It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. There are a lot of reasons for this – the holidays came up, my travel schedule this year has been more intense than in prior years, I’ve chosen to spend time goofing off, etc. But the main reason I’ve not written is that after the 2012 NWM, I became disenchanted with the running community. To be specific, the online running community. To be even more specific, the online running groups on Facebook.
The social aspect – online or in real life – has never been part of why I run. So it’s been frustrating that I let my disenchantment with these online running groups affect my running.
In these past few months, I’ve tried to overcome my disenchantment with my fellow runners. For me, part of overcoming any feeling is figuring out why. Why was I disenchanted with my fellow runners as a result of running groups on Facebook?
I could tell you specific reasons and even share screenshots with you. But that wasn’t the why that I needed to understand. The why that I needed to understand went deeper. Why was I letting these Facebook running groups bother me so? Even after I left the groups and deleted the chats?
For a long time, I couldn’t answer that question. But on a recent trip, I read a brief bit in Hemispheres, the inflight publication of United Airlines, that said we remember things that we see in social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) better and longer than things we see in any other medium. They aren’t quite sure why. They speculate it’s because of the chatty, gossipy nature of social media.
Somehow, after reading that handful of paragraphs, I felt validated for letting those Facebook running groups bother me. And although I’m not ready to engage with those groups again, I am ready to put those bad episodes behind me. I’ve achieved closure as a result of that magazine blurb and plan to get back in the habit of posting regularly.
Have you ever simmered, seethed, and steamed over a Facebook post or a Tweet? Share in the comments below!
To an outsider looking in, the running community seems like a tight-knit yet welcoming, supportive, encouraging, motivational group.
And for the most part, that is true.
However, if you hang out in the community long enough – and by “hang out” I mean read running magazines, read running blogs, join a running group on Facebook, follow runners on Twitter, and so on – you’ll find that the there are members of the community who aren’t quite as supportive, who aren’t quite as encouraging, who aren’t quite as motivational as you’d think at first glance. There are members of the running community who are smug, self-righteous, and sanctimonious. They are the ones who have sharp elbows.
Right now you’re thinking, “The same is true for any group, for any community!” That’s true, I agree. Every group or community has members that don’t always show the group or community in its best light.
It could just be that I’ve been overly sensitive these past couple of months as my running hasn’t been quite where I want it to be or where it needs to be.
I was browsing around on Facebook one day and ran across Runner’s World magazine Facebook page. The page had a link to a Runner’s World blog of motivational poster #31. The poster had a picture of an obviously overweight man sitting on a couch with a remote in his hand and he was lit by what we are to assume was the television. The poster was captioned, “Can’t find 30 minutes a day to exercise? Look harder.”
The poster in itself, I had no problems with. What did strike a nerve, however, were the comments on the Facebook post and the blog comments. A majority of them just struck me as sanctimonious and self-righteous. There were posts from people who said they never watched television and couldn’t understand people who did. I understand not watching television – after my trip to Costa Rica a few years ago, I didn’t watch television for nearly six months.
But to say that you cannot understand people who do watch television? To smugly announce all the things that keep you so busy during the day that you don’t have time to watch television? To self-righteously say that the people who do watch television deserve all the health problems they end up with? To snicker at people who aren’t quite as fit and trim and healthy as you are? I have a problem with that. I have a problem with the judgmental tone that some of the comments took.
I watch television. I watch up to two hours each weeknight. Sometimes three. More on the weekends when there’s baseball, football, or tennis being broadcast. Am I staring at the television the entire time? No, I’m usually going through my mail, flipping through a magazine, working on a crossword puzzle, writing in my journal, chatting with my parents during commercial break. Would I use those two or three hours to run? Not likely because I generally run in the morning. Would those other runners sneer at me because of that? Probably.
We shouldn’t be sneering at overweight people who would rather watch television than exercise for 30 minutes. We should be trying to help them, trying to support them, trying to motivate them. We shouldn’t be thinking that we are better than they are – for all we know, they may bring more worth to the world in their daily lives than we do with all our running miles, running shorts, and running shoes. We shouldn’t be deriding people whose time management skills aren’t as good as ours. We should be finding ways to encourage them and work with them to change or improve their habits.
Runners should support people, not tear them down. Runners should encourage people to share their healthy lifestyle, not mock them. Runners should share their love for running, not make snide comments about the sedentary.
Since the time I happened across that Facebook posting and that blog post – and some other blog posts and comments in a Facebook running group that I’m part of – it’s been hard to think of runners in a positive way. It’s okay because I think those self-righteous, sanctimonious, and smug people probably wouldn’t call me a runner. They’d probably snidely call me a jogger.
That doesn’t bother me – I’ll label myself, thank you very much. In the meantime, I’m doing all I can to avoid runners with sharp elbows – in real life and in the digital world. I hope you do, too.
I’ve been running for a long time. Not very fast (6 mph on a good day for maybe a half mile) and not very far (my longest so far has been a marathon) but I run. I’m pleased to say that I’ve inspired some to start running, some to keep running, and still others to take up running again.
But what is it that makes me run? What is it that gets me out on the road or on my treadmill? Why am I a runner?
In no particular order, here are 10 things I love about running. I love
that it feeds my inner planner (training plans, training paces, trips for races)
that I can catch up with television shows on my treadmill
that a good run leaves me feeling strong, powerful, and invincible
that a bad run leaves me looking forward to the next run in hopes that it will be better
the “me” time
the sound of my footsteps on the pavement or my treadmill
the meditative nature of my morning runs
the stress-relieving nature of my evening runs
that some days I run further than some people drive
This list is a good reminder of why I run but it also helps me appreciate the fact that I can run. If I could no longer run, I would miss all of these things. It makes me want to hop on my treadmill right now, even though I ran in a 10k this morning and it’s 2230 right now.
What do you love about running? What would you miss about running if you couldn’t run again?
Time is an interesting construct. Memory is an interesting construct, as well.
When I was running the NWM 26.2 last October, I distinctly remember thinking, “I’m not ever going to do this again.” I remember thinking “never again” when I was caught up in the gear check scrum where I thought I was going to die from suffocation or claustrophobia, whichever came first. I remember thinking “never again” as the marathoners split from the half-marathoners and I realized that I had a long way to go. I remember thinking “never again” as I ran past the finish line on my way to another 8 miles or so of joyous running.
I remember thinking that I wasn’t going to be one of those people who said, “I’m never going to do this again” during the race only to turn around and say, “I’ll do better next time.” No sir, not me.
When I finally finished, though, I remember thinking, “Well, I couldn’t do any worse next time.”
And as the hours turned into days and the days turned into months, that niggling thought continued to percolate in my brain. I knew I could do better if I trained properly, if I took my training schedule seriously, if I didn’t think about gutting it out on race day. I knew I could.
I hadn’t intended to sign up for the NWM virtual half-marathon – I wanted to concentrate on training for the April half-marathon that I had in mind. When I saw the announcement that all members of the largest team would be given an automatic opportunity to register for the NWM – no lottery – I scoffed silently. When I saw the Facebook posts that encouraged everyone to sign up with Team Victorious so that would be the biggest team, I sneered inwardly.
And yet somehow, I wound up signed up with the Nike+ challenge, registered for the NWM virtual half-marathon, and a member of Team Victorious.
This week I received an email from NWM letting me know that as a member of Team Victorious I was entitled to register for the NWM in October without having to go through the lottery. There are a few hoops to jump through but that’s to be expected. I was so excited to get that email. “Yes!” I thought, “thank goodness I registered and that I signed up as a member of Team Victorious!”
As I think about my excitement over that email and compare it to my mental anguish while I was running last October’s NWM 26.2, I have to laugh at myself. And I have to marvel at what amazing things time, space, and memory are.
Time heals all wounds. Time soothes the hurt spirit. Time rebuilds the crushed soul.
Space gives time the room to work. Space allows different experiences to take place. Space lets old thoughts out and new thoughts in.
Memory can be selective, allowing us to either focus on the good or the bad. Memory allows us to consider the possibilities, the what-ifs, the might-have-beens. Memory can hurt if you dwell too long on the bad things without thinking about the possibilities. Memory can help if you remember that what you did in the past doesn’t have to define who you are in the future and what you can accomplish in the future.
My selective memory has focused on a few things – that I could have turned in a better time if I had trained better and been more prepared for the hills, that I really enjoyed the race once I emerged unscathed (except for my missing Nike+ SportBand) from the gear check scrum until the last 8 miles or so, and that entry is lottery-based so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try to enter. In the intervening weeks and months since the 2011 NWM 26.2, I’ve admitted why the marathon, particularly the last few miles, were so miserable for me – I tried to run a marathon with less than half-marathon training. So time has given me the benefit of honesty with myself as well as the courage and determination to try again.
What’s your memory pushing you away from or pulling you towards? How much time needs to pass before your wounds have healed? What are you going to try again? Do you need to build up courage or determination or both to do it?
I’m not anti-New-Year’s-resolutions. I just don’t do them. For as long as I can remember, I’ve set goals for each calendar year and tracked my progress along the way. Things are no different this year.
For 2012, I identified 7 categories that are important to me and established 3 to 7 goals for each category. I know that I’ll be stretched as I try to attain my goals for the year. That’s usually what I have in mind when I go through my goal-setting exercise – things that take me out of my comfort zone, things that will make me a better person, things that will stimulate me.
As I was refining my goals, I learned about a new concept through a women’s leadership group on Facebook. The idea is that you pick one word and you use that word to guide you during the year. In her 2007 post, Christine Kane called it a Resolution Revolution. The WLI group’s #oneword2012 was gathered and turned into a Wordle.
My #oneword2012? Risk.
It’s a word that I’ve had in mind for many years because I’ve felt that as I’ve become older, I’ve become more cautious and content. It’s a word that I think of – along with “fearless” – whenever I watch young children learn new sports. Or 20-somethings who hop from job to job because they’re looking for something that their current job doesn’t give them. Or 40-somethings who leave a stable, satisfying job to pursue a lifelong passion. Somewhere between childhood and middle age we lose our appetite for risk. The risks we take become more cautious, more calculated, less…well, less risky.
So I chose “risk” for my #oneword2012 to remind me that the safe choice is not always the satisfying choice, that the pragmatic option is not always the passion-fulfilling option, that the expected decision is not necessarily the exceptional decision. As John A. Shedd wrote in 1928, “A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” I hope that my #oneword2012 is a constant reminder throughout the year to push and stretch myself and to move out of my comfort zone.
I watched Up for the first time recently. I enjoyed it so much that I watched it a second time before returning the DVD to Netflix. It’s about a boy who dreamed of grand adventure and met the love of his life who also dreamed of adventure and exploration. They got married and grew old together without ever going on their big exploration trip. A series of incidents after his wife’s death fills Carl with determination to fulfill their youthful dream and off he goes to South America to explore.
There are a lot of life lessons embedded in the movie – persistence, the power of dreams, good guys win in the end, unconditional love, heroes with feet of clay – any of which would be a good topic for reflection. The life lesson from Up that struck me the most is that life is a grand adventure. But all too often, we get caught up in planning for our adventure that we forget to actually go on our adventure.
Think about it. Were you one of those people who created a bucket list when the movie of the same name came out? If so, where is your bucket list now? How many items on that list have you checked off? How many more items have you come up with that you didn’t add to the list? How many items on that list are left? And why haven’t you done them yet?
Likely you’re waiting until you retire. Or until the kids graduate from high school. Or college. Or medical school. Or until you finish your degree. Or your graduate degree. Or until you’ve paid off your mortgage. Or until you get your dream job with months of vacation and a huge salary. Or until you meet Mr. or Ms. Right. You plan and plan for your grand adventure so that when the conditions are perfect and the time is right, your grand adventure will go off without a hitch.
Conditions will never be perfect. The time will never be right. Adventures aren’t adventures unless they have snags, hitches, hiccups, and the unexpected.
So stop planning already. Life is the grand adventure. Don’t let life pass you by while you’re planning for it.