Lies Runners Tell Non-Runners

1 Sep

Non-runners roll their eyes when we discuss the “runner’s high” and how awake and energetic we feel post-run. We’re usually enthusiastically crowing about our achievements while icing knees, reaching for foam rollers and swapping physical therapy stories.

So here, in one handy collection, is the truth.  What We Say.  What Non Runners Think We Mean.  And What We Actually Meant.  Because yes, those are three separate things.

Lie #1: Anyone can run.
What a Non Runner Hears:  Any person can put on a pair of shoes, skip out the door, and churn out a 5 or 10K.
What a Non Runner Thinks: They’re full of crap.
What a Runner Means: Any able-bodied person, given the time and determination, can embark on a run/walk program that will eventually enable them to run a 5K.  Maybe slower than they thought, maybe with some pain and tears.  No wait.  Definitely with some pain.  Tears, optional.

Lie #2: Running is 100% mental.
What a Non Runner Hears: Running doesn’t involve pain, sweat or physical discomfort. You just have to have the sheer willpower and determination to reach that finish line.
What a Runner Means: Running is 100% physical and 100% mental. Just when you reach your physical limitations and your bones start aching, your mind will tell you to stop. Or just walk.  Or that the finish line is just ahead.  Or that 4 miles is just as good as 9 and you can watch the beginning of the baseball game if you head home right now. There will be physical issues and mental ones.  A runner just assumes you are intelligent enough to know there is physical discomfort.  They’re just kindly informing you there is equal mental toughness needed as well.

Lie #3: The Tightness/Cramps Disappear If You Run Through Them
What a Non Runner Hears: Just like in the movies, when you reach the end of your rope and something or someone miraculously appears to rescue you, run another step after that pain or cramp feels unbearable and it will disappear.  Poof!  Gone.
What a Runner Means: If you’re lucky, and you keep running through it, the tightness and cramps will disappear after a few weeks of hell.  But not if you stop every time you feel crappy.  If you’re unlucky, the tightness and cramps will turn into pain.  But hey, either way, the tightness and cramps will disappear.

Lie #4: It Gets Easier.
What  a Non Runner Hears: Put the time in and you’ll be greatly rewarded. Every run will be beautiful, the skies will be cloudless, the shoes won’t be too tight, the lungs will be clear  and the legs light.  If it feels like crap, don’t worry, tomorrow will be SO much better!  And the day after, even better.  There’s a steep running-learning curve.
What a Runner Means: You will learn to live with the pain.  And gain mental toughness.  You will learn to run through rain and snow and hail and heat and blisters and plateaus and exhaustion and dehydration.  It will not be easier. But it may feel easier.  If it does feel easier, you need to move to the next level.  Running is cyclical.  Good leads to bad leads to good leads to bad.  With physical therapy pit stops as needed.

Lie #5: I Run so I can eat whatever I want.
What a Non Runner Hears:  Throw on the spandex, hop on the treadmill, then reward yourself with whatever you want to eat – you earned it! And your revved up metabolism will keep burning all day so no guilt AND you’ll probably lose weight.
What a Runner Means: Eat whatever you want.  Except for 2-3 hours before you run.  And the hour or so afterwards when you need protein and carbs but you actually don’t want to eat.  And don’t party late the night before a long run.  Make sure you eat healthy – lots of whole grains, veggies and fruit, eggs and dairy.  Steer clear of grease and sugary snacks and everything you probably want to eat when you hear “Eat What You Want.”  Eat whatever you want.  Just realize that what you want to eat will begin to change.

Lie #6: Running is the cheapest exercise.
What a Non Runner Hears: Throw on a pair of shorts and sneakers and head outside.  Fresh air and exercise without costly equipment and a germ-infested gym.
What a Runner Means: It’s probably cheaper than a football concussion.  Or supplying a goalie with hockey sticks.  You just have to pay for good running shoes.  And running clothes.  And race fees (not insignificant). And a new nifty watch to calculate your speed and heart rate.  And PT appointments.  Times ten.  Or more.  And probably knee surgery.  And all the extra fruits and veggies and protein you now need to stay functional.  But since you won’t be paying a regular monthly gym fee, you’ll feel it doesn’t count.

But let’s be realistic, the  lies go both ways.   Non Runners also lie to the runners.

Lie #1:  The Finish Line is Right Ahead!
Other variations: You’re almost there!  So close!  You can almost see it!

And runners lie to themselves.  A lot.

Lie #1: After this race, I will never run again.
Lie #2: I don’t need a Personal Record, I just want to finish.
Lie #3: If the pain is still there tomorrow, I’ll take a rest day.
Lie #4: If the pain is still there next week, I’ll call the PT.
Lie #5: If the pain is still there in a month, I’ll take a running hiatus.

With all the lying going on, it’s a miracle we manage to find time to run at all!  And yet we do.  Because we love it.  And that’s not a lie.


One Response to “Lies Runners Tell Non-Runners”

  1. Cindy Bressoud September 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    Oh all those lies are O so true…
    Great post!

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