Is it just DC where every activity has to be carried to an absurd level of competition? I have recently begun training (I use the word “training” with just a hint of irony, since I have no idea what I’m doing…) for a 10k race in May, and the subculture of running I’ve stumbled upon amazes and frightens me. I was always dimly aware of this culture, but I had no idea how pervasive it really is. It seems everyone is a runner, or has been a runner, or plans to be a runner in another six months.
Of course, I’m in full support of a healthy habit, don’t get me wrong. But I’m also a wee bit embarrassed. Well-meaning friends have offered to train with me, and even more well-meaning housemates are offering me tips and advice on getting into the most optimal shape. People talk about their “slow” 10k finishes of 50 minutes, and I cringe. I’m a stubborn 10-minute miler and I don’t see that changing any time between now and May 17. I’ll be lucky if I can run a full 6.2 miles without dying, so speed is not at the top of my list of priorities.
But it gets worse. I don’t even know how to look like a runner. I’m realizing there’s a whole fashion code to working out, and somehow I completely missed the trend on that one. I see them all the time here in metro DC, the svelte, spandex-clad paragons of modern virtue racing down the sidewalk in their neon-colored shoes, earbud cords flashing white against their North Face and Lululemon jackets. I’m pretty sure they don’t even sweat.
Me? I’m huffing along in year-old cross trainers, sweatpants, and oversized T-shirts from countless volunteer functions over the years, with my hair flying in just about every direction and inevitably getting in my mouth. And my nose always runs. Always. Does anyone else have a runny nose running problem, or is that just me?
In all seriousness, this endeavor is proving to be an excellent opportunity to exercise not just discipline, but humility. No, I’m not the best runner out there — far, far from it. No, I don’t really even look like much of a runner. Honestly, I’m sure most people don’t notice; and those few over-achiever females who do bother to pay attention to what I wear can pat themselves on the back for looking better in their designer workout gear. No, I’ll never be fast, and yes, I’ll probably be finishing this race last, but by golly I’ll be in better shape than I was at the beginning of the year. And when it’s all over, I can say I ran a 10k.
So…I’m calling this a win. And if you’re working towards a 40-minute 10k anytime between now and June, know that I hate you and I don’t want to talk about it.