During a Facebook conversation with a friend and teammate recently, I was reminded that runners have their own set of rules. I don’t mean runners as a group. We have those too (don’t wear the race t-shirt during the race, no two-stepping, etc.) But, in addition to those, each runner has his or her own unique demands. All of us expect our fellow runners to follow them. 99% of the time this does not happen. Part of the problem is that these rules are rarely written down. Although most of the problem is that the rules are ridiculous. That is why I am going to share my ridiculous list of six running rules whether you want to know about them or not. They are not listed in order of importance. They are all important.1. A race is a race. If you fill out the registration form, cross the starting line and then cross the finish line, you have by definition just competed in a race. I don’t care if you didn’t PR, or you were “just doing it as a tempo”. You owe it to every other runner in the race, the race organizers and yourself to respect the event. Nothing annoys me more than seeing someone deliberately leave a race out of their training log because it was “just a workout.” Your goals may be different than others competing, but you still ran a race.
2. Don’t complain about running. It’s not your job. No one is making you do it. It’s a hobby. If I see a Facebook status that says, “I wish I could sleep in, but I have to get up and do my long run,” I will think long and hard about de-friending that person. Complain about not being able to run. That sucks. For the select few for whom running IS their job, they have even less room to complain. They get paid for something most of us do in our spare time for fun. Most people cannot say this about their profession. People aren’t getting up at 5am to snake stranger’s toilets for the sheer enjoyment of it. Professional runners must realize that we would all give children, life-savings and/or limbs to have their jobs. So when they whine (and very few actually do), that’s like William Shatner going to a Star Trek convention and complaining about how much he hates being Captain Kirk. That said, most professional runners are underpaid, but that is whole different topic.
3. You almost always have time to run.... unless you are in solitary confinement. You just have to make time. Sometimes if you want to get a run in, you have to get creative. That’s part of the commitment you make when you commit to being a serious runner. Training for Boston, I was working long hours, so I got out the door as early as 3:45 some mornings. You have to make a lot of sacrifices to be the best you can be or you have to lower your expectations. If you must, go to bed early. Skip parties. Don’t sleep in. But when following this rule, remember one thing: running revolves around life. Life doesn’t revolve around running.
4. Do not get beat by someone in costume. My good friend John Compton is one of the best runners I know. He once had a duel to the death with a a talented runner dressed in a taco suit and emerged victorious. I can’t explain in words exactly why getting beat by someone in costume is so humiliating, but I can’t think of anything more embarrassing than getting my race photos and seeing the image of Spongebob Elvis whizzing past me like I’m standing still. Look at the non-costumed people in these photos. They are devastated The less-threatening the character, the more crushing the defeat. It's almost acceptable to get passed by someone dressed a Flash Gordon. But, imagine telling your friends that you were beat by Minnie Mouse. Note: this guy is making following this particular rule very difficult for a lot of runners.
5. Your finishing time is not negotiable. It’s what the official results say. You do not get to subtract time to tie your shoe, poop, etc. “Well, I ran the marathon in 2:45 minutes, but I stopped to use the porta-john for 2 minutes, so really it was a 2:43.” WRONG! The amount of time it takes you to get from the starting line to the finishing line is your race time. If you decide to watch “Gettysburgh” after the gun goes off at a 5K and then it takes you 15 minutes to run 3.1 miles, congratulations, you have just completed a 4 hour and 51 minute 5k!
6. Reward yourself with a donut. Or ice cream, cake, ho-hos, ding-dongs, giant lollipops…whatever. It’s ok. You can eat them. I eat a donut every time I run 18 miles or more. It’s the only time I eat donuts. When you burn more than 2,000 calories before most people are out of bed, a few hundred empty calories aren’t going to hurt.
Coconut Cream Donut minute before I destroyed it
I don't mean to offend anyone. These are my rules and the only person really required to follow them is me (and Lauren).