fitness · running

Inspired by running race signs, a modest proposal…

As much as I love writing for this blog, I also love reading blog posts here at Fit is a Feminist Issue. Tuesday’s post was by Nicole, our newest blogger– welcome Nicole! She wrote about her half-marathon, in which she was aware of previous injuries and pains. She experienced new sensations– some painful– during the race. I’m not going to spoil the ending– you can check it out here.

One thing she wrote really struck me: some of the runners were wearing signs that they were kind of injured, but doing the race anyway. I had never heard of such a thing. It’s…

Pure Genius, stenciled on pavement. By Lance Grandahl for Unsplash.
Pure Genius, stenciled on pavement. By Lance Grandahl for Unsplash.

This idea may not appeal to everyone. Some folks may want to be more private about their injuries. I have one friend who is super-private about her health and injury status, which made it really awkward when I accidentally blurted out to, oh 9 or 10 people that she’d had orthopedic surgery. Oops! Sorry (again).

Sometimes our injuries are noticeable to the outside world, so we don’t have control over that information. Other times they aren’t. On the plus side, it means we can try to be just one of the crowd, trotting along (albeit possibly slower or in a different way). But there are several minuses to having non-visible injuries: we might not get the support we need or want. We might get further injured by trying to move along at a pace or in a way we’re not up to. And, we might not finish, or reach the goals we had set for ourselves at the start line.

By the way, I’m using the word “injury” in a broad sense, mainly for its metaphoric power. I’m not trying to distinguish among injuries, disabilities, and other body changes or states here. I’m just going with the metaphor for now, and hoping you’ll go with me.

There’s a lot written on this blog about mobility, (dis)ability, and movement. Sam has written about her knee brace (lots of times, but check out here here here to start), and also about her new Brompton foldable bike as a mobility aid.

We’ve also written a lot about invisible injuries– from stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, life events, etc. There are too many to link to, but you’ve probably read some of them.

So, to my inspired proposal: wouldn’t it be nice if we could get the support in life for our visible and invisible mind-body states the way you do in a race? Here’s what I have in mind.

  1. Pace bunnies at the ready for long work days, labor-intensive times, finishing that thing you just cannot seem to get done.

I think pace bunnies are the best thing ever. In case this is new to you, they are runners who go at a specified pace; it could be for the whole race, or paced her km/mile. Here are some:

2. Bystanders not actively involved in what we’re doing, but there watching, offering us support, humor, affection, solidarity, the occasional warning, and a reality check that what we’re doing is hard but awesome.

3. Help, when we need it, from friends or family or colleagues or random strangers to make it across whatever line is ahead of us.

4. Permission from ourselves and others to DNF (did/do not finish) when we need to. Finishing isn’t always the right thing to do, and it’s not always possible. We can use some help with that, too.

I don’t have pictures for this one, as it’s hard to illustrate what it’s like to stop doing something. Also, there are lots of fitspo quotes telling you not to DNF. But here’s an article in praise of the DNF. It gives good advice for when to stop racing, which I will add to here:

  • when you can no longer stomach fuel or fluids (or can’t sleep, eat, function)
  • when an injury forces you to stop (we get hurt a lot and try to ignore it; maybe don’t)
  • when you catch a bug (or are ill, under the weather– don’t gut it out)
  • when– even after resting– your condition has not improved (I love this one! If we go back to it, and rest hasn’t helped, maybe this task or direction is not for us)

I’m not a runner (at all). But I wish I had race fans and fellow runners and helpers and lists of tips to help me sprint/slog/trudge/opt out of days that are hard.

Oh, wait a minute– I do! You! Thank you readers and bloggers (in addition to the people in my regular life)!

You = awesome!
You = awesome!

So, readers– any thoughts about getting support around DNFs, injuries, bonking, slogging through, in races or not? We’d love to hear from you.

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