Tag Archives: running

Are You A Runner? 7 Infallible Ways to Tell You’re NOT

An unedited preview of an article that will be posted on PolicyMic over the weekend (or won’t, pending editor’s possibly questionable literary taste).

Full disclosure. I am not a runner. And while all runners knows what they are at the core of their being—like Christ’s salvation or hearing Jimi Hendrix—we non-runners are diverse parts of a whole, like white light fractured through a prism. What follows is seven ascending steps. If you can say “no” to each of these, then you are a runner. How long it takes you to get to a “no” will establish where you are in our non-runner brotherhood, our society of plod.

1. You smoke

You are not a runner. Because lungs.

2. You are in your third trimester

Of course it’s still possible to shuffle your feet in a hasty forward direction, but you’re no longer a runner. Maybe you were a runner. Maybe you will be again one day. But you live in the all too real present, and sometimes that gift is a pair of goggles and a “stylish as it can be” maternity one-piece. A thousand paved kilometers may be crying out, but they’ll have to wait. Creating a life requires compromise.

3. You don’t know how far a “K” is.

Of course you know there are 1.60934 kilometers in one mile, but regurgitating 2nd grade metric conversions that no one has forgotten doesn’t mean your feet have ran what your brain has remembered. You don’t know what it smells like inside The Sistine Chapel. Run a 5K obstacle course. If you reach the one-mile marker and say to yourself, “Sweet Steve Prefontaine! That can’t only be a mile,” then you don’t know how far a “K” is, and you are not a runner.

4. You don’t own “running” shoes.

You may own a solid pair of Asics. Maybe you even splurged for a reliable pair of New Balance 990’s. But if you’re wearing those shoes with pre-washed Levi’s and a Van Heusen Micro Smooth at your local tap room, then those are your sneakers or your “tennies.” A runner has shoes dedicated purely to their craft. “Multi-purpose” is just a synonym for mediocrity.

5. You “go for a jog”

Runners run. Joggers jog. Runners never say, “I’m going for a jog.”

6. You actually care how much you bench press.

Classic tell. Imagine a man asking, “How much do you bench?” Now imagine a man answering that question with pride. Does either man look like a Kenyan marathoner? Nope. A runner cares about his health. He (or she, whatever) is constantly attuned to the cardiovascular engine that sends out ripples of nirvana from heart to body to soul. They’re Zen. They’re pacifists. They love their bodies without clinging to an arbitrary standard of strength.

7. You have situational running posture

This is the final litmus test. You’ve been running for months. So much running. You’ve even considered adding Chariots of Fire to your favorite movies on your Facebook profile. You walk out your front door with an unseen smirk at the thought of jogging (HAHAHA! You remember your first beer!). Your Adistar Boosts feel like a second, supportive-yet-malleable skin on your well-trodden heels. Baby’s in bed and your ready to pound all 10 of those crying kilometers. You run. You tire, but you don’t realize it. You feel good. You’re mind is buzzing on a runner’s high and a Hearts on Fire loop in your earbuds. What’s that up ahead in your path? It’s a beautiful woman (or man, whatever). You lift your shoulders back and stick your chest out. Had you been hunched over the whole time? You pick up your pace and cross paths with the angel of fitness that you’ll never talk to. The moment is passed, and you’re running as you were before. Wait. No. No, you’re not. You’re jogging. Just as you were before.

Walking hard,

Born to Run, A Memoir of Anti-Talent

I’ve decided that I’m a writer because I have no say in the matter.

I’m not a writer in the professional sense (although I’m open to the potential), but certainly in the spiritual sense.  Try as humans might to claim agency of their own lives, they are rarely responsible for their talents and desires, essential influences behind the illusion of choice. In other words, I write because I was born to it, just as I was born to any other moment of specific talent.  Is it chance that my 6’4” frame walks into the break room at the very moment my 5’4” colleague can’t reach the coffee on the top shelf?  Like Morpheus, I see providence, and I can do nothing else but extend my arm, and pass down the coffee.  Maybe your specific talent is drawing, or baking, or maybe you’re particularly good at guessing the number of jelly beans in jars.  These talents might not be world class (even I’m not arrogant to suggest I have even a single world-class talent, and I doubt you do either), but they’re yours and they’re important.  Find them, flex them, and let the talent lead you to a place you’ll know you belong.

A couple weeks ago, I ignored all that drivel and ended up running the Rugged Maniac 5K.  Running is not my talent.  It’s not the worst thing I do either (that would be any activity requiring surgical steadiness in the hands).  In fact, I think running is the inverse talent to my writing.  It’s a primarily physical endeavor that I’m not horrendous at, while writing is a primarily mental endeavor that I’m not terrific at.  And, just as with the writing, I claim no agency in my body heaving laboriously across ankle-turning terrain in the Rugged Maniac 5K.  I signed up in a moment of hubris (I had lost a bit of weight in a diet, and somehow believed that equaled a cardiovascular renaissance of high school Dusty), coerced by a couple buddies.  My friend Steven finished the race in the top 25.

I finished in the top 500.

But the race wasn’t a total waste of time.  In business, I’ve come to believe that ambition beats talent 96 times out of 100.  Sure, nothing beats talented ambition, but let’s keep this simple. I’m somewhere between the third and fourth K of the run, and a skinny (but shapely) blond starts passing me.  I have instant clarity, recognizing this as a defining moment. For about half a kilometer, I weigh my options.  I can let the moment define me and find comfort in the gloriously tight, soaking-wet spandex running away from my instantly impotent body (I swear, at the moment, it felt like sexual virility was somehow on the line here). Or—nope, it was bigger than that—OR, I could latch onto the flame of chauvinism that has fueled male productivity for millennia and say, “Not today, bitch.”

I chose number two, channeled all the best scenes from Chariots of Fire, and kicked over to mental playback of The Boss on the final stretch (completely irrelevant to running beyond the title line). For that last kilometer, I was from Kenya. I was Forrest Gump. I was Steve Prefontaine. I was a guy who finished ten meters behind a skinny (but shapely) blond at the finish line.  Some inestimable time before she passed me for good, she said, “Nice run.”  God bless her.

Maybe the only talent I was ever born with is my unassailable ego, held sacred above all else, and I only channel ambition through the abilities that will keep that ego in place. I’ve gone on a few jogs since that 5K. Usually not more than a mile or two around my apartment complex. I mostly lumber along like a man 50 pounds heavier than he is, but every now and then, a pretty girl jogs past me in the opposite direction. I put my shoulders back and lift my chin up and actually run for about 10 seconds until she passes. It always feels great and silly at the same time.

But I’ve decided that I do it because I have no say in the matter.