How to Explain Running to Non-Runner Friends

And not sound pretentious

(Maa Hoo/Stocksy)

Veteran runners know the familiar “Run Forest, Run!” jeer all too well. You can tell off a passing motorist, but you’ll need a creative retort when an unknowing—and generally well-meaning—dinner party guest asks if you won the Boston Marathon. Here’s your cheat sheet on what you’ll want to say (and what should actually say) to the dumbest things people tell runners.

“I could never run that far!”

What you want to say: “And that’s exactly why you haven’t.”

What you should say: “We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I, for instance, can run the mile in 4:10, but I can’t process gluten, so you’ve got me there.”

“Why don’t you just run home?”

What you want to say: “Because I’m not actually an ancient persistence-hunting Tarahumara from Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run. But I assume that’s all you actually know about distance running, so I’ll give you a pass this one time.”

What you should actually say: “Well, I’m actually pretty tired from running earlier, so I think I’ll just drive there like the rest of the American proletariat.”

“I’m so jealous you can eat whatever you want!”

What you want to say: “Actually, it takes a strict diet of Chipotle and thrice-daily IPAs to maintain this model skinny-fat physique.”

What you should actually say: “I could eat whatever I wanted, sure, but I’m just a sucker for uncooked kale.”

“For which causes are you running?”

What you want to say: “The Hypertension Aversion Fund, Mothers Against Muscle Mass, The Legion Of Self-Important Hobby Joggers, and pure unadulterated selfishness.”

What you should actually say: “I like to think that I’m running to inspire others to lead a healthy lifestyle. I’m like Michelle Obama, with a fuel belt.”

“But why haven’t you run a marathon yet?”

What you want to say: “Do you know what happened to the man who ran the original marathon, from Marathon, Greece, to Athens? He died.”

What you should actually say: “Because it doesn’t fit into my training program right now. You see, I’m trying to be fast on my feet, like Muhammad Ali, and the marathon makes you slow on your feet, like a sumo wrestler.”

“What would it mean for you to run Boston?”

What you want to say: “It would be a lot like Taylor Swift at the VMAs in 2009, before Kanye got on stage and ruined the moment.”

What you should actually say: “It would be a career-defining honor to run Boston, for anything less would be egregiously un-American.”

“Did you win?”

What you want to say: “Oh, that major road race with thousands of people and elites? No, but I did get this super-shiny finisher’s medal that I’ll hang on my mantel and wear to dinner parties to differentiate myself from people like you.”

What you should actually say: “Well, no, but I beat yesterday’s version of myself: Isn’t that what we’re all here to do?”

“Why don’t you run barefoot?”

What you want to say: “How would you like it if I buried shards of glass in your feet and covered the wounds in chewing gum?”

What you should actually say: “There is no proven correlation between barefoot running and injury prevention, and there’s far too much debris in an urban area anyway.”

“Don’t you want to have knees when you’re 40?”

What you want to say: “I’m always going to look better than you in shorts regardless.”

What you should actually say: “I set aside 10 minutes of foam roller-love making each day to ensure the health of my connective tissues.”

“Why do you run?”

What you want to say: “Because I was picked last for every team in high school until I realized the only thing I’m actually good at is conditioning.”

What you should actually say: “Have you ever heard of a runner’s high? It’s like a drugs high, but totally legal and fun for the whole family.”

Filed To: Running / Fitness
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