Coach Mike Mead

November 2012

Running gets no respect!

The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s famous line that was a staple of his comedy routines was, “I don’t get no respect, no respect at all!” I believe running gets no respect from many people outside the running community.

We have ourselves to blame I’m afraid. We are either too much into running that we turn people off, or we may be too meek and do not defend it or embrace it when the sport of running is misrepresented.

Case in point, we let the running ignorant get their way. If you subscribe to Runner’s World magazine – the American distance runner’s monthly guide -- I was amazed of an ad within their very pages. The ad for the Nissan “All-New Pathfinder” features Ryan Hall next to the vehicle as though he was going to challenge it in a race in a sprinter’s stance. Hall is a distance runner and distance runners never start a race in this manner – sprinters do!

I’m not faulting Hall but what was he thinking when he did this photo shoot? It’s just so unnatural for him and it is not authentic. It would have been like a baseball player posing as though he was going to hit a ball with a bat, but holding the bat from the wrong end! If Nissan wanted the dramatics, they should have used a sprinter.

For years, many runners in high schools and college may have worn a t-shirt with the saying, “My sport is your sports’ punishment.” Well, how does this win over the non-runner?

Well in some circles in Iowa, running as punishment is being scrutinized as a form of corporal punishment, which is illegal in Iowa schools. The Des Moines Register reported last month of an incident where a football player was disciplined for derogatory comments he made that resulted in running hills and field laps over the span of about 30 minutes.

I laughed when I read the article. I thought football players are tough, well-conditioned athletes! Heck, the “punishment” described in the article sounded like a typical early-season cross country conditioning workout. Again, the non-runners will think such activities are punishment. Wimps I say, but they don’t understand. We need to do a better job in promoting running and educate the non-running masses of its various qualities.

Lastly, I have been amazed over the last 20 years that while running continues to grow that there are still limited avenues for runners, despite growth in digital and cable media. There are publications and good web sites, but little when it comes to cable television. The sport of golf has its channel. The NBA, NFL and MLB have their cable channels, why not running? I’d love to see a running channel rather than another shopping channel. I would think a cable channel dedicated everything to running would have ample content and plenty of viewers. Heck, there could be a few running-themed reality series on this channel to rope in the non-runners.

Certainly, the sport of running deserves more respect. We runners have to defend it when non-runners take liberties. The next time someone tells you they saw you out jogging, tell them that it could not have been you because you run!