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Why dickheads don't run


The Long Run

Pip Coates was a swimmer until life got busy and she discovered the addictive simplicity of running. She's never looked back.

View more entries from The Long Run

At its heart, running is a social activity. Sure, there are probably pathological loners out there who will only run solo and shun company at all costs, but, for the rest of us, meeting other runners is one of the great pleasures of our sport.

You hook up with other runners in training sessions and before and after races and you bump in to them when you’re out for a run.

You even connect in “non-running” situations - and as soon as someone finds out you’re one of the singlet and shorts mob in a social setting or at work, you’ll quickly find yourself in a running conversation.

And here’s the thing: everyone you meet who runs will be a nice person. Guaranteed.

Or, to put it another way in what I am now calling Galvin’s Law – Dickheads Don’t Run.

It’s something I’ve been turning over in my mind recently (while out training, naturally), not from any lightbulb moment but rather as a result of a series of small incidents, such as a bloke I came across while on my favourite national park training run.

I was wearing a t-shirt from a particular race and he was coming the other way on the trail, bushwalking.

“Hey, I’ve got one of those,” he said.

Naturally, we stopped to chat about races done and people we knew in common. He has a lot more experience than me but was naturally supportive, encouraging and ... nice. It was a five minute chat that made my day.

Then, last week, I had the privilege of talking to some of the amazing people from the Achilles Running Club. The Achilles runners train with people with a disability,  allowing them to enjoy the experience and benefits of running.

The Sydney chapter of the club has existed since the mid-90s and mainly helps blind people get out for a run. Ellis Janks is one of the club’s driving forces and brings an extraordinary passion and commitment to his volunteering.

I asked him whether it was occasionally galling that he was pretty much invisible alongside the person he is guiding, even in ultramarathons.

“I’m used to that,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. The focus is always on the bloke doing the real hard yards.”

In other words: “Yes, I might be knackered and hurting bad, but it’s not about me. I’m here for someone else.”

And, finally, I did a lovely race a couple of weeks ago – the Coastal Classic through the Royal National Park south of Sydney. About 400 runners took part and, at times, it was a bit squeezy along the single-track sections. But everyone was good-humoured, polite, happy and ... nice.

Niceness it seems is one of the unusual, defining characteristics of our sport.

I’ve got a mate who plays over-40s soccer and the stories he tells me of niggle, bad behaviour and bloody-minded rudeness on the football pitch are a total contrast to everything I come across in the running community.

Whether nice, generous people are drawn to running or whether running turns people nice, I really don’t know. In the end it probably doesn’t matter.

All I know is that hanging out with runners is always a good thing.

Do you agree? What is your experience of the running community? Do nice people run or does running make them nice?



90 comments so far

  • I don't even know where to start with this article... two points I'll make.

    1) not all runners are nice, I can guarantee that and could probably write an equally unsustainable black and white article at a pinch asserting the exact opposite to you

    2) football and the like are directly confrontational sports and the simple fact is most humans enjoy that aspect of them as much as the finesse and skill aspect. That doesn't make them bad people once you shake hands at the end.

    Don't get it
    Date and time
    September 27, 2012, 11:50AM
    • What a ridiculous claim. There are nice people and not-so-nice people in any pursuit. For all you know the bloke you met on the track goes home and sets fire to bugs with a magnifying glass for kicks.

      Date and time
      September 27, 2012, 12:04PM
      • What are you saying Shane? Bug burning is a bad thing?

        Pyro Boy
        Date and time
        September 27, 2012, 2:25PM
    • I think it's more to do with empathy. Running competitively is hard. You don't have the energy or capacity to waste on trivial mean-spirited behavour. You also (if you are like me!) are thinking that the other person I am crossing paths with is hurting just as much as me so I should show them some compassion. Contrast that with the guys on the soccer pitch who might make up for their lack of activity by winning the mental game (the old adage if you can't win the game, win the fight comes to mind).

      Date and time
      September 27, 2012, 12:10PM
      • Another display of fitness fanatic's superiority complex. What a ridiculous generalisation.

        Wow, runners are such great people (while running, to each other). Pity some can be quite judgmental and narrow-minded.

        Get your head out of your **** Nick and anyone that buys into this rubbish.

        It's fantastic that what i like do makes me better than you
        Date and time
        September 27, 2012, 12:30PM
        • +1

          Date and time
          September 27, 2012, 3:01PM
        • Agreed! You just need to walk across the Harbour Bridge and they barge past you, drip all their sweat on you as they run past!!

          And for some reason there is a 2 metre wide path, yet they choose to run right behind you and when they overtake you leave a gap of 2cm's! Hello personal space!!

          Over it!

          Date and time
          September 27, 2012, 4:12PM
        • I'm with you. Surprised this lot hasn't disappeared up their own asses in a puff of smug.

          Date and time
          September 27, 2012, 11:59PM
        • I had to read the two sentences of your comment four or five times to come to grips with the sheer hypocrisy of it - or was the second sentence intended as a rebuttal to your first?

          Date and time
          September 28, 2012, 5:06PM
      • In poker, when you can't spot a 'sucker' sitting at the table, then you are the 'sucker'.

        Date and time
        September 27, 2012, 12:40PM

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