The other day when I was modeling my running skirt, I looked at the photos and said, "Great photos! I almost look like a runner!" The friend who'd taken the photos gave me a puzzled look and said, "Um... you are
a runner." My meaning was not to disparage myself, though. Yes, I am a runner. I say that unequivocally. However, if I were walking down the street next to Shalane Flanagan, you would say, "She looks like a runner!" and we would both know you were talking about Shalane.
Then yesterday, while I was thinking about this, I got an email from another friend. He mentioned that twice this past week, people have said to him, "Obviously you're an athlete." Both times he thought they were being rudely sarcastic. Both times they weren't - they were impressed by him.
Now, he's a dear friend so I hope he won't be offended when I say that he doesn't exactly look like Frank Shorter. (Yep, another excuse to google "Frank Shorter shirtless".)
I know that athletes and runners come in all shapes and sizes, I do. But isn't perspective a funny thing? In the company of runners, I feel out of place and - yes, I'm going to say it - chubby. But in a non-running community, I'm basically a gazelle.
I'm reminded of a conversation I had once, years ago. I mentioned to a classmate that I was dismayed because my weekly mileage had fallen to about 20mpw, and I wanted to be up closer to 30mpw. This classmate was a casual runner, and he was impressed with my 20mpw. I said, "Yes, but in my circle of friends, 20mpw is not a lot!" His reply? "Sounds like you need to get a new circle of friends."
The gazelle comment made me laugh out loud. No, really, I really did. Sadly, even among my non-running friends, I have NEVER looked like a gazelle (yeah, they're skinny even when they don't run *sigh*)ReplyDelete
I would say that the gazelle thing is more in principle/theory than in actuality, if that makes sense :)ReplyDelete
I think we've all been on this train of thought at one point or another. And this is exactly why I loved the Nike "thunder thighs" ads a couple of years ago.ReplyDelete
If you don't know which one I'm referring to, the Modern Mrs. Darcy has posted it to her blog: http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2011/08/whats-a-body-for-anyway/nike-ad-i-have-thunder-thighs/
An athlete competes. Period. Whether you're a skinny minny elite or a squishy around the middle amateur, if you are lining up regularly to test yourself and better your performance, you're an athlete. Otherwise, you're pursuing health/fitness, which is perfectly acceptable.ReplyDelete
Cool, Beth, thanks!! I hadn't seen that ad. Definitely a good one.ReplyDelete
And Kate, I hadn't thought about the distinction being competition, but I don't disagree. Interesting. I like that.
I do love some couch napping. So much better than running most days.ReplyDelete
to echo some others...i think this is a conversation a lotttt of runners have with themselves a lotttt of the time. im currently super worried that im not training hard enough because i read all these blogs about people logging 50 weeks for their marathon training when im in the 20s and 30s. shouldnt i be able to keep up with them? but its my first marathon. and now im barely halfway through training and my hip is starting to hurt. but their hips arent hurting at 50mpw! what gives!? i think runners have it tougher in considering themselves "athletes" because its fewer and farther between times where they are racing or competing. some dont race or compete at all (but still log crazy miles), so they dont remember to look at themselves as the atheletes they are, as often as they should.ReplyDelete
ha! "you need a new circle of friend". love that. Yeah anything 15mpw or above sounds like crazy mileage to me. I rarely do anything about 10 anymore - so you are a running fiend to me :-)ReplyDelete
Oh Jeff, I am a professional beer-and-napper. We are athletes of a unique breed.ReplyDelete
I was a mathlete in elementary school, does that count?ReplyDelete
I totally relate to this post but I have to point out you said you googled "Frank Shorter shirtless" and then ... you gave us one with a shirt on. What's up with that??? :)ReplyDelete
I, too, was a mathlete. I was recruited to the math team my junior year of high school (sad but true).ReplyDelete
And I tried to find shirtless photos! There aren't that many! Hilariously, my blog was the second thing that came up. Yeah, I might be obsessed...
That classmate of yours has a point there! ;)ReplyDelete
It's all perspective, though. My co-workers are carb loading (no kidding) when they're training 15 mpw for their first 10K. Plus, they can't even imagine running 50+mpw. Today at lunch, my roommate at the firm told me she wouldn't even dream of hopping on her bike to ride 26 miles, let alone run that distance.
Plus...you might want to see someone about that Frank Shorter obsession. Just a thought. ;)
Heh. It really is amazing how your perspective changes when you're on the low-achieving end of your circle of friends, or when you're even doing less than you've done in the past (be it mileage, time, whatever). I do that all the time, too, saying things like, "It's only a half-marathon."ReplyDelete
I also like what Kate said about competition. That's the definition of an athlete. Much like the definition of a serious runner is one who takes their running seriously, regardless of ability. If you're training your butt off for a 10k, I'm going to respect that regardless of how fast that 10k is ultimately going to be.