Friday, February 8, 2008

Don't stop the music

A few months ago I got an email from some running-related vendor--shoes, clothes, whatever. I don't remember the store. But I do remember the ad. I think the idea behind the ad (other than getting me to buy their product, which failed miserably) was to pump up viewers into thinking "I am a runner." But the content of the ad did the exact opposite for me.

The theme of the ad was "We are not joggers" and it listed all kinds of attributes that are presumably weaknesses and wimpiness and anti-running. Apparently, if you run on a treadmill you are a jogger, not a runner. If you run behind a baby stroller, same thing. (My only objection to baby strollers is that they take up too much space in a 10K, and I am embarrassed when they pass me!) And the main thing is, real runners don't block out the world and the sensations of running by listening to an iPod or music player.

I was a little ticked off at the beginning of the ad, but that pushed me over the edge. I have said any number of times that I don't think I could run without my iPod--it is my best companion. And I don't think it makes me less of a runner!

There is also some implication about speed, that there's some level of speed that divides the joggers from the runners (although at least they don't presume to specify that level). I know I am not the fastest runner in the bunch (although I am certainly not the slowest). In races I run a lot faster that I do in the mornings on the street. But still, I shun the word "jogging." I am a runner, even though I may be a slow runner!

I much prefer John Bingham (The Penguin)'s take on running versus jogging. (He's a columnist for Runner's World magazine.) He says that as slow as he might be, he is still a runner (not a jogger). He is a runner because he says so.

I did manage to locate that ad online after all. It is an ad for Pearl Izumi shoes... and actually, it's not quite as offensive as I remembered it. Maybe it's even a little bit amusing, in parts. But I still take offense at the iPod crack!

Because I think that anything that makes you want to run is good. Yes, running can be painful at times. It can be hard to get out the door when it's dark out, or cold, or raining (all of which happen many mornings for me). If music eases my path a little bit, hurrah. If letting my mind wander and think about vacations or dinner plans or anything that makes the blocks slip away unnoticed, that's all good. If running becomes so natural to me that I can do it easily and enjoy it, isn't that the whole idea?

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