What? No title

Well, it’s Thursday, and you know what that means at Is This Blog On? That’s right, it’s time for FIAF.

A bit off politics, but WSJ reports that American runners SUCK. People who claim to be “runners” is at an all time high, watering down, apparently, the field from the running elite.

Rather than spawning a new generation of champions—as it might in another sport—the increase in the number of runners has, in fact, slowed the median pace in the typical race. (The average time in the marathon has gone from 3:32:17 in 1980 to 4:13:36 in 2009). In other words, the increasing popularity of running coincides with the decreasing competitiveness of the U.S. runner.

My interest piqued as to where he was going with this.

The demise of the American runner was hastened by the success of the first running boom in the 1970s and the embrace of running as a “pastime” rather than a sport. As more people were encouraged to “just do it,” racing (and training) were dumbed down for the masses. Runners were told they could do a perfectly respectable marathon on 30 miles a week, 5k road races popped up all around the country (replacing the more difficult 10k), and running culture celebrated (and elevated) the participant over the winner. Today, it is not unusual for most runners to neither know, nor care, who won the race in which they were running.

So, the problem today is that they let the proles into the races? All us slow folks, slowed down the elite runner?

Yet the Sunday golfer has managed to keep his love of the game separate from his appreciation of Tiger Woods’s chip shot. The former gets him out on the course; the latter keeps him glued to the TV. Until running finds a way to do the same, we are doomed to numerical inferiority, celebrating mediocrity as if it were victory.

Yea, that seems to be what he’s saying. I’m … conflicted.

I was a runner in high school, and I upped my milage until I reached the point – at 8 miles – I could no longer walk. So, I stopped running. Since my twenties, it’s always been the same; on and off running. I could run a few miles, but once I got into a descent distance, my knees or hips would complain. About a year ago, I started AGAIN; this time I upped my milage very slowly, hoping that would avoid the pain. Nope. At five miles, three times a week, my hips ached at night.

Then I got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. After slowly adjusting my legs to near barefoot running, I switched to them 100%. No knee pain, no hip pain. I’m not going to win any marathons, but I can run without pain. Go read Born To Run if you really want to learn about the whys and whats. It’s a great book.

So, what’s my point? Fuck it, I don’t need a point, do I?

But, I think I have one. If there is someone to blame, it’s not the proles who are distilling the competitive level of race day. It’s the running corporate machine. Shoe sellers who are creating products that are BAD for running (thus eliminating those who could become top runners from the field), and race promoters who are happy enough to collect $50 or $75 bucks from recreational runners who want to try their hand at a marathon.

Personally, ever since Oprah hobbled to the end of her marathon, I’ve lost the desire to have that feather in my cap. I used to have that “I just wanna say I ran ONE” mentality. But, for now, being an everyday runner, upping my milage, watching my time, consistently hitting the road – THAT is my accomplishment. Not training for a race, hating every minute of it, then never running one ever again.

The author is correct in saying that marathons have been dumbed-down for the masses. The participant IS celebrated over the winner. But, that is both why I like running AND why I don’t want to run a marathon. Which may make NO sense.

Anyway, here’s a FIAF video:

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4 Comments on “What? No title”

  1. OceanCat Says:

    Those Vibram finger shoes look like they would smell bad after a few wearings. Do they?

  2. Car in Says:

    Nope. Not at all. I don’t know why. You can throw them in the wash (not dryer). Actually, they got smelly once when my feet got wet and I had to continue to wear them for several hours afterwards.

    But, a good wipe with a washcloth and they were fine.

  3. jakeman Says:

    First, I’m putting in a vote for Nike Frees. I love ’em, haven’t had knee problems in years and won’t wear anything else now.

    Second, I’m pretty much a middle or just-better-than middle of the pack 43-yr-old in everything from 5ks (24 minute) to half marathons (1:55) here in the U.S. It was eye-opening when we lived in Canada last year to be at about the 30th percentile or so in every race I ran. It was a bit of an ego blow, but I could only conclude they don’t have nearly as many casual runners as we do in the States. Either that, or I empirically suck.

  4. Car in Says:

    I’m going to have to get a pair of shoes for the winter, but I’m not sure which is the pair my local shoe/running guy recommends. It could be those. I’m gonna go in this week and get another pair. I need to take a break from the vibrams some times.


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