Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Are You Good At It?

I was asked a question the other day that had me a little stumped.

It was asked of me by an acquaintance that I hadn't seen in years. We were having a 'catch-up' in the local shopping centre and naturally I managed to work that fact that I'm a runner into the conversation.

The question that had me stumped was this - "Are you good at it?"

Ask that one of yourself. Are you a good runner? See, it's a bit hard to answer for a lot of us running-addicted middle-of-the-packers.

In one respect I'd say that yes, I'm a very good runner. I manage to put one foot in front of the other for quite a few kilometres in a row without falling over (unless I'm running on trails where falling over is acceptable and even a point of pride). I can generally run in a straight line if I need to. And I can handle lots of different terrains.

My form is not perfect so I suppose that could mean that I'm not such a good runner. But my less-than perfect running style has never caused me a major injury so I guess I'm not that bad.

Good can sometimes mean righteous and in that regard I'm an incredibly good runner. No one feels more righteous than me after I get up at 4:45am and run up and around a mountain, watch the sun rise and get back home before some people are even out of bed.

Good may also mean 'in excellent condition' and I like to think that for a 50 year old runner I'm in pretty good nick. Sure, there are bits of me that complain at times (Like after we do 100m sprints in speed session. And yes, I was sore most of last week from that - thanks Coach Chris). And sometimes I walk like an 80 year old once my muscles seize up after a hard session. But the fact that I can still do a hard session must mean that I'm not doing too bad for a middle-aged woman.

If he meant 'are you a reliable runner' again I'd say yes. I run four times a week, all year long, year after year. I'm pretty much uni-dimensional when it comes to exercise. But being that I can't really see when I'm swimming and am a threat to small, furry, unleashed creatures when I'm on a bike and get incredibly bored in a gym, I don't think this is going to change.

Good can also mean well-behaved. And to this I'd say I'm mostly good. I try to stick to the side of the path and not get in cyclists' way. I try not to fart up-wind of the pack. I'll mostly smile and nod to other runners - unless I'm in my own little world or am using running as an emotional management tool. The worst thing that I do as a runner is to use improvised toilets - but I only ever do that in emergencies. (OK I'll admit to having more emergencies than most but at least that makes for some really impressive tempo runs)

He may have meant 'are you a fast runner' (and I'm pretty sure he did). Again it'd be a hard one to answer. Fast is a relative term. I'm definitely not fast if you were to compare me to the elite runners. You'll never find me out the front in a race - which is just as well because then I'd have to have some idea of where I'm going. Am I fast compared to the average 50 year old woman? Probably - considering that the average 50 year old woman is fairly inactive.

My answer, in the end, was that I was an 'okay' runner.

So how would you answer that question if it were asked of you?


  1. Oh gosh I hate questions like those because there are so many interpretations. You are a most excellent runner in every sense of the word!

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  3. "Yes, my running shape is good enough". I think this may be an adequate answer, as there isn't any mention about speed, average pace and time taken.
    Anyway, it's easy to see the good shape of a middle-aged woman who is walking in a local shopping center: overweight and agility are the first things that we, runners, look. And it's easy to understand that she probably runs, swims o goes cycling three or four times a week.
    Runners' most valuable commodity is self-confidence. This commodity helps us also when we answer a question about our running shape.
    Keep running, Char!

  4. Gosh I don't know what I would answer, but if it was someone I didn't know I think I would just say yes without explanation :) The great thing about running is that we are all different in our approach, how often we run, what time we run, how fast/slow we run. If everything works during a run and I feel good afterwards I definitely see myself as a good runner.

    Coming back at the wish balloons, it is an Asian tradition as you mentioned and it's not something that is common in my country. I got a balloon last year from a colleague who introduced me to this and I liked the idea behind it so we made it our own tradition.

  5. But well-behaved runners rarely make history!...

    You should have asked: What do you mean by 'good'? (Probably 'fast'. But I hate those questions too - I hem and haw and never quite give a satisfactory answer.)

  6. I think you're right, "good" can mean so many different things. I would definitely call you a great runner ... and a great writer!

  7. It's an interesting question. One that made me stop and think. I hope to be a good runner. I do run every day. But if good means fast, than no. I'm not a good runner.

  8. I would say that I'm a good runner only because I'm consistent and know my limits. I'm not fast by any means nor can I run long distances. On the other hand, I'm not any good at yoga, and that's not even a competitive sport! Hahahahah

  9. You are more than a good runner - you are a great runner!!! (for all the reasons you listed and more)
    I think that question is like asking a banker if they are a good banker - there isn't a set way to qualify it!

  10. I have wrestled with a similar question lately. I saw a girl post on Facebook something like "Ran a super slow marathon, only finished in 3:48 because of knee tendonitis." I thought about how I would LOVE to run a marathon that fast and how time is all relative. I feel slow. But my slow pace could be a speed workout for someone else. So I've really worked on being content and just doing the best I can.

  11. I love all the ways you thought about this. My initial response would be no but you came up with many ways in which I am good at it.

  12. I think it's about what you want out of your running, I think I'm slow and lazy... But I long to run more and feel if I wasn't lazy I could... I might run times that you would love to run, but I would love to be at the front of the field...

  13. One of the things I like about the idea of running is that you don't have to be good at it. Unless you're competing in races etc (which I know you do) for many people, it's the act of running they enjoy. I think. Not being a runner I can't really understand it myself! ;-)

  14. I would have replied, "ummm...probably better than YOU" and then laughed and punched him jovially in the arm. But I'm kind of bitchy like that ;-)


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I love hearing from you.