Blog: Skewed Views & News

I choose not to run

One and done.

A good friend of mine has been including me on his e-mail listserv for a running group he’s assembled. That means every week I get a handful of invitations to run anywhere from four to twenty miles with a group of a half dozen runners of varying ability. To this date, I’ve yet to take him up on his offer. Why?

  1. I prefer running alone.
  2. I enjoy running without a goal.
  3. After running a marathon years ago, I’ve sworn off long distances and the training that accompanies it.

Forgive me for being so proud, but I’m still a little astonished at my marathon accomplishment. But looking back on it, I really shouldn’t be. From an early age, genetics have given me a runner’s physique, and ever since college, I’ve increasingly become introverted. The solitary nature of running is a great fit with my personality. And running a marathon has become a wonderful addition to my conversation arsenal for parties and get-togethers. Whenever people ask me if I’m running another one, I quote the episode of Seinfeld where he defiantly declares, all Superman-like, “I choose not to run.”

And it’s true. I choose not to run – at least no more than ten miles at one time. I know many people find marathons addictive, but not me. During my training, I saw the ugly side of 6 a.m. on far too many Saturdays. I dropped twenty pounds that I didn’t really have to lose. And I lost both of my big toenails which took almost six months to grow back ingrown, painful, and well . . . not pretty. Nope. I’m done. I can cross “run a marathon” off my Life List. If I really had a Life List. But let’s not get technical.

By running those 26 (.2!) miles, I did something that only about one-tenth of one percent of the population has done – or so says my condescending training guide, Marathon: You can do it! That sweat-soaked manual also says that the average age of marathon runners is about thirty eight, which also means I participated in a largely adult-like athletic activity – a slightly disorienting realization for this reluctant grown-up.

So instead of hitting “delete” or replying, “Unsubscribe,” I’ve instead decided to consider the running group’s e-mails an honor. By including me in their invitations, my friend and his running partners must consider me a worthy partner in their adult athletic activity.  And for this accidental adult, that’s comforting, even if I choose not to run. Because in the game of life, excelling at an adult athletic activity feels like winning—and accidental adults like us need to take our victories where we can find them, no matter how small.

1 Comment to I choose not to run

  1. May 17, 2010 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I agree, Colin,
    My ADHD doesn’t mesh with the idea of running for 26.2 miles. Give me an even where things are switched up and I am thrilled. When i get bored swimming, there is a bike ride, when the biking’s thrill wears thin i can run. Make me do one task for that long and I will eventually be distracted by any shiny objects along the way, like a raccoon.

    As for running, it is best done solo for me. It isn’t like you can have a good conversation while running. The only worse thing than running in groups are the sinister element who photograph you while running, and send you a picture of it afterward.