Monday, October 29, 2012

10 Must-Have Traits of Runners

We know that marathoners come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. Certainly, there is no one profile that would describe each and every one of us. But, there are certain traits that most of us share. Maybe you possess one or two?

1. Hard Headedness: Runners can be a stubborn bunch. Let’s face it, you have to be hard headed to plow through the last miles of a race when you want nothing more than to curl up in a ball along the course with a Coors Light (Fat Tire?) and a pacifier. Not even to mention the grueling nature of marathon training. Without extreme determination, how will you ever leave your toasty bed on a 10 degree morning or trade in that Friday night six pack for boring hydration like water and Gatorade?

2. Resilience: Have you had a recent run or race that made you call into question everything  about yourself as a runner? Did you feel too slow, too injured, too out of breath, too out of shape, too irritated in general? One thing I have definitely learned about running is that it is kind of like the weather in Colorado – if you don’t like it, wait a few minutes. (most annoying saying around these parts – so sick of it). Or, just wait until your next run. Bad becomes good again if you give it long enough. Runners know how to bounce back from crappy situations.

3.  Humility: There are so many chances to be humbled while you run. Falling, crapping, DNF’ing, crawling, crying, smelling – just to name a few. If you’ve been running long enough, there probably has been some instance that chewed you up and spit you out.

4. Patience: Going longer, getting faster, perfecting technique (TWSS)– these all take a  long ass time.  Yes, there are some people who make it look very easy (yes, I am jealous), but the majority of us have to work very hard to see any improvement. Not even to mention how much patience it takes to be injured and to not be able to run. {If you are currently one of the fallen, read The Stages of Injury Grief}.

5. A Sense of Humor: This one goes hand in hand with humility. If you can’t laugh at yourself, it’s going to be a long life of pounding the pavement. Trip on a root and smash your chin in front of everyone? (I did that) - You are stinking hilarious!!

6. Flexibility: With running, like with life, you can try to control all aspects, but then there is a hurricane on race day (damn you Sandy!) or you have a baby in the middle of your race (I made that up, but I’m sure it’s happened) or the Mexican dinner from the night before wants to make an appearance. As runners, we always have to improvise – to make the most of surprising and sometimes unpleasant circumstances.

7. Masochistic Tendencies (in the best way possible and not in the way you might be thinking): Yes, you have to embrace suffering just a bit if you are going to run long distances. In the military there is a saying, “Embrace the Suck.’ I think of this a lot during races because it is that moment when everything hurts, you hate running and you still have miles to go. Quitting is not an option, and the only thing to do is to accept the pain and the hurt, to acknowledge the suffering and to press on. This does not mean we runners love to suffer, but it does mean we are willing to do it to gain that sense of accomplishment that we know awaits.

Wow, that looks really hard. I think I’ll try to run up it.

8. Obsessive (ever so slightly): Let’s face it - to do what it takes to get through marathon training or the like you’ve got to be kind of obsessed with running. If you just sort of like it, or could take it or leave it, it’s going to be hard to put in your 50+ mile weeks. You got to be all in dude!

9. Curiosity: You run your first 5K and think, hmmm…I wonder what it would be like to run a 10K? Pretty soon you are running marathons, wondering what it would be like to run 50 miles. Bottom line is – there is a sense of wonder about your capabilities and how far you can push yourself. This ultimately is what gets you surfing the Net for your next race.

10. A Desire to Better Oneself: I think most runners would agree that be it for physical, mental or spiritual reasons (or all of the above), we run to be better people. We like the confidence and sense of accomplishment it gives us. It’s our space to get inside our heads, to work things out. It’s our time to connect with other people in the mutual appreciation of putting one foot in front of the other. It’s an outlet for a better life, if you ask me.

Can you identify with these? Have any to add?

What’s one trait about your running self you don’t like? I compare myself to others, then get down on myself.

SUAR

39 comments:

  1. I totally compare myself to others. Blech. A terrible trait in all areas! I just got back to running a month ago after a two year hiatus and it's like starting completely over. Like I've never run a 10 km or half marathon. Starting at the beginning this time feels like starting way before the start line. Boohoo!!

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  2. I hope your description of the second quality is true because my last long run truly sucked!!

    My running self is obsessive--I don't think I'm this way in other areas. Like housework for instance.

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  3. I wish I had more patience....I'm trying. Well, I have no choice now that I'm working with someone who is making me but really...not one of my virtues. Just ask my kids!! :)

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  4. I love this! Esp. the "embrace the suck" part - such a good saying!

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  5. For sure! I had the worst summer, I hate to run in the heat, and only ran once a week for the past 3 months! And the recent empty nesting had something to do with it : / However, I ran a Monster Mash fun run yesterday, with costumes, dogs and strollers. Just what I needed, I was only 10 seconds off. I'll take it! I'm back!!

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  6. On to thanksgiving morning' 5/ 10 / or 15 k!!

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  7. thank you...this post is exactly what i needed. i had a great big dose of #3 recently on my last half marathon...i didn't respect the distance and i definitely got chewed up and spit out (DNF'd by passing out one km from the finish line)...now counting on a bit of #2 to get back into things. awesome post!

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  8. Love it!!! What would you call having an obsession with running clothes and shoes?? Hahaha

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  9. Excellent, can totally identify!

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  10. My worst trait is flexibility. If I don't run within 30 minutes of the kids getting on the bus, my runs are the worst. My Sunday runs are horrible, I can't breathe, the legs feel heavy, and I just don't want to do it.

    Funny you brought up the military quote. I think the time I spent in the military is what gives me the ability to inner focus, especially when it comes to yoga. When you are holding a pose and your muscles are screaming, it's just like boot camp where sheer will is what keeps you up.

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  11. Love this! Just finished my 2nd marathon a week ago and at the 16 mile mark my legs cramped up! I thought I couldn't go on and then cried like a baby for a moment. Then realized I was in the middle of the woods (with the loving assertive voice of my husband:)and I had to keep going cause no one was going to get me out but myself. I often wonder why I keep running but it has totally made me mental tougher, more determined, and so greatful for the ability to run and challenge my body.

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  12. Love it! Nice list and so very true!

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  13. Definitely sounds familiar. Did a trail race on Saturday in the pouring rain at about 3 celcius. I was looking around at the crowd of runners waiting to start and thinking only runners would be standing out here in these conditions to do this (and looking forward to it).

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  14. Totally agree with you on all of these... my levels of obsessiveness and hard-headedness are through the roof and I never really thought about how they play into my running but yeah, I'm pretty sure they are the reason I became a "runner" to begin with.

    My running self does need to learn to be more flexible. I am a control freak and when things don't happen the way I expect, it gets ugly.

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    1. I know!! Rolling with the punches not just in my running life, but in my everyday, everything life is so hard for me. I am trying to be more flexible as well. I get so sick of myself!

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  15. Sometimes I don't like it went I am too competitive with myself at races and I can't just enjoy it.

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  16. I love to talk about running around too many people that don't give a flying fa-whoop about it. Also, I am totally hard headed when it comes to running but I HAVE improved in being more flexible with training schedules. Baby steps, baby steps.

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  17. Yup....#6 on Saturday here in VA Beach pre-Sandy. Horrible wind on the boardwalk/in-between buildings and I missed my PR :( Wasn't prepared to run 4 miles in a straight headwind and be sandblasted in the face during the final 2 miles on the boardwalk. Still pissed :( And now it's STILL raining here and I am going to go out anyway-weather can totally bite you in the butt sometimes!

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  18. My worst running trait is my need to compete with myself every time I run. Even if I start off thinking it will be an easy run I always end up telling myself I can run faster or further! Part of why I can't run every day anymore!!!

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    Replies
    1. I have this very same issue. Training with a heart rate monitor is the only thing that has helped because it gives me permission to slow down and stay in my designated zone...

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    2. OMG, this is so me! Today was supposed to be a recovery run, but after 3 miles I couldn't take it anymore and ended up running my fastest mile yet! Now I am sitting on the sofa in pain. Add stupid to the list of traits!

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    3. I always think that if I can't slow down on a recovery run, then I must not need a recovery run. I still try to go slower and follow the plan, but mostly I take it as a sign that my hard days can now be a bit harder.

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  19. Awesome list! Though I think resilience and patience also work well in conjunction with short term memory issues :)

    Mountain Masochist? Looks like fun!

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  20. #9 .... Curiosity ... I think that's a great word to sum up what has kept me going (evolving?). I was curious about running a marathon, and when it didn't kill me the curiosity just grew, and continues to grow and branch out into other forms of self-torture.

    Perhaps another trait would be deep-pockets, or maybe more accurately a willingness to go deeper in debt to fuel the habit.

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  21. You little minx, you didn't mention the shout out in December's Runner's World! Congrats!

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    1. No SHIT! Is it in there??? Haven't seen my copy yet!

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    2. Nice, thanks! Hopefully mine will come tomorrow.

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  22. That was AWESOME!!! My running buddy and I talked about quite a few of those just today...me falling on a run was quite entertaining for her :D

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  23. LOVE this. Everything is so true. I definitely identified with the masochistic tenancies. I had some rib pain recently (muscular, amplified by a recent cold) that made withstanding the impact of running impossible so far this week, so I took it to the elliptical instead. I freaked my mom out because I sweat buckets (posted a pic of my drenched shirt) and she was all like "WHY ARE YOU WORKING OUT YOU COULD HAVE PNEUMONIA." Parents just don't understand ;)

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  24. Great list. I can't relate to the masochisctic part, but that's because I don't like that trait in general!
    Otherwise I can totally relate.

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    1. I think this reason is why I haven't made a huge amount of progress in my running. I'm getting there, like the turtle.

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  25. #10 totally resonates with me: I ran my first half in 2011 and realized I could do better. Count that as the day I realized I was a runner. #7 also: suffered through the last 5 miles of my marathon--boy oh geez did I have to embrace the suck!!--but finished strong. And #8: why on earth would anyone want to talk about anything BUT running? Presidential election? Who cares!? I want to hear about your long run fueling strategy. Or what your splits were for every single mile of your marathon.

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  26. I'll add self-awareness. Runners have to be (or eventually learn, through many injuries, to be) constantly gauging how they feel and how their body is reacting. And I feel like that sort of translates into other areas of runners lives as well...

    Also, that picture is great. I feel like that often.

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  27. "Embrace the Suck" became our motto for the Lady Speed Stick 1/2 Marathon last weekend in Arizona. In fact it became quite the joke with emails swirling between our run club group with all sorts of interesting comments made by all. (both guys and gals)It turns out at mile 9 when I turned the corner and saw the straight uphill climb my mantra turned to "I'm embracing the Suck!!!" Thanks for keeping things real!!!

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  28. I can totally relate to the sucky run and just waiting one more day!! I text my friend so disheartened because after a long day all I wanted to do was get a good run in and unwind but instead I had the worst run ever! I can do 3 miles pretty comfortable but not even half mile in I had the worst side ache and I kept pushing just a lil farther after two miles I just couldn't take another step so I took a few breaths reached deep down and pushed out the hardest half mile of my life(or so I felt) I couldn't believe how bad I felt! I'm suppose to start training for my first half Marathon after the holidays and I can't even run 3 miles??WTH!! Then the next day I killed my run 4 miles and felt like I could of done a easy 6!! Don't like your run just wait a day!! For sure a lesson learned:)

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