use gels, then.

….noooo…..of course not…..

And runners clearly can’t use iPods during races, then?

USATF is a fascist radical reactionary hippie buzzkill of a dictatorship of a governing body for ever trying to legislate what races can/can’t allow on their own courses.  IPod usage is most certainly up to the individual races’ governing bodies. I personally tote a totally sweet boombox on my shoulder during every race.

Isn’t that annoying?

It’s a free country.  This is why my buddies fought in Grenada.  So that I can blast Wilson Phillips as I pass mile 19.  Also so I can pack heat on the course.



Aren’t race fees unfair?

Excellent question.  Simple answer: did old Greeky pay a race fee?  No.  He ran to free himself from the oppression of those who would have him pay $130 for a measly t-shirt and aid stations serving weak-ass Gatorade.

Actually, he ran to ask Sparta for milit-

No one likes a know-it-all.

So what do we do without race fees?

We will still have fees, and they will be based on a simple system of paying one quarter for every minute it takes you to complete the race.  Did you run a 3-hour race?  Congrats.  $45, please!  Did you run 8 hours?  Sorry, friend, but you gotta cough up $120.  Now, some will argue that this puts an unfair burden on the slower and more recreational runners.  I would argue that sometimes you just gotta pull yourself up by your bootstraps into a lower race-fee bracket.

Is this really your attitude about running?

Absolutely not.  I’m nothing like you’ve heard.  I’m you.


(Seriously, Red, I’ll quit with the hating, because my tent is huuuuge enough to take in runners of all distances…especially those unfathomably dreamy mile-runners I’ve seen on the teevee.  But also because I love the phrase “sandals-and-candles blog.”)

2 responses to this post.

  1. What about hipster runners? You know?People who run ironically?


  2. Also, I’d heard that the 5k was a gateway run. So is it to real running what community college is to a 4 year college?


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