Out There: True Confessions Of Perfectly Imperfect Runners

As for the claim that you’re “not doing it right,” don’t worry what they say. Do what’s right for you.

I got an e-mail from a reader this week that was eerily reminiscent of how I felt when I started running:

I want to be a runner, but every time I go to the gym, the track or a running store, I feel out of place. My friends talk about a lot of running things I don’t understand and I’m too ashamed to ask what they mean. Then, when we run together, they make fun of me for not doing it right.

Oh, honey. You’ve come to the right place. I’m no running expert, but I can certainly relate to how you’re feeling – been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. It’s possible to get past those icky feelings you’re having. First, there’s one very, very, VERY important thing you must realize:

Your friends are gigantic assholes.

Runners should build each other up, not tear each other down. You say you “want to be a runner,” completely ignoring the fact that you already are one. Whether you complete a 5K in 15 or 55 minutes, you’re a runner, just like the people at the track or your in group of friends. No one should make you feel like you don’t belong. That your friends are making fun of you instead of seeing your newbie blunders as a teachable moment, well..it’s a jerk move. Shame on them. Show them this column and see if we need to do a little dance if they’re going to be punks.

But you have a responsibility, too. Why aren’t you speaking up? When you go to the gym, the track, or the running store, ask questions. Saying “I don’t know” isn’t a sign of weakness – it actually takes a lot of strength to say that out loud. Asking for information and advice will make you more confident, which, in turn, will make you a better runner. Don’t let your friends scare you from asking questions of other runners – most of us are actually really friendly!

As for the claim that you’re “not doing it right,” don’t worry what they say. Do what’s right for you.

Recently, I asked Competitor readers to share their own running quirks – even the ones other runners may frown upon. As you can see in the carousel of photos at the top left of this post, everyone’s got their own way of doing things, and eventually we all get to the finish line — it’s what makes this sport great!


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke


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