It’s all relative. Some of us are willing to do more than others to get faster.
If you’ve read my sister’s post about recognizing what you’re willing to do to maximize your training, you know that it’s all relative: super fast runners Shalane and Kara earned their success at Boston this year because they were willing to make sacrifices necessary to pursue running as a career. Runners like them shape their lives around training: they pay coaches and therapists, they travel all over to races and push hard. But why not you? Why not me? If we’re willing to sacrifice everything, if we train as long and as intensively we could do it too, right?
Well, maybe. But a lot of us have other stuff going on in our lives that precludes all that. For me, and I know for many of you too, it’s a financial burden, and I can’t run away from that. Does that make me unwilling, or is it okay to feel like I’m not able?
This stuff is expensive!
First off, don’t give me that “all you need is a pair of shoes” crap. Because I’m going to counter you with, “shoes cost a buttload of money when you’re running high mileage, and you also need time.” And as we all know, time is money.
I don’t want to get too deep into my own financials, of course, but point blank, I don’t make a lot of money and I live in one of the most expensive cities in the United States. Granted, I don’t work as much as I could, but my physically intensive 14-hour-a-day job can get a little prohibitive to race training as well. I consider myself very, very lucky that I can have days off here and there, during which I can rest my body from all that heavy lifting, stair climbing and the long hours on my feet and also squeeze some extra training in on the side.
It’s often that I find work and running at odds with one another…in fact, I very nearly had to work the day before the Brooklyn Half Marathon. The half for which I’ve been training since January. The half that’s supposed to be my big comeback and my first step toward a BQ marathon. If I had a desk job and would be out of there by 5 it wouldn’t be a big deal, but as a filmmaker, anything goes – I could be outdoors in the rain until 4am.
Plenty of us have different work schedules than the traditional nine-to-fivers. We work retail. We work in food service. We offer childcare. We are health care staff and practitioners. We’re teachers. We’re single moms. We have two or three jobs. A lot of us have trouble making ends meet, and the financial stresses and the challenge of having nontraditional work and life schedules can make running a very appealing escape indeed.
So we run. But is it irresponsible of us to run when often our jobs don’t afford us health care? In the event of injury that can leave us financially screwed–which I know all too well, as I’m still paying off the credit card debt I accrued from physical therapy last year when I was injured. I often wonder how professional runners handle this; they can’t possibly make enough money to pay for insurance on their own, and certainly not low-deductible insurance. Are they all married to wealthy spouses? Of course not-plenty are married to their coaches. Perhaps they’re all under 26 with benevolent parents and no student loans, like the athletic equivalent of HBO’s Girls? Impossible; not all of them. I know it’s got to be hard for them too.
So we run…carefully. And we want to get faster as much as the next gal, but when we’re scrambling for rent the first of every month and can’t afford to see a doctor and even the fee to a race is a financial burden, how can we even consider weekly massage therapy, personal coaching sessions, or paying for access to a gym that isn’t even open during hours we can go?
In the movies, we have a term called “poor man’s process,” which refers to shooting a scene that takes place in a car without making the car actually move. You just use lighting tricks and green screens or backdrops to give the illusion of movement. You’ve likely noticed it in old movies before, when the backdrop looks blatantly fake between the two heads of the characters in the car. Well that’s what I feel like I’m doing with my training. It’s a poor man’s process, and the best I can hope for is a substandard, hokey replica of the real deal.
I want to get faster. And I know I need help to do that. Winging it on my own just isn’t working…my nutrition could use tweaking, my recovery methods are clearly not enough and my knee and piriformis continue to nag me; something about my hip alignment is off. I could use monthly PT or chiropractor visits to constantly work at correcting the issue. I could use weekly massage visits, or at the very least, regular yoga classes to keep me on top of my flexibility. Or hell, even just the extra time to get a weekly massage or yoga class in would be nice.
To say I’m willing to do what’s necessary to get faster is an understatement; I’m not just willing, I’m longing for it. I salivate at the thought of a real coach or a real gym or a real doctor or the time to get in the ancillary training I need. The idea of having those things gives me warm fuzzy unicorn rainbows in my tummy.
But frankly, I just can’t afford it.
Do you sometimes feel like you’re too poor to run?