Is your catchphrase “I’m not a joiner?” Do you feel a wave of nausea when you hear the phrase “fun run?” Do you scoff when you see other runners doing things you think are “dorky?” You just may be suffering from a common disorder called cynicism.
But have no fear, dear reader. Like you, I once was afflicted with cynicism in my running life. But in the last couple of years since my dear sister recruited me to write for Salty Running I have discovered the cure: a heavy dose of doing all the things you think are dorky. If you try even a few of them, you may even find yourself having a great time and making some friends instead of sneering under your usual snarky storm cloud.
To start you on your journey, here are five suggestions for “dorky” things every runner should try!
1. Go to National Running Day (or any running related event you deem less necessary than your speed work). New York Road Runners had a little table set up in the park for National Running Day. My old self would have huffed and run right by, but my new self went an hour out of my way just to go! I sunk into the dorkiness of it, making friends with the NYRR employees, putting my National Running Day bandana on my head and even wearing my dorky National Running Day bib. Did I feel like a dork? Yes. Was it fun? HELL YES!
2. Put Your Name on Your Shirt. This one is a classic dork move, much like wearing the race shirt at the race, and fuel belts (sorry, Julia, I couldn’t resist). Brazenly sporting your name across your chest (or belly or back or forehead, what have you) at your next race will definitely earn you a couple of snickers from other cynics, but you’ll have the last laugh when everyone is cheering for you. When I’m spectating at a race, I love it when I can shout someone’s name, and it helps Cindy or Beth or Diana know I’m cheering for her. Pro tip: if you use gaff tape like I did at the ’12 Wineglass Marathon, be sure to secure it with a few whipstitches; mine wilted from sweat and peeled off around mile 9.
3. Run in a Costume (even if it’s not Halloween). It doesn’t have to be Halloween for a costume to liven things up. Superheroes are very popular at the races these days, but for extra thrills, try running in a gorilla suit, running in bunny ears, running in an Elvis jumpsuit, running in sparkly or shiny anything, tall socks, argyle socks, sparkly or shiny socks, socks with gorillas on them, a t-shirt that says “I’m a Pirate!” or any other weakly viable costume option.
As long as you can breathe in it, you can run in it. And when you go by, people will cheer for you! Go guy-in-the-pizza-suit!
4. Run in a tutu (in public). Oh, you cynics out there know you’ve sneered at them before, those tutu runners. But deep down there’s a part of you that thinks it’s funny and cute. I dare you to slip one on and not feel a little bit like a fairy princess. Not even the most cynical of runners could deny a little extra spring in her step when wearing a poof of tulle around her butt. Wasabi took the tutu to the next level during the New Orleans Half a couple of years ago. In fact, everything she suggests in her post is a good idea for a cynical runner!
5. Be the Greatest Fan to Ever Cheer on the Sidelines, Even When You’re By Yourself. At the Brooklyn Half Marathon this year, at one of the toughest parts of the race, where most “fans” are actually just Hasidim and grumpy elderly Russian ladies trying to figure out how to cross the road, this guy was there:
His farmer tan and patriotic underpants lit a fire under even the most cynical of all of us runners at a crucial moment, and every one of my teammates cited him as a motivator. Whoever you are, thank you!
Now, my cynical friend, it’s your turn. Close your eyes and imagine…[wait, don’t close your eyes, keep reading. Just imagine.] You know how hard those desolate parts of the race are, the sections where there are no fans. And ever thoughtful, you have deployed yourself to the most remote location on the course to help the cheering effort. The only problem is that you are the only. one. there. Or worse, there are some people, but you don’t know them and they’re standing aloofly about twenty feet away from you. If you act like a dork, they could judge you!
But it’s no problem, because you read this post! You know that when the going gets tough, the tough get dorky, because dorky is fun! Welcome to Cowbell City, Population: 1! Scream your head off! Cheer louder than anyone at the finish line will! Ring your cowbell with glee and shout the names of other dorks with their names on their shirts! Cheer for the costumes and the tutus! Scream congratulatories to everyone who is wearing the race shirt at the race!
You (and your tutu) are the great white (pink? sparkly!) hope for these people. You are no longer a cynic! You believe! You believe in them and yourself and a dorkier, better world for all! And unicorns! Unicorns are real!
Have you ever tried something you once thought was dorky? How did it make you feel?