Thursday, March 28, 2013

Running & Social Media Angst...

So does anyone else think dailymile gets just a little over excited sometimes?

Um, no. Try again. There is no planet on which 28 miles during a marathon cycle counts as ":D Epic!!1!"

Seriously, dm. Chill.

Also filed under "things that bug me on the internet," today I read yet another angst-ridden article on What it Means to Be a Runner. In it, the author reassures runners everywhere that their R-card is not about to be revoked because they didn't help crash the internet sometime in the last few weeks by attempting to sign up for a fall marathon.

"You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you," he wrote earnestly (*not a direct quote), "even if you AREN'T signed up for a fall marathon. You are a perfect little snowflake, just the way you are."

The article concluded with bold, rebellious-sounding quotes from Internet People expounding on how they don't care WHAT their Facebook friends/Twitter feed/blogosphere thinks about that the fact that they're not running a marathon next month, next year, or EVER, they are still RUNNERS, *REAL* runners, goddammit, so everybody can just STFU about marathons. BITCHES.

I finished it kind of blinking into space going, "oh....kay."

This article came on the heels of another one where the author earnestly reassures us that we're still *real* runners even if we don't run like 80 miles a week ("and don't you dare let all the a-holes out there tell you any different!!!"), another a few weeks before that promising me that I'm a *real* runner even if I don't obsessively track my mileage, pace, VO2 max, & resting heart rate using a high-end statistics package ("You have nothing to be ashamed of!!"), and another a few months before that about how I am TOTES a real runner even if all I do is jog a couple miles around my block a few times a week in sweat pants.

Jesus Christ. There is apparently more angst & self-image ish in the internet running world than at a parochial high school. I'm getting anxious just reading about it.

First thing: Breathe, sunshine. It's all gonna be okay.

Second thing: Stop labeling yourself. Get over the phrase "real runner" & accept that, like all the best labels, the only power it has over you is the power you give it. You get to opt out of "real/serious runner vs not a real/serious runner" the same way you get to opt out of any other dichotomy you don't find useful. You probably run for certain reasons that are valuable and meaningful for you, & that's all that actually matters.

Third thing: The runners doth protest too much. People who feel just fine about being a *real* runner & are honestly not concerned with what other people think don't go around broadcasting it to everyone all the time. Run a marathon. Don't run a marathon. Run a billion miles a week. Don't run a billion miles a week. Whatever. You don't owe anyone an explanation, & the overwhelming majority of us don't want to hear it anyway.

Fourth thing: How much do you want to bet there are people out there who were feeling just fine about their choice not to run marathons / x number of miles / track mileage / whatever until they read an article that was all like, "No, really, you are *totally* a real runner, even if you NEVER do x. Really. Really. It's juuuuust fine, pumpkin. It's fine." (I can't remember what it's called right now, but this is a real thing from psychology or sociology or something. Talking about a social expectation, even to condemn it, tends to cause people to go "Oh geez, I better do x...")

Fifth thing: If all your facebook friends & all your blogger friends & all your twitter friends are making you feel anxious or guilty or inadequate or making you question whether you run enough races / miles / marathons / whatever, STEP AWAY FROM THE INTERNET and handle your shit. That's about you, not them. You are a grown-up and this is a solvable problem.

So can we maybe just stop it with all the pontificating & hand-wringing? Geez.


Grand Total: 28.3 miles

    * 15 easy
    * 13.3 race

Monday 3/18: Karate.

Tuesday 3/19: 9.5 easy. Technically this was supposed to be a big-ass 10-12 mile track workout (!?!), but given that I hadn't run at all since my 4 hilly miles in Colorado the week before, I figured a medium-length easy run was probably a better choice. The bad news was that towards the end of this run my left calf got a nasty charlie horse out of nowhere, which was the beginning of my downward spiral of fretting & worrying about Oakland.

Wednesday 3/20:

  • Lunch time - I went to yoga instead of Pilates because I thought my sore calf would handle it better, but it still wasn't what I would call comfortable. You know something is sore when *yoga* is almost too much for it. If you've never done one-legged yoga, it's kind of an experience.
  • Evening - Karate + easy strength work. Had to sit part of it out because of the calf.

Thursday 3/21:

  • Lunch time - Strength work. In retrospect, this was probably a bad choice. I woke up with my legs feeling worn out & tired, & my left calf still dubious as far as putting weight on it. I cut several sets short because I could tell my legs were exhausted (???), and still paid for it on Friday.
  • Evening - 7 easy 4 easy. Whiney legs were whiney & grumpy calf was grumpy. They were basically like, "Look, you can run 7 miles tonight or you can race Sunday but you can't do both."

Friday 3/22: Rest, as scheduled. I woke up feeling like I'd run a marathon last weekend. I haven't been that sore since CIM. What the hell was in that strength work???

Saturday 3/23: 2 miles easy Nope. Not risking it. Rest, rest, rest. (And also go to stupid annoying expo. Phhhbbbbbtttt.)

Sunday 3/24: 1.5 warm up + 13.3 race. After which (of course) I felt amazing, and all was forgiven & forgotten. :)

  • Are you a "real" / "serious" runner? Be honest. I will know if you lie.
  • What are the qualifications for being a "real" runner? Triple-digit weeks, seven marathons a year, & posting pithy inspirational quotes weekly, obvs, but other than that?
  • What on the internet makes you want to punch someone in the neck? It can be running-related or not. And you can't say "this blog post."


  1. I am neither real nor serious as evidenced by the fact that I have not taken up aqua jogging over the past 2 weeks, so therefore I guess my qualification for being a real runner is someone who takes up aqua jogging when they can't run.

    Right now my biggest pet peeve is race facebook pages (yet I keep checking them everyday for the drama!). One bad thing happens (registration disaster, results don't get posted fast enough, not enough water, etc.,) and suddenly it turns into a fight between faster runners and back of the pack runners. The race obviously ran out of water because the fast runners took more than their fair share...well, maybe if the slower runners ran faster, they'd get some of the water. Every time.

    1. Yep, I've totally seen some of that....2011 RNR Las Vegas with all the poisoned water comes to mind. Also when CIM announced they weren't cancelling because of the monsoon in the forecast. Bitches be crazy on race pages.

  2. Ha! This is funny.

    I think I AM a 'real runner' but I do find that when people ask me, I say 'but not a very good/fast one'. I should just say 'yep'. But you're right...this is important to NO-ONE!! It's just for fun!! And for medals.

    One of the best things about getting older is being less bothered about this stuff! When I hit 40, I should be totally chilled!

    1. At some point I just threw out the idea of "fast" / "slow" / etc, because compared to the general population we are all hella fast, and compared to Olympians we are all slow as molasses. :)

  3. As someone who has (recently) made reference to being a "real runner" on her blog, I can sort of understand the labeling/self-judgement... even if I wrote it as more of a joke than for reals. For people who hated running for a long time and now love it (e.g., me), or for those who were always the last one to finish timed miles in PE class (e.g., me), being a "real runner" actually means something, as much as I hate to admit it. But that's only if I think about it too hard... I mean, obviously, I'm a "real runner," because what is a fake runner? Someone that just does the running man all the time in their house? (OK, I just cracked myself up over this lame joke...)

    1. Haha....That is kind of an awesome image. (& I promise none of the annoying, angsty things I read were on your blog. ;) )

  4. Best post evaaa! Yea that is one reason I didn't join daily mile, seemed too much encouragement- maybe it's good for tracking miles run on shoes though? Sometimes I wonder if reading runner blogs is a good idea. It is fun to meet new people and see what races they run, though sometimes it is too easy to compare oneself to others. I hope to run a marathon again, though not sure if my body will let me. To me the marathon distance is the ultimate test.

  5. Oh DM. DM definitely gets over excited at times. During the summer when I ran 2 miles in a week it was just as excited as when I ran over 45 last week. :-)

    I would class myself as a more serious runner. I take my training probably more serious than I should. I track data for every single workout and race. I am always comparing this data through DM, Garmin Connect or my own fancy spread sheets.

    I think that ANYONE can be a runner, but you have to want to be one. :-)

  6. Are you a "real" / "serious" runner? Anyone who knows to double-knot their laces is a real runner :P

    What are the qualifications for being a "real" runner? See above.

    What on the internet makes you want to punch someone in the neck? Articles on runners websites reminding me to double-knot my laces. And Facebook...anything Facebook.

  7. I don't know that I would call what I do "running" so much as "falling forward over the course of an hour." But whatever you call it, I'm "real" at doing it.

    You've got me wondering what that psychology thing is. It reminds me of the phenomenon where people are actually incited to do an action X when they are told not to do action X because people are already doing it and the consequences are bad. For example, in the Petrified Forest in Arizona, people were stealing pieces of petrified wood. So the park rangers put up signs that said something like "500,000 pieces of petrified wood have been stolen, and if it keeps up then the whole forest will be gone in 10 years. So don't steal the wood." But people read the sign and they think "My God! It's going to be gone soon... we should get our piece now!" And they steal.

    That phenomenon is called a Tragedy of the Commons and has to do with resources. But I want to know what thing you are talking about!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I tried to google & find it, but clearly I'm not googling effectively. I think the mechanism works like this: The message "it's okay if you don't do x" communicates that there is a common assumption out there that doing x is the norm, so people go, "Oh, I didn't realize x was the norm. Maybe I should do / start doing x, just in case."

    3. Oh, I see. It sounds like a basic normative social behavior incited by a descriptive norm. But you could get that out of simply saying "doing x is the norm", so I wonder if the "it's okay if you don't do x" is doing very much extra work.

    4. Lol, I just read the SciAm article about descriptive / prescriptive norms re: the whole gay marriage / facebook avatar thing. I think that's exactly it. They *could* say "not running marathons / billions of miles / etc. is the norm," but too many people already know that isn't true for it to be convincing.