Favorite Things Friday: In Defense of Runners

As I’m sure you’re aware, this Wednesday was “National Running Day”. Of course I celebrated; but because I’m on the “beginner” training schedule for Newport as a precautionary measure, my big celebratory run was one glorious mile around my neighborhood. Trust me- I’m going to be a little stir crazy by the end of next week when my “long run” is still only three miles.

Along with this national day of recognition for those of us who don’t mind getting up at ungodly hours to log some miles there were more than a few articles about the “dangers of running”. I’m seeing more and more articles that seemed to be aimed at deterring those who aren’t runners from the sport and I have to say I’m more than a little confused.

It’s no secret that as a nation we’re fat. Not a little chubby; just fat. The last thing people need to see are headlines that suggest running may not actually be good for them. If a person has a heart condition, knee problems or another legitimate reason for not running they’re more than likely aware that this is not the sport for them. So when I logged onto Boston.com and saw this as the major health headline I was more than annoyed.

Really? Yes, yes it is. Thank you for asking.

Stop trying to scare people into staying on the couch. Running is less expensive than a gym membership. It doesn’t require a team of people like a pick-up basketball game or ultimate Frisbee. It can be done indoors or out, at any time of day. There’s very little special equipment required. You don’t even have to be in good shape to get started!

Runners face a lot of scrutiny, especially marathoners. Here are some of the things I heard when I started training for my first marathon.

“You will need a knee replacement by the time you’re 40”. This is why we have rest days and listen to our bodies. And use a lot of wraps, shots and physical therapy to make sure we’re in shape.

Sexy. I know.

“Marathons are just an excuse for girls with eating disorders to exercise compulsively”. I love food. So do most runners I know. Our love of food is generally what got most of us to start running in the first place.

“Running a marathon takes a year off of your life.” I will not dignify you with a response.

In our defense, I offer this Favorite Things Friday in defense of runners.

Runners are KIND: Of course, there is the occasional exception, but the vast majority of runners I have met are friendly, supportive, genuinely KIND people. Forgot your Gu? Don’t worry, there will always be a friendly runner who offers you a spare around mile 17. Hit your wall at mile 22? The runners around you who have broken through theirs will be there to shout words of encouragement and run next to you to keep you on pace through the hardest miles. Show me another sport where people in direct competition with each other are so supportive and helpful when someone is struggling.

Runners Are (Typically) In Better Overall Health Than Non-Runners: Lower rates of obesity, less heart disease, less cancer, less common colds. Runners tend to eat better, are more well educated and overall just healthier than non runners. This isn’t to say just because some-one is not a runner they aren’t healthy, but as a group we do pretty well.

Runners Will Wear Stupid Outfits In Public To Support A Good Cause (or even just for a laugh): I’m not just talking about race day, either. Throughout my Boston Training one of my favorite things to see was the different teams dressing up for their long runs. Valentine’s weekend I saw quite a few grown men in red tutus running 17 miles. The 21-miler involved a lot of purple skirts, bright leg warmers and funny hats. To bring attention to their cause and give the runners around them a good laugh when every muscle in their body hurts; runners have no issue looking slightly silly for a few sweaty hours.

I was prepared to wear this for Boston. I wore it to spectate instead.

Runners Party As Hard As They Train: Visit a local bar after any major marathon. Runners tend to go straight from the finish line to the bar line to celebrate. We’re a good time.

Post marathon champagne and cheeseburger. This was after the nice man at the bar bought us shots to congratulate me. Win.

So those are just a few of my favorite things about runners. The next time someone tells you that you won’t be able to walk by the time you’re 50, will have a heart attack if you try a marathon or should be doing something else with your time just remember: Runners kick ass!

What’s your favorite thing about runners? Is it that we’re healthy? Sweaty? Just awesome? Let me hear it!


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