Initially, I wanted to retaliate, and defend myself and my fellow runners. Stafko starts his post by criticizing the “26.2” and “13.1” stickers that litter the bumpers of vehicles belonging to runners. I’ll give him that one. I’m not a fan of those either. But I don’t have a car.
This is the nature of running; it’s easiest to do it outside and impossible to do it without being seen. The gym, yeah maybe, but have you ever tried to cover several miles on a belt? I’d rather be sedentary. Stafko assumes that runners run because we want to be seen by others. Briefly after the above quote he adds, “People want attention and crave appreciation. If you're actually doing something like running—covering ground, staying healthy, almost even having fun—what better way to fulfill the look-at-me desire? The lone runner is a one-person parade. Yay.”
A one-person parade? Please. I agree that as an American society, hell, as humans, we want and crave attention and there are a wealth of social media sites available to us when we feel the need to be validated and accepted by others. Stafko even says something similar when he qualifies that not all runners are self-absorbed. It would seem that Stafko’s real problem is with our media-obsessed world and that he’s taking the blame out on runners. I’ll credit Stafko with acknowledging the influence that social media has on humans, something that’s already widely known, but I refuse to believe that in general, runners run because they need to feel validated by those who happen to see them. Sorry Stafko, but for most, running isn’t about showing off.
For me, running is selfish. I run because of how it makes me feel. I feel like a bad-ass when I run. Do I look like one? Do others perceive me as one? I don’t know and I don’t care. Running reminds me of where I’ve been and where I’ve come and what I’m capable of. It has shaped me into the person I’ve always wanted to be and tested my physical, emotional, and mental limits. My hope through my writing is to inspire and encourage others to find something like running that shapes them into the people they want to be by constantly challenging and rewarding them. If that thing is running, great. If it’s not, great. What’s most important is having something that’s all yours, that you can selfishly own. Clearly Stafko is not a runner, great, but my hope would be that he has an activity or hobby of his own. Perhaps it’s picking on runners?
Another worthwhile read on the subject here.