When you are a runner, you are surrounded by people who are motivating and supportive. You meet non-runners who admire your dedication, discipline, and shiny finishers medals. They say things like “Great job!” “Way to go!” “You are doing so well!” We are fortunate to receive this kind of feedback, and it makes us want to improve. We like to be told we are doing well and to “keep up the great work.” Affirmations are perks of the sport.
However, not everyone you encounter is going to be a cheerleader. I’m not speaking of rivals or your friends who want to engage in some friendly competition. I’m referring to people who will tell you how much they hate running or that running is a dangerous sport. Recently, I met someone who was very vocal about her hatred for running (and perhaps any fitness-related activities). This woman freely spoke ill of running after a mutual friend introduced me as a runner. She was relentless and self-deprecating, and I pitied her. Instead of reasoning with her and persuading her to reconsider her stance, I simply said “It’s not for everyone.” She had already made up her mind, and I wasn’t going to befriend someone who was this afraid of a sport I enjoy. I chose not be defensive. This was not the first time I met someone like her, and it certainly isn’t going to be the last.
When someone feels so strongly against a sport that makes me feel empowered, I believe it is because they don’t know the facts – only myths. It could be because their only experience with running was in gym class when doing laps was considered a punishment. Or it’s because they are intimidated by runners and running. When I encounter these skeptics, I use their negative energy to my advantage and think “If it was easy, everyone would be a runner.”
Though it’s a bonus to receive words of encouragement from friends and family, your commitment will be tested when you are challenged by those who want to deject your efforts. These people might even be your friends who want you skip your workout in favor of staying out late or having another cocktail! They’ll say things like “Live a little!” “Do you have to run tomorrow?” “I run only when being chased by a bear.” It’s not easy, but I tune out the noise, seek encouragement through my Dailymile friends, and focus on my goals.
I am proud to be labeled as a runner. It is not my life, but it is a part of my life. It is a selfish activity that provides endless benefits. It is something I love to do, and I’ll happily talk about running with my friends and with strangers who are open to learning about it. But running – like skinny jeans – is not for everyone.