I may get into trouble for this blog. I have been meaning to write it for a while but what with marathon training and then the actual marathons it has been put on the back burner. Now with no impending races or another burning topic itching to escape my fingertips I can finally get to it. As runners we are vain, insecure and shallow. That’s probably a bit unfair, there maybe some very humble well adjusted runners with a rich and deep mental life. I however am not one of them, I am definitely vain, insecure and shallow and I am pretty certain I am not the only runner like it.
Running vanity comes in many forms. Probably the most obvious one is that we want to be a bit skinnier. Lots and lots of people start running because they want to loose a bit of weight. If you want to be fat don’t run, preserve your calories, because running is the most efficient way to burn calories known to man or woman. We check ourselves in the mirror pat our midriff and complain about how many calories we need to run off. If it’s a choice between giving up cake or running shit loads well, I really like cake. Body shape is not the only way we can be vain, and although I am tainted with the weight obsession I really want people to think of me as fit and fast. Indeed I relish in being faster and fitter than most people I meet (runners excluded) on a daily basis. Even at the beginning of my running journey I took a certain vain pride in looking at my work colleagues and knowing they couldn’t even walk 5k without having to stop for a rest let alone run one, and this attitude brings me to the insecurity.
If I was well adjusted and secure in my own self I wouldn’t feel the need to demonstrate my superiority by running so bloody much. I wouldn’t worry that the cake I had for breakfast was going to make me less attractive, or that if I was unable to run for a few months I would slow down to a wading through treacle speed. All of these worries are entirely delusional though, nobody really cares about my running apart from a few other runners and, a slice of cake on it’s own will not make a huge difference to my waistline. It doesn’t stop the insecurities buzzing around my brainbox like an irritating fly though. The irony is that the more I shore up my insecurities by running, the more my self esteem and self image is wrapped up in that running. I identify so much as a runner now that when somebody asks me what I do I tend to reply with ‘marathons’ rather than telling them my job or anything else. Yes my insecurities have led me to a bit of an obsession but, I am fine with that. At least I know how I value myself and have ways that I can rationalise my value, and work to make it better. Of course the flip side is that if targets are not met it can be a bit of a fall. Still being shallow can help with that.
The nice thing about being shallow is that life is so much more simple. You don’t have to be 2 faced, you don’t need a head full of kittens and unicorns, you don’t even need to be particularly vain, though it helps. What you need to be shallow is a narrow focus without a lot of hidden depths and, as a runner that’s what I am. My focus is unsurprisingly my running and nearly everything I do is considered in those terms. I used to drive a car to work every morning until I realised that if I had a bike I could squeeze in 40 mins of cross training in the morning and, as a bonus get to work more cheaply. Yes I am that sad. It also
means that I know how to deal with those small upsets in life like a marriage breakup, or even something really important like failing to hit a time in a target race. Just run more. It doesn’t always help but at least I am not left flailing around without any clue as to what to do.
There you have it, vain, insecure and shallow but, happy enough with it. A simple life for a simple chap. In fact the only thing that really bothers me is suddenly developing hidden depths, I can’t imagine anything worse. If that were to happen it might be I have to give up my running and become some kind of writer or philosopher and, what kind of a life is that?