But We Should Encourage Running!

Today, the WSJ published in their opinions section a piece entitled “OK You’re A Runner. Get Over It.” As the title gives away, the author isn’t particularly impressed with runners who publicly share their running exploits.

On one level, as a runner I understand his point better than most. Through most of high school I did one 10+ mile run a week usually, and no one congratulated me as if it was a huge accomplishment. I try not to brag about my running to others who aren’t interested, and have also run into people who make it a bigger part of their identity than I have chosen to. But that’s a great thing about personal agency, we each can share with the larger world as much or as little about our running as we’d like.

But so what? Shouldn’t we be encouraging this behavior that congratulates people for getting out there and being active? While there are individuals who really do push the extremes of fitness to an unhealthy obsession, overall there certainly remains larger part of our population who could benefit from more gym time rather than less. Weight and sedentary activities are big problems that have only recently entered the public consciousness, and the increased popularity of running can help be a part of the solution.

Lastly, this is pretty common in an number of areas. People always say “Busy” when you ask them how they’re doing, as some sort of humble brag. But do we expect anything on a culture that grows from the puritanical “idle hands make the devil’s work?” I’m guilty of this too. Why single out runners then? Because there a few bumper stickers out there?

The runner can put whatever bumper sticker on his car, just like the WSJauthor can write an opinion piece and I can respond to it on a blog with no readers. Pick different friends who don’t talk about running. Don’t drive by the running store. Ignore the bumper stickers. Ok, you don’t like runners. Get over it.