Runners are a weird group of people. Most sports use running as a punishment. But then you get sports like track, where people seemingly sign up to run for fun. To outsiders, track athletes must seem crazy. To be fair, you do have to be a little bit crazy. Track definitely isn't for everyone. It takes a special person to enjoy running in circles, throwing heavy balls, or jumping into a large sandbox. Track and field is a grueling, emotional, wonderful sport. It challenges you, pushes you, and gives you amazingly toned legs. If you ever participated in track, then you'll be able to relate to the following:
1. Warm spring weather makes you think of track.
When the temperature hits 50 or above, your first thought is “Wow, it’s perfect weather for track practice." Nothing quite compares to the feeling of being able to shed your sweats for shorts and tank tops.
2. You measure distances in meters.
When someone asks you to judge how far away something is, your mind immediately compares it to a track. The distance from here to that car? Probably a 100m dash. How many miles did you run at the gym? Oh, it was around a 3200.
3. Seeing guys in short shorts doesn’t weird you out.
Track athletes are used to seeing pale man thighs. Sure, it was startling the first time you had a co-ed meet. The sight of that boy's team in those strange, spandex unitards was horrifying. But now, you don’t give guys in short shorts a second thought, because you’re a seasoned pro.
4. You have a million pairs of running shoes.
Most people have a thing for heels, or cute sandals -- track athletes have a thing for running shoes. Chances are that you’ve owned shoes in at least five colors of the rainbow. Plus, everyone knew that the fastest runners had the coolest shoes.
5. The word "ladder" fills your stomach with dread.
A ladder is not a handy tool to have around the house. A ladder is the track practice straight from hell.
6. You’re very comfortable with your body
Between injuries, skimpy track uniforms, and general locker room shenanigans, track athletes are veeery comfortable with their bodies.
7. You have lucky socks.
I never went to an important meet without my purple socks. No one could judge you for not washing your lucky socks all season if it meant getting first place.
8. The words “400” or “800” still create a knot in your stomach.
400s and 800s are basically synonymous with death. "Pace yourself," they say. "Sprint the entire time," they tell you. "It's OK if you can't feel your legs, that's supposed to happen," they reassure you.
9. You could guess what event someone did just by looking at them.
Tall, skinny guys? Distance runners. Girl that walks on her toes? Jumper. Guy with the arms the size of your body? Definitely a thrower. Girl with the J. Lo booty? Sprinter for sure.
Track meets are not known for their time efficiency. Oftentimes, you would be forced to wait three hours just to run for less than a minutes, or to jump/throw a few times. What better way to pass the time than to sleep? If you give a track athlete a pillow and a blanket, they'll sleep anywhere, whether it's on the bus or on the bleachers.
11. All of your duffel bags have athletic brand symbols on them.
Some people may collect purses, but you? You collected duffel bags. All of the cool kids had the Under Armour and Nike bags, so naturally you begged your mom for the newest version every year at Christmas. Bonus points if you had a matching bag for your spikes.
12. You actually work out in leggings.
Most people wear leggings for the comfort. But during the first, cold, brutal weeks of outdoor practice, leggings were not just for comfort. They were for survival, because there was no way you'd make it out in the cold without multiple layers.
13. You can make a meal out of snack food.
My dinner on track meet nights consisted of beef jerky, a protein bar, the occasional apple, and whatever candy my friends and I would buy from the vending machine. Meal options were pretty limited at meets, so you had to learn how to make a meal with food that could be shoved in a duffel bag and sit in your locker all day.
14. You have about a million different ab workouts.
The winter months of track season are spent conditioning in a musty gym or hallway. At first it's great, because you're saved from sprint repeats. But after you've spent three weeks doing crunches, it gets pretty old. As a result, the team was forced to come up with fun new ab workouts to shake things up.
15. You have a collection of spandex shorts.
You would rather wear spandex than real pants any day. After walking around in tight uniforms in front of strangers for years, you have no problem wearing brightly colored spandex to the gym or around the house. After all, it would be a shame to hide your toned legs under baggy shorts.
16. You could eat whatever you wanted.
A whole pizza wasn't your dinner -- it was just your post-workout snack. The best time to be a runner is after a workout, because you can eat everything in your fridge and not gain a pound. Friends were always amazed at all of the food you could pack away. It's truly a gift.
17. You hate running.
Running is no joke. It's painful, exhausting, and emotional. Between practice and meets, you never had free time. Every day before practice, you would contemplate quitting with your friends. Were the shin splints, blisters, and tears really worth it?
18. You love running.
Of course they were. At the end of the day, no matter how hard the journey was, it was worth it. Just when you were ready to give up, you would get a PR, and suddenly it was all worth it. Track taught us the value of hard work. It forged lifelong bonds with teammates and coaches. And above all, track taught us to appreciate life without shin splints.