Being a Runner Does Not Make Me Crazy Miriam Lamey

Every Monday morning, your colleagues, classmates or whoever else with whom you whittle away the 9 to 5 generally ask, “What did you do this weekend?” Mostly, the answers are tame: laundry, hit the gym, cooking, the usual. Occasionally, an answer may include “I had a great date,” which can spark some intense questioning and intrigue. And at least one story will include “I was super drunk and…” or “I went out and you won’t believe what happened.” Again, this sparks questions and hilarity.

Yet, when I say “well, I ran 15 miles and…” the world comes to a screeching halt. Fingers are poised in the air above keyboards, mugs of much-needed coffee no longer make it to the imbiber’s mouth and occasionally a bagel can go flying across the room. I’m met with many a blank look, a vague sense of disgust and sometimes nervous laughter. But the most frequent response?

“You’re crazy.” “That’s insane.” “OMG, I can’t even run a mile.” “Wow, that’s ridiculous.”

It’s taken me training for – and not running– two marathons to realize that I am truly a
runner. And I say “training for” because I was supposed to run the NYC marathon and we all know what happened there. Then, thanks to Mother Nature and the flu season, I did not make good on my promise to run the Miami marathon; at that point, however, it was a relief to just stop.

But a runner I am, and not a crazy one, either. Even though I have yet to cross the finish line at a marathon, my status as a runner is not diminished. I wake up, sometimes very early, to sneak in pre-work miles. I choose to skip the third beer on a Friday night because I know that I want to get up and run on Saturday before enjoying time with friends and family, going shopping planning a great dinner that night. Or even going out again. I will order that salad with dinner on top of a sandwich (and probably have some of your appetizer, too) because I’m hungry – putting in 20 to 30 miles a week plus just getting around New York City requires some serious energy – and I know my vices (beer, chocolate) actually count as fuel.

Does this make me crazy?

Call me biased, but I think not. I think one of my chosen hobbies instead makes me balanced. I think that I’ve learned discipline, the benefits of endorphins and good, old-fashioned enjoyment of being in and moving one’s body. I think that I’ve learned to be at peace with myself, given that on a 15-mile run, I’m with myself for two-plus hours. I think I have developed some pretty badass mental strength in order to keep going even when it hurts, I’m tired and/or it’s cold. And I also think that I found something healthy, free, fun, occasionally hilarious and definitely unique that brings me (mostly) joy.

Somehow, this is far from crazy. Somehow, this seems totally sane, in my opinion. But somehow, like my enjoyment of spending time alone, writing and mixing up really weird things for breakfast, I am seen as crazy for running.

Fortunately for me, I’ve never cared what other people think. If others want to call me “crazy” for training my body and mind to accept a bit of a challenge and then sticking to this physical activity when there’s no instant gratification for doing so, then let them.

Because, funnily enough, running now keeps me sane.

Image via Shutterstock

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  1. I ran a 10k on Sunday, and at a birthday party later, so many people seemed shocked that I had run 6 miles that morning and then was just hanging out at a party. But since I had also just trained for and completed a half marathon, 6 miles was just a normal weekend run. I didn’t want to dismiss their awe, but I really wanted them to stop making a big deal about it!

  2. You do not feel crazy during a marathon. After 10 marathons, 26.2, miles a apiece, I am still in disbelief. I never thought I would ever run a marathon. A little over ten years ago a buddy, working with a Japanese film crew, documenting the Las Vegas Marathon, said to me, “We gotta do this thing. Looks fun.” For some reason it really appealed to me. I started training. Buddy and I had a falling-out. He never ran the Vegas Marathon. I did @ 4:03:34 was my first, and best time. My last marathon was in Las Vegas December 2, 2012: 4:34:17; was my time. It is a night marathon and very fun. You do not feel crazy surrounded by thousands and thousands of people. I do feel crazy sometimes, early morning training at 6am. When you are at a marathon and an announcer says the name of someone that has ran 300 marathon, or this person is 84, running his 40th, it is very humbling. I nearly lost my left leg in an accident in 1998,with a car, and me on a mountain bike. I have a lot of nerve damage, and oftentimes a lot of pain running, Sometimes i feel slight pain in every step –you learn to ignore. Run a marathon, half marathon, 10ks-5ks, being around very, very healthy people the last thing you feel is crazy.

  3. This is actually something that I’ve noticed since ditching my unhealthy diet, eating clean and working out a lot more. People think you’re some sort of weirdo because you actually voluntarily work out, and voluntarily cut out some foods such as chips or fast foods. It’s completely insane in a society which tells us we should live healthy lifestyles, that if you do just that people mock you as some sort of crazy person.

  4. I have always wanted to run. I am overweight and I always say I’m going to get in shape so that I can run long endurance!
    I loved your article and even though I am not a runner (yet!) I totally see where you are coming from!
    Go you!

  5. Every time I come back from my runs my brother says there is no reason to run unless you are being chased. I am a better human being when I run! I am more efficient in work, school, and relationships. I am a nicer person! I have some physical limitations from being hit by a car in high school but my goal is to do a half marathon and when I accomplish that my goal will be to run a marathon. More power to you!!

  6. Great article, Miriam, and you are spot on about people becoming judgmental and asking whether we runners are “crazy.” I hear things all the time such as, “Why would you want to run 15 miles? I just don’t see the point.”

    There’s nothing wrong with us. We’re not running to rub it in other people’s faces or to brag. We’re running for ourselves, and nearly every runner I know would be more than happy to run those first miles with any friend who wants to start up if asked.

  7. I just started running a couple of months ago. It helped to have a goal like a 5K, and I have been using the Couch to 5K app! If you want to start running, that app is perfect!

  8. People are lazy! That is what’s going on.

    Also, you do whatever makes you happy not others.

    I like cleaning my house on the weekend and people think I’m crazy for that. “Yeah but don’t you just want to relax? Enjoy your time off?”

  9. Yeah that’s annoying. I don’t run 15 miles but if I did I would probably just say I ran. Even at my low mileage people usually give me the same response. Or, “You know that’s bad for your right? I bet your knees hurt..” Sigh. It’s a heck of a lot better for me than sitting on my tookas eating bon bons!

  10. Being a runner is not crazy. A lot of people are runners. A lot of people are also very sedentary. I used to be really active but now not so much. I think it’s natural for people to give that kind of reaction to someone running 10 miles though. I think the majority of people aren’t that active, so what can they do but give their honest reaction? I don’t think that’s bad, and I think the majority of people who give that reaction don’t mean to be rude. They’re just really surprised because they don’t hear people running 10 miles that often. Of course, for avid runners, that same reaction will get annoying, but you can’t control how people react to anything. That’s life.

  11. Here here, sister! I recently decided to take back my body and train for triathlons. I think I get the “you’re crazy” look just about every time I mention it to somebody new. Alas, I think my sanity might actually increase every time I finish a good workout. There’s just something empowering about accomplishing a big physical feat before the majority of people are even out of bed. Kudos to you and best of luck on your training! Thanks for the article.

  12. I don’t think you’re crazy. The only people I think are crazy are the ones who decide that -my- life would be so! much! better! if I just joined them in running, or going to the gym every other day, or joined their Zumba class. I admire people who run, who get endorphins from exercising rather than just getting out of breath, sweaty and cranky. I would never call you crazy for running, and I hope you’d never call me crazy for not wanting to.

  13. I can run 2 miles and do so regularly but can’t envisage ever being able to run 15 or even 10. I would love to one day though! Need to shift some pounds first, that would help! I do sometimes get up early before work to go running, often in freezing temperatures (that’s the UK most of the time these days) I get called crazy when I tell people, and to be fair I agreed with them at first, but I feel great after I’ve been and it sets me up great for the day, it’s just that initial getting up bit that’s hard!

  14. I’m totally with you on that one. The usual reaction when they find out that I wake up even earlier on Saturday than I do for work (which is already pretty early) to put in a long run is not unlike those of your coworkers. I was once in a relationship where I sacrificed those long runs for spending time with the boy (usually on the couch, watching TV–thrilling), and now I know that’s not a mistake to be repeated. If he can’t handle me sneaking out of bed at ungodly hours on Saturday mornings to knock out 10+ miles before most people wake up, then the relationship probably isn’t going to work, anyway.

  15. Not crazy, awesome!! I’ve lived an almost entirely sedentary lifestyle and I’m tired of it. I’ve tried jogging on a number of occasions and enjoy it so much I end up getting shin-splints and stopping. This time I’m going to take it a little slower and work up. My goal in life is to be a runner.

  16. Call me a fool…. but I love running too!! Especially on the beach: as for Miriam, running helps me to stay focus on what I do in my daily life and keep me sane!

  17. I am very over weight at the moment, but I used to run track in high school and play basket ball. I really miss that, and right now, small as it may be, my goal is to be able to just jog a mile. I’m slowly working up to it.

  18. “I think that I’ve learned discipline, the benefits of endorphins and good, old-fashioned enjoyment of being in and moving one’s body” this is JUST how I feel about going to the gym 3-4x a week but haven’t been able to correctly articulate to my non-workout inclined friends. THANK YOU!

  19. I adore running! Not done it for ages as just moved house and logistically it was just not possible! Since stopping my healthy eating has gone out of the window too, running made me so much more disciplined!

    Must start again soon, my trainers are neglected in my cupboard!

    • oh yes, and I was forever getting the ‘you’re crazy’ comments from those who are gym bunnies who prefer to pound a treadmill facing a boring wall to seeing the amazing outdoors that street running offers!

  20. I’m training for my first marathon and just love to run in general. I absolutely love how you phrased this, how it actually makes you saner than anything else you could spend your time doing! Plus it gives you enough sanity to shrug off the constant “you’re crazy!” comments, which honestly drive me crazy. Ahem.

    Either way, rock on. Or should I say run on?