Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Runners Etiquette

I have been invited to several great group runs. They really have invigorated my running mojo. So thank to those ladies! 

Sunday I had planned to run with said ladies, but alas, I show up and those speedy gals were already done. This led to a 9 mile solo run. 

It also led me to think about running etiquette as I was put to the test while dodging runners, walkers, bikers, baby strollers and other moving devices on the Golden Gate Bridge. Here is my list of running etiquette I have developed over the years:

  1. Acknowledge your fellow runners. A nod, a smile, a verbal hello *gasp*, all is welcome and really builds the community of running. One of my good running buddies, Jerry, taught me this. It is how we met actually. He said one day while running "Hello" and a beautiful friendship was formed.
  2. GIVE WAY TO CYCLISTS. Not that cyclists don’t break etiquette or deserve that middle finger from time to time, but cyclists are not as nimble as runners. They are also often going faster than runners, so if you can, make way for them. Help reduce the recipe for a collision.
  3. Say excuse me if you bump into a walker. Yes, walkers can be annoying, but remember, that person is out getting exercise too. So if you bump into a walker trying to pass, a friendly “excuse me” can go a long way regardless of fault.
  4. Look both ways when crossing the street. Don’t assume cars see you. Also look when crossing a driveway, who knows what is barreling down.
  5. Don’t throw trash on the ground. If you have to hold your empty Gu pack for 10 miles, do it. Don’t litter. It isn’t attractive.
  6. Watch out for cracks! This is from personal experience, if you are running on uneven surface, keep that head down, or be prepared for $$ ER visits :-)
  7. Carry a cell phone, cc and at least $1 in cash on every run. You never know when it will come in handy.
  8. CARRY ID! Name, emergency contact and allergies.
  9. If you are running in an unknown area or a long distance, leave your race plan with a friend.
  10. Don’t judge others. If they are running slow, they are taller, shorter, larger, smaller. Everyone is on their own journey, don’t judge if they should be out there or not.
  11. Please, before blowing a snot rocket, check down wind. And if in the presence of non-runners, don’t do it. Non-runners will never understand the virtue of a snot rocket.
  12. Lastly, as @RunnersRambles suggests, don't judge a run by the first few miles. This etiquette is for you, not others, give yourself the respect of persevering and seeing what those legs are made of. I can't tell you how many runs (including marathons) I thought about giving up in the first 2 miles, but turned into one of my favorite runs.

I don’t claim to always follow these, I surely need to do a better job of being a pleasant runner on the roads, but I try!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Privilege of Running

When I stop and think about running, through my bouts of loving it and hating it, I never let myself forget that running is a privilege. It isn't a right, or a pastime, or some leisurely thing. It truly is a privilege to lace up my shoes, put one foot in front of the other and run. Run short or far, fast or slow. It is so easy to take for granted. We rarely think about what it takes for our bodies to go right foot-left foot-right foot-left foot.

This is usually the thing I focus on during a marathon when I feel like quitting or sitting down and not getting back up. I am privileged to be out there running.

Now, I won't lie. It doesn't soften every run. Make my legs feel magically alive and free of pain, but it mentally pushes me to the limit, doesn't let me dwell on how tired I am or why do I have to suffer the pain of this marathon.

This "privilege" is never more apparent than when I hear of someone who cannot run. Not because they are clumsy or non-athletic, but because their body is failing them in some way. I know this gal, not even 40, her body is slowly being controlled by multiple sclerosis. MS is an auto-immune disease that in some form or fashion affects the central nervous system. Often times making it hard for its hosts to use their limbs, whether it be feet, legs, hands or arms. It also impacts the brain. There is no cure. There isn't even a great deal to delay its advancement on the body.

When I hear this gal tell me her legs give way. She falls. She has a harder time walking. She feels tired often. She is more prone to illnesses like the common cold and flu. I wonder what she wouldn't give to run a mile. Would she relish in the pain that the mile would bring her. The burning lungs, the tired legs, the sweat on the brow.

My second thought is often of guilt. The guilt that I can run. That I was given the privilege of running and she wasn't. I like to think this is a normal reaction and that most sisters would feel this if it were their sister with MS.

I run most steps for my sister. My sister is a runner, just not in the typical sense. She is through me.