How to be comfortable running in public: part 2

What the other runners think (not that we should care)

If you feel self-conscious running in public, you probably think you know what other people are thinking of you.  You might be wrong though, and as a life-long runner, I can tell you what the other runners are really thinking, if they’re thinking anything at all.

Of course, we would all do well to remember that other people don’t think about us nearly as much as we think about ourselves.  The best way to quell your self-consciousness is simply to think about yourself less (you know, be less conscious of your self), which is worth doing anyway, isn’t it?

But, that will take a lifetime, so while we all work on not thinking about ourselves, I invite you to let the following scenarios put you at ease.

1.  You’re out running, and a “real” runner sees you.  He isn’t judging you.  If he thinks about you at all, he’s thinking how great it is that you’re running.  He’s not even thinking this in a condescending way, as in “Aww, that’s good — Fatty’s getting some exercise.”  He’s thinking, “Awesome, a runner!”

Now, he might be pleased that he’s faster than you, but remember that, for all he knows, you’re at the end of a sixteen-mile run, or you’re just doing your warm-up or cool-down.  For all he knows, you’ve been out there all day, and that’s why you’re so slow.  He knows that this is a possibility, but he’s allowing himself to feel a little proud anyway, and that’s not the worst thing.  Shouldn’t you be happy for him?

Also remember that at one point, he may have been where you are now.  He probably remembers how tough it is just to get yourself out the door.  He’s cheering you on.  At least, you should assume so, since you don’t know any better and it would be uncharitable to assume he’s a jerk.  Right?

2.  You’re out running, and a “real” runner drives by, or you run by his house.   He still isn’t judging you.  He’s jealous of you.  In fact, you’re making him feel a little insecure.  He’s in his house telling anyone who will listen, “I could be out there right now.  Don’t think I couldn’t be.  But I already ran today.  I really did.”  I know, because I do it.  Th. can confirm this.

3.  You’re out running and a non-runner sees you.  I have to guess here, but I’d say he’s definitely not judging you.  On the contrary, he admires you and may even feel inspired to get some exercise too.  To him, you are a “real” runner.

You never know what inspires people, actually.  During my junior year in college I was terribly busy, and I didn’t run much at all.  But one night, I’d had enough, and I went out for a very short run just to clear my head.  I was out of shape and slow.  I felt pathetic.  When I got back to the dorm, some girl I didn’t know told me that she’d seen me out there and felt inspired to start going to the gym.  Not many people would bother to approach a stranger like that, so consider: your running might be encouraging someone, and you don’t even know it.

That’s it.  Runners are some of the most welcoming people I’ve met.  Alarmingly so, at times.  Runners want to run, and they want everyone else to run too.  They are happy to see you running because everyone ought to run!  This is really and truly what we’re thinking.  And in fact, the better the runner is, the nicer he tends to be to newcomers.  Physical fitness is fragile, and even an arrogant runner knows it only takes a minor injury to bring him back to where we all started.  We all remember that it is an accomplishment to run even a single mile.

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  1. How to be comfortable running in public (Series) | Repetition Is Key

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