Thursday, June 19, 2008
Running's Gateway Drug
In the movie Ratatouille, Remy the gourmand rat’s hero Gusteau lived by a simple philosophy: Anyone can cook. It may take time, patience, and hard work, but Remy learned that anyone – even a lowly rat – can cook.
If Gusteau had been a runner instead of a cook, he’d have been about fifty pounds lighter. No, wait… that’s not where I was going with this. If Gusteau had been a runner, I believe he would have said this:
Anyone can run a 5K.
I saw this philosophy put into practice last Saturday when I ran Race for the Cure. Over 9,000 people woke up early on this beautiful day, put on running shoes, and ran 3.1 miles. There were definitely some serious runners there, but there were also people who I’m sure were competing for the very first time.
Yes, new runners, we experienced veterans can tell that this is your first 5K. Maybe your running shoes are blindingly white and too new, or maybe they’re beat up and have clearly been kicking around your closet for a long time. Maybe you’ve pinned your race number on the back of your shirt, rather than on the front where God intended it. An even clearer sign? You’re wearing the race t-shirt. Veteran runners would not only never wear the shirt before finishing the race, but heavens: it’s cotton!
When I see someone running their very first 5K, I think, “Get behind me, loser. You’re not a real runner.” No, wait, that’s not it. Instead, I rub my hands together like a super villain and say, “You will be mine. Oh, yes. You will be mine.”
That’s because a 5K is the gateway drug to running. It’s how we lure you in. We promise programs that take you not from “a base level of mileage of blah, blah,” but from your couch to a 5K. Many 5K’s are for a good cause. After all, who doesn’t oppose breast cancer or want to support melanoma research? It is no coincidence that 5K’s tend to be flat – no need for pesky hills to potentially scare off any new runners. We want you to soak in the party atmosphere of the race, feel cool in your new t-shirt, discover the free cookies and popsicles waiting for you at the after-party… to say nothing of the awesome sense of accomplishment you get at finishing your first race.
With any luck, just a few of those new runners I saw on Saturday liked their first hit of the gateway drug. Maybe they’ll stick with that first drug, happily running weekend 5K’s… and maybe they’ll move on to the hard stuff. Either way, I’m happy. Runner's Lounge's Take it and Run Thursday wants tips for 5K's, and mine is simple: Anyone can run a 5K, and everyone should try.