“I could complain, but who would listen?” – Marcus Truman responding to my question “How are you?”
A couple of issues ago, Pete Magill’s regular column featured what amounted to a rant. Pete Magill is a national-class master’s runner, age-group record holder in the 5k, well-regarded coach, and until now, not someone I’d lump into the “grumplestiltskin” runner category. You know the type – always griping about poor race management, inconsiderate drivers, track etiquette, or some niggling injury. Kind of like, well…me, I guess.
The column really rubbed me the wrong way, on numerous levels. In fact, the latest issue of RT included one response telling Pete to stop whining. Of course, there were two other responses applauding Pete for airing common common complaints, illustrating that Magill’s gripes were far from groundless. Still, in the spirit of discourse, I feel the need to respond with my own list of gripes. My gripes with his gripes. That’s a lot of gripes.
Gripe #1: Mr. Magill’s hatred of dogs off-leash. Look, I’ve been charged by dogs off-leash, dodged more than one bite with a swift boot to a pup, and engaged in verbal altercations with irresponsible pet owners. But sniffing? Seriously? How can you possibly be afraid or annoyed with a dog who sniffs you. Everybody knows that a dog’s nose is the same as a human’s eyes. Little guy’s just checking you out, figuring out what your deal is. These days, when I run past dogs off leash, I simply give them a wide berth, and approach cautiously. Maybe even use that handy stop button on my watch while I suss things out.
Gripe #2: Mr. Magill’s fear of colds. Seriously? Hey, I get that having 2% body fat means you’re vulnerable to infection. But really, the world is a giant germ. Eat more bacon, carry hand sanitizer, and roll around in the dirt once in a while.
Gripe #3: Mr. Magill’s refusal to run against traffic. OK, I get this is more of a rhetorical debate than anything supported by statistical data. Running with traffic is one of two methods, and I guess counting on a driver *never* swerving out of his or her lane while approaching you from behind will work. It’s not like there are teenagers out there who talk, text, Twitter, and Facebook, all at the same time as driving? Right? And those same distracted drivers have never run over pedestrians they never even saw. Yeah, thing is, I’ve been hit by oncoming traffic, and the only reason I didn’t break a bone or worse is because I saw it coming and had a fraction of a second to prepare. As we say in my business, the best way to avoid an accident is to see it coming and avoid it. “See” would be the critical function in this debate…
Gripe #4: Mr. Magill’s inability to do anything not on his running schedule. This was just straight up whining, pure and simple. As I’ve been told numerous times, “we all make choices.” In this case, Mr. Magill has chosen an ascetic, and apparently really boring (no impromptu bike rides? oh, the humanity!) lifestyle. Anything worth achieving requires sacrifice, so suck it up and keep your complaints to yourself. Which leads me to my fifth and final gripe.
Gripe #5: Mr. Magill’s list of ten things he hates about running. Pete, you have a (usually) great column, chock-full of great wisdom regarding training. Stick with what works.
So, that’s it. I guess the answer to the quote at beginning of this post is, “whoever hears me,” or in this case, the lucky three people who will read this post.
Interesting post. Make that four readers of this post. I enjoyed the gripes.
I read Pete’s article a few years ago, and loved every piece of it. Here’s my defense of his points, with regards specifically to your 5 counter-points. #1 – Sniffing dogs. When you’re/I’m in the middle of a tempo run, and a dog comes at me, sometimes it’s hard to tell if he’s going to sniff, bite, tangle my legs, or anything else. I don’t think Pete literally meant sniffing dogs, but was just expanding for humor/entertainment sake. BUT if he was being literal, I agree. Keep dogs under control, for safety reasons and to not disrupt a hard run. Also, if you’re any kind of serious runner, you don’t just stop in the middle of your run to “suss things out”…(PS – I LOVE dogs, and have one named Zatopek. Just FYI). #2 – YES! I’ve seen athletes of all sports get side-lined or have their performance greatly hindered from their championship competition due to a little cold. When we are at our physical peak for endurance sports (and others), our immune system is at it’s most vulnerable. So, it actually is very serious. Especially for world-class athletes. #3 – I always used to run against traffic (note the past tense). After moving to a busier neighborhood, and almost getting hit from people pulling out of apartment parking lot driveways numerous times, I now run with traffic for that stretch. SO many people only look left if they’re turning right. I catch myself doing it, and I guarantee you do it too. So, actually, running with traffic is safer for this. #4 – If you’ve ever done any serious training you would understand this. Pete wasn’t whining, he was simply stating something he “hates” about running. But, obviously he accepts this fact and continues to train. We all like getting A’s, but maybe we’d rather party than study. But we still sacrifice partying for studying… #5 – Pete’s article was fun, funny, “too true”, and a little different than just an advice column.
Serious is as serious does, I suppose, Andy. But as much as I loved RT and Pete’s columns before RT folded, it still stands out to me as his weakest piece of writing. That being said, I’d put up with a few more of these if it meant that RT was back on the street.
I wish RT was back out also! It was my favorite running mag….