Huffing about Stuffy Runners

Last week I read a blog on running that got me in a huff. I’m not much of a blogger—in fact, this is my first. (Am I a vlogger? A blirgin?) I was so upset I even made an account on the guy’s webisphere blogerspot just so I could let him know how pissed I was. He says, authoritatively, that the running boom in the 80s was fueled by “loads of everyday/chubby folks proving they could ‘run’ marathons.” And today, he claims, the running boom is fueled by “young women in Batman-like gear, wearing iPods, heart-rate monitors, and GPS watches.” He makes it unequivocally clear: “it’s definitely NOT hardcore like it used to be.” 

He goes on to make accusations, to “blame” people and celebrities for the popularization of running. Another user, “Anonymous,” calls him out on “disparaging newbies,” to which the blogger replies that “obviously” some of his comments were “tongue-in-cheek.” To which I, username “Young Woman,” reply… something far too long and probably too graphic to post here.

Unfortunately, I don’t think his opinion is rare. In fact, I think it might just belong to a majority of runners. Being relatively new to the sport of running myself, that worries me. Sure, some people will be lifetime joggers (soft “j”—cringe), and many people who consider themselves runners may never complete a marathon or even a half-marathon. But who are we as harbingers of the sport to discourage the beginning of something potentially life-changing? 

There’s a growing demographic of young women out there who grew up playing sports, who were in great shape until they arrived at college—at which point the freshman thirty made its appearance. (Ah, the classic freshman thirty.) And yes, I am among them. After leaving the structure of high-school sports and discovering local beer, I gained a pound or two. Now I’m done with college, and along with it the hot body that could be maintained with a hardy 5,000-calories-a-day diet. 

Now, we Young Women run to take care of ourselves and to feel good. Maybe we’re not HARDCORE, but let me tell you: it takes guts to even try. If an iPod is what it takes to motivate you, listen to it. If you have to wear a Batman cape to make it through the next mile, wear it. If you need to strap on a heartbeat-monitoring, blood-pressure regulating, foot-placement-measuring apparatus, wear it (and maybe consult your doctor). (NOTE: only after the freshman thirty is gone and the hot bod is back can you begin to wear Lycra. Boundaries, people.) Breathe loud, smell like a tangy mushroom, stagger the last two miles, fall on your face for all I care. Just do what makes you feel good, and don’t listen to people who say you look dumb. You do it, and that’s all that matters—which is more than most people can say. 

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