How to Treat a Runner


You’ve probably seen me running all over this town. I’ve been training for a marathon and it has me leaving breakfast dishes in the sink, loading the potty chair and kids into the stroller and taking off. My second cup of morning coffee barely touched and going cold on my dresser where I had to trade it for spandex pants. Sigh. What is wrong with runners? Why do we feel compelled to suffer so regularly? Why do we need it? Many mornings, I would be laying in bed, thinking of excuses not to run, and then my app would go off to tell me that Cathy had already run 6 miles before sunrise. So I force my Lame-o-McLoser  self out of bed to get the wheels in motion for another run. 

Once the kids are settled, have fought over the blankets and books and surrendered to the fresh air and rhythm of my feet, I have to admit that I fall in love again. With my kids, my life, the earth, God’s goodness, myself. By the time I’m back home, I’m ready to face the day with air in my lungs and unmatched mental clarity. 


I did a lot of long runs with my BRFs (best running friends) Tiina (not spelling that wrong) and Cathy. I can’t tell you what our group text is titled because it includes language not suitable for this audience and also, my keyboard lacks emojis. Anyways, we met most weekends this summer to do long runs, I think probably the shortest was 8 miles and the longest was 21? Correct me if I’m wrong ladies (as if I’d have to tell you to). On these runs and my solo training runs, I’ve made some observations and have a few suggestions to the rest of the world who aren’t runners. Read: are normal or at least can afford real therapy. 

  1. If you see us coming, please let us know by making a dramatic gesture signaling that you aren’t going to run us over. Drive far into the other lane. Do this as soon as you see us. If not, we will be gauging the exact moment when we will hurl ourselves into the closest ditch with our strollers at the last second.
  2. Please put your phone down. I know you’re “just checking your map” or “just reading a very important text from your grandma” but for all I know, you’re “just posting a selfie about how happy you are that you are sitting down in your comfy car, free of any chaffing.” We are moving very slow (sad face) and we can see you NOT SEEING US. We will throw ourselves/our children into the closest ditch if we don’t see your eyes on the road that you are about to run us over on. 
  3. Please put your food down. Can’t you see I’m starving? Have you no heart? Your face looks like you think I’m judging you, but I’m just jealous. My local gym happens to be on the same street as a Burger King, McDonalds, Culvers, KFC and a pizza place. Would it be so hard to give me a cheese curd? I get it. You live this free life where you can just go eat delicious foods at 10 am and not suffer tremendous guilt until your next run, but not everyone is that lucky so STOP flaunting it. I swear I saw a guy leaving McDs with some hot salty fries laughing at me. Didn’t your mother teach you to share? SMH.  At least keep the food below the window line until you pass me. It’s the decent thing to do. 
  4. Thank you for your beautiful yard. I swear, your landscaping is on point. I can smell the fresh herbs in your window boxes. I’m downright tickled by your woodland creature statues in your ground cover. The staging on your front porch, your portion of the lake path, or even the pretty numbers you bought for your house are so lovely that they make me forget that I’m not actually going anywhere. I know you did this for me. It shows me how much you care. 
  5. Smile and wave. Pretend you like me and you think I’m cool. You can think anything you’d like, but I appreciate the charade. 
  6. Forgive me for neither smiling nor waving in return. You have no way of knowing this, but I’m on mile 14 and I’ve already eaten all of my runner fruit snacks (the one perk), I’m tired, my legs are aching and I don’t think I would even have the energy to throw myself into the ditch if some texting driver was coming right at me. I haven’t said a word to my BRFs in two miles. I actually hate them right now and wish they were my WBFs (walking best friends) but they keep running and I have to keep up or they’ll know I’m a wimp and full of crippling self doubt. So, I can’t spare the energy to wave to you and a smile would seem to insincere, but I so appreciate your warmth.
  7. Forgive me for peeing on your property (or letting my kids do it too). It looked more like a forrest and I have had two children in exchange for my bladder control. Also, ask your neighbor down the street to forgive me too. Super sorry. 
  8. We have seen a couple people leave a cooler of water bottles for sale at the end of their property. Thank you. You are so cool. You just get me. 
  9. Cheer us on at races, even if you don’t know us (see number 6). Congratulate us. Race day isn’t just about that day. Its the culmination of every early morning run, ever step taken when we thought we couldn’t take one more, and every tear we’ve shed when we’ve had to face our fears and grief while our feet pound the pavement. You may not be a “runner” but you know that feeling of reaching the end of yourself and continuing on. 
  10. Tell us you like our medal or race gear and think it’s really cool to wear it all day…weekend…week…have it framed by our bedside. You can’t fully know what it cost us. Unless you do. Then, welcome to our club. 

It’s a beautiful thing, to be a runner. It’s an odd, and painful, and fulfilling, and terrifying, and thrilling beautiful thing. I have a marathon this Sunday. My first since becoming a Mommy. To say I’m FREAKING OUT would be an understatement. I have a huge pit in my stomach that won’t leave until I run it out. Wish me luck. And whatever you do, don’t say, “I’ll never run a marathon” because that’s how this all started for me. 


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