Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole

People Who Hate Distance Runners are Jealous

21 Comments

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:

  1. It offended me deeply – and even though I possess a lively contentiousness, rarely am I ever genuinely offended.
  2. 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.

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21 thoughts on “People Who Hate Distance Runners are Jealous

  1. Wow. That article IS offensive. Running is a hobby and finishing a marathon is a huge deal (to the runner, at least). I really don’t think all those runners go through so much training, pain, and money just to impress their facebook friends. It’s a personal accomplishment and of course everyone has the right to be darn PROUD of it!
    I know after my first half marathon I was blowing up the social networking sites about it for a week, not to mention the poor people in my real life who got to hear me jabber on excitedly about it.

    • And you’re allowed. Everybody talks about what’s going on in their lives, their accomplishments, their family, etc. Why aren’t runners allowed to talk about running? Because some of their friends are lazy and don’t want to hear about it because it makes them feel bad about never exercising? Ridiculous.

  2. Well said. Obviously it hits some issues with her, why she feels the need to attack runners I don’t get. Yes, I have a dumb 26.2 sticker on my car and no I don’t care what people think of it. I put it there cause I was proud of my accomplishments. However, I have never once thought it makes me a better person than anyone else. Not better, worse, less or more. Just me.

    • Totally with you. I have a 13.1 sticker on my car. I have read people saying they hate 13.1 stickers because half marathoners “never completed anything, only went half way.” And I have heard people hate all those stickers because it seems snooty and holier-than-thou. I think both those people are asshats. You put stick figure stickers on your bumper of your Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter, Cat and Dog. That’s your accomplishment, this is mine.

  3. Pretty sure this is the first blog of yours that I’ve read and I’m completely 100% on board with you. And I’m one of those people who posts about my swim/bike/run, blogs about it, POSTS the blog, AND then reacts to the halftime score of the Pats game!
    I declare us friends. And I dig reading about other people’s fitness journeys. Keeps mine real and relevant and keeps me motivated on those drag-ass days.

    • Thanks, Doug. You never HAVE to agree with me 100%, nobody does, and I think that’s my point to this whole thing. Well, if it had to have a point, that is. Mostly it was just spouting. 🙂

  4. Great post!!! I am of the mind that if I have encouraged a couple people to get moving and get healthy (in any way not just running) than everyone else who’s annoyed that I post my runs can bite me. The number of times I have heard people tell me that they … went to the gym, tried running, started the Couch to 5K, started eating better … because they saw my Facebook and figured if I could do it anyone could, it makes it worth it.

    • Yes!! I agree! Several people have told me that I’ve inspired them to either try barefoot running or to start running in the first place, and every time I hear it I am excited and humbled. I don’t, however, think I am Mother Theresa for it. The more people who understand running is a good thing, the more people will talk about it (and I love talking about it), the more people will run (with me!), and the healthier everyone will be as well all get old.

  5. I’m not a runner…. Not at all. In fact the thought of running makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. But…. I am an athlete. I believe in the passion that any athlete has for whichever sport they endulge in. As an athlete, I only wish I had the balls that it takes to not only attempt to train for, run in, and complete a marathon. People who have done so, display the 26.2 PROUDLY. You definitely have something to be proud of.

  6. Trisha,
    This was the best blog post I’ve read.. EVER. Thank you thank you thank you!!! Perfectly said and what I would say if I was able to write as well as you. 🙂

  7. The following sentence is proof that she was referring to me – When we graduated college, just a few short years ago.

    I graduated way more than a few years ago, thus, I am still cool.

    That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

  8. The person who wrote the contentious article obviously sees setting a goal and working to achieve it as an unworthy way to use one’s time – especially as compared to the nobility of volunteering to a cause/charity. Certainly, volunteering is a very good thing – but why does it preclude being able to prepare for and run a marathon s well?

    She’s chosen an unusual target – maybe she’s finding a lot of her friends are ramping up their efforts to stay in shape and are being vocal about it, and it intimidates her. Otherwise, it’s a fairly common thing, especially on the internet: criticize what you don’t understand. Shod runners vs barefoot runners, Liberals vs Conservatives, hard core Bikram yogists vs casual yoga practitioners, Vegans vs Carnivores. People seem to be looking for more provocative ways to get a reaction from others.

    Bottom line, Trisha, you’ve found something you feel passionate about, you seem to always couch your love for running – and barefoot running – in the positive, and you don’t deride others, or even implore everyone who reads your blog to take their bare feet to the street. You just share your stories, insights, and experiences. Keep doing so. I’d venture to say that your non-running friends enjoy your inspiration and enthusiasm. As a fellow runner, I do.

  9. Wow…what a bunch of pontificating bunch of morons (original poster and commentors) on that linked article. I have run into very few egotistical runners during my “time” as a runner. I certainly do not view runners with their “13.1” or “26.3” car stickers. “Awesome” and “run on brother” or “sister” is what I say. I hope to join that group one day!

    • Thanks for reading, S! I definitely have a 13.1 bumper sticker….and when I get to a bigger distance, I’ll get a sticker for that too! I’m proud of my accomplishments, and no bitter witch is going to take that away from me! Best of luck in your running endeavors!

      • Thanks! By the way….I had meant to say that I don’t view the marathoners as having holier-than-thou attitudes. I hope to run a marathon one day; I have as my goal the Air Force Marathon in Sept. My Daily Mile friends certainly motivate me to reach that goal.

      • So, if running a marathon makes you Morher Theresa, does running the Air Force marathon make you the President? 😉

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  11. Honestly, I don’t think that article is worth getting annoyed about. It was kinda funny actually. I just recently went to the Big Sur/ Monterey Marathon to cheer on my friend who was running it, and I have to say, the expo/ Q&A sessions were filled with smug, phoney asshats. It was tiresome. Seriously if running is your thing, that’s cool, embrace it- it does take a strong commitment to complete a marathon. I enjoyed hearing from greats like Jeff Galloway, Dean Karnazes etc. It just seems that the rank and file are these dorky, whiney, elitists who are entirely too self absorbed to realize nobody wants to hear them endlessly drone on about their strained IT band. And yes, the 26.2 bumper stickers are pretty annoying too. I just deadlifted 400 lbs, I’m proud of it, but if I had a bumper sticker that said “400” I’d punch myself in the face. Anyway, you made some good points too, if running is your thing, keep rolling, everyone has their interests. I wouldn’t get offended by that article, it was hilarious.

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