There is a lovely Wall Street Journal Article that came out recently, telling runners to get over the fact that they run. Stop it with the half/full-marathon stickers. Stop it with the running gear. Stop it with the running magazines. Seriously, runners, just shut up about it already.
And I only have one thing to say to that: No. I will not.
I will not take down my half-marathon sticker. With any luck, I’ll be adding a full marathon sticker to it in October. I worked hard to train up from a comparatively meager 3-to-5 miles. I fought fatigue and injury and self-doubt to be able to run 13.1 miles. That ubiquitous oval is a symbol of that hard work. If I had instead logged the hours at a job, worked hard, got promoted, and spent the fruits of my labor on a luxury car — or a pair of luxury glasses, or flashy jewelry — would you have the same disgust for me?
I will not stop running around outside, making all you sedentary people feel bad. I hate gyms. Running inside defeats the whole purpose of running for me. And furthermore — have you looked around most neighborhoods as of late? The only other people out there right now are fellow runners. Much like long stretches of races, where there is nary a bystander or even a fellow runner in sight.
I will not refrain from wearing runner’s gear. I refuse to apologize that I invest in apparel that will make running a little easier for me by reducing chafing, wicking sweat, or — in the case of the impending winter — keeping the wind from stabbing me in the skin. I will continue to wear my hot pink running shirt, because it does get people’s attention: namely, the attention of drivers on roads without any sidewalks and very little shoulder.
I will continue to read, write, and talk about running. I will seek out advice on injury prevention and discuss running as a whole with other runners and use that camaraderie to push me forward, to go outside and run when the only thing I want to do is sit around and eat potato chips.
Because here’s the thing: contrary to the self-indulgent belief, running is actually a pretty isolating activity. It’s tough and it’s unforgiving, but I do it — but many people do it — because running gives me peace of mind that few other things do. I go outside and — even though it can be tough to get myself going at first — I find my zen. It’s damn hard work, but I persevere and I’m not going to “get over it”. In a world where people Instagram their scrambled eggs and update Twitter to tell everyone that they’re at the grocery store, I will not apologize for my 13.1 sticker.
You want a 0.0 sticker? Go right ahead. But mocking runners will not validate your existence, sedentary or not. We run because it matters to us. Because the end result far outweighs the hard work and sacrifice. Distance running has been around since long before civilization. It’s the one physical trait humans have over the rest of the animal kingdom (because we certainly are not the strongest, nimblest, fastest, or strongest). There will be no apologizing for working hard to stay physically fit, the same way there will be no apologizing for anyone doing any type of hard work to achieve a goal (and being proud when they achieve it).
In short? We get it. You don’t run. Now get over it.