Sunday, January 17, 2016

Silver Linings!

Why the sport of track is still awesome.

The IAAF shit show had me asking, “What’s the purpose of running?”
The question started as code for “I want to complain about everything and care about nothing. Because I can. I’ve been wronged! I’m having a crisis.”
What do runners do when they have a crisis? Half of us—the weirder half—go out and hammer a long run in silence while trying to cope with feelings. The other half (Like me!) talk to any runner and every runner (plus non runners and/or pets) who will listen or not listen! By the end, I was asking “What’s my purpose for running?”

All month, I’ve been talking to different runners and listening to their stories. Every single runner ended up talking about his or her purpose for running. Funny thing, no one’s purpose was money or fame (HAHA! FAME IN TRACK! JOKE OF THE YEAR. Except you, Usain Bolt. But you had to race a cheetah and be, you know, the fastest man ever of all time ever to get fame).
From my observation, professional runners get into the sport because (drumroll please!): we are better than most at it. This is not a sexy of a reason to like something, but it really is self-esteem boosting being objectively better than average at anything.

What is sexy is why we stay in the sport.

“I get a lot of self worth from trying to master a skill.”

“This is a journey of self-discovery: What are you made of?”

 “I’ve been given the time, some funds, and people who want to help. Not many people get that in anything they care about.”

“14 years in the sport and I still learn something new every day.”

“It’s exciting to devote your life to something and not be sure it will work out. It feels so sweet when it comes together. Kind of like love?”

“Running has taught me more than anything else about life.”

“I love my teammates. Being with them and celebrating their successes and supporting them though the losses is a bond that is hard to find elsewhere.”

“I like putting all my energy and emotion into something because I’m passionate about it.”

"We run to challenge ourselves and to truly see how good we can be and to find our limits. There aren't many professions where you actually find where your limits are and where you rank among your peers."

(not to mention:
“I like candy. And the more I run the more candy I can eat guilt free.”
“I like being able to fart without people judging me.”
“I like new running shoes.”
“I like sports, and this is the one I’m good at.”
But those are more superficial reasons and do not belong in this serious blog.)

Even though the corrupt people at the top are being terrible, they do not have much authority. We runners run because we like self-improvement, and we like company of other people who also like self-improvement. And dopers or money or IAAF nonsense doesn’t take it away.

And for the fans,
Still be fans.
Track is one of the few sports where the average joes and superstars are going through the same struggles. Our stories prove that humans can become superstars. And that superstars are human. These stories connect people. And then make people into better people.

And that’s why I still love track.

(If you want me to add your reason to the list, let me know, and I’ll add it to this blog.)


  1. This is great stuff, thanks for writing this! Going back to the basics and reflecting why you run always helps keep everything on track (pun intended)- love how the running community is generally a humble, quiet crowd who works extremely hard like yourself to accomplish tremendous things! Great point in how running connects and builds people into becoming better. Have a great season!

  2. Phoebe, oh Phoebe, your blog never damn funny, insightful, dry, witty, and flat out honest...yep, just plain refreshing as hell!! I've seen you run live many times, mostly at nationals, but we've never met..someday maybe!? If we do, please don't fart..cause, if you do, I'll laugh so hard you'll be more embarrassed by this weirdo you've been seen talking to, then from some little old fart that decided to join the festivities...By the way, nice 2015, really nice. As for 16, have at it. I'll be cheering from afar!

  3. I love this!! A friend of mine and I just went through a "running crisis" where we pondered the meaning of life and....why we run. Why we put ourselves through the tough track workouts, the tempo runs, the gut-busting-wind-sucking races to be...slightly faster than average runners? But as you've awesomely stated, there are so many reasons to stay in the sport and to keep pursuing our own versions of excellence in running. I love the running community and how our stories connect us and help us find meaning in our journey on earth. Great post!!

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  5. I'm going to go with the accessibility of the athletes!

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