Friday, August 27, 2010

Don’t Take It Personally

Recently, Angel at Fit and Hungry interviewed me (full interview to come on her site soon). One of the many insightful questions she asked was, “Soon your daughter will be at the age when looks mean everything. Her friends and the media will pressure her to be a certain size and/or envy the people who are that size. What will be your message to her?”

It’s a great question, and you’ll have to read the interview to see how I answered. But, take a look at this one minute video for some insight on the issue:

Moving on…

Ever have those runs where all is right in the world? The wind is at your back carrying you up hills. The air is distinctly clear affording you wonderful views of mother nature. The temperatures have just the slightest hint of fall. The quiet dirt back roads lead to nowhere and everywhere. Possibility abounds. Magical moments occur you enter an effortless zone, where you almost forget you are running  (I said moments. Not miles).

I had one of these rare runs yesterday.

During those six miles, three unrelated things surfaced:

1. A curiosity:

Ever been running, coming up to someone who is walking towards you and when you get to that moment when you are passing them you do the runner’s wave and maybe say, “good morning”? Ever have that person stare you up and down and completely ignore you?

It happens to me a lot. What I don’t understand is how one person can can reach out with a greeting and the other person can make eye contact and not say anything. It’s rude. The only way this would be acceptable is:

  • They are so struck by my beauty and grace it renders them speechless (not likely)
  • My boob is hanging out again rendering them speechless (at the sheer petite size)
  • They cannot speak due to a medical or mental health condition
  • They are blind
  • They are blind and cannot speak due to a medical or mental health condition
  • They come from some culture where it’s illegal to respond back to a greeting
  • They don’t like runners or me, specifically
  • They are angry, sad, annoyed and it has nothing to do with me.

I learned long ago that it’s a good idea to not take things personally. Certainly there is a time and a place to take things personally like when you cut someone off in traffic and they give you the finger. That finger is for you and you should absorb it and learn from it. But, most of the time when people are cranky and belligerent it has more to do with what's going on with them than you.

What do you think?

2. An observation:

My pace to the beat of the Ramone’s Blitzkrieg Bop is exactly 8:30. I’m going to play this song 105 times during my marathon to keep my stride. Try it. See what yours is.

3. An epiphany:

In the words of SUAR (Shut Up and Run): You do what the day demands.

You plan to run 6 miles. Therefore, 6 miles is what you feel you can do that day. You plan to run 20 miles, and suddenly 20 miles is what you can do that day. For me, my mind sets into motion the expectation for the run and that becomes my ability on that particular run. I don’t really want to go further and I don’t want to do less.

Not greatly profound, but just something that dawned on me.

Don’t take it personally.


  1. This morning as I was nearing the end of my run I came upon a couple (father/daughter) waiting for the school bus. They were taking up the entire sidewalk, which was understandable because one doesn't want to stand in the street or on the wet grass. Unfortunately, although they clearly saw me approaching, they made no move to leave enough room for me to run by without having to run on the grass. Hence, I made sure when I passed them I was as close as humanly possible without actually touching them and cheerily said "Good Morning" - My assumption is they did not respond because they were probably still recovering from being bathed in my runner stank. So, it could be that too.

  2. a) I have not run with any regularity since my knee surgery following a half marathon a few years back. I miss it because of the feeling you're describing. Which I just had recently running a 5K through the streets of was a weird kind of peaceful and just a perfect run where I felt like I could have gone forever.

    b) Um. You know I'm a fan, right? I think you are inspiring and hilarious and I love reading about your adventures. That said, your stock just went up immeasurably with the Blitzkreig Bop reference. (I own that album...yes ALBUM.)

    c) I went to my daughter's preschool dressed as Cruella de vil last Halloween to pick her up (we'd had an office Halloween party earlier). Most people laughed or acknowledged that I was in costume, but I SWEAR TO GOD, I passed a couple of parents who would not even look at me. It cracked me up. Like people not saying "Hi". People are weird.

  3. They were not raised correctly by their parents.

    What a cool thing for Dove to do.

  4. I passed a bunch of people yesterday during my run. I said "Good Morning" very cheerfully to each of them. They all looked at me like i was insane. It wasn't until close to the end that I figured out why. It was 7:45 in the evening.

  5. I smile and say hello or good morning to the people I pass, most return the gesture but the blank stares in return annoy me. It's very rude! On your third point, totally agree, amazing how mental all of this is!

  6. Re the Dove ad - I apologise if this sounds silly, but one of the reasons I love visiting Hooters (after the nommy chicken wings) is that it helps you to see that hot girls are real people too. They have blemishes, and scars from when they fell off their bikes as kids. Their make-up isn't always perfectly blended, and they occasionally drop a plate.

    It's so much more realistic than magazines and billboards, and makes me less afraid of beautiful people!

  7. I used to wonder about that alot...I read an article not too long ago...I think it was in Runner's World about the phenomenon of "say something/don't say something" when you pass other runners/ was enlightening. For some reason, after reading that...I just didn't take it personally anymore. Sometimes I don't necessarily greet others on the road or trails with words, maybe I will nod or smile...but I don't think I've ever just stared at someone or ignored them if they addressed me...unless I just didn't hear them. And sometimes I am caught up in my own little world and am oblivious..which is a whole other story..

  8. I have people ignore me all the time on the trails when I say hello. I do make it a point to say hello to everyone I pass, I do this because I think it’s nice and it makes me feel more chipper. I can usually pick out the people who won’t respond to me, they are usually the badass super serious looking runners. Come one people, you can still be a serious runner and say hello!

  9. Ha! I've done the blank stare and have felt badly about it. Here's what happens from the 'blank starer' POV (at least mine): I'm totally caught up in thinking about something, someone runs by me and says "hi"... I'm not expecting them to say hi (because most people don't) and I'm so caught up in what I'm thinking that it doesn't even register that they said "hi" until 5 seconds later. I've wanted to turn around and shout, "oh, hey, sorry... hi!" but of course that's a little weird. Just sayin'... totally agree, it's not personal.

  10. I get that at my track workout. People look at me like I have two heads. I just figure they have no idea what I am doing.

  11. "moments not miles" AMEN! :)

    i try to not taking things like personally. it was really hard at first just because i'm a friendly person and i never understood why someone wouldn't return my wave or whatnot. but as i've gotten older (and i think i get more perspective as i get older daily!) i just let it go.

    i do make sure that i keep trying to say hi and wave. because i still like being a friendly person :)

  12. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh RAMONES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I now [somehow] love you even more.

    The Ramones own my heart.

    Happy Friday!

  13. oooh, love it. don't take it personally. i needed this for today. thx.

    also...sign up for my Athleta Giveaway...;-)

  14. you know i never wondered about those non-responders, but now that i think about it - how rude! usually i do get a wave or a 'good morning' from the walkers, other runners are about 50/50 and bicyclists, well you can forget about them.

  15. Blitzkrieg Bop is 8:30 miles??? Are your strides 4 inches long? I discovered in high school that CCR's "Travelin' Band" was perfect 6 min./mile pace for me; it still pops into my head sometimes when I hit that speed.

    I've been notorious for being in my own world and ignoring others when they greet me. Usually, I'm so tired that I nod, wave and say hi - but it comes out as a slight twitch and a slightly heavier exhale that couldn't be heard as "hi" unless their ear was an inch in front of me.

    Something that occurred to me lately is to make sure those I see on a regular basis actually know my name. I was running with a friend of mine and we referred to others as "Clown Pants" and "Retired Porn Star" (really. you should see her.) and then I wondered what they called me, if they didn't know my name. It's made me a lot friendlier!

  16. Re - running towards people who don't respond back: That doesn't usually happen to me. The worst I get is a grunt because I usually ask a question e.g "Isn't it a beautiful morning?"...running on and not waiting for an answer (but I do hear some kind of a grunt) e.g2: "Cold today, isn't it?"... again....running on, not waiting for an answer.
    Ignorance is bliss :)

  17. i had one of those runs today! it was 50 degrees and fabulous :) and i totally agree with you on the greetings part. seriously folks, be friendly! i see some of these people 5 or 6 days a week cuz i run on the trails near my house most days for simplicity. many do say hello, but not all. can't wait for the interview. :)

  18. Re Dove ad: I prefer the woman before her make-over - I do not like being deceived, by paint or fake body parts - I hope I can impart upon my daughters that there are a few men out there like me...

  19. It one of my biggets pet peeves EVER when someone blatantly ignores a friendly greeting. You can't even smile or nod?!?

    And you're so right about # 3. I will always run what I set out to run. It's such a mental game. If I prepare for X miles, I can run X miles.

  20. Regarding your #1 I am most annoyed by the 2 people walking on the sidewalk towards me and don't even have the courtesy to move over slightly so that I can run past them (I mean share the sidewalk, damn!) lately it's been the same 2 people and I have just started migrating to the road to get around them.

  21. hahaha!! Ryan's comment made me laugh! lol... I actually ran today where there were other people (doesn't happen quite often) but i said good morning and smiled at everyone i passed and all of them smiled and said something back... it makes for a good day :)

  22. Re #1 - it's also possible they're from Central Pennsylvania : ) I moved there from SC years ago and had culture shock over the experience of being stared down until the other person was a few feet away, then they'd look down at the sidewalk rather than respond to my "Hi". Other than that, I liked living in PA (great ice cream & hiking : )

  23. I have ignored waves before but not completely on purpose... Some days I'm just too tired, running out of breath, cannot move another muscle but still need to get those miles in, and someone gives a friendly wave, and I can barely even move my eyes. *sigh* Sometimes I even try, but am moving in such slow motion that by the time I form a smile, they're long gone.

  24. the Dove ad. It is soo true, but I wish those type of things were our there more than they actually are. Remember when Jenny McCarthy went on Oprah and took a cover shot photo of herself and then explained to the audience about all of the photoshopping that went into it? I think she even went on without makeup and showed her cellulite and was amazing!

    Second, I always wave/gesture or say hi to people that are out and about. I'd say I get a response back probably 50% of the time. I don't get it!

  25. There is SO much truth to #3, especially during training. I've been constantly amazed at how far a Mentality can take you - miles and miles...and then a few more miles.

    What marathon are you training for?? Any chance it's in Denver? On October 17th? ;)

  26. That is a great video.

    One observation I have made is that runners do tend to be more friendly than bikers... just sayin' :)

  27. Wow, on the video. That should be shown to every tween girl.

  28. Your marathon pace is my goal 5K pace, ha ha. Maybe I'll download Blitzkrieg Bop and give it a try.

  29. I totally dig the Ramones and have their music in my MP3 player too. Wonder what the pace is for the song "The KKK took my baby away?" :-)

  30. I love Dove's program. We use it in school with our junior and intermediate girls.

    Great song. If I get an iPOD, this will be on my playlist. Thanks!

  31. Definitely not something to take personally, who knows what's up with them...but, I can't help making eye contact and waving when I meet runners. It's always fun when they smile back!

    Actually, if you think about it, you can run 180 steps/beats per second at any speed. My cadence can be that fast running on the spot or sprinting (it depends on the length of my steps). Does this make sense to you?

  32. I have come to see the SAME THING. (Item #3, The Epiphany.) I can be "scheduled" to run 8 or 10 miles and at the end I can't imagine going another step. But if I've got 20 on the agenda I fly by 10 miles without even thinking twice. Funny how that works.

  33. I think some people are so shy they cannot reply when you say hi or good morning.
    Even some coworkers are like that. You pass them in the hall and sometimes they can't say Hi. HR directors are the worst. Maybe they get too many greetings?
    I try to say hi to other people on my runs if they give me eye contact and it's a must when I pass another runner. Because we're kindred spirits in a way.

  34. Anne has a point. One can run 180 steps per minute over a wide range, though I push 195 when sprinting and about 160 on very long runs. But there aren't many songs outside punk or speed metal that are in that range on the metronome!

  35. I have to agree that people that don't acknowledge a friendly 'hello!' are rude. One of my clearest childhood memories is of my father greeting one of our neighbors on our way into church. When said neighbor didn't respond my father said, "Well, p*ss on you then!" I only remember this because my dad just does not talk like that. :-)

  36. i get really annoyed and upset when people dont respond to me when i say hello.... a walker,biker, or runner i find it rude. if i make an effort to blurt out a hello or how are you, i expect the same in return!

  37. I have to comment on that video! It is spot on!! Thanks for putting on your blog so that all of your fans can see it! They may not otherwise see that video! That video shows reality. Why can we not convince teenage girls about it?! What else can we do? I don't have kids, don't want any. But, I have friends with teenage daughters who think being thin and pretty is more important than breathing. How to convince them otherwise? One step at a time, I guess. All I can do is point out their other qualities and hope that sticks with them. Anyway, thanks again, the message is important!

  38. I agree, it's rude of them to ignore your good-hearted and well-meaning greeting. Hopefully the explanation is that they were self-absorbed in their own troubles, and despite looking at you your greeting just didn't penetrate their consciousness. Like Ryan I've made the mistake of forgetting the time of day and extending a hearty "good morning" in the afternoon or night - so lately I try to just wave. :-D