Running: no trash talk required

A colleague was talking trash to another colleague about an upcoming sporting event. Depending the season my colleagues talk trash about basketball, baseball, or football. The kind of fellows who also engage in fantasy football, who say things like "We are going to beat you on Sunday." I sometimes ask, "We who? You are not on the team." The players are not even from (pick the team and its city of your choice). The players are all hired guns, ringers, outsiders. There is no particular loyalty to a particular city.

Last week I asked a colleague who lives for "his teams" whether he was going to join Saturday's 5k walk/run. "I would beat you so bad! You would be eating my dust," was the first thing he said. That caught me off guard. I wasn't even thinking of who might beat who, I was just inviting a friend to join in the fun.

Although my colleagues would never understand, runners do not talk trash. On the contrary, runners more often sandbag. Running is not a couch potato's sport. Quite frankly, running is boring to watch except possibly for a runner. Running is a participative activity. Runner's know all too well the dozens of things that can go wrong during a running event. Runners will usually talk down their ability. Runners know that you are only as good as your last run, each run is a new opportunity to potentially fail. Runners prove themselves one run at a time, and for many runners, we prove ourselves only to ourselves.

I looked at my colleague. He is carrying a few extra pounds, not a lot, but enough. He does not run. He does not exercise walk. Once in a while he shoots a sphere at a metal ring in his back yard. Based on time logged, his primary form of sports participation is as an ESPN couch potato. Not yet middle aged, but given the diet out here one has to consider that a serious 5k run on that Saturday in the heat and humidity of Pohnpei could have left his wife a widow and his daughter fatherless. More likely he would finish at a walk.

I had no goal to win, my usual goal is to try to come in under 30 minutes. In 2008 I finished the Women in Sport 5k in 29:07. That was a good run. On Saturday I was wearing
Environmentally Neutral Design
Stumptowns, shoes that are much lighter than the usual motion control shoes such as the Mizuno Wave Renegade IV shoes I have been wearing over the past year.

I have been running more consistently since July of last year. Coupled with more consistent running and the faster turnover that the END shoes seem to encourage in my feet, I ran an 8k out and back to the airport at under a six minute per kilometer pace during the week before the 5k.

Encouraged by my sense of fitness, I went out harder than I usually do on a 5k that Saturday. I hung on to my pace choice, using my tennis ball heights and a focus on my slight forward lean that chi-running introduced me to. No, I am not a chi runner. I do it all wrong. Still, I think about my form and posture a lot more since reading the book.

The section of the route along main street is a double-back. As I passed runners who were ahead of me running the other way back to the finish I would shout out, "Kampare!" a Pohnpeian adaptation of a Japanese word of encouragement.

Coming up Namiki in the final 500 meters I was winded and my leg muscles were tiring, but the weather was gorgeous. Sunny, not yet beastly humid and hot. I dug down into my inner geek and asked myself, "What would Worf say?" A runner I came up on had also gone out fast, then dropped to a trot, and had now dropped to a walk. As I came up alongside him I said, "Almost there! Let's go! Today is a good day to..." and I was on past him.

No, runners do not talk trash. The last thought in my mind as I passed him was, "I am going to make him eat my dust." On the contrary, I wanted him to "win" too. Of course neither of us were "winners" in the sense that my colleagues understand winning. For them there is only number one. The winner of Saturday's 5k was long ago finished and done, I know him personally and he is a very humble fellow who only shares his times if he is asked.

I would cross the line in 26:43, a very good day for me indeed. I felt a shot of pure joy, and then I turned around and headed back up route to find my kids and give them encouragement. Runners support each other, encourage each other, even while competing whether for the "win" or simply against their own goals. Finishing is winning, no trash talk required.


  1. "given the diet out here one has to consider that a serious 5k run on that Saturday in the heat and humidity of Pohnpei could have left his wife a widow and his daughter fatherless. More likely he would finish at a walk."

    Dana...this is trash talk, subtle yes, but still trash talk. I hope those runners don't revoke your shoes.



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