So as I passed him for the third time I smiled and said “You are rockin it!” and kept on my way.He wasn’t going fast… in all honesty he was more shuffling than anything but you could TELL that was his run.The writer said that he smiled back at her, so he must have felt encouraged by her comment. The post was about not judging others and not stereotyping them, which is a great message, so I'm not at all trying to attack the writer, but I have been thinking about this post for weeks because I have been on the receiving end of comments like that and I don't feel encouraged by them.
Does that sound weird? Here's why someone saying "You are AWESOME!" when I'm feeling terrible about how I'm doing doesn't encourage me -- because it's insincere. I know that they are saying that exactly because I am not looking awesome. The other runner is not acknowledging a fellow runner out there doing the workout from a place of equality. They wouldn't say that to another runner who is running the same speed as them, or even someone faster. I know they are saying it to me because even though I'm not technically plus-sized, I'm heavier than most runners. I always get very red when I run and people take that for a sign that I am unfit. An overly-enthusiastic comment makes me think they think I am a beginning runner even though I have been running for more than twenty years. That doesn't feel good. It feels terrible, actually. I try to remember the intention, because when this happens I can feel very angry.
Like I said, I don't think that this writer intended to be mean or condescending, and, as I said, the other runner apparently responded well to her comment. We're not all the same. Maybe he's not as neurotic about wanting to feel like part of the crowd as I am. But I suspect a lot of other runners would feel the same way I do.
When I was searching for this post I found blog posts called "how to encourage plus-size runners." My suggestion is not to think about how to encourage a plus-size runner. Treat runners of all sizes as if they are other runners. Smile, nod, wave, but don't go overboard with praise. Wasn't that the message of the post, not to judge?
The truth of the matter is that we don't rock it every workout. None of us do. Some workouts are just to get out there and put in the time. That's totally okay. I think that the true sign that you love something is that you are willing to do it badly. It's easy to feel motivated to go out and ace a workout, but some days I feel like crap and I know I'm going to run like crap but that I just need to do it anyway. I don't even wear a watch when I train because I don't want to get too hung up on my pace. After having several issues with injuries, I'm just happy to be running.
I don't mean to overanalyze all of this. If you happen to see me out running, don't be afraid to wave. I'm just another runner, after all.