Thursday, November 14, 2013

My thoughts on a WSJ article about running

I enjoyed Mark Remy's article on Runner's World so much in response to a Wall Street Journal article on running, I decided to do one in a similar format. Recently, in case you missed it, a Wall Street Journal opinion article written by Mr. Chad Stafko, was published. The first word that popped into my head when I read it was, "Ignorant." Chad, an apparent non-lover of the running community, decided he had enough of runners bragging out their running feats and took to the reputable fitness journal, Wall Street, to share his thoughts on how self-centered and silly us "runners" are. Below is his article with my thoughts in bold.
Ok, So You're a Runner. Get Over It.  By: Chad Stafko
There is one kind of bumper sticker I see almost daily here in my small Midwestern town: a small oval printed with "26.2" or "13.1." In case you're lucky enough not to know what these numbers represent, let me explain: They indicate that the driver or someone in the car has run a marathon (26.2 miles) or a half-marathon (13.1 miles).
First off, my 26.2 bumper sticker is a magnet.
There is only one reason running aficionados display the stickers. They want the rest of us to know about their long-distance feats. So let me be the first to offer my hearty congratulations. I'd even offer to give them a pat on the back—once they're done doing it themselves.
Thanks, Chad. For the record, I've only patted myself on the back a couple times. It's difficult to do.
What's with this infatuation with running and the near-mandatory ritual of preening about it?Almost every day I see people running: in the city, through subdivisions or out on country roads. They're everywhere and at all times, from dawn until dark, their reflective gear flickering along the road.
Sorry our reflective gear annoys you. It's to protect us from getting hit by people like, well, you.
I thought I was imagining this spike in running's popularity, but that's not the case. According to the group Running USA, there were some 15.5 million people who finished running events in 2012, compared with approximately 13 million in 2010. These 15.5 million are hoofing it through marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, fun runs, night runs, charity runs and what can only be labeled as insane ultramarathon runs of 50 miles or more.
Incredible, isn't it? Our inactive country is becoming active.
When they're not out there sweating through the miles, they can relax with a running magazine. There is Runners World, with its 660,000 subscribers, but also Running Times, Trail Runner, Runner's Gazette and several others. Reading. About running.
You're probably a subscriber to NASCAR Illustrated. A magazine. About racing.
Or these runners, when they're not running, can go shopping—at a running store. There's one such store less than 15 miles, or better said, just a bit over a half-marathon, from my house. It sells only running equipment and apparel. The store has been in business several years, so apparently it is making money.
specialty retail store? I've never heard of such a thing.
This "equipment," of course, is nothing but shoes and clothes. You can buy these same shoes at a sporting-goods store or online, probably for much less.
Actually, I find much better deals at my local running store. Friendlier/more knowledgeable staff, too.
But the clothes—well, that's a different story. Many of the shirts on the racks have running logos, motivational slogans and images of stick people running.
Of course they do. Why would I go to a running store to buy an "I'm with stupid" shirt?
Like the 26.2 and 13.1 bumper stickers, this apparel serves a clear purpose: We can look at them and immediately know that the person wearing it is a runner—perhaps even an accomplished one.
Yup, that's exactly why we wear them. In fact, I'm going to put a call into all the major sport leagues to inform their respective commissioners that no championship winning player is allowed to wear a "Champions" shirt or hat after winning a title.
I have several friends who are runners, or at least I did before writing this. Some have completed marathons in Nashville and Washington, D.C. One even ran the Boston Marathon.
Yep, they are not your friends anymore.
A few days ago, one of these running friends said, after describing a recent run: "Why do I keep doing this?" I have no idea.
Every runner says this. It's a rhetorical question. I can tell you that we DO know why we run and sadly, it's something you'll never understand. Unless, you start running.
Why would someone want to get up at 5 a.m. and run 10 miles adorned with fluorescent tape to avoid being struck by someone who has the good sense to use a car for a 10-mile journey?
Dedication, my friend. Also, why would I go for a 10 mile joyride over a run?
I have a theory. There is no more visible form of strenuous exercise than running. When runners are dashing down a street in the middle of town or through a subdivision, they know that every driver, every pedestrian, every leaf-raker and every person idly staring out a window can see them.
If you really think that's why we run, you're dumber than I thought.
These days, people want more than ever to be seen. This is the age of taking a photo selfie and posting it on Facebook with the announcement that you're bored—in the hope that someone will "like" that information. People want attention and crave appreciation. If you're actually doing something like running—covering ground, staying healthy, almost even having fun—what better way to fulfill the look-at-me desire? The lone runner is a one-person parade. Yay.

Hey now, I post my pictures on Twitter and Instagram, too.

OK, I know, this isn't the case for all runners. Many of my friends who regularly run have done so for years, decades before there was a thing called social media to put humanity's self-absorption in overdrive. These folks also tend to be infatuated with fitness anyway. If they're not out on the streets showing the sedentary world how it's done, they're at the gym or in a spinning class.
Just so we are clear, I enjoy using social media to share my running accomplishments with my fellow runners because they GET IT! If a family member or close friend happens to read my post and it inspires them to get out the door, awesome, but that's not my goal. Most importantly, my post are never written in a way to demean those that are not active, EVER!
But what about the others? You can spot them, wandering through the mall or killing time at Starbucks proudly wearing their "[Fill in the blank] 5K Run" T-shirts. They're getting what they want, without losing a drop of sweat.
I prefer Dunkin' Dounts coffee.
I saw a great new bumper sticker the other day. It read 0.0. I'll take one of those, please.
Haha, that's awesome! Where can I get one?


  1. Nice work Doug. Hope this guy gets a good run in one day and finally gets it.

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing. A Runner talking to a non runner about running is like a football fan talking to a non foot ball fan about football. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has them and they stink. This guy does not know what he is talking about though. He might not be a runner, but his mouth is doing a pretty good job of it. haha