I ruined running


Did you catch this article from Steve Jones: “Starting and Finishing a Marathon Doesn’t Make You a Marathoner”. The article was published three years ago, and I started this post almost as long ago. It languished on the back burner a long time. If you missed it, you can read it here.

It didn’t sit well with me, despite the fact that I haven’t even run a marathon. People like to excuse him by saying he’s a relic of a different time, when runners didn’t wear GPS watches or eat during a run or have cushy running shoes, for that fact.

Yet there are plenty of old school runners, runners who have won Olympic medals or run across our fine country before the Internet and cell phones, elite runners — all of whom are incredibly encouraging to any runner.

GPS Watch. Hydration Vest. Running in a skirt!

Just what are my running sins, anyway?
So just how did I ruin running, anyway, and just what are my sins?

  • I walk during races. And not just at water stops, either, although that’s bad enough. No, I walk every couple of minutes.
  • I have never won a race. I will never win a race. I am not even in the “running”. And I’ve never won an AG (age group award), either — never even come close.
  • I have lots and lots of cute running clothes. And lots of skirts, for God’s sake. Even sparkly skirts.
  • I wear a GPS watch and often consult it during a race.
  • I have never dry heaved after a race (or a speed workout).

Why running is good even for us turtles 
Yes, I enter races knowing I will be middle of the pack — if I’m lucky — and more likely back of the pack. No doubt you can walk faster than I can run. Yet I am not simply trying to get from start to finish.

The reason I enter races is to challenge myself. Can I run a smarter race? Can I push a little harder — but not so hard that I end up injured? Can I race hard in the heat? At elevation?

Do I push myself as hard as you used to push yourself, Steve? No, probably not. Definitely not, since I’m not out there puking on the course.

But I am pushing myself. I take my running seriously (even while trying to have fun with it). I always have. It’s the old “anything worth doing is worth doing well”.

We turtles work just as hard as the hares. We sweat as much, we’re often pounding the pavement for far longer, and we keep coming back for more despite the lack of awards (but not lack of rewards).

Here’s the thing, though, Steve — what the heck business is it of yours?
Why do we really bother you, Steve? Just how are we hurting you? Surely if more people follow the sport of running, that can only be a good thing for the sport? More exposure = more $$ for prize money and sponsorship and attracting more young people to the sport.

Races are canceled all the time because they simply aren’t profitable. They are more likely to survive by attracting those “fun” runners. Those “fun” runners are often raising money for worthy charities, too.

The fun runners don’t detract from the achievements of the serious and/or elite runners.

Far from ruining running, I’d argue that I saved it
It should never matter to those in the front, middle, or back how I run. Whether I wear a watch or not, walk or not, or even dance across that finish line . . . I will never make it too crowded for the elite runners; I will never be in their way. I can cheer them on in awe, however, if I happen to see them while I am still on the course (doubtful, they’re usually finished long before I even get to start).

I can make other people think, as I often say, “if she can do it, so can I”. Who knows what budding Shalane is lining a race course and high fiving the fun runners, encouraging us and drawing inspiration from us?

My participation in this sport can help the budding running stars of tomorrow. And the ones, like me, who will never see a podium finish but will see so many benefits from running and staying active.


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


39 thoughts on “I ruined running

  1. I haven’t read the article but have a feeling the title is misleading? Is he talking about simply marathoners or runners? Or is the whole point about runners encouraging other runners?

    I like running for me and just me. What other people want to do is their business. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, the title isn’t misleading. He really feels that way. He’s just this really old school runner — there are many of them out there that are so supportive, but others, yeah, they’re just stuck in a different century!

      The article is actually from a couple of years ago, and I started writing the post then, but never got around to finishing it.


  2. I think you are preaching to the choir

    It sounds like he is talking about European runners. At least what I saw. They are fast. Rarely walk. No cute skirts.

    I run better without a watch. I try to ignore it but I want it for distance in case the miles aren’t marked.

    I always run for fun. You can’t count on an award. It depends who shows up not on your time.

    Of course I want to run fast and faster. But my disappointment on my time is short lived. There’s always another race and being healthy is more important than a fast time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nope, he wasn’t talking about European runners.

      I generally don’t run better without a watch. I spent the second half of my race not watching pace; there was a big slowdown & I know I could’ve pushed harder but it is what it is.


      1. I slowed down the 2nd half big time. But I just didn’t feel need the need to have a fast finish time. of course when I saw that I was 4th, I was annoyed at myself for not pushing the pace. But as you said. it is what it is. It’s just a race.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love everything you said, and totally agree with you. Also, like you, I have never heaved after a race or training run, and I don’t feel like a failure for not having done so. I am just too paranoid about injury to risk “leaving it all out there” for fear I’ll regret those moments of heroism. I also believe in having fun…I’m not getting paid to win, after all. Sure, I like to challenge myself and achieve new goals, but I want to have some fun in getting there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t read the article and I don’t think that I will. I find that people like him are overall just miserable people. I think that the world would be a better place if people weren’t so judgmental.

    Like you, I’m a middle to back of the pack runner. I’ve never won an AG award and never even came close, and I’ll never win a race. Running doesn’t come naturally to me and I’m not a graceful runner by any means, but I do like that it challenges me in ways that other exercises do not. I also love the running community – I’ve made some great friends!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “I can make other people think, as I often say, “if she can do it, so can I”. Who knows what budding Shalane is lining a race course and high fiving the fun runners, encouraging us and drawing inspiration from us?

    My participation in this sport can help the budding running stars of tomorrow. And the ones, like me, who will never see a podium finish but will see so many benefits from running and staying active.”

    — yes yes yes. I know I’ve inspired a few people to try running a marathon because I’m more relatable than a whippet boy – and the whippet boys also tell me how they could never run for 6 hours. Thank you for this post.

    Everyone has the right to express their opinions. However I have the right to say he’s talking bullshit. What an unpleasant way to speak about people. UGH.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never read that article but I LOVE this post! I love any kind of runner! Yes sometimes I complain about getting cut off by walkers, but most walkers I encounter on courses have race etiquette and don’t do the things I complain about. And I walk too on marathon courses. And yes, it damn well does make me a marathoner that I’ve started and finished not one, but TWO marathons. And both took me over 5 hours, but I’m freaking PROUD of that! 100% agree with your take on this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I complain about getting cut off by walkers, too. More likely to happen when you’re slower, actually! I have no quarrels with walkers, and I run/walk, but hey, don’t spread out over the entire course!

      You absolutely should be proud of your marathons. I estimate a marathon would take me at least 6 hours (my 18 mile race was 3:40. It’s part of why I haven’t run one, cause I just don’t want to run that long!

      I can’t even imagine what that might’ve felt like with the blister I got in this half (having to run 13 miles more on it, that is).


  7. I am emphatically with you, Judy. Any runner who has finished a marathon is a marathoner in my book. I walked in every race I ever ran, even the few that I did win. Maybe it is just my mental make up, but that small break gives me the oomph I need to finish strong. We get to define ourselves. we don’t need anyone else to define us. I think you (and I) saved running too!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This just made the rounds of Run the Year too
    I agree with you. Elitism may have place — among the professional runners but it really isn’t applicable to John Q Runner. How dare we get out and better ourselves?
    While I’m loving Meb’s book, his issue with water b ottles makes me stabby. You do you. I saw some sparkle skirts sunday in the FLL Half. They’re fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think most elite runners are actually much more inclusive, but I know this is still an attitude of some old school runners (but not all, thankfully!

      I read Meb’s book but it was a while ago and I don’t remember water bottle issues. Maybe because I use a hydration vest, I just put it out of my mind. Seriously, I need my water!


      1. Well, I can see how if you do it in 15 minutes you probably don’t need it.

        I always carry a water bottle — even for a 5k. I like to drink a little each mile.

        I also started out fast on mine, but I don’t actually think it was a problem either.


  9. Ugh, I had never read that article before. I am firmly a back of the packer. I always check the course time limits to make sure I can finish in the allotted time but I’m often right back there. But there’s nothing wrong with getting out there and still doing what you can. Plus, like you said, you need all those people in order to pay for keeping the races going 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Are “fun” runners ruining running? Absolutely not!

    Do you find it easier to race naked (as in, no GPS watch)? I like my GPS watch so I can keep tabs on HR

    What do you think about the rise of recreational runners? Great! We need to get healthy. Too much illness & obesity now.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Brilliant piece Judy. I haven’t read his specific article BUT I have heard similar things said by “serious” runners who have mocked the rest of us for ruining “their” sport! Please, if I look at my small city alone, in the last few years running has become so popular for us middle to back of the packers. You see people out running during week mornings and over weekends there are even more out. Our first park run started a few months ago and they already have 700 runners signed up. Every race is packed because of us non-elites. I think we have made the sport richer, more diverse, more dynamic, more fun, and more inclusive of everyone. At one of the races I did last year, my friend did the race with her baby in a stroller and her 70 year old mum. You should have seen their smiles as they crossed the finish lines. We are taking nothing away from the elites when we are out there, if anything, we are only adding something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s wonderful that there’s been such a surge in running there.

      My husband & I were discussing this this morning, and he was saying how you could say this about so many things — like photography, for instance. That an argument could be made that cell phones have ruined it for professional photographers — which he isn’t, but he is talented & it’s a hobby for him.

      But he also believes the fact that people can easily take more photos is a good thing.


  12. I have not read the article but I too, would argue we (the slower runners) have indeed saved running. We make running more approachable, fun and engaging. That is what exercise is all about in my mind. I have watched so many of my MRTT mamas run their first 5k, 10K, half and full and watch them build their self esteem and accomplish goals they never thought they could.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree, Deborah! Obviously.

      I also forgot to mention that the fact that most elites now have all that help available, and running times have continued to decrease is a sign that something’s working.


  13. I love this post! I don’t know who that guy is but he can keep his opinion to himself! We’re all out there doing our best and having great experiences running races, what’s the problem? I will say that sometimes people are too dependent on data rather than running by feel (guilty), but if someone said that my finish times for a marathon didn’t count because they weren’t fast enough, I’d slap them!

    You have definitely not ruined running. I think the elitists can ruin running but not making it more inclusive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Running by feel — if I want to achieve my goals — doesn’t always work for me. If I’d actually paid more attention to my pace during my race, I probably could have pushed harder those last few miles. My body often likes the feel of running slowly. 🙂

      Thankfully I really feel that there aren’t a lot of elitists when it comes to running.


  14. I love this so much, Judy! I interviewed for a job at a running store and they asked me what my definition of a runner is. I said, “a person who moves forward, one foot at a time, regardless of pace.” I mean, really. Elites are definitely incredible creatures and those who hover just below elite are also incredible but you know who the TRULY incredible runners are? The ones who come out and do the things they never imagined they could. The ones, like you and me, who take those walk breaks because we need them but keep moving forward. The ones who round out the field and bring up the rear. The ones who smile and wave and high five little kids hands during a race (never seen an elite runner do that). And who doesn’t want to run in a skirt? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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