While going through some of my running books recently I came across one written in the 70's by Joe Henderson. In it were some checklists that could be used to determine whether you were a serious runner or a fun runner. My first thought was, how hard is it to figure that out? But, many of the questions do cause you to think and consider how you view your running. I will begin with the questionnaire that asks if you are a Fun Runner and add some comments from time to time.
Are You A Fun Runner?
1."Have you started thinking of your daily runs not as training but as pleasant ends in themselves?"
A good starting point.Knowing how you view your running says a lot about the kind of runner you are.
2."If you still keep a running diary at all, is a time within five minutes, or a distance within a mile, accurate enough?"
In all my years of running, the majority of serious runners I've known, meaning over 50%,have not kept an actual running diary.That's not to say they don't jot down their daily mileage somewhere.
3."Do you run more by how you feel than by a detailed plan?"
4."Can you take time out in mid-run, stop early, or even skip a day without feeling guilty about it?"
It's a foolish serious runner who tries to gut it out instead of stopping when he's hurting or feeling bad.Not doing so is a common rookie mistake.
5."However,when you must miss all or part of a run, do you feel like an old friend has left you for awhile?"
Hardly, because I know I'll be visiting this "old friend" very soon.
6."Would you keep running as you do now even if you never race?"
If this was asked of me in my younger years I would say that I'd run as much as ever except that I would back off on the intensity.
7."Do you often decide whether to race when you wake the day of a race?"
I don't know many fun runners who would do that.
8."Do you race without planning your pace?"
9."Can you run through a race at an easy pace and still feel good about the experience?"
That's part of what qualifies a person as a fun runner, not being overly concerned about finishing times.
10."Are you proud of your older, faster times--but not so haunted by them that you can't appreciate a race a minute per mile slower?"
There comes a moment in every serious runner's life when he has to take the time and evaluate whether or not the performance driven training he's been doing is still worth it.
Joe closes out the above by saying that if you answered yes to most of the above then you are a fun runner.
Are You A Serious Runner?
1."Is preparing for races your most important reason for running every day?"
No! It's a common misconception that serious runners qualify as being serious only because they run to race. My love of running is the reason I run as often as I am physically able.I'm sure I speak for millions of other serious runners.
2."Do you intentionally make your training hurt so you can tolerate the pain in races?"
No! It's just something that naturally goes along with the training schedule you follow if you are planning to eventually race.
3."Are you a high goal setter who believes a person's ability is limited mainly by his imagination?"
No! experience refutes that statement. I think of the great John L Parker's comment, and I'm paraphrasing here, the distance runner is the ultimate realist. This means his workouts show the difference between reality and his wishes.
4."Do you give up foods and drinks you like just so you can run farther and faster?"
Truly serious athletes will and do.
5."Do your athletic practices appear abnormal compared to the habits of your family and friends?"
Since I don't use altitude chambers,etc.,I'd say no.
6."Do you train with a group or team so you can run farther or faster than you would alone?"
On occasion, however, there is a certain kind of mental and physical toughness that only comes from training alone. It is an often overlooked component to a serious runner's regimen.
7."Is it important to you that you beat certain people or place a certain way in competition?"
Yes,that's why most compete in the first place.
8."Are you always asking yourself to go a little faster a little farther?"
Not usually,one should listen to their body and evaluate,look at the big picture.
9."Are you always comparing your current performances with past marks and expecting them to progress?"
Yes, but understanding that there will be times when I perform below expectations.
10."Do you think you must always stay a little bit dissatisfied with yourself so you'll keep trying to improve?
Absolutely not! That's a one way trip to unhappiness and a common rookie mistake. Take pleasure in doing well, let it be a validation that you are doing things right!
Joe says that if you answered yes to most of the above then you are a serious athlete.I say this in regards to Joe's assertion: his criteria are too rigid and shortsighted,my comments below explain why I believe this to be so.
Runners, be ye serious or fun ones, Go Long Sunday!