This will be my first post of two dealing with the word ‘body’ as it relates to running.
Honestly, all runners are proud of their body of work. With the marquee resume points typically being races. Why do we talk about races so much? Here are my thoughts. First, any long distance race, say 10M or higher, requires training. Nobody goes from no exercise and no running for months to a 10M race the next day.* Second, races are fun and are an easily recognizable ‘event’ for non-runners. Tell someone you trained to run 20 miles, no race, just run 20M by yourself one Saturday morning, and they’ll think your strange. Tell someone you ran 20 miles as part of your marathon training, they automatically understand. Races provide the perfect excuse for obsessive runners, and can keep running interventions at bay. Seriously, think what your friends and family would say if you ran as much as you did and never ran a race?
Back to my first point, talking about races. To talk about completing a long distance race implies that a great amount of training was required. To the casual non-runner it is simply that you run a bit. To those who are somewhat in the know, quasi-runners, it is a realization that some time and effort and weekends were spent to prepare for the race. To a fellow runner, it means you have created a running plan, you have tried to dutifully (if not obsessively) follow it, you have researched and devised a hydration and refueling plan—including tasting almost every kind of Gu and Shot Blox you can, you have spent some time thinking about your shoes and even wiped them clean after a long run, you have made sacrifices to your social life to be better prepared for long runs, you have selected the best running music you can, you have talked about your runs to anyone not quick enough to get away, you discuss in detail your body’s functioning as it relates to the bathroom, you become partial to special clothing and designate your ‘race gear,’ and you may even start a running blog…just to name a few.
All runners know we go through this. Yet, often the first question we ask once we hear a fellow runner has completed a race is How did you do? It isn’t a bad question, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best questions out of the gate either. The race should be the pinnacle of our training, but not the pinnacle of our training experience.
I believe a better series of questions to ask are How was your training?, Did you enjoy your training?, What was your favorite long run? Why? Because these questions deal more with the runner outside of the race, and they deal with the experiences gained before the gun goes off. If a race is the last few miles in a long journey, maybe we should ask about the journey before we focus on the finish.