Running in Public

As mentioned, I was on a work trip to Washington DC last week, and the week prior to that I was on vacation in Delaware. There has been a fair amount of traveling this year, with several trips down to Florida before we moved, and some of the ins and outs of taking a new job that lives in a sales department.  On each and every one of these trips – including the last two weeks – I brought running gear.  Shoes, clothes, Road ID, hat, headphones, the whole getup.  I was ready for it.

And I can count on one finger how many times I actually went for a run.  In the last two weeks, that number was zero.

These last two weeks have been strange, because in both cases I was in a place that I ordinarily would have been excited to go running in.  In Delaware we were less than a mile from the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk (and beach), and in Washington DC I was about a mile from the Washington Monument.  So the beach and the National Mall – two spectacular places to run, particularly in the early morning hours that I typically go. Instead of rocking it, though, I stayed up too late and ignored my alarm in the morning. I just didn’t go.

The failure was so real that I was forced to do some reflecting on it, to try and pin down what is going on inside that causes me to sabotage and outright ignore these efforts.  And I think I figured it out.

I’m afraid somebody might see me.

You see, I’m a fat guy.  Especially now.  And what I think about when people see me running is that they are seeing this guy:

2014 JFK Runway Run

2013 JFK Runway Run

or maybe this guy:

2013 Rock & Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon

2013 Rock & Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon

Or definitely this guy:

2014 Branford Road Race

2014 Branford Road Race

When I’m at home, I leave to go running at 5am.  And at that hour, I generally see no people.  Maybe one or two.  There is nobody at home awake, there is nobody on the road, there is just not much going on.  In a hotel, though, at 5am I’m going to run into somebody. I’m going to see a night clerk, or another guest at the little gym, or the doorman on my way out to the streets for a run.  And I’m going to be totally self conscious that they are judging me.  Or, worse, laughing at me.

Now, I know from experience that my instinct on this one is incorrect.  95 times out of 100, people don’t even notice.  We are so wrapped up in our own little worlds – we don’t care.  And the other 5 times out of 100, when people do notice, they’re almost always doing the “good for him” in their heads.  That’s what I’m doing if I ever notice somebody running that is not what you’d expect from a traditional runner.

But, for all of that, I still really struggle to go.  My mechanism, by the way, is to sabotage the morning by staying up entirely too late the night before.  This is another place where home is better, because my wife won’t let that go on for too long without shaming me.  Or at least making me feel awkward because I have to answer the question “what the hell were you DOING up that late, anyway?”

This wasn’t really a problem when I was at the peak of my running “career” (HA!).  I felt good enough that it didn’t matter so much.  I’m not there now, and I need to get over it.

Also, for the record, I’m incredibly torn about posting that picture from the Virginia Beach Half up there.  The one with my belly hanging out.  I really hate that picture.

3 thoughts on “Running in Public

  1. Pingback: August | A Constant State of Hunger

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