Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wading into the Fray and Tuesday's Toning

Common Ground for FL and I
Tuesday Hiro and I attended Toning Class and It was uneventful.  Nice class, good to give my legs a rest, but not a lot worthy of a post.  However, yesterday Frayed Laces put up this post after hearing an NPR story about Boston's changes.  Here is basically what FL had to say on the subject:

"I know this is a hot topic, and there are many heated opinions about this. I've kind of kept my opinions to myself about this since I don't want to piss off any readers, but when I got to the "Chicken Nuggets at the End!" part of the story I started to get pissed off. The context of that statement is Team-In-Training runners. To motivate the runners to finish their 20 mile training runs they reward them with chicken nuggets at the end. Chicken Nuggets? Are you friggin' kidding me?!? If you can eat chicken nuggets at the end of a long run you may want to consider kicking things up a notch. I can barely keep down a recovery drink at the end of my long runs. I am a runner, and technically they are runners, but to lump us both in the same category is a bit ridiculous. I may not be setting any world records, and when I did start out I wasn't nearly as fast or serious about training as I am now. In the past few years I've dramatically changed however, and it really dills my pickle when someone hears that I do Ironmans and they say "Oh yeah, I did one of those once. It only took me two hours!" when in fact they're referring to a sprint triathlon they did 20 years ago. (Same thing goes for marathons) I usually just keep my big 'ol mouth in those situations, but what I want to scream out is "I train 20 hours a week! I push myself in training to the point of puking! You're doing this once to cross something off your life goal list, and I train harder-harder-harder to get faster each year! I eat, sleep, breathe this sport!

So, are there too many marathon runners? No, there aren't. There are too many "chicken nuggets at the end!" marathon runners and not enough "eat, sleep, breathe" runners. I think it's great that so many people are embracing fitness and tackling the goal of a marathon, but don't lump us all in the same category."

After reading FL post, I gave this rather sarcastic reply:

"I got started running last year and am not the type of person that anyone would look at and say "that guy looks like a runner." I'm 6'1 275. So, I am really careful not to call myself a runner because I don't want to risk offending people I who consider themselves "runners". Here's my question . . . I've done 15 race in the last 10 months, ran in the snow, ran in the rain, ran during my lunch hour, ran an 8k while on vacation in Hawaii, run 5k's at close to an 8 min. mile pace, suffered through Plantar Fasciitis, get up at 4:30am to run, have a subscription to Runner's World, keep a running blog, plan social events around my running, talk about running so much it annoys my wife, sprained an ankle running, read "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running", own more pairs of running shoes than dress shoes, and know who Bart Yasso is . . . so when will my calling myself a runner not irritate people who BQ? Because honestly, it keeps me up at nights. Sometimes, I even get a little weepy just thinking about it and want to take up curling -- but I'm screwed because I live in NC and we only get snow like twice a year."

In a follow up post Follow up to "the" post FL used my comment as an example of the responses her post has gotten and elaborated on her opinion in order to clarify that she wasn't attacking slower runner.  Personally, I never thought that was her intent.  I got that she thinks that a person, who runs a Marathon just to say they have done it, shouldn't be considered a "Marathoner."  Personally, I see the difference, and I think that most reasonable people would or should.  My issue is that a lot of people make these kinds of judgments based upon completely arbitrary criteria and superficial observations and then proceed to treat people like something akin to dog poo.

Now, I realize that is not FL's intent, but I think that making these type of judgements about people is a very slippery slope (If you need an example of this, just look at all of the Team in Training bashing that went on in response to FL's comment.  You would think that Team in Training were the biggest bunch of posers to ever put on a pair of running shoes).  Personally, my response was more than a little bit fueled by the looks of disdain that I get from people when I show up at events.  They don't know anything about me or my commitment to running, but they see a big guy with a new running jacket and just look at me a some sort of window shopper denigrating their sport. 

Now, I realize that these people are not representative of every "Runner" out there and are most likely asshole outside of their running life, and this elitism is only how their prick-ishness manifests itself in this setting, but it is this type of elitist BS that intimidates some people and keeps them from participating in something that may awaken and hidden passion.  It also can lead to efforts to devalue the accomplishments of slower runners, such as different color medals based upon finishing times, which one comment spoke about in response to FL's post.  Personally, I am the biggest person at nearly every non-major charity race I attend, and it is intimidating at times to line up with people that are in much better shape than I am.  There is no way for me to show them that I am just as serious about this sport as anyone else.  Honestly, I don't care what motivates a person to run.  I am glad to see people out there doing it, and their reasons good, bad, or ugly are their own and have no effect upon me.  I am a  runner.  I don't need a BQ or anyone else's nod of approval.  I don't care if some 400 lb Sumo Wrestler completed the LA Marathon in 9 hours and a bunch of media outlets wrote stories about it.  It doesn't water down how I feel about my accomplishments.  And, I hate to see people like FL, who have a lot people's respect buying into the idea and not realizing where such sentiments can easily lead.


  1. Nice post. We need more people exercising, not less. I just did a triathlon where the bike was an out and back on a 2 lane highway. There was only a few feet between the inbound and outbound bikers so I could see their faces as opposed to them being way across the road. The athletes with the biggest smiles were the big guys on mt bikes!! They were so happy and earned their finisher's medal just as surely as the racers on tribikes with disc wheels.

  2. What a biaatch!! It's not surprising though.

  3. Nice post. Your experience sounds a lot like mine. I've suffered plantar fascitis, I have been in the process of a career change over the past 3.5 years and I admire TnT runners. Really, I'm sure you've heard of the quote an elite marathoner made about 5+hour runners. The elite runner runs for 2 hours and change to complete a marathon; the rest of us are out there for 4+ hours. Who suffers more, the 4+ hour folks or the elite athlete. I know it was hard for me to train for 3 marathons and get injured a month before my fourth. In my opinion any person that even thinks about running IS a runner. I've volunteered at water stations plenty of times and I enjoy the last two hours more than the first 3. The 5+ hour marathoners give me a LOT to think about; the others not as much.

  4. Thank you for the comments!

    Yeah, TNT takes a lot of heat, which really sucks. I know many people think that they take away slots that could go to people who "earned" their place in the race, but that is BS. I know some very serious runner's that run as part of TNT. They make huge personal commitments to both running and service and have earned their spots. Many of these folks are people, who have suffered injuries and just can't run as fast as they once did. TNT and other charity orgs give them and away to fulfill their dreams other than banditry.

  5. Hi! I found your blog via your Frayed Laces comment.

    I just wanted to comment about the TNT criticism. I'm a triathlete who's just starting her second season and, as someone who's often slow and the biggest person on the course, I have extra affection for other slow newbies like myself. But the thing I've found when I've tried to be friendly with the TNT folks (who often fit the bill of slow and n00b) is that they're incredibly cliquish. They only want to chat amongst themselves, their fans will only cheer for other TNTers and will fall dead silent as you go by, they travel in packs during the race and block, etc.

    As great as it is that they're out there supporting each other, I could do without their brand of elitism as much as Frayed Laces' kind.

  6. Gretchen,

    I am sure that there is pelenty of truth to what you're saying. I've seem that same sort of thing at some of the larger charity events. My experince with TNT is mainly with through people I know who have been in TNT and hearing the complaints.

  7. Greg, what an AWESOME post! Funderson and I were just speaking about this subject as well. You are a GREAT runner and work your ass off and don't let anyone make you think otherwise. Running is different for everyone, us slow folk are just out there enjoying the scenery and working our bums off longer : )