Today I read a rather thought-provoking article by someone I don’t think I’d like very much in person. It was called “Running a Marathon Does Not Make You Mother Theresa“. Written by another WordPress user, this post was delivered to my attention by none other than the “Freshly Pressed” section (as in, picked out, shined up and presented as “The Best Of”) on WordPress’s front page. Previously deciding, after having read that the usual requirements for an author to get “Freshly Pressed” include content that is free of things such as typos, poached images, bad words and hate-speech, that my occasional F-bomb must have to be the only reason I’ve never been selected, I would never imagine an inflammatory piece of work could earn such recognition. And yet, here I find this post, full of bad words (ass-hat) and, well…technically, hate speech (marathoners are asshats).
My newfound distrust in the integrity of WordPress editors aside, this article did two things to me today:
- It offended me deeply – and even though I possess a lively contentiousness, rarely am I ever genuinely offended.
- It made me wonder if all my non-runner friends feel about me the way the author of this post feels about, according to her, 83% of her Facebook friends.
I don’t feel the need to talk more about why the article offended me. If you read it for yourself, that part will be obvious.
What I do want to talk about is the latter point. How do my non-runner friends feel about my blog, which is about running of course, and not usually much of anything else? There is the occasional rant or chatter about some other subject matter, but most of those posts happened before I realized this was a running blog. It decided that for itself, of course. But my blog aside, what about my DailyMiles that get reposted on Facebook? The articles that active.com publishes for me every week or two? The reviews I write about stuff that I got for free? What does everyone think of seeing my status updates about running shoes, of seeing me walk around in Vibrams or turning down Friday night plans because of an early morning long run? What do my friends think about the 13.1 sticker plastered proudly on the rear bumper of my gray Honda Civic? Do they want to rip it off and burn it?
Do my friends think I’m an asshat?
Do they roll their eyes every time I bring up the subject of running? Do they secretly smile and talk amongst themselves when they hear I’ve been injured? Do they think that I’m a braggart or an attention-whore? Or worse, that I’m too fat/short/old to run and should just give up the ghost already?
After I finished reading the article that this self-professed “almost-a-doctor” wrote (an article that could theoretically result in more sick people by disparaging the activity of running, as well as those who indulge in it), I realized that I really don’t actually give a shit what non-runners think of me running. I don’t do it for them.
I love to run. I don’t run for vanity and mask my hatred for it with claims of Mother-Theresa-like spiritual fortitude. I actually really, really like it. Call it my hobby. It’s my favorite activity besides sleeping, drinking beer and eating (and in some cases I have given more love to running than I have to those other things). I love running, but I don’t love….say, professional football. Nope, I don’t watch football games, and don’t give a shit who wins. New England Patriots, who are they? Actually, I do know who they are, of course, but stay with me here. I have about 25 Facebook friends who light up my homepage every week of the year with play-by-play updates from every game, in every sport they watch. They love sports, I don’t give a shit. But, despite the bouts of razzing I occasionally dole out to them for fun, I don’t think they’re asshats because of it. Same thing for people who are into cars, veganism, their toddlers, obscure films and the Rocky Horror Picture Show…for the most part I don’t care one iota about those things, but I don’t have a problem with them because they want to talk about it.
And I don’t post running stuff for the eyes of my non-running friends, anyway, just like nobody is posting the halftime score for my benefit. I just checked, and I currently have 232 friends on Facebook. More than a third of those friends are barefoot and minimalist runners. And if you take away all the friends I have who never communicate with me on the site, the ratio of runners to non-runners probably doubles. Then add back all the people who seem to genuinely care about my comings and goings no matter what the subject (a function of friendship that the above-mentioned writer-cum-doctor most likely knows nothing about). So, if perhaps three quarters of the people I connect with on a daily basis are runners or people who in some way do give a shit about my running life, then what do I have to be self-conscious about? Certainly not the person who writes articles chastising people who work hard at something they love and who think they deserve to be proud of themselves for it.
So this is a note to anyone who thinks my running life is boring, ludicrous, unhealthy, misguided, attention-seeking or otherwise negatively self-serving (including the Spinster herself): Get out now. Stop waiting for a blog post from me that’s not about running, stop rolling your eyes (enviously?) at my DailyMile posts. Unfollow me. Hell, why not just delete me? Because I’m not going to stop running or stop talking about running just because you’re not interested.
And for those of you have been somehow inspired by my passion for running, well you are part of the reason I share. Running, especially distance running, is an exceptionally challenging and rewarding activity that way beats watching 30 men run into each other to stop 11.25 inches of pigskin. I hope that more of you will try it. And as always, thanks for reading.