More to Running Than Meets the Eye...

Hi All,

I'm writing a student article about what running means to people. I think it's seen as an odd thing to do by people who don't run, because people can't see any aim, objective, goal etc. Recreational footballers or cricketers don't get heckled, neither do tennis players or golfers, but we do! Why? Perhaps because we look like loners? Maybe it's the kit some of us wear? Do you agree that running is seen as an odd pastime by the general public, and if so why?

Can you try to describe how you feel about running? How do you feel when running - what does it do for you? How would you convince those who ridicule and heckle that there's more to running than meets the eye?

Any interesting heckling stories (apart from 'Run, Forrest, run! We've all had that one...) or views from friends or family members who just don't see the point in running; have you managed to change their mind?

Muchos Thankios,



  • Hog-mouseHog-mouse ✭✭✭

    NO - I don't think that running is seen as an odd thing to do.

    S to why we get heckled - quite easy, we run on the streets. footballers play on fields in a group - they do get heckled by the crowds that go to watch any match btw. Tennis players - again, play on courts, usually surrounded by a tall fence, not to easy to heckle. - Golfers again play on golf courses away from the 'general publis' or those likely to heckle.

    Never really spoken to anyone who doesn't see the point in running. They may not ever wish to run themselves but most people 'see the point' - fitness, competition, achievement, etc. The 'aims / objectives / goals' as you put them are quite clear - ust about everyone did some form of pe at school so have some knowledge of what running is about.

    As I don't get heckled I can't really relate any stories. Often yound kids want to run with us when I'm out with a group - usually they are very friendly and are having fun running around the block - it's as much about them achieving - keeping up with us as best they can. I have had teens do the same when I've been out on my own - wanting to be able to keep up or outrun me for a sense of personal achievement.

    On the whole most people are friendly.

  • Yet another student using his first post to get us to write his essay ......

    Wonder if we can start charging for this service ?

  • @DtS - it's research.
  • Great Idea Dave!

    Right, I'm charging £5 per word and will be happy to ramble on for as long as you like.....

    (sits back to await offers) image

  • A lot of people don't "get" running...

    In much the same way that I don't "get" train spotting or bird watching...

    *shrugs shoulders*

  • Paul,

    have a look for an article called 'Sensing the Run' by JOhn Hockey.

  • That'll be £21 please...  I'll give you a student discount so make it £20.

  • Is it really seen as an old pastime? I thought more then ever people were out there running.

    I dont get heckled. Mind you, I run in the mornings when it's quiet & I've got the iPod on so I wouldn't hear any comments anyway.

    Some people will joke that they don't see the point of running unless they're being chased, but I think nowadays with health/fitness/body image being such a huge factor is our lives running is seen as a very normal thing to do.

    Hockey article

    THink you would find footballers DO get heckled....

  • I echo what Bikermouse said.

    If you mean though that some people don't get the high or the why running takes over your life to the point that it's the only thing you talk about, then a lot of runners don't get that either, myself included.

  • I don't believe that it is perceived as "normal" by the general public. 

    I do believe though that we like to surround ourselves with people who do similar things, have similar interests and similar values, and hence you get the perception that something is "normal"...

    My sedentary office colleagues don't think running as short a distance as 3 miles is "normal".  It's a distance they would get the car out for!!

    Likewise some shorter distance runners don't think that running ultras is "normal"...

    To the original poster...

    Be a bit more focussed on what you want to get out of this "research"...  I mean what is the actual question you're trying to answer???

    • How does running make you feel?
    • Do non-runners understand running?
    • Why do hecklers heckle?

    Those are all completely different question that don't necessarily have any bearing on each other.

    Some hecklers heckle because they're twats... nothing to do with running.

  • I think it is seen as normal by the general public when it's done for fitness.

    Granted someone may see it as weird if you ran to the shops, but only because it's engrained in us to take our car when we get shopping.

    Non-runners may think you're 'crazy' for getting up early at the weekend to go for a run, but then it's not the act of running that they find abnormal.

    Extreme ironing, now that's not on the normal radar!

  • I'm not sure heckling is a particularly productive line of investigation - as Nam said, most people who do it do so because they're twats. As a runner, you put yourself out there, alone, wearing gear that's not normal street wear, and frequently looking tired and sweaty. That's more than enough for the average chav to shout something that makes himself look big (he believes) in front of his mates. But the same bloke would probably also dish out the same treatment to, say, two blokes/girls holding hands, someone who's not white, any young woman on her own, etc. etc. It says a lot more about the hecklers than it does about running.

    As for 'normal' people who don't 'get' running, most of my friends, colleagues, or family do understand what it's about - at least as regards the fitness aspect - and often say things like 'I wish I could do that'. Fitness and a good body shape are pretty well admired in society nowadays. The buzz of achievement is also generally well understood, and if folks don't get that from running, they'll be familiar with it from other activities. Maybe the obsessive side is the part that's hardest to explain. In fact, I can't really explain that to myself...

  • Jeez Louise! I wasn't expecting such a speedy response, but then you are runners I suppose. Absolutely brilliant, thanks to everyone. 

    I know people get heckled playing football, but that's usually by a watching crowd, and because they either make a mistake or are playing for the other team. But they don't get heckled purely for playing football, people don't heckle lads in a park having a kick-about, do they? But runners do get heckled just for running. But you're right, Doug, runners are out there alone on the streets, wearing 'strange' clothing, among 'normal' people, and twatty-hecklers will always pick on those in a minority.

    But apart from heckling, I'm looking at how different running is to any other sporting activity - it doesn't appear to have a purpose, such a ball to chase, targets to aim at, goals or holes. I know it does have those things, and we runners know its times, personal achievements, goals, fitness and general well-being, but it's not obvious like other sports. Even cycling and swimming appear to be understood or accepted more because there's more to bikes such as engineering, special equipment, sometimes fast speeds, and swimming just looks refreshing splashing about in all that water.

    I think due to the personal nature of running, its simplicity, and the lack of tangible opponent, target, competition, goal, many people find it hard to understand why we do it.   

    Running is thought by many to be boring. Distance running is hardly a spectator sport is it? So I really want to reveal to non-runners why it is that runners run. Of course there's the fitness, wanting to look good, but is there anything else? Something deeper perhaps?

    Muchos thankios again,


  • Doug Hughes wrote (see)

    Maybe the obsessive side is the part that's hardest to explain. In fact, I can't really explain that to myself...

    Not all runners are obsessive though.

    Running is just one of many things I enjoy doing. Sometimes I devote more time to it, sometimes less, it depends on what races are coming up and what else is going on at the time. I wouldn't want to stop completely but it is certainly not my single - or even main - focus in life.

    I think due to the personal nature of running, its simplicity, and the lack of tangible opponent, target, competition, goal, many people find it hard to understand why we do it.   

    Are races not "competitions"  are race times not "targets and goals"? Just saying.

    As for the opposition - well that can sometimes be oneself can't it? - Perhaps that's the indefinable thing?  Most sportsmen and women measure themselves by others. They are faster/slower, they win/they lose.

    Most runners are only racing themselves.

  • Paul Carstairs wrote (see)

     Distance running is hardly a spectator sport is it?

    Reckon the BBC and all those who recently watched a few runners jogging around a few old buildings in London the other day might disagree.

  • hi

     no its not an odd thing to do. its keeping fit.

     ive never been heckled and if i did i'd crowbar the heckler image

  • "Runners" are not a homogenous group and what motivates people to run differs vastly between different people.....

    Some run for PBs and are very competetive, some run just for pleasure,
    some enter races, some don't ever race,
    some people write down all their training with a view to improving, some people don't,
    some people run to escape problems... many start after a divorce or to cope with grief
    some people use it as a general stress management mechanism,
    some people run cos it's the only 'me time' they get in a hectic life,
    some people aren't 'emotional' runners at all,
    some people run for weight loss, or to improve poor health... many don't,
    for some people running facilitates another sport like triathlon, some people just run
    running means the world to some people and they would be soul destroyed if told you can never run again
    to other people it's nowhere near that meaningful at all....

    People's reasons for running are just soooo broad...  so if you want to "reveal to non runners why runners run" then you'll need to get your head around the fact that runners are not at all a homogenous group, but as broad spectrum as society at large, and their motivations for running will be equally varied.

  • JT141JT141 ✭✭✭
    The "heckling" thing is a bit of a red herring. For one I don't think abuse is all that common or regular experience. For another that it does sometimes happen offers no insight into the subsect of people who run. It only demonstrates that there is another subsection of people who shout at strangers in the street. Their perception of runners, or anything much, isn't particularly relevant.

    I think some people do think of running as slightly masochistic, and consider it willfully putting yourself through a bad experience. For a complete novice to suddenly run 5 miles that would be fairly accurate. But of course once you've built up your fitness and experience that's not how it feels. It's tiring and challenging, but not painful or unpleasant.
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