Last Monday, one of the most prestigious sporting events in the nation took place, the 120th Boston Marathon. Since I began my career as a runner, which in all honesty has only been about a year, I dreamed of making it across that blue and yellow finish line on Boylston Street, with 26.2 miles behind me. As a distance runner, however, I constantly hear comments and questions from my family at which shake my head. If you have a loved one that is a runner, please do not say any of the following to them, for their own sanity.
“You are going to ruin your knees”
Running is a very physical sport, and injuries are common but with proper stretching and allotted rest days, you typically will not damage your body too much, especially if you change up the surface of what you run on (dirt vs pavement). The benefits of running outweigh the possible dangers.
“You must be able to eat whatever you want”
Sadly, no. While running is one of the most calorie burning forms of exercise, runners need to take care of their bodies just like any other athletes. In fact, many of those who train for half and fall marathons, including myself, find themselves gaining weight. We become hungrier after running but what we put into our bodies becomes even more important. That being said, I have seen a group of runners put away a scary amount of food.
“I only run if something is chasing me”
You are so funny and original. I have never heard that one before.
“How far is that marathon?”
I get this one all the time. I will say a marathon name and then someone will ask the distance. Marathons are standardized, they are all 26.2 miles, no matter which one it is. A half marathon is half of that, 13.1. Likewise, 5ks, 10ks and any other distance races are standardized. So there is no difference running the Boston and New York marathon in distance.
“Did you win?”
I am going to let you in on a secret, most runners are not in the sport to be competitive with other people. Running is one of those things where you are in it to only beat yourself. Winning to us is getting a personal record, or doing really well on a tough course. That being said, getting first in your age division does feel amazing.
“You must get lonely on long runs”
Actually, many runners, myself included, fell in love with this sport because it is a solo sport. Going hours by yourself, lost in your own head, is very therapeutic. Studies have shown that those who run long distances regularly are typically more mentally resilient and are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Though it can be lonely out there at times, and that is why it is nice to have a supportive running team behind you during training, like I have in my Mystic Running Club who I run with on Wednesday nights.
“It must be nice to do such an inexpensive hobby”
Oh, how I wish this were the case. Next to college, running has been one of the most expensive things I have ever signed myself up for. I know people who have spent thousands of dollars on this hobby. Races are not free and running shoes are nowhere near cheap. Sometimes I wonder why I pay money to torture myself, then I sign up for another race.
“When are you running Boston?” / “It cannot be hard to get into right?”
The Boston Marathon is one of the most prestigious sporting events. There are only three ways you can get a bib number. You can qualify for it by running two previous marathons under a certain time, you can raise money for charity, or you can win the bib through your running club. This means your chances of running Boston are very small, though for many runners it becomes a reality. Likewise, it takes weeks to train for this event. The amount of dedication I saw my fellow Mystics put into this marathon is inspiring. They would wake up early, run through the rain and the snow, and fight through countless injuries. I dream of running it one day, even if that day is very far off.
Running long distances takes a unique breed of people. Not everyone can do it and not everyone can understand why we do it. Hopefully, this little article helps the non-runner support their running friends better. Seeing your faces cheering us on is the thing that gets us through tough races!