I didn’t realize I was competing in a wet T-shirt contest. Last week I went out for a run in the late morning with 90+ degree temps and nearly 90% humidity. It was about 8am, but semi-cloudy, so I figured I would be OK. About 6 miles into an 8 mile run a few days ago, I felt my singlet clinging to my torso. Looking down I had to stop and take a picture.
I’ve been running a long time. I’ve run on just about every continent. I’ve run in 100+ weather in Arizona and below 0 in New England. In all those runs I have never sweat so much as I did on this run. I started laughing when I looked down and saw my singlet and shorts looking as if I had stepped out of a pool. In the shade of the oaks, I took an iPhotograph for posterity.
At the time I thought I wanted the shot just to post (which I did on Twitter) and provide evidence of the weather that day. Talking to several fellow runners who were also lamenting the heat and humidity I realized it was more important to me than just showing how wet wet can be. You see, there is a difference between someone who runs and being a runner.
A runner is compelled to run. We can’t help it. Injuries, shitty weather, early mornings, late evenings, road or trail. We suck it up and go out. And it has nothing to do with speed or distance. It has to do with the need to move. A fundamental internal need to get out and run. A runner sees no end to running. They expect to be doing it the rest of their lives.
I read a quote in a running magazine a couple of months ago that got me thinking about this. It was from a track runner (800 meter or something like that) who had overcome an injury and was getting her sponsorship and training back in line. It was a real commitment and focus and I was very impressed. And then I lost her. She said that when her professional career was over she would stop running and find some other activity to spend her time on.
It is her call and I wish her that absolute best in whatever pursuit she chooses. As competitive as she is, she runs, but is not a runner. It showed me that speed and talent don’t make a runner. If you can envision a life without running, then you run, but are not a runner.
On the other hand, one of my running partners injured her IT band to the point where she can’t run again. She is a runner because, even with the injury she yearns to run and is in more pain because she can’t run than from the injury.
There are those who will read this post and think I was nuts for going out on the road in the heat and humidity. And there are those who will read it and know just why I stopped and laughed and then got back at it for two more miles. I appreciate both perspectives, but I live in one.