I pick up Runner’s World once in a while, usually from airport newsstands when I’m traveling. The cover, of course, features some impossibly fit person smiling broadly while they run. Inside are articles about nutrition, training, gear, and usually a feature about the impossibly fit person from the cover. I like Runner’s World; I’ve picked up a lot of helpful tips and they often have articles geared toward the novice runner, which I certainly am.
However, I begin to notice things that make me feel like an interloper, a trespasser in a foreign land. I don’t think Runner’s World does this on purpose, but small, insidious comments do build a fence around the definition of “runner” that I am definitely outside.
For example, a recent feature on the best shoes of 2009 had a very informative section about how to pick the right kind of shoes. People with high arches and no pronation need different models than those with flat feet and pronation. The article also mentioned the cushioning density of a shoe should match the runner’s weight. I thought, hey, here’s something that applies to me. The next sentence defined “heavier runner” as “over 180 pounds.” Well. There’s a range; 180 to infinity. I weigh 305. I suspect the engineers at Saucony or Brooks or Asics or New Balance don’t figure 305 lb. runners into their design equations.
Runner’s World also frequently prints training plans. If you’re training for a marathon, or a half-marathon, or… well, I’ve never seen a training plan for less than those distances. That in itself is a message. I’m pretty proud of my 5K, but the target audience for Runner’s World runs a 5K falling out of bed. But even for the shorter distances, the training plans always include “easy” days, which include things like an “easy five-mile run.” You know what? At my weight and level of experience, no run is “easy” and five miles would be the longest I’ve ever run at once.
Finally, Runner’s World provides a lot of information on nutrition. What to eat pre-race, post-race, on rest days, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They even provide menus. The only problem is that their menus are designed for 150-pound people. A quarter-cup of cottage cheese, a bagel and a teaspoon full of turkey breast will not sustain this Fat Triathlon machine. I find myself doubling or even tripling the recommended portions to get close to my caloric needs.
But despite all that, I keep on truckin’. Despite the fact that I don’t look the cover models when I wear compression shirts, despite the fact that I go through shoes twice as fast as “average” runners, and despite the fact that I feel like all I do when I’m not working out is eating, I still run.
I ran this morning – my long run of the week. In 49 minutes, I covered just under 4-and-a-half miles, and it was not an “easy” run. But I ran. I ran all the way out, took a minute to walk, and then ran all the way back. I ran.
And I’m proud of that. I may never do a marathon, or experience what a 7-minute mile feels like, or win anything other than a finisher’s medal. But I’m okay with that, because I’m a runner.
I3A (I’ll explain soon),