Talkin’ bout runnin’

I have a friend who nearly gags every time she sees one of those “26.2″ or “13.1″ stickers on a car bumper, signifying that the driver has run a marathon or a half-marathon, respectively.

“Honestly, what’s the big deal?,” she says, as she gives the death glare to a sticker. “I could run that far too if I really wanted to. These people aren’t better than me! THEY’RE NOT BETTER THAN ME!!” Or something along those lines.

She sounds a little bitter, no? But maybe she has a bit of a point. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of running a marathon or half-marathon, or even a 10k (PRR, holler!) or 5k, especially if you’re new to running. But there is a subset of people who are Runners (with a capital R) and they don’t want you to forget it.

These are the people who start seemingly every sentence with, “Oh, well when I ran my first marathon…” and give you those, “It’s a running thing, you wouldn’t understand,” types of looks if you haven’t taken a sip of the running cult Kool-Aid. These are the people who tend to intimidate new runners and, unfortunately, deter those who want to start running from taking it up.

On the whole though, though, I think this is a small minority of runners. Almost all of the people I’ve met through running are laid-back and more than excited to welcome new runners into the fold. They run for fun or to improve their health, not because they want to brag or flaunt their marathon gear all over town.

And to those people, I say: Display your sticker proudly. There’s a fine line between being boastful and being proud, and no matter which way you cut it, running any distance — from a 5k for a beginner to a supermarathon for a veteran — is an accomplishment.

What do you think? Do you feel OK talking to your non-running friends about your running? Do you get annoyed with people who talk running all the time?

13 comments Add your comment


May 3rd, 2011
3:08 pm

I have only been running 3 1/2 years and I don’t really “love it” but it challenges me. I ran two 1/2 marathons and 1 full last year and I do proudly boast my 13.1 and 26.2 magnets on my car. I am an average runner, 40 – 50% in most major runs, with a few awards for my age group. I like to talk about running but only when asked. Because of my running, I have encouraged several of my friends to workout, walk, run and become healthy. I don’t feel like I brag, maybe to some it seems that way, but if I can “brag” and get people to get off the couch then so be it. I do it for health, fun and the social aspect of it and I hope that I also encourage others to do the same. :-)


May 3rd, 2011
3:29 pm

The reason it is a big deal for me is that it keeps my weight off. 2 years ago, I weighed over 300 pounds. I made it down to 193 when I ran the Peachtree for the first time last year. I ran my first Half at Disney in January and yes….I have one of those 13.1 stickers. I am proud that I made that accomplishment when I couldn’t have run to the mailbox and back 2 years ago. I am in my middle 50s and have a goal of running in an event in each state, which is probably not realistic but will be fun giving it a shot.

Thomas H. Pate

May 3rd, 2011
4:00 pm

You should not identify those with the 26.2 sticker with those who intimidate or deter others from taking up the sport. I think you have the wrong idea there. My wife is an organizer and local cheerleader for running who has inspired many to take up the sport, and she sports that sticker, as I myself do.


May 3rd, 2011
10:09 pm

I ran my sixth half marathon last year, my first in 20 years. I’m running two this year. No stickers, but I wear the shirts proudly. I’ve found the running snobs to generally consist of younger employees at running shoe stores or recently graduated college runners. Everyone else is helpful and friendly.


May 4th, 2011
5:21 am

A marathon is the greatest athletic accomplishment that most normal people can do. And I believe that anyone who sets their mind to it, can do it. Not without pain, not without sacrifice. Not without dedication. Completing it in any time means that you set your sights on a demanding physical goal and accomplished it. So go ahead, be proud and put that sticker on your car to tell others not just that you did it, but that they can too.


May 4th, 2011
12:30 pm

I’m a 51 year old ex-runner. I started running at age 14. By 20 I had run 9 marathons including one that I won. I ran for the next 36 years (with varying competitive levels) and I can honestly say only about three of those years were injury-free. After numerable bouts of plantar fascitis, calf strains, groin strains, flattened feet (which fifteen years of orthotics didn’t help), stress fractures, atrial fibrillation, and finally a herniated disc which required surgery..I gave it up. I’m not trying to bash marathon running..running marathons is more popular than ever now..but (at least in my case) running for the long term is detrimental to your health if you aren’t careful. I don’t know if running causes joint and bone problems but I can tell you what running does to your body over decades…unless you have perfectly symetrical anatomy..continued running will produce muscle imbalances in your body..especially in your hips and butt…which can be the source of just about every running injury and also lower back problems. When I started running no one knew anything about core training but it is the most important thing you can do besides running to have a long running career. Be proud of your running but also be smart.


May 4th, 2011
1:07 pm

The people who put those stickers on their vehicles are the same ones who avoid telling you their time and finish standing.


May 4th, 2011
1:21 pm

@ lame – I agree. Most of the people who put the stickers on their cars are the ones who walked a marathon in 7+ hours just to cross it off their bucket list.

@ Yvonne – I’m not sure who these “running snobs” are you speak of. Most people who are fast runners/long distance runners had to work hard to get there and have every right to speak of their accomplishments proudly.

more car sticker observations

May 4th, 2011
1:56 pm

While we’re on the car sticker subject, what about those people with the white oval stickers containing abbreviations for certain states, landmarks, yuppie beaches, etc? What’s with those conformist tools?


May 4th, 2011
3:50 pm

@Thomas, @Pat21: I definitely agree — running a marathon is a huge accomplishment! I’m just talking about the small minority of people who seem to look down their nose at runners who aren’t as hardcore as they are. I’ve definitely encountered a handful of people like that over the years, but like I said, they’re a small minority.

I absolutely don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a sticker on your car as long as you’re supportive of other runners, which it sounds like everyone here is!

@more car: Now *those* are stickers I never understood.

Gen Neyland

May 4th, 2011
6:44 pm

After 20 years of taking this sport seriously, I’ve found that sharing experiences and picking the brains of other runners as a learning tool can be valuable. It’s the ones that wear it on their sleeve (not their cars) who offer pompous unsolicited advice that wear thin. Thankfully, those folks are few and far between. Sharing experiences can have positive effects…Sharing is the key word…


May 5th, 2011
7:36 am

I don’t see anything wrong with the stickers. If I get to read about how freaking special your children are for making the honor roll, why not read about my running? Completeing a marathon is a pretty awesome accomplishment. Nothing wrong at all in a little pride.

Also, in regards to prolonged running can be dangerous to your health: Pretty much every activity these days has people saying that it is “damaging to your health”….I think running has far more positives than negatives. Just a thought.


May 6th, 2011
9:22 pm

I don’t know of any running snobs and I have been running for over 30 years. Its like with wealth, if you are nouveau riche, you are going to flaunt it. But if you have had it, its not a big deal. I think that all serious runners who have been at it for a while realize that there are always folks faster than you, and thus, are quite humble. Those who have the Boston Marathon finisher jackets or the 26.2, 70.3, or 140.6 magnets aren’t bragging. They are mementos of their dedication to training and sacrifice.