What type of runner are you? A guide to the different racer tribes
For the influencer, running is not an end in itself. It’s the start of world domination, or at least a small contract with a nutrition bar company. A run isn’t a run unless it’s recorded as an unflattering selfie and maybe a time photo on their GPS watch. There may also be an image of a tree by a river and a caption such as “Nature humbles me!!”. The influencer’s Instagram feed often features dramatic landscapes covered with inspirational messages such as “Running calms my brain and helps me focus my thoughts.” on my next selfie’. Influencers often claim to be “obsessed” with the shoes, tops, shorts, leggings, hats, sunglasses, headphones, hair products or shoelaces they use. Many of them also like to run.
The buggy is from Masarati, while the racers kit is from whatever was in Vogue Sport this month. His hair is as shiny and groomed as the coat of a pampered seal. She has a ponytail that won’t budge, because she’s been told not to budge. At parkruns, these two slide alongside regular runners and don’t seem to breathe. The baby in the buggy is for ballast and cannot be viewed until a nondisclosure agreement is signed, as it is surprisingly simple. There may be a dog attached to the buggy by a beaded collar. He has a short, reddish-brown coat and the proud look of a little bully. The buggy can be a transformer called Croesus.
The ugly veteran
The old needle runs in all weathers and through all centuries. His jersey hangs sadly from his bony shoulders; it is made from linen and has been shaped on a loom. He wears canvas sneakers but no socks – it’s an affectation. His shorts are the roughest tweed and he considers chafing God’s way of telling you you’re sweating too much. He’s wild in eyes and hair, sharp in elbow and raw in knee, and his marathon PB is 2:30:25, but he doesn’t know it because he tells time by the movement of the sun. The faint writing on the back of his jersey reads: “Eat my dust, Pheidippides”.
The ultra runners
The ultrarunners ran 25 miles this morning, any morning, but they’re still smiling because they ran 25 miles. They carry little gear because there isn’t much to cover – ultrarunners are made from long strands of muscle and tendon that sound like the E string of a violin when plucked. The Ultrarunners have a dog-eared first addition to Chris McDougall’s book born to run, which they will insist on taking an oath if called to testify in court. If you tell an ultrarunner that you’ve run three marathons, the response will be, “Today?
The lonely wolf
Dressed in his discreet but expensive running kit, the lone wolf prefers to run when you don’t and where you won’t, so you’ll rarely see him. However, if you spot it on a foggy morning, don’t expect it to be recognized as it passes: the lone runner doesn’t nod, raise a hand, or smile. If the lone wolf – who has never considered the fact that wolves are very sociable pack animals – falls while running, he will not growl in pain or bleed. He will painfully return home and lick his wounds, not realizing that a torn Achilles does not react to even the most vigorous lick. No matter. This is nature’s way.
The healthy and happy couple
Both of these smell fantastic – like a good fabric softener – before, during and after a run. They warm up together, race together and almost always finish races together. On the rare occasion that they don’t, whoever crosses the line first runs through the crowd yelling, “Come on, baby!” You have this! I just got lucky today. You are still amazing to me. Never forget – oh, you’re done. The healthy, happy couple don’t wear matching gear – they’d never be so awkward (a word they love) – but each has a favorite brand and sweetly chides the other for being adorably wrong. They normally hit each other five at the end of a run, but during lockdown they touched their elbows; it was to show solidarity with those who don’t have the kind of love they share, which is everyone.
The tech junkie
This character is equipped with such advanced technology that Elon Musk considers him a threat. In the winter he (and it’s almost always a he) wears a compression base layer that cools the body and an outer compression layer that warms the body, and he has a compression hat that constantly shakes and one day will shoot up and kill a bird. His GPS watch has all the usual bells and whistles (they’re louder than yours), but it’s so powerful it can pick up signals from Voyager 1, which is over 22 billion miles away. Earth. He recently reported receiving a faint, monotonous buzz from interstellar space, which is exactly what the tech junkie sounds like. The shoes he wears have not yet been invented.
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