A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

All hail the “unnatural” runners (myself included)

on October 25, 2013

Kevin Helliker wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal in September 2013 (“The Slowest Generation“) that generated a lot of attention in my Twitter and Facebook running circles a few weeks ago. In this article he questioned “the endurance-athletic chops of the young” (his description of the article in his follow up), bemoaning the fact that there were so many <50 year old runners who didn’t seem concerned with winning races or being fast. He followed this up with “The Slowest Generation Strikes Back“, a not particularly apologetic follow up that describes some of the feedback he’d received from younger runners in response to his original post. The section that stood out for me is the last paragraph, describing a 31 year old woman who had lost 100 pounds, run a marathon and founded a running club. She pointed out that the pace that seemed mediocre to more experienced or naturally inclined runners felt like competing to her.

This made me think of an article I’d read where they interviewed the winner of a marathon (I swear this was the Omaha marathon, but now can’t find the article) where he said that what really impressed him at these events weren’t the people like him, who finished quickly thanks to natural ability and training, but those who struggled and spent hours longer on the course before they could finish. He was impressed with the drive and perseverance of those of us who aren’t naturally gifted runners or athletes, but who tackle these challenges anyway. I loved seeing that someone out there who wasn’t “one of us” got it – got that it was an athletic endeavor for us, maybe different than it is for elite runners, but significant nonetheless.

I’ve struggled a lot with the idea of being an athlete, but the longer I run, the more respect I have for myself and the task I’ve set for myself in running a half marathon. I enjoy reading about the runs of speedy runners (they come across the coolest running related gear & toys) but it is the stories of “unnatural” runners like myself that I find the most inspiring. This month, I’ve read a couple of great ones: Disney with Children’s Tower of Terror 10 miler recap; Running Happily Ever After’s “Why Buzz Lightyear and I are on the WSJ Sports Page” and possibly my favorite 5K picture ever here.

Part of my attraction to Disney for my first half marathon was the idea that they embraced the people like me, who will come in late in the race but will come in because we’ll fight for it (and if we don’t make it in, we learn from it and come back stronger next time!). It makes me sad to come across people like the Wall Street Journal reporter, who can’t seem to imagine that the effort I put in for my miles is just as worthy as his, but mostly it makes me sad for them because they’re missing out on a really inspiring community of runners.

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Related articles you might find interesting:

Disney’s Balloon Ladies Sweep up the Stragglers

Princess Half Marathon: Close Encounters of the Sweeper Kind (I found this so inspiring when I was having those terrified “What have I done!” thoughts right after I signed up for PHM!)

The Incredible Shrinking Krista’s PHM Recap

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