Sport vs. Social Activity


So the December Challange that Valerie at AtlantaMomofThree is hosting has been helping keep my motivation up to run on a regular basis. The other big motivation push is running with my husband again since he no longer is insisting we get up at 430am to run on the roads, instead allowing for my much later 9am run time on the trails (technically, it’s a compromise because I’d rather run at 2pm when it’s warmer).

I’m only doing 3 mile stints because I’m woefully out of running shape and I don’t want to shock the Potato too badly, but I feel I need to clarify something about my crazy running habit.

I run for fun. No, literally. For fun. Sometimes the runs are less enjoyable, sometimes it hurts, sometimes it’s freezing, sometimes I REALLY don’t want to get out of bed and put my running shoes on, but truthfully, my motivation for running is PLEASURE.

I know, I know, there are a lot of you out there that think I’m absolutely nuts because running is tiring and sweaty and boring and the only way you’d run is if a serial killer was after you with a chainsaw, I get it. But I feel the need to defend my position, because in my experience there is a sliding scale for runners ranging from Sport to Pleasure. The crazies on the extreme Sports side are those obsessed with personal best times for every run, training regimes, diet regimes, cross fit leg blasting speed increasing exercise routines and complicated warm-up/cool down rituals. You’ll find a TON of these at road marathons. And thats great! Thats wonderful! You go you crazy, speedy, training scheduled weirdos!

I am not one of those people. I fall so firmly on the other end of the spectrum I’m really not sure I can really call myself a runner at all. Do I watch my diet? Yes, I don’t want to burn more than I eat, and I like to stay healthy. I try to drink milk or a protein rich substance after I run, I should really stretch more than I do, I’m not a complete health bum…but I’m close.

Here is my running backstory: I started running during freshman year of college with my battle buddy when I was in ROTC and had to pass a PT test. Battle Buddy was a little closer to the “Sport Runner” so I found myself really pushing my speed and going to the gym and keeping a more regimented training. One day, however, instead of taking the bus to the off campus Walmart, we ran to it. It was four miles. I thought it was awesome. HA! I ran to Walmart! How cool is that? I bought myself a goldfish, named it Napalm, and we rode the bus back. It was my first experience doing a run that was a little bit ridiculous, and mostly just for fun.

I roped Brian (my friend but not husband not even dating but apparently liked me enough to be game for whatever I suggested) into running with me on sidewalks after karate over breaks so I could stay in shape. The first time we ran together it was a bazillion degrees hot outside, and he wore pants because he didn’t have any running shorts. We ran two miles. It was my first real one-on-one introduction to his very understated sense of humor with his completely unashamed ability to make fun of himself. Watching him dehydrate in sweat pants while making self deprecating comments was pretty darn funny. Next time we ran together, he had shorts.

He got me back later, because after the army dumped me (long story), we ended up running quite a bit together over the summer. And then he took Dr. Horton’s Running Class at Liberty and introduced me to the wonderfulness of trail running and the ridiculousness of running an Ultra. I couldn’t back out of running with him since I’m the one who started it (and I enjoyed his company), and for the next few years my running legs and our friendship continued to strengthen. My last vestiges of “Sport Runner” disappeared. While we ran, we ran slow enough so we could talk. We talked of books or movies or random bits of philosophey. We’d laugh so hard we’d have to stop and walk for a bit. We walked a lot, actually. We still racked in the miles, but we weren’t really concerned about times. We stayed fit and healthy and that was good enough for us.

I ran my first Ultra Marathon in 2008 at Holiday Lake. 34+ miles, I finished in 7 hours and 45 minutes (I think…ish). The entire time Brian chatted and joked and even sang. Other Ultra runners were constantly wishing encouragement and helping each other out, the front runners (those who finish around 4 hours) were even friendly, although a lot more serious about their times. Ultra Runners are a very odd breed, enough discipline to rack up the miles, but a lot more low key about running in general. They have a Fat Boy Award for the fastest guy over 200lbs. The competition for that is fierce, in both poundage and speed. The prize is a trophy and a bag of pork rinds. It was awesome. Running, for me, is a social event. I don’t talk a lot to the other runners, but we make friendly chit chat, and then Brian and I talk about anything and everything as we go.

We ran 3 miles this morning. Brian did most of the talking. It was on trails, which (as my younger sister and her hubby just found out, are a little bit hilly around here) and although I ran without stopping for over the 1st mile, maybe 1.5, I walked the last two tenths (straight uphill) without even bothering to run, and I walked a bunch of uphills in between. There is no rush. I’m getting the miles in, it’s no big deal. I’m not running to be a crazy speed runner, I’m running to enjoy the outdoors and my husband’s company. Or sometimes my dog when Brian isn’t available. Or even my older sister when she (definitely not someone who is interested in running) bit the bullet and ran her first 5 k. Sometimes Brian and I run in companionable silence. Today, Brian discussed demon squirrels. (Brian: “You’re just running along, and you hear one but you don’t know where it is, and then suddenly…WHAM! Squirrell spazes out in front of you, darts back and forth and in circles across the path right in front of your feet and then darts up a tree. I know I could kill it, but it could give me rabies. I think I’d be the one worse off…” Me: “I wrote a short paper on rabies the summer before I started public school. I was all proud of throwing around words like “Rabies make people hydrophobic.” I was a pretentious little fourth grader.”)

So there you have it. I really do run for fun. I hate treadmills, I hate wind sprints, I don’t like “running the mile” for speed. I like exercise, I like endorphins (who doesn’t?), but I’m really not the scheduley regimented type. I keep a running journal, I try to stay fairly consistent so I don’t get injured, and I tend to laugh a lot while actually running. THAT is how I prefer to run.

***Shameless bragging on my hubby*** He is a MUCH better and faster runner than I am. He’s more serious about it too, not quite sporty serious (he still prefers distance to speed) but definitely better at being consistent and motivated than I am. He maxed out his recent PT test, running his 2 mile in 12:55 (Pretty good for us trail runner junkies who tend to aim for a 10 minute mile pace). And he’s completed the Grindstone 100 miler. Thats right, 100 miles. 😀 (He may have been delusional for the last 30 miles or so, but he finished gosh darn it!)


8 responses »

  1. That’s great that you have a running partner! I don’t understnad those people who run for the racing and speed and competition either. Not putting them down, I just don’t get it. I like running ok but I must have been absent on the day they handed out good hips because I easily hurt mine (my younger sister is the same way) so I power walk. I also love the elliptical, but sadly we do not own one so I have to do it only at the gym. 😀
    I’ve been having a good week and have already met my 3 day goal, but I hope to do more this weekend! 🙂
    Happy running!


  2. Wait a minute, was that “serial killer chasing you with a chain saw” for me? Because it’s true. And, I laughed out loud at the pretentious fourth grader description 🙂


  3. I feel you on the hip thing, it’s one of the reasons I need to stretch more. I think my hip pain is mostly IT related (I know, IT bands are usually thought of as a knee problem, but they actually run from hips all the way down the side of your leg) and icing after a run helps, so does leg exercises that build up my quads and hamstrings so I put less strain on my hips and knees while running, but I still end up hobbling after long runs if I’m not careful because of hip issues :/ I agree I’m lucky to have a running partner, it makes it so much easier now that we are married, haha, though sometimes it’s harder to get motivated to run. Pre-dating/marriage I looked forward to running to get to spend time with him. Now married, I get to spend time with him all the time, so running isn’t necessary. But the conversations are still better when running because there is absolutely nothing else to do for entertainment, we’ve got no other choice but to pay attention to each other 😛

    Yay for already meeting your goal! And double yay for planning to exceed it! Technically, I’ve walked a mile and ran 3 miles twice, but I have a 5k this Saturday so I’m going to count that towards my goal instead of the walk. And I’ve gained a pound and a half this week so my OB will be happy 🙂


  4. @ Rebecca- hahaha, yeah, you’re one of THOSE people when it comes to running 😉 Seriously, it wasn’t aimed only at you, I have several friends who’ve made the same type of comment.

    And I’m glad you liked my description, it was the truth 😛 I still sometimes feel important if I can use a particularily obscure or “smart sounding” word in a sentence, but I’m a little bit better at hiding my pride… A little…


  5. You forgot DETEST on your sliding scale of running – because I DETEST it, but will on occasion run…like away from spiders or things that go bump in the night. But I’m glad you can find the shiny side of running because that is one thing that I cannot do myself!


    • Haha, I figured the “runner detesters” were up there with those who only run away from chainsaw weilding serial killers, so I didn’t even put them on the scale 😛 But running from spiders counts, it definitely gets the heart rate up!


  6. You’ll be happy to know that, after survivi… err running the trails with Brian, our 11mile run the next Saturday was a cakewalk! (except when my body totally shut down after losing all food and fuel at mile 9… I was poppin my powerbar chews like an addict!)

    John was like, “DANG! My legs feel like machines! This is no problem!”

    hahaha 🙂

    Seriously though. Darned hills.


    • Hahahaha, I’m glad to hear the hills helped even though they might’ve been pretty torturous at the time. They’re so much fun though! And I have totally been there when I’ve just crashed in the middle of the run. Brian’s a little better at keeping me munching consistently (read: force feeding me) so I don’t completely shut down, but on my own I never remember to eat anything until I already feel like crap.

      Glad your race went so well! Brian would be thrilled to take you guys trail running again next time you’re in VA 😛


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