How many times have you heard the following?
“Why would you want to do that?” – said in a snarky, judgmental tone rather than a genuine query, usually after hearing about a race you’ve entered or a goal you’ve set
“Ugh. Running is hard. I’d rather play video games/read/watch tv.”
“Yeah, I’m sure that’ll last!”
“I could never do that!”
“I’m sure that you’re not interested in joining us for [activity] now that you’re a runner.” (Full disclosure, nobody has ever said that to me, but a runner friend of mine heard it a lot at one point.)
Most of the time, I think people think they’re being funny and self deprecating when they make these comments. In fact, I am pretty sure I said things like this to my runner friends before I joined their ranks. Now that I’m on the other side I’ve learned that it doesn’t really come across as either funny or self deprecating. It comes off as judgmental and discouraging. I can’t speak for any other runners, but it makes me not want to talk to the people who say that sort of thing.
On the other hand, some people are really supportive. My boss is a former runner and regularly tells me how great she thinks it is that I can run longer distances and how much she misses it. My sweetie, who is not a runner, regularly tells me how proud he is of my dedication and discipline. Several of my friends who don’t run ask often about my next race and tell me how awesome they think it is that I do what I do. Some really cool friends bought me a really amazing (running related) super-secret-gift, which I’ll show you as soon as I can.
Some people are just naturally supportive and encouraging. I value those people in my life a great deal and I imagine that other runners do as well.
But what makes people say snarky, discouraging things? It’s almost as though their self esteem is threatened, which really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Back before I was a runner, I think I was just really intimidated by what I thought my friends were doing. I’m still intimidated by what some of them are capable of, but now I feel more awe and admiration. It’s amazing what people can do when they decide to.
But when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what goal your friend or loved one is striving for. It doesn’t matter how difficult or intimidating you think that goal is. Being kind and supportive will endear you to them while being snarky and judgmental will probably make them not want to talk to you about it (or much of anything else, in some cases).
I’m curious, runner friends, what other strange comments have you gotten from friends, family or coworkers? Please share them in the comments.
Quick shoe update: My 24 mile run on Sunday went great. I think my new shoes are going to work out wonderfully!