Runners are a funny breed. They stay together, behave the same way, think the same way and they’d do anything to make you adopt their philosophy.
Three months ago, when announced that I was planning to become a runner, I never suspected that it would be the runners themselves who would become the primary group discouraging from doing it. Oozing this sport’s religious-like mantra, they represent a close-minded approach, perpetuate false modesty and are incredibly persistent about spouting tips and recommendations that will actually end up stripping the average person from the joy of running.
Well, I don’t need to be part of any clique, so let me lend you a hand. If you ever decide to start running, remember to identify the advice you shouldn’t follow, or at least don’t have to follow. That’s what I did. In consequence, I’m living well and I’m getting better at running.
1. “If you actually want to start running, start today.”
I actually decided to start running in January. Actually, though, I wanted to start running in March. But I actually started in April. It’s actually May right now and, look at me, I’m actually running!
If you want to start running, start whenever you see fit.
2. “Winter is the best season for running.”
Everybody keeps saying that…
Actually, I’ve conducted my first training sessions in Dubai in March. The temperature was close to 85 degrees and I felt fantastic. These days, I’m running in 60 degree weather and feel great, too. However, I felt awful whenever I went for a run in 30 degree weather, since I was simply too cold.
Gosh, so maybe winter isn’t that great for everybody?
3. “You’re dressed wrong”.
Running experts treat the rest of the world as if they’re mentally handicapped. Like they couldn’t possibly know what they’re most comfortable in while running. If it’s spring or summer time, and you dare to go for a run in a long sleeve shirt, the expert will be quick to point out that you’re dressed wrong. He’ll go even further: the expert will reveal the great secret of runners. You will sweat!
4. “You don’t become a runner by going shopping for running gear.”
You see, these experts are incredibly concerned about your finances. If you happen to spend a few hundred (or a few thousand) dollars on running gear prior to your first run, they will tell you that your decisions don’t make any sense. Because what if you don’t even like the sport? It’s the same basic case I described above. Running experts treat us like a mentally disabled people and fail to understand that you realize what you’re buying, why you’re buying it and that, most likely, you do realize that the money will be wasted if you don’t actually start running. My adventure with running started off with a shopping spree. My brand new shoes waited for weeks for me to use them! So? Whatever. I eventually started running. Weird, huh?
5. “Accessories can’t take over you!”
You’ll keep hearing that shoes don’t run on their own, that your fitness watch can’t replace this or that and even the best gear won’t make you a good athlete. I know you know this, but the expert doesn’t know you know this. Experts need and use these accessories themselves, but for reasons known only to them they keep mentioning that the accessories cannot replace the actual training. It’s like buying a car only to keep hearing that “it won’t drive on its own!” By the way, let me be perfectly clear: I’m only talking about those experts who ridicule people for surrounding themselves with gadgets and who discourage people from using them. It’s wrong, because by doing that they are robbing people of something that may end up motivating them.
Do me a favor. When these experts give you a lecture, just nod. As Grandma used to tell me: ‘Don’t argue with fools. Fools don’t know they are acting foolish.’
6. “You don’t have to spend millions!”
God forbid you buy an expensive watch a pricey pair of shoes, a shining tracksuit and an armband with the Apple logo. To put things simple, running experts are allergic to money. Other people’s money. Yours, especially. The more you spend, the louder the expert will bitch and whine. I bought myself a $200 pair of shoes. Oh my lord, the hundreds of comments berating me for spending so much money… You know what, though? I’m actually thinking of purchasing two more pairs. Why is that? Well, I want my shoes to match my different jogging shorts.
I could get all the stuff I need, free of charge, from various sponsors. However, I’m not your average fashion blogger who can be put to work in exchange for a pair of jeans, so I decided to spend nearly $600 out of my own pocket. Could I have paid less? No. I could have paid more.
7. “To be a runner, you don’t need…”
… just about anything, it seems. You don’t need good shoes, good weather, underwear, a new haircut, elastic socks, GPS devices, apps and so on and so forth. Each expert will tell you something else, but all of them agree on one fact: if you want to be a runner, the only thing you need is good will.
Well, but that’s simply not the case. It’s not enough to “go out and just run around a bit”. You decide what it is you need. All motivation is good, even if it seems utterly trivial. Buy yourself two watches, if you want to. Purchase a golden iPhone so you can make glamorous selfies while you’re jogging. If you want to, you can only go out for runs if there’s enough sun to make your selfies look extra crisp. All of that doesn’t make you better or worse at running than your average marathon runner. Don’t be ashamed of the things that motivate you to run, even if that motivation is simply the look on your friend’s face when she sees you’ve got slimmer legs than her.
8. “The only reason you’re a runner now is because it’s trendy.”
Okay, running experts may not tell you this one, but you will hear this from a lot of people who are to dim to comprehend that the “you-only-run-’cause-it’s-trendy” accusation is utterly idiotic, even if it happens to be true. In fact, it’s such an cretinous statement that it’s impossible to explain to these people that this way of thinking places their intellectual ranking at “junior high”. It’s like trying to convince somebody that you’re not a camel.
9. “Oooooh, that’s so awesome that you’ve started running! So cool! Amazeballs!!!1”
The invasive, but mostly harmless and occasionally very pleasant type of expert. It’s the people who love you because you’re a runner like them. And since you’re a runner, they’re going to be your friend, advisor and motivator. This species does not appear in any other sport. It can be characterized by an ecstatic optimism, clinginess, low assertivity and a metric fuckton of Endomondo screencaps uploaded to Facebook.
10. “One of us, one of us…”
Nothing spoils the meaning of running as these professional runners, who treat the sport like a religion, lifestyle and sole purpose in life.
Yes, I do realize that I’m lumping everyone together, thus exposing myself to comments like ‘we’re not all like that!’, but whatever. It’s funnier this way. Those who agree with this issue won’t get mad, since I’m not talking about them. By the way, to write this article I got some help from my runner friends who are also sick and tired of the Cult of Running.
I’m talking about all people who consider runners to be better, healthier, wiser and more observant. They talk similarly, spout the same cliches and act like a sect of self-satisfied teddy bears in squeezed into colourful shoes. They don’t understand that the average person sees running as, quite simply, just an exercise, a sport, like soccer or swimming. They cannot comprehend that the average person considers running a marathon to be an achievement on par with going to the store to get some donuts. They act as if they are in possession of an ancient wisdom and running is the only way to experience enlightenment.
They are embarrassing themselves and the entire sport. Seriously – nobody’s doing more harm to the sport of running than professional know-it-all runners posting on forums, trying to confine the sport in their tested-out formulas. Run like this, buy stuff like this, think like this, live like this.
I know you’re going to read this. Chill out. Running doesn’t have to be your lifestyle. Even though I still cannot run 10k, I don’t think that running a marathon is that big of a deal. And I don’t think that running is a lot more interesting than soccer, for example. I’m a runner because I believe that all men should should be fit enough to run 20k. I’m a runner, because I want to run around Manhattan one day.
Once I achieve that, I’ll just shrug, lose all interest and start collecting stamps.