Friday, April 13, 2012

Collective Running Concerns, Part 2: Fear of Being Judged

The next installation of Running Fears is an important one to me...mostly because I just remembered how scary this fear can actually be as I was getting comfortable swimming with you semi-aquatic people out there. So, enjoy...

2) Are other runners are judging me? Will people laugh at me? I’m so slow, are the running articles/clothes/shoes/accessories/products even made for people like me? 

No. No. Yes.

This was basically the resounding follow up fear to problem one. I have a whole lot of theories on this, but I think the best and most simple way to say it is that this fear comes out for all of us whenever we do something new. Remember when I was learning to swim laps? I seriously over-analyzed my plain black bathing suit like it held the secret to life.

We’re afraid to be judged while we’re learning. It’s my opinion that a lot of runners are Type A personalities because we like to be in charge and in control…but we’re also intensely afraid of criticism. I’m a very outgoing person, but if you put me in a room with a new task or skill to learn, I’m a shrinking violet until I can “own” being a newbie (talk about managing expectations). Running is an easy activity to pick up because it requires a pair of shoes (and depending on who you are, those are optional). And body glide. Trust me on the body glide.

“Anybody can be a runner. We were meant to move. We were meant to run.” – Bill Rodgers

It’s easy to judge yourself when you see other people out on the road. When I started running, I taught myself. I mean, clearly I knew HOW to run, but I didn’t know pacing, or breathing, or form, or any of those Runner Insider Club secrets. I watched svelte, even-breathed people sail by me while I chugged, red-faced and panting down the road. It’s easy to belittle yourself when it comes to a task without a set goal. You can win a tennis match, but you’ll always be in pursuit of a faster mile/better form/new PR. It’s the beauty and the terror of running. There is no finish line.

I don’t know a single seasoned runner who has ever looked at a new runner with disdain. I usually can’t tell (unless your nipples are bleeding through your shirt – dead giveaway because you’ll only make that mistake once). If I do see someone chugging along, looking pained and out of breath, I mentally cheer them on.

Generally speaking, people aren’t going to laugh at you. Runner’s laugh WITH each other. Case in point – I have a tendency to barf during Ragnar. Might have something to do with the temptation to each 3 sloppy joes and ice cream THEN run 8 miles. While I was throwing up for the millionth time behind a dumpster, I couldn’t help but laugh with my teammates.

Even that famous photo of the runner literally crapping themselves…sure, maybe non runners are laughing, but actual runners are going “oh shit…” [literally]. Like I said, we talk about poop a lot.

And yes. All the fun gadgets, clothes, and accessories for runners are made for all entry levels. May I strongly recommend The Stick? And Body Glide.  A lot of Body Glide.

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