THE "JUST FINISH" BOOM
by Tanya Savory | published 01.07.09
Originally, this was going to be a rant about Resolution Runners. You know, the ones who trot out and buy $900 dollars’ worth of running gear, sign up for 17 races, buy a gym membership, and then flail away on the treadmill maybe 3 times before concluding that running is downright dangerous and, gosh darn it all, not even half as much fun as eating a McRib sandwich. But then I considered my own pathetic attempts at past resolutions (drinking 70 ounces of water every day…ha ha ha!) and just how much I’d enjoy having someone point out my personal lack of persistence. It just seemed rude.
But, perhaps more importantly, it didn’t seem quite rude enough. It didn’t have the potential to irritate and rankle new runners en masse in the way that a more carefully-chosen topic might. Further research revealed that the Festering Angst Du Jour involves the topic of brand-new runners setting their sights on the marathon after one jog around the block. Why build up to the distance? Why run those little candy-assed 5Ks? No one will be impressed! I want my marathon and I want it now! I don’t care if it takes me 23 hours to finish. When I cross the finish line, I will be a Marathoner.
This is, of course, a dead horse topic that crops up on running message boards nearly as often as debates about how to lose weight (or, more popularly, “loose” weight) or whether or not one experiences chafing (popularly: “chaffing”) due to wardrobe errors or simple excess blubber.
Invariably, a new runner will post something along the lines of : Hi! I’m another newbie. LOL!!! I’ll never be fast ’cause my knees just can’t take it and it causes chaffing :( and plus too I don’t care about speed. But I would like to just finish a 26-mile marathon. Right now I run 10 miles a week and have been running for 3 weeks. Can I be ready for a marathon (a 26 mile one) in 2 months? I’m so psyched!!! LOL!!!! :) :)
This will be followed by a lot of Go for it! You can do it! Everyone’s a winner! Slow and steady wins the race! You go girl! WOOT! sunshine being blown up the original poster’s ass. Then, somewhere in the midst of this Pollyanna-palooza, a longtime runner comes along and rains on everyone’s marathon parade by having the gall to suggest that the newbie race some shorter distances first. Maybe even do something drastic like actually prepare for the marathon over the course of (uh oh) …..AN ENTIRE YEAR.
Sides are taken, lines drawn in the sand (whatever that really means), and suddenly, anyone who can run faster than a 10-minute mile is an elitist a-hole snob who resents those who are merely enjoying a sport and trying to loose a little weight.
I try to see both sides of the debate. Sort of. A little. Well, actually, I turn a blind eye to any withering shred of compromise and mock Instant Marathoners mercilessly. Anyway, what always baffles me is how utterly impossible it is for the Just-Add-Water-a-thoners to understand why their rushed quest to check a marathon off a life list might annoy longtime runners. After all, why should we care if they want to strap on an overnight bag and take an eternity to cover 26.2 miles (or 26.9 according to their Garmins)? What difference could it possibly make in our ectomorphic little lives if their achievement gives them the privilege to wedge the word “marathon” into most conversations at cocktail parties? Why should their bright purple tattoo of “26.2!!” surrounded by butterflies and winged feet trouble us?
Allow me to present a possibly lame analogy to the Insty-thoners.
Imagine that you’re a painter (pictures, not walls). You’re not the best, but you’ve worked at it for years, and you’re proud of the dedication you’ve put into becoming a decent painter. Not that many people paint, but those that do have a nice, nerdy bond. They get all geeky and emotional about it, and, let’s face it, they’re kind of difficult to be around when they start blathering about all the dorkwad details of painting.
Anyway. For whatever reasons, painting becomes THE thing to do all of a sudden. Instantly, thousands of people want to paint something they can hang on their walls. Does anyone want to take the time to learn how to paint well? Of course not! I want my painting, and I want it now. For crissakes, just give me one of those paint-by-number Dogs Playing Poker on velvet deals. Before long, everyone’s mincing around in berets and cranking out paint-by-number masterpieces. You have friends who invite you over to see their Sistine-Chapel-in-a-Day murals and the ever-popular Mona Lisa on a Pie Crust or Degas on a Dartboard. Part of you is genuinely pleased that painting has become so popular.
Look! I’m Van Gogh!
But a larger part of you is just a little bit cranky with all the Instant Artists. When you suggest to a friend that he might actually take the time to learn real painting, he flings his beret at you in a huff and bellows that he is a real painter. Look–there’s Les Tuileries on a Toilet Seat, for the love of God! He’s quick to point out that you, sir, are a painting snob and that, after all, he and loads of other people don’t care about style and form, because it hurts their elbows to practice it. He and his pals just want to finish a painting. Get off his back, you elitist Real Art prig.
Well, something like that.
As far as I know, no one has a problem with anyone getting off their cans and going for a run. The last I heard, crabby longtime runners still love seeing new runners joining in this batty pastime . But seeing marathoning reduced to an item on a checklist, a tattoo, a veritable paint-by-number project to be hung on a wall and forgotten….Well, that can tend to lead to some serious chaffing of the longtime runners.
TR contributor TANYA SAVORY is a Nashville-based singer, songwriter and runner, with a 5K PR of 18:55 and a marathon PR of 3:28. She regularly blogs at http://tanyas.wordpress.com/