As in most disciplines / activities / groups of people in life, there is a hierarchy. Running is no different. There is a totem pole of runner types for those that need a visual.
I experienced this range of runners while on my last “long” run before this coming Sunday’s marathon in San Francisco. I did 6.1 miles through the trails at the Redmond Watershed and my friend tacked on a few extra to his run since he is training for a marathon of his own at the end of November. We’ve run the watershed before and I took a likening to it because it’s not too hilly but there are some ups and downs to the trails. Plus, you’re in like this forest-land that makes you forget you are in a city!
The last time we were there, we came across other runners on a sunny summer day. I also recall a few families with small children walking the trails.
Last weekend was a bit different. The UW cross-country team was out. Yes, NCAA student-athletes that are quite fast. Pairs of them zoomed by us. A group of what looked like freshmen and sophomore girls ran by us one way and then turned back around and passed us again — all the while chatting. Being ready to run a marathon in a week, I had been feeling pretty confident in my training and fitness level, but running with the likes of these people, I felt slow, fat and slow.
Aside from the college runners, we saw two other “regular-type” runners like us that were out on the trails. They seemed pretty average-fit, definitely not what I would define as slow.
My friend commented on how all the elite runners are out first thing in the morning. He and I are mid-level so we were out in the morning, but not super early. Then he added that the slower, casual runners will be soon coming out.
Sure enough, as we drove out of the parking lot, I saw a man at the trail head.
“There’s our runner!” I said, and then laughed. And then I felt bad. He didn’t look like the most fit of runners, but hey, he was out there on a Sunday when others could have still been hung over in bed.
So, I guess at the very bottom of the totem pole are those who do not even have the motivation to get out on the trails in the first place.