{Insert gasp here}

I know what you’re thinking:

Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Is ‘oxymoron’ still even considered a respectable grammar term anymore?

Isn’t ‘non-competitive runner’ just another term for ‘jogger’?

Ok, I’m going to forgive you just once for using the ‘j’ term, even if you were just thinking it.  Something about that word makes me want to slap the person who says it. Which would shock us both.

So, I follow a couple runner’s blogs, one of my favorites is and today Danica posted about the validity of a runner who doesn’t train like a kenyan.  It resonated with me because of the response I get from runners/non-runners alike when I say “I’m not competitive.”  The reaction is something akin to disbelief, confusion, and a visible loss of respect seen in the eyes of the recipient of such information. 

I’d like to apologize for being so un-american that I don’t have this inner type-a drive to compete and defeat my peers, but then I’d be lying, cuz I’m not sorry at all.  I completely respect and applaud, and at times envy those who tap into this, allowing it to motivate them to work harder and succeed.  That’s just not the way I’m built. 

Some people focus on the destination, I’m more about the journey.  Before you write me off as a total bum, I still manage to be very goal-oriented and focused, its just directed at the quality of miles (or life) not the pace/form/stride or pants-beating of others around me.  I’m content not to come in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 25th in my age group.  In high school, my cross country couch would say during a meet “find a yellow jersey and pass it” and the harder I would try, the less I enjoyed the sport.  The same is true today.  Those times where I’ve gone against the grain of my natural tendencies and pushed myself toward a certain PR or whatnot, whether I was successful or not, I never enjoyed it. 

Someone once told me, years ago, respectfully and with complete humble honesty, “I think you are more obsessed with the idea of running than the actual running itself.”  At the time, this might have been true, I was just getting back into the sport and got a little caught up in the culture and business of it .  Can you blame me?  The atmosphere around a group of runners is almost always uplifting.  I didn’t stay there tho, I ran on to truly love the action in and of itself. 

Running is therapeutic.   Its taught me a lot about myself.  I’m not fast, but I’ve got endurance.  And on race day, when I’m lost in a crowd of like-minded folk, whether I’m cheering from the sidelines, volunteering,  or among the masses at the start when the gun goes off and everyone propels forward in one single motion…. then all is well in my world.  And when I’m alone on the side of a back road, sweating in the Savannah heat and humidity, legs sore and feeling like a ton of bricks, and my focus is 100 yards in front of me where the rising sun has shot its rays down through the branches of the live oaks and  southern pines and settles in a dreamy haze on the forest floor… well, then all is right in my world then too.

So is a non-competitive runner still a runner? If any of the following descriptions from apply to you then rest assured:

  • your first thought when you look at the weekly weather forecast is, “When can I fit in my runs?”
  • you have more running clothes than regular clothes in your laundry pile.
  • you’ve lost a toenail. And you tell people, “It’s not that bad.”
  • you smirk when non-runners ask you, “So how long is this marathon?”
  • you have a drawer full of medals and other race souvenirs that you’re not sure what to do with.
  • you go into Starbucks more often to use the bathroom than to actually buy coffee.
  • you no longer make fun of fanny packs because your running belt looks very similar (although cooler) to one.
  • you’ve used an old race T-shirt to wash your car, dust furniture, or clean something else.
  • your treadmill has more miles on it than your car.
  • you get an invitation to a wedding and you automatically think about what race the date will conflict with.
  • you have dreams about showing up to a race late or not wearing any clothes.
  • you’re not embarrassed to wear spandex.
  • the salespeople at your local running shop know you by name.
  • you’re always hungry.
  • you know how to take a cup of water from a water stop without choking on it or spilling it all over yourself.
  • at least one of your web site usernames or email addresses has the word “run” or “runner” in it.
  • you know where your illiotibial band is located.
  • you no longer hate port-a-johns. In fact, there have been times when you’ve been very happy to see one.
  • you wear your running watch even when you’re not running. (“It matches, right?”)
  • you’ve had your running shoes for three months and you know it’s already time to replace them.
  • you spend more time researching running routes than local restaurants when traveling to a new city.
  • your physical therapist’s receptionist knows you by the sound of your voice on the phone.
  • you know where exactly one mile from your front door is (in any direction).
  • you know how to correctly spell and pronounce plantar fasciitis.
  • you own more pairs of running socks than dress socks.
  • when you hear PR, you automatically think “personal record”, not “public relations”.

    …There are many more on the website, but for now life beckons! (you know that pesky business that takes up your time between runs!) 🙂


    et cetera