Things That Irk Me About Runners (But That I’m Sort of Guilty of Too)

A disclaimer: notice that this list of annoying things that runners do only contains three items. It was supposed to be a top-10 list, but then I ran out of things to rant about. So really the overarching message of this post is that I love runners. Right?

1. Oversharing. Be honest. How many Facebook friends have you blocked because of their ceaseless posts about how far they just ran? Publishing your workout summaries in lurid detail is probably not going to inspire me to get off the couch and be more healthy, especially when I know that you’ve been live on Internet chat for the last eight hours straight.

The other day I had a great training run. Did I stretch or cool down right away? No. I sent text messages to my parents and my boyfriend detailing my average pace and mileage, the route’s impressive elevation range, and the adverse weather conditions. None of these people encouraged my choice to run a marathon and they’ve all expressed worry about the effects it will have on my joints, so why do I brag to them? I think it’s because runners have to overshare. Unlike sport team players, we tend to practice alone. If we don’t document proof of what we do, we worry that our great moments will disappear like all those original Picassos that were on the Titanic. (Or was that just a detail that James Cameron invented for the major motion picture? The world may never know.)

2. Thinking that “the things I eat” is a worthwhile topic of conversation. You know that person, right? The one who eats a square of chocolate and then corners you for an hour to talk about how terrible she’ll feel on her next run because of it (while you’re in the act of polishing off three plate-sized pancakes with extra whipped cream)?

I’m not sure how or when it happened, but I’m totally that person. I used to be a lot cooler about food. Back in college, I did things like win breadstick-eating competitions and devour pints of ice cream in one sitting. I thought running a marathon meant that I could resume eating like I did in college, but then I learned about how endurance runners are supposed to focus on whole grains and vegetables. One of my new favorite pastimes is to read the nutritional information on every item of junk food I eat and then verbalize my guilt and discomfort. To all of you who have been in earshot: I understand that this won’t reverse the act of eating junk food, nor will it help me refuse it next time. I get it, and I’m sorry. Someday after I finish this race, let’s get together for corn dogs and sugar, okay?

3. Running even though you hate it. A common theme for exercise magazine articles seems to be how great running is for weight loss even if the experience is unpleasant. Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Jillian Michaels, published in the June 2011 issue of Fitness Magazine:

Q: What one thing do you never skip in your workout?
A: This is ironic. As much as I hate it, I run every time, like 3 miles. It makes you skinny, that’s why. It works.

I’ve heard the sentiment expressed time and again, but it’s particularly depressing to hear from the workout guru who got me interested in almond milk and kickboxing. Sometimes, as a way of empathizing with non-runners, I suggest that there are times I’d rather sleep in instead. But still, I don’t think talking about how much you hate running is going to inspire a person to do it.

Oddly, my inspiration to run is better summed up by a moment in the movie Legally Blonde, when Elle is trying to prove that her former athletic trainer isn’t a murderer: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”

Mari Zagarins

When Mari isn't running, biking, hiking, or jumping-jacking in and around her home in Montpelier, she is practicing her facial expressions in the mirror and contemplating whether she should learn to swim.