When did it become unpopular to be nice? And when did it become the cool thing to go a step further and be actively rude to people?
Just about every weekend, I go out for a longer run. I run in an area where I pass people of all ages, shapes, and sizes, doing all sorts of things – walking, running (both of these often with strollers or dogs or both), roller blading, biking, horseback riding, etc. There are people of all skill levels out, and I’m often impressed by the huge packs of cyclists in their matching jerseys speeding along the road. Personally, I would be afraid of crashing. I don’t do well with speed outside of a car.
Today I went out for a 9 mile run, my last long run before next weekend’s 10 mile race. Around mile 7, I passed a group of runners stretching. And one of them had to comment. “That chick is way too fat to run,” he said, and the others laughed.
Well first off, I was clearly running, so obviously, I’m not too fat to do it.
I’m not built like a runner. I never will be. I’m okay with that. I also will never be fast. It’s a combination of my build and my weight and a host of other factors, I’m sure, but I’m ok with not being fast. I’m not out to win any races, and unless I’m still running in my 80’s, I have no chance of ever winning anything.
A quick glance around a popular running path will show you that runners come in all shapes and sizes. Some are faster than others. But they’re all out there doing something great. I have friends who are significantly heavier than I am who could kick my ass in a race. I have other friends who are significantly lighter than I am who couldn’t make it through half of the training run that I did today. I have runner friends who literally weigh twice what I weigh, but you know what? They still run.
But what’s the point of making a crack at a runner who isn’t tiny and lithe? What good does that do anyone? I know some elites who think that allowing slow people in a race belittles the sport. Why? Does it make you any slower? As long as people line up to start a race properly (fast people in the front, slow in the back), those slow people have no effect on you. In fact, I’ve been in races where the course loops back on itself to finish where it started, which means that at some point, those leaders are going to pass the back of the packers. And what happens then? All those people in the back start clapping and cheering. Because hey, that guy’s in the front, and look, there’s the lead woman. Look at what they’re doing. Sure, those of us at the back of the pack have no hope of ever being them, but that doesn’t mean we’re not impressed by what they’re doing.
This guy’s not going to make me stop running. I hope he slipped in the mud and fell on his face today though. But for a new runner, for someone just getting started and struggling to get through every workout, this might end their running career. I’m not saying that everyone has to be nice. Just be civil.