Monday, July 13, 2009

Thanks for your opinion but I love running

Our neighbors hosted a party yesterday to celebrate their son's graduation. I was talking with a few people when my neighbor walked over and mentioned that he hadn't seen me running in the neighborhood on Saturday. I told him that I'd done a run on the trails at Stillwell instead. I said that he should join me there some time but he smiled and said he'll stick with walking on the treadmill. This exchange prompted a few people to ask me about my running. One person (predictably) reacted as if I'd said that I'd spent the morning killing baby dolphins. "The only time you'll catch me running is when the beer truck is leaving." Hey, thanks for your opinion. Others were more gracious about it but still implied some negativity with statements like: "You're going to ruin your knees" and "Walking is just as good." I told one person that running shoes have evolved to the point that knee problems are unlikely as long as you replace your shoes after four or five hundred miles. He said that he had better things to spend his money on. You just can't help some people.

I've learned long ago that these negative reactions are mostly a projection of people's insecurities. Their negativism likely comes from guilt that they aren't able, or willing, to do the work. I remember when I was very active with karate some people would either poke fun of it verbally or do dumb things like pretend to shoot me with their finger to show that even the best martial artist is powerless against a gun. My point back to them was while they could pretend their finger was a weapon, mine actually was. After a while I'd just agree with them because it wasn't worth discussing.

In truth, I'm pleased that so many people find running to be a distasteful activity. Although I like seeing other runners on the road or on the trails I also like that most of the time it's a peaceful solitary experience. So when people drive by and look at me running with a miserable expression on my face, they can feel good about why they don't subscribe to this crazy sport. For me, I may look unhappy but I love it nonetheless. So in a way we all win!


  1. Brenda - U.P. Mich.July 14, 2009 at 6:04 AM

    It's amazing how people, no matter the area of our country, are basically the same. I live a beautiful rural area in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where people boast of all the outdoor activities but few participate. Rarely do I ever see another runner in our entire county much less in my rural area. I too have experience the distain and negative comments from others about my activities on the roads and trails. Great column/website, keep it up!

  2. Hi Brenda - The Michigan U.P. looks beautiful in pictures and must be a fantastic place to run. I can't imagine why people would want to live there and not take advantage but everyone gets something different out of it, I guess. Thanks for your note and enjoy the solitude!


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