Lately I have been hearing the words Hobby Runner a lot and it seems that the manner in which it is being used is meant to be less than flattering by some of the people who have been using it.
Although I used it myself, to quickly describe my place in the running world to a nationally known writer who writes about running, while commenting on a blog post that he had recently. In that context it seemed to be the proper description of what kind of runner I am in relation to what he was writing about. So in my opinion being described as a hobby runner is not always a bad thing, it depends on the context of how it is being used.
You know like calling a runner – a jogger and how that raises hackles for many of us. When used in that context, it brings up the image of someone who occasionally goes out for a slow run for a few minutes and then stops, all the while complaining about having to run. That at least is the image that I have when someone calls me “a jogger”.
That is not the runner I am or the image that I have of myself as a runner. You know from the vantage point of an old fart who has been running with varying levels of success and failure for over 48 years, who still runs 30-40 miles a week and can surprise people on occasion.
The people who are using Hobby Runner with dripping sarcasm in their voice/writing or having that slight sneer that people use when they are attempting to insult you with double entendres are in my opinion are rather ignorant or attempting to be elitist in their view of what or who runners are or should be.
Just what is a hobby anyway?
Using the screen shot from Apple’s dictionary app, I have a feeling that my running meets the definition of what a hobby is pretty closely.
1. I run during my leisure time.
2. I do not get paid for running.
3. Running is a sport, although some sports announcers do not believe that it is.
4. I would like to believe that I have acquired a fairly substantial skill set and knowledge about running over the 48 years I have run.
So do I meet the definition of what I would consider to be a hobby runner?
Yeah, pretty much to a tee.
Then Harold why would you get your knickers all in a knot about someone calling you a hobby runner?
It is not so much that someone is calling me a hobby runner, because really that is what I am. It is more that they are insinuating that I am not serious about my running and disrespecting myself and other runners with their snide ness when they say “oh you are a “hobby runner”, with that Snidley Whiplash sneer or sarcasm projected into what they are saying.
While the actual words might be accurate in the correct context it is more the intent and manner in which the words are conveyed to the listener or reader that make them unflattering.
Words are powerful and when they are purposely used to belittle or demean others, even when they might be appropriate in a different context, that is when I get my knickers in a knot.
A person who runs is a runner – that has been argued and thrashed around ad nauseom for years and finally I think that this definition has been accepted as the norm.
However, just like any sport there are different levels of abilities and expectations about the levels runners think of as “their” place in running world. Some people are getting too damn hung up on the levels and where they place themselves in comparison to others, when they should be supporting and encouraging other runners no matter what their ability level is.
After all without the hobby class of runners, there would be a helluva lot fewer runners out pounding the pavement or taking the trails and the brands/companies would be lot less focused on running related products, races, events or even paying professionals the amounts they now receive to promote their products.
So am I a hobby class runner?
Of course I am, I tend believe that most of us are.
However, I don’t worry so much about the type of runner that I might be, other than I am…
Just a Runner.