Between preparing for the marathon and the IRONMAN, my workout schedule is 6 days a week with a few days that include more than one workout (fricking early morning swimming) In addition to swimming, biking, plyometrics, and core work, my workouts include plenty of runs – tempo runs, interval runs, and long runs, all of various speeds, distances, and ratios of running and walking.
I’ve hesitated to call myself a runner. I wasn’t when I did my first marathon – I was very clear that I was walking that marathon, I signed up for the walker division, I walked it. Now, though, I’m doing lots more running, but I’ve still been unsure about calling myself a runner.
But I’ve been spending more time on forums for runners and triathletes which has given me new perspectives on lots of stuff. I talked about this on the IronFat blog as it relates to the different concerns that I have as a fat athlete, but it’s also given me perspective about what is means to be a runner. Plenty of the people in these forums struggle with running exactly like I do, they do intervals of walks and runs exactly as I do, and they are comfortable calling themselves runners.
One of the things that I’ve noticed in the sport of running that is very different than what I experienced in ballroom dance is the contempt of some of the high level/serious runners for beginners, casual runners, or those who aren’t very good at running.
In the dance world this was not my experience (which, of course, isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen to others) – when I was a beginner, pros and judges and people far better than I was asked me (and others like me ) to dance, they got up early to cheer for us, they encouraged us. As I got better I passed that along and even when I was dancing in the more advanced and professional divisions in the afternoons I still got up early to watch the beginners at 7am (because nobody should have to do East Coast Swing before 8am without a cheering crowd.)
Many of the runners who I’ve interacted with personally have been super cool and supportive, so I certainly don’t intend for this to apply to all runners, but it seems like there is a very vocal group of runners whose self-esteem is so fragile that they actually have to create a “cool kids club” and then insist that other people can’t join it as a way to try to feel ok about themselves. And that’s sad, of course, but it’s also a big flaming sack of not my problem. (This group is separate from, but similar in message to, the people who send me hatemail who only ever run as far as the bathroom, but want to criticize what I do)
A big part of my activism when it comes to fitness is about insisting that nobody of any size is obligated to participate in fitness, but that everyone of any size who wants a place in the fitness world should have one. And that includes calling ourselves runners even if we don’t do it the way that the self-appointed “cool kids” think we should.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going out for a run. You see, I’m a runner.
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