Embrace the weirdness
As my running group peeled off into the parking lot, finishing up a quick-paced workout, I continued on. I had another .18 of a mile to go before my brain would allow me to hit the stop button on my Garmin. My running friends thought nothing of the bonus steps my brain demanded. They are used to my running quirks.
My top oddity, and I’m sure I’m not alone, is needing even stopping places for my workouts. I never run by time. I run for mileage points. And 7 miles means 7 miles. Not 6.82. Not 6.99. I typically run slightly more (to 7.02) to make sure that nothing funny happens in the upload process to take me back down below 7 — I once deleted a run that came in at 5.98. Then I went back out and replicated the workout and made sure I had more than 6 miles total.
I also grow motivational beards for each Boston Marathon qualifying attempt buildup, another habit my running and non running friends might consider weird.
But I’ve noticed that I’m not the only strange runner. There are running quirks of all kinds.
Now that I’m familiar with the local Shreveport community, which I think is a great representation of runners that would compare well with those across the country, I’m comfortable enough to put these peculiar habits in list form.
I won’t name names. I could easily. But I want to keep all of my friends. Feel free to tag yourself, or simply go on about your day as if you have no clue who I’m writing about.
The mileage quirks
My main weirdo tendencies fall in this category. And they are slightly obsessive compulsive. I have to hit mileage goals for days, weeks and months. I have to round down on all runs and overall tallies.
One runner I know seems to do the opposite, however. He likes to round up. A 6.4-mile run is basically 6.5 miles when you break it down. And that should get rounded up to 7. Four-milers quickly turn into 5-milers, and 9 is just as good as 10 right?
I’ve also noticed others, who have a need to hit the next mile before finishing, circling the parking lot after a run.
On the opposite end, I know runners who don’t wear GPS watches at all. They are completely free to run along, content not knowing their distance, pace or any of the stats that I think are necessary. These are the real freaks. How can you not care how far you’ve run? (Any quirk that’s not my own will be treated with far more disdain).
There is much more mid-run strangeness around though. One running partner has to run on my right side. Even if that puts her closer to oncoming traffic. I can try and swap sides on a turn, but she will adjust and switch right back.
Most runners I know prefer to run in the street rather than on the sidewalk. This could be a safety issue (Shreveport’s sidewalks are horrendous in most areas), but it has become a borderline quirk.
I know at least two friends who go all out from the start (putting “time in the bank”) and then positive split the second half of the workout or race. Even though there is scientific data to show running really fast at the start of a run actually slows you down (read about it here).
Also, runners aren’t supposed to smell like potpourri in the middle of a summer run. At least three I know (all guys) smell like they are constantly participating in a shower-gel commercial instead of a workout. I won’t complain too much about this one, though, since the alternative could be devastatingly bad.
We all have our favorite running routes. Sections along the bike path or in South Highlands that feel like home.
But one person has set routes for each day of the week. And it will bother him if you deviate from the predetermined course.
So, naturally, people tend to try to steer away from the approved route as much as possible, just to watch him try to guide the group back to familiar ground.
I have a few route quirk. The first is more of a necessity. I plan routes with bathroom stops in the first few miles. People who run with me probably hate that one.
I also hate to repeat route sections or cross over where I’ve already run. If possible, I like to leave in one direction and finish the run coming from the opposite side, without crossing my path at any point during the workout. Races that are giant loops are my favorite. I know. Super weird.
I see all kinds of gear quirks. People who have to tie their shoe laces and then tuck them in. People who carry water bottles and GU packets no matter how short a run will be (I tend to carry water always). People who wear the same pair of shoes for every run. People who wear a different pair each day. People who refuse to run in anything but barefoot shoes. People with giant, bulky headphones on.
One person in our running circle prefers to run in cotton long sleeve shirts and cotton tube socks, even when the weather calls for a singlet (or no shirt) and moisture wicking socks.
I also see people holding their phones in their hands while running, a practice I imagine becomes incredibly tiring. Add in headphones with connecting wires, and that phone setup can become a real mess. You will find no judgement from me, though. Runners don’t discriminate based on perceived quirks.
One running friend likes to creep around runsignup.com and stalk race results pages.
If you are racing against him any time soon, he will know it. He will also know exactly how you finished in your last five races of the same distance. He knows more about my race results than I do. Sometimes he might even know that I’m signed up for an event before I do.
When a race ends, he which runners ran good races and which ones fell short of their capabilities.
He doesn’t dig farther than that, as far as I know. Although it would be quite easy for him to follow along on Facebook and know your favorite pre-race meal and warmup pattern as well.
Social media quirks
If we don’t post our workout and race summaries on Facebook and Twitter, they didn’t really happen right?
When I started running, I’m sure I annoying everyone who knew me. My Nike GPS watch automatically uploaded workouts to my social media pages with a simple message: “Brent just crushed XX miles…”
I deleted the auto upload after many more seasoned runners made fun of me. I’m still slightly self conscious about overloading my social media feeds with run recaps, and I try to post after big races only.
I still see people uploading every single workout. It doesn’t bother me at all, but I always remember how much trash talk I got when I was doing that.
To me, writing on this blog doesn’t fit the same category. But I’m sure it has been annoying to some people all the same. If that’s the case, then unfollow or defriend.
I’ll understand — not everyone outside of the running community will embrace the quirks.