I have made it a point in my initial columns to include what I consider to be great local sources so it's not just me spouting run stuff. Frankly, it's for the best. I mean seriously, who am I really but one chick who has figured out running chases out the head crazies? I will deviate from that this time. I know we haven't been seeing each other long, but you are just going to have to trust me.
The Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon is doing for the third year in a row what it has always done – creating new runners. Most training schedules are starting and there are a bunch of new gear, new questions, new excitement, and new runners.
This makes my heart big.
But real quick and without a whole lot of attention given to the offended and no attention given to the offenders, I feel compelled to mention an unfortunate presence in running. When you encounter it, it is my hope you will say to yourself, "this is what she was talking about," and let it slow you down none.
I wish I was setting up a funny joke. Actually laugh at it. It is pretty ridiculous.
Running is like any other sport, hobby, club, or community. It is a microcosm of society and as such mostly contains wonderfully supportive folks.
Unfortunately it also contains those other kinds. There aren't a ton of them, thank goodness. But this journey is hard, mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. One encounter, one sideways conversation can be bell ringing. It isn't fun and if you are guilty of this you suck.
For the rest of you, allow me to be so bold as to offer you what I consider to be three truths about running.
First, love your gear. There are as many philosophies about how to run, what to wear, shoes to use, and gear to own as there are runners. Different things are important, comfortable, and effective for different folks. Double digit miles take a while to run. You have to be comfortable with your own strategy – not the guy's next to you.
Some runners love to gear up. They have spent hours researching barefoot versus engineered footwear, battery life in sports trackers, methods of carrying food and water, $150 dry wick, no chafe, environmentally friendly, anti microbial tech tees. They know all about the cool stuff.
The minimalist folks are easy to spot. They are half naked with no shoes on. They have sandals or Five Fingers but that's just for skin cover if they need it. No watch, no gel, no music; these folks are au naturel. They are an enlightened bunch who read "Born to Run" and harness their inner Kenyan. They run with their spirit and secretly wish they belonged to the running monks of Mount Hiei. These are an awesome bunch of people who sincerely love the run.
Injuries happen. This is just a fact. If you make it your whole running journey without a strain, pull, rupture, twist, turn, ache, or trip to Ledesma, you are either blessed or not really running. It just happens. There is no shoe, exercise, training plan, supplement, warm up, cool down, piece of gear or advice that changes this. Incidentally, this fact is true for every other physical activity I can think of.
If you are listening to your body, treating it like the fine machine that it is, you will probably have a very successful go at running. You are probably not going to end up in a wheel chair with double knee replacement, destroyed arches, and mangled hips at the age of 41 (I don't care what my mother says). Fauja Singh started running about 10 years ago. In the last decade he has completed 9 marathons. He happens to be 101 years old.
Love your run. There is no pace, distance, weight, body fat, length of experience, favorite color checkbox that you have to mark off to legitimately call yourself a "runner." Putting on shoes and putting one foot in front of the other is hard work. Never ever let some insecure head case convince you that you are anything less than magnificent. Took you an hour to finish that 5k? 3.2 miles are still logged in the books. Got a muffin top creeping over your shorts and you are running shirtless? No wonder, it is freaking hot in Savannah. Very first race and you have no idea about packet pick up, bib placement, corral locations, general etiquette? Join the rest of us who have all been at our first race once upon a time.
Running is beastly beautiful. If you are a veteran, I encourage you to join me in encouraging each other. If you are new, welcome, I am so glad you are here. I mean, I don't really get into singing "Kumbayah" or anything but I won't try to trip you if you are in my age group either. Now go run.