Are runners really that obnoxious?

I read, from time to time, Gina Kolata’s articles in the New York Times. A science and health writer, and a long-distance runner herself, Kolata often offers up articles of interest to us runner types.

The other day she wrote about how runners draw lots of ire from non-runners. As a lead-in, she mentioned the recent study citing long-term distance training as a potential threat to long-term heart health. Non-runners, it seems, are grabbing onto this and using it for all it’s worth. It seems they love to point out any potential proof that running is bad for us. (Ever have a non-runner tell you you’re ruining your knees? Yeah, I thought so). Which brought her around to the question of whether or not runners bring some of this ill-will on ourselves.

I can see how this might, occasionally, be the case. Let’s start with all our bumper stickers–26.2, 13.1 (140.6 if you’re a triathlete) and so on. Then there are our shirts. Runners (and again, triathletes even more so) love to wear their old race shirts anywhere they can. Boston jackets? You betcha. I am admittedly guilty here myself.

Monday morning at the water cooler is certainly a potential pitfall as well. Conversations about miles or races run, complaints about our aches and pains, and perhaps a bit of an air of superiority to go along with those miles makes us an easy target. As does our devotion to all things healthy–chia seeds sitting on a desk, for instance, probably won’t gain you any fans.

So with this in mind, I’ll do my best not to wax nostalgic about my last great tempo run, or talk about how my newest shoes delivered a superior performance during yesterday’s track workout when around non-runners. But I can’t make too many promises. Like most runners, I’ve got it and I’ve got it bad and removing all talk of my favorite past-time is a tall order.

Besides, I DID just get the best new pair of running gloves…

Ever think you go too far in sharing your love of the sport?ย 


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  1. says

    This is precisely why I started a blog for my running: so I can connect with other runners and have these meaningful conversations with other runners. With non-runners, any conversations about running just roll over them. When I blog, I at least feel like I have an outlet and I do not need to engage non-runners in conversations that hold little meaning to them.
    Amy @ Writing While Running recently posted..A Tale of Two RunsMy Profile

  2. says

    I often feel smugly superior. Even when I’m not running very well. And now that I know I’ve been running without the help of testosterone for a long time and still managed to run a half marathon this year my smug superiority has gone to a whole new level. Just as well I mostly hang out with runners. I don’t like being the object of ire.
    Char recently posted..Blood ShedMy Profile

  3. says

    This post had me laughing so hard! So funny because I was just thinking about this subject this weekend as I made a huge effort to hold back on the running talk with our friends, who we were on vacation with. I could hardly stand it! But then my husband agreed to read Ultramarathon Man, and really got into it and wanted to talk about running!!! Phew! Running talk withdrawl meltdown successfully avoided ๐Ÿ˜‰
    GreenGirlRunning recently posted..Starting From Scratch & WIAWMy Profile

  4. says

    I do try and not talk running to a couple of people, but I don’t talk to non runners!!! OK I some times talk to my Mom and Dad, and then there is my sister-in-law, but i talk Wine with her!!!

    We runners are superior.
    Coach Dion recently posted..Pollsmoor 10km raceMy Profile

  5. says

    I do not talk running with non-runners unless asked. I keep the Boston jacket in it’s cage unless I’m going to a race and even then I don’t wear it that often. I’d like to think I keep my running passion under control around civilians. If they don’t like my 26.2 sticker that’s their problem!
    Marcia recently posted..2012 Running Review and a WinnerMy Profile

  6. says

    Interesting, I just had a very similar conversation with someone yesterday along the same topic, I have played sports for the majority of my life, but it seems that endurance sports seem to create the biggest egos and it is also probably the most addicting sport as well.

  7. says

    Your line about complaining about our aches and pains made me laugh. I don’t complain about mine a lot, but my habit of training so little means that the day after most any run but especially races features some serious stiffness and limping. Definitely not the poster girl for good health through exercise! :)
    Kate recently posted..2012 Jingle Bell HellMy Profile

  8. says

    I really enjoyed this post. Good points! I think some runners may do themselves a disservice (yes, I too have a sticker on my car), but I never mention fitness in person unless someone else asks me about it first. I use my blog as my outlet for venting running injuries, PRs, races, etc.
    Tiff (@LoveSweatBeers) recently posted..Bringing Sexy BackMy Profile

  9. says

    I see nothing remotely obnoxious about any of it – talking about running, wearing a race tee or even sporting a bumper sticker. None of that is so bothersome in my book. Usually people eagerly ask me about my running. If they know I’m training for something, my co-workers will often start Monday off with, “so, how many miles this weekend?” In fact, I think us runners inspire more than turn off.

    The bumper stickers shouldn’t bother anyone. In fact, many people have asked me what bible quote is 13.1? LOL. So some don’t even know what it is. Bothersome bumper stickers are those that are offensive or snarky and political.

    Besides everyone talks about what interests them. I have friends who will go on and on about some television show they are into and I entertain the conversation even though it’s not a show I watch. I have another friend who will talk snowboarding all day and even my husband likes to make sure I’m on top of all the football news that I’d ever need or want to know. Friends and family do this for each other.
    Jen recently posted..Miami Ragnar – I am freaking outMy Profile

  10. says

    When someone is passionate about something, it’s only normal that they want to share their love :) I don’t bring up my fitness unless I’m asked or it relates to something we are talking about!

    p.s. There’s definitely a difference between talking and bragging lol
    Kierston recently posted..All I Really Want…My Profile

  11. says

    I never talk about running to non runners, even if they ask me I just brush it off! It is due in part to the fact I don’t like to talk about myself and because I know that if I did get going about the finer points of my training schedule, hopes, plans, LOVE of running I would….well scare them ;D
    I don’t have any stickers on my car, I prefer to lay low ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Oh yes to the knee comment ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. says

    The only place I really talk about running is on my blog, occasionally on FB and with other runners. However, I will be wearing my Boston jacket everywhere when I get that this April… I earned it! Plus, I feel others talk about their passions in the same way and I listen and understand.
    LisaM@RunWiki recently posted..Tell me about your 2012My Profile

  13. Holly says

    I try not to talk about it with my non running friends so I joined a local running group. Last week was the group’s Christmas party. It was the best one so far – we talked race schedule 2013, fueling for marathons, Goofy Challenge, etc. I loved every minute of it!

  14. says

    Until meeting some this year, almost all of my friends were non-runners. I have definitely been a victim of the eye-roll. But hey, you gloat about your weekend binge drinking/outing, I’ll gloat about my new PR in a race. Tit for tat. I have learned to reign back on it though and sometimes will change the subject because most times than not it just ends up awkward since they have zero clue what I’m actually talking about (since most run chats include “runner lingo”). great post!
    beka @ rebecca roams recently posted..I started a fire in 2012My Profile

  15. says

    Oh I love this post. People love to tell me all the time that I’m hurting myself by running and I don’t even run THAT much compared to so many runners. I have stopped really talking too much about my runs other than with other runners. If I do talk about running it’s usually trying to figure out how to get someone to understand the passion.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Creamy Chipotle Pumpkin Soup & Way to Go WednesdayMy Profile

  16. Jeff Irvin says

    Funny (but true) post Amanda!

    This is the best part: “Then there are our shirts. Runners (and again, triathletes even more so) love to wear their old race shirts …”

    No truer words have ever been blogged!

  17. says

    Jealousy :-)

    Yes, runners love to talk about running, wear their shirts, etc. Maybe some talk too much. But, I understand. It is hard to be humble. We are smarter, fitter, healthier, and better looking.
    Debbie recently posted..Thursday ThoughtsMy Profile

  18. says

    I’ve got almost everyone from my own mother to various friends who “do not like this running”. During a time when the world is facing this unprecedented obesity crisis, the idea that anyone would deny us our running glory is sometimes mindboggling. However, I do get how some of our folk can be a little obnoxious :) Mostly, what drives me nuts lately, is how the fitness peeps are in the grocery store in full workout gear now. That is the trend. Yet, honestly, none of these (mostly women) look like the actually worked out. When I come back from a run, I’m a sweaty mess. I don’t look pretty. I know what “just worked out” looks like! ha ha (For the record, I do not wear my running tights to the store.)
    Christina recently posted..Winter comforts: hot tea, books, and running updatesMy Profile

  19. says

    haha. I love this. It’s true and I try to really cognizant of how much I talk about working out. But it’s hard sometimes because, as you say, it’s our passion and how can we not want to spread that? You definitely don’t want to get me started talking about surfing. I could go on and on and on and…
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Stupid Yoga TricksMy Profile

  20. says

    I agree with Amy- this is largely why I started a running blog, as well! I used to occasionally share about races on our personal family blog, but soon realized no one else really “got it”… it’s much more fun sharing with people who care! So yes, I guess I try to watch my running talk around my non-running friends, but if they ask about my training, they’re gonna hear it all! :)
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..2012 Running Recap Link upMy Profile

  21. says

    I try to keep my running talk to a minimum with non-runners — unless they as a specific question about a race or how training is going. Like Amy and some others have mentioned, having an outlet to talk about my training and my excitement when registering for a race is one of the primary reasons that I blog about running. Although I’m sure I’ve turned off some people who read my blog for running posts when I started posting more about travel and outfits, too.
    Raquelita recently posted..Year in Review: Running in 2012My Profile

  22. says

    Haha! This is hilarious. I seem to talk about running way too much. So much that one of my coworkers started running again just so she could catch the fever and the other gets jealous because she CAN’T run anymore (too many ankle injuries). Nonetheless, we talk about it a lot!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Street FoodMy Profile

  23. says

    Eh, not really. Most of the people around me have absolutely no clue about running, so I don’t even bother to mention it most of the time. I was really proud of my fall marathon time, but alas even if I were to try to brag about it no one would be able to appreciate what it meant. Now with my hubby, I constantly talk running. Workouts, times, how fast or slow I think I am. Everything. He doesn’t really have an interest in running, but he understands all the lingo and what times and paces mean. He knows about compression tights, minimalist shoes, icing, how caffeine in gels may or may not be a good idea (depending on how you feel). And he brags about me. That’s his job though, right? Maybe I can’t make everyone listen to me (and maybe it’s uncouth for me to brag), but he can. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Katie recently posted..A stomach bug, 5K, & another stomach bugMy Profile

  24. says

    Luckily I have a lot of friends who are runners, and friends who are starting out who ask me for advice and I’m happy to oblige. Although my husband gets tired of it at the height of training, but he deals with it : )
    Molly recently posted..Today is a Me DayMy Profile

  25. says

    It’s hard. I try not to “puff out my chest” about what I do and it can come across as not recognizing the challenge. When people as how my 50 went, and I say “it as fun.” It can have the same reaction as someone who is bragging. I don’t mean to. I simply mean that I was with friends and it was a rainy, sloppy mess. You can only smile through it, otherwise it would be miserable.

    I’m working on walking the line of being happy with my accomplishments, not talking too much about it that it seems like I’m bragging, and also trying to motivate others that ANYONE can do this. Oh, we runners.
    Pavement Runner recently posted..Last Chance to VoteMy Profile

  26. says

    As I stand here, wearing my “run” necklace and my hot pink running shoes, having just texted some friends about tomorrow’s 9 miler, after parking my car (dutifully adorned with two 26.2 magnets and a runner girl sticker) . . . yeah, I guess I can see how it might be a little annoying to non-runners!
    Felice @ The Happy Runner recently posted..Tips for running in the snow.My Profile

  27. says

    I think I’m more guilty of it when it comes to crossfit, which of course also has the reputation of a bunch of meathead idiots who only talk about their workouts. I talk about that more because it’s newer to me. I hang out with a lot of runners when I’m home so it’s a natural connection there, and a lot of my co-workers are into running or have seen me running near the office so they’re more likely to bring it up than I am. I’ve learned over the years that talking about it with non-athletes can make for a boring conversation, so unless anyone asks, I usually don’t share. Though I have been told how running ruins the body and how dangerous it is, I nod and change the subject!
    MegG recently posted..Wow, I’ve missed TCFMy Profile

  28. says

    Ha- I think some runners are definitely that obnoxious! If they’re new or just hit a great PB or something, I think it’s ok. Otherwise, I think runners should try to reign it in a little to non-runners!
    With that being said, my husband is one of the very few people I know that runs/does triathlon. So from time to time it does sneak into convo!
    Abby @ Change of Pace recently posted..Tell me about your 2012โ€ฆ from MsZippyMy Profile

  29. says

    All the more reason to have mostly runner friends!

    But seriously… people are just looking for something to complain about.
    The people who think runners are smug are the same people who probably
    a) Talk about nothing but their pets
    b) Talk about nothing but their children
    c) Talk about nothing but their medical problems
    d) Talk about nothing but __insert TMI topic here__

    EVERYONE has something they are passionate about (and something they probably talk about too much).
    Beth (@RunTraveler) recently posted..Summing up 2012 (because Miss Zippy asked)My Profile

  30. says

    I think non-runners are just jealous! As for that knee thing…grrr. Why don’t basketball and tennis players get that question?!!! I think our pride in our achievements is mistaken as bragging (why shouldn’t we be pleased when our hard work pays off?) and, for those of us with kids, selfish. Apparently we should be sitting on the side during their various lengthy practices, not going for a run!
    Alison @ racingtales recently posted..What’s IN and What’s OUT for Athletes in 2013My Profile

  31. says

    Runners love to talk about themselves, and in the blogging world a lot of us are even worse about it. That said, it’s no different than people who are obsessed about their hobbies. My advice to people who don’t like it is don’t listen to us! :)
    David H. recently posted..13 goals for 2013My Profile

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